Title: A Coffin for Danny
Authors: Gabrielle Day & Takada Saiko
Disclaimers: Steve, Danno, Chin, and Kono (well…Hawaii 5-0 in general) do not belong to us and belong to their respective creators and copyright holders. The general plotline is also borrowed and tweaked for these characters. No infringement is intended and no profits are being made.
Summary: The victim of a cruel home invasion, Danny's running out of time and Steve will do what it takes to save his partner.
Warnings: Shameless whumping and questionable medical diagnoses/treatments.
Note: So…Saiko and I are fans of several cop shows and this particular plotline is definitely borrowed from one of these said shows. We mean it as homage, because we love it dearly and cookies to all who can guess what it is. : ) Thanks for reading! Enjoy!
He'd thought it was a dream at first, because, after all, how many times would people break into his piece-of-crap apartment? It had been weird and fuzzy. The most he could pull from memory was that he'd heard the door open quietly sometime in the middle of the night, but before he could make his mind or body react a hand had covered his mouth and a voice that he didn't recognized had told him it was all a dream. A dream that he'd never wake from, which Danny thought was far too dramatic. He must have drifted off after that but he was awake now. He was awake and when his legs gave out and the whole room spun, Danny Williams was sure it wasn't a dream.
Danny clutched the side of the fold-out and tried to take inventory of his body. It felt like he had the flu and a head cold and he was pretty sure he could feel a migraine coming on. His body ached and his head felt fuzzy. He ran a hand through his hair and scratched at his neck cursing when he hit a spot that hurt. Carefully he managed his way to the bathroom and flicked the light on. Reflected back at him in the mirror image of his neck was a puncture mark, red and welt-like.
"Shit." he breathed.
He flicked the light off and went back to collapse on the end of his bed. His cell phone informed him it was three thirty in the morning. His finger hovered over the speed dial, unsure whether or not to call. He was so tired and struggled to keep his eyes open.
He heard the phone ringing on the other end and he hadn't even realized his finger had pushed the button. No turning back he supposed and pulled it up to his ear. Everything felt far away and he blinked rapidly, trying to keep some sort of focus.
"McGarrett," Steve's tired voice reached his ear.
Danny tried to open his mouth, to get something to leave it but nothing would. His throat was dry and his lips wouldn't obey his commands. He heard Steve shifting on the other end of the line.
"Danny?" Steve paused, obviously waiting for an answer.
Steve almost hung up, figuring Danny had accidentally reached over to turn off an alarm or perform some other function on his phone and dialed him by mistake. He paused when he heard Danny's sharp intake of breath and frowned. Steve shook the vestiges of sleep from his mind and decided that the breath definitely didn't sound right.
"Danny?" he asked again.
"Hey." Danny finally rasped. "Hey, Steve?"
The slurred words came out as a question and Steve sat up in bed, running his free hand through his hair.
"Are you drunk? Please tell me you're not drunk dialing me." he growled.
"Not drunk. Steve...something's wrong. Help me?"
A cold washed over the former Seal as if someone had doused him in ice water. Danny never asked for help. He was stubborn, arrogant at times and never asked his partner for help.
"Are you at your place?" Steve asked, realizing half way through his sentence that he was out of bed and tugging his pants on over his boxers. Shirt. He needed a shirt.
"Yeah." Danny's breath sounded hitched, as if he were struggling for it.
"Okay, buddy," Steve answered as he grabbed his truck keys. "I'll be right there. Just hang on."
The drive felt long and Steve gripped the steering wheel of his truck so hard he could have left dents in it. He bounced his left knee, balancing his phone there to keep Danny on speakerphone. Mostly he had only the sound of his partner's breathing for company. He'd managed to get the story of the intruder and that Danny had been injected which made Steve's blood boil. He'd informed Danny that he was moving out of that apartment and that was that, no questions and no arguments. Ben's tent city was safer than that apartment which was apparently a siren call to anyone who ever had a half a criminal notion. Hell, Steve rarely locked his door when he was home and he didn't have any of the trouble Danny had at his place. The Chevy slid into the parking lot and stopped next to the familiar silver Camaro. He was out of the truck in an instant, almost taking Danny's front door off the hinges as he flung it open.
The blond was curled up on the fold out bed, the phone lying next to his pale face. Sweat had begun to build and glistened off of his forehead in the dim lighting. Steve dropped to his knees next to the shorter man.
