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Care and Feeding (The Stomach vs. Heart Remix)

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Danny was sitting in the passenger seat of the car--yes, the passenger seat of his own goddamn car--thumbing through basketball scores on his phone with his left hand and trying to surreptitiously rub at the sore spot in his gut with the other hand because a) it fucking hurt, b) playing with his phone wasn't a two-handed operation, and c) it was Steve's turn to keep an eye on the house where Billy Wilton might or might not have been hiding out.

"What's wrong with you?"

Danny didn't pull his hand away from his stomach--that would be an amateur move--but he did hold it still in place while he cast his eyes up toward the roof of the car or God or whatever else might be above his head, perhaps a giant improbable shark on its way to eat them all for a midnight snack. "Aren't you supposed to be watching the house?"

"I am."

"So your eyes can look in two directions at once? Is that some kind of special SEAL skill?"

"Of course. They teach us that the first week; what did you think?" Steve bumped Danny's arm with his elbow. "Seriously, you're...quiet, which could be a sign of the apocalypse. And you only ate one of the coco puffs Kono left in the back seat. You sick or something?"

"It's funny, I thought my mother was a four-foot, ten-inch tall woman with very large hair living in New Jersey."

"Excuse me for being concerned."

Danny sighed, then suppressed a wince at the burning ache inside. He really wished he had some of his pills on him but he'd run out of his apartment too fast to even think about it, and that had been a day and a half ago--apparently plenty long for the stubborn bacteria in his gut to get a one-up on the missed doses of antibiotics, and any benefit he'd gotten from that last dose of acid reducer was long, long gone. He'd be damned if he told Steve he needed to go home and get his medicine--medicines, plural--like some kind of old geezer, so all he had to do was last until they had Wilton in custody.

"Your concern is noted and appreciated but not necessary. I'm fine."

Steve shrugged his shoulders and kept looking through the windshield at the house. "If you say so."

"I say so. And I'll have you know I'm saving the coco puffs for later. I don't want to chomp them all down at once like some kind of animal."

"Whatever you--wait." Steve put the binoculars to his face and then dropped them on the dashboard with a clatter that made Danny wince. "That's him. Let's go!"

Then Danny was out of the car, running down the street with his gun in his hand, and there was something to be said for adrenaline and the kind of focus that came when a case got hot. Danny wasn't tired anymore; he wasn't hungry, and nothing hurt. He wished it could last forever.

***

The fact that the bathroom was convenient when the adrenaline wore off was a plus, but given that it was on a public hallway in the PD there weren't a lot of other plusses. Danny didn't like to make unfair generalizations, but the reality was that a whole lot of people who came through the PD were not 100% concerned with hygiene. Or cleanliness. Or aim. He was kneeling on the sticky tile, hurling into the toilet, trying not to think about what, exactly, the floor might be sticky with.

The path from his gut to the back of his throat was a solid column of burning ache, but finally his stomach was still. He let his arm flop over the middle of the toilet seat, and rested his head against the rumpled cotton of his sleeve while he took in shallow breaths through his mouth, trying not to puke again, trying not to smell anything. In a minute, he'd have to stand up, rinse out his mouth, get his ass to the car and drive home.

When he finally stood up, he pushed himself to his feet with one hand on the toilet seat, the other palm flat against the cool steel of the stall to keep himself steady as his head spun at the change in elevation and he closed his eyes. He told himself that it was just exhaustion, that he just needed to get some sleep, that when he got home he could start the antibiotics again and everything would be fine. Then he opened his eyes and saw what he'd left in the toilet--bright red glaring against dingy white--and that was more than just a little blood, more than what had sent him to the doctor in the first place. It wasn't good. It was time to be home, now.

Danny flushed and stumbled out to the pair of sinks, cursing his tired feet for catching in the rough grout lines on the floor. He leaned over and ran the water cold, scooped a handful into his mouth and then spat out the harsh metallic taste, splashed another couple of handfuls on his face, hoping it would be enough to keep him awake until he got home to his sweet, sweet pullout bed. With both hands braced on the sink, he let his head drop down between his shoulders, gravity pulling out some of the tension in his neck and upper back. Time to get this show on the road.

