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E Pahu Aku

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The approaching dusk was not exactly conducive to the chase. While this would hold true anywhere, Danny Williams was inclined to believe that being outside the city limits made it worse. As a Jersey boy, he preferred pretty much everything to happen inside the city.

‘Would it be too much to ask,’ he thought to himself as he dodged a branch, ‘For the criminal element in Hawaii to keep their nefarious deeds inside the city limits, at least after working hours?’ Running through dense bush is difficult enough under the blazing sun. With the limited light there was every likelihood of -- .

“Oof,” was all that escaped Danny’s mouth as his foot caught an exposed root that sent him sprawling forward, hitting the ground with some force before rolling down the embankment. He came to a stop outside of the brush he had been chasing the suspect through, finding himself on the grassy edge of the cliff. He was a little closer than was strictly comfortable, though not in any real danger of actually going over the edge.

“Shit,” he cursed under his breath as he stood up and brushed himself off. Danny scanned the area for any sign of the asshole he had been running after or a clue as to where the man may have gone. Deciding that he had probably lost the guy, Danny eyed the edge of the cliff again and mumbled, “Talk about coming close to a self fulfilling prophecy.”

He had a few more complaints about this little operation, but they could wait till he caught up again with McGarrett. After all, where was the fun if the man wasn’t here to listen to Danny gripe?

‘Of course,’ Danny mused as his wiped his hand across his face in frustration at the wasted chase. ‘Steve probably doesn’t any issues with the fading light. The damn freak probably had super human night vision either by birth or courtesy of the Navy.’

As he turned to head back to the car empty handed, Danny heard the snap of a branch off to his left. As he twisted his head to look in the direction of the sound, he wondered if the perp had been stupid enough to double back. He didn’t have to wonder long as the guy he had been chasing came bursting out of the wooded area, knife in hand and headed in Danny’s direction. It was only when he went to grab his gun that Danny realized that he had lost it in the tumble. He had no real time to react as the man crashed into him. He could feel the knife cut into his side as he was propelled backwards. There was a moment where Danny felt frozen in time, suspended in air over the edge of the cliff, reaching out to grasp at nothing before he went careening into the ocean below.

Steve McGarrett escorted his captured suspect back to the vehicle, though the ‘escortee’ probably felt that the word dragged would be more apt to the situation. As they came out of the heavily forested area near the car, Steve noted that his partner had not returned, which was a little surprising as Danny had gone after the perp that had taken off down the road. Steve had been the one to get stuck chasing the guy who thought running inland through the heavy forest was a good escape route.

A chuckle escaped from Steve as he could imagine Danny claiming that the patch of dirt running through the trees did not constitute a road of any sort. The unexpected laughter had the arrested man eyeing the naval officer nervously. Looking over at the obviously edgy perpetrator, Steve gave another little little laugh at the bad luck of both him and his cohort as they weren’t actually tied to any case of the Five-0.

The amusement was short lived as Steve registered how dark it had gotten out in the open areas. He became concerned that Danny may have gotten lost if he had to pursue his suspect into the woods during nightfall. The worry, while partly fueled by a genuine concern for his partner’s health and well being, was doubled by the fact that he would never hear the end of it should Danny actually have gotten lost because he had insisted on dragging the other man up here in the hills to investigate so late in the day. Not that he necessarily minded when Danny started bitching at him. It was entertaining to watch those hands moving, and Steve enjoyed the way Danny's eyes crinkled when he got worked up.

Catching a flash of light, Steve assumed that it was the backup that Danny had insisted they call. He had also insisted they wait, but hey, at least Steve had allowed him enough time to make the call before advancing on the obvious crime scene, though that may have been motivated by the lack of room in the car should they actually make arrests. A an extra vehicle or two could come in handy. Watching as the cars approached, the large number indicating that it wasn't just Chin and Kono, Steve wondered if Danny had managed to hitch a ride back.

