OK, first off, I haven't dropped off the face of the earth, but life has thrown another stumbling block in my pathway. Let me assure you that Pali' Pali' is still in the works, but is delayed once again. The evening after I posted the last chapter, my life did a 180 and I quite unexpectedly ended up in the hospital for an outpatient procedure… and then managed to stay there for four days. Their idea of "outpatient" and mine isn't quite the same! But all is better now.

But… since I can't have any medical symptoms without sharing them with Steve, here is a portion of my tale, told through the eyes of Steve McGarrett. The medical portions of this story are factual. The timeline is also factual. But since I am not a SEAL named McGarrett who has a Danny and Catherine, all of that is fiction and not owned by me.

And you may read this and think that Steve is totally out of character. He probably is. But the story was written as a mockery of what really happened to me. I can laugh about it now, but at the time, I growled a lot. I hope you find it amusing. And I promise, Pali' Pali' is coming…

I have one more portion of this story that should post in a couple of days. But I just had to get this out of my system. Thank you for indulging me.

~~~H50~~~

'A'ole, nein, non, nada, nyet, NO!

By Cokie

Thursday evening

Lt. Commander Steve McGarrett was sitting in bed, feeling fairly comfortable, all things considered. He was staring down at his feet which were covered with sticky hot, white knee socks with an added layer of gray, fuzzy, footsies on top. And he wondered, not for the first time that day, just when he had lost control of the situation, and better yet, how the hell had he let it happen?

Steve shook his head and idly scratched at the tape holding the IV in his right arm. He glared at it as if it was the cause of all his problems... but actually his tale had begun Sunday night... Granted, he supposed he had been in the hospital a few times more than the average, normal citizen, but nothing at all like this. Generally, if he ended up here, he was either (a) bleeding; (b) unconscious; or (c) all of the above. He hesitated to admit it, but looking back on the situation, he thought he might have… not definitely, but might have been here willingly.

And that just wasn't acceptable.

The previous Sunday evening

Steve stood on the lanai, leaning against one of the posts while looking out over the ocean. His left fist was held just under the right side of his chest and he was trying to control his breathing. This is a case of indigestion for the record book. You didn't even eat that much.

Catherine came out the doorway and wrapped her arms around him. "You're awfully quiet tonight," she whispered against his back. "You gonna miss me?"

"Always," he admitted, dropping his hand down to his side and taking another deep breath. OK, pressure's almost gone. He turned around to look at her and grinned. "I miss you every single day you're—"

"Steve, what's wrong?" Catherine quickly asked, her hand immediately raised to rest against his jaw line. "You look kind of shaky."

He shook his head. It was going away. "Nothing. Just a case of indigestion. It's almost gone now."

"You didn't eat anything out of the ordinary tonight," she commented, giving him the third degree, making sure he wasn't lying to her.

And he wasn't. It was indigestion.

And he felt just fine for the rest of the night.

And he proved it to her.

Twice.

Monday

Catherine had left at 0600 and Steve arrived at work shortly thereafter. They hadn't had a big case since finishing one last Thursday but they were keeping tabs on a drug smuggler, just waiting for him to set up a buy so that they could go in and intercept him, the drugs, and his buyer. Sometimes patience did pay off so they were biding their time, giving him a false sense of normalcy and security.

Little did Mr. Sanchez know that his every move for the last week had been recorded.

By the time lunch had arrived, they had finished what seemed to be a full day's worth of paperwork. Danny was exceedingly glad to clear his desk because on Thursday, he and Grace had airline tickets headed East… to what he considered the only place back east worthy of visiting. It was his parent's fortieth wedding anniversary and he and Grace were going to surprise them on Thursday night. His sisters had planned a dinner party, but the real surprise was Danny and Grace who would be there until Saturday morning.

To knock his mother off the scent, he had even ordered anniversary flowers from him and Grace which were to be delivered Thursday afternoon. He had thought of that little touch himself and was quite proud of it.

And he didn't hesitate to remind his team of how well he thought on his feet.

"Yeah, yeah, Danny, your Mom will be surprised," Kono said with a laugh. "But the minute she finds out there is a party, her first words will be, 'Where are Danny and Grace.' I'll bet money on it."

"No way."

"I'll take part of that action," Chin agreed with his cousin. "Moms have a way of figuring out everything."

"Yeah, even after twenty years, they think they can rearrange your life," Steve added his two cents worth and tossed his napkin to the table.

Danny glanced across the table. "You didn't eat anything."

Steve shook his head. "Just not hungry." He stood and chucked his container of food into the trash before heading back to his office. "Chin, can you check once again with the tail on Sanchez?"

"On it. Don't worry, he'll make a move soon."

"Yeah, I know."

~~~H50~~~

Danny leaned across the dinner table. "OK, what gives? You didn't eat lunch and you've barely touched dinner and I know you love those sweet jalapeno wings."

"Yeah, I do, but I just haven't been very hungry today. I don't know why."

"Mourning the loss of your lady friend for the next couple of weeks?"

"I think I'm good with that," Steve deadpanned.

"Seriously, you might be coming down with something," Danny said.

"Nah, it will pass."

Famous last words.

They parted at the restaurant and by the time Steve got home, the pain in his chest was back. With a vengeance. Actually it was less of a pain and more of a pressure that wouldn't let up. He sat down on the couch to try and catch his breath, but sitting did nothing to alleviate the feeling. After checking the alarm and turning out the lights, he went upstairs and fell across the bed, lying on his stomach in hopes of relieving some of the pressure.

That was a bad, bad idea.

Steve finally got up and began shedding clothing on the way to the bathroom. Maybe a hot shower would help. It sure couldn't hurt. He stood under the hot water for several minutes and managed to relax the muscles in his stomach and across his back and shoulders. And when he finally turned off the water, he felt marginally better.

Until he looked down and saw the toilet.

And just knew that was where he was headed.

In the next second he hit his knees and was spewing forth his recently-eaten dinner. After that came last night's dinner that Cath had so painstakingly made. Following that, he was certain he threw up food from Tuesday a week ago.

He could have been wrong, but he doubted it.

And finally, when there was nothing left to regurgitate, he stood up on shaky legs and flushed away the memory.

And barely had time to turn and hit the sink when another bout of whatever-this-was decided it wasn't finished with him.

He knew without a doubt he hadn't eaten that much food in… well… his entire adult life. But finally he was able to stand up instead of hugging the sink. The icky, nasty sink.

And it hit him that he was the only one there… and someone was going to have to clean out that sink, because all that grossness couldn't go down the drain.

Joy.

But after procuring a roll of paper towels and going to work, he realized the feeling in his chest was totally gone and he actually felt fine. He then deduced he must have contracted some wicked case of food poisoning. He then tried to remember the last time he ate at Kamekona's. Nah, that was low.

No matter what, he was certainly thankful it was gone.

Tuesday

They had an early meeting with key people in HPD to once again review Sanchez's file. Things were moving forward and everyone felt confident that the operation would soon be underway.

Danny kept an eye on Steve throughout the meeting. It was barely perceptible, but something was off. Steve was certainly a man of action, but he could be as still as a door post when need be. But now, he had shifted in his seat numerous times and Danny would have sworn he had seen him shiver a time or two. All the while, Steve refused to give in to Danny's stare, even though Danny knew that Steve knew he was being stared at.

Once all the others had cleared the room, Danny leaned forward. "OK, out with it."

"Huh?" Steve jerked up, startled.

