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The Care and Feeding of Recalcitrant Partners

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Normally Danny wouldn't make such a big deal about a stroke of luck that got him right next to a bathroom when he had to vomit, but the entire fucking week had been a week from hell, so he was willing to take whatever silver linings he could get. The fact he was at headquarters at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning said everything: it said he hadn't been home since Thursday at midnight when he'd gotten the phone call from Steve. Out of bed and the next thirty hours spent running around the entire city and no hope of getting back to bed until, well, Saturday afternoon at this rate.

The only thing going for him other than getting to vomit into a toilet instead of all over the entryway at Iolani Palace, was that they had finally caught their guy. HPD had Billy Wilter behind bars -- or he was possibly still stuck in booking, if HPD was having anything like the day Danny was having. As long as they didn't set him free on a technicality so he could go burn down more mini marts, Danny really didn't care.

He had another a happy moment before he flushed the john after upchucking his entire digestive tract into it when he saw that there wasn't nearly as much blood this time. Danny staggered to his feet and stumbled to the sink -- lack of sleep, he told himself, because it had been since Wednesday that he had more than three hours of it. The sink and some cold water on his face and neck and the guy in the mirror looked like nothing more than somebody who'd been working too many hours in a row without a change of shirt and a hot meal.

Danny would have loved a beer to chase the taste out of his mouth, but with everything else he's failed to do, he figured he had to at least follow one or two pieces of his doctor's regimen. No alcohol, no smoking -- though Danny had given that one up ten years ago and didn't see taking it back up just so he could have the joy of quitting again.

As he left the restroom and turned his footsteps towards the parking lot, his car, and home, he realised he couldn't remember when he last took his meds. He was damn sure he hadn't been eating properly for most of the week, but he'd been doing pretty well with his meds up until Thursday night. In the last day and a half he could remember eating a few cold sandwiches and endless cups of coffee to keep himself moving and, yeah, he was off his schedule again. If he had to start the antibiotics over one more time his doctor was going to murder him.

Hopefully though now he could go home, have a decent sort of breakfast and go back to bed. Some food and some real sleep would do wonders for his restorative powers and tomorrow it would all be back on track. A couple of weeks and he'd be good as... well, as good as he could reasonably expect to be. He glared down at his knee, which hadn't actually been giving him grief lately. It hadn't been that long ago that Danny could do shit and he'd be healed up a few days later. His dad blamed it on getting older, commiserating over the phone a few weeks ago while the Jets did their best to prove everyone wrong. His ma of course blamed it on being too mule-headed to go to the doctor, but Danny had gone this time.

Not that he'd called his mother up to tell her about it.

Throwing up blood for a week had sort of made it hard to not give in and make an appointment. But the doc hadn't freaked out, just said it was an ulcer, and one of those caused by a bacteria and not something more dire. He'd given Danny a long list of things to do and not do while it healed, and given him more prescriptions than Danny had ever had at one time in his life. Of course the doctor had also said something about reducing stress which had made Danny laugh until he'd nearly choked. But he'd promised to make the attempt, and now, headed home so he could lock the door and shut the curtains and pretend the world didn't exist for twelve hours, Danny was prepared to relax as much as it was possible for him to do.

"Hey, Danno!"

He stopped, halfway down the front steps of the palace and mere seconds away from his car and freedom, and let his head fall forward. Of course it would be Steve. He waited until he heard Steve's footsteps draw near, then he looked back at him. "I'm not here," he said before Steve could say another word. "I'm home, I'm asleep, and I do not know anyone named Detective Williams."

Steve hesitated, frowning at first then he broke into a wide smile. "I wanted to know if you wanted to come over. Gonna grill up some pork chops. Maybe work our way through a pack of beer, kick back a little."

"Pork chops and beer, huh?" Danny grinned, unable to not be amused at Steve's attempt at looking casual.

He ignored the fact that he wasn't supposed to be having either of those things, doctor's orders. Doctor's orders had also said no caffeine, but that had clearly been crazy talk.