Once the vehicles reached him, Kono popped out of the passenger side of the nearest one almost before Chin had brought it to a full stop and cheerfully called out, "Hey boss, you'll never guess what we picked up on the way here?"

Chin climbed out of the driver's side and flashed his cousin a look of irritation for jumping out of the car so quickly. Quickly scanning the area and noting a distinct absence of one short, blond, irascible man, he asked, "Where's Danny?"

"Danny?" Steve parroted, a puzzled look on his face. He felt a knot tying in his stomach as he gestured toward Kono. "I thought that was who Kono was talking about."

"No," Kono enunciated slowly with a shake of her head as she took in the fact that the shorter man was not present. Concern now coloured her voice, "We picked up what we assumed was one of the guys from the crime you two manged to stumble over. Hekekia thought it might be related to a case he's working on and came along."

Gesturing at the vehicle behind him, Chin added, "Turned out to be the case, as the guy we picked up was one their suspects."

Ignoring his own suspect, as he wasn't likely to get anywhere with his hands cuffed behind his back, Steve walked over to his team. "Danny ran after one of them," he explained as he stared down the road they had just driven up. Although he had a feeling he already knew the answer, Steve asked, "Didn't you see him on the way up? I'm guessing the guy you picked up is the same one he was pursuing." He rubbed his nose as he waited for the response he knew was coming.

"No brah," Chin replied with a slow shake of his head. "We could ask the guy in back of Hekekia's car. Assuming he's the same one, he should know something."

Hekekia watched as the two male members of the Five-0 task force worked their way over to his vehicle. He wasn't a fan of the group in general, or Chin in particular as he believed that the man was a dirty cop; however, working with them was occasionally necessary, so he would be professional. He rolled down the window as McGarrett leaned on the vehicle, and offered a civil greeting.

Steve ignored the man, having recognised the suspect in the back seat as one of the ones who had fled earlier. Catching the sight of blood on the man's shirt tail, Steve’s eyes narrowed menacingly. "Where's the guy who was chasing you?"

The man gave a lopsided grin and chuckled, "The haole? That hupo decided to go for a swim."

There was a flurry of movement as the back door of the car was ripped opened, and the perp was grabbed and dragged from his relatively safe seat and slammed against the back of the vehicle.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Steve growled into the other man's ear. Not overly intimidated, the man simply spit on the former Navy SEAL. Not a smart move, especially when that SEAL was already angry and working himself into a panic due to concern for, not just his partner's, but his best friend's well being. Pushing the man further back against the car until the man was practically melded to it, Steve pressed his forearm against the other man’s throat. "Where the hell is he?"

Sneering at the obviously upset man looming above him, the guy choked out, "Jumped off the cliff. Maki die dead."

At those words, at the very idea that Danny could be dead, Steve lost it. He started pounding into the culprit, because there was no way Danny went off any cliff accidentally, let alone voluntarily. After a few good blows, Chin dragged his friend off the man and held him in place as he struggled to get back to the punishment.

"He's not going to be able tell us anything more if you kill him," Chin reminded Steve. If what the man was saying was true, Chin would be more than happy to hold him in place while Steve finished the job he started--that is, after he got a few swings in himself. However, it was possible that the crazed criminal might just be taunting Steve, having recognized his friend's weakness. McGarrett might not have realized exactly how he felt about his partner, but to everyone else, or at least everyone else who wasn't named Danny Williams, it was easy to see. Especially if he was worried about the other man. With Kono resting a comforting hand on Steve's back, Chin was reasonably assured the younger man would stay where he was. He turned to the perp. "I suggest that you tell us everything you know about our colleague's whereabouts, or I might be inclined to allow my friend to resume his approach to questioning."

The drive back to Honolulu was a quiet one. Chin was at the wheel of Danny’s car while Kono followed behind in the vehicle they had taken to the site as Steve had not been fit to drive by the time they had left. Both of the arrested men were in Hekekia’s custody.