"Hey, Steve," Danny slurred. "Think I may need a doctor... I don't feel good."
Steve touched Danny's forehead before running his hand over the blond hair. He could see where the needle had been pushed into his partner's neck and Danny shivered when he touched it.
"I should have called an ambulance." Steve said.
Danny shook his head. "No. Hate ambulances. Steve, what did they shoot me with?"
Steve went back to stroking his hair. "I don't know, Danno. Hey, you're not going to be addicted to anything, okay? Don't worry. I'm going to get you to a doctor. I'm going to help you sit up now, okay?"
Danny gave a slight nod, regretting the action as soon as he'd performed it. He shut his eyes against the pain in his head that seemed to spread across the rest of his body as his partner put one strong arm behind his shoulders and carefully lifted. Steve's motions were smooth and easy, Danny knew, but every slight jolt made him want to curl back into a ball on his bed and simply sleep.
"You can't go to sleep yet, Danno," Steve said quietly but firmly.
"Not sleepin," the other grumbled.
"Yeah, I know. Just make sure you don't."
How Steve had gotten him into the truck, Danny would never know. He faded in and the whole trip to the hospital, and might have heard a familiar voice that sounded just a smidge more than irate at the fact that Steve had not, in fact, called an ambulance.
"You think he's been poisoned and yet you don't call an ambulance, Commander?" Dr. Parker's usually lovely voice seemed to filter into Danny's ears and he cracked an eye open.
"I was almost to him when I realized that's probably what happened. I was a little concerned about getting to him, Doctor. We're here now, let's focus on that, shall we?" Steve said, irritation coloring his voice.
"It's absolutely unfathomable. The two of you are the only people I know who call each other before they ever think to call for medical assistance." she said.
"Doctor Parker, just tell me what we're dealing with, here." Steve growled.
She shifted, for the first time looking uncomfortable. "It isn't good, Commander. It's a very complex compound we're looking at. I've called in a specialist from one of our sister hospitals, and he'll be here shortly. I can tell you it's going to take time to develop a proper antidote."
"Time? What kind of time? Does he have that kind of time?"
Dr. Parker sighed, glancing over towards her patient. "It's a fast acting poison, that much we know, but there are things we can do to slow it and buy some time. He needs to stay still and keep his heart rate down."
"That's not telling me how much time," Steve growled out.
"I can't say for sure."
"C'mon. I know you have an estimate."
Her lips thinned out as she thought. "Twenty-four hours? Maybe." She paused again. "That would be from when it was administered. I'd say he didn't call right away."
Steve glanced worriedly over to his partner. "Okay. Get the specialist here. Get everything dealt with. I'll call people I trust to watch his room."
Dr. Parker began to protest that that was not necessary in her hospital, and that she would not allow anyone but her own staff to enter his room, but Steve cut her off.
"Someone tried to kill my partner tonight, Doctor. I'm not taking any chances."
His eyes caught Danny's tired ones peering back at him.
Blue gazes locked and Steve's heart twisted just a little. He ran his hands over his face and through his hair, making it stand on end. Danny smiled, despite what he'd just heard Dr. Parker say. He was a dead man walking, with maybe eighteen hours to live. Steve watched his smile falter.
"Could you give us a minute?" he asked Doctor Parker.
She nodded and slipped out of the room. Steve sat on the end of the hospital bed.
"You're not leaving me in here while you go cowboy around and try to find the guy." Danny finally said.
"He might have the antidote," Steve answered firmly. His shoulders slacked and for a moment Danny thought he looked like he held the entire weight of the world on his them.
"What do you remember, Danny? Anything could help, you know that."
The blond gave the barest of nods. "A guy - I couldn't see his face in the dark, or anything really distinguishing - busted in. Everything's fuzzy, Steve. I can't..." Danny stopped, a spasm of pain causing his face to contort and Steve took his hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze.
"Someone will know something," he assured the sick man. "They have to. People like that don't keep things too quiet."
"People like that," Danny grumbled through clenched teeth. "Really? Who comes into a man's apartment and poisons him? It sounds like something off of an old cop show or something."
"Lucky you we have better than old cop show technology." Steve said.
"Yeah. Lucky me." Danny said, rolling his eyes before closing them.
