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If there was one thing about being the commander of Five-0 that Steve couldn't stand, it was the politics. Meetings. Explaining himself to the governor and justifying why he needed more money in the budget. Repairing cars is expensive. Ammo is expensive. High-tech weaponry is expensive.

"Because saving the fucking world is expensive," he muttered, feeling grouchy, as he unlocked the Five-0 office suite to head to his office and pick up a couple things before he went home. 

It was after seven, and while the criminal element of Hawaii didn't punch a clock, he didn't expect to find anyone else there since they were between major cases - or, more accurately, between worthwhile developments in any of the cases presently on their radar. When he found Danny asleep on the couch in his office, it startled him. There was a carton of file folders on the table in front of the couch, a few of them out of the box and scattered around. One of their suspects in an ongoing smuggling investigation was also a suspect in an old murder case, but no one had been able to tie him to it decisively at the time. Steve figured Danny must have gotten the cold case files from HPD and started digging through them. Apparently, it wasn't a fascinating research project, judging by the snoring coming from his couch. 

"Hey, Sleeping Beauty, rise and shine," Steve said, shaking his head. Seeing his partner cheered him up, made him feel less annoyed with the world. "Danno?" he prodded, when Danny didn't move. Well, that wasn't entirely correct. He shook a little, but didn't wake up, and his snoring was louder than normal and sounded congested. Danny might snore a little when he was dead asleep, but it was quiet. "Danny?" Steve set the box on the floor and sat on the table himself, laying his hand on Danny's forehead. It was definitely too warm. "Danny, come on, buddy, wake up."

"Huh?" Danny opened bleary eyes and stared at Steve as if he couldn't figure out why he was there.

"You're burning up, buddy," Steve said sympathetically, checking Danny's cheek. He wasn't sure if he thought it was going to be a different temperature than his forehead, but checking it seemed like a good idea.

"Don't feel so good," he replied, rubbing at his eyes. "I thought we could go through the Hartman file when you got back, but I must've dozed off." 

"Come on, I'll take you home. Is Grace staying with you?"

"No, she's at Rachel's this week," he said, sitting up, rubbing his forehead. Then he hugged himself and shivered. "Is the air on real high in here?"

"Here, put this on," Steve said, grabbing a hoodie out of his gym bag, which was sitting on the floor near the couch. 

"Thanks. I'll be okay. I'm just gonna go home. And die." He pulled the sweatshirt around himself as if to emphasize his sorry condition. 

"Come on," Steve replied, chuckling. "No arguments. Let's go."

"You'll catch this if you hang around with me."

"You already picked my office to be sick in, so why worry now?"

"I didn't do anything. It's not like I puked on your couch or something. I fell asleep waiting for you."

"I'm sorry if the bureaucratic realities of running a task force kept me out of the office a while," he said, tugging on Danny's arm to get him to stand up. When he did, he reeled a little. "Steady," Steve said, keeping a hold on his arm. "How long have you been feeling lousy?"

"I wasn't running any marathons yesterday, but it really started kicking my ass this morning. I thought I was just tired."

"I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say it looks like you've got the flu."

"Great. Probably caught it from that sick kid when I went out to interview Hartman's ex," he said, referring to the ex-wife of the smuggler they were tracking. "Her son was laid out on the couch sneezing all over everything."

"Using biological weapons on police. We can arrest her on terrorism charges now."

"You're funny," Danny grumbled as they kept moving toward the parking lot. He paused to sneeze, hard, looking like it shook his whole frame. "I guess you'll have to boil this now," he said of Steve's hoodie, which had caught the brunt of the sneeze in the crook of the elbow. Danny's eyes were watering and he was sounding more congested by the moment. 

"I'm sure I've been exposed to worse in my life."

"I thought my sinuses were coming out on that one," Danny muttered as he slid into the passenger seat of the car and reclined the seat a bit. Steve got into the driver's seat and looked over at him there, not remembering seeing Danny look that miserable since he was poisoned a few years earlier.