Sadly, the story about what happened to Danny hadn’t change much except for the slip from jumped to pushed, but they had already known that their teammate hadn’t leapt on his own. As to where this had happened along the shoreline, the perpetrator was vague, mentioning briefly that he had doubled back, not knowing where he had been at the time. Probably on purpose, though given the nature of the pursuit, it was possible he just wasn’t sure.

None of them wanted to accept that their friend was gone but the odds seemed against his survival. The cliffs in the area were quite high, and hitting water was akin to hitting concrete unless you knew what you were doing and hit at the correct angle. Even if he survived the fall, there was the matter of the time in the water, Danny’s questionable swimming skills (even if he did claim to know how to swim, no one had ever witnessed it) and where he would swim to if it turned out he could. Most of the shoreline was cliff, no protruding rocks or small alcoves to seek shelter if he could spot them before the darkness had fallen. Plus, if Danny had been bleeding, another unknown factor as the perp had supplied so little information, there was also the possibility of attracting predators.

Chin glanced nervously at his friend in the passenger seat. Steve had been staring blankly out the window the whole way down the mountain. As far as Chin could tell, he hadn’t moved except for the involuntary rocking by the car, nor had he made a sound. Maybe he should have let Steve go back to pounding the man, because this version of his friend was just not natural.

They were well into the city before Steve finally spoke. Still staring out the car window, his voice showed his pain and confusion as he tried to come to terms with what had happened. “I just don’t understand why the guy had gone back,” he admitted. “If he had gotten away from Danny, why do that? Why push him?”

“Sometimes people...” Chin had to stop and collect his thoughts before continuing. Steve finally turned his head to look at Chin at that moment, taking in the tense appearance of his friend. Chin attempted to answer him again under the broken stare now focused on him. “Sometimes, there is no reason, no logic. He’s probably just a sick bastard who wondered what it would be like to push someone off a damn cliff, and hey, why not the cop chasing me. Sometimes, that’s all there is.”

No comfort could be found in the answer Chin had given. It was difficult to find comfort when trying to understand a senseless act. Steve’s frustration and anger once again bubbled to the surface as he slammed his fist hard into the dashboard.

“Fuck! And how the hell am I supposed to explain this to Gracie,” he exclaimed, glaring once again at the city outside the vehicle. Holding up his hand to stop Chin from speaking, Steve added with a shake of his head, “Don’t say it doesn’t have to be me, because we both know it does. It absolutely does have to be me.”

“I wasn’t going to suggest that,” Chin reassured him. “But you don’t have to come up with what to say all by yourself, nor do you have to tell her on your own. We’ll be there as well. 'Ohana, brah, 'ohana.”

The remainder of the drive to Steve’s house was quiet as neither man could bring themselves to speak further of the responsibilities that were to come. Chin and Kono had agreed that the McGarrett house was the place to take Steve, because any work could wait. They were both going because there was no way they were leaving Steve on his own. As it was, they had had to practically force the man into the car before he decided to jump off the nearest cliff to join the police boats in the search. Who knew what he would get up to if left to his own devices. Plus, they were all hurting, and they would get through it together.

Chin pulled up to the house with Kono right behind him. Climbing out of the car, Chin noted that Steve made no acknowledgement of their arrival nor did he make any movement to exit the vehicle. Kono, on the other hand, jumped out of hers almost as quickly as she had when they had been driving up the cliff, and she started waving at him frantically.

“Get back in the car, cuz,” she called out as she jogged over to the other vehicle. “Actually, let me get in the back seat, and then get back in.”

“Why?” Chin asked as his cousin clamoured past him to crawl into the backseat. “Where are we going?”

“The Queen's Medical Center,” Kono supplied in a fairly upbeat tone. “That’s where they’re taking Danny. Turns out our boy can swim.”

Steve first snapped his head around to stare at Kono, then moved to Chin, a combined look of disbelief and relief written across his face.

“Maybe I should drive --” he started to say only to be cut off by very loud cries of no. Danny, it turned out, was alive and they’d like to stay that way as well.

