"Okay, boss. What did you do?''
Steve glances up from his computer screen, head swiveling in double take when he sees the accusatory scowl gracing Kono's normally lovely features. What the hell? She's standing hipshot against the doorjamb, arms crossed and exuding her ‘you are a prime rate asshole’ expression that is usually directed at someone else, thankfully, except this time she's shooting his way and seriously? It's not even eight in the morning.
He resists the urge to glance behind him, half hoping but wholly knowing there's no one else who could possibly be her target. It's fairly obvious he's in some sort of trouble, he just doesn't have a clue what. Or why.
"Uh, what?" Because that is about the only response that he can possibly come up with at this point.
“Oh, come on. You know,” she says, squinting at him while invisible lasers shoot from her eyes and he can honestly feel himself flinch as each strike hits his forehead dead center. There's sure to be a singe mark later.
"Kono, I don’t even--what? What are you talking about?”
She's still frowning at him. "I figure you have to have done something."
This is going nowhere. He stands up, hands spread wide and he can feel incredulousness seep into his face as he’s trying to placate. Hasn't even had a chance to take a sip of coffee yet. This is ridiculous. He hasn't even seen anyone yet this morning. "I didn’t do anything. I haven't even had time to do anything."
"You sure?" she humpfs at him, seemingly relaxing her visible anger down a slight notch which is, at least, a hell of a lot easier to deal with than the fireballs she seemed on the verge of releasing.
He takes split second inventory of the hours of his morning, pretty much the same hours he lives through every morning. Up with the sun, into the ocean, shower, dress, breakfast. Office. Coffee.
Picks up his mug as he watches her and swallows a large gulp because he’s sure he’ll need coffee to deal with whatever this is about. "Okay, yeah. I got nothing. Why don't you tell me what it is you're talking about and why it is you think I did it?"
“Why? Because…well, because it's Danny.”
"You broke him."
She's caught him mid-swallow, coffee shoots up his nose and there are a few long moments where all he can do is cough through the burning, drowning sensation. He's waving a hand that means no, he doesn't need help as much as he's also waving 'like hell' he did anything to Danny—and as much as the thought of doing things to Danny has crossed his mind lately (couldn’t pay him to admit that out loud), he hasn't seen nor heard Danny yet this morning.
After sucking in a lungful of clean air between caffeinated wheezes, he manages to splutter out, "No. I didn't."
“So nothing happened this morning?”
“No! I haven’t even—"
"Something maybe on the way in? You said something or did something, because, boss, only you could—”
Cuts her off her with a raised hand. "Hold up. What do you mean, only me?"
She just keeps right on, though. “You didn’t do something on your drive in together? You didn’t say something? You’re sure."
At least she’s now kind of asking instead of totally accusing. Shakes his head no. "We didn’t drive together. I have a lunch meeting with the governor this afternoon. Figured it'd make sense not to tie up Danny's car so I drove my truck."
"Oh." She looks surprised and then frowns. "Huh. You really didn’t. Okay, then. Well…sorry. I just figured…" Looks at him with a somewhat softened face. “I mean, you always start your day with Danny, and now he’s…you know, he’s...” she nods toward Danny’s office where the blinds are drawn. “Like that.”
"Like what? I didn’t even know he was in yet." He hadn't heard him come in which is kind of odd as Danny usually plants himself and his large coffee mug in Steve's office at the beginning of every morning whether they drive in together or not. Most days, yes, he truly does start his day with Danny, likes that he does and no, he isn't about to analyze that any more than he has already. Not with Kono, anyway.
"Yeah, he's here," she tells with a nod and bite of her lip. "Sort of."
"Sort of. What's that mean, sort of?" Steve doesn’t bother for her answer, just heads to Danny's office because what the hell is going on?
There's definitely something not quite right with Danny. Not right whatsoever. The man’s half slumped over his desk. Looks like he's sleeping.
Steve stares for a half a second—or, okay, longer, but it’s not his fault his brain just stops to study Danny’s normally slicked back, overly gelled hair that’s now falling kind of softly to one side, blond strands highlighted by the sun’s rays streaming in thin horizontal beams through the blinds on the window. Finds himself reaching forward to run fingers through those strands, and then his brain centers online again and he gives himself a hard shake back to reality and the here and reasonable.
Doesn’t need Danny waking up to find his fingers twined into his hair, for god’s sake. He hip-checks the desk and offers up a greeting. "Hey, Danno. Morning.”
In return, he gets a half opened eye and a, “huh?” So okay, for a guy who spends the better part of every day yakking away, this is new and different.
“Uh, Danny? Everything okay?
A head nod and some sort of noise and this—Danny—is not looking good.
“Something wrong, D?"
"What? What was that?"
