Title: May 18, 1996
Disclaimer: Not mine.
A/N: I blame Danny for this fic. While it is true that I am not squicked out by bodily functions on a regular basis, I don't normally make a point to center entire fics around them. But Danny's the one who referenced the last time he puked, and my plot bunnies are strange indeed. Spoilers for 1.11.
A/N 2: Encouraged and beta'ed by geminigrl11. Who impressively did not hurl while completing her work. I ended up writing a bit more after she read it, so mistakes are entirely my own.
Summary: May 18, 1996 was a record he was proud of, even more than his string of closed cases back in Jersey, and Danny was not going to throw up.
May 18, 1996.
Everything was foggy, floating a little uncertainly in a black abyss. Danny didn't know where he was, he didn't know why he was there, but May 18, 1996 was a crystal clear thought in his otherwise murky head.
But why? It wasn't May 18 or 1996. It was December in Hawaii, not that it felt like December, but December 10, 2010 was a far cry from May 18, 1996, so why was that date on his mind? When his head hurt like someone had taken a mallet to it and reality was shifted just beyond what felt normal - why May 18, 1996?
He knew what the date meant, of course. He would always know what that date meant. Even if he forgot his birthday, he would remember May 18, 1996.
Because May 18, 1996 was the last time he'd thrown up. The last time he'd puked, upchucked, heaved, regurgitated - whatever word there was, May 18, 1996 had been the last time Danny had done it.
It'd been a case of food poisoning so bad that he'd literally tried to throw up his stomach - lining and small intestines and all - and ended up in the hospital, just for good measure. The subsequent week without solid food and a catheter shoved up in places where nothing should ever go, had been enough to convince him to never get sick again.
Sure, Danny was prone to exaggeration - he accepted that, embraced it as part of his winning charm - but this was no exaggeration. It was a literal reality. Danny was never going to get sick again.
So he avoided garlic and extra onions, threw out any food at the first hint of turning, and took sick days when other cops had the stomach bug, just to be sure.
Because May 18, 1996 had been a horrible day. The only day he'd ever well and truly wanted to die. The only time he'd actually considered taking a gun to his head and just pulling the trigger to make it all end.
So why May 18, 1996? Why now?
Danny shifted, eyes slitting open, and bright light blinded him. He groaned, his awareness ratcheting up a notch, bringing the pounding in his skull into acute focus.
And then he felt the nausea.
Not just a hint of it, pulling in the depths of his stomach. But a powerful, encompassing feeling, like his entire stomach was bloating and swaying, its contents roiling like a small ship lost on a rocky sea. Back and forth, up and down.
His gag reflex kicked in hard, and it took all his self-control to clamp it down, screwing his eyes shut and twisting his mouth into a hard line, refusing to give the heaving action any hold in his body.
He was not going to throw up. He was not going to throw up. May 18, 1996 was a record he was proud of, even more than his string of closed cases back in Jersey, and he was not going to throw up.
Forcing harsh breaths through his nose, he kept his focus, keeping himself perfectly still to ride it out.
And it was working.
Until: "Danny, man, can you hear me?"
Steve's voice was loud, and though Danny could hear the inherent concern, he was more bothered by the fact that his partner seemed insistent on touching him to get a response. The slight pressure on his shoulder felt like a vice grip, jarring him violently from his carefully poised stillness. Danny swallowed hard to compensate, wanting to roll away, but figuring the movement of escape would do more harm to the precarious state of his stomach than good.
"Come on, Danny, I need you to open your eyes," Steve said, shaking him a little for good measure because torturing Danny with touch alone apparently was not enough.
The small motion was almost too much and Danny's stomach lurched with a new intensity. Briefly, Danny considered if the penalty for shooting his partner would be worth the instantaneous relief. However, the idea of getting his gun out of its holster and releasing the safety made him want to hurl even more, so he scratched that plan for something that required somewhat less movement.
Danny opened his eyes with a glaring squint, making out his partner's worried face above him. "I need you to stop touching me," he growled, his stomach hitching with uncertainty. He squeezed his eyes shut again in desperation.
Steve's hand didn't move, but his grip lessened a little. "You took quite a hit to the head, there," he said, and the tone was conversational, but Danny didn't need to be fully awake to know that Steve was prying purposefully, probably to ascertain his condition. Subtle, Steve was not, and clearly the SEALs had never bothered to teach its stellar recruits the finer art of interrogation.