"Rest a little, buddy. I'm gonna make a quick stop at the store on the way home to make sure we've got what we need, and then we'll get you home and into bed." He used the pretense of checking for fever to lay his hand briefly on Danny's forehead. "What symptoms have you got?"

"I feel like shit."

Steve would have been more annoyed with the comeback if it didn't feel like Danny was leaning into his hand and his eyes were closed. So he sat there a moment like that.

"I'll get a bunch of stuff at the store and we'll sort it out at home. Do you feel nauseous or can you eat something?"

"I don't want food. I'm not nauseated, exactly, I just don't care."

"Okay, we can work with that. Take it easy, we'll be home soon, okay?"

"Yeah, okay." Danny was quiet while Steve started up the car and headed toward the drugstore. "Thanks," he said under his breath.

"Anytime, Danno."

"I mean it, Steve...just shove me in the direction of the bed and go home. You're gonna get sick if you hang out with me."

"If this whole thing was reversed, would you do that?" Steve asked. He glanced away from the road at Danny, who was looking at him with sincere, but bloodshot, eyes.

"No. I'd have to stay with you to be sure you weren't working out or saving the world before your fever broke."

"But you'd stay with me, that's the point."

"Yeah, that's the point." 

"Good, 'cause when I catch this, you're gonna have to return the favor."

"Deal," Danny said, giving him a weak little grin.

"Didn't you get a flu shot?"

"This must be one of the strains it doesn't cover. I took Grace to get one and I got mine at the same time."

"I think you should demand a refund."

"I'll get on that if I live," he replied, sneezing again, only this time catching it in a wad of tissues Steve seemed to produce from nowhere and thrust in his direction while he drove. "Where were you stashing those?" he asked in a gravelly, pathetic, but inquisitive voice.

"Cargo pants, remember? Pockets for everything." Steve flashed Danny a smile, glad that he returned it, even though he still looked miserable.

********

Danny felt like he'd been hit by a truck, but he still knew he was lucky to have such good care while he was sick. He was propped up in his bed, a pitcher of ice water and a glass next to the bed. He had a box of tissues and a wastebasket just handy enough that it was a minor challenge to make baskets with the dirty ones. He'd had a dose of Theraflu, and now there was a cool cloth on his forehead because the fever wasn't as low as Steve wanted it after the over the counter remedy.

Conventional wisdom was to isolate the sick person, keep them locked off in a room while they were contagious. Steve had apparently never heard of that custom, and if he had, he wasn't about to subject Danny to it. After he'd grabbed a bite to eat in the kitchen, since Danny wasn't hungry and was now finding himself a little nauseous, he sat on the empty side of the bed, watching TV with Danny while he dozed on and off. 

Out of nowhere, Steve's hand was feeling his arm.

"Now what?"

"Your fever is still right up there, Danno."

"You're not throwing me in a tub of ice, so don't even think about it."

"I want to bring the fever down, not illegally remove one of your kidneys."

"I figure that's how you SEAL guys bring down fevers."

"I was thinking about a cool cloth." 

"You did that already."

"Yeah, well it's not cool anymore," he said, plucking it from Danny's forehead and taking it with him into the bathroom. 

Danny heard the water running. He didn't really care what Steve was doing. He was too sick to fret over it. Another round of sneezing battered his sinuses and exhausted him until he lay back on the pillows wondering if Steve would consider holding one of them over his face and putting him out of his misery. His eyes were so sore and puffy he didn't bother to open them when he heard Steve return.

"Just rest, Danno. I'm gonna work on your fever. You don' t need to do anything." 

Steve's voice and presence sitting on the side of the bed made him feel better. Despite the fact he could barely breathe, his mouth was hanging open a bit grotesquely, and his eyes were burning, just Steve sitting there helped. He let himself drift in that haze. Steve was methodically and gently moving a cool cloth up his arm, then tucking it back under the light covers, he did the same to the other arm. It occurred to Danny that Steve must be worried about his fever, since Danny could only remember once in Grace's short, but blessedly healthy so far, life, sponging her down like this to break a fever. Danny hadn't gotten sick often when he was a kid, but when he had, he'd done it up right. Something nagged at him to share that information with Steve, but he couldn't seem to find the energy to tell the story in a way that would make sense. 