"Was that a word? Was that even English?" Steve watches Danny slowly sit up, elbows planted on his desk, hands bracing his head with his fingers pressed to his temples. It takes no special deduction skills whatsoever to deduce he's not feeling well. "Danny?"
Danny makes a throat-clearing noise and finally replies back. "What? I didn’t say anything and yes, I’m speaking English. What were you expecting, Swahili?"
"Well, you mumbled something in a foreign language."
More throat clearing. "Yeah, no. I mean, I said nothing is wrong and… " Danny words just trail into a faint groan and it's fairly evident he's not doing well as he sits there, head in hand and eyes closed. "That’s it."
Steve pauses as he takes him in. Broken, Kono said. "You got a headache coming on?"
“Guess that depends on how long you’re planning on standing there, grilling me.”
"Oh my god. You're sick."
That gets Danny's eyes open. Red-rimmed, bloodshot and not just a little glassy, it's all Steve can do not to bark out a laugh when Danny shakes his head and says, "No. Not sick, not really. I'm okay.”
"Oh, yeah. You’re okay. I can see that." Steve might have tried to believe him, except Danny looks terrible even as he's trying to offer up a smile that says he's fine. It's not hard to notice that every time he swallows, he follows it with an eye-pinching grimace chaser. Frankly, Danny looks like hell.
One more swallowed grimace, and Steve stands up and flat out says it. "You're going home." It's not like it isn’t obvious. The way Danny looks, he needs to be home. Steve’s trying his best to ignore that part of him that wants to bundle Danny up and get him there.
It’s not going to be easy, though, he can see that--Danny’s already sputtering at him.
"Home? I'm not going home; I have a lot of work to do. You do remember we just closed a case that's still waiting for its final report? A case wherein, if I recall correctly—hold on, lemme think here—oh, yeah. Wherein you commandeered a vehicle and then tanked it—and us--by driving off a pier. Because you are a complete lunatic at times and I should really have my head examined for still working with you. Do I have that right? That you almost killed us both by pulling a Thelma and Louise and just willy-nilly taking us, and the car, into the ocean. That is what happened, correct? I didn’t actually dream this?” Danny’s hands do a swan dive kind of move and he shudders visibly.
“It wasn’t willy-nilly, Danny, you know this. Not my fault that—“
But Danny cuts him off. “I’m still having nightmares about having to get out that window.” Points a finger. “There are days, my friend.”
“Danny, I just think you need—“
Danny’s got his hand up and Steve shuts up. He’s seen this expression of Danny’s before. Never mind Danny says he has faces, Danny has faces, too. And that pointy finger. And tones. And this right here, this is the trifecta: Face, finger and tone. In a big way.
“You do not have the first clue what I need.” Danny comes to a rather shaky stand and heads toward the door, stopping just in front of Steve who is, admittedly, not doing much to get out of his way.
It’s just: "Danny, you look like you feel just awful and I really think—"
"Okay, you? Are in my way. I'm fine. Really, Dr. McGarrett. All is good. I just need some water for the Sahara that's taken up residence in my throat. I gotta cold. That's it."
Steve shakes his head because that is so not it, not even close, but then lets Danny pass because honest to god, when Danny has that face showing there’s no talking him down. He swears he can see Danny fading with every step, though…
But no. The man's not sick. No. Not at all.
It's only when he returns from lunch with the governor that Steve gets full view of the not sick part of Danny's speech.
Kono's in his face the minute he comes through the door.
"Do something," she says, pointing in the direction of Danny's office. "He hasn't moved from his desk at all. Not once."
"What do you want me to do? Kidnap him and force him to go home and take a nap."
She laughs. "Oh, I don't think there'll be too much force needed for that. Seriously, boss, he needs to go home."
"Besides," Chin adds, "we don't want to catch whatever it is he's got. Typhoid Mary in there needs to take himself and his germs and head home. Like, yesterday."
"Okay, okay. I'll go talk to him."
Which is easier said because Danny’s seemingly now asleep—again--head pillowed on his arms on his desk.
“Danny?” Reaches a tentative hand out, not sure if he should jostle him awake or let him sleep. What was that saying about letting sleeping dogs lie? “Hey, Sleeping Beauty—“
Which wakes him. Sort of. Steve leans in and waves a hand in front of Danny’s eyes. Danny’s glassy, red-rimmed eyes. “You awake in there?’
Danny gives him a slow, half-focused look, blinks a few times like he's trying to piece his brain back together and figure out where he is, and then sits back, scrubbing a hand over his face. “Awake. Yeah, wow.” His voice sounds thick and raspy, worse than before. Like it hurts. “Guess I was really out of it.” Oh, yeah. Definitely foggy.
"Guess you needed the sleep."