And this was an interrogation. One grounded in concern and something that was probably supposed to resemble compassion, but an interrogation nonetheless.
Which, it was all well and good to have his partner concerned about his condition. Really, Danny appreciated it. It was a nice change of pace, almost a complete 180 from their first day out together when Danny got shot and all Steve could do was twist his arm and berate him in front of a crowd of people.
So the concern was a good thing.
Steve's gung ho approach at showing it, though, left a little to be desired. More than a little. As it was, Danny didn't think he could stomach much more.
A new wave of nausea rolled over him and Danny had to curl in on himself to control it. Steve's hand tightened its grip again and Danny breathed a string of curses.
Steve's approach left a lot to be desired. Hell, everything to be desired. Because Danny's head hurt and it was way too sunny out and it must have been almost two hundred degrees and his stomach felt like it was being turned in an ice cream maker on a hot summer's day.
And that was the wrong analogy.
The thought of ice cream compounded the problem and Danny found himself whimpering despite himself, hands clutching at his stomach.
May 18, 1996. May 18, 1996. May 18, 1996. Even if he had to die first, May 18, 1996.
Steve seemed to be seriously considering that. His grip tightened again, keeping Danny from rolling to his side, this time a hand patting his cheek. "You're starting to worry me," he said.
Starting to. That was funny. Danny huffed a laugh, regretting it immediately. "You always worry me," he groaned, shifting a little to find a better position on his back. He rolled his head, wincing as it throbbed with new vigor.
He jerked it back, jostling his stomach. His body convulsed slightly and he swallowed in total desperation.
"I told you," Steve said, hands annoyingly steady and ridiculously unyielding. "You took quite a hit to the head."
Danny didn't remember that, but that did explain the headache.
And the nausea for that matter.
He swore, opening his eyes and looking at Steve. "I have a concussion," he said.
Steve was looking at him critically, brow furrowed in concentration. "I can't say for sure," he said. "I called for an ambulance-"
Danny didn't care about an ambulance. Danny just cared about May 18, 1996 and making sure that that record lived to see another day.
Shaking his head minutely, he pinched his lips together. "No, really," he said resolutely. "I have a concussion."
Steve frowned. "Double vision?"
"Nausea," Danny barked at him, louder than he should have but the nuances of volume control were a bit beyond him at this point. He grimaced, pulling hands protectively over his midsection. "Nausea."
Realization dawned in Steve's eyes, and a new sense of concern was quickly paired with trepidation.
But not for Danny's well being.
No, for his own personal comfort.
Because Steve looked concerned but he released Danny's shoulder, scooting back just a little bit, as if to give Danny wider berth.
On the one hand, this was what Danny had wanted. Steve's incessant touching and prodding only served to aggravate the precarious state of his stomach further.
But, on the other hand, the fact that Steve was valuing his own personal comfort over Danny was just about enough to make him sit up and read his partner the riot act, nauseated stomach be damned.
As it was, Danny did try to sit up - try, of course, being the operative word. Unfortunately, his body seemed to have different plans. The hint of movement made his face flush, and his palms went sweaty. His vision tunneled out and he found himself flopping gracelessly. The pain in his head encompassed everything for a second and the nausea swelled in spectacular fashion, making him suddenly wish that he could just pass out or die; he wasn't really concerned with which, as long as it all stopped.
He realized he was on his face and would have had his nose pressed into the pavement were it not for Steve's hands once again on his shoulders.
Normally, such displays of affection and direct disregard of Danny's wishes would annoy him, but all things considered, Danny sort of appreciated not having asphalt up his nose.
"I think it's a little more than nausea," Steve quipped.
It didn't have to be more than nausea as far as Danny was concerned. Nausea was more than enough.
"I'm going to ease you back now," Steve said.
Danny wanted to protest, but didn't have the energy. Steve's motions were smooth and gentle, not that it mattered much when Danny's stomach was attempting acrobatics within his abdominal cavity. When he was settled flat on his back again, he sucked in shallow breaths, keeping his jaw locked and his body taut, eyes closed against the sunlight. It didn't do much to help, but it kept his stomach mercifully where it was, even as his mouth felt funny and thick.
"So, a concussion," Steve said.
