Danny ran trembling fingers through his hair as he waited for his phone call to connect. His elbows rested on the roof of the Camaro, trying by force of will to make his partner answer his phone. This was the third call that had rung for what seemed like an eternity and just flicked through to voicemail, and he was officially worried.
He had been worried about Steve all day but he had promised him that he would give him some space, and so far he’d managed to not even call him. But not now, now the only thing he wanted to hear his Steve’s voice. It had been hours since he had seen his partner. Nineteen hours, three minutes, and a handful of seconds. Give or take. He just needed to see Steve. To know he was alright. He wanted to puke every time he thought about how close he had come to losing him.
He’d dropped Steve at his home, watching him struggle up the pathway and into the house. He always struggled to fight his way through his own injuries, both physical and emotionally in solitude. Whilst he had been relatively confident that his partner was still too damaged to take on the world, there was still that niggling doubt that he would just run off again. It wasn’t that Danny didn’t understand. He completely got it, Cath was an important part of his life and Steve was like the fucking United Nations of Helpful Friends, but it never did him any good at all, in fixing everybody else he always broke himself that little bit more. The day was coming that one of his helpful gestures would leave him shattered and broken and nobody would be able to help him. Danny could see it happening but he had no idea what to do about it. Helping, no protecting his friends was something that Steve couldn’t change; it was as much a part of him as the crazy SEAL DNA.
Ever since they got back, whenever he had a spare moment to himself he had been trying to contact Cath. Knowing that her safety was Steve’s primary concern, Danny had made it his mission to find her and at least put his partner’s mind at rest.
He had tried her a few minutes ago, once again expecting the call to not connect, but was stunned when she picked up, before it even connected on his end. He was even more stunned to find that she had already told Steve she wouldn’t be coming back. Danny could only imagine how badly that affected his partner. He already missed her himself.
Immediately after he had wished her luck and disconnected the call, Danny had called Steve, and then called him again and again. Quickly dialling another number, he waited tapping the fingertips of his empty hand on the roof of the car.
“Chin have you heard from Steve today?”
“No…” Chin paused. “I thought you would be with him.”
“He wanted to be alone, I thought I’d give him today, and take him some breakfast in the morning. To be honest I hoped he’d be sleeping.”
“Want me to check on him?”
“No. I’m not far away, I’ll go.”
“Let me know if you need me, Brah.”
Danny disconnected the call and slipped it into his pocket. Sliding into the car he drove to the short distance to Steve’s house, resisting the urge to flick his lights and sirens on the whole way.
He trotted up the path and used his own key to enter the darkened house, quickly powering off the security system as he entered and closed the door behind him.
Seeing nothing out of place, he checked the office, looking through the windows to check that Steve wasn’t doing anything crazy, like trying to swim to China in the shark infested night waters. Seeing no towel hanging over the chair in that funky little unspoken signal they used, he held his breath as he ran up the stairs to Steve’s bedroom. He still held some hope that he’d find him, sleeping through the pain that Danny knew was wracking Steve’s body.
Finding the bedclothes strewn across the floor, drawers in the bedside tables flung open so wide that they were precariously hanging, their contents scattered on the floor. Danny’s hand moved to the gun on his hip, as he traced his path back out of the room, and quickly into the other room. Finding it impeccably made up, he frowned and moved back on to the landing and down the stairs.
That was when he heard it.
He paused at the foot of the stairs, waiting for the noise again. A soft groan, his frown deepened as he realised that it wasn’t a groan, it was more of a whimper, and it seemed to be coming from under the stairs. That was when he remembered the safe room.
Moving quietly, Danny pressed his ear to the door. A soft shuffling, muffled groans, broken whimpers. Danny laid his hand on the door knob and turned it quickly. As he stepped into the darkened room, he immediately lifted his hands into the air in supplication.
Steve sat on the ground his back pressed into the corner of the poorly lit room, shaking visibly and holding a gun in trembling hands, pointing it at his partner .
“Steve, Steve, Babe its me.” He soothed gently.
“Don’t come any closer.” Steve’s voice was barely his own.
“Babe, it’s me Danny.” Danny murmured, slowly lowering his hands.
Danny’s heart broke as he heard the pain and confusion in his strong friend’s voice. As he stepped closer the light from the door shone on Steve and Danny got his first good look at him. He was filthy, his skin covered in a coating of grime, his body convulsing in fine tremors, his face covered in sweat, his sinful lashes clumped together with God knows how many hours of tears.
“Yeah, Babe, It’s me.” Danny stepped closer.
“They were going to kill me, D.” Steve mumbled brokenly as Danny lifted Steve’s gun from his hands and placed it on a shelf.
“Yeah, I know, babe, but you’re safe now.”
“No. No I’m not. You’re not. You should leave, before they come back.”
“They won’t be back babe.”
“Yeah, Yeah they will. They never stop coming, D. You have to go.”
Danny knelt on the ground, one knee between Steve’s legs. “You’re safe now, Steve.”
