A follow up to the episode BLIND TIGER,

 

taking place during FORCE OF WAVES

 

 
 

BLIND-SIDED

By

gm

 


 

The familiar voice drifted into his consciousness before realization of his circumstances, or identification of the woman talking. Eyes closed, he assessed his condition and with disappointment categorized himself as, once more, injured and in a hospital bed.

 

Flashing images skittered through his mind: Ala Wai Yacht Club, Cal Anderson repairing a boat, Clark Sloan in a boat . . . . water, pain, blackness . . . . Danno -- a concerned Danno . . . . then more blackness.

 

"Yes " the familiar, irate female voice said. "He is resting and his arm has been set."

 

Steve remembered waking up earlier, the doctor informing him of his latest injuries. Concussion -- that explained the tremendous headache, and a broken hand -- that explained the limited mobility in his arm, the sweaty itching and heaviness from the cast. "He is not ready for visitors yet officer -- no, there's no need to come, I can notify you --" An irritated gasp. "Really! Policemen!" Exasperation! "Never a more stubborn lot on the whole earth!"

 

McGarrett smiled. "Except for nurses, Miss Lavallo," he corrected in a dry voice.

 

Another gasp.

 

Eyes open, he smiled with satisfaction as the indignant and surprised nurse at his bedside stared at him. With the nurse uncharacteristically speechless, Steve pressed his advantage. "Good to see you again, Nurse Lavallo. Or can I call you Edith?"

 

Astonishment quickly gave way to flustered annoyance. "How did you recognize --?" She shook her head with confusion.

 

"Your voice. You taught me a thing or two about heightening my sound perception, remember?"

 

Being blinded, even temporarily, had been an unforgettable experience. Aside from the obvious memories of terror and helplessness, McGarrett had also retained some of the hard-learned training taught him by the stubborn and dedicated nurse, Edith Lavallo. If ever he had met his match, it was in the proud and obstinate nurse who began as an adversary and ended as a lifesaver by the end of his hospital stay.

 

She nodded, still staring. "But when you saw me you knew . . . "

 

Steve couldn't hide another smile. "I found you. After my release from the hospital. I had Danno -- Detective Williams --"

 

"I am more than familiar with your cohort!"

 

Steve laughed at her asperity shielding her discomfort at being at a disadvantage -- at his mercy. "He -- collaborated -- with me and we tracked you down. I had to get a look at the person who saved my life."

 

So vividly those memories of his blindness returned in this environment -- with seeing her again. When he regained his sight she refused to see him, already far too attached to her once blind patient.

 

Never one to give up on anything, McGarrett used his vast resources for the simple task of tracking the nurse. Just after his release from the hospital he'd had Danno drive him to her house up in the hills above Honolulu. It had been late afternoon with the tropical sun baking the neighborhood in bright January warmth. She was working in her front garden when they pulled up. Steve didn't have the heart to cross the street and personally thank her for her challenging, prodding methods that dared him to deal with his blindness and learn to function in spite of a handicap.

 

Almost a year ago -- he sat in the car for a long time -- Dan urging him to go talk to the nurse -- Steve reluctant and finally refusing. They drove away and Steve closed the book on the advantageous acquaintance of Edith Lavallo.

 

Unsurprisingly, considering his occupational hazards, he was back in the hospital, and once more their paths crossed. The year seemed to have treated her well -- she looked much the same as when he'd seen her in January.

 

"Well!" She huffed angrily, again momentarily speechless. If he knew her, it wouldn't last long. "Well, I suppose I should expect such tactics from the police! You should really know better, Mr. McGarrett."

 

This was entirely too entertaining for him. Grinning, he kept pushing her, keeping her off guard. "You're right, I should know better, Edith -- if I may call you Edith? I should have known better months ago." He tapped the cast enclosing his hand and arm. "Looks like I'll be out of the action for a little while, so I'm making up for lost time. Can I call you?"

 

"Mr. McGarrett! You are a patient --"

 

Steve sat up straight and struggled to fix the pillow comfortably behind his back. Automatically she was compelled to help. After receiving a grateful smile from her patient, she quickly backed away. "But I'm not a patient man, nurse."

 

"You won't be going anywhere. Your hand is broken and you have a concussion."

 

"Are you avoiding my question, Edith?"

 

Flustered, her tongue tied when she started to refuse.

 

"Ah, come on, nurse, you can't keep brushing me off, I'm a stubborn man."

 

Dan Williams slipped into the room behind the nurse. Smiling, he agreed. "Truer words were never spoken."

 

"Oh." Edith spun around to her next target. McGarrett had completely knocked her off balance, but she had no problems focusing her sights on young Williams. "These are not visiting hours officer. This patient has a concussion and other injuries and needs his rest."

 

Quickly trading knowing glances at his boss, Williams just continued beaming his charming smile on Lavallo. "I'll leave him in your capable hands, nurse, as soon as I visit with him for just a few minutes." Glaring at the young detective, she pointedly ignored his comments and the patient studiously watching her. "Five minutes, Mr. Williams."

 

Dan stood at the foot of the bed shaking his head. "Small world."

 

"Small island."

 

He smirked after the nurse. He had let her slip away from him once. It would be a mistake to let her easily fade from his life again. He didn't see any great romantic connection between them, but between such headstrong, stubborn people, there would be a lot of fireworks.

 

"So, what have you got for me, Danno?"

 

"You've got a concussion and a broken hand, Steve."

 

Steve grimaced. He didn't like being put in his place by anyone -- not a nurse, and certainly not Danno. For the moment he would have to deal with both. "Okay, what have you got?"

