A/N: Birthday greetings to my good friend Faye Dartmouth. In honor of the occasion I'm branching out in a new fandom and I think the birthday gal will laugh when she sees what I've done with a prompt-you can take the girl out of a fandom but you can't wipe away the limp tendencies.
Danny rolled his eyes. Ever since Steve had pointed out how much he talked with his hands, he'd tried to cut down on doing that. But no one could take the eyeroll from him. It was his right.
"I saw that you know. Now come on already. The beach is waiting." Steve's voice was patient but he had that gleam in his eye that told Danny that he wasn't going to budge.
"If God had wanted me to swim, he would've given me fins. Or gills. Or whatever." His hand swatted through the air to punctuate that last word and heat suffused his face; trying to communicate without his hands was turning into a trial. But Danny was nothing if not persistent. Or stubborn. Or obstinate. Take your pick—Rachel had lobbed all of those adjectives at him while they'd been together and even more so after the split.
Steve smiled benignly. "You want Grace to be proud of you, right? I think you can muster more than a doggy paddle and if anyone can teach you, Kono can." Danny scowled up at his boss who ignored him. "It'll be fun. You'll see."
Using his kid against him was a dirty trick. But effective. Danny wanted to be comfortable in the water so that Grace would be at ease with swimming; Danny might not want to live in Hawaii but this is where he would be for the foreseeable future so he needed to get with the program. Grace's program. Not Steve's. He was doing this for Grace.
Throwing open the car door, Danny slid out into the warmth. "Fine. Let's get this over with."
Grabbing up his towel, he stomped through the sand, determined. Steve laughed in his wake before clearing his voice. "We're not going to the firing squad. Would you lighten up? This is supposed to be fun. Fresh air. Sunshine. Girls in bikinis. Relax."
Danny quirked an eyebrow at Steve while glancing over his shoulder. "Fun. Right. Because nothing says fun like flopping around in the water like a beached whale."
Looking toward the horizon where air met water, Danny forced his shoulders to relax while pushing his covered feet into the sun kissed sand. He wouldn't necessarily want to admit it—especially not to Steve—but the scenery was stunning.
"First things first. You need to dip your toes in the water. Get used to the ocean." Steve was being nice and patient and his coaxing tone was setting Danny's teeth on edge.
"We do have beaches in Jersey you know," Danny couldn't keep the exasperation out of his tone. The taller man nudged him with his elbow as he dropped his towel and strolled into the water, ignoring his comment. In less than five seconds, Steve was submerging himself under the water and stroking away. "Show off," Danny muttered.
Looking down at his feet, Danny frowned at the ridiculous sandals on his feet. Water shoes. At least they afforded him some protection. There were all sorts of things in the water. He didn't need to be stepping on something, getting stung or bit. Gathering himself, Danny stepped into the shallow water and let the waves lap around his ankles, wrap around his calves.
It was relaxing. The persistent push and pull of the water. At least until hot, spiking pain ripped into his leg.
It hurt so damned bad, he couldn't do anything but gasp.
He made himself look downward. Somehow he was unsurprised to see a transparent substance clinging to his lower leg. It seemed to be connected to a pale blue bell shaped…holy crap. A jellyfish. "Ack!"
Danny stumbled backward out of the water, back pedaling in an uncoordinated windmill of hands and legs. Adrenaline was pumping through his body fast and strong, skin throbbing in time to his heartbeat. Without conscious thought, Danny sunk down on to the sand, his butt and his forearms absorbing his weight.
He really should try to find Steve. He just needed to catch his breath first.
"Hey, did you get lost? The water is…oh, crap. You've been suckerpunched. Don't move." That was strange. Danny had only had to think of Steve and he was suddenly there. At least his voice was. Danny looked up only to readjust his line of sight as Steve sunk to his haunches next to him.
It took a moment for Steve's words to sink in. "Suckerpunched?" Shit. Was that his voice? Kind of wheezy and tentative. Not at all manly.