"This a party type thing or a date?" Danny teased. He'd been waiting for months to see if Steve was ever going to ask -- if he was going to ask at all, or if the flirting and hands-on thing was just the way Steve was. Danny hadn't gotten to the point where he needed to know one way or the other. For now he was still enjoying the slow build of anticipation. Lately, though, they'd been dancing even closer to one of them finally saying something out loud. Couple times he'd have sworn Steve was about to, then he wouldn't, and he'd act a little weird for a couple days, then it would be back to flirting and handsy and trying to get the both of them killed in new and creative fashions.

Sometimes Danny thought getting him nearly killed was Steve's idea of seduction.

Steve was trying his best to look innocent. "It's just a few friends. Chin and Kono and, you know." He waved one hand, indicating anything from 'the rest of the neighborhood' or 'that's pretty much it.' Danny had learned a lot about speaking Steve McGarrett, but he always found it hardest when Steve was talking about normal, every-day things like a dinner party. He could translate the eye-twitch that meant 'I'm about to storm a building on fire by myself and this penknife' but the niceties of social convention were still mostly a mystery.

Instead of worrying about it, Danny just asked, "You want me to bring anything?"

Steve grinned. "A swimsuit."

"Not gonna happen, McGarrett. I'll bring a bag of chips, or even spring for one of those veggie tray things." He managed to keep his own expression as guileless as he could. It was hard in the face of Steve's apparently genuine disappointment. Danny waved a finger at him. "I will compromise by leaving my tie at home, how's that?"

"Gee, would you?"

"I don't dress down for just anybody," Danny retorted, then took a tentative step towards the parking lot, waiting to see if Steve was willing to let him go just yet.

"I'm looking forward to it," Steve said, and Danny was certain that both of them heard the many layers of meaning on those words. He decided not to call him on it this time -- again -- because they were getting closer, ever closer, but right now all Danny wanted was to go home and get some shut eye. Finally saying 'yes' to Steve was not going to be conducive to sleep, Danny was somehow certain.

"Don't bring anything," Steve said, as Danny got down the steps and headed towards the parking lot. "We'll have too much food, especially if Kono's Aunt Leila comes. Just bring an appetite."

Danny just glanced back over his shoulder, gave Steve a slight wave and nod of acknowledgement, then continued on his way. Score one for the universe, he thought, when he made it to his car without being called back to help deal with a terrorist attack, or a serial killer, or invasion of ants.

When he had just turned the last corner before reaching his apartment complex, his phone rang. Danny sighed, then cursed, but answered it as the ring was Rachel's. Score two for the universe, he thought, as one minute later he turned his car around. Could he pick up his daughter for the afternoon, hell yes. Whatever the unexpected invite Rachel and Stan had gotten, he didn't know, hadn't really followed Rachel's high-speed rambling somewhat-explanation. But he didn't care. Grace needed someone to keep an eye on her for a few hours -- Danny wasn't sure what he'd done right, lately, but he promised himself he might even try being nice to Rachel for a little while.

Maybe.

Six hours later, Danny was exhausted, but he couldn't find it in himself to care as he dropped Grace back off at Stan's mansion. No amount of tired could compare to seeing his little girl unexpectedly for an afternoon, so Danny had just grabbed more coffee and sat on the floor of his living room learning more than he'd ever wanted to know about the care and feeding of toy hamsters. It hadn't been nearly long enough, but Danny knew that it never would be, couldn't be. So he'd contented himself with a hug and a promise that he'd see Grace again the following weekend, and had headed for home once more.