"Guess I did." More blinking, a yawn, and then Danny's stretching, both arms raising high over his head. His shirt is bunching and pulling and straining the already strained buttons across his chest, and Steve has to remind himself the man's not feeling at all well and now is not the time to anticipate the popping of a button. Even if it is his favorite pastime.
“Guess you need to go home.”
“Guess again,” Danny replies but it’s half effort at best and then he’s downing the rest of the water in his glass and doing that wincing thing again, and then just sitting there, slumped over his desk.
“Seriously, Danny. Go home. In fact, better yet,” Steve tells him. “It’s Friday, it’s been a long week. This is what we’re going to do: we’re going to leave early, all of us, and then you and I’ll stop by your doctor and—“
“Whoa—hold up there, Tonto. Okay, A: I don’t need to leave early as I’m still, you know,” Danny says then waves a hand over his desk and the papers scattered there. It’s all Steve can do not to roll his eyes. “And B: I certainly don’t need go to the doctor, and three: I especially don’t need to be escorted by you.”
Only Danny could somehow take umbrage at an offer of help. He seems affronted at the very idea, even. Closes his eyes and Steve’s not at all sure what’s coming next. Maybe he really will have to just haul him out of here like he told Kono.
“Danny, really, come on. You should see yourself.”
That finger pinch thing Danny does there between his eyes is happening which is never a good sign of things to come. Usually it precedes some sort of yelling and hand flailing by Danny. At him.
Danny visibly swallows, and it just as visibly looks like it’s killing him to do so. Steve’s about had it and is ready to grab his arm and put him in a hold to get him out the door. Nobody who looks this pale, tired and shivery should be arguing about going home.
“Okay, Steven. Okay, just. No.”
“No? Danny, you need to—“
“Stop, okay? Just stop. Just, let me tell you what I am and what I am not going to do."
Few things grate on him more than when Danny starts ticking things off on his fingers.
"I am going to go home, okay? Okay? I am not going to go to the doctor. I have a virus, that is it—that is all—but I will go ahead and head home, because yes, I am feeling a little tired, but that’s it. Enough. The line stops here.”
“Line? What line?”
“That one,” Danny says and draws out an invisible line on his desk between where he sits and where Steve’s hands are still planted as he leans forward into Danny's space. “That line. Right there. The one that says your involvement is over. Now keys. Where are my keys?”
Sometimes Steve doesn’t even realize how close they get to one another until he notices something, like how soft Danny's lips look this close up. Like how much he'd like to press his lips to Danny's and find out.
“Danny. I don’t think you ought to be driving, I mean, you were dead to the world three minutes ago. You look exhausted.”
“Well, your concern is noted…and dismissed. I think I can manage.”
Steve watches him waver where he stands with his hands digging around in his pockets until he pulls out his keys and jingles them in Steve’s face. It takes but a hair trigger shift of his hand for Steve to snatch them away.
“Yeah, Danny. You'll manage…with me. C'mon, I’m driving.”
Steve figures the past ten minutes have to be the quietest car ride he’s even had with the man. Danny’s silent and a little sullen, Steve thinks, but he's not sure if Danny really is that irritated about him commandeering his keys and driving him home, or if he's just feeling that poorly. Still, this much quiet is disconcerting enough that Steve turns on the radio to break the tension—supposed or otherwise—the volume barely audible but enough so to at least provide some kind of background filler. Quiet is one thing, stressed out silence is another, whether or not he’s the only one feeling it.
After a half a minute, Danny grunts out, “Seriously? How do you do this?”
Now what? “Do what?’
Danny’s frowning and pointing blatantly to the radio.
Fever - in the morning, fever all through the night.
Steve hadn’t even noticed what song is playing—Fever—how ironic. “Are you kidding me? Just how much control over things do you think I have, anyway?” but it is funny, and really kind of hard not to grin. He turns it up. "I kinda like this."
There’s a long pause with Danny just staring at him, and he double takes just as Danny turns back toward the window, muttering, “Frightening.”
Steve listens to Michael Buble’s version of the classic song, his tenor filling the car:
You give me fever - when you kiss me, fever when you hold me tight
Fever - in the morning, fever all through the night.
Oh, Jesus. So much for that, Steve thinks as he turns off the radio. The lyrics echo loudly inside his head for the rest of the ride.
It doesn’t surprise him that he has to nudge Danny a few times to wake him up. Danny’s been asleep almost since the radio went off and they traveled along in complete silence until Steve parks the Camaro at Danny’s apartment.
Danny doesn’t hear him, though, is slumped against the window, clearly mouth breathing and looking pale and generally unwell.