"I'm asking. What is wrong with you?" He stood up and shook his finger in his partner's face. "And don't you dare tell me 'nothing' because I am not blind, nor am I stupid."

Steve's body took that moment to choose to shiver once again.

"See. There."

"The AC is just turned up higher than normal. It's noth—"

"You cannot use that word. You're sick, aren't you?"

"No."

"It won't go on your record, Steven. No demerits. No push-ups in the middle of a monsoon. Although you'd probably like that… Now tell me, what's up?"

Steve tossed his pen onto the table and let out a breath. "I don't know. Chills, muscle aches, I just don't feel right."

"Adding this to the fact that you didn't eat yesterday, sounds like you have a bug."

"Yeah, probably. I threw up dinner last night." He didn't bother to mention just how many dinners he had thrown up. "It will get better. Nothing I haven't worked through before."

"Well, it's like this," Danny began and leaned his hip against the table in front of his partner. "We are quiet right now, so go home. There is nothing here you can do other than wait for Sanchez. Therefore I would suggest you get out of here. Or better yet, go to the doctor! Maybe get an expert opinion instead of the 'Steve McGarrett-I-can-fix-anything' idea of a diagnosis."

Steve shook his head. "Don't need a doctor. It's just a bug."

Danny stood up. "But you will go home. I just made an executive decision and I bet I'll have two more votes right out there," he waved toward the offices. "If it is a bug, you could be contagious. And, I for one don't intend to be infected by you because I have places to be this week."

Steve shivered again and grimaced at the pain that ran through his neck and down his shoulder.

"What was that?" Danny was quick to jump on any symptom he could see.

"I'm just achy," Steve finally admitted. "But… and only to appease you…" he added, "I think I will go home. Only with the agreement that you call me if anything with Sanchez happens."

"I swear. Now go. Shoo. Vamoose. I'm getting out the Lysol the minute you leave."

~~~H50~~~

Steve climbed into bed and reached for the cover, pulling it up to his ears. Damn, he ached. Just like that time he had the flu. No matter what, he couldn't get comfortable. He hurt when lying on his back, on his side, on his stomach. His back ached, his neck ached and he couldn't get warm. Steve was one miserable SEAL.

So, he tried his universal cure-all. He took another shower.

The muscles felt better and he was a bit warmer when he turned off the water, but other than that, he still felt sore and achy. Steve plopped down on the side of the bed and debated trying whether to sleep again and finally fell sideways, his body making up its own mind, tired of sitting there.

And even though he tossed and turned, he managed to catch some sleep, a few minutes at a time.

Around 5:45, he was instantly awake when the front door opened. Since an alarm didn't immediately go off, he figured either Danny cancelled it or he had a very stealthy, unwanted person in his house. Either way, he didn't have the energy to find out and assumed if it was Danny he would soon know. And if it wasn't, well, he would know that, too.

"It's me, Steve."

Bingo.

Danny entered the bedroom and took one look at the bed with pillows and sheets tossed every which way and the miserable-looking person who was lying in the midst of it all. "Well, my first question was going to be 'do you feel any better', but after seeing this, I don't have to ask. Get your ass in gear, McGarrett, you're going to the doctor."

Steve burrowed further into the covers. "Can't. They close at five."

"Ah, but you're wrong. Queens has an after-care program. We had to take Gracie once when she had a fever. And we are now taking you. And while I may have to do it with you kicking and screaming, I swear, you are going to be checked out."

Steve huffed. And then he slowly sat on the side of the bed and dropped his head into his hands. "All right."

"I beg your pardon? Did I hear that right?"

"I said 'all right' Danny. Jeez, don't gloat. And find me a pair of pants."

"Aye, aye, Sir." He muttered and picked up a pair of shorts from the floor. "Are these good enough?"

"Whatever. Just give them here."

11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 111111111111111111111111111

Interlude, compliments of Rusty, my cat. He has a one track mind. Get it…. Yeah, I am still on some pain meds. Can you tell?

~~~H50~~~

"OK, Commander, you have a fever of 100.4," the female doctor whose name he couldn't understand, said. At least that's what he thought she had said. Her name wasn't the only thing he was having trouble understanding. "Along with the aches and chills, my guess is that you have a viral infection. You mentioned you threw up last night? Are there any other symptoms?"

"Well, yeah, I sort of had pressure right here," Steve finally admitted to someone and rubbed the area on his chest.

"All right. Lay down and let me see." She pulled up his shirt and began feeling around his chest and abdomen. Nothing hurt when she pressed, prodded or manipulated. And she didn't hold back and was mashing around pretty strongly. "I'm not feeling anyzing out of the ordinary."

He heard the word 'anyzing'."

"Um, well, that's good," he replied. "Isn't it?" He sat back up on the exam table.

"I think zo. If you have that feeling come back, go to the emergency room and have it checked out. They would be able to do an ultrazound to see if there iz something."

He knew he was losing it. He had worked with people who had accents for his entire adult life and now, all he could focus on was this woman's accent and pronunciation. This wasn't politically correct at all… not to mention the fact that it was highly rude. Maybe he really was sick.

"I will give you a prescription for something to help with nauzea. Begin taking it tonight and then stay off work tomorrow. You could be contagious and I wouldn't want you to pazz this along."

"No, well, I might have to go to work."

"Commander, I would strongly advize against it."

He nodded. "But only unless we have a crisis. Then I'll have to be there."

She shook her head sadly and he read her mind, knowing she thought his IQ was only slightly above that of a gnat. "If you muzt."

Steve met Danny in the waiting area, prescription in hand. "Stomach bug," he told him. "This is for nausea but I probably won't—"

Danny snatched the piece of paper from his grasp. "Which you will take. You ready?"

He received nothing more than a steely-eyed glare.