Steve left for a moment, but before Danny could worry about that, he was back, presumably with a fresh cloth, working his way up Danny's leg. He didn't know if his fever was going down or not, but it felt so good, so soothing, that he was willing to bet none of the over the counter remedies would work that well. When both legs were done, Steve's voice interrupted his haze.

"Can you turn on your side a minute, buddy? I'm gonna do your back."

"Don't put a cold rag on my back."

"Have I put a 'cold rag' on anything else so far?"

"No."

"Okay, then. Trust me."

With a groan, Danny cooperated and shifted onto his side. One benefit was that it cleared one side of his nose momentarily. The sensation of the cloth moving over his skin was just as calming as it had been before. How Steve was managing not to chill him, but to get him cooled down a bit, he didn't know. He just knew he felt better and he hoped Steve didn't leave him until he was well again.

Or, ever. Steve could stay forever if he wanted. Maybe it was worth having the plague to lie there and have Steve tending to him with such concern.

"That wasn't so bad, was it?" Steve asked, a little humor in his voice as he guided Danny to lie back on the pillows and get comfortable again. 

"It was nice," Danny admitted, though he hadn't planned to say that out loud. "Glad you're here," he mumbled. He hadn't meant to say that out loud, either, but there it was.

"Me, too, Danno." Steve felt his forehead again, but Danny thought he detected him lingering there just a bit, like a comforting caress. It felt so damn good he found himself smiling, leaning into that hand, dozing.

********

Danny's peaceful sleep was short-lived. A couple hours later, he was awake again, going through a fit of sneezing. Steve had been napping on the empty side of the bed, watching some cable network that was showing a couple decent action movies. 

"Fever's probably going up again, buddy."

"I need the john," Danny muttered, pushing the covers back and standing, though he looked shaky. 

"Okay, come on," Steve said, holding onto his arm.

"I can pee by myself."

"I'm sure you can. Just let me help you find the toilet first," he quipped, knowing Danny was sick and feeling awful because all that earned him was a bleary-eyed glare.

Leaving Danny to do his business and hoping he wouldn't fall head first into the toilet while he was at it, Steve smoothed up the bed, disposed of the overflowing wastebasket, and got a fresh pitcher of water. By then, Danny was toddling toward the bed, looking about as pitiful as he'd ever seen him. The fact his hair bore an unsettling resemblance to a troll doll's and he hadn't noticed or cared, let Steve know how bad he felt. 

"Need to check your temp," he said as Danny settled back on freshly fluffed and stacked pillows. Danny let him stick the thermometer in his mouth without further comment, though he kept opening his mouth to breathe around it. When it was time, he checked it. 

"I must be terminal," Danny said, staring at Steve's grim expression.

"No, I was just hoping it'd be lower. We'll hit it with Tylenol and sponge you down again."

"You should get some rest. I won't die while you're sleeping, I promise."

"We can get some rest as soon as I work on your fever a little more. You'll sleep better."

"I had a good nap for a while there. How long was I out?"

"A couple hours."

"That's pretty good for the flu." Danny paused, the congestion making talking more of an effort than it was worth. "Good for me with the flu, anyway."

"I'll get the vaporizer going."

"The what? I had one of those in my room when I was a kid and got sick."

"The moisture should help loosen you up a little. Congestion's getting pretty thick, isn't it?" 

"Can't breathe at all through my nose right now." Danny watched Steve go about his project of getting the vaporizer going. "Where'd you get that anyway? I don't have one."