Steve sat with him, holding his hand. He knew he didn't have the time to spare and at the same time knew it might be the only time he had.
"It's going to be okay. We'll find it. We'll fix it." he said softly.
Danny might have nodded, but Steve couldn't tell. He squeezed his partner's fingers one last time and went to call Chin and Kono. They had work to do.
Something in Steve had developed into a sort of protectiveness over his partner over the time they'd shared together. He thought it might be mutual, but he had difficulty reading the friendlier of gestures. Hatred, violence, and murderous tendencies he had no problem spotting from a mile away, but when it came to knowing if Danny had become fond of him or not the Seal was at a loss.
"He cares about you more than either of you will ever know or admit," Kono said as she leaned against the wall outside of the blond's hospital room. She and her cousin had come immediately when called and the two of them and Steve were now standing outside of Danny's room.
Steve glanced at from over the paperwork that he already had in his hands from sending a couple of off-duty cops over to Danny's apartment complex to question people. Amazing how many people had actually been up at that hour.
Kono smiled knowingly and quirked an eyebrow upward. "Just sayin', boss."
"Fine. Right. Kono, I'm leaving you at his door. I don't want anyone but Dr. Parker or someone cleared by her in or out of his room. Understood?"
"Of course, boss."
"I'm going to go talk to a couple of guys in Danny's old precinct, see if they have any ideas. Maybe he had a case involving a guy who liked to tinker with poisons and potions." Steve said.
Kono nodded. "I'll be here if you need me." She said. She reached out and touched his arm. "He'll be fine."
He gave her a half smile and was gone.
Doctor Parker joined her in the hall and the two women stood together.
"How is he?" Kono asked.
"Crazy. Oh, I'm sorry, you meant Detective Williams. He's sleeping, which is good. The less active he is the more time we have. I'm beside myself with gratitude that they agreed on him staying here. I can imagine more than five minutes with your Lieutenant Commander automatically requires a hike in blood pressure."
Kono smiled. "If only you knew."
Even though Steve found nothing in particular on his trail, Chin Ho Kelly was always one for having connections in the strangest of places. He uncovered a rumor - he reminded Steve it was only a rumor - that someone had put a hit out on both of them. It wasn't far fetched, as Steve and Danny were the two more readily seen in 5-0 and the small task force had been a true thorn in every felon's side since being formed. The hit's trail ran cold several people through, but it did turn up one name that Chin remembered: Brian Taylor, a truly gifted chemist that had been expelled from the University of Hawaii a year before for allegedly pilfering chemicals off of the school grounds. Chin said that rumor had it that the young man had gone underground and put himself up for hire and was known for being very adept at poison-making as well as being very low on cash recently.
"I'll be damned. That sounds like the best lead we've had all day. Good work, Chin." Steve told him.
Steve ran Brian Taylor's name through his phone and came back with his last known address, a room in the Sky View Apartments. While it sounded swanky enough, the sky was pretty much the only thing one had a view of there, and a bad view was pretty hard to do in Hawaii. Steve pulled his truck into the complex, taking note of all the curtains that suddenly stirred at his arrival. Word would spread fast and he didn't have time to wait for Chin before Taylor got wise.
Kono had been camped at Danny's door without fail. Even when her phone rang she only stepped to the hallways, still nearly in the door frame. Her cousin explained what they had found and that Steve had gone on ahead. There had been a pile-up on the road between him and Taylor's apartment - one which the Hawaiian officer wandered if Steve had caused in his haste to get there - and it had slowed even his motorcycle down. He'd call her as soon as he knew something more, he promised, and hung up.
"What's the news?" Danny's rough voice sounded from the room. He was awake again. Kono sighed as she moved back into the hospital room.
"They may have a lead."
"Brian Taylor is what Chin said."
Danny closed his eyes and tried to force his sluggish brain to pull the name and a face together. He knew that he knew it. Suddenly his eyes opened. "Chin's with him, right?"
"He's a few minutes behind him. He said they were at the Sky View Apartments."
"That's just around the corner," Danny said as if he were thinking out loud. He took a shaky breath. "Kono, hand me my trousers, would you?"
"You're kidding me, right?" Kono asked, lifting a slender eyebrow.