Which might have been worth something if Steve hadn't shivered at the same time.

~~~H50~~~

Wednesday

Steve woke Wednesday morning feeling like a new person. The shakes and shivers were gone and after a long, hot shower he could get used to this the aches and pains were gone, too.

He immediately called work and found out that Sanchez still hadn't made a move. He told Danny he was on his way in but was quickly struck down. They all three yelled into the phone for him to keep his germs at home.

Feeling dejected, he sat outside for a while. Since he didn't have the energy for a swim or a run, he stayed close to home. He wasn't hungry, so lunchtime came and went and he didn't eat. Even water tasted weird, but he figured that was due to the pills he had taken. He may have dozed sometime during the early afternoon, but would have denied that fact to anyone. SEALS don't do naps.

Once he was upright once again, he decided to become productive and pulled out the lawn mower. Steve had contracted with a kid in the neighborhood to do the lawn, but only with the stipulation that if he was free himself, he would do it. If the kid noticed it looked too ragged for the neighbors' tastes, then he had permission to mow. It didn't take long and other than the fact that he was finally beginning to feel a bit hungry, Steve felt great.

He took a quick dip in the ocean to cool off and rinse off the sweat. Knowing he had had enough exercise for a 'sick' day, he swam parallel to shore for a few yards, then turned over on his back and floated, enjoying the afternoon breeze.

He could smell a rain shower heading his way and climbed out of the water, put away the lawn mower and sat on the lanai to wait it out. Rain over the ocean was spectacular and nights like this were something he had truly missed while living away from his home. While contemplating the choices he had made to stay here, he was interrupted by the phone and he reached for it immediately.

"Sanchez?"

"No, this is Danny, your partner."

"I know who… never mind. Did Sanchez make a move?"

"Not a smidgen. Just wanted to check on you. Are you feeling any better and do you need anything?"

"Yes and no. I feel fine and I'm good. Being off today was a waste because I haven't been sick at all."

"Yeah, well, we cleaned the office of any lingering SEAL germs while you were gone. Who knows what was lurking about in the corners."

"Very funny."

"Well, if you're doing OK, I'm gonna head home and pack. Because in case I haven't told you, I'm going to Jersey tomorrow."

"Lucky you."

"Don't get snide, Steven."

Steve chuckled. "I meant it. I'm happy for you and Grace. I'm sure she is excited, too."

"Yeah, she is. And my mom won't believe how much Gracie has changed."

"It will be a good trip. Now, go home and pack."

"Call me if you need anything."

"Sheesh, Danno, I'm fine."

Steve's stomach rumbled once again as he hung up the phone and he knew he needed to eat something since he had gone without all day. But the good news was that whatever bug, food poisoning, or infection he had, it was gone. He felt great.

A bowl of vegetable soup later, he added the words 'not-so' to the beginning of 'great'. Maybe the bug wasn't gone because he was feeling nauseous again. Nothing like before, but the sneaky bug had been hiding.

The thought of throwing up like he had done Monday night was almost freaking him out. Never could he remember throwing up like that and he really didn't want a repeat performance. But the longer he waited, the worse it would be, so he trudged into the kitchen and grabbed the trash can and sat down. He didn't have long to wait.

Steve would have argued with the best of them that there is no way a 10 ounce can of Campbell's vegetable soup could morph… a mere two hours later… into a couple of gallons of vile liquid. OK, maybe only a gallon. But he tied off the trash bag and set it out on the lanai, waiting to feel better like he had on Monday.

Only that didn't happen. The "feeling" was back. Pressure to the right of his breastbone. And, if possible, it was worse than it had been on Monday. Something he found hard to believe possible.

Steve walked the floor. Again, he sat, he fidgeted, laid down on the couch, and then repeated the process. Finally he walked outside toward the water and walked along the shore, letting the waves lap up to his knees. Anything to take his mind off of the discomfort in his chest.

But nothing was working. And in his head, he kept hearing, "If zee pain comez back, you need to go to the emergency room". He really didn't need that.

Did he?

This wasn't going away this time. He thought about a shower, then looked at the steps upstairs and knew he had no desire to climb them. And, deep down, he knew a shower wouldn't make this pain go away.

He hated himself. But Steve reached for his phone and glanced at the clock, just then realizing it was 2330. Tapping the appropriate icon, he waited.

"Ah, Steven, do you need me now?"

"Dan— Um…"

"Steve? What's wrong?"

"Sick. Can you—"

"Sit tight. I'm on my way."

And in less than ten minutes he was there. Steve's first clue was the blue lights strobing through his front window.

Danny found Steve pacing the living room. "OK, what's going on?" he asked after entering the house.

"Unauthorized use of lights…"

"Yeah, yeah, hey, come on, sit down and talk to me," Danny reached for Steve's arm to get him onto the couch, but his partner veered away, out of his grasp.

"No, can't sit. Danny, I think maybe I need the ER. Pressure won't go away."

"OK, we can do that. Let me call EMS."

"No… car is good. But, let's just go."

Danny looked around the room. "Do you need anything? Got your wallet?"

"Yeah."

"Phone?"

"Yeah. Hey, my charger. Can you get it?"

"On it." Danny knew Steve kept one in the kitchen, so he took the one from the counter and was quickly back in the living room.

Steve must have been in a hurry… he had the front door already opened, ready to go. Danny punched in the security code and they walked to the car… with Steve's pace at least six times slower than normal.

"Which hospital? Tripler?" Danny asked.

Steve thought for a moment while they waited at the light. Left to Queens; right to Tripler. "Queens is closer."

Danny hit his left blinker. "Queens it is."

"And Danny?"

"Yeah, Babe?"

"Use the lights."

"Thought you'd never ask."

~~~H50~~~

Thirty minutes later Steve was in a triage pod in the emergency room. They had taken his blood pressure (low), temperature (normal) and pulse. She didn't say, but he would bet it had skyrocketed off the charts. He was sitting in a closet-sized room with space for barely two chairs and a small desk. He felt silly fidgeting, but he couldn't be still. He was sitting on a cold, hard plastic chair but no matter how he tried to sit, nothing worked.

The triage nurse noticed his discomfort while she continued to ask questions, and paused in the research phase of her thesis of Steve McGarrett: 101. "Sorry, but we need to get a history, it won't take much longer," she assured him.

"You've got my file here," Steve told her.

"Yes, and quite a hefty one it is," she agreed, "I'll check through it, but I'm doing a work up on this medical event. Now, let's get back to this… when did you say the symptoms began?"

So, he began his tale of woe.

After a few minutes, she stood and asked the woman in the next cubicle if she was ready for him. With a smile, first nurse, Deidra, she had said, held open the door and told him she hoped he felt better soon.

Gee, ya think?

He moved to the next room, only to discover that he was in a business office.

"Please have a seat for a moment, Mr. McGarrett. We'll get you processed and back in a room before you know it."

He sat. Begrudgingly. Because his memory of ERs were that they had rooms with drugs in them. And because if he didn't get something soon, he just might lose it.

"I just need an ID and an insurance card," the lady behind the desk asked.

Steve stood and pulled out his wallet. He tossed his insurance card and driver's license on the desk and hoping for a little bit of intimidation, set his badge next to them. "There."

Maybe that wasn't polite but he was beyond caring. He slowly sat back down to wait.

She took the items and ignored him while typing into her computer. "Hmm… good insurance. At least everything is covered for you. Here you go, you can have your things back. Just a few more moments; I'm sorry, my printer is being a bit slow tonight."

Steve had his arm leaning on the desk, trying to remain upright in the chair without screaming obscenities in six different languages. He wondered if begging would help.

"All right. Now, if you could sign here and here, and date this page. Then we'll turn it over and I'll need your initials in a couple of places."

Finally. Forward movement.

He knew what his own signature looked like. And funny thing, what he scribbled on that paper looked nothing like normal. There was an "S". Other than that, it was anyone's guess. He snorted. Geez, was he getting delirious?

"Is there a problem?"

"No, it's just that's not my signature. Don't know who wrote it."

"Well, I will vouch that you just did." She smiled and he thought the smile looked quite patronizing.

In fact, very patronizing. So he just shut up.

"Just another moment, we're waiting on the printer once again."

Of course we are.

"Here you go. May I have your right wrist, please?"

"Huh?"

"Your bracelet. I need to identify you."

"Oh." He held out his shaky right arm and she fastened the flimsy white strip into place.

"Now, let me get Deidra once again and we can get you into a room. Is anyone with you?"

"Yeah, my… friend Danny. In the lobby."

"Shall I get him?"

Steve nodded to her when Deidra arrived. "This way, Commander. I apologize, I didn't realize who you were before."

"S'OK." He followed her to a small room with an exam table, cabinet, a couple of chairs and an adjoining bathroom. Nothing at all like the rooms he generally ended up in while in the ER.

"The doctor will be right with you. Please take off your shirt and boardies and put on the gown with the ties in the back." She handed him a faded gray gown with blue and red diamond shapes on it, then turned to leave just as Danny arrived.

"Have they done anything yet?" Danny asked as Steve stepped into the bathroom and carefully pulled off his tee shirt.

Steve answered through the open door, "Just got in here."

"What the hell have you been doing for 45 minutes?"