"I got it at the store," he said, turning it on. As the fine mist began emanating from it, he smiled with the same level of satisfaction as if he'd just disarmed a bomb. With the vaporizer happily chugging along on Danny's night stand, he dug into the bag from the drugstore and pulled out a little jar of Vicks Vaporub. "This'll unplug your nose for about five minutes, but it'll be a great five minutes."

Danny laughed feebly at that, though he was feeling worse by the minute. It was obvious this thing was kicking into high gear now, as if he hadn't felt lousy enough earlier. He felt the chills starting again, and he curled up under the covers, still keeping a watchful eye on Steve, wishing he could share his enthusiasm or even thank him for it.

Steve sat on the bed and rubbed Danny's back. "You want your five minutes of breathing now?"

"Yeah, I could use it."

"You probably didn't have this much chest hair last time you used this stuff," Steve teased.

"I think I was about ten, so probably not."

"Do you have pajamas?"

"Sure, with little feet in them and an ass flap."

"Smart ass."

"Do you?"

"What?"

"Have pajamas?"

"No. I think there might be a couple old pairs of my dad's in the stuff of his I haven't gone through, but I haven't had any since I was a kid."

"So why did you think I would?"

"I thought it would be easier to put this stuff on you if it didn't get all over your t-shirt."

"Get me a tank shirt then. In the top drawer," he gestured at the dresser. 

"That'll be easier when I'm trying to sponge you down, too."

"Why are you doing all this for me?" Danny asked while Steve was retrieving the tank shirt. He looked puzzled by the question at first, as if it was a given he should take care of Danny with this level of devotion, diligence, and effort. He handed Danny the tank shirt and took his discarded t-shirt.

"Because good partners are hard to find, and if something happened to you, Chin wouldn't let me drive his Mustang on the job." That made Danny laugh hard enough to discover his next emerging symptom - his cough. "Sorry, buddy," Steve said, sitting on the side of the bed. "It's nothing you wouldn't do for me." He opened up the jar of Vicks and put a little at the base of Danny's throat and the uppermost part of his chest, avoiding turning his chest hair into a sticky mess by dipping lower.

"Probably will have to in a few days."

"There you go," Steve agreed, smiling. "Why wouldn't I take care of you when you're sick? It's not like you haven't taken care of me when I was laid up." He wrinkled his nose and wiped his hands on a tissue.

"Should'a worn gloves to do that," Danny joked.

"I'm fresh out of surgical gloves, unfortunately, unless you want me to use rubber gloves from the kitchen. The big yellow ones."

"You use gloves in the kitchen?"

"Catherine did. I can brave dishpan hands." Steve frowned. "Why didn't you think I'd take care of you?"

"It's not that I thought you wouldn't. I guess...I don't know. I didn't think you'd...do so much."

"What did you think I was gonna do?" Steve asked, and he seemed troubled by the conversation.

"I hadn't thought about it until I came to in your office."

"Did you think I wouldn't care or wouldn't know what to do, or what? That I'm a fair-weather friend?"

"I don't know what I thought. I'm sick, okay? My brain's all cloudy." 

"Because I do care, Danny. I'm here for you. I thought you knew that."

"I do know that. Why are you getting a face?"

"I don't have a face."

"You have a face." Danny leaned back on the pillows and stared at the ceiling. "I don't feel good enough for your face, Steven." He rubbed his eyes. Steve left for a few minutes and came back with a pan of water and a couple wash cloths. Even if he had a face, he was going to start doing that wonderful sponging down thing that would work with the Tylenol to bring Danny's fever down so he could nap some more. He reached out and took a hold of Steve's wrist before he could start with the wash cloths. "You're my best friend, and I know that. It's just been a while since somebody...did all this for me."

Steve was quiet a moment, looking at Danny's hand there on his wrist. Then he covered it with his own and squeezed it briefly.

"Just relax, buddy." Steve gently and methodically went about wiping him down again, the cloth feeling like it was absorbing the fever as it moved across Danny's skin. He was getting deliciously tired again, relaxed, ready to sleep. He reached up and pushed at his hair; another stray strand was hanging on his forehead. 

