Crash and Burn - Chapter 25: Hāne’e

Medical Examiner Facility, 835 Iwilei Road, Honolulu

Dr. Max Bergman stopped in the middle of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata when he heard the familiar thread of Steve McGarret and Danny Williams coming from behind him. He stood, turned toward them, his hands clasped in front of him, a frown between his brows.

“What are you doing here?”

Steve and Danny looked at each other, then Steve sighed. “Max, we sent you two bodies. Tell me you started on the autopsy.”

“Of course I did, COD is a GSW to the back of the head.” He stopped, mentally berating himself. Cause of death wasn’t the most important thing right now. “I thought you’d be at the hospital.”

“Why?” Danny asked.

“Hasn’t anybody called you?”

Steve has reached the limit on his patience. They’ve spent half a day in the field, on an island where they didn’t even have one single traffic light, communications have been almost impossible with the bad cell-reception, he was tired, he was dirty, and he didn’t want to decipher Max-speech on top of it all.

“Max, spell it out, will you,” he snapped. “Our phones are dead.” No wonder with six hours of trying to get a bar of reception.

“Uhm.” Max looked down, wished he could go back to playing his piano. He wasn’t good at this communication stuff. Especially with what he had to communicate. “There’s been a break-in at the Edwards’ residence.”

Danny breathed a sigh of relief. “They’re not home.”

“Well,” Max mumbled. “They landed today.”

“What?!”

The ME nodded quickly. “Yes. They were attacked.”

Danny went green. “What?!”

Max knew he wasn’t doing this right. “No, no, they’re okay.”

“You asked why we weren’t at the hospital, Max,” Steve reminded him, tiredness forgotten.

“So they’re not fine,” Danny finished. “It is Grace? Rachel?”

“No, no.” Max shook his head vehemently. “They’re both fine.”

“Then who’s at the hospital,” Danny demanded. “Stan?” Which wasn’t that bad, not that he’d say that aloud.

“No, the family’s fine. It’s Sabrina.”

Steve blanched, turned, and ran out of the lab.

Danny was right at his heals. “Do you want me to drive?”

“No.” Steve vaulted the hood to get to the driver’s side faster. “Get in.”




Hawaii Medical Center East, Honolulu

“I’m fine,” Reena croaked, swinging her legs off the hospital bed.

“You’re not fine, ma’am,” a nurse said sternly, trying to push her back. “You have a stridor due to an upper airway edema and neck hematoma. We need to keep you under observation for the night.”

“So you’re telling me I wheeze, and I have a swollen and bruised neck.” She paused, tried to swallow to moisten her throat. It didn’t help. “Someone tried to strangle me, I know, I was there.”

“They succeeded,” Marc said softly from behind her, his heart still racing with the thought of how close he’s come to losing her.

The nurse looked at him gratefully. “Exactly. You were dead for a few seconds, ma’am. We need to make sure nothing else was damaged.”

Reena rolled her eyes, but with her throat hurting, she couldn’t offer any objections. That sucked. But not as much as it would’ve sucked to be dead. At least now she had proof that the whole light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel was a load of crap. She hadn’t seen any light. But that was probably because Kamekona has brought her back before she could reach the end of that proverbial tunnel.

Not that she remembered, or that he’d bragged about saving her. Little Grace Williams had told her the story when Reena had woken up. Apparently deciding to give a helping hand, Kamekona had ventured, alone, to the Edwards residence, arriving just in time to get her assailant off her and finish what she’d started, by pulling the knife through the tissue on the Samoan’s thick neck.

When he could not find a pulse, he had administered CPR, bringing her back from the dead, called an ambulance, and followed it to the hospital with the Edwards family in tow. They haven’t moved from the hallway ever since.

And then, when she’d thanked him for saving her, he had offered just a small smile, nodded, and went back to reading his comic book, keeping vigil at the window of her room.

The nurse, appeased that her patient wasn’t going anywhere, nodded and left the room, confident the governor and the big guy would not let Miss Logan go anywhere.

Reena sighed, coughed, grabbed her neck when a splinter of pain shot directly into her brain, and reached for the cup of ice-chips.

Then, she heard a little girl’s excited “Daddy!”, a man’s growled “Where is she?”, and then Steve McGarrett filled the doorway, his eyes running over her.

She tried to smile, but it wobbled, and the next thing she knew, she was in his arms, his face pressed into her neck.

As Steve had rushed to the hospital, the only thing on his mind had been a silent prayer for her to be all right. And when he’d seen her there, sitting on the bed, dwarfed by the large hospital gown, her bare feet swinging slightly, all he could think of was how incredibly beautiful she looked.

And then, unable to help himself, he crossed the room, gathered her in his arms, held her close, and pressed his face into her neck. Fighting tears of relief he inhaled her soft scent, sighing as he felt her arms come around him, her fingers playing in the hair at his nape.

A few long minutes later, when he finally lifted his head, moved slightly away and looked at her with an expression that was such a sweet mixture of concern and care Reena had a hard time fighting the compulsion to burst into tears, crawl back into his arms, and stay there.