He traced his thumbs under Steve’s eyes collecting fat tear drops from Steve’s lashes. His breath caught in his throat as he watched his best friend, his would be lover – if they could ever get their shit together, his partner. He knew that Steve would hate the fact that he had seen him like this, but honestly it had been a long time coming. Danny was surprised that Steve hadn’t had a breakdown after North Korea, but this time was worse.
Danny knew. He’d seen the video that the Taliban had intended as Steve’s epitaph. He’d seen the one thing in Steve’s eyes that he had never seen before. Fear.
“You must go, D. They’ll be back. can't lose you too.” Steve batted at Danny’s hands, struggling to press himself back further into the corner.
“Babe. Have you slept?” Danny pushed closer to him until his knee was pressing against Steve’s ass, his hands rubbing up and down Steve’s arms, trying to gently rub some warmth back into his skin.
“Tried. They woke me. I found my gun and hid. Knew I wasn’t fit enough to take them.” Steve shook his head, his words shameful. “I’m sorry. I’ve let you all down.” Danny immediately understood the problem more clearly, wondering exactly how long Steve had been crouched down here in the dark.
“No shame in saving the fight for another day.” Danny agreed with him.
“Please go, D. I can’t lose you too.” Steve weakly pushed him away.
“You’re not going to lose me, buddy. I’m going to stay and make sure we’re both safe.” Danny leaned in and pulled Steve into his arms, sliding his arms around his back and holding him tight.
Steve seemed to turn to jelly, his body folding around Danny’s as they embraced, his face falling to Danny’s shoulder, inhaling the clean masculine scent that was both familiar and reassuring. His every sobbing breath breaking Danny's heart a little more.
“Will you do something for me buddy?” Danny asked.
“What?” Steve spoke against his neck.
“Come upstairs with me. I’ll stay with you, but you need to get some sleep.”
“Can’t.” Steve shook his head. “If I sleep they will come back.”
“What if I take first watch?”
“Only let me sleep for two hours?” Steve pulled back and looked into his face.
“Absolutely.” Danny immediately nodded his head. “You can even afford to take some painkillers since I’ll be here to wake you.”
“No painkillers. They confuse me.”
Danny disentangled himself from Steve’s arms and pulled himself to his feet.
“Done.” Danny responded, “But you have to take your antibiotics.”
“I’m sorry, D.” Steve’s voice was soft as he struggled to his feet.
“For what?” Danny leaned up to brush beads of sweat from Steve’s brow.
“I hate you seeing me like this. This is not me.” Steve sighed. “I can’t seem to stop it.”
“Don’t apologise, Babe. I’d be more concerned if you didn’t meltdown occasionally SuperSEAL. It’ll be alright, Steve, I promise you, just let me help you this time.”
“I’m so tired D.” Steve stumbled against Danny.
Danny slipped under Steve’s arm, his arm sliding around Steve’s waist and resting on his hip as he steered him out of the safe room and led him haltingly towards the stairs, until Steve pulled out of his arms.
“D, my gun, I need my gun.”
Danny reeled him carefully back into his hold. “Hey big guy, it’s all good, I’ve got mine.”
“Thanks.” Steve nodded climbing the stairs with Danny.
Once Danny had shepherded him into the bedroom he released his hold on Steve and let him ease down onto the bed. Danny pushed aside the detritus from the drawer with his foot as he closed the hanging drawer. Waiting for Steve to lower himself onto the pillows he flicked the sheet up off the floor to cover him. Steve was filthy, covered with grime from the floor of a little used room, covered in the stench of fear and sweat, but at the moment Danny knew it was better for him to sleep than be clean.
He watched Steve’s eyes drift closed and turned to leave the room. Steve’s good arm snapped out, his large hand wrapped vicelike around Danny’s wrist.
“I’m not. Just checking everything is secure.”
“Good. Good.” Steve released his hold and nodded his head letting his eyes slip closed again.
Danny reached the door before Steve called out to him again.
“You’ll come back won’t you? Nobody ever comes back.”
“I’ll always come back to you babe.”
Danny slipped out of the room and returned with Steve’s antibiotics and a painkiller. Crawling onto the bed beside Steve, Danny coaxed him to open his mouth; he slid the pills onto his tongue and pressed water to his lips. Content that he had swallowed the much maligned painkillers, Danny slipped his gun into the bedside drawer and relaxed onto the pillows beside Steve. He knew there was little chance of sleep, suspecting that as soon as Steve’s medication wore off he would be fighting the enemies in his dreams again.
As soon as he settled, he was stunned to find that Steve turned in his sleep, one questing arm reaching out to fold around Danny, his head finding its place on his shoulder. Smiling smugly to himself, he let one arm around Steve’s shoulders, his hand resting on the back of Steve’s head, his fingers brushing lightly through the soft feathery curls at his nape.
His own eyes had almost drifted closed when he realised he hadn’t contacted Chin. Reaching awkwardly into his pocket he lifted his phone from his pocket and dialled his number.
“Did you find him, Danny?” Chin answered on the first ring.
“Is everything alright?”
“It will be, Chin, It will be.”