"Answering questions." He picked up his shorts and shirt and came back into the exam room. At Danny's disbelieving look, he added, "Lots and lots of questions."

"Nice attire."

"Bite me."

Steve remained a body in motion. Lying down, sitting, standing, standing and leaning over the table, pacing the small room, deep breathing, panting, holding his breath, any and everything. Nothing helped.

All the while watching the clock, wondering when the elusive doctor would show up.

It took 27 flippin' minutes.

"Commander, Aloha. Sorry for the delay. I'm Dr. Cassie Liu. Could you have a seat for me, please."

Steve sat back down.

"Now, can you tell me what's going on with you?"

"I just told… outside."

"Yes, of course, but I want to hear everything for myself."

And so he began…

When he finished, she motioned him to lie back on the table. "And this really began just Sunday night?"

"Ye-ah!" She had pulled the gown down to his waist and her probing fingers touched the exact spot that was killing him.

"And no history before that time?"

"No, just some indigestion, but everybody gets that, right?"

She nodded. "From time to time. Does this hurt?" She moved her fingers around his abdomen and he answered no several times until she found his 'spot' once again.

"Aah. Right there."

She smiled and stepped back. "Looks like classic gall bladder. We can run a couple of tests and if they are positive, we can get that pesky thing out of there. How does that sound?"

"When?"

"When, what?" she asked.

"When can you take it out?"

"My guess would be first thing in the morning. But we need some tests first. How about I send Deidra back in with some pain meds?"

He could hear the relief in his own voice. "Pain meds would be good." That didn't sound like a whine, did it?

"Just give us a moment." She began jotting in his chart. "Are you allergic to any medications?"

"No."

"Allergic to Latex?"

"No."

"OK, let me give the chart to Deidra."

As soon as the door closed, Danny began. "All that has been going on since Sunday and you failed to mention any of it?"

Steve sat back up on the table, and tied the gown in the back, not making eye contact with his friend. "Told you I threw up…"

"Left a few details out, don't you think?"

Steve shrugged. "Doesn't matter. Gall bladder surgery is outpatient, right?"

"I think so. Don't worry, you'll be fine. But…"

"But what?"

"You know I won't be here, right?"

"Danny they can pull out my gall bladder without you watching. I was just thinking, they do this in the morning and I'll be good to go if and when Sanchez sets up his buy."

"You moron, forget about Sanchez. Chin, Kono and HPD are fully capable of handling Sanchez. What a nincompoop—"

The door opened and Deidra brought in his chart and a handful of tubing and vials.

"Ready for some drugs?" she asked, her smile and voice way too cheerful for going on oh-two-hundred hours.

"Yeah."

She scanned the barcode on his bracelet and asked, "What's your full name and birthdate?"

"Steve McGarrett. March 10, 1977." Don't you have that in the file?

"Are you allergic to any medications?"

"No. The doctor just—"

"Sorry, I have to ask. Are you allergic to Latex?"

"No."

"Good. Now make a fist for me and let me see those veins." She glanced down. "Oh, you're going to make it easy for me." She pulled out a tourniquet. "No Latex allergy, right?"

"No." Sheesh, does anyone around here listen?

Once the rubber band was in place, she stuck him near the crook of his right arm. Before I can push the drugs I need to draw some blood, so just give me a minute."

Steve concentrated on breathing, the feeling in his chest almost driving him mad. Surely there would be relief soon.

The nurse filled three vials of blood before setting them aside. She then reached for a full syringe of clear liquid.

About damn time.

"Now, I need to flush the line before I can push any meds. "And this has to go in slowly, so bear with me."

Silly me. Slowly, of course.

In the midst of the flush drug, Steve had the overwhelming urge to sit up. He had to. Immediately. "Sorry, can I sit up? Just for a min—"

"Of course it's all right. But if you feel light headed, you need to lie back down."

"Steve, you OK?" Danny asked, leaning forward from his chair in the corner.

He nodded and tried to catch his breath. "Just couldn't lie there any longer."

"OK, now I'm ready for the good stuff," Deidra said. "But probably not as ready as you are, right?"

Steve nodded his thanks.

"It will take maybe a minute before you begin feeling the effects. This is Dilaudid so you might want to go ahead and lie back down."

"I will in a second. Sitting up is easier. Don't feel it yet." He looked at her, hoping she wasn't teasing and this really wasn't a dud of a drug.

When he turned his head, the monitor on the wall did a flip and suddenly he could feel the beginnings of relief touching his chest. "OK," he sighed and sort of slithered back on the bed. "Think I'll lie down."

"That's a good choice," the nurse said, grinning at him. "Sorry it takes forever before we can get to this step." She took the syringe out of the IV tubing and gathered her things. It was then that he realized that sometime in the last few minutes, she had hung a huge bag with IV fluids.

"We'll leave you alone for a few minutes, then Dr. Liu will be back in."

"Thanks."

"Don't try to get up by yourself, all right."

"Yeah."

She flipped the light switch off before she left the room.

Steve threw his left arm over his eyes and breathed a sigh of relief. A pain-free sigh of relief. "Danno?"

"Yeah, I'm here."

"You can go home and get some sleep. I'm OK now."

"You're not getting rid of me that easily, Steven. I don't have to be at the airport until ten, so we're good. Why don't you get some rest?"