When Steve was done with the wash cloth, Danny was stunned that he took a comb and carefully tidied up Danny's hair for him. 

"It was getting in your eyes," he said quietly. "Go to sleep, Danno. I'll be here if you need me."

"I know," Danny said, yawning. He wanted to say more, but he felt too drowsy and too weak to put it all together. The last thing he saw was Steve's concerned look...but there was more than concern there. Steve had a face, but it was a good face. Danny couldn't remember anyone ever looking at him with quite so much love.

********

Danny found himself almost sorry to be feeling better as he sat alone on his bed, staring at the TV. He'd been through a couple very rough days - or, more accurately, he and Steve had been through a couple rough days - but his fever was gone for the first time since all the fun started and his symptoms were reduced to a runny nose, a little cough, and the fatigue that seems to descend on you when you've been really sick and finally feel better.

He was on his own now, under strict orders from Steve not to leave the house, though his nurse had gone into the office for a while to get caught up from the two days he'd spent solicitously tending to Danny's every need until he was on the mend. Danny already missed the morning ritual of watching bad reality shows while Steve urged him along drinking orange juice and eating a light breakfast that would keep his strength up but not aggravate his fever. He was sitting there watching them alone now, but without joking about them with Steve, they were just bad, and not that entertaining. He flipped channels until he found a true crime show, and inwardly scolded himself for being unable to do something less cop-related than sit there and try to solve someone else's cold case with his orange juice and toaster waffle. 

Steve had mandated twenty-four hours fever-free before he could return to work. Danny shook his head and tried to focus on resting. Hazard of knowing the boss too well...he's all up in my business. He rarely stayed home from work for sick days, but then he usually didn't get that sick either. He was still in awe of the array of products and treatment methods Steve had used on him, and he probably had that kind of care to thank for bouncing back so fast. 

He remembered his last bout with the flu. He was married to Rachel at the time, and Grace was only about four. He hadn't gotten in the habit of getting flu shots until Steve nagged him relentlessly every year to do it now, so he got sick and spent his time in quarantine in the guest room, doing pretty much what he was doing now, staring at television. Rachel managed to dodge the bullet of catching it, which was largely due to the fact she avoided him like a leper until he was past the contagious point, even though she did have a flu shot. Her reasoning was that she didn't want Grace to get it in case the shot didn't protect against it, or to get sick herself and not be able to take care of Grace, so he was on board with her avoiding the plague zone. 

On the second day of his illness, Grace decided he needed a nurse and took on the job of making him a four-year-old's version of a sandwich and bringing it to him and jumping on the bed with him to watch TV. So much for quarantines. Steve and Grace apparently had similar attitudes when it came to sick people they love. It had taken a lot of convincing for Grace to stay away from him the last couple days while he was contagious, and that was only because she trusted Steve to handle nursing duties at a level she would consider satisfactory.

His phone rang, and when he picked it up, Steve's name was on the ID. He'd been gone all of about two hours.

"Hey," he answered the phone.

"What are you doing?"

"Sitting on the bed eating a toaster waffle and watching Investigation Discovery."

"Good boy. Did you check your temperature?"

"Not yet, because I just drank that big glass of cold orange juice."

"Really?"

"Yes, really. I figured you probably took a photo of the level in the bottle before you left so you'd know if I drank it."

"I didn't, but that's a hell of an idea."

"I'm fine. I'll check it in a little while."

"Okay. Nothing big going on here. I thought maybe I'd come home for lunch. What do you want?"

"Huh?" It didn't occur to Danny that when Steve was referring to "coming home" for lunch, he meant coming to his place. "Whatever you bring is okay."

"Chinese?"

"Sure."

"Okay. I'll be there in a couple hours. Don't forget - "

"To check my temperature. I know. I will."

"Drink some water."

"Yes, doctor."

"You're doing really well, Danny. We don't want a setback."

"I know." Danny paused. "Be careful out there."

