Long didn’t even begin to describe the day that they had just had. Day didn’t accurately describe the fact that they had endured an entire hellish week of Wo Fat’s machinations. Hell Week. That had some sort of SEAL connotations, Danny thought. Danny just wanted to go back to his rat hole of an apartment and bunker down for the rest of the week and sleep.
That, unfortunately, wasn’t an option, because a SEAL with no sense of self-preservation was his best friend. It had taken Max and his peculiar brand of super-peculiar to blithely point out that he wasn’t a medical doctor who dealt with live bodies, but a forensic examiner who analysed dead bodies, to get Steve to agree to go to the Emergency Room at the Honolulu Medical Centre for a check up. An ultrasound had followed -- Danny had manfully resisted the teasing potential, it tasted bitter in his mouth -- to ascertain that Steve’s guts were intact and he wasn’t bleeding into his abdomen. Max had expertly dealt with the wound. The knife, however, had been an unclean shiv leaving a wound needing two internal stitches and six external stitches, so the ER doc had supplied a butt load of antibiotics (literally) and a week’s prescription.
There was also a prescription for rest. Danny took that as read for the whole H5-0 team, including himself. But Steve had that hollow look, where his eyes sunk deep and the skin stretched sharply across his cheekbones, which meant that he was beyond exhaustion.
Fighting his own fatigue, Danny shook his head as he pulled to a halt on Steve’s drive. In the passenger seat, Steve jerked from his somnolent state.
“And you wanted to drive. Hah!” Danny mocked.
Steve clambered out of the car, hand pressing low on his abdomen. “Thanks for the lift.”
“Yeah, sure. You’re welcome.”
Steve skirted the Camaro, keeping one hand on the hood for support.
Danny rolled down the car window, and called, “Babe, you going to be all right?”
Steve nodded stoically. “Sure, Danny. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“No way!” Danny barrelled out of the car. “We deserve the rest of the week off. All of us. It hasn’t been easy. On you. On me. On Chin. On Kono. No one is going to be in the HQ tomorrow. I told them all ready that we’ll see them on Monday.”
Steve stared at him, blank eyed. “Yeah, sure. That’s probably a good idea.”
Capitulation. It didn’t taste as good as he thought it would.
“When was the last time you ate?” Danny asked.
Zombie-Steve didn’t respond. Danny took that to mean ‘too long ago.’ Danny knew the contents of Steve’s fridge as well as his own. The eggs would be edible. It would take him two minutes to make the man an omelette.
“Come on, Super SEAL. Let’s get something to eat.” Danny took Steve’s elbow and shepherded him into the house.
Steve let him.
“Shower. I’m going to have a shower,” Steve announced abruptly.
“‘Kay,” Danny said slowly. “Don’t get your stitches wet.”
Steve nodded once, no come back, no snark or disagreement. The man was going to crash and crash hard. The trick was to get him clean, and fed and put to bed before that happened.
Steve scowled. “You’re thinking too loud. You don’t have to stay. I’ll be fine.”
“Go have your shower.” Danny pointed up the stairs.
Steve stomped off. Stomp was too energetic a description. He took the stairs one at a time, instead of three, and kept one hand on the banister.
Danny scratched the side of his head. It was a lot like handling Gracie. He shook himself and went into the kitchen.
The milk was off. A single soft peach was a mouldy, furry ball on the second shelf. There was a sealed carton of orange juice on the top shelf. Danny stood there for what felt like an hour, and then checked the ‘sell by’ date, cracked it and glugged down half of the contents in one go. A week meant that some of the food was going in the garbage can but the eggs, low-fat spread, tomatoes, and onions were still okay. He threw out the food which had spoiled.
Yawning all the time, Danny got a bowl so he could mix the eggs. No yolk-free omelettes this evening. It was going to be a substantial, satisfying omelette. Steve didn’t even have any cheese in the house. Wearily, Danny cracked six eggs into the bowl and added a twist of salt and pepper. He really felt like he should have a coffee, but then he’d get too wired, and he really wanted to sleep.
“Steve?” Danny abandoned the bowl and headed to the bottom of the stairs. “Steve? Steve!”
Danny scrambled up the stairs. He slammed open the door into Steve’s bedroom. No Steve. The door to Steve’s en suite bathroom was closed, but luckily not locked. The shower was still running.