"'M'K."

~~~H50~~~

Dr. Liu interrupted their conversation about 45 minutes later and returned, flipping on the lights. Once the pain had subsided, Steve found he wasn't ready for sleep, so he had asked Danny about his parent's house in Jersey. Danny was telling of a time he had been trying to sneak back into the house after curfew. They were laughing because Steve had made fun of the fact that Danny actually had a curfew.

"You look like you're feeling better," Liu said, smiling at him. He was sitting up, leaning against the back of the raised exam table.

"Much better," Steve admitted.

"Well, I've got some good news and some bad news," she began.

"What?"

"In cases such as yours, we normally do an ultrasound to confirm stones in the gall bladder. Unfortunately, the ultrasound for outpatient use is shut off at the moment for cleaning and a reboot, so that option is out until morning. And I know you would rather keep the ball moving than waiting until morning for some tests." *

*technically, here the ultrasound tech called in sick, but that probably wouldn't fly in a hospital such as Queens…

"Hell, yeah. So what do we do?"

"We can do a CAT scan. It will detect much of the same and we can have it ready to be read by our radiologist and the surgeon in the morning. How does that sound?"

"Let's do it." Steve knew what CAT scans entailed. Piece of cake.

"I thought you would agree. I've already sent in the order and Radiology should be here to pick you up soon."

For once, it really was quick and by 0330, the orderly came in with a wheel chair to take him for the test. "Hi, my name is Piaku and I'm your designated driver for the evening. Can you tell me your name and birthdate?"

"Steve McGarrett. March 10, 1977." Just go with it.

"Need any help getting into the chair?"

"I think I can manage." Steve was able to roll his eyes at Danny as he passed by and knew his partner was waiting for them to leave the room before he laughed out loud at the situation Steve found himself in.

Once downstairs, a technician met him and explained the procedure. He wanted to interrupt and say he had been in these contraptions before, but he let her have her spiel. Besides, he knew it wouldn't hurry up the process anyway…

"Now, before you get on the table, let me scan your wrist. Can you tell me your full name and birthdate?"

Just say it and shut up. "Steve McGarrett, March 10, 1977."

"Good. Now, do you require any aids at home? Wheelchair, crutches, anything that would hinder you from getting on the table without help?"

He bit his lip and wanted to shout, I am a SEAL, dammit, and still able to walk on my own two feet… Instead, he said, "No, ma'am, I'm good."

"All right, you need to lie this-" He was on the table before she could continue. "OK, I guess you've got this." Now the machine will tell you when to breathe and when to hold your breath. Just follow the verbal cues. Not to worry, I will be in here with you the entire time, just behind this screen…"

The entire procedure, once she got quiet, took maybe 30 seconds. Max. And he was in his wheelchair with Piaku taking him back to the emergency room before 0400. At 0430, Dr. Liu was back, another pained look on her face.

"Well, that little gall bladder is about three times its normal size, so it needs to come out of there quickly. But we have run into another, smallish bump in the road."

Steve just stared at her.

Danny stared at Steve, amazed at his restraint. And wondered, not for the first time that night, if he could requisition Dilaudid to have on hand for emergency situations. Because it appeared that Dilaudid made for a mellow McGarrett.

Dr. Liu continued, having felt the stare. "GB removal is outpatient surgery, you knew that, right?"

"Yeah…"

"Unfortunately I just tried to admit you and all of our outpatient beds are filled. And they won't become available until early this afternoon when the first batch of patients are discharged. So, our options are for you to wait here in the ER until then, or we can send you to another hospital."

"OK, let's go somewhere else. Danny, can take me…"

She held up her hand. "Not so fast. Yes, we can transport to another facility, but since you have already been admitted, you are under our care, so any transport needs to be by ambulance. Sorry, your friend can't drive you."

Steve shrugged. "OK, still let's do this. I need this over with ASAP."

"Even with a move to another facility, with the gall bladder the size it is, they will want it out of there sooner than later, so my guess is that surgery will still be scheduled this morning. Now, I noticed your insurance was military, so would you rather go to Tripler or another facility?"

Steve looked at Danny and they spoke at the same time, "Should'a turned right." Danny shook his head and grinned as Steve told her that Tripler would be fine.

"I have to call for EMS. Hopefully it won't be long before they arrive. I'm sorry for this hiccup."

"Just as long as things happen soon, I'm good," Steve replied.

It was 0530 before two twenty-something 'girls' came in banging a gurney against the walls in the hallway, both complaining because their backs hurt and they had to pull an all-night shift. Danny glanced at Steve, his eyes wide in wonder and concern. Not only for his safety on the drive, but if that girl's uniform stretched any further, Steve might lose an eye from a projectile button during the trip.

"OK, hiya, I'm Marley and this is Katie. We're here to take you to…" she paused and searched the paper in her hand.

…"Tripler," Steve offered….

…"yeah, that's it, Tripler. The military hospital, right? They make it such a pain to get in there. You gotta stop at a gate and wait for someone to clear you. You're name McGarrett?"

"Yes."

"OK, what's your full name and birthdate?"

Did this state give you a license to operate machinery? "Steve McGarrett, March 10, 1977."

Katie was removing Steve's IV from the pole next to the exam table. "You gonna be able to get on the gurney by yourself or do you need help?"

"I'm good."

"OK, hop to it. Once you're settled, we'll grab your chart from out front."

They turned and had barely left the room before Danny began to laugh.

"Just. Shut. Up."

"Don't look at her straight on," Danny whispered. "That button might put out your eye."

"That's not my biggest problem," Steve whispered back. "Combined, they don't have the IQs of a piece of toast. How'd the State hire them?"

"I don't know, but I'll follow the ambulance to make sure you don't disappear," Danny assured him.

"No," Steve decided, in work mode once again. "You are going home and getting some rest before you have to pick up Gracie. And that's an order."

"You can't order me, McGarrett. I'm on my own time and I'm staying as long as I can."

"No, you're not. Look, with any luck, this will all be over and I can talk to you when you land in San Diego. I'll probably be home before you even make it to Jersey."

Danny mulled over the validity of those words. "You sure you don't mind me leaving you now?"

"No. Please, Danny. I really appreciate you picking me up and hanging out here."

"Yeah, it's been fun."

"Not my first choice of words, but it's been a night to remember."

"OK, Babe. I'll call you from California. And I'm also going to call Chin and Kono and warn them that you can't show your face in the office. Or there will be hell to pay when I return. Capisce?"

"Yeah…" Steve mumbled.

"Steven?"

"I said 'yes'. While you're at it, would you mind calling the governor, too?"

"Not a problem."

Marley was back. "You ready?"

"Let's do it," Steve told her as she moved the gurney and got behind it. "Have a good trip, Danny."

"Not as good as yours…" he replied with a grin.

~~~H50~~~

The gurney was shoved… literally… into the back of the bus and Katie got in with him. "Marley is our driver and I'll be back here with you," she told him while fastening seatbelts on the gurney. "You want to sit or lay back?"

"Sit up, please." He would have to remember to tell Danny that his eyesight had been spared. But that meant that the other one was actually driving a vehicle.

She jerked the head of the bed upright, giving him quite a head rush. "There you go."

After tossing a black strap over his shoulders, the buckle hitting him in the abdomen, he was quite glad that the Dilaudid was still working. She placed a BP cuff on his arm and turned it on and then placed a clip on his finger.

"Now, I'm going to sit back here and ask you some questions for our files. First, gimme your full name and birthdate."

The same as it was when you asked 15 minutes ago… "Steve McGarrett, March 10, 1977."

"All right, Mr. McGarrett, are you allergic to any medications?"

"No." What difference does that make now? I'm in the back of an ambulance.

As if reading his mind, she clarified. "Just in case you code or something on the trip."

"Ah." Frightening thought. Please don't come near me with a needle.

"And are you allergic to Latex?"

"Not the last time I checked."

"Is that a 'no'?"

"That would be a no."

"OK, just sit back and enjoy the ride."

That was easier said than done. He hadn't caught Marley's last name, but it was quite possible it was Andretti the way she took turns. The buckle on that seatbelt was at maximum restraint a couple of times.

He was also glad there was nothing in his stomach.

~~~H50~~~

Thursday morning

Coming into a hospital via ambulance does speed up the triage process to a degree. He was in a curtained-off cubicle by 0605. Now, he just had to wait. The last doctor indicated that he should be in surgery by 0800.

It was 0730 before anyone came to check on him. Hell, he could have died and decomposed before then.

"Hi,Commander. I am Anna Dorsey, your nurse for the morning. I called Dr. Bennett' office when you arrived and left a message with his service. He had surgery early this morning but will be here soon to speak with you. Could you please give me your full name and birthdate?" While he recited the words, she picked up his wrist to read the information… just in case he had decided to lie about it.

"Can I get you anything?"

"Could I have a drink?"

"Ah, can I get you anything else? Once you are admitted, you are NPO. I'm sorry."

"How about, can I rinse out my mouth? I upchucked last night and my mouth is really dry and tastes disgusting." He gave her what he thought was his nicest smile.

She again shook her head. "I'm sorry, NPO includes anything by mouth."

"I'll spit it out!" he shot back.

She patted his leg. "I'll check on you in a bit. Here is your call button if you need anything. Lab will be here shortly for some blood work."

So much for smiles.

A lab tech who could have been Doogie Houser's younger brother came in for blood. "Hey, there, my name is Adam and I vant to suck your blood." Adam grinned. "I find that patients like a bit of humor."

"Uh, yeah. Great."

"This won't take long. Can you give me your name and birthdate?"

"Steve McGarrett, 3.10.1977."

"And are you allergic—"

"No to meds and no to Latex."

"OK… well, let's get started. Want to make a fist for me?"

Want to know what I can do with my fist, Adam?

