Nothing worked. Not a one of the full spectrum of meds currently known to help others, not any of the old wives’ tale cures, not praying to some (any, all) higher powers to please, please take the pain away. He’d tried everything at least once, no matter how stupid it sounded. He knew he was one of the lucky ones, he didn’t get them very often – it had been at least six months since his last – but when he did, look out. He took his job to serve and protect very seriously. He could go to work with the flu, a head cold, a torn ACL or freaking West Nile virus, but with migraines … nope. It could not be done.
The second he’d woken to the only alarm he ever used, the scent of his automatic coffeepot brewing, and the usually enticing aroma had sent him crawling for the bathroom instead of the kitchen, Danny knew he would not be leaving the apartment today. He barely made it before the first retches began. He threw up a bit of bile, dry heaved for a while after that, stomach empty. With each convulsive attempt to expel nothing came the sensation of an icepick to the brain. By the end of it, the world’s longest minute, he was shaky and hot, exhausted and still queasy. God, he hated this so much.
He managed to get to his feet, propped himself against the vanity and splashed water against his face, opened his mouth to take some of it in to rinse away the sour taste in his mouth. Knowing he’d see a fair representation of a walking corpse if he looked, Danny saw no reason to check his reflection. He stumbled his way to the kitchen, leaning heavily on the wall for support the whole way. He needed a glass of water to go with the meds that would do nothing but knock him back out. All Danny could really hope for was unconsciousness, and at least the medication did that much for him. Small victories were still victories in this unwinnable war.
It was early and his house was shaded, but even the dim light in the east-facing kitchen was too much. His eyes wouldn’t open wider than half mast even if he wanted them to, as he fumbled around to dump out the coffee and search for a bottle of water from the fridge, mentally cursing the bright light from within. Like freaking daggers straight into his brain. Danny actually did close his eyes as he headed back to the bedroom by feel, again using the wall as support.
At least he’d had the foresight of purchasing blackout curtains for the tiny bedroom, and thank goodness Gracie wasn’t here to take the room or to see him like this. Danny opened his eyes a crack when he reached the threshold of the dark haven, set the water bottle on the nightstand before he picked up his phone. He hated texts, but right now, he couldn’t have anyone’s voice booming in his ear.
After sending what was undoubtedly a poorly spelled text to Steve making his excuses for the day, he sank his head against the pillow. The pressure of his head against the softness should have given him some relief, but it didn’t. Oh, right. Meds. His head was muzzy, brain not firing like it normally did. Meds were in the fucking bathroom and it was … Danny gave in to the impulse to moan. He tried really hard not to do that, not to let this demon of his know how close it was to breaking him, and he knew that was stupid. It was completely illogical how angry he always was that this thing could reduce him to a gibbering wreck of a human being from time to rare time.
In the end, he couldn’t muster the will to leave the bed. The medication only dulled the pain if he took it fast enough and when he woke up like this, it was way too late. Danny lay there, eyes closed, and tried to not focus on the pain. Sometimes the only way around it was to convince himself it wasn’t that bad. It would be a gargantuan task for anyone; for him it was extra challenging, given his nature to see the worst in any situation. It was all he could do to keep himself from contemplating that this time was it, his head was going to explode in a mess of blood and bone and brain matter.
He drifted into a semi-haze, definitely not asleep but not awake either. Better than nothing and there was enough relief in that twilight kind of rest that Danny was able to breathe slowly, shove the worst of the pain into the corners of his beleaguered brain. Eventually, he’d be able to slip all the way into actual sleep and, with any luck, when he awoke he’d be migraine-free. He eased a pillow over his head to block out the increasing bird and traffic noise, huddled in his own little sensory deprivation cocoon.
Until loud banging started up nearby. As far as he could tell, it was right on top of him. It sounded like jackhammers, relentless, high decibel inflictors of agony. Danny wasn’t aware of any nearby construction projects, but it didn’t matter – through the pillow, the sound was still invasive and brutal. He whimpered. Whimpering was a sound animals made, not people, but he couldn’t help it and he sure as hell couldn’t make it stop, make it stop, make it stop. He shifted on the bed. Mistake. The motion brought vertigo, and coupled with the commotion it had his stomach roiling again. What little water he’d drunk was about to revisit in a far less refreshing manner than it had gone down.
Need outweighed self-preservation as Danny bolted for the bathroom, knowing he’d pay for the burst of activity along with the repercussions of puking again. Somewhere along the very short journey, it dawned on him there were no jackhammers; the offending sound came from his own front door. Well, whoever it was could … he crashed to his knees in front of the toilet and hurled. It was over in a few seconds, left him resting on his forearm draped across the rim.
The pounding at the door had ceased by the time he was done vomiting, thankfully, but instead there was an equally loud voice shouting his name. Either the person was using a fucking bullhorn, or he was getting closer. Danny didn’t move. He figured if it were anyone with a vendetta, it would be a mercy killing and at this point not all that unwelcome. He heard someone at the bathroom door, and it was only then the flaw in his fatalistic view made itself known. Grace. He couldn’t let some asshole kill him while he was hugging a toilet. Danny flopped away from the can, squinting at the backlit form standing in the doorway. Not a killer, per se; that was something.
“Jesus,” Steve said, loud, too loud. “Danny.”