"Taylor is dangerous. Kid has an ego the size of Montana. I didn't work his case but the guys who did nearly had a nervous breakdown. He was one of the ones guys talked about around the water cooler at the precinct. Now give me my pants, Kono, or I go without them." Danny said, sitting up. He started to pull the sheets aside. Kono quickly moved to get him his clothing.
"This is a really bad idea, Danny. The poison..."
"I know, I know. But if you think I'm going to sit around here while Steve puts his life on the line for me then you don't know me very well."
"Why do you think I'm handing you your pants?"
Danny grinned wickedly, but didn't continue. He hoped to survive this, and when he did, he didn't want to face the wrath of her cousin. With Kono's back turned to him he pulled the IV from his arm and slipped his pants on. Time to go save his partner.
Steve felt coolness settle in him as he approached Taylor's door. He pulled his gun out and used it to knock. There were no games this morning.
"Taylor. This is Lt. Commander McGarrett with the 5-0 division of Honolulu PD. I have a few questions for you." He paused. "Open this door kid or it's coming in on your head."
Much to Steve's everlasting surprise, the door instead came down on him. He staggered back and half fell from the weight of it, cursing as Taylor took off down the hall. He had time to see the springs from where the former student had rigged it for such an occasion as this. Steve shoved the door off him and took off after Taylor, shouting at him to freeze. Taylor, like so many of the others, was not inclined to agree with Steve's request and hit the stairwell full steam.
Steve chased after him with a speed that made his usual movements look sluggish. He couldn't help but note with surprise when his suspect shot up the stairs instead of down and towards the road. He followed, not wanting to risk a shot that might damage him to the point that he couldn't speak. He couldn't risk losing the knowledge that might be in the young man's head. Taylor flung the door open that lead to the roof and stumbled onto it. He turned, pulling a gun out as Steve followed.
"You don't have anything on me!" he yelled out.
"Except pulling a weapon on an officer. That's a start," Steve growled out.
"You'll never get what you want, McGarrett." Taylor said.
"How do you know what I want?" Steve demanded, advancing cautiously.
"Because it's the easiest thing to deprive a man of. Peace of mind."
"You're a smart man, Taylor. I saw your record. You're brilliant. You can help me. Help my partner. I just want to know the antidote." Steve said.
Taylor shook his head, but did not acknowledge knowing about the poison. "I wouldn't help you if my life depended on it." he sneered.
Steve frowned. "It just might."
"What are you going to do, cop? Shoot me?"
"This is a bad idea."
"That's the fifth time in five minutes you've said that, Kono," Danny murmured as they made their way slowly to her car.
"And Dr. Parker agrees!" she grumbled. "Steve's going to kill me."
"It's better than me driving myself, isn't it?" the blond grinned as he slipped into her passenger seat.
Though Steve often made fun of him for complaining about various injuries, Danny thought he was pretty good at covering his own pain when he wanted to. It was just that he usually didn't care because he wanted Steve to feel guilty. Now he was trying his damnedest to keep the grimaces from being seen as spasms of pain laced through him, forcing small tremors through his body. As they pulled out of the parking lot, he leaned back against the seat.
"You okay?" Kono asked, her eyes filled with worry. This was such a bad idea.
"Yeah," Danny murmured, breath hitched slightly. Okay. This was one of those times that he wasn't hiding it well. "Let's just get to Steve."
Danny took several long, deep breaths as they pulled up to the building. He was going to have to fire all his guns on this one.
"Check the apartment. I'll take the elevator." Danny said once they were inside.
"It doesn't look like it goes very fast." Kono said, eyeing the ancient machinery doubtfully.
"Faster than me." Danny said grimly.
Taylor had a history, and Danny knew it. He wasn't being entirely fair to Kono, but he had to play his hunch.
"I'll take the stairs. Meet you there." She said.
He nodded and when the elevator doors closed hit the top floor. He would have to take one flight to the roof and it wasn't going to be pretty. "The things I do for you, Steve McGarrett." he grumbled.
He could feel his body rebelling with each step upward and he tried to hold back the coughs that shook his frame. He could taste blood in his mouth and he reached for his gun. If he was going, he'd make sure that Steve was okay. It was the least he could do. Someone had to be around to make sure Gracie wouldn't turn into a snobby little brat. His heart may have stopped beating for half a moment when he heard the sound of gunfire and return fire.
"Steve," he breathed; the thought of his partner being in danger being his fuel to make it up the last few steps to the door.