A short while later, the trio burst through the hospital doors. Chin may have preferred a motorcycle but was perfectly capable of getting around quickly in a car. As each scanned the ER for someone to ask about Danny, it was Kono who spotted one of the officers involved in the search.

"Hey, Onakea," Kono called out, waving the man over to them as Chin and Steve turned in the direction she was looking. The three intense sets of eyes on her made the woman a little nervous, but she worked her way over to the members of the Five-0 task force. She never even got to offer as much as a hello before a barrage of questions was being fired at her. Waving her hands in defeat got them to quickly stop as they realized what they were doing, each looking a little sheepish.

"Okay then," Onakea smirked before taking a deep breath. "Let's see. He was in and out of consciousness on the way here. Kept muttering something about his gun, which I gather he lost before going over the edge--"

"That would explain a lot," Steve admitted turning toward Chin. "First thing he should have done to defend himself was shoot the bastard."

"Yes," Chin agreed quickly with a little bob of his head. "There were no wounds on the guy."

"There were no wounds on him before McGarrett got to him, you mean," Kono snorted as she took in the impatient stance of her colleague who had her arms crossed over chest. "But you might want to wait 'til Onakea finishes before working on solving all the mysteries around what happened."

With a slight, apologetic smile, Chin gestured for her to continue. Onakea gave a brief nod acknowledgment before continuing.

“Well, as you would expect after a fall of this nature, he was pretty battered and bruised,” she explained. “Water isn’t exactly soft when hitting it from that height, and Danny wasn’t exactly doing a controlled jump with the optimum entry position. He also has a concussion from a nasty little head wound I believe happened post fall and may have a broken arm.”

Steve seemed as though he were going to speak, but Onakea didn’t give him a chance as she anticipated his question. Her voice rose slightly as she spoke, indicating her irritation at the attempted interruption. She could sympathize with his anxiety but she was less likely to miss details if she could finish before being asked questions.

“I can’t say for sure that the arm is broken,” she asserted as she brushed her fallen bangs out of her eyes. “He may have a hairline fracture but that’ll have to be confirmed through an x-ray. Like the head wound, that may have happened post-fall. He probably got pushed up against the cliff itself while trying to swim to safety. However, the biggest concern was the knife wound--”

“He was stabbed?” Kono and Chin chimed almost in unison while Steve’s eyes opened wide as he choked out, “A knife wound?”

Onakea rocked aback on her heels and swung her arms slightly in her impatience. sighing she confirmed, “Yes, a knife wound, and I can’t tell you if it’s serious or not. It’s placement could mean that the blade hit something vital. He lost a lot of blood, but I can’t say for sure. It’s another injury that the doctor will be in a better position to fill you in on once he finishes up with him. Despite that possibility, I think he’s going to be okay. He’s clearly a fighter.”

Wiping his hand across his face, Steve sighed, hoped she was correct and asked, “Who is the doctor?”

“McKillan,” Onakea told him. Looking the group over, she frowned a little as she added, “You’re not going to like him. Not very forth coming with information.”

It took a while to locate the elusive Dr. McKillan. He had not bothered checking with them once he finished with Danny despite being told that they were there. Once they did finally track him down, they discovered that Officer Onakea, who had gotten her information from one of the paramedics on the way to the hospital, had not exaggerated in the slightest about the man.

“Look,” McKillan snapped. “All I can tell you is that your friend is very lucky in--”

“Lucky?” Kono hissed while glaring at the doctor, his attitude was aggravating enough to frustrate on a stress free day,and this day had been as about as stressful as it could get.

“Yes, lucky,” the doctor reiterated. “Lucky. He fell --.”

“He was pushed--he didn’t just fall.” Steve grunted through clenched teeth, pinching the bridge of his nose to stave off the headache that he was getting from this conversation. He made an attempt to get more out of the exasperating man. “That makes this a criminal investigation.”