Steve suppresses the feeling of want that threatens to climb up and out of his chest as he looks at Danny. Jesus, he’s choking on it, which…it isn’t like he hasn’t been fighting this ‘Danny’ urge long enough to not be able to tamp down this pull of desire. It’s ridiculous. He’s been trying very hard to get himself aligned again with Catherine to at least have that diversion and keep his almost craving for his partner at bay….
Which clearly is isn’t working well. Like now.
“Fuck,” he breathes, which is apparently enough to rouse Danny who wakes, albeit slowly, yawning and stretching and looking not at all like he’s all too aware. His hair is sticking up on one side and if Steve didn’t think he’d deck him outright, he’d reach over and smooth it down for him. Danny barely glances at him, the lines around his eyes tightening as he swallows in some modicum of pain. This is not looking good.
Steve reaches over and pushes the lock to unlatch Danny’s seat belt, Danny’s hand coming down to swat at his fingers.
“I got it. I can do it, geeze, Steven. Hello? Not an invalid here.” Danny reaches a hand out. “Keys. Gimme.”
Danny then extricates himself from the car in a cloud of annoyed huff, Steve can almost see it floating angrily around his head. Then he's out of the car and dogging Danny’s heels as they head to his apartment door because he’s come this far, no way is he going to just leave Danny off without making sure he has everything he needs….
And since when did he become such a caretaker? He's about to just pick up and move Danny out of the way to get the door open when a voice chimes down to them from the outdoor stairs.
“Hey, Danny. You’re back early. You--everything okay?”
There’s a guy who was clearly heading up the stairs when they walked up, but who’s now heading back down the stairs with a quick glance at Steve and then focusing his attention on Danny as he nears them.
Danny glances at the guy. Gives the guy a little smile, too, Steve notices. He’s already feeling a bit of irritation.
“Oh, hey, Ed. Yeah, I’m good. Everything’s good.”
The guy—Ed—glances at Steve. Who the hell is this guy? “You sure?”
Like he thinks Steve is a—a threat or something. What the hell?
Danny’s nodding, then slowly noticing Ed is again drifting eyes from Steve to him. “Oh, uh, Ed, this is Steve. My—“
“Partner,” Steve finishes for him and he doesn’t give a shit how hard Danny’s glaring his way as he holds out a hand to shake with Ed.
Ed grips his hand firmly, locking eyes with him. A little slimy, is the read Steve’s getting from the guy. Ed is just a little kind of slimy. In no way does it have anything to do with the fact Ed looks like he wants to sidle up to Danny for the rest of the day.
“Oh, Commander McGarrett. Head of some task force thing, right? Yeah, I’ve heard of you.” Ed’s smiling now, grinning ear to ear as he’s kind of leaning in to Danny’s shoulder. Steve wants nothing more than to shove him aside when the guy sticks out his hand. “I’m Danny’s upstairs neighbor. Call me Eddie ‘G’.”
“Eddie ‘G’,” Steve repeats flatly. The guy must be joking.
Ed’s just grinning away like it’s completely normal for every forty something man to use a stupid nickname fit for an eighteen year old.
Danny points toward him. “Yeah, Eddie, here—he’s, uh, turns out he’s from New York.”
“Well, a little up from the city, but not by much. Not upstate or anything,” Ed adds, rocking forward on his toes.
The grin that erupts feels hard and cold. Steve can only hope Ed senses that, too as he replies, “Imagine that.”
“Yeah. Dan and I are practically homeboys,” Ed says, still grinning away, seemingly oblivious to the glare leveled his way. What a moron.
“Really.” If this guy doesn’t vacate soon, Steve really is going to deck him.
Danny’s voice sounds thick, hoarse, and it’s clear he’s not well. Danny needs to say goodbye and send Ed on his way, but Danny seems fairly oblivious to the guy's hovering, so Steve does it for him.
“Think we ought to get moving inside, Danny. Nice to meet you there, Ed.”
“You sick, Dan?”
Again the guy glances at Steve before taking another step closer to Danny and Steve has to bite back the urge to just shove him back on his way. Dan. As if.
Danny waves a hand. “No. Well, a little. Just a cold or something. No big.”
The guy’s still standing just that much too close to Danny, and it’s about all Steve can do not to step between them. He’s barely hanging on to the conversation, he’s so distracted—and just how much does he not want to analyze why the guy’s close proximity to Danny is bothering him.
“Oh, I’m sorry you’re not feeling well. Listen, if you want I think I have some cold meds upstairs. I could get them for you.”
Danny’s fumbling with the keys in the lock and it’s all Steve can do not to bat his hands out of the way to take over because Danny doesn’t even seem to be noticing how pressing this guy’s become. How annoying the guy is. How way too close the guy is standing.
“Thanks, Ed, but I’m good. Really.”
“Okay. Well, you know, if you need anything, anything at all, I’m right upstairs. I can make you soup. Really, I make a mean chicken soup and I'd be happy to do that for you, Dan, or, y' know…anything. Anything you might need.”