Three o'clock in the afternoon before he finally got to take off his shoes and fall backwards onto his bed. He stared at the ceiling for five seconds, contemplating changing out of the clothes he'd scrambled into when he'd finally gotten home with Grace in tow. At least he'd been able to grab a shower earlier as well, because right at that moment Danny didn't think he'd be able to move a muscle if the entire complex caught fire. All he needed to do was set an alarm to wake him for Steve's party, and he'd be set.

~~~

Steve argued with himself all evening when Danny didn't show. At first he deflected questions, saying Danny was running late and that maybe the haole had finally fallen into island time. Deep down, though, Steve worried. As the evening wore on and Danny didn't appear, the worry stopped being quite so deep down. He'd tried calling, twice, once fairly early which he'd expected Danny to rag on him for. When Danny hadn't answered Steve forced himself to act like he wasn't worried until a couple hours later when still no Danny, and no Danny answering his phone.

He'd tugged Chin aside and asked him to try calling, on the wild, but possible chance that Danny had gotten into a snit and wasn't talking to Steve for some insane reason only Danny would understand. But Danny hadn't answered Chin's call either, and that was when Steve threw the grill tongs at Myo and made for his truck with orders to Chin to round up Kono and wait on standby in case he needed backup.

The drive over took about three times as long as normal -- or perhaps it only felt that way, with Saturday night traffic and everyone out to have a good time and drive Steve's blood pressure through the roof. Finally he pulled his truck into a spot right next to Danny's car and there was relief for one second that he hadn't driven off and gotten himself in trouble god only knew where. Then Steve was running up the stairs, digging out his key to Danny's apartment, pausing only long enough to think about knocking and waiting, before getting the key into the lock and shoving the door open.

There was no sign of Danny. His apartment looked its usual mess with the couch pulled out into the bed, sheets twisted everywhere and clothing dropped haphazardly across the foot of it as well as the floor. Nothing looked suspicious, really. There was no violence in the debris, only laziness and lack of storage space. Steve walked further inside, cautiously, and took a breath to call out Danny's name, when he heard the sound of retching coming from the bathroom.

It only took a moment to reach the open bathroom door and find Danny on his knees. He vomited again, spitting and wiping a cloth across his face before glancing up, face several shades paler than normal. He gave a half-wave and smiled, just a little.

Steve felt his heart beginning to slow down just a fraction. Not dead in a ditch or kidnapped by mobsters, then. He went over and saw a glass by the sink and filled it with water, then held it out for Danny, who took it with a worn out but grateful expression. He waited while Danny rinsed his mouth, three times gulping in water and spitting it back out before he took a small, careful drink. From the grimace that followed Steve gathered his throat was a bit raw.

"All right?" Steve asked, because stomach flu was a damn sight better than any of the things he'd been trying very hard not to think.

Danny nodded, then rinsed his mouth one last time before flushing the toilet and levering himself to his feet. He swayed just a bit and Steve leapt forward, catching a hold of his arm.

"You sure?" Steve looked more closely, and couldn't tell how much of what he was seeing was the same tiredness he'd seen that morning on the palace steps. He'd wanted to take Danny home with him then, tuck him into the hammock out back and let him nap in the sun while Steve brought him cold drinks and adjusted the umbrella for shade when needed.

Probably he should have, though he knew if he had offered Danny would have just grinned and said no, laughed at him in that silent way he'd started doing whenever Steve tried making an offer that was mostly, but not entirely completely, innocent.

It was so damn hard to get a read on the man, to figure out if he should just come out and say what he wanted. Every time he thought he had it figured out and had planned out some little speech -- or even get Danny alone and show him exactly what he wanted -- Danny would turn around and do something that made Steve think he'd completely misjudged things. Usually it involved shouting at Steve, although he was at least beginning to learn how to tell when Danny was shouting for recreation and when he was shouting for real.