"I will. I'm not really doing anything dangerous - "

"At the moment."

"Okay, granted, something could come up. I'll watch my back."

"I don't have a fever anymore. I should be there doing that."

"You will, tomorrow, if the fever doesn't come back."

"It won't." I miss you.

"Well, it'll be good to have you back up and around again." 

"It's boring here by myself."

"Don't miss me too much between now and lunch."

"I'll try to hang in there," Danny joked. "Do I get to eat lunch at the table like a normal person, or am I confined to my bed?"

"If you still feel good and your fever's not back, we'll eat at the table."

"Man, my mom wasn't as strict as you are when I was sick."

"You have your mom wrapped around your little finger."

I think I got you there, too, babe.

"I guess she was more susceptible to my negotiating skills."

"I gotta go. I'll be there around noon with food."

Danny heard noise in the background and some commotion before Steve broke the connection. Now he would stew on it between then and noon, wondering what Steve was into, and feeling like he was falling down on the job by not being there. 

********

Steve amended his plans to pick up Chinese and drove through the nearest KFC and got a bucket of chicken. His messed up clothes and banged up face would probably scare the little old Chinese lady who usually took his takeout order in the front of the restaurant. One minute it had been a simple assist to the HPD - they were pursuing fleeing bank robbers - and the next minute it had been a high-speed chase, a foot chase, a leaping tackle from the top of a fence down on a feisty suspect who put up a hell of a fight before Steve cuffed him and handed him off to the cops. 

He'd managed to scrape up his arm pretty well on the cement, end up with a swelling eye that was turning color with each passing minute, and he'd given his ankle a nasty twist when he came down off the fence onto the sidewalk. Selfishly, he was looking forward to Danny patching him up and making a fuss over how he'd managed to get into that kind of trouble in a space of a few hours Danny wasn't there to back him up.

It was a good thing he'd driven his truck. His arm had bled on the armrest, and while Danny loved him and cared about his injuries, bleeding on the interior of the Camaro was not permitted.

Danny loved him. There was a nice thought. He wondered if Danny might just love him a little more than he was letting on...

"Hey, Danno, I got lunch!" he called out as he used his key to enter Danny's house. 

"I'm starved," Danny replied from the kitchen. "Must be getting well," he added as he walked into the living room. "Holy shit, what happened to you?"

"HPD was chasing some guys in connection with a bank robbery, so I assisted."

"You catch all of them single-handedly?" he asked, taking the bag with the food and setting it on the table. 

"Just one that fought back. After I chased him for three blocks and over a fence."

"That explains the limp."

"I came down a little wrong on my ankle."

"You're not going back to work this afternoon."

"I'll be okay. I just need to clean up."

"Sit down, and don't argue with me." Danny pulled a couple napkins out of the takeout bag and handed them to Steve. "Here, you're going to start bleeding on my floor."

"Your tenderness is tugging at my heartstrings."

"Yeah, yeah, just sit still a minute and stay out of the food until we get you washed up."

It sounded so much like something his mother might have said when he came in from the yard scraped up and dirty that he had to laugh.

"Why don't you just come in the bathroom and I can help you get cleaned up?" Danny called to him. 

You really should get in the shower with me and wash me down thoroughly.

"Okay," Steve responded, limping to the bathroom and joining Danny there. He let his partner wash up his bloody arm, glad it was messier than it was serious. With a good coating of ointment on the raw areas, Danny carefully applied a couple gauze bandages and then wrapped gauze around them and taped it.

"Either he's got a good swing or you decided to hit him with your face," he said, guiding Steve to sit on the toilet lid while he cleaned a little dried blood off Steve's forehead. "Your eye's really swelling up, babe." His tone was sympathetic and his hands were gentle, and he was almost completely well again, which made things right in Steve's world. 

He grabbed Danny around the waist and pulled him forward until he landed on Steve's lap, straddling him.

"What are you doing?" Danny asked warily, but he didn't yell, didn't object, and didn't move away.