 

*****

 

Despite aching hand and head, Steve could not sit at home and rest for more than a day. With Danno insisting on being such a persistent watchdog, McGarrett turned to other avenues to focus his attention. Now he had time to tinker with his boat, but there was little he could accomplish in his handicapped capacity. Cal Anderson was doing most of the work, leaving Steve with an opportunity to accomplish more unfinished business.

 

It was almost sunset when Steve pulled in front of the neat house overlooking Honolulu. One car in the carport indicated Lavallo was probably home. Taking a deep breath Steve approached the door and gave several firm knocks. After a few moments Edith opened the door and stared at him in speechless surprise.

 

"May I come in, or shall we conduct our conversation out here?"

 

"I -- uh -- yes, please, come in."

 

At her invitation he sat on a cushioned couch. After offering him the usual amenities of coffee or a cold drink, both declined, she edgily sat in an overstuffed chair.

 

"Well, I must say this is quite a surprise, Mr. McGarrett."

 

"Steve. My name is Steve."

 

"Steve. I -- uh -- don't quite know -- "

 

"Why I'm here? Because I'm not sure that your theory of hospital relationships is correct, Edith. My theory is that maybe they can work out. And I'd like to find out for sure. I was hoping you would go out with me -- for dinner tomorrow night?"

 

"I --" Her mouth edged into a tentative smile. "I'd like that very much. To test your theory, of course."

 

"Of course." He smiled, feeling triumphant at the small victory.

 

She responded with a broad grin. "Wonderful. While you're here, would you like to see my garden?"

 

"I'd love to."

 

*****

Pleasant small talk dominated their conversation to Michel's. He asked her about her work in surgery. She brought him up to date on her career and various interests, mostly centered on gardening in her time off.
 
When she asked him about Five-0, he hedged, as always with dates he circumvented details about his work. What woman wanted to hear about the latest murder or robbery cases? Quickly he skipped on to his various hobbies, impressing her with his divergence of interests: golf, boating, painting, classical guitar -- none of which he indulged in recently. Valiantly they strove for common ground and he sense both were a bit relieved when they arrived at the Colony Surf.
 
Picking a suitable restaurant took a good deal of thought -- part of the overall ambiance of a date, McGarrett felt. Each woman he dated was individual, his attraction to her different from others he'd dated. In the case of Edith Lavallo, he felt an odd set of emotions unique in his relationships. She was a woman of strong character -- like most of his dates. Unlike so many others, she was adversarial and combative toward him while she tutored him in blindness. Once his sight returned she was gone, finally acknowledging her attraction toward him, but distancing herself from any affinity with a patient.

 

During his recovery he'd pondered her rejection, wondering what she was afraid of -- why she had left. As usual, Five-0 business intruded on keeping tabs on the nurse, and he'd allowed the relationship to die.

 

Now he was determined to give her -- both of the -- a second chance at -- at what? He wasn't sure. But he'd chosen one of his favorite restaurants as a starting point. Michel's boasted an exquisite French cuisine, a breathtaking ocean view and intimate tables where they would not be easily disturbed.

 

He recommended several of his usual preferences. She picked one of the seafood dishes. After the waiter left he watched her appreciative study of the boats anchored off shore, waiting for the inevitable moment when there was nothing else for them to focus on but each other. Finally she turned back to him, her eyes forthright and compelling in their directness.

 

"We've always been honest with each other, Steve. I want to keep it that way."

 

"Is that a tactful way of commenting on my bluntness?" He sensed an ultimatum coming and typically reacted with an offensive.

 

Humor lit her face and made her seem younger. "Tact? I think you know me better than that."

 

Smiling, he nodded. "Yes. We're very much alike in our personalities, Edith. After I recovered from my stubborn streak we worked very well together in the hospital."

 

"And you thought there could be more between us?"

 

"I hope so. That's why we're here tonight."

 

The arrival of their meal interrupted the conversation. After tasting the dishes and commenting on the excellent fare, they fell back on small talk. Once she forthrightly asked if he needed help with his meat since his slinged arm was rather awkward for maneuvering. Acerbically he declined. The exchange clearly recalled their previous encounters in the hospital and they retreated to silence. Finally over dessert Edith returned to the point.

 

"I will always admire you for your incredible courage and determination. I've never met anyone like you, Steve." She smiled poignantly. "Blind-sided I think is the appropriate term. I bet you hear that all the time."

 

McGarrett laid down his fork and studied her eyes, now subdued. "That sounds suspiciously like a goodbye."

 

"Like I said when I talked to you on the phone, after you regained your sight. Hospital relationships -- crushes -- infatuations -- they are natural. A patient clings to a caregiver and is grateful for the attention in a time of crisis. In my case I somehow managed to get everything mixed up and fall for the patient."

 

"Edith --"

 

She held up a hand to stop him. "We're very much alike, Steve. And for a brief period of time we shared some wonderful moments in the grip of adversity. Now you're well and back to being Mr. Five-0. And I'm back to being a regular nurse. We don't have anything in common. Without a mutual challenge to fight against we're not very well suited, are we?"

 

Irritated at her annoying honesty he tried to think of arguments to counter her claims, but could find nothing to refute her startling logic.

 

Shaking his head he ruefully declared, "Like I said before, Nurse Lavallo, you're really something else."

 

The delighted smile lit up her face. "Thank you. I'll take that as a compliment."

 

Leaning back he sighed, absently rubbing his cast. "So you don't want to date me anymore. That's one of the smoothest rejections I've ever fielded, Edith. Do you think once in a while, as friends, we could get together?" "I'd love to, Steve. As long as it's not at the hospital. You seem particularly accident prone."

 

Being a gentleman he resisted the retort hovering on his tongue. Yes, they could remain friends. Whenever he felt his life was too bland all he needed was a few hours with Edith Lavallo to spice up his life.

 

 

PAU