Danny nodded tightly, nose scrunched. "Concussion," he agreed decidedly. He tried to even his breathing, controlling the uneasy pitch of his stomach. The entire situation made him feel pathetic, in addition to feeling sick, and since he couldn't remedy the latter, he really wanted to focus on the former.
With a small rallying breath, Danny levered himself upward, committing to the movement and following through before his stomach's protests could stop him. The entire thing made him dizzy, and he felt himself wavering even as he worked to stay upright for some semblance of dignity. As it was, he reached out to steady himself, finding Steve closer than anything else. If his partner wanted to be a willing hand grip, that was entirely his business. Danny was in no position to be picky.
Finally upright, he felt less pathetic but no less sick. Tentatively, he pulled his hand away from Steve, who lingered ever-close to Danny's side. Danny studiously ignored him, blinking open his eyes and bracing himself stiffly against the nausea and the throbbing headache.
For a long moment, all he could do was breathe, trying to make sense of the sun-brightened forms around him. As he settled into this new perspective, Danny became acute aware of his surroundings for the first time. They were in a parking lot, mostly abandoned, and he didn't recognize it.
Danny found that vaguely disconcerting. It would have probably bothered him more if he wasn't trying to hold onto the contents of his stomach with every ounce of power he had.
Still, it warranted the question: "Where are we?"
Steve didn't look around, kept his eyes settled on Danny's face. "The warehouse in the Strickland case," he said. He cocked his head discerningly. "You really don't remember?"
Danny scowled. "I remember waking up with my brain trying to explode out of my head and my stomach trying to tie itself into knots," he sniped. "No, I don't remember."
Steve's expression darkened just a little. "Our witness was confrontational."
Danny hardly had the energy to deal with Steve's creative use of euphemisms. "You mean he tried to kill us?" he asked, voice tight. He endeavored successfully to control a heave.
"Do you remember the car chase?"
Danny's mind worked, pushing past the thundering pain for a moment. "Is that how I hit my head?"
Steve shook his head. "We got him stopped here, in this parking lot. I was taking the driver's side and told you to take the passenger's."
It was all still a blank, though Danny figured the nausea was impeding his ability to think clearly. "He charged?"
Steve shook his head again, a little chagrined. "No, he bolted. Floored it before we had a chance to apprehend."
Danny frowned, lifting one hand and pointing to his head. "Did I get hit by a car?" Because that would really be par for the course when it came to all things police-related with Steve McGarrett. But he would have figured getting hit by a car would cause more generalized pain and less intense nausea.
And the thought of that made him want to retch.
But Steve's head tilted in the negative again. "No, it was a clean getaway," he said.
Danny's mind processed that, and his stomach churned. Steve was making this way too hard. Because Danny had a concussion and his brain felt like scrambled eggs and the mere thought of scrambled eggs made him want to rip his stomach out through his abdomen and get rid of it once and for all. He would take a slow and painful death from infection, bleeding out right here in the damn parking lot under the freakin' Hawaiian sun rather than go back to May 18, 1996.
And the least Steve could do - and this really was the least at this point - was give him a reason why. "So what happened?"
Maybe it was Danny's no nonsense tone. Maybe it was the pathetic look on his face. Maybe it was Steve finally taking pity on him. Danny didn't know. Didn't care. As long as it worked.
Steve swallowed. "He was getting away and you were trying to give chase," he said. "Firing for the tires."
"Yeah? So?" Danny asked, demanding more.
Steve shrugged. "I made a beeline to the car," he said.
Danny stared. Waited for more. He took a ragged breath. "I'm still not getting it."
Steve sighed. "I may have knocked you over."
Danny blinked. "What?"
Steve wouldn't meet his eyes. He let one hand drift in front of him. "I knocked you over," he said.
For a second, the nausea was eclipsed by complete incredulity. "You knocked me over," Danny repeated.
"You were off balance," Steve defended. "You stopped right in front of me."
"You knocked me over and gave me a concussion," Danny reiterated pointedly.
Steve blanched ever so slightly. "It was an accident."
"An accident that gave me a concussion!" Danny said, unable to control it much longer. Because his head hurt and his stomach felt like the freakin' ocean and he was sprawled on the damn pavement getting heat stroke and it was all Steve's fault. "I have a marching band in my head, with extra drums, and my stomach is being pulled through an apple press all because you knocked me over."
Steve huffed a little. "You're making way too big of deal out of this."
