“I have to say,” Steve leaned against the wall, arms folded across his chest, looking lazy and at ease like he’d been there for hours rather than appearing while Danny’s attention was elsewhere. “that it’s a relief to find you in a hospital room without your ex-wife curled up in your lap.”
“Great. Then next time, you can explain to her that you got cut up because I fell on you when I got shot. Did they say I can go?” Danny tapped his phone impatiently on his leg as he sat shirtless on the edge of the emergency room bed.
Steve nodded, threw Danny a t-shirt that had been a spare in the Camaro. “I would have called for you.”
“Oh no!” Danny hopped down and started gingerly dressing himself. “There is a pact, and you need to be part of it too. When at all possible, you make the phone call yourself. It’s something my folks made me promise them when I went out for the academy.”
“So if I’m well enough to make the call myself you don’t panic about how bad I may have been hurt when some idiot cop fell on me?” Danny shot him a nasty look that Steve simply smiled off. “I can do that. Did she freak out?” Was there a lot of I told you so? was in Steve’s eyes although he didn’t ask it out loud.
“No, surprisingly enough, she was pleasant and concerned, but there was a bit of haughty in the tone.” Danny just shrugged, cringed at the pain in his arm at the movement, then “A little help here, babe?”
Steve grabbed the shirt back and gingerly worked one sleeve up Danny’s bandaged arm. The bullet had taken out a chunk of skin, it would hurt for a while and it would scar, but nothing more. Danny was grateful that the scumbag of the day was a bad shot. He put his head and other arm through the shirt when Steve presented him the openings.
“Aw, they dress each other. That’s so cute.” Kono stood in the doorway with crutches and an ear to ear grin.
He was aware he was in Steve’s bed. The world felt fuzzy around the edges. But it was sunny and Danny wasn’t sure why he was in bed in the afternoon, or what had woken him. He rolled to his side and… Oh yeah. GSW and drugs. He rolled back and sighed with the pain back under control.
”Because he’s had a rough week or so. I got the chance to force pain-killers on him and make him sleep so that’s what I did. … He hasn’t been sleeping Rachel. … How is that your business?” That had been what had woken him. Steve must have grabbed his phone and dashed out to the hall before- ”It was the shooting at the convenience store, not the pervert he’s seeing. … No the one last week, not today. … He’s fine; I’m telling you he’s fine. … He’ll be back at work in the morning. He could have gone back today, I’d just rather he- … He couldn’t save her, you know that’s something he’ll carry, you should know him as well as I do. …
The world was still fuzzy, but Steve’s words were sinking in. A bit. Danny knew that he and Steve hadn’t actually spoken about her, about Kelly. Some small functioning part of Danny’s brain kind of liked that. He hadn’t had to beat the topic to death in conversations with someone who wasn’t there and didn’t have the same sense of responsibility in the first place. He hadn’t had to give a play by play. Hadn’t had to deal with the way his ex-wife’s indrawn breath of shock had always crushed him, overwhelmed him with his own failure.
Steve had just helped to pick him up off the floor without a word. He’d given Danny room to freak out or curl up in a ball or just try to function and had been there to help with … everything.
”Look, I’m going to say this to you once. You tell yourself whatever you need to in order to sleep at night, but if you did care for him like … Yeah, right. If you did you wouldn’t have hurt him like to did. When I met him he was just angry. Just almost constantly angry, with no one he could just count on. … You married someone else and he still followed you. And then… Of course he wanted it too. But you were still Stan’s wife, and again, you got the good guy to promise to do the right thing and follow you one more time, and one more time you- … He’s my best friend Rachel, but he would have been on the next flight to the mainland once I was out; you never gave him that chance. … I’m not going to justify- … You don’t have to like me, you don’t have to like what I do for a living. I would give my life to keep Grace safe, to make sure that Danny comes home to her every day. You chose which stand up guy you wanted. Danny’s mine now. I will tell him you called.”
Danny could hear Steve’s body lean against the wall outside the bedroom. Assumed that the call had been disconnected. “How much of that did you hear?”
“Dunno.” Danny turned his head toward the door and waited for Steve to come into view. “Voicemail, babe. I had to learn to let it go to voicemail.” He held out the hand on his good arm toward Steve. He appreciated that Steve was looking out for him, defended him and cared about him. But he didn’t want the new wife and the ex-wife fighting. He smiled at the idea of Steve being the new wife.
“That’s a scary grin.” Steve climbed on to the bed next to Danny.
“Must be the meds.” He reached out, touched the lines worrying into Steve’s forehead. “Just let it go to voicemail. Okay?” Steve closed his eyes and exhaled slowly, as if he’d been expecting Danny to rant about fighting with Rachel. He probably should have, he knew he’d have to apologize and placate her, but it was more than his brain was capable of in that moment.
Danny’s finger traced to the bandage near Steve’s hair line. “That was a lot of blood babe.”
“Head bleeds a lot. It didn’t help that you were bleeding on me too.”
“No.” Danny soothed his thumb over the adhesive strip. “It was scary though. Didn’t know if you’d been shot.”
“Chin said he was impressed. That we both knew the other was hurt, both kept going. Said that it was his only concern about us…”
Steve opened his eyes and smiled. “Yeah. He wasn’t going to say anything either way, but he’d had reservations.” Danny’s hand was tugged down, lips brushed across his knuckles, then Steve tucked it against his chest. “Something good came out of it though.”
“What’s that?” Danny flattened his hand out against Steve, absorbing his strong heart beat.
“When you handed me your wallet at the ER? I had to fish out your insurance card?”
“You kept the note.”
Danny closed his eyes, the image of Steve’s smile burning into his mind to keep forever. He felt the meds pulling him down into sleep again when he murmured, “Blue post-it means love.”