"You can't shoot me, McGarrett," Taylor crowed victoriously. "All because of your precious little weakness!"
Danny shoved the door open just as Steve hesitated and Taylor began to squeeze the trigger for the fatal shot. Just as quick, Danny lifted his weapon and fired three exact shots. Taylor dropped to the gravel covered roof and Steve spun, weapon in place until he saw his partner and dropped his arm, stunned.
"Danny?" he asked, shocked at his presence.
"Five minutes." Danny gasped. "Can't…leave you…"
Steve covered the distance between them just as Danny's knees gave out beneath him and they fell to the gravel together. Steve wrapped his arms around his partner, holding him close as the tremors shook him.
"You idiot," he breathed, hugging him closer.
Danny reached a hand up and grabbed onto Steve's shirt, holding desperately to the other. The former Seal's grimace did not go unnoticed by the blond, though, no matter how much pain he was in. He pulled back momentarily and saw the blood blossomed out across the dark polo.
"Just a scratch."
"And you're calling me the idiot. You didn't even try to hit him, did you?" Danny whispered.
Steve didn't say anything and Danny let his forehead drop to Steve's shoulder. Steve held on to him as if that alone could end their predicament, as if he held him close enough they could get up and go home unharmed.
"We need to get you back to the hospital." Steve murmured. "There'll be another lead for the antidote and this...this cost you, buddy."
Danny half laughed against his shoulder. "I've been losing days off my life since the minute I met you."
He felt the spasm in Steve's grip and turned his head so he could half look up at him.
"Hey, don't do that. I didn't mean," Danny gasped, pain gripping him. "I wouldn't have it any other way." he finished desperately.
"Danno," Steve managed, voice cracking.
The man in his arms was growing increasingly still and finally went slack in his arms. Steve eased his partner down the rest of the way just in time for Kono to come bursting through the door.
"Steve!" Kono gasped, her focus shifting to Danny so quickly she almost missed Steve turning his head away to hide his face.
"Get the car." Steve said, his voice rough.
"I..." Kono hesitated. "Now, Kono! I'm bringing him down."
As she turned to rush back down, she could have sworn she saw damp tracks on his face, but she couldn't be sure. She pulled the car up to the front of the building, drumming her fingers restlessly against the steering wheel. She called Chin, told him to call Doctor Parker and have her ready and waiting at the hospital. She waited. Finally, Steve appeared carrying Danny. He maneuvered them both into the backseat and barked at her to drive, fast.
Hospital personal rushed the small red vehicle as they pulled up, pulling the still-unconscious detective from the backseat and from his partner's firm grasp. It was everything Steve could do to remember that they were there to help and release the dying man into their care.
After a moment he turned, seeing that Kono had gotten out of the car and come to his side. "The governor is by the door."
Steve nodded, slipping out of the back seat and walking stiffly towards her. Her eyes widened at the sight of him.
"Steve?" He blinked at her for a second, unsure what was going through her mind.
Finally he looked down and saw the blood that had soaked his shirt from where Taylor's bullet had left a gash along his ribcage.
"It looks worse than it is."
She nodded slowly, obviously not really believing him. "I heard about Detective Williams. What can I do?"
"You can get me a squad car."
Chin joined them. "We checked Taylor's bank statements. He's been getting a regular payment from one Oscar Morales. Morales runs a shop just off Ala Moana beach."
Governor Jameson nodded. "Squad car is on its way for you. Do what you have to do to bring him in."
"Do you have your phone?" Chin asked Steve.
Steve patted his pockets and cursed under his breath. "It's in my truck. It'll have to wait."
The squad car pulled up and Steve took the keys.
"I'll have Kono keep you appraised. He'll be okay, Commander."
Steve nodded and got in the car, and he and Chin sped off.
Kono stood off to the side of the hospital room where Doctor Parker worked quickly with her nurse.
"While the lot of you were out gallivanting about, we managed to pull together a comparable antidote. As long as we can get him hydrated and the antibodies through his system, he should be fine."
Kono's phone rang. "I'm sorry, I have to take this." she murmured, slipping out of the room.
Danny groaned and Parker squeezed his hand.
"Hang in there, Williams. We're not done fighting, yet."
She turned to her nurse. "I'm going to grab the other IV bags. I'll be right back."
The young nurse nodded and kept watch on Danny's vitals. He groaned again.