“The police know what they need to regarding his condition. I’m sure a statement will be needed, but I suggest that wait until morning.” McKillan stated with a snort of disbelief. He then turned his attention to Kono. “And he’s lucky because despite the height, he is neither dead nor paralyzed for life. That makes him lucky.”

Exchanging wry looks the task force members found they couldn’t really argue with his point. Of course, it would be better if the man would actually tell them something concrete about Danny’s injuries beyond the fact that he should fully recover from them. Not that they weren’t relieved to hear those words, but they’d have also liked to know what he was going to be recovering from.

“Well, can we at least see him?” Steve asked giving up on getting anything more from the man. He dragged his hand across his face as he awaited the answer he was expecting from the doctor.

“As I said earlier,” McKillan reminded all of them. “Family only.”

“Then it’s a good thing they are family,” a haughty voice informed the doctor from behind his back.

As McKillan spun around to see who was talking to him, three surprised faces took in the appearance of Danny’s ex-wife, Rachel. Steve had called the woman on the way to the hospital to let her know what had happened. A bigger surprise was the presence of Grace at her side. Given the lateness of the evening, they had not expected to see either before morning.

“You’re saying they’re family?” McKillan demanded with a little jerk of his head toward the threesome now standing behind them. “Then why haven’t they said so?”

Rachel gave the man standing in front of her a unfriendly once over, a sneer on her face. “Probably because you are clearly one of those,” she jeered.

“One of those what?” McKillan demanded as he heard snickering from behind him. “And who the hell are you?”

“I’m your patient’s ex-wife and the mother of his daughter,” Rachel explained in a tone that suggested she was speaking to a small, stubborn child. “We are here to see her daddy and we will, and so will they. And you, you’re one of those people with such a narrow view of family that you couldn’t begin to grasp the importance of these people to my ex-husband.”

“The hospital has fairly strict--” was all that McKillan was able to say before Rachel interrupted him.

“And I am a close personal friend of the director of this hospital,’ Rachel informed him. Then waving a hand in Steve’s general direction added, “Mr. McGarrett knows the Governor.”

Steve opened his mouth to say something, but Chin grabbed his arm and shook his head when he glanced over at him. Normally Steve wouldn’t have any problem bringing up his connection to the Governor but it felt weird hearing Rachel apply the same tactic and he had instinctively moved to correct it before Chin stopped him. His failure to do so though may help explain how he ended up in a hospital room with his groggy but definitely alive partner, that partner’s ex-wife and daughter.

Gracie’s face lit up when she saw her dad, even if he was lying quietly in a hospital bed. She climbed up on the bed and flung her arms around her father, who winced in pain but didn’t make a sound as he brought one arm up around her.

“I love you Danno,” Gracie whispered quietly in to her father’s shoulder.

Danny kissed the side of her head and rasped, “Love you too, monkey.”

Steve smiled softly as he took in the scene unfolding in front of him. Rachel had explained on the way to the room that Grace had overheard her on the phone and had gotten quite worried about Danny. Hopefully, getting to see him awake would help ease her concerns. It was helping his just watching the two of them.

“So,” Steve stuttered and then stopped. He had made a few promises to himself on what he would say during the ride over to the hospital, but he didn’t think he would have an audience. He may have come to a few conclusions about himself when he thought he had lost everything. Actually, the fact that he had felt like he lost everything was the big clue. Now, surrounded by the family Danny had built and lost, he wasn’t as confident about doing or saying anything. Trying again, Steve was a little surprised at what actually came out of his mouth. “So Danno, I can’t help but notice you’re only moving your right arm. Is the left one broken?”

Danny gave him a sardonic grin, one that was a little twisted from the pain as they were hesitant to give him the good stuff because of his concussion. Turning to Rachel, he addressed his retort to her mostly because she was the only other person in the room. “As you can see, his detecting skills are coming along beautifully. Or maybe the doctor told you.”