His gut clenched as he finally saw the damage done to her neck. The usually creamy-white skin was one big bruise, the veins in her neck prominent, creating a white web-like pattern against the blue and purple marks. There were fingertip bruises on the border of her jaw on either side of the contusion. The broken capillaries in her eyes and the abrasions on her hands showed she’d put up quite a struggle.

He noticed his hand was shaking as he lifted it to gently touch her neck. He wanted blood.

Reena clasped his wrist. “I’m fine, Steve,” she whispered.

He nodded. “Is he dead?”

“Kamekona killed him. Saved my life.”

Only then did Steve notice the big Hawaiian hovering by the window. “Mahalo, brah.”

Kamekona inclined his bald head. “Don’t mention it, brah.”

“Especially since he was doing your job.”

Steve glared into the corner from which the sarcastic remark came, and met the incensed gaze of Marcus Hawthorne.

Reena felt him pull back even before he let her go. She rolled her eyes, glared back at her brother. “Butt out, Marc,” she wheezed.

“No, Sabrina.” Steve crossed his arms over his chest. “Let him finish.”

Marc was on his feet immediately. Maybe he was acting rashly and childishly, but this was his little sister they were talking about. And she was in the hospital because of Lieutenant Commander Steven J. McGarrett. By God he’d finish.

“She’s part of your team, McGarrett. What was she doing on an op on her own, without backup, huh? Where were you?”

When he lunged, Reena jumped off the bed, fought the bout of dizziness, won, and planted herself between the two men. Her back to Steve, in full mama-bear protection mode, she glared at Marc.

She’s part of his team because of you, governor Hawthorne. She was on an op on her own, because the Five-0 team were doing their job, because Wo Fat created a perfect diversion, and because she was the only one available to save the Edwards family.”

The speech drained the strength out of her vocal cords, until the last words were barely above a whisper.

“And if you intend to stand there, heaping blame on people who don’t deserve it, I don’t want you here.”

A silent battle of wills raged as brother’s and sister’s glares clashed. But Marc, knowing she was right, but damn if he’d admit it, sighed, and with one last poisonous glare at McGarrett, strode out of the room.

Reena turned, looked sheepishly up at Steve. “Sorry about that,” she whispered.

“You don’t need to defend me,” he said coldly, his eyes distant. “He was right. I should have protected you.” His gaze froze over. “And he has more rights to be here than I do.”

He turned and left without another word.

She heard Danny call him in the hall, ask him where he was going.

His clipped “Home” sounded as final as the slamming of a door.




The night nurse left Sabrina Logan’s room, made the annotation of the time—11 p.m.—on the chart and looked up to see a man striding purposefully toward her.

“Sorry, sir, no visitors allowed after 9 p.m.”

“I just need a few minutes.”

She shook her head. “I’m sorry, but I can’t allow it.” Then she saw the badge clipped to his waist. “Do you work with her?”

A slow nod.

She sighed. “I have to check-up on her at half-past.”

The corners of the man’s lips curved up. “Thank you.”

She smiled back. “Go ahead. But be careful. It’s been a rough evening. She’s sedated. Don’t wake her, she needs her rest.”

“I’ll be careful,” he replied, stepped into the room, and closed the door softly behind him.

She was curled on her side, her hands tucked under her chin, the monitor beside the bed beeping steadily as it received the data from the pulse oximeter on her finger.

He slowly lifted the chair from beside the door, placed it by the bed, and sat at her side. He spent a few minutes watching her, before lifting his hand, and gently brushing a strand of hair off her forehead, tucking it behind her ear.

He didn’t know how long he sat there, simply watching her breathe, listening to the steady beat of her heart, before he finally decided to do what he came here for, hoping she’d be asleep to make this easier.

He placed his head on her pillow, their noses almost touching. “You know,” he whispered, “if someone had told me, before I met you, that someone as tiny as you could hurt me, I wouldn’t have believed it. But they would’ve been right. You hurt me. You still hurt me. And you don’t even know it.”

He leaned that tiny bit forward, touched his nose to hers. “I wish it was physical. Those wounds heal, they might leave a scar, but they heal. This wound deep inside me, it didn’t heal. I thought it did, but you proved me wrong. It’s still raw and bleeding, and it keeps opening up every time I look at you, every time I see you with him.”

He placed a soft kiss to her forehead, touched his nose back to hers. “I wish I could hate you for it, but I don’t. I can’t. And today, when I heard you were hurt, when I thought I might never see you again, I realized why I could never hate you. No matter what you do, no matter how much it hurts.”

No wonder he had been unable to love Catherine back the way she wanted to be loved. The way she deserved to be loved. No wonder he had been unable to let any woman close. This one, this tiny, resilient, strong, stubborn, beautiful woman still had her claws embedded inside him. And he was powerless to get them out.

Watching her, he leaned in, touched his lips to hers. Closing his eyes, he lingered, increasing the pressure just a tiny bit, to fuse their mouths together. He allowed himself just a small taste, before letting up, until his lips were barely brushing hers.

Aloha wau iā 'oe a mau loa,” he whispered against her lips. Five little words he could never say to her if she were awake. I will love you forever.

He kissed her softly one last time, stood, and left as silently as he’s come in.


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