~~~H50~~~

Steve stared at the clock on the wall outside of his little world. 0830. So much for surgery by 0800. And Dorsey had yet to make another appearance, although a lot of people were interested in the man next to him. Apparently, he had attempted sticking his fingers in a grinder. The hand surgeon had already visited the moron and they were waiting to take him up for surgery. And he got here after Steve had.

What's fair about that?

"Commander, I placed another call to Dr. Bennett' office. He has been delayed, but they assured me that someone from his surgical staff would be here soon."

"OK, I was told I would have surgery this morning," Steve reminded her.

"And that is probably still the case. But, like I said, the doctor has been delayed. Would you like me to turn on your TV?"

"No thank you."

Steve played with his phone. Checked in with Chin and Kono, who both offered their condolences at his delay. Didn't want to call Danny because he wanted Danny on the plane, oblivious to Steve's sucky day. Began a game of 'Words with Friends' with some unknown, obvious pathetic, person. Come on, he couldn't let any of his friends know that he played games on his phone.

His phone rang at 1030. Danny. Steve was torn whether to answer or not, but finally gave in, if only to hear a friendly voice.

"Hey."

"Steve? How?"

"Who'd you think you called?"

"Are you… I mean, how do you feel?"

"Frustrated, if you must know. The doctor is tied up. No one other than a nurse and a vampire have been by and nothing has been done."

"Ouch," Danny said. "Look, Steve, I'm sorry. I wish this trip was another weekend."

"Hey, come on, Danny, it's not your fault. Besides I doubt you could get anyone here to cooperate."

"Well, we're boarding soon and I was just going to leave you a message… and, wait, hang on, Monkey… Grace wants to tell you good bye."

"Hi, Uncle Steve. I'm sorry you're sick."

"I'm OK, Gracie. You have a good trip, OK?"

"I will, but I'll miss you."

"Miss you, too. But you need to be there to keep Danno out of trouble, OK?"

She giggled. "Yeah, I will."

"Hey, Gracie," Steve whispered. "Make Danno tell you how he snuck into the house past his curfew one night. See if he can demonstrate-"

"Danno had a curfew?"

"Hey, gimme that phone. Steven, I swear, you are such a child."

"Bye, Danno."

"Talk to you later, Partner."

"Yeah, later. Safe travels. See… I made it in one piece."

"So you did. I'm going to be getting in really late here, but I'll call you. We're staying at my sister's tonight so Mom won't know we're here, but I'll call. Bye, Steve, take care."

Steve ended the call and grinned. Yeah, he was glad he answered.

~~~H50~~~

Time did have the ability to crawl. If he had his SIG, he would have shot the clock. Hell, if he'd had his SIG, he might have shot himself. The pain was beginning to come back and his mouth felt like he had swallowed the Sahara. He'd been there; he knew what it was like. In addition, he had a killer headache from all the lying around and doing nothing.

And Dorsey finally showed her face again. "I'm sorry, I know no one has come to see you. I do apologize."

Steve raised his head from the gurney and glared. "Gee, thanks. Still in surgery, I presume."

She moved further into the room. "Honestly, I don't know," she admitted, the frustration evident. "I can't get anyone on his staff to even call me back. And I'm going to guess by the look on your face that you are lying there in pain. Unfortunately, without a call from the doctor, I can't give you any pain meds."

Steve shrugged one shoulder. "It's not bad, but I've got the headache from hell."

"Do you take Tylenol?"

"Yeah."

She patted his arm. "Well, I can administer that. Be right back."

Five minutes later, she came in with a chart and two small cups. "See, if you had asked for Tylenol earlier rather than asking for water, you could have had a drink a long time ago."

"Guess I just don't know my way around here," he grinned while reaching for the pills.

"Can you tell me your full name and birthdate?"

He sighed. Not loudly, but still… "Steve McGarrett, 3.10.77."

She pulled a scan gun from her pocket and scanned his wristband, then handed him two Tylenol.

He put them in his mouth, longingly wishing for at least three of them, and swallowed the paltry amount of water she provided.

"Sorry, that's all I can give you."

"Better than nothing," he told her. "Thanks."

"Wish I could turn out that light, but it is one of the emergency system lights and remains on all the time."

"It's fine," he told her, closing his eyes. Now, please go away.

"We just received a fax and Radiology ordered an ERCP for you, so at least they looked at your CAT scan. Hopefully the surgeon will be here soon."

"Thanks."

He thought he may have dozed until a loud voice asked, "McGarrett?"

"Yeah?" He opened his eyes and blinked to see a short female standing at the edge of the gurney he was on.

"I'm here to take you for your Endoscopy."

"Uh, no. I'm having my gall bladder out."

"Probably," the she said, "but we're going to Endo right now. Give me your name and birth date."

Steve dropped his head back to the bed. "Steve McGarrett, 3.10.77."

"All right," she muttered while pulling the gurney out into the hallway, then moving to the head of the bed. "My name's Tisha, you might want to move your hand, I don't want to bang it on the door frame," she added at the same moment the knuckles of his left hand hit the frame.

"See what I mean, they don't make these openings big enough."

Maybe they should hire people who can see over the top of the bed to do the pushing.

They moved out into a hallway and turned a corner, nearly running into another gurney that was waiting for the elevator.

"I been waitin' fo' ten minutes, girl. This thang ain't gonna come anytime soon."

Oh, great.

Tisha grabbed her cell phone. "I'm gonna call them again and tell them this ain't acceptable. We got work to do around here and can't do it 'cause we can't go places. But we're heading to the other elevators. Come on, I ain't waitin' around here."

Tisha didn't get through to 'them' but Steve was thankful she hung up the phone because that allowed her to drive with two hands instead of the one she was attempting. If he had not had a headache before this trip began, he would have had one by now. He opened his eyes when he heard voices and saw that they were traveling right through the first level, main lobby of the hospital.

Oh, get me the hell out of here. Do you have brains? Use them!

"Now, here we are." They slowed at another bank of elevators, the other gurney right behind them.

"Tish, we can't use these elevators. They're for visitors."

"You just try and let them tell me I can't use this. We got places to be, don't we, Hon?"

Don't you dare try to blame this on me…

They went up to the second floor, onto a pedway over the street… a pedway with dingy windows, which in Steve's estimation had never seen a cleaner. The heat was also stifling and there was NO ventilation whatsoever to counteract the hot sun shining through the walls and ceiling made of glass. Once on the other side, and down on another elevator, Tisha and Steve finally reached their destination.

Thankfully.

He was taken into a holding room and Tisha left. A male voice asked, "Do we have that consent form signed yet?" as the man came into the room. He looked down at Steve as a nurse brought in a chart. "This isn't signed." He looked at Steve in disappointment.

"We need this signed."

Well, duh.

"This is the first I've seen that form but I'm not signing it until I know what's going on. I was told I was having my gall bladder out today."

"Oh, sorry. Didn't they come and talk to you in ER?"

"No."

The doctor pulled up a three wheeled stool. "I'm Dr. Lavery and I apologize. Someone should have come to talk to you. The radiologist and I went over your CAT scan this morning and found two rather large stones that have lodged in your bile duct." He reached for a diagram of the abdomen and drew two round, black circles on the paper. "Here and here. If we don't get these out before they remove the gall bladder, there won't be any access to them. This is called an ERCP, in which I'll thread a video camera and some long tweezers in through your mouth and retrieve them. Any questions?"

Steve stared.

"I know, someone really should have talked to you before now."

No shit, Sherlock.

"OK, let's do it. Where do I sign?"

The doctor reached for the white bracelet and asked, "What's your name and birth date?"

"Steve McGarrett, 3.10.77."

"Please sign here and here, and initial here that I have explained the procedure to you."

Done and done.

The doctor said someone would be with him shortly and left the room, clipboard in hand. And Steve waited.

"Steve McGarrett, as I live and breathe, I saw your name on the roster and couldn't believe it. Remember me, Kiki from Kikui High? I was on the cheerleading squad the year you were quarterback.** How're you doing?"

**ok, in real life, this was a band mom from my kids high school days and she really wasn't obnoxious, she was nice. We caught up. It was rather weird as I felt at a slight disadvantage.

"Uh, hi. I'm good… I guess."

"Yeah, well, we'll take real good care of you. Damn, I can't believe you're here in my suite."

The nurse came in and introduced herself, saying she would take him to the treatment area. Kiki trailed right along with them, talking the entire time until they moved the gurney up next to treatment table and another face came into his line of vision.

"Hi, my name is Janice and I'm your anesthetist. Let me explain what will happen. First, we'll need you to roll off this bed onto the table on your stomach. We'll give you a bit of oxygen to help you breathe and place a rubber mouthpiece into your mouth. After a bit of anesthesia, we'll begin. This should be over in half an hour and I understand they have a room waiting for you upstairs in the surgery wing. Do you have any questions?"

"No, let's do it."

"Can you give me your name and birth date?"

"Steve McGarrett, 3.10.77."

"Are you allergic to any medications?"

"No."

"How about to Latex? Any allergies to it?"

"No."

"OK, let me help you into position. Left arm here, right arm up by your face so I can reach the IV."

Steve tried to roll with his sheet, but it was snatched away quickly by unseen hands. He prayed they weren't Kiki's.

Janice moved to the head of the bed and placed an oxygen canula under his nose. Another voice said, "I'm placing a pillow under your ankles and feet and then Janice asked him to open his mouth while at the same time she tried shoving a rubber bit in there that felt like what you'd use on a horse. "There you go. Now I'm going to insert some medication into your IV. Believe it or not, you're going to taste something in your mouth."

That's not possible. No, wait, it is possible. And that is disgus…