Steve gave a snort of disbelief before crushing that theory. “The man missed his calling. He should have been a spy, as I doubt there is a torture technique out there capable of extracting the most basic information from him.”

“He is a bit tight lipped,” Rachel confirmed as she eyed her ex-husband. “But if you think that because it’s your left arm, and therefore you could still shoot people, that means you can go back to work faster...’

Steve laughed outright at that. It wouldn’t surprise him if Danny tried that logic for going back to work. “Don’t worry, he’s not going back ‘til he has a doctor’s permission. Not that doctor’s, but a qualified physician’s.”

“He can’t be that bad,” Danny muttered tiredly.

Rachel shook her head. “Oh, he is. You wouldn’t even be getting to see Steve if I hadn’t stepped in. Or I guess it was more him seeing you, as he was the poor guy who thought you were... well, you know.”

“Thank you for that, by the way,” Steve said softly. He definitely felt better seeing Danny even if the other man looked like he was about to fall asleep. That had him making two quick decisions. He expressed the first, “I think I’ll dart out so Chin and Kono can come in and see for themselves how you’re doing before you drift off on us.”

“I’ll come with you,” Rachel stated. She looked at Grace who appeared to have settled in for the night. She would have to collect her daughter eventually, but no need to do it before absolutely necessary. “Wouldn’t want that idiot doctor spouting rubbish about too many visitors.”

Before he left, Steve enacted his second decision of the night. Squeezing Danny leg as it was the nearest body part, he murmured, “Aloha au ia 'oe.”

The comment earned him strange looks from both Rachel and Danny while Gracie simply giggled. He could envision the young girl’s enthusiastic nod to her dad’s query as to whether Steve had just spoken Hawaiian to him as he and Rachel departed from the room.

Later that night, or more accurately early the next morning, Steve found himself alone in the hospital room watching his sleeping partner. The man had spent most of his time in that state, usually only awake when the nurses came in to rouse him, as was standard practice when a person had a concussion. It was comforting, sitting there simply watching the other man breathe, because it hadn’t been that long ago that he thought he’d never get to see that again and the simple motion was relaxing. He was drifting off when he noticed a pair of sleepy eyes fixed on him.

“Hey,” Steve offered quietly.

“You don’t have to actually stay you know,” Danny murmured from the bed. “What I said to Gracie applies to you too.”

After some protesting from his young daughter, Danny had gotten her to go home with her mother by pointing out that it would be helpful to his recovery if he didn’t have to worry about how she was resting. He would be comforted by having her home in her own bed. Of course both he and Rachel also agreed that she could skip school tomorrow to come back and visit. Given how late it was when she had gotten to the hospital, never mind the time when she headed home, it was likely she’d be too tired to attend school the next day anyway.

“I’m fine,” Steve retorted, his head resting in his hand as he propped himself up in the chair.

“I have to buy you a dictionary,” Danny joked in a hoarse voice. “I don’t believe you actually know what that word is supposed to mean.”

Steve chuckled at the little dig and the two reverted to the quietness that had filled the room before. After a while Steve had thought that the man had drifted off once again, and so when he heard Danny’s voice, he jumped.

“I know,” Danny said, his voice barely above a whisper.

“You know what?” Steve asked warily. He found himself suddenly very much awake.

“What you said earlier,” Danny replied with a little wave of his right hand. Even in pain and completely exhausted the man needed to talk with his hands. “In Hawaiian.”

“Didn’t realize you knew the language,” Steve admitted. Not that he didn’t want the man to know how he felt, but he hadn’t expected Danny to understand his earlier declaration. He had made it because he needed it out there in some form after the day he had had. The day that they all had had. But seeing as he had spoken in Hawaiian, Steve wasn’t prepared to discuss the fall out from the whole being in love with his partner. Not yet.

“I don’t,” Danny agreed with a very slight nod. Moving his head wasn’t a good idea however, and pain flashed across his face. It was difficult to tell exactly how he felt about what Steve had said, an unusual situation since the man was usually very easy to read.

