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I Can Feel You Breathe

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"You are going to get us killed," Danny said -- well, maybe he was screaming, but Steve was so used to hearing him scream those words when he was driving that he'd mostly learned to tune it out. They were in the middle of a high-speed car chase, for crying out loud -- what was he supposed to do, call the bank robbers in their cell phone and ask them to pretty please pull over?

Steve wrenched the steering wheel to the left, feeling the car begin to fishtail and let up on the brake for just a second, steering back to the right to stay on the road and not lose any more ground. Whoever was driving the getaway car was a pro, as well as having a car with a much better engine. He glanced over at Danny, who was trying to make his earlier point by clinging to the frame of the Camero. Steve frowned, casually. "You need to take this thing in for a tune-up."

Danny turned his head, eyes wide with incredulity. Steve grinned at him. Seriously, his partner needed to learn how to lighten up. He entertained half-formed notions of ways to help him relax -- not all of them appropriate for on-duty work hours, and certainly not something he wanted to just spring on his partner without a lot more build-up and a chance to tell him to go to hell. While he amused himself, Steve alternated watching the road with watching Danny sputter as he tried to form words to tell Steve to try acting like a normal human being.

It was exactly the reason Steve made every effort to wind him up. Danny took very little to get going, then his entire body would fling itself into whatever argument Danny was making. His hands would go, his face would make the most amazing expressions, even his feet would shift around as if finding the perfect position would make everything suddenly clear to Steve.

It was already perfectly clear to Steve. Danny liked to yell. Steve liked to watch him get worked up. Everybody was happy.

Finally, Danny's voice cracked out, "I am going to shoot you in the face."

Steve smirked. It was saying a lot about how distracted Danny was that he was repeating himself from earlier that morning. Steve had barged into Danny's office with a half a dozen questions, mostly about the Parkers case, but a few about surfing and dinner and catching a game. Without even looking up, Danny had told him three times that he hadn't had a chance to drink his coffee yet so would Steve shut up and sit down for five seconds. Steve had kept talking until he'd been threatened with physical violence, at which time he'd stolen Danny's coffee cup and tasted it, then pointed out it was cold.

Steve had left Danny banging his head on his desk, but Danny had actually smiled at him when Steve had put a fresh, hot cup of coffee (one cream, no sugar) on his desk.

Danny wasn't smiling so much at the moment. He was staring at the road ahead of them, shouting about trees and trucks and cliffs, which were hardly cliffs at all but were just short drop-offs, as well as pointing out things Steve had already noticed and was steering around. Well, all except that one -- Steve slammed on the brakes for a second, slowing down enough to avoid the van that had just pulled out, whipping the car around it and, thankfully, catching sight of the bank robbers' car not too far ahead.

"Completely under control," Steve said, pressing down the accelerator and trying to make up for lost distance.

"It's because you want my brain for science experiments, isn't it?" Danny asked, and Steve was happy to hear something brand new in Danny's repertoire. "You want to get me killed so you can remove my brain and implant it in some demon robot thing."

Steve shot a look over at Danny. "Demon robot?"

Danny waved a hand, not answering. "Or a zombie assassin -- which, actually, would be kind of cool. Except for the me being dead part. If you do get me killed, implant my brain in a zombie assassin."

Now Steve looked over, slightly worried. On the one hand, Danny no longer sounded completely freaked out about Steve's driving. On the other hand... "Who wants to be in a zombie assassin?"

"Dead ninjas," Danny replied, then he pointed again. "Ocean!"

Steve was already turning, because he knew this road and he'd been keeping an eye on the getaway car. But he swerved around a pothole and the car fishtailed again.

And that was the moment a loading van came out of nowhere and struck the side of the car.

Steve heard every sound: the impossibly loud crash of metal on metal, the wind in his ears that was adrenaline shooting through his veins, the shattering of glass and shrieking of rubber as the car was spun around, sideways. For a second he wondered if he could smell smoke, then they were falling, and Steve barely had time to turn his head to look down before the car slammed into the water and tilted forwards.

In that moment of impact, everything seemed to slow down. Steve could hear his sergeant's voice shouting commands as Steve's hand went to his seatbelt. A second, then it came free and Steve shoved against the door. He knew the key was get out as fast as possible -- he'd seen the training videos and been dumped himself into large pools of water inside all manner of things, including tied firmly with rope. It was almost funny, to think that the men they'd been chasing might have seen this and would think it would stop him.