Before he could motivate himself enough to step away from the sink, the door to the bathroom opened, and Danny looked up expecting to see anything other than Steve McGarrett with his stupid cargo pants and his stupid concerned forehead scrunch.

"Danno?"

"I'm fine. Just washing up."

"You really don't look fine." Suddenly Steve was standing right next to Danny, completely invading his personal space. "You're holding onto the sink, and you're whiter than the sink."

"Doesn't say much for the sink, does it?" Danny mumbled as he let go of the damn sink and stood up. Too bad the floor chose just that moment to shift and warp and fall away completely.

***

Steve didn't say much, not when Danny woke up in the ambulance with an IV pinching his arm and the bitter taste of acid in his mouth and not when he woke up again in a hospital bed with his head feeling fuzzy, his throat rough and dry. The doctor came, told Danny that he'd cauterized the ulcer to stop it from bleeding. He was decent enough not to make Danny feel like a complete idiot for getting himself into this situation, but he made it abundantly clear that Danny needed to get over himself and take his damn meds for more than a few days in a row.

"He'll take them," Steve said. "I'll make sure of it."

"I thought we had this discussion about you not being my mother, Steven."

Steve just looked at him, his eyes somehow hard and vulnerable at the same time. "I'm not trying to be your mother."

"Okay. Jesus." Anything to make Steve stop looking at him like that. "Doc, when can I go home?"

"Tomorrow morning. Somebody will need to pick you up." The doctor looked over at Steve, amusement pulling at the corners of his mouth. "I assume that'll be you."

Steve just nodded, curt as a salute.

Danny fell asleep again, and when he woke up Kono and Chin were there, talking quietly in the corner of the room furthest away from his bed. Steve was gone, but there was a potted plant on the table, and Danny wasn't sure why that thought made him smirk.

"Hey, Cuz, looks like somebody's awake." Kono smiled broadly and walked over to the bed, Chin following in her wake. "How're you feeling?"

"Meh, been worse."

"So I heard," Chin replied, his voice sober as usual. "You look much better."

"Better than what? You saw me?" Danny ran a hand through his hair. "Oh, man."

"Steve was seriously freaked out." Kono shook her head. "He left when we got here, talking about preparation and supplies, I don't know. But at the PD, before the EMTs got there he was getting ready to call Catherine for a helicopter or something."

"In other words, give him some slack, brah." Chin's smile was gentle, but Danny had the feeling he'd hear about it if he didn't keep in line with Steve's plan for his recovery from this clusterfuck.

"That's just great. Okay." Danny sighed heavily. "Thank you for the plant."

Chin laughed low and soft. Kono hugged Danny, hair in his face, warm skinny arms. Then they left, and it was just Danny and the burning in his belly. Then the nurse came with more pain meds, and there was nothing much at all.

***

When Steve showed up the next day he still wasn't saying much. He hovered with a hand on Danny's arm as Danny got into the car--his own car, thank you very much. They drove to Steve's house, of course, because no way could Steve engage in his control-freak version of care-taking in Danny's tiny apartment. Steve dogged his steps on the way inside and then looked Danny up and down like he was evaluating the likelihood of Danny falling on his ass again.

"Couch or bed?"

"You're giving me a choice?"

Steve sighed, his face resolute. "Kono told me not to be overbearing."

"You're doing a great job of that, babe. Okay, honestly, bed. I slept for shit last night." Even with the pain meds, he'd been woken up all night by nurses taking his vitals and noises in the hallway and the unfamiliar bed.

Steve kept right behind Danny on the stairs and then when Danny started to enter the guest room--Steve's old bedroom from high school--Steve nudged him further down the hall. "I want you in the master bedroom, that way you don't have to walk so far to the head."

"You want me in the master bedroom, huh?" Danny grinned. Steve didn't. "Okay, okay. Can I borrow some sweats?"

