Steve had never put much stock into the way people sleep. He just figured it was always an extension of a person – something that couldn’t (or shouldn’t) be changed. But then he began to realize that there was something rewarding about watching someone sleep, even if only for a little while. It answered many questions about a person that they wouldn’t be willing to say when they were awake, in the light of day. He also began to notice that people changed over the years in the way they slept and he was always curious to why this could be.
Mary Ann was no exception. Before their mom died and everything went to hell in a hand basket, his baby sister had slept care-free, sprawled on her back with her limbs everywhere. Steve remembers because they shared a room for a while when they were younger, when the spare room downstairs was being turned into a bedroom for Mary. He’d walk in or wake up in the middle of the night and spare a glance at her, seeing that blonde hair spread across the pillow, mouth open to draw in the fresh air wafting through the window.
But now…now Mary slept on the defense, curled on her side with both hands tucked under the pillow. Steve made this discovery when Mary crashed like a whirlwind into his house for a few weeks. It got worse after Mary was kidnapped – she withdrew into herself even more, awake and asleep. Steve’s heart ached to do something for his sister, but he just didn’t know what. Instead he would pull the blanket up closer to her chin, smoothing a hand across her wrinkled brow. He hoped one day she’d be able to sleep as care-free as she had when they were kids, but he didn’t know if that would happen. They were both too damaged to ever be completely the same again.
Chin Ho was a different manner entirely. As far as Steve could remember, he had always been serious, rarely cracking a smile unless something good was happening for Kono, the only member of his blood family who seemed to give a damn about him now. The grim set to his face was Chin’s default mode and Steve knew it had to have gotten worse since Internal Affairs began breathing down his neck.
Steve remembers years ago when he was sixteen. It was the night before his dad was shipping him and Mary to the mainland a month after his mother’s accident. He couldn’t sleep and he snuck down the stairs to get something to eat, his lanky teenager body aching as it stretched to accommodate another growth spurt he didn’t want.
With his sandwich in hand, he settled into the living room armchair, only to be shocked to find Chin fast asleep on his father’s old corduroy couch. At 22, Chin’s face was pre-maturely lined, but Steve still found him handsome. He knew that Chin was sleeping on the couch to support Steve’s father, his first real partner at HPD. At the moment, Steve was glad his father had someone to look after him, as he was too mad to care as he was forced away from his island, his home – the only place he knew or ever wanted to know.
Chin slept in fits, stirring every fifteen minutes or so to shift into a new position, but nothing ever seemed to be comfortable. At one time, he’d clutch the threadbare pillow and the next he’d push it away, pressing his face into the couch cushion. Steve couldn’t help but feel sorrow for the man who took the entire world’s problem onto his shoulders, without ever thinking of himself.
Steve found out more recently that Chin slept a little soundly now, years later. He discovered this when he walked into his office to find Chin asleep on his couch before they were set to go on a late night stake out. Chin slept on his side, one of Kono’s jackets thrown over his shoulders, hand tucked under his ear as a make-shift pillow. There were more lines on his face now, but they seemed to have been smoothed down like sand at the beach, thanks to IA finally dropping his case. It was like a tether being cut, setting Chin free. Steve was glad, his heart lifting faintly at the sight of his friend.
Danny though, he was the most interesting sleeper Steve had ever encountered, and he’d served with some weird dudes in the SEALs. Danny was bossy in bed, muscling his small body around to get what he wanted, even though Steve would gladly give anything up without a fight and the Jersey detective knew it. Everyone knew Steve was the boss at 5-0 and as a SEAL commander, but he would be the first to admit he gave up control when he wasn’t on the clock and Danny gladly took up that slack.
Danny would probably tell everyone in a heartbeat that Steve was an octopus in bed, limbs wrapped tightly around his smaller partner, but in the reality, Steve did that because Danny had pulled his arm over him that first night they slept together, burrowing down with his back flush to Steve’s front. Steve would never say it out loud, but Danny came across as incredibly vulnerable in his sleep, brow wrinkled up as if he was solving dream crimes and Steve felt it was his responsibility to keep this man completely safe, if only for those few hours when the world stood still inside their small bedroom.
There are few times when Steve is able to just watch Danny sleep. Despite Danny’s insistence that Steve was a super SEAL, he found it hard to stay awake up to a certain point unless they were at a stake-out or he was on a mission. As a result, he was asleep long before Danny, curled around him like a blanket while Danny grumbled about Sleepy Neanderthal Animals.
There was one time this was different though. They had been awake for almost 54 hours straight, arguing back and forth with a set of kidnappers to release thirty hostages ranging in age from 5 months to 45 years from a cramped factory warehouse on Sand Island. Steve noticed at the 48 hour mark that Danny was beginning to lag, bright bursts of color painted across his face and neck. At that point, Steve made Danny take it easy, putting him on tech duty (even though it put the smaller man on a rant that Steve wouldn’t hear the end of for days.) He was glad, nonetheless, that at the end of the grueling 54 hour period, the hostages were all safe and sound, the bad guys booked (by Chin, under Steve’s strict orders) and he was able to pack Danny home in the Camaro.
They argued once they got into the house – Steve wanted to get Danny some medicine and food, but the only thing the detective wanted was to rest. He eventually won out, tugging Steve upstairs. Once there, they swapped dirty work clothes for clean boxers. It was then that Danny pushed Steve flat on his back onto the bed before crawling over him. Legs barely reaching the end of the bed, Danny placed his head on Steve’s sternum, wrapping his left arm around the bigger man’s belly and hips, while his right arm pushed under the pillow next to Steve’s head. He was asleep in seconds.
Danny’s fever painted a swath across Steve’s chest, centered on his clavicle. Steve would be more worried, except Danny was sleeping the easiest he’d seen in a while. Even if Steve knew Danny was the boss between the sheets, he knew it was hard for his partner to sleep comfortably without Steve there, after being together for so long. It broke Steve’s heart in a way to know he held one of the keys to someone else’s happiness. It was a daunting responsibility, but one that he relished more with every passing day. Reaching his arms down, Steve wrapped one tightly around Danny’s middle, lying across that tan back, covered in downy blonde hair. The other arm rested at the back of Danny’s neck, fingers pushing lightly into the tufts of sun bleached hair there, content to lay with Danny as long as he was needed.