Right now he didn't care how things were or were not between them. He kept hold of Danny's arm and helped steer him out of the bathroom and over towards the bed. As soon as Danny got near enough, he tilted towards it, falling unceremoniously onto the mattress. He curled up almost immediately under the sheets into the indentation that Steve realised was still there. Danny had only just crawled out of bed, probably minutes ago, to throw up. Steve leaned forward, intending to help pull the sheet into place and ask what the hell he'd eaten that disagreed with him when he saw three vials on the nightstand beside Danny's bed.

Steve slowly reached over and picked them up, read their labels, one by one. The first he didn't recognise straight away, but the second was an antibiotic and the third was a painkiller and the first... It only took a second to look it up on his phone. Acid reducer.

He looked down at Danny's curled into a half-ball, head already half-buried in the pillow. Asleep again already and the lines on his face had only deepened, making him look more miserable than he had moments before.

It took exactly four and a half minutes to find the paperwork from Danny's doctor. It took another minute to remember that Chin and Kono were waiting on word, so Steve let himself outside and stood on the landing while he called. He told them only that Danny was sick and asked them to play host in his absence while he made sure Danny was settled for the night. He assured them it was nothing serious, though the third time Chin asked if he was sure made Steve wonder just how freaked out he sounded.

"He'll be fine," Steve said again, looking back through the door he'd left partially open. He could just see Danny's form, lying motionless. "I'll be back to my place in the morning, so just leave everything. I'll clean up tomorrow."

"No problem, brah," Chin said. "We won't leave a mess. You take care of Danny and--" There was a pause and Steve could just hear the sound of Kono's voice. Then Chin said, "Kono says we'll make sure the food and beer is all taken care of."

Steve laughed, softly, hearing a lightness in his voice that he did not even remotely feel. "I knew I could count on you. Thanks. And tell Kono she should take the cheesecake out of the fridge."

"Only if you don't want to ever see it again," Chin warned.

As Steve hung up the phone, he couldn't take his eyes off Danny. He went back inside, pushing the door open silently, walking carefully across the carpet so as not to make any noise. The paperwork from Danny's doctor had said it wasn't serious, a minor ulcer that should easily be healed by the time the current round of antibiotics was done.

Of course Steve had seen the dates on the vials, and the date on the paperwork, and had been able to do the math quite well. Danny was on his second round of antibiotics, no doubt due to-- Steve paused, thinking back. Three weeks ago they'd had long hours at HQ, alternating between days in court and running around the island looking for what had turned out to be stolen fake gold bullion. Steve didn't think any of them had gotten much downtime, and then the following week they'd spent three full nights on stake-out in the middle of everything else.

It was no surprise that Danny hadn't been able to stick to the prescribed schedule of meals and medication. What was a surprise was that Danny hadn't said anything.

Steve felt his jaw clenching, and shook his head. He probably shouldn't be surprised, in retrospect. He'd found out about Danny's knee the day after, because even Danny couldn't expect people not to notice when he showed up to work using a cane. Steve suddenly wondered if Danny would have mentioned it, if he hadn't been forced to by the obvious.

He sat down carefully on the edge of the bed and looked at the labels on the vials again. Then he pulled out Danny's phone, took care of what was apparently something Danny couldn't be trusted to do on his own, then Steve set everything back into place and shifted around. He looked down at Danny, who hadn't stirred once since crawling back into bed.

Steve sighed, then reached up and switched off the lamp beside the bed and kicked off his shoes. Carefully he scooted sideways and gingerly edged forward, then he draped one arm over Danny and curled his other arm underneath his head. Danny moved, then, but only to shift slightly backwards, against him.