"You can wear your own. I got your stuff."

And sure enough, Danny's sweats, plus some of his t-shirts and boxers and socks were neatly piled on top of the storage bench at the foot of Steve's bed, his deodorant next to the socks. He had a feeling he'd find his own shampoo and toothpaste in the bathroom, and somehow it was weird and annoying and incredibly sweet all at the same time. In other words, it was Steve.

"Uh, thanks." Danny grabbed his favorite sweats, an old t-shirt and some socks and headed to the bathroom. There everything was, the basic contents of his bathroom transplanted to Steve's. He thought he should be pissed, but he was too tired to figure out why he wasn't. Back out in the bedroom, he climbed under the turned-down covers and started to lie down.

"Sit up a minute." Of course Steve was back to torture him further.

Danny pushed himself up to lean against the headboard. "Yes, Steven?"

"You need to take your meds." Steve handed Danny a glass of milk and a small handful of pills.

"Oh, yeah. Thanks."

Steve just stood there, silently supervising, until Danny had taken the pills and drank the rest of the milk. When Danny put the empty glass down on the bedside table, Steve shifted on his feet and reached into his pocket. "This is your phone," he said, handing over Danny's phone.

"Indeed, I see that."

"I set alarms so that you don't forget to take your meds. And other alarms that tell you when to eat, so that you don't mess up the pill schedule."

Danny shook his head and stared at his phone. "Of course you did. Because you're a crazy person. Did you also schedule in time for me to take a crap?"

Steve looked away, shaking his head, but he didn't reply.

"Okay, clearly we need to have a conversation here, but I'm tired of looking up at your giant self looming over the bed. Come sit." Danny patted the empty side of the bed next to him.

Steve sighed, then walked around to the other side of the bed and climbed up to sit on top of the covers, his shoulder brushing Danny's as he leaned back. "You weren't taking care of yourself."

"I know, I know. Won't happen again."

"It's important to me that you take care of yourself." Steve's voice was rough, like the words were choking him on the way out, like they were burning their way up from his gut. "You're important to me."

Danny turned so that he could see Steve, and his face--he'd seen Steve's face like that once, when Mary was on the phone, locked in the trunk of a car God only knew where on the island. He understood, then, what Kono and Chin had been trying to make him understand. "I'm sorry. Seriously, I didn't know anything like that was going to happen."

Steve nodded, his jaw twitching with tension.

"Hey," Danny said, pitching his voice low. He reached out and put his hand on top of Steve's, nudged until their fingers were twined together. "You're pretty damn important to me, too."

The gloom in Steve's face lightened a fraction. "Yeah?"

"Yeah." Danny turned further to face Steve and reached out his free hand to touch Steve's shoulder. "Come'ere."

Steve leaned in closer until Danny could smell him--stale sweat, not romantic but familiar--and then they were kissing. Steve's mouth tasted bitter, like coffee and more coffee, and as they broke apart he could feel the low thrum of exhausted tension running through Steve's body. "You dumb asshole. You haven't slept, have you?"

Steve shrugged minutely, his shoulder rising and falling like a tiny wave under Danny's hand. "Couple hours."

"A couple hours after being up for two days? That's fantastic." Danny wanted to smack him, wanted to kiss him again, wanted to hold onto him until he was unmedicated enough to actually get it up. "You should practice what you preach. Come on, under the covers."

"I should get cleaned up, take care of the dishes."

"You should lie down with me so that I don't worry myself into another ulcer, imagining you doing crazy things in your sleep deprived delirium." Danny scooted down under the covers and patted the bed between them. "I'm tired. I want to sleep. I want you to sleep. And look, here we both are in a bed--it's fate."

"Okay, okay." Steve stood up long enough to pull back the sheet and light coverlet on his side of the bed and strip down to his t-shirt and boxers. As he rolled under the covers, his weight and warmth next to Danny felt more right than anything had in a long time. With Steve's hand gently resting on his belly, he slept.