Steve leaned forward in the chair to reassure the man that it didn’t need to become a thing. That it could simply go on like before if that was what Danny wanted, but the words never got out because Kono and Chin picked that moment to enter the room.

“Just popping in to see how our boy is doing,’ Chin stated as the two walked into the room.

“Are you two still here as well?” Danny asked in exasperation. “Didn’t anyone go home? I’m going to be fine. Note how I said going to be, not actually am fine.”

The last part was directed at Steve. Chin and Kono snickered as they had no trouble deciphering who was likely claiming just that. It earned them an unamused glare from Steve.

“You’ll have to bear with us,” Kono said with a soft smile. “We spent a little too long thinking we had lost you so we have trouble leaving where we can easily check and remind ourselves that you’re still with us.”

“Some of us won’t even leave the room long enough to grab a bite to eat,” Chin added as he held up a little brown bag. “So we brought a snack to him.”

“Mohammad and the mountain,” Danny muttered under his breath as he closed his eyes.

“Pretty much,” Chin agreed.

The three simply watched as the fourth member of the team drifted off to sleep. He had to be losing consciousness as he hadn’t demanded some of the malasadas that Steve was currently munching on. Kono had just motioned Chin to leave again when Danny spoke with his eyes still closed, and this time it wasn’t just Steve who was startled.

“Aloha au ia 'oe,” he breathed. His pronunciation less than perfect but some slack had to be given on that front considering the day he had had.

Chin and Kono’s eyes opened wide at the phrase as Steve looked back and forth between the cousins and the man who had spoken the words. He couldn’t figure out why Danny had chosen that moment to repeat his words from earlier. However, from the looks on Kono’s and Chin’s faces, it wasn’t them who had translated the phrase for Danny.

Danny carefully turned his head so he was looking directly at Steve in the chair and smirked. It was only then that Steve suspected that it wasn’t so much parroting what he had said earlier as it was a declaration of the same feelings from the other man. Danny’s next words confirmed this new interpretation.

“See how my pronouncement was voiced in front of people who actually understand the language in which it is spoken,” he pointed out with a little laugh.

Leave it to Danny to introduce one-upmanship into something so serious. Steve grimaced and covered his eyes, realizing he’d probably be just as bad if the shoe had been on the other foot. And neither Kono nor Chin missed the allusion to his earlier utterance of the same words.

“Boss,” Kono smirked as she placed a hand on his shoulder. “I think he’s going to be fine. He’s already turned confessions of love into a competition.”

Chin just rolled his eyes and gestured to his cousin that it would be best if they left the two alone. Kono couldn’t resist flinging one more thing over her shoulder, “Do try and remember that Danny is injured.”

Steve stood and stared at Danny for a few moments before finally responding to what was said. “You don’t have to say it back, I wasn’t trying to create any obligation on your part when I said it.”

“You would have said it in English if you wanted that,” Danny retorted, his voice rough though whether it was from fatigue or emotion wasn’t clear. “I don’t make a habit of confessing to emotions I am not experiencing just to make someone else feel better about what they said.”

“True enough,” Steve admitted with a little shrug. “In that case...”

He leaned in and brushed his lips across Danny’s in a soft caress. Danny reached up and grabbed Steve by the shirt to hold him in place when the other man started to pull away.

“You call that a kiss,” Danny rasped.

“No, I call that a promise,” Steve smirked, easing Danny’s fingers off of his shirt. “Of things to come when you actually mend a little. I seem to recall serious wincing during a hug from his daughter and I think that same man shouldn’t expect much right now, no matter how true his confession was. Especially since he’s fighting to keep awake.”

A tired Danny blinked sluggishly a few times and cursed how tired his injured body was making him. “You could go home and get some rest too, you know.” Danny mumbled as he started to drift off.

“Tomorrow,” Steve promised as he sat back down in the bedside chair. “For now I just need to sit here and watch you breath.”