~~~

The pain woke him -- sharp, stabbing pain right below his breastbone and Danny curled up tightly as he could as if he could somehow press the pain back out of his body. He moaned, trying to wake up enough to remember if he'd taken his pain meds or if he could have another yet or if he'd forgotten the acid reducer yesterday and that was what he was paying for, now. God, dear God but it hurt, and he coughed, and it felt like the stomach acid was threatening to crawl up his throat and choke him. His throat still hurt from yesterday -- last night? This morning?

Well, he had no idea what time it was and how long ago he'd crawled out of bed to throw up again. The way things were feeling he was probably going to again.

The bed shifted as somebody sat down on it beside him and Danny's eyes popped open as he heard Steve's voice say, "Drink this."

He saw a glass of milk in Steve's hand and he took it, swallowing down half of it in one go. He could feel the cold on his torn throat, then it hit his stomach and in almost another breath the pain started to subside. He took another drink, not quite half the glass this time, then looked over at Steve.

"Christ, I slept through your party didn't I?" Danny heard his voice rasping and winced, wondering if he had any throat drops left over from the last time Grace had had a cold.

Steve was looking at him with a strange expression on his face. He looked calm, composed in that scary, focused way he got, though usually only on the job. Danny had a brief but definitely eerie sensation that Steve was about to read him his rights -- except for the fact Steve never read anyone rights even when he was supposed to.

But the other man didn't say anything, just sat there and watched Danny while he finished the milk he'd brought. And Danny realised Steve knew -- knew what the pain was, what it meant. Danny set the glass down on the nightstand, saw the three bottles of pills had been neatly lined up. He glanced at his watch and tried to figure out which one he should be taking.

"I called Dr. Sorenson and he said you should just start over. He's giving you a refill for one more week of antibiotics, since you have just over a week's worth left. In half an hour you can take one with breakfast; if you need to you can take a painkiller now." Steve's voice was nearly inflectionless, rattling off facts like he was reading the weather report.

Danny hardly dared look over at him, wondering when the explosion was going to occur. Instead he just shook his head. "Pain's better now. I think I'll be okay." He gestured towards the empty glass, intending to say thanks but not certain it wouldn't be the spark that got McGarrett screaming at him. Instead he just leaned back against the headboard, rubbing at his skull to try to get it to wake up a little, when a few more two and twos piled up and came out to five. He tilted his head. "You came by last night."

"I did," Steve said, and his spine was all rigid, his voice still inflectionless.

"And you're still here, which implies you never left? And you went through my shit," Danny began, because really it was annoying the way Steve blundered into a person's life and home and began rearranging things to his own specs with complete disregard for a person's privacy.

Because Steve had called Danny's doctor, for God's sake, and talked to him like he had any right to Danny's personal medical files, and made arrangements with him about Danny's medications and Danny hadn't even done that for Rachel, for crying out loud.

As Danny raised his hand, fully ready to explain in great volume and detail how much Steve had over-stepped his bounds, Steve asked, "Do you want bananas or apples with your oatmeal?"

Danny blinked, feeling the air rush out of his lungs like he'd been punched. "I'm sorry, what?"

"For breakfast. Bananas or apples," Steve repeated, like it was a perfectly normal conversation they were having. Which it would have been, except Steve was talking about breakfast like nothing was wrong and he was was still looking at Danny with that bland expression that was driving Danny nuts.

He wished Steve would just scream and get it over with. A good shouting match would do wonders for Danny's equilibrium, which was threatening to tilt him sideways and drop him into Wonderland. "I'm not eating oatmeal," he said, which he knew was a mistake as soon as he'd said it.

"Bananas, then," was all Steve said, and he stood up and walked towards the kitchen, and the ramrod spine and stiff neck told Danny all he needed to know about just how upset Steve was. Well, then, Danny remembered being in the bathroom last night, throwing up his guts, and he remembered Steve coming in and helping him back to bed. Finding out about Danny's ulcer that way wasn't exactly ideal, though this level of pissed-off was a lot more like whenever Rachel discovered he wasn't following his PT.

"I am a fucking moron," Danny whispered to himself. Because he hadn't ever got around to saying yes, but Steve had stopped asking a long time ago. Will you or won't you hadn't been in his eyes for a very long time, now, and Danny didn't have to hit himself over the head more than once to finally understand that. Somewhere along the line it had settled into when will you and Danny hadn't realised just how much that was the same as we already are.

He waited until Steve came back into the room, a bowl balanced on a cookie-sheet as a serving tray. Steve waited as Danny sat up and settled himself, putting a pillow across his lap. Then Steve set the tray down and stood beside the bed until Danny actually picked up the spoon and took a bite.

Danny looked up at him, then patted the mattress beside him. After a second's hesitation, Steve sat, and Danny could practically feel the awkwardness in the rigidity of his posture. Danny reached out a hand and ran his fingers down Steve's forearm before slipping his fingers inbetween Steve's own.

