“Bond with me, Danno,” Steve suddenly blurts out, eyes still unfocused with the painkillers Danny's managed to wrangle him into taking roughly two hours ago. His eyes widen as soon as he says the words, looking slightly panicked, and Danny isn’t entirely sure if he should take that as a compliment or an insult, though, knowing Steve, it’s probably both.
They’re in the hospital, again. Steve’s been shot, and no matter how much he argued, the doctor insisted on keeping him at least overnight. Thankfully, Danny’s had enough experience with recalcitrant teenagers – and partners by now, there’s not much difference to be honest – to get Steve to stay for the night. Getting him to take the painkillers took a little more effort, but luckily Danny also has a sneaky partner in his daughter, and after a quick visit – neither of them has a problem with Grace using her big brown eyes to guilt Steve into compliance – Steve took his dose easily enough.
“I mean it. You’re the only Guide ‘cept Catherine I never wanted to hit for trying to – well, guide me I guess,” Steve says, sounding bewildered as if he can’t believe it himself. Danny snickers at the ridiculous picture Steve makes, all tattooed ninja goodness, doped up, and now grinning up at Danny with that adorable expression that always makes him want to-
Makes him want to do a lot of inappropriate things to Steve that have no place in their partnership.
Danny sighs at the unfairness of the universe for settling him with a partner that can make him throw all of his diligently cultivated cautiousness out of the window with a smile, and tries to think of a way to tell the currently six foot one tall example of a Labrador puppy in front of him that Danny would very much like to bond with him, but that there’s no way he’d ever be happy with a strictly platonic bond.
Given that the only Guide Steve’s ever been in a sexual relationship with since Danny met him is Catherine, he very much doubts that Steve would feel the same way.
“Look, Steve-,” Danny says but his partner interrupts him.
“And Jack. Can’t forget Jack. Jack was very good at – a lot of things,” Steve all but mumbles the last few words and his fingers tighten around Danny’s hand where he’s been clutching it for the better part of an hour. Whoever this Jack is, given Steve’s current expression that relationship was so far from platonic it may as well have been another country. Danny ignores the increasing numbness in his hand and tries to reconcile his understanding of how the universe works from roughly ten seconds ago with, well – now.
“You alright, buddy?” Steve asks suddenly, probably realizing that Danny is still staring at him.
Danny swallows. "I’m, yeah. So – Jack?” Steve grins and snuggles back into his pillow, looking rather adorable, and if Danny had a camera and the ability to form coherent sentences right now, let alone operate sophisticated pieces of technology, he’d definitely be recording this.
“Jack Dalton. Met him – well, a long time ago in a place I’ve never been to for an op that’s never happened.” Steve says, still grinning like the sappy idiot he is.
“So, you’re saying you never actually met him?” Danny asks dryly and Steve chuckles.
He ignores the sharp pang of jealousy at the thought of another Guide, another male Guide having what Danny’s been wanting for a long time now and motions for Steve to continue.
“Joe wanted me to bond with him but it wouldn’t have worked,” Steve says.
Danny frowns. “Why not?”
“Jack is a mother hen. Drove me crazy.”
“I’m a mother hen, or so you tell me on a regular basis and you just told me that we should bond. Forgive me for being slightly confused.” Steve pats Danny’s arm. He’s still woozy though, and it’s more of a gentle caress that leaves Danny slightly breathless and irritated with a want he’s still not entirely sure he’s allowed to feel.
Maybe that therapist was right. They probably do need to work on their communication skills.
“Also, he wasn’t you,” Steve says with returning confidence, no regard for Danny’s internal struggle, and looks at him with the kind of smouldering look he usually reserves for all the pretty witnesses and occasionally even the odd suspect. Given that he’s still not entirely sober, he looks slightly ridiculous, more like Steve wants to set the curtains behind Danny on fire with nothing but the power of his mind, yet it works on Danny anyway.
Steve has him well-conditioned by now, no matter that it’s been (mostly) unintentional.
Danny raises an eyebrow. “You know that’s not how it works, right? You didn’t even know me then. So I definitely can’t be the reason why you didn’t bond with this Jack guy.”
Steve looks down at their still joined hands, absently drawing circles on Danny’s skin with his thumb. Danny shivers.
“Don’t care, Danno. Do you even know-“ Steve swallows visibly, like he’s stealing himself for battle. Danny’s seen that expression on Steve’s face a hundred times, a thousand times before, but never directed at himself.
“I would have waited for you forever Danny. Would still, if you didn’t-“
“If I didn’t what, Steve?” Danny asks, voice barely more than a whisper, hope rising in his chest. Maybe he can have what he’s been wanting for so long. Most days, Steve’s habit of throwing himself into peril with no regard for his physical and emotional well-being makes Danny want to scream, but right now he’s more than glad that Steve has almost none of Danny’s inherent cautiousness, that Steve can be the one to jump without looking, trusting Danny to catch him before he hits the ground.
“If you didn’t want me,” Steve says and Danny has to blink back the unexpected tears threatening to fall at Steve’s almost desolate expression. Sometimes Danny wants nothing more than to go back in time and threaten every single person who ever made Steve feel unwanted, starting with his parents. Danny moves his chair closer until he can lean forward to press a kiss to Steve’s fingers. When he looks up again there’s a blatant look of hope in his partner's eyes that makes Danny want to kiss him. So he does.
Steve, unrepentant Neanderthal that he is, doesn’t let him get away with the fairly chaste kiss he’d planned. As soon as Danny’s lips are on his, Steve grabs his shoulder with one hand and buries the other one in Danny's hair. Danny thinks about complaining that his hair is being ruined by the rather rough handling for maybe a second, and then he’s too busy granting Steve’s tongue entrance into his mouth to think about anything else.
They only stop kissing when the need for air forces them apart. Danny desperately wants to capture the expression of unabashed joy on Steve’s face after they separate, to keep the memory with him, and to make sure to be responsible for that expression in the future as often as possible.
Steve smiles, almost sober now, and traces his fingers over Danny’s face in a gentle caress.
“So – I guess you wouldn’t be opposed to bonding then?” Danny smiles back, helplessly, because he’s really just as much of a sappy idiot as Steve is.
“Yeah, Steve. Bonding is definitely on the table.”