Unconscious, he lay half in half out of the shower cubicle, sprawled on the tiled floor. The glass door was slammed up against the wall, a long crack marring the single pane. Water sprayed onto the tiled floor. Swearing volubly, Danny got the shower switched off.
“Steve?” Wincing, Danny got down on his knees in the small space. Steve was truly out for the count. Gently, Danny patted his cheek. “Steve, come on.”
Shit. Danny carefully pressed his fingers against Steve’s throat trying to find his pulse. The trick was to be careful because if Steve woke up disoriented he would come up fighting. Danny kept up a running commentary -- it wasn’t hard -- as he found a rapid (for Steve) pulse, and ran his fingers over Steve’s skull trying to figure out if the big goof had cracked his head on the way down to the floor… Steve twitched.
“Hey, Steve, you with me?”
“Hhhhh?” the soft susurration was confused. But his eyes opened a crack as he took in the immediate area -- weighing and stealthy.
“Steve, you passed out. You crashed. You’re in your bathroom.”
“Danny?” Steve focused blearily on him, blinking water out of his eyes.
“Who else is it going to be? Who else would drive you all the way out here even when they’re exhausted and stay to cook you eggs? Me. No one else.”
Steve closed his eyes and relaxed into the tirade.
“Nonononono. None of that. I need to check you over. Check your stitches. See if you pulled anything when you swooned.”
That got the eyes open and garnered Danny a little glare.
“At any rate,” Danny continued, “you’ve definitely got your stitches wet -- against medical advice -- so it behooves me to check your stab wound!”
It was easy to tease off the sopping wet dressing, careful of a few stray dark hairs. Steve hadn’t even tried to cover it with plastic, probably thinking that he would be in and out of the shower in a SEAL-approved one minute session, and then he’d simply replace the bandage. But no he’d ended up lying unconscious in a puddle of water on his bathroom floor.
“Why am I naked?” Steve asked suddenly. He lifted his head a fraction looking down the long length of his body. Groaning, he flopped back to lie supine.
“Because you’re not wearing any clothes,” Danny said conversationally. He tossed the dressing aside with a wet splat and squinted at the wound. Luckily, Steve hadn’t pulled any stitches. The cut was red and sore-looking; the neat stitches pulling at flesh. If Hesse had gone a little to the right, Steve would now be a eunuch. Danny winced.
“Grow up; it’s nothing I haven’t seen.” Danny grabbed a fluffy towel from the heating rail. “Does anything hurt? When you fell? Have you broken anything?”
“No.” Steve sort of did a full body twitch, checking muscles and joints.
“You want to try sitting up? Get you off this wet floor. My trousers are ruined.”
“Yeah.” Slowly, Steve rolled onto his side, got his elbow positioned and levered himself upright. Danny shifted out of the way, but hovered, ready to catch him if swooning was still on the agenda. Scooting on his bare butt, Steve got up against the wall by the towel rail. “I’m gonna stay here a little while,” he said, eyes closed, as he rested his head against the wall.
“Hey, lay down if you need to. No one’s going to say anything.” Belatedly, Danny draped the towel around Steve’s shoulders, grabbed another and tossed it on the floor sopping up the water. The third he used to pat dry the hair on Steve’s head. Steve rocked under his ministrations but didn’t say a word.
Danny got Steve’s hair dry to the best of his ability and then levered himself to his feet with the help of the towel rail. He shook out his knee. Dumping the now wet towel on the floor, he grabbed another from the top of the vanity unit and dropped it on Steve’s lap.
“Stay there. I’ll be back in thirty seconds.”
He didn’t wait for an answer. Danny got down to the kitchen in record time, grabbed the half-full carton of orange juice and a glass and got back up stairs before the SEAL could consider trying to get to his feet and pretend that everything was A-okay.
Steve hadn’t moved.
“Hey.” Danny got back down on the floor. His knee was going to hate him in the morning. “I brought you some juice. You need to drink it.”
“Sugar. Good idea.” Steve opened his eyes and smiled a bit wanly. Danny half-filled the glass and passed it over. Steve sipped at the juice, slow and measured.
Danny knocked down the toilet lid and settled on the makeshift seat, taking an absent mouthful of juice from the carton. With every sip that Steve took, he got a little bit more colour in his cheeks, the pale-white fading.
Finally, Steve set down the glass with deliberation.
“You getting up?” Danny asked rising to his feet.