"I love you, Danno," he said, keeping his arms around Danny.

"I love you, too," he replied, very lightly skimming the bruised area on Steve's face with his fingertips. 

"I'd like to touch you when one of us wasn't sick, injured, or somehow fucked up."

"I'm right here, babe."

"Fever's still gone?"

"Healthy as a horse," Danny confirmed, grinning. "I can't help noticing there's no damage to your mouth. So maybe we oughtta start there?" he suggested.

"And see where that goes," Steve added. He wasn't sure later who actually kissed whom. All he knew was their lips met somewhere in the middle, and then their mouths were opening and the kiss was getting deeper and hotter, Danny's ass was feeling really good where it rested on his thighs, and judging by the growing bulges between them, they were both ready to take things to the next level. 

He moved from Danny's mouth down his neck, unbuttoning his shirt, kissing lower until he was interrupted by Danny pulling on his polo shirt, trying to get it over his head. He was happy to oblige, raising his arms and helping Danny get it out of the way. 

"I have a bed, you know," Danny said, while Steve was eagerly pushing his shirt off his shoulders, pulling him close, savoring that first contact skin to skin, before capturing his mouth again with more urgent, passionate kisses.

"Good for you," Steve mumbled, his hands moving down to Danny's belt.

"We're not having our first time on the toilet."

"We're not on the toilet. We're sitting on the closed lid."

"How is that not on the toilet?" Danny retorted, his voice rising. 

"You made it sound like one of us was...going or something."

"Okay, so maybe we're kind of past the soft music and candles thing, but I'm not getting my rocks off on the john. I have standards."

"This isn't living up to your standards?" Steve asked, raising his eyebrows. 

"This is just fine," he said, gesturing between them. "Doing it here isn't. You can make it to the bedroom."

"I'm not so sure about that."

"Where's that legendary self-control you SEALs are supposed to have?"

"That was blown the hell away the first time I looked at you," Steve said, shocked at himself for saying it out loud, blurting it right out there, not holding anything back. Danny had a lifetime of teasing potential on him now, and he waited, his whole body tense, to see what he'd do with it. 

Danny stared at him, speechless for possibly the first time in their relationship. 

"Back then, you wanted to...do this?"

"I've wanted to do this for four years and however many months and days."

"Wow..." 

"What does that mean?"

"Why did you wait so long?"

"Because...I don't know. Maybe I needed our relationship to be solid enough that if you were turned off, you wouldn't walk out of my life for good."

"I'd never do that." Danny paused. "I'm not exactly turned off here, Steven," he added, and Steve grinned, since he could feel just how notturned off Danny was.

"Did you ever think about us like this?"

"A few times," he said, kissing Steve again, though this one was considerably gentler, but just as deep and intimate. "A day, for the last few years."

"Why didn't you say something?"

"I did, but it didn't make any difference in things, so I figured you were just trying to let it pass without messing up our partnership."

"When was this? Seems like I'd remember that."

"This may come as a surprise to you, but I don't usually sign 'I love you' to my buddies, in front of a bunch of other guys."

"Wait a minute...Danny, that was years ago."

"You never said anything, even when I saw you at the hospital later. Then I sort of felt stupid, like I must have misread things, and I lost my nerve to say it again."

"Is it too late to get you to say it again now?" Steve asked, framing Danny's face with his hands. 

Danny smiled at him, and proceeded to sign "I heart you" just the way he had that day as Steve was being airlifted by the helicopter. 

"I love you, too, Danno," he replied, and they kissed again to seal the deal. 

"Bedroom?" Danny asked.

"Bedroom." 

Moving to the next room gave them the break they needed to dispense with shoes, pants, and underwear, leaving the clothing in a mingled heap on the floor before landing in the middle of Danny's unmade bed. Lying there together was so much better than trying to make things happen in the bathroom. Steve wasn't sure any reality could live up to the hype he'd created in his fantasies about how it would be to get Danny naked and be with him this way, but so far, the fantasies were taking a back seat to what was really happening between them. 