Steve was digging around in his pocket which struck Danny as strange as well. Danny had some sea thing attached to his leg and Steve was what, looking for his cell phone to take a picture? Oh, no. He was pulling out a gadget. Like a Swiss Army Knife or something. Steve was talking again and Danny decided to concentrate on that. He didn't need to look down and see the thing that was gnawing on his leg.
"Suckerpunched is what we call it when you get stung by a box jellyfish. Little devils really sneak up on you because they're almost transparent and you don't feel the sting until the venom is injected." Steve's voice was steady but Danny found himself leaning in to hear him; his ears were ringing and it was hard to hear anything except his own blood whooshing past his ears.
"So what, you're going to take my mind off the pain by carving me up? No thanks." His chest was tight but he ignored it. He was too busy trying to figure out why something that shouldn't have been was attached to his leg. There was no freaking way Grace was getting in the ocean. Ever.
A warm arm was braced around his back and before he knew it, Danny found himself reclining on the sand. "I'm going to get this off of you. Just try to relax."
The stabbing pain was unholy and Danny found it hard to believe that such a small section of affected skin could cause so much agony. He'd screwed up his knee and had surgery. And he'd been shot. But this…this brought him to his knees. At least it would have if he hadn't already been on his back.
Small black spots were invading his vision and Danny let his eyes fall shut. He could hear Steve's voice in the distance but he couldn't make out what he was saying. That annoying ringing in his ears was getting worse and he couldn't catch his breath.
Suckerpunched. What an apt word. What had possessed him to let Steve talk him into doing this? Probably the fact that he trusted him. Steve might get him into some scrapes but he also got him out of them.
He gave up psychoanalyzing things when his main concern became drawing breath.
Danny made Steve smile. It was his curmudgeonly attitude filled with snark that amused the hell out of him. And the way he talked with his hands. And made excuses about why he didn't like living in Hawaii.
It was definitely fun to badger Danny.
Kono was going to meet up with them and give Danny some pointers on swimming. Steve could've done it himself but Kono was sweet and non-threatening and he figured his partner would relax more around her. Kono was also running late so Steve did his best to amuse his uptight partner in the meantime.
Partner. Ongoing source of his amusement. Life was definitely more interesting having Danny around.
Darting into the water, Steve left the high strung man on the beach as he let the waves toss him around a little. Maybe if Danny saw how relaxing and fun the ocean was, he'd actually enjoy himself. He couldn't fathom how someone could live in Hawaii and not want to spend time in the water.
He also didn't want Danny to move back to Jersey so he was committed to making his partner see how great these islands were.
Emerging from the water like a seal, Steve zoned in on the stretch of sand where he'd left Danny. Just in time to see his friend windmill backward and hit the ground.
He left the water behind for the sand, intent on teasing Danny some more. "Hey, did you get lost? The water is…oh, crap. You've been suckerpunched. Don't move."
Without a second thought, Steve found himself dropping to the sand next to Danny to examine the tentacle of what looked like a box jellyfish wrapped around Danny's pale lower leg.
This shouldn't have happened. The box jellyfish numbers usually peaked about seven to ten days after a full moon when they come near the shore to spawn and they weren't anywhere near that window of time. And it's not like they were at Hanauma Bay where lifeguards sometimes had to close the beaches due to infestations.
No, there probably wasn't another box jellyfish in a ten mile radius and Danny had managed to make its acquaintance.
"Suckerpunched?" Steve's eyes flew to Danny's face when he heard the breathless quality in that one word his partner uttered.
This wasn't good. In fact it was bad. Danny's eyes were huge in his pale face.
Steve didn't have any vinegar to use to get the jellyfish to loosen its hold but he did have a knife. Fumbling in his pocket, he pulled out his Victorinex knife; he could pry the tentacle away which would prevent more venom from being injected.
To distract his partner, Steve started talking about box jellyfish and getting suckerpunched. He wasn't really paying attention to what he was saying, too busy readying himself for the make shift surgery to care.