"I'm not making a big deal out of this," Danny said. "I have a concussion and I want to throw up. Do you know how I feel about throwing up? Do you know how hard I've worked to not throw up? May 18, 1996. May 18, 1996, and you want to change that today because you couldn't look twice before running your partner over."
"It was an accident," Steve insisted.
"An accident?" Danny repeated, and he couldn't stop himself now, not even if he wanted to. He flailed one arm out. "It's an accident when you break someone's coffee cup. It's an accident when you squirt ketchup on someone's tie and leave a stain. It's an accident when you step on someone's shoelace and make them stumble. It's not an accident when you knock someone over and make them want to hurl their guts through their nose!"
Which, damn, seemed like it might actually happen. And soon. All the talking and all the movement and all the pure disbelief - it brought the aching in his head to a new level of intensity, churning his stomach with a spectacular ferocity. He was losing control of this - and fast - his forehead breaking out in a sweat and his palms clammy and his mouth dry even as he swallowed rapidly. He blinked, his body curving, and he tried to breathe but found that the air just upset the tentative balance even further.
May 18, 1996.
He could still remember it. Like it was yesterday.
Like it was today. The growing queasiness, mounting to a desperate pitch, enveloping him until it was just him and his stomach in a fierce battle of wills.
Danny struggled against it, but it was too strong. May 18, 1996. December 10, 2010.
He lost the battle.
His stomach revolted, pitching wildly and his esophagus was helpless to stop it. The bile rose in dramatic fashion, exploding into his mouth with an acidic burn. He barely had time to flop forward when his chest heaved, propelling it the rest of the way and Danny had no choice but to open his mouth and give it free reign.
The smell instigated another heave, his stomach grumbling deeply with the effort as fresh bile burned up his esophagus and out his mouth.
He squeezed his eyes shut, hands gripping at the pavement as he struggled to keep himself upright. His stomach fought back once again, with a surge of power ripping through him, letting out a retch that sounded something akin to dinosaurs talking to one another.
When it was over, he was spent, still heaving for air and spitting the remnants of vomit from his mouth. He kept his eyes closed, inevitable relief settling over his body as his tense muscles trembled to relaxation.
Steve's hand was on his back, rubbing small, gentle circles. "Breathe through it," he said. "Just breathe."
Danny spit vigorously, flopping over onto his backside and opening his eyes to pin Steve with a vicious glare. "I don't want to breathe through it," he snapped. "I've already puked, so breathing doesn't make any difference."
"You should feel better now," Steve said in plaintive comfort.
Danny resented him for it. In fact, he resented everything about Steve at the moment, from his calm demeanor, his meaningless platitudes, and his completely vomit-less disposition. "I can still taste it in my mouth, smell it in my nose," he said. "I don't feel better. I feel like I want to throw up. Again."
Steve had the decency to look a little apologetic. "The ambulance really should be here soon."
Danny's glare deepened as he continued to breathe in forceful pants, his tremors easing. "I hate you," he said, shaking his head vehemently. "I hate you so much."
Steve grinned a little, keeping his hand steady on Danny's back. "No, you don't."
"Yes, I do," Danny said adamantly, his lack of energy be damned. Somewhere in the distance he could hear sirens, and if the pitching nausea in his stomach had quelled a little, there was no way Danny was about to admit it. "I hate you and next time, I'm going to run you over and see how you feel."
Steve frowned in mock seriousness. "I think that's totally fair," he said. "But I don't get nauseous."
Danny made a face. "Everyone gets nauseous."
Steve shook his head. "Nope," he said.
"When was the last time you threw up?" Danny asked accusingly.
Steve looked thoughtful. "Ummm...January 13."
"Ha," Danny said, the small victory doing more for him than regurgitating ever could. "That wasn't even a year ago."
Steve's grin widened. "1992."
Danny blinked, his adrenaline-fueled glee dwindling somewhat. The sirens were closer now and in the aftermath of his puking, Danny had eased into kind of a comfortable discomfort. His head still hurt and he still felt shaky, but his stomach had settled, just enough to give bite to his annoyance.
Determined, Danny's jaw locked and he shook his head. "Next time," he said, lifting his chin in defiance, "I'm aiming for your shoes."
Steve laughed. "That's probably fair, too," he said, getting to his feet to wave the medics to their location.
Danny nodded after him, stifling a new wave of nausea in the process. "More than fair," he muttered, swallowing back the bile and mentally logging the date for another fourteen year run.