He got his door open, felt the rush of water against his body and he turned his head to make sure Danny was following--

And saw Danny slumped, head down, a red smear of blood across the window. Steve scrambled for Danny's seatbelt, fingers slipping as the ocean rushed in. He whispered thanks that the car wasn't tilted that direction, weight of the water not pressing his door closed again as he had to lean over, knife out and slicing the seatbelt in two. Then he grabbed Danny, pulling him close then he took a deep breath as the water filled the interior, letting the bouyancy help him lift Danny up, then out, of the car.

He kept one arm firmly around Danny as he swam as hard as he could towards the surface. Danny wasn't moving, wasn't trying to help; Steve didn't fool himself into thinking it was just Danny knowing he could best help by letting Steve do the work. They broke free a second later than Steve expected; the car had been sinking faster than he'd realised.

It didn't matter. What mattered was keeping Danny's head above water as Steve scanned the shore for a way up; he spotted the low dock and the ladder and immediately began to swim towards it. People were gathering there; he caught sight of two garishly clad tourists, snapping photos. Steve ground his teeth and thought about confiscating their fucking camera and kicking them off his island. Instead he focused on the two locals in swimsuits who'd dived into the water and were heading for him.

He let the man take Danny and let the woman guide him in despite the fact he wasn't injured. He didn't think he was injured, but he could feel the pounding of his heartbeat and the heightened sense of everything that said adrenaline was still high -- and he knew that might be masking any pain of injuries he hadn't noticed. As if they mattered, with Danny's head lolling against his rescuer's shoulder.

He tread water as two more men helped the first get Danny up the ladder, then Steve swarmed up and was at Danny's side even as they laid him out on his back. Then one of them was leaning over, tilting Danny's head back and checking his airway and pulse.

Steve felt his heart stop. He clenched his fist, stifling the urge to jerk the man away and do it himself. But the stranger looked smooth and practised, and Steve saw that he knew what he was doing even as he bent down and began to breathe air into Danny's lungs.

"Oh, God." Steve bit back a sharp command; there was no need to order the man around, no need to tell anyone what to do. He could hear the voice of someone speaking to 911, detailing their location and the results of the accident. Somewhere not far off he could hear police sirens, and spared a thought that someone might be after the bank robbers. He didn't care.

Danny's chest rose as air was forced in, then fell as the man moved away. One, two, three, and the man felt for Danny's pulse, then gave Steve a brief nod before going down again, blowing air again. Steve was frozen, despite everything he'd been taught to do to handle exactly this sort of thing and every reason he had to believe this would be fine, everything would turn out all right and tomorrow Danny would be bitching at him for driving them into the ocean.

He felt something touch his shoulders, then it was wrapped around him and he glanced down to see a blanket. He looked over at a woman's kind smile, then turned his head back to stare at Danny. Steve opened his mouth, to say what, he didn't know, then suddenly Danny jerked and was coughing, and two men were helping turn him onto his side so he could cough up the water he'd swallowed.

Steve was over to him in an instant, grabbing his arms and holding him as he brought up ocean water. He heard himself talking, didn't have a clue what he was saying but it didn't matter, knew only that Danny would hear his voice and he'd know everything was going to be all right.

When all the water had come up and Danny was coughing harshly, but no longer throwing up water and was moving and breathing, Steve pressed his hand against Danny's cheek. Danny peered up at him, eyes squinting against the sun. Danny opened his mouth, coughed again, and Steve leaned down.

"I promise," Steve said, feeling the words catch in his own chest as if he'd swallowed an ocean of water as well. "You'll be the best zombie ninja on the island."

Danny shook with a laugh and coughed again, and Steve pulled him around to lie with his head on Steve's leg. Steve didn't let go of him, fingers wrapped in Danny's shirt and glaring at the paramedics who finally showed up and tried to move him aside. He didn't bother telling him they were 5-0 and they could do whatever they damn well pleased; he just kept his hold on Danny and moved with him as they loaded him onto a stretcher and into the ambulance.

And he stared at Danny, watching his chest rise and fall, slowly, and clearly painfully, but each rise and fall meant he was alive.

After a few minutes, Steve realised Danny was moving, trying to tug on Steve's hand. He bent over, still not letting go, and met Danny's eyes. "I want," Danny began, and had to stop as he began coughing again. Steve knew better than to try to stop him from talking, so he simply held onto him and waited. Finally Danny looked up again and said, "I changed my mind. Find one of those raptors. I wanna be a re-animated dinosaur."

Steve started to nod, then stopped and gave Danny a frown. "One of those tiny ones?" Danny gave him a fierce glare and Steve just grinned. He nodded and let go of Danny's shirt, reaching down and taking hold of Danny's hand. "OK, then. You can be a tiny dinosaur."

He watched as Danny mouthed the words, 'Shoot you in the face.' Then Danny sighed, and closed his eyes with a wince.

Steve just took a deep breath, the first one he'd taken in a very long time.

the end