Danny was leaning forward, eyes wide, his lungs making a funny raspy noise. "So what, you're going to take my mind off the pain by carving me up? No thanks." Snarky attitude still in place…check. At least Danny hadn't lost his fight.
Steve intended to keep it that way and wrapped an arm around Danny's back, lowering him flat to the ground. That was the way to treat shock. He grabbed one of the discarded towels and draped it over Danny's shivering torso.
"I'm going to get this off of you. Just try to relax." Steve took care to avoid making contact with the gelatinous substance as he carefully scraped it from the reddened skin.
There. It was off. He'd take Danny back to his place and they could treat it by applying a paste of baking soda and water to the sting. There was an old wives' tale that urine helped heal a sting and he was going to tease Danny about it—just for a minute, and mainly as a distraction—when he realized Danny's eyes were closed and he was panting.
More like hyperventilating.
Steve whipped out his phone and called 911. Leave it to Danny to have an allergic reaction. It was supposed to be a harmless outing, to show Danny that Hawaii was the place to live. An allergic reaction was not on the agenda and Steve pursed his lips in irritation. What a cluster this was turning into.
The dispatcher assured Steve that help would be there in under ten minutes and that the paramedics would have antivenim as well as antihistamines to counteract the toxins. The only thing left to do was wait. Unfortunately patience was not particularly Steve's forte.
"Quit…staring at…me." Danny's voice was halting and tentative but Steve would take it; Danny was still breathing and feisty.
Danny pushed the towel covering his upper body off and arched his back, rolling his head restlessly. Steve knew that couldn't be good; he'd seen men in combat exhibiting similar symptoms after being wounded and it usually meant they were about to take a turn for the worse.
"You're so pale, I can't help but stare." The comment was a reflex—picking at Danny came as easy to him as breathing—but Steve felt a measure of relief when Danny's lips twisted into a grimace.
The relief only lasted a beat as the tension fled Danny's body, leaving him in a limp sprawl on the beach.
His chest wasn't moving. The high pitched wheezing was absent.
Danny wasn't breathing.
Steve needed to create an open airway so he used the head tilt chin lift technique. There was still no airflow so he moved on to chest compressions. He lined up his hands without thought and began the 100 per minute compressions to circulate Danny's blood.
"Sir, we've got him now. You can stand back." Steve lurched backward and dragged a hand across his sweaty face.
A soft, feminine placed on his shoulder made Steve jump. He'd been so focused on the action taking place in front of him that he hadn't heard Kono's approach. "Steve?"
"He was suckerpunched."
Danny wasn't the only person who'd been suckerpunched. Steve couldn't believe this was happening.
Before Kono could say anything further, one of the paramedics called out to them. "We used epinephrine to control the anaphylaxis. We're going to transport him to the ER where they'll give him some IV fluids and something for his leg then they'll most likely discharge him."
"I'm coming with." It wasn't a question; Steve wasn't going to let Danny out of his sight. Who knows what kind of trouble he'd get into.
Kono patted him on the shoulder as he moved toward Danny. "I'll meet you at the hospital."
Steve nodded absently, intent on getting a good look at his partner.
Danny's face and chest were pale with red splotches and his leg was a mess where the tentacle had latched on. But those blue eyes were blinking up at Steve and a sheepish smile graced his face. "Can we get out of here now? I've had enough excitement for one day." There was still an underlying wheeze but it was dissipating.
"Sure, I think that's enough for your first swim lesson." Steve used his best deadpan delivery but he knew his eyes were twinkling.
Blue eyes twinkled back before the patented eyeroll occurred.
The only thing missing was the talking hands.
As Danny was loaded into the back of the ambulance, Steve had a fleeting thought—Danny would use this little adventure to avoid the water. Steve would have to get creative if he wanted coax Danny back to the beach. Although what were the chances that Danny would meet up with a sea wasp again?
Steve banished that thought. When it came to Danny, he didn't trust the oddsmakers. Danny was a one of a kind.
Rolling his eyes at his train of thought, Steve climbed aboard the rig. Damn, Danny had managed to infect him, too. What would be next—hand talking?