Which, okay. Okay, Steve thinks. Soup. Mean soup. Maybe this neighbor’s just being all neighborly. Maybe he’s just that nice a guy, wanting to pay it forward kind of thing, and he holds off judgment for a half second because it’s not like the guy’s done anything but be nice and offer help. And stand a little too close, but maybe he’s just one of those close talkers types--and then Ed has to go and take another step closer to Danny, putting his hand on Danny’s shoulder and that is it. Steve has had enough.
He gives Ed a long look, vision shifting from the guy’s hand on Danny to his eyes. “Yeah. He’s good. We’re good. We’re just here to pick up some of his things before heading back out, right, Danno?”
Ed’s eyebrows fly into his hairline. “Danno?”
Danny’s giving Steve a glare that would melt a glacier, but Steve doesn’t give a shit. The hair at the nape of his neck has been bristling since Eddie-G showed up and the quicker they can rid themselves of this guy, the happier he will be. He gets Danny’s door unlocked and all but pushes Danny inside. “Nice to meet you, Ed.”
Ed’s trying to look in as the door is closing, is halfway to shouldering himself inside so Steve just shoves it shut just as a faint, “see you later, then…Dan-no,” drifts in after.
Danny's glaring at him. “What the hell?”
Danny’s shaking his head while Steve catches a half-grin/half-scowl steal across his face. "You're an idiot."
"No, really. You are.”
Steve crosses his arms. “Okay, why am I an idiot?” but Danny’s already moved on toward the tiny bedroom only to stop and drop onto to the small sofa instead, head in hands. He really looks terrible.
“Because you are. You, you're...wait. How’re you getting back?”
“Back where,” Danny grumbles. “The office, where do you think--where?”
“I’m not going back to the office. You still have that headache? Why don’t you get some Tylenol and—oh, never mind. I’ll get it.”
"Tylenol. Yeah, couple Tylenol'd be good. My head's killing me. My throat's worse. So maybe the whole bottle--and a morphine chaser. Got any morphine handy?"
His voice is so raw Steve can hear it. He finds the bottle of Tylenol in the medicine cabinet and shakes two out in his hand, handing them and a glass of water to Danny. "Danny, you look like shit, and I mean that in the nicest of ways."
Danny chuckles a bit, then rubs the back of his hand across his forehead, closes his eyes and sighs. "Yeah. God, I’m tired."
"Okay. I'm not leaving you here to…to…" to that idiot who's upstairs is what he's thinking but says instead, "to be alone here. I'm…I have…just, let's get you some clothes and you can relax in front of the TV at my place where I can, y' know, help."
Danny's staring at him like he has two heads. "Help. Like what help?”
“Like, you know…if you need anything kind of help.”
Steve can’t quite read the long measured look Danny sends him, but nods when Danny then asks, “Like make me a mean soup?"
"I can make soup."
"You can make soup?"
"Yes, I can…open a can. Listen, before you end up falling asleep where you sit, let's get you up and going."
There's a long pause and Steve's sure Danny's going to protest, but even as Danny's grumbling things that sound like 'opening cans' and 'idiot' and 'help himself' he's up heading to his small bedroom, slowly throwing t-shirts and socks and whatever else he gets his hands on into a gym bag.
He turns to Steve with tired eyes, shoves the duffel at him and says, "Fuck it. I’m too tired to argue.”
“That’s a first.”
Danny waves a hand of dismissal. “So I’ll go—and I’ll let you make me soup. Okay."
"Okay." Steve replies with a smile. "Okay."
Danny dozes on the way there, but again, it's not hard to see his throat is killing him as he winces every time he swallows.
He's looking even worse than before, skin pale and drawn and his cheeks flushed with what can only be fever. They didn't take his temperature; Steve's not sure he even has a thermometer at his place. Wonders if he shouldn’t take Danny to the doctor anyway, but he’s sure Danny will blow a gasket if he drives him there without his permission; he’s already negated that idea once.
Still, he looks awful, and doesn't even stir as Steve pulls the Camaro into the driveway. He watches Danny sleep for a few moments, then…okay, it’s a total impulse move and Steve doesn’t even realize he’s done it until he finds the back of his hand resting lightly against Danny's forehead. Definitely feverish but pulls away as Danny's shifting, waking, blinking up at him, and why does he suddenly feel like he's done something sordid? All he did was touch him lightly.
.“Steve. What are you doing?”
Thing is, he's been touching Danny since they met. It's just…something they've always done. It shouldn't turn him on so much. It shouldn't feel this good.
“We’re here. Let’s get you settled.”
“You were touching me.”
