Two days later, Steve had been gradually weaned from the ventilator. Five days later, his doctor proclaimed his recuperative ability to be outstanding and he was transferred out of intensive care into a "real" room. His first visitors were Danny and Lonnie.
"Hey, you look good," Danny said confidently from the hospital wheelchair. He had two more days before he would discharged.
"See my cast?" Lonnie strutted his above-the-elbow cast that was a mass of signatures. "Wanna sign it?"
Steve accepted the marker pen and found a small empty place to scribble a signature. "It seems to take longer to recover now a days," Steve complained in his voice that was just barely above a whisper.
"That's not what your doc says," Danny commented.
Steve smiled. "Is everything okay?"
"Getting there. Gideon and Audrey will be home tonight. From all reports the marshals and Lawson's team have done a first rate job. By the end of the week, I can pick up. Kono and Gary have been looking through applicants. I'd like you to look them over, too."
Steve felt mildly flattered. "Sure. What about Carrie?"
His expression melted slightly. "I haven't see her in five days."
"What will you do?"
Danny masked his emotions. "I'll go to work."
"That's not what I meant."
He glanced at Lonnie, then back at Steve. "I guess that's up to Carrie, isn't it? I didn't ask her to change who she was. I can't change either. But I can't just walk away from this appointment. Would you walk away?"
"I never did," Steve counseled.
"I can't either - even if I want to."
"Do you wish you could?"
He lifted an eyebrow. He could feel emotions of mixed anger and sorrow churn within. "Yeah - I guess I do," he admitted.
Steve sighed and slowly reached out to touch his friend's shoulder. "Sometimes I did, too."
"Maybe she just needs some time to think," Danny suggested, but did not actually believe it.
Lonnie, who had never wanted Carrie as part of their lives was now gripped with a sense of loss and guilt. "I'm sorry, Dad. I don't understand why she's so mad. She said she loved you. How could she love you one day and not the next?"
"She didn't stop loving, Lonnie. She just allowed fear to steal her heart away," Steve whispered. "Love isn't that warm fuzzy feeling, it's what goes the distance when the fuzzy isn't there. Maybe it's still too early to know if Carrie has that kind of love inside."
The knock at her door caused Carrie's blood to freeze. After almost a week, everything still terrifies me. I can't even go to work and be calm. I can't eat, think, sleep. I can't bring myself to go to the hospital. I am afraid of everything! As she chastised herself, she walked to the newly installed fish-eye peephole on the door and looked out. She recognized Mark Lawson and opened the door.
"What is it this time, Mark?" she asked him.
"Good afternoon, Ms. Donagon," he replied formally, remaining on the front step.
"Do you need something else signed?" she asked abruptly. Seeing Mark Lawson caused feelings of fear to rise within her. He had been back to the house three times with affidavits and reports for her to sign. Every time made her relive the horror of that day. I thought I would die, I thought Danny would die - we did almost die.
"No, ma'am, nothing to sign," he answered. "I have some information. I cannot keep it from the press for more than another hour or two. Danny asked I give it to you first - give you a chance to get the scoop."
She brightened some. Danny must know I haven't been to the office in almost a week. He's right, I need to do something besides cower in this house. Maybe if this is a good lead I can do something. "Is this gospel?" she asked.
"You're getting it from the source," he promised.
She hesitated. "Come inside."
Mark followed her through the door into the front room that was dim from the curtains and blinds being drawn shut. She offered the couch, but he continued to stand. She couldn't help thinking he looked like a soldier at stiff at-ease. He started without prelude. "Masakski thought we'd leave him alone if he resigned, but we didn't. We discovered that prior to his dealings with the Fidel crime syndicate in New Orleans, he'd made a tacit agreement with a crime organization that promised him power here. The Caputos. He was directly involved in the death of Max Connor."
Color drained from Carrie's face as she recalled how Masakski had handed Nina Connor that folded flag at Max's funeral, sorrow and pity so obvious on his face. She remembered his statements to the press, how he had praised Five-0 with McGarrett again at the helm. It had all be a charade. She also remembered the previous history of the Caputo family. "Danny knows this?"
"Yes, he asked me to let you know."
"Why didn't he tell me himself?" she asked.
Mark looked a little uncomfortable. "I imagine he thought you'd want to hear it from the source face to face and not on the phone…" he searched for words. "You haven't spent much time up at the hospital."
She pursed her lips. "You mean I haven't spent any time there."
He shrugged. "It's not my business. It is really hard to get through bad things sometimes." He glanced around at the dim room. "Life does go on."
She snorted. "What would you know about life? You guys all have hearts of stone. Blow it off and move on to the next case. You know, I did try this before. I was engaged to a guy who was a cop. He was sweet, warm, loveable - a lot like Danny - and somebody shot and killed him. I can't go through that again."
He refused to be insulted. "I know what it's like to love someone - and to lose them. I was married once."
Carrie gave a knowing look. "You're not married now?"
He slowly shook his head.
She gave a smirk. "Yes - law enforcement and marriage don't mix. Cop's wife syndrome, right?"
"No," he said quietly. "She died from complications of diabetes during her pregnancy. They both died."
Carrie felt embarrassed. "I-I'm sorry."
"I didn't tell you that to make you feel bad, or make you feel sorry for me. The three years I had with Sarah were the best of my life. I don't know if I'll ever fall in love again, but if I do, I don't think I'll make her take a physical to be sure she doesn't have diabetes. Love doesn't work that way. This doesn't have to do with Danny's job, it has to do with your heart."