“Yeah.” Steve suited words to action, curling up his long legs and slowly standing, one hand on the wall.
Danny shadowed him, ready to catch.
“I’m good.” Steve shrugged the towel off his shoulders and wrapped it around his waist. Moving glacially, he shuffled into his bedroom, immediately going to sit on the bed. He had lost a little of the colour that he had gained while sitting on the bathroom floor.
“Anything pulling where it shouldn’t? How’s your gut?” Danny asked.
“The orange juice,” Steve non-answered, “helped. I guess I was hungry.”
Exhausted, but so not going to admit to it, Danny interpreted.
“No impending internal bleeding?” Danny persisted.
Steve sighed and looked at him directly, bright spots of colour on his cheeks. Hey, he had enough energy to blush Danny noted -- go orange juice.
“No, I felt a little strange, so I was halfway to the floor when everything went black. I didn’t fall hard.”
“And you never considered calling? Why? It can’t be the ‘naked thing’.” Danny added his own mocking speech marks. “Don’t soldiers have communal changing rooms and crap? You don’t have the embarrassment gene.”
“It just happened, Danno. There wasn’t time to yell.”
Danny took pity on him; he did sort of look wrung out.
“Come on, you need to get dried off or you’ll take a chill.”
“Chill?” Steve echoed, with a shade of humour.
He was halfway dried between the numerous towels Danny had draped over him and air-drying while sitting on the bathroom floor. Grabbing yet another towel -- Steve had an entire family’s worth -- Danny briskly dried his shoulders.
“Geez.” Steve rocked under the towel. “Stop.” He yanked the towel from Danny’s hand and stood, finishing off.
Danny took the opportunity to pull back the sheets on his bed.
“In,” he ordered.
Steve glowered at him mulishly, pouting just a fraction.
“You want to argue about this?” Danny said. “What are you planning on doing? Going for a run? A swim? You can’t, with that incision! And your gaping knife wound should be covered. You know, with a dry dressing to prevent infection. Get into bed. I’ll go get that paramedic kit you’ve got in the kitchen.”
“There’s another one in the bathroom cabinet,” Steve interrupted.
“Perfect.” Danny went and retrieved it, slowly, giving Steve time to clamber into bed like it was his decision.
When Danny returned, Steve was lying corpse-like on the bed. Danny didn’t like the image. The towel was still around his hips but pushed down on the left so the wound wasn’t covered. Danny slammed the canvas bag down on the bed, making Steve wince just a little. Tylenol loomed in Steve’s future. He found them in compartment in the backpack along with a host of other meds. Danny settled for Tylenol since he didn’t have a clue what Furazolidone was. He twisted open the Tylenol bottle and shook out two. Steve accepted them, crunched and swallowed them down dry. Danny winced; he couldn’t have taken Tylenol like that to save his life. He rifled in the backpack, pulling out scissors, dressing, tape and antibiotic ointment.
“I can do it,” Steve protested, rising up on one elbow. He winced and curled up, automatically guarding his left side.
“Lay back,” Danny ordered. It was just like Grace and dealing with a splinter. “Steve.”
Sighing, Steve flopped back, posture open, even if he wasn’t particularly that relaxed.
There were a couple of beads of blood in the centre of the wound, but Danny didn’t think that it was serious. Using his fingertip, he smeared on a generous dollop of antibiotic ointment and then placed a thick pad of white gauze over the incision. Between the scissors and the sticky tape and his goofy thumbs, it took a couple of attempts to secure the bandage.
“There you are.” He looked up expecting a reluctant ‘thank you’ but Steve’s eyes were closed and he was breathing slowly and regularly -- fast asleep.
Danny felt unaccountably honoured. Tossing the medical stuff haphazardly in the kit bag, he set it on the floor and pushed it under the bed with his foot. Standing, he teased out the sheet from under Steve’s bare feet and then draped the cover over him. The rhythm of Steve’s breathing didn’t falter. Danny snorted; Steve was deeply, deeply asleep. Padding quietly around the bed, Danny cracked one bedroom window open and then drew the curtains.
He’d go back to the kitchen, make himself an omelette and then, depending on how tired he felt, he’d either crash in the spare room or make his way back to his apartment. Who was he kidding? He’d be sleeping in the spare room tonight.
Quietly, he pulled the bedroom door until it was open just a crack.