~~~H50~~~

Steve woke up when his gurney came to a stop in the small holding room. He opened his eyes… and was met by Kamekona's round face filling his line of vision. "Hey, Bruddah. How go'zit?"

Steve was shocked. "O-K, I guess. What are you doing here, Big Guy?"

"Well, these places aren't a favorite of mine, but a bruddah can't be in the hospital alone. Heard the rumor mill and decided to pay you a visit. Specially since da Williams' fambly is headed to da Jersey Shore. Although you're kinda hard to find down here."

"I bet. How long have you waited?"

"Just got here myself. They said your medical procedure was finished and for me to hang tight. Now, what can I do for you? Just name it."

"Nothing. I'm just waiting," Steve said, then turned his head when Dr. Lavery entered the room.

"Can I have a couple minutes with my patient, please?" the doctor asked and Steve saw his eyes widen when Kame stood up from the quite-small three-wheeled stool.

"No worries. I'll just be right outside. I promise you that, McGarrett."

Dr. Lavery shook his head. "How're you feeling? Any pain?"

"None. What'd you find?"

"We managed to get the two stones out of there, although one of them was a bit obstinate. I ending up slicing the end of the duct in case another stone gets there before we get the gall bladder out tomorrow. That way, it can pass on through."

"Tomorrow? I thought surgery would be today."

"Eh, after this procedure, we should wait a bit. Don't want to mess too much with your gut."

"Doctor," Kiki's voice said from behind Steve's head. "Steve has a room waiting whenever he's ready. Just let me know when to call for transport."

The doctor looked back at Steve. "Any nausea or pain?"

He shook his head. "No, nothing."

"Go ahead and call, Kiki." Turning back to Steve, he said, "Either I or someone on my staff will check with you later this afternoon. Get some rest."

" 'K."

Kame came back in and said, "I'm gonna let you rest, Bruddah, but how about I whip up some shrimp and eggs for you tonight. That'd make any intes-tines feel better."

You can actually feel a stomach roll over.

Steve quickly swallowed. "Ah, sorry but I haven't been very hungry. But thanks. I'll come visit for lunch when I get out of here."