Carrie stopped on her way to the hospital and picked up some of Danny's favorite Chinese food. Smiling broadly, she entered his hospital room the little white carton first. "She comes bearing a peace offering," she announced.
He glanced up from the crossword puzzle to give her a small smile. "It's good to see you, Carrie."
"You to," she answered honestly as she dramatically placed the carton and a pair of chopsticks on the table. "Eat it while it's hot."
"I saw you on the news last night," he said in a friendly manner. "You looked good."
"It felt really strange to be back, but - well, I guess it was the right thing to do. I'm glad I did. And glad that you gave me the scoop. Boy, things are hopping at the statehouse today."
"I guess so," he replied, aware that they were quickly running out of superficial conversation. Uncomfortable silence filled the gap. "Why don't you just talk about it, Carrie."
"I needed some time to think," she admitted.
"All right," he said, trying to look non-judgmental, but six days had been plenty of time for the sorrow to begin its volatile metamorphosis into bitterness and rage.
"I guess," Carrie said, taking a deep breath, "I guess I'm uncertain about our relationship."
"Uncertain?" he repeated, not offering any escape by picking up the conversation.
She was aware he was not making this easy. "Danny, you promised me!" she suddenly blurted. "You knew I could not handle this cop thing! The Danno I fell in love with was a college professor." Her expression pleaded with him to understand.
"Okay, so do you want out?" he asked, his face a mask.
She blinked. "What?"
"What do you want me to do, Carrie? Beg? There is more to this than just you and me. There's Lonnie and Audrey. What do you plan to tell them? You can't just come bouncing into and out of our lives as it meets your pleasure. You are either in or out." Rage kindled in his eyes.
"Danny, you are wrong, this is about you and me - I didn't apply for position of nanny, you know. I'm not marrying your children, I'm marrying you. Or is that all I meant to you? Am I a convenience?"
The conversation was degenerating and he knew it. Maybe the best I can offer her is a big fight. She will leave anyway and she won't feel so guilty. He stared at the blankets on the bed.
Carrie tried to read him, but years of practice had perfected his stoicism. "Danny? Do you love me?" she asked quietly.
He blinked several times before daring to look back up at her. "Carrie, I am what I am. I am a cop and I can't change that. It is what I am. And it is a package deal: me , the kids, the job, the whole thing. It's all or nothing."
She knew he had not answered her question. "I asked if you loved me."
He felt vulnerable and angry and like his heart was dying inside all at once. "I thought you knew the answer to that. If you don't, my telling you again won't matter."
Why can't he just make it easy? Does it matter what he does? Look at all we have been through - shouldn't that make us stronger? Is there a way back to where we were a week ago? Why can't we just sail off into the sunset like other people? "I want this to work, Danny. I don't know why, but I really do. I love you - I really do - but, I just don't know!" She jumped to her feet. "What is wrong with me?"
Between the shoulder sling and his leg cast, his mobility was pretty well restricted, but he managed to take hold of her hand before she got away. "Take a little more time, Carrie. Decide what is really important to you. I'll do some thinking, too. Six weeks and this leg cast comes off. You make your decision during that time and I'll make mine. If you decide that you want me, meet me at the cottage the night after the cast is off. If you don't come, I'll understand."
The waves on the shore were running high, there was an unseen storm way out there probably a thousand miles away, but its signs were on the beach. The sun was turning crimson as it descended towards the Pacific and overhead the seagulls were calling to each other. A pelican dove into the sea and flew back up, a fish flapping half out of his large beak.
Danny had walked amongst the blackened charred remains of the cottage and paced out his plans for restoration. With the inheritance from Adair, he could have built sixteen cottages. He decided to make this one comfortable enough for all of them: Lonnie, Audrey, himself, and a small bungalow add-on for Gideon to live out his retirement.
Too bad rebuilding my personal life isn't this easy. The strolls through the charred remains of his relationship with Carrie were much harder to make. There were no carefully drawn and labeled plans for rebuilding a better life. He gazed across the blackened property one more time. It's getting late, it's past eight o'clock and is getting dark. He picked up the roll of architect's drawings of the house and the cane he was using to assist his left leg and started for the car. Perhaps it is just as well.
He spun at Carrie's voice. "Carrie?" He was awash with the sudden surge of hope and apprehension.
"I couldn't just not show up," she said quietly. "I love you too much for that. I never wanted to hurt you."
"I don't want to hurt you either," he answered.
"I've been offered an anchor position in Chicago," she announced. "I start in a week."
He stood still. "That sounds good, Carrie," he forced himself to say.
"You could come with me," she suggested.
He gave a small smile. "I don't think I'd like Chicago."
Carrie nodded. "Danny, I can't marry you."
It was his turn to nod an acknowledgement. "I know. I think I always knew."
Neither said anything for several minutes. They stood side by side leaning on the car and looking at the ocean. The silence seemed to provide a healing that words could not. As the last of the edge of the sun dipped below the horizon, they both turned, as though they had watched the end of a show.
"Everyone tells me I'll hate it in Chicago and come back, but I'm going to try it," Carrie commented.
"You'll hate it and come back," he advised.
She cracked a smile. "Thanks."
He managed a smile back. "Go on, Carrie, but if you ever come back, if you don't find what you're after on the mainland, look me up, okay?"
"Only if you promise not to get shot or something."
He lifted an eyebrow. "Promise."
She smiled, but there was a tear in her eye as she turned away.
His gaze followed her as she walked back to her car, but then he turned to watch the light fade on the ocean and didn't watch her leave.