“I was checking if you have a fever, which you do, by the way. You feel pretty, uh, warm.” He was going to say hot but apparently couldn’t get that past the barrier of his brain because even that little word held too much innuendo for comfort the way he's feeling.
Danny just sends him a look as they head inside.
By the time Danny exits the bathroom upstairs, Steve’s got new sheets on the bed in the spare room which had been his room years ago but has now become a guest room—well, had he ever had any guests—and also a, well, gym. Of sorts.
Danny’s leaning against the doorjamb looking utterly spent. "Where is it?"
“Where is what?”
"There's no TV."
"I agreed to come over here because you said something about I could watch TV, but I don’t see a TV. Do you see a TV?" Danny's nodding toward the blank wall of the room.
"Oh, right. You wanted…well, I don't have one in this room. I didn’t' even think of that; TV's either down on the couch or, I have one in my room now."
"Danny. It's fine."
"Steve. I could've just watched my little crappy TV on my own couch."
"You're not sleeping on any couch when you feel this bad, Danny. I'm not going to let you."
“Well,” Danny replies, "I'm not taking your bed."
"You're sick. You can take my bed and have the TV; it’s all good.”
"I could've just stayed at home."
"Danny, just…. Look, I want you here. I want you—I want you here. With me. I want to, you know, ah. You're sick and I want to…y' know. Help."
"Help. Since when did you become so helpful, nurse Ste--oh no."
"What?" Steve stills the hand he's had tracing a path along Danny's shoulder, suddenly aware he's touching again and shit, he didn't even realize. He pulls away sharply.
Danny's looking at that recalcitrant hand. "Oh my god, Steve."
"Oh, my god, what? Danny, what’s the matter?"
Danny's shaking his head. "You. I don't believe it—you. Is this it?”
“Is what, what?” There's a path here and Steve's feeling like he's stumbling blindly along and taken a turn that he's not sure he's ready to head toward. Not yet.
“You. You. Steve, is this a move? ‘Cause it feels like a move. Are you seriously picking now to make a move?"
"What—what are you…" His heart is racing. Racing. Careening out of control along the ‘this was such a bad idea’ highway and heading for impending disaster. He can feel it. He heads toward his room, hoping to quell this whole topic.
Danny's mumbling to him as he follows along. "Steven. Tell me this wasn't some big ploy to get me here. Tell me this isn't some crazy seduction ploy you've schemed up, dragging me here when I’m feeling awful and my defenses are down and you have some, some weird ninja ploy to get me in your bed."
Now he feels indignant. "What are you talking about—and stop saying ploy. I'm trying to help you, make you feel better. You're sick. In fact, I think you’re becoming delirious. You're sick so just—lie down."
Danny sits on the bed. "Huh, well. Have to say, your bedside manner is for shit."
"What! I have a great bedside manner."
“That remains to be seen.”
The tone there—if that doesn’t have innuendo written all over it. “Danny—“
"Steven. Please. C'mon. I’m kidding. Joking. Did they SEAL all sense of humor out of you, or what?”
"Did you just use SEAL as a verb?" Danny’s just given him an out and he doesn’t quite know what to say. Was Danny really just joking with him?
There’s a long pause then, with Danny studying him through sleepy but fairly focussed eyes and Steve’s looking right back and it isn’t like they haven’t shared looks like this between them before—looks that always end up with him feeling the pull of want that starts in his gut and worms its way to spread warmth throughout his chest.
He’s about to reply that of course he gets the joke. Hilarious—and the words are about to fall into Danny’s lap when he clearly sees the precise moment that Danny shutters him out and kind of crumples down onto the bed and huh. Maybe Danny saying he was joking is his way of avoiding that blind path, too.
Danny’s supine on the mattress, hands resting spread-eagled and legs bent at the knees with his feet still on the floor, but his eyes are closed, his voice is raspy and he just kind of sighs out on a long breath as he waves a hand around. “Just being funny. Never mind.”
Steve feels a pang of relief when Danny lets it go, because he’s been suppressing these feelings for so long that he can actually admit he’s—not scared, no, never--but, ah, hesitant, he would offer, to let them see the bright light of day.
Then again, he’s been dicking around with enough conflicting emotions to last more than anyone’s lifetime—between his father’s death, his mother’s resurrection, Catherine’s constant presence as of late and whatever the hell it is Danny has going, or not, with Gabby. The only calm he’s found in this sea of turbulent variables is this partnership with Danny, crazy as it sounds to label what they have as calm anything.
What does that truly say?
It's not like there isn't some sort of underlying something between him and Danny. It's not like they're both not aware—all the marriage jokes notwithstanding. There are times he's caught Danny looking at him, there are times he's been caught looking at Danny, so maybe….
“Wait, Danny, I have to tell you—“
“Steve, just…let it go. Joking. No big thing.”