Danny sucked in a deep breath and blinked, taking in his surroundings. Back at the hospital, his head didn't hurt quite so bad, blood on his arms...
"Am I bleeding?"
"No, sir. We checked."
Danny struggled to sit up. "Where is my partner? Where is Steve?"
The nurse blinked at him for a second before turning back to her work. "Lieutenant Commander McGarrett?"
"Yes, Lieutenant Commander McGarrett!" Danny snapped, irritation bubbling. Why was there blood? He remembered the gunshots... on the roof. Where was Steve?
"I'm sorry, sir, but Commander McGarrett didn't make it back," she answered, still seemingly fascinated with the monitor. "Now, if you would, you're hiking your blood pressure. The antidote has been administered, but you need to allow your body time to heal itself." She paused, cocking her head at the readout. "I'll be right back."
The door clicked shut behind her and Danny was left with only the sound of his heart monitor and the sickening void he suddenly felt. He sat up, rubbing at his arms and the blood staining his shirt. He felt sick, but not because of the poison and almost felt like dying even though the antidote had begun its job. Steve didn't come back. Steve was dead. Steve was dead and he would have to go back to his precinct, back to his friendless life in this hell hole, which would a million times worse because Steve wouldn't be there to distract him with his crazy ass antics and random explosions. He let out a breath that was part cry and part wheeze and started pulling at the IV lines.
He reached over and cut the heart machine off, keeping it from screaming as he undid the hook ups. He just needed to get out. Some air. Anything. He needed to be away from the white walls, the sanitary smells, and all that was reminding him that he was alive and he'd failed to save his partner. After all that, he'd failed Steve. The room spun momentarily as he stood, but he gained his balance and shuffled his way out of the room. Danny moved through the halls somewhat like a ghost, finding it strange only in the very furthest recesses of his mind that no one seemed to notice the man with the blood all over his dress shirt staggering his way towards the exit. They were too wrapped up with the flat-lining Oscar Morales that had just been rushed in.
Steve strode in, looking grim and exhausted, sheer force of will driving him onward. His side hurt and he was tired and he just wanted to know Danny was going to be okay. That he'd recover and they could go back to normal: Danny bitching at him about his driving, his bad ideas, his lack of concern and everything else about Steve's life. He frowned as he caught sight a nurse rushing out of Danny's room towards the nurse's station. She picked up the phone and paged Parker. He grabbed her shoulder.
"What's wrong? What's happened to Detective Williams?"
She looked up at him, fear on her fair features. "He's gone." she said, bewildered.
Steve gripped the side of the counter and forced himself to breathe. She was saying something else, something he didn't hear. He shoved past her and to the room. The bed was empty, IV liquid dripping onto the floor.
"What...where is he?" he turned around, dark blue eyes confused. "What the hell is going on?"
Dr. Parker raced by the room, glancing in as she passed. She stopped, backed up, and focused on Steve.
He looked ready to break down.
"I want to see him," he said, fighting the pain down.
"That's apparently not possible at the moment," she snapped. "I swear, you two. Is there a reason that your partner won't stay in a hospital bed, Lieutenant Commander McGarrett? He needs rest, not to be wandering around wherever he's gotten off to. The antidote may work, but he didn't get away from the incident without injury." She paused, eyeing him. "And look at you! Why did you not come in to get stitched up before running off again?"
He grabbed her by the arms. "Danny's not dead?" he asked.
Parker stopped, stunned. Her features softened. "Oh, Commander. No. We think there may have been a miscommunication...where are you going?"
"Which way did he leave?"
Danny's nurse pointed. "A patient said he was headed towards the beach."
"Commander! Your side!" Parker shouted. "Almighty those two cause such a ruckus!" she grumbled.
Steve ran through the parking lot and across the street, past the vendors and out onto the beach. He stopped only for a moment to catch his breath and look around. There weren't many people out. The weather was too cloudy for most tourists. Far down the beach to his right almost too far away to see, he saw a man sitting with his knees drawn up, face not visible. The unruly blonde hair gave him away.
"Danny," Steve breathed.
He crossed the sand, the sinking sensation making his run slightly clumsy. Danny didn't stir upon his arrival and for a moment Steve found himself rooted in his position only feet away from him. The shorter man looked so dejected, so pained, that his voice just wouldn't come. Parker had said there