“Shhh, please,” Danny said, slightly hoarse and slurred.
Just his luck, Mr. Not-Even-A-Bullet-Can-Stop-Me was here to witness him in his weakest condition. Danny didn’t make it a practice to tell people about his migraines. As someone who had a built-in visible prejudice in the way of his stature (and here on this godforsaken rock, his skin), he didn’t need anyone thinking he couldn’t do the job because of anything else. Five months into his conscripted gig with Five-0, the last thing he needed was for his boss to see him like this.
“What the hell?” Steve, to his credit, had lowered his volume to a bare whisper. “You look awful.”
“Sick today. Told you that,” Danny mumbled. He thought he really ought to try the meds anyway. Less showing his weaknesses, more sleeping. But while McGarrett was here, he might as well be useful. “Meds in cabinet, water’s in the bedroom.”
As much as Danny ragged on Steve’s military slash ninja behavior, the stealth came in handy here. He startled a bit when the water bottle was pressed in one hand, a couple of pills in the other. He tossed both back without fanfare and opened his eyes. Huh, didn’t remember closing them again. Steve was crouched in front of him, eyes wide with concern. Stupid big eyes. Danny hated the guy for being so freaking healthy and beautiful, rubbing it right in his face like this. And here he was, a giant mess and clad only in his boxers.
“I thought you were faking,” Steve said quietly. “You’re never sick, even when you’re sick, but, Danny, you look like hammered shit. What is this?”
“Fuck you,” Danny muttered, followed it with a low moan. “Migraine. Help me up?”
“Ah, that explains the “migrants taken payoff” text. This makes more sense.”
“I hate my thumbs on a good day.” Bright, it was too bright. “Need the dark.”
Steve nodded, twisted a little to turn the light off, leaned close. Danny couldn’t help it. His head just kind of ended up tucked into that spot between Steve’s shoulder and his neck. It felt … not good exactly, but nice. Solid, warm. Perfect temperature, good pressure. Steve grunted and lost his balance, fell back, with pulling Danny practically into his lap. They’d both be embarrassed later, Danny guessed. For the moment, he let himself melt into that not-so-dreadful touch.
Whoops, Danny did not mean to say that. Meds were kicking in already. His head hurt like a son of a bitch, yet was now starting to feel floaty and his hands and feet felt slightly detached. The rumble and vibration of Steve’s stifled laugh should have been like gigantic needles being stabbed into his eyeballs, but in a way, both felt soothing. Well, what the shit. Steve had already laughed at him, what was the worst that could happen if he just … burrowed into the crook of Steve’s neck and allowed Steve to manhandle him. He couldn’t do anything but rely on his partner now. A sigh escaped his lips as he was gently guided onto the bed, the pillow no substitute for that perfect spot.
“Just rest, Danny,” Steve whispered.
Danny was so tired, the faint thrum of Steve’s voice as he talked to someone who wasn’t him was a good accompaniment to the medication and lulled him to that drowsy half-sleep. He was pulled right out of it when the bed dipped. He opened his eyes, saw the vague shape of his partner standing next to the bed, one knee on it. His eye adjusted to the dim light. Everything looked fuzzy, had to be the drugs flowing freely now that Steve was staring at him with a pensive, hesitant expression on his face.
“What’re you doing, you goof?” Danny tried to say.
Another symptom – of migraine and the medication meant to help – was that his brain-to-mouth synapses refused to fire. He wasn’t sure what exactly came out of his mouth, but he did know that look of Steve’s. The complete, unhidden fondness was something that had been so unexpected at first, so vital now. It was one of the things that kept Danny from going completely nuts, if he were going to be honest.
“Just … go with me on this, huh?” Steve said softly as he climbed the rest of the way onto the bed.
Danny only started to understand when Steve lay down next to him, then scooted close. He blinked a stupid, slow blink at Steve’s crooked little smile. Oh, he was never gonna live this down. Danny thought he ought to protest this, except by the time that idea landed in his head, Steve had already maneuvered him so his face was practically smooshed into Steve’s neck. To add more surrealism to the mix, Steve also wrapped his free arm around Danny’s back, held him securely.
“Relax,” Steve’s voice was as gentle as his touch. “I got you. Go to sleep, okay?”
“Steve,” Danny said into Steve’s skin. Skin that was softer than it had any right to be, felt better than it should. This was unbearable, and Steve didn’t even know. “Please don’t…”
Too many things to don’t. Danny couldn’t articulate. He thought, strangely, that he was beginning to feel better already. Had to be all in his head.
“I don’t know migraines,” Steve said. The hand on Danny’s back began to rub, ever so tender, just right. It traversed upward, cupped the back of Danny’s head. “But I understand pain, Danny. I understand what it’s like to feel shaky as a newborn kitten from it. This helps, I know it does. Just let me be a home remedy for you. This doesn’t have to be a thing.”
The warmth radiated from Steve, even his smell lending comfort when it should have made Danny’s queasiness return. This was a thing. Even in his compromised state, Danny knew that. Nothing worked. Nothing ever worked. His eyes were closed, but he felt the darkness, the peace of sleep encroaching. He took a deep breath, he exhaled it. He trusted Steve to not give him shit about this later. He clumsily slid his arm around Steve’s back, wiggled himself closer into their strange embrace.
Nothing about he and Steve worked, yet they did.