Danny’s voice is getting softer, like he’s falling asleep, but Steve isn’t at all sure if this sort of opportunity-- having Danny as quiet and subdued, even if by illness—will present itself again any time soon. Maybe it would be good to let his attraction for Danny out of the bag. It doesn't have to go anywhere, but at least he could breathe again if Danny doesn't make a big thing of it. “Danny, I—I think I need to tell you—“
“No, no. You don’t. You really don’t. Trust me. You and I and whatever this current is that, well, you know—we don't have to do anything with it. I was joking, Steve. Really. You have your ‘not your girlfriend’ girlfriend, Catherine, I know.”
Which is Steve's own fault that Danny thinks that because he’s really given him no reason not to—hasn’t even gotten himself to truly admit what he knows, deep down where it’s dark and buried, how he truly feels about Catherine or Danny.
He’s never been a coward, though. A little emotionally stunted, maybe—or, okay, a lot stunted--but not a coward. He’s never lied about his relationship with Catherine, he’s just bent the lines a little. Bent the lines way back when with Freddie, too. Is bending the lines a bit with Catherine now—and alright, maybe those bends are more than just a little. Maybe they’ve been bending a lot. Cracking, even, because there’s a reason he’s never called Catherine his girlfriend. He wasn’t lying when he said as much to Danny. She isn’t, although not for lack of trying on both their parts.
It’s just…he’s never felt it. Not with her. Not even after all these years. She doesn’t do what looking at Danny does to him. What thinking of touching him, of messing up that shellacked hair and unbuttoning those straining buttons and wrapping hands around that luscious round of ass does to him. What just sitting in the car next to him does to him, and it’s taken meeting Danny and being with him to make him realize that what he’s been trying for with Catherine for all this time isn’t what he wants. Doesn’t even exist.
Maybe there’s a goddamned good reason he’s planted Danny in his bed after all, and maybe now’s the time he admits that, and he’s about to take a deep breath and begin when he’s cut off by a ringing phone.
Danny’s looking at the screen and shaking his head, letting the phone drop to the mattress. “God. Rachel. I just can’t right now.”
Steve takes the phone, Danny’s staring up at him with eyes barely slivered open and mumbles a, “G’ head.”
“Hey, Rachel. It’s Steve.”
“Oh, Steve. Why are you answering Danny’s phone? Is everything alright?”
“Yeah. Everything’s good. Danny’s right here, just, ah--not feeling well.”
She pauses. Steve can hear a catch in her voice. “Oh--he’s sick?
“Yeah, just not feeling great.”
“Oh, no. That’s dreadful. No. I’m so sorry.”
“Oh, I think he’ll be okay. Just a cold virus and—“
“Where are you both?’
“Ah, I brought him to my place.
“Really. You’ve taken him home.”
“Well, it was that or--I told him he could stay here. He looks pretty miserable and I can, ah--keep an eye on him.”
“You have him at your house, then.”
“Yes, is that a problem?” because it sure as shit sounds like Rachel’s got a problem with it, but then she starts laughing.
“Only for you,” she replies, laughter still lacing her words. “You have no idea how that man can be when he’s sick.”
“Uh, I don’t—“
She cuts him off. “Right. You don’t--but you will.” She’s laughing again. “Listen, the reason I rang is to let Danny know that Grace’s school play has been moved to Monday at ten, and I wanted to let him know as soon as possible so he can clear his schedule. She'd be disappointed if he couldn't make it. Hopefully, he’ll be feeling better by then.”
“Oh. Okay, I’ll let him know.” Danny’s now watching him through tired eyes. “I’m sure he’ll be fine by Monday.”
“Let’s wait and see, shall we? Oh, and Steve? It’s…nice of you to help out. You have fun with that. Bye.”
Danny's nodding toward the phone. “What’s Monday?”
“Grace’s play got moved to Monday at ten, she said.”
Steve sets the phone on the nightstand. "And nothing. That's it."
“That’s not all she said, though, right?”
“Rachel. You told her I wasn't feeling well, and then she told you I complain a lot when I’m sick, didn’t she?”
Steve looks down and laughs, then catches Danny's tired eyes. “No, not exactly…but you complain on a good day, so it’s not like I’m shocked. Still, Grace’s play—we need to get you feeling better so you don't miss it.”
Danny offers a half-wave with his hand and closes his eyes. “I’ll be fine.”
“Don’t fall asleep.” Steve pulls sweats and a t-shirt out of Danny’s bag. “Here, get changed. You’ll be more comfortable, I’m sure.” He watches over Danny for a few long beats, realizing that he’s staring as Danny slowly sits up. “I’ll uh, just wait over—I’ll go get you some water.”