Fantasy Danny was just that, an image, a dream, something his imagination would concoct. This Danny was real, warm, affectionate, excited; firm muscle and soft skin and hot breath on his shoulder and moans of pleasure. This Danny had hands that roamed over Steve's own overheating body, grabbed his ass, thrust against him, kissed him hungrily everywhere his lips could reach. 

He should have known making love to Danny would be fiery, passionate, unpredictable, and amazing. Those hands that were never still when he spoke weren't still now, either. And for every unfulfilled urge Steve had, it was obvious Danny had at least that many stored up. 

They were rolling around on the bed, not really arriving at a firm decision who was supposed to be on top or what they were ultimately going to do. All of it felt too good and had been denied them too long. At first Steve was disappointed in himself when he knew he was coming, when he couldn't hold back any longer, until he felt Danny right there with him. They were gasping and shouting, letting it all go, savoring every hot, urgent, sweaty, desperate, clumsy move until they were both sated and finished, lying there tangled in each other's arms.

"Uh, Steve?"

"Yeah?"

"Probably better not check my temperature now."

Steve laughed, hugging Danny closer. "Don't worry. I wouldn't want mine checked at the moment, either. I can vouch for the fact that you're in perfect health." He ran his hand down Danny's arm, from his shoulder to his hand and back again. The light touch seemed to give Danny a little chill. "The sun's on your arm...it makes the hair glow."

"It does, huh?" 

"Yeah, it does."

"I guess that means you like it then?"

"Oh, yeah," Steve confirmed, knowing it wasn't too eloquent, but this was Danny, and they didn't need a lot of poetry and extra words. Still, Danny deserved some words. Just because he spent a lot of time reading Steve's mind, or so it seemed, that didn't mean he shouldn't be romanced a little. "I love you, Danny." The next words felt like such a blatant admission, but he said them anyway. "I love everything about you. Your eyes, your voice...the way you feel and the way you taste. Can't believe the reality is better than what I used to fantasize about."

"I kind of fantasized about it being like this...then I thought maybe the whole holding and kissing thing...maybe you wouldn't be into that with me."

"Have you been with guys before?"

"No. I thought maybe it would be kind of...just get down to business."

"It can be. But not with you. With you, I want all of it. I don't want to miss out on any of you."

"This is from experience?"

"Not a whole lot. Once or twice, but you're the first man I ever fell in love with. And you're gonna be the last, so I hope you're not planning on going anywhere."

"Not without you, babe. Never loved anybody like I love you. Not anybody." Danny punctuated that statement with a kiss, one that lasted a long time. When it was over, they lay there with their noses almost touching. "How's your ankle?"

"What ankle?" Steve kissed him again.

"You were limping when you came in."

"Oh, that. I kind of came down on it wrong, but I was laying it on a little, too."

"Excuse me? You were faking me out for sympathy?"

"So you'd spend a lot of time taking care of me." He kissed Danny again. "You know, touching me."

"Kind of nice that we don't have to injure ourselves to do that now."

"This is much better."

"You know what I'm looking forward to?"

"Getting our second wind?" Steve suggested, and Danny laughed.

"That, too. I'm looking forward to lying around in bed with you on a Sunday morning, watching bad TV and maybe reading the paper. Then screwing ourselves senseless for a couple hours."

"Sounds nice."

"Your ankle is probably bad enough you should stay home and keep it elevated, don't you think?" Danny asked.

"If you say so. You're taking care of me, after all."

"I'll take care of you all right, babe. More than once if you stay home with me this afternoon."

"I'd have to be insane to go back to work with that offer on the table, and," he added, covering Danny's mouth when he started to speak, "despite what you tell me, daily, I'm not crazy."

"Just crazy in love with me, right?"

"Oh, yeah, bat-shit crazy about you." 

Danny laughed at that, hugging him tighter. "Get that engraved on something for me, will you, babe?"

"Anything for you, Danno."