"Anytime, Brah. You take care of yourself.

~~~H50~~~

Steve closed his eyes when an orderly began the trip to his room. Funny, this time it didn't take twenty minutes. They got on an elevator and headed to the sixth floor and were there before he realized it. What he did realize was that he no longer had his headache.

Guess there are pros and cons to anything.

As they passed the nurses' desk, a nurse reached for a clipboard and walked alongside the gurney. "Aloha. My name is Leilani and I'm you're nurse for the next few hours. She waited beside his bed while the gurney was positioned next to it.

And Steve waited for the question.

"Can you tell me your name and birth date, please?"

"Steve McGarrett, 3.10.77."

"Good."

What would she do if I gave a false name? Throw me outta here? Hmmm… that's an option.

"Think you can scoot over here?" she asked.

He thought and scooted while she removed the IV and hung it onto a pump. Steve still had the BP cuff from the ER on his arm which had annoyingly inflated every fifteen minutes all day. She took it off.

"I think we can get rid of this for a while. Are you in any pain?"

"No, not now," he said, surprised that it was true. "Could I have some ice though?"

She made a face. "I'm sorry but they still have you as NPO because you're having surgery tomorrow. I'll double check with the surgeon's office and see if I can do anything, but they can be real sticklers for rules. Why don't you try to get some sleep? From your chart, looks like you've had a long few hours."

"Oh, yeah," Steve said, realizing he was tired. Maybe a nap wouldn't hurt. He tried to move to get more comfortable in bed and Leilani held the pillow stationary while he situated himself. "Here are the bed controls if you want to go up or down. Call button is right here, and don't hesitate to use it if you need to."

"Thanks."

He closed his eyes and didn't need another reminder to go to sleep.

"Commander?" a voice called and he opened his eyes. It had felt like just a couple of minutes, but the hands on the wall clock let him know he had been asleep for almost an hour and a half. He turned and looked at the apologetic Leilani.

"Sorry to wake you, but the doctor's assistant was adamant that you remain NPO. I'm not supposed to do this, but I have a compromise." She showed him a green sponge on a stick before she put it into a small cup. "This is the best I can do. Swish this around in your mouth and it should help with the dryness." She handed it to him and he greedily sucked out the moisture before putting it back into the cup.

"Sorry, but I haven't had anything to drink since last night around eight," he admitted.

"And that was before the endoscopy which also dried out your mouth," she reminded him. "Now, I'll let you in on a secret. I wanted this water to be cold so I added a few ice cubes. I wouldn't be at all surprised if a couple of them landed in your mouth."

He looked at her and slowly grinned. "I might accidently upend the cup."

"Possibly," she replied with a grin of her own. "Just don't drink all the water. One of us might get into trouble if you get sick."

Steve fished an ice cube out of the water and popped it into his mouth as she turned to go. "Thanks."

"Call if you need anything."

He dozed back off until another voice called his name. "Mr. McGarrett? I'm from the Lab and I need some more blood."

Steve pressed the button on the bed and raised the head so that he could sit up a bit.

She set down her supplies and reached for his arm band.

"Steve McGarrett, 3.10.77."

"Why thank you. Sorry but we have to ask that all the time.

"I noticed," he said, not one bit sarcastically. "I'm also not allergic to either medications or Latex."

"You're gonna talk me out of a job," she said with a grin.

"No, you can still draw the blood," he assured her when she knotted the tourniquet. He was surprised; she had the needle in and he hadn't even felt anything.

He dozed some more until he felt someone's presence. Opening his eyes, he saw Leilani next to the IV pump.

"Didn't mean to wake you," she said.

"S'OK."

"They ordered a regimen of a couple different antibiotics. One will enter through the pump and I'll push the other one. Sorry, but it needs to go in slowly." She began the slow push. "Did the sleep help any?"

"Yeah, only now that's all I want to do."

"Well, anesthesia kind of tends to work that way." She glanced at the clock while pulling the syringe from his tubing. "Hey, it's been nice meeting you. My shift is over at seven, but I'll bring in the night nurse to introduce you before I leave. I hope you sleep well tonight and get that gall bladder out of there tomorrow."

"You and me, both."

They were interrupted by an aide who came to take his vitals.

"Grand Central Station tonight," Steve muttered, holding out his arm.

"Can you tell me your name and birth date, please?" the young girl asked.

"Steve McGarrett, 3.10.77."

"Thank you, Sir. I'll be out of here in just a minute." She first placed the BP cuff on his arm, then the clip on his finger before asking him to open his mouth for temperature."

"Any temp?" Ellen asked.

"Ninety seven point two," she replied. "Doing good." She removed the cuff and turned to leave when Ellen smiled at him. "You need to be warned. You will hear every joke in the book about 'how you lost your gall', 'how people thought you always had gall, but they were wrong', and my personal favorite, 'you're now one of the rolling stones.' People are just a bundle of laughs," she said. "And I should know, my gall bladder came out about five months ago. Trust me, it isn't really that bad. Unfortunately you've just had a couple of bumps in the road."

"Just as long as it's over soon," Steve replied. "I don't have time to sit around waiting. I need to get back to my team." As if on cue, Chin and Kono walked into the room. "Speaking of team…"

"Good night, Commander. I'll see you tomorrow," Leilani told him.

"Hey, Boss," Kono said, grinning at him while leaning in for a hug. "Love the look."

"Don't start, Kalakaua."

"How'zit it going, Brah?"

"Slowly," Steve admitted. "What's up with Sanchez?"

They looked at each other and laughed. "Less than 30 seconds," Chin said.

"Come on, guys."

"We have chatter. They may move in the morning. But… we can handle it. Kame said you're having the surgery tomorrow, so that's your job. Just be patient and let us do ours, OK?"

"But what if—"

"Hey, Boss, we got this. Don't worry," Kono added. "You trust us, right?"

Steve rolled his eyes. "You know I do. It's just that—"

"Just that you aren't right in the middle of it," Chin finished for him. "We got your back."

"Yeah. I know. Thanks."

"We've got another meeting with HPD and didn't know how long it would go, so we decided to run over here now. Sorry," Kono said, "but we can't stay."

"Not a problem. Thanks for coming."

"Can we bring you anything?" Chin asked.

Steve shook his head. "Can't think of anything," he replied when Leilani came back in with someone else in tow.

"OK, we're outta here, Boss. You behave yourself!" Kono said with another hug. "Catch you later."

"Keep me in the loop," Steve shouted when they walked out the door.

"Yeah, yeah," Chin replied.

"Commander McGarrett, this is the night nurse, Ensign Ellen McCauley."

"Commander, nice to meet you. Please call me Ellen."

"Steve."

"The commander is still NPO," Leilani reminded them. "I tried to get the status moved off until midnight, but so far, no luck."

"Oh, that is silly," Ellen said. "I'll go see what I can do," she promised when Leilani waved goodbye. "Now, anything I can do for you?"

"Well, I could go to the bathroom. Can I get up to do it?"

I'll hold it if I have to use a bedpan.

"Of course. You're not restricted," she said, while reaching down to unplug the IV pump from the wall. "Your little friend here has to go where you go. Have you been up since before the Endoscopy?"

"I haven't been up since last night."

"OK, take it slow and just sit on the side of the bed for a minute. Any dizziness?"

"No, I'm good." He stood up and quickly reached around for the back of his gown.

"Steve, rule number one, you have to get over that shyness." She pulled the gown together and held it at his waist. "You push the pump, I'll take care of the gown."

"Yes, ma'am."

They walked to the bathroom door and she pushed it open for him. "There is a call button on the wall if you feel sick. If you are, don't try to make it back to bed by yourself."

"Thanks."

"I'll be back in later," she promised. "I'm going to call that surgeon's office and give them a piece of my mind!"

~~~H50~~~

"Good news!"

Steve raised up on his elbow.

Ellen came to his bedside. "The doctor is rewriting the orders." She glanced at the clock. "For the next three hours, you are free to have some food and water. What's your pleasure?"

"All I really want is ice," Steve admitted. "And a toothbrush would be great."

"Coming right up," she told him and returned a minute later. "Are you sure you don't want any food?"

He thought about it. "I'm not sure. Nothing sounds very good right now," he admitted.

"That's fine. If you don't want it, we don't need to push the issue. "How's that ice?" she asked, grinning at him not even using a spoon, but reaching in the cup with his fingers, greedily shoving them into his mouth.

He grinned. "Pretty damn good, to be honest." He hesitated before speaking again.

"What do you need?" she prompted.

"There's no way I could get a shower, is there?" he asked, remembering the huge glass shower stall in the bathroom.

"I don't see why not," she replied, making him very happy. "There's no reason you can't. I just need to tape up the IV. Let me get some supplies and I'll be back in.

~~~H50~~~

Long showers were one of life's guilty pleasures. And Steve took every advantage of it; in fact, the bathroom was steamed when he opened the glass door. Ellen had provided soap, shampoo and a toothbrush, which he gladly reached for.

Wonder how much this stuff costs? He idly thought while brushing his teeth. Probably the most expensive toothpaste you've ever used.

He finished in the bathroom and was getting back into bed when Ellen returned with some supplies. "How'd that feel?"

"Insanely wonderful," he admitted.

She held out a new, clean gown. "Sorry I didn't get this to you before you came out, but for surgery, they want you to wear a yellow gown. You might as well put it on now since we don't know what time they'll call for you tomorrow. And you need to lose the underwear, they don't accept those either." She reached around him and untied the strings and then unsnapped the shoulder so that his arm with the IV could come out of the sleeve. "You pull that one off and I'll put this one on," she told him.

He didn't have a choice but to do what she asked.

"I know you're shy but drop those drawers," she said.

He rolled his eyes, but did what she asked, then added them to the plastic bag they had placed his clothes in.

"If you can go ahead and get back in bed, I've got another fashion accessory for you," Ellen said, holding up a pair of white socks.

He sat up in bed and she sat on the end of it, placing his foot in her lap. "These are to lessen the risk of blood clots," she told him while rolling the tight, white stocking up to his knee. Once finished, she reached for the other foot. That task completed, she held up a pair of fuzzy gray socks. "They want you to keep these on as well so that you don't slip and fall," she said, sliding the socks on.

"They're hot," he said.

"Unfortunately, yes, they are," she agreed. "But necessary." Gathering up her plastic bags, she left the room.

And there he sat, staring at his feet, wondering just how it had come to this.

~~~H50~~~

The saga will finish in a couple of days!