The time for unloading of feelings has passed, that's for sure. No way can Steve think of how to bring the conversation back around enough for him to feel confidant to start this up again. He's not even sure he wants to, not sure he has the temerity needed to blurt out a confession of—lust? Love? Shit. Overcoming all fear; conquering that which is unknown is a tactic ingrained into him as a SEAL, for gods sake. This shouldn't be this fucking hard.
Danny’s asleep on top of the covers when he comes back to the room, and he leans over him to place palm to forehead again, checking for fever. Still pretty hot.
He glances to Danny’s face, surprised to find Danny’s watching him, eyes dull and somewhat glazed.
“Yes, Steven. I still have a fever. You could’ve just asked.”
“You were asleep. I didn’t want to wake you.”
“Yet you did anyway.”
Steve pulls the cover back and helps Danny shift. “Slide under the covers. You’ll be more comfortable.”
Pulls them up around him, almost to the point of tucking him in and why is it this doesn’t feel awkward?
Danny shifts. “I’m achy.”
“You have a fever.”
“My head hurts.”
“My throat hurts.”
“Bad enough. Hurts to swallow. Hurts to talk.”
“Then stop talking.” Steve chuckles a bit at that. Not like that’s the first time he’s said as much to Danny. Not like Danny’s ever heeded, either. “I made you some tea. It’ll help.”
Steve laughs outright. “Yeah, you said.”
Danny looses a heavy sigh. “Everything hurts. My skin hurts. My hair even hurts. How can my hair hurt?”
Steve shakes his head and bites back the many, many punch lines rolling through his head. Danny’s words are breathy, sounding a bit like he’s floating on a fever wave. There, but not all there. The Tylenol should kick in soon, though. That will help.
Danny’s still watching him, eyes heavy lidded, and his head angled on the pillow. Fingers trace a pattern over the duvet spread over him. “I have a fever. And you have soft sheets.”
It's quiet for a measure, and Steve just sits there waiting for Danny to fall asleep, and just as he thinks he's down and out, Danny shifts against the pillow and pokes him gently in the arm.
“I’m not going to say sorry for taking your bed. I thought about it, saying sorry, I mean, because it is your bed. But I’m not. Sorry. It’s big and comfy and you have a TV,” which is hilarious because Danny’s eyes have mostly been and are again sliding closed, only to open again for a few seconds until repeating the pattern. Close, then open.
It's funny because the TV’s been off all this time, but Danny’s still going on, words trailing along softer and softer, “And lots of pillows on this bed. And it’s big. Big TV and big bed and it’s comfy and you brought me tea.” Until his voice trails to just a faint murmur of sound that quickly fades to a few quiet last words. "And you. You're here."
Which has Steve sitting frozen on the bed for a few long beats. Nervousness and excitement and whatever fuck all emotions do a crazy shifting dance through his stomach as he registers what he thinks Danny's letting him know without so much as saying it outright. Definitely they'll be having a follow up conversation once Danny's more lucid and can stay awake long enough to deal with the train wreck that will probably come out of Steve's mouth. He figures Danny'll be much, much better at all of this when it happens.
Danny hasn't called him emotionally stunted for nothing.
He debates whether or not to head back downstairs or what. Not like the man needs him here. Not like Danny’s so ill he needs someone watching him while he sleeps or anything, and even as he’s thinking this, silently arguing inside his head over what to do, he's sliding onto the bed next to Danny, shutting off the lamp and clicking on his brand new giant screen TV, turning down the sound as low as is possible while still also within some degree of hearing. The room is cool and quiet and now bathed in softly flickering blue light and no way is he going anywhere but here.
Danny’s breathing next to him, not quite a snore but definitely congested, and he leans over to watch the occasional flutter of blond eyelashes against the pale of fevered skin, softly whispering, “I didn’t plan on you being in my bed tonight, but I’m not sorry, either.”
Then is completely taken by surprise when Danny’s hand blindly reaches out to find his arm and pull it over. Feels Danny's hand give his own a gentle squeeze. He thought Danny was pretty much out and can barely make out the words Danny’s muttering more into the pillow than anywhere. “S’ good, Steven. Don't be sorry. I'm here. You're here. All good.”
"Yeah," Steve says, agreeing because he's right. Danny is right. This is good. He rubs a hand down the center of Danny's back who then scooches further down the mattress while sighing outright.
Danny rolls back just enough to look up at him, looking pretty much mostly asleep as he asks, “Yeah?"
"Yeah, Danny. This—is real good."
Danny rolls over again, a totally boneless weight at Steve’s side, and Steve lets himself smile wide when Danny totally presses himself backward until they're almost adhered together. Smiles when he hears Danny’s last soft words before he falls into a heavy sleep.
“Tell me that again when I'm back with the living, Steven—and then get up and make me soup."