Then he sat and ate his oatmeal, one-handed, and after a few moments he felt Steve's fingers tighten on his.

~~~

That afternoon the alarm on his phone went off, and, baffled, Danny pulled it out of his pocket and stared at it. Steve had dragged him over to his place, parked Danny firmly on the couch with the orders, move and die, then Steve had disappeared into the kitchen to discover that there was nothing left to be cleaned up from the night before.

Danny stared at his phone, pressing the button to silence the alarm, then blinked again as he read the note. He heard Steve walk in, and Danny glared. "You programmed my meds into my phone?"

"Each one has its own alarm," Steve replied, blandly as before, as though for half an hour that morning they hadn't argued over how well Danny could convalesce at his apartment versus being babysat at Steve's house. As though the argument hadn't melted into necking, and tugging at each other's clothes, and another very annoying argument about how having an ulcer didn't mean he was fragile -- or worse, under doctor's orders to abstain for two weeks.

It had all ended up with Danny napping on Steve's couch with an overnight bag upstairs stuffed with what he sincerely intended was not a week's worth of clothing, no matter what McGarrett thought. Steve better not have snuck a second bag into the truck, because the weekend was one thing but Danny wasn't spending the next two weeks under Steve's over-protective mother henning.

To whit, see the phone and what McGarrett had done to it. Danny glared harder, and Steve's expression just grew blander. "You were missing taking your meds, so I set up the alarms," he said, clearly daring Danny to deny it. "And I've got some snacks set up in the fridge for the ones you need to take with food. If you need me to, I will label them all."

Danny stared at him for a second. "You would, too, wouldn't you?" He fought back a grin, and waved a hand for Steve to come over and help yank him up off the couch. He saw the confused scowl flicker over Steve's face as he walked over and held out his hand.

"Your knee all right?"

"Just fine," Danny said, and he yanked Steve down on top of him. He grinned as they both landed in a heap, halfway on and halfway off the couch.

"Don't think I'm forgetting you have to take your meds," Steve said, even as he didn't quite fight off Danny's hands tugging at his shirt.

"Maybe I want a show with my dinner."

"It isn't dinner, it's a snack. And this isn't one you have to take with food," Steve reminded him.

"Jesus, you really did memorise my med schedule, didn't you? Remind me never to get really sick, or I'll have to strangle you."

Steve's eyebrows furled, and Danny watched as he practically rolled Danny's words around in his head. Then he just nodded. "Don't ever get really sick," he told Danny, and he looked so serious that Danny just had to bend his head down a bit and kiss him.

"Promise," Danny said, then he let Steve shove him to his feet, gathering the throw around his waist as he stood up.

"Meds first," Steve said.

"Then a show?"

With a tone of amusement -- flavored heavily with the sort of growing arousal Danny himself was feeling, Steve said, "Then we'll see about a show."

Danny gave him a wink, then he dropped the blanket he'd had wrapped around his waist, and continued on into the kitchen. He didn't know if Steve had remembered what Danny was napping in -- or not in, more precisely, but he figured Steve remembered well enough now, as Danny padded naked into the other room to find the bottles of pills that had been lined up neatly on the counter.

There was a sound behind him, right in the doorway to the kitchen, and Danny didn't have to look back to know where Steve was staring. Especially not when he turned around, and Steve's eyes were still aimed downwards.

"My face is up here," Danny said, casually.

"You have ten seconds to take your meds, then I'm carrying you upstairs."

Danny just sighed, and grabbed a water bottle Steve had left out for him, taking a slug of water to wash down the pill. "All the romance is gone, I tell you."

"We'll have romance after you stop parading around naked in my kitchen," Steve offered.

"I thought you wanted me in swim trunks."

Steve finally looked him in the eye, and smiled. "That was just so I could take them off you."

"I'm shocked. Really. Is that your hand? Jesus, how do your hands get so cold? Move it any closer McGarrett, and you're going to regret it." Danny glared, but, really, at the end of the day neither of them regretted much of anything.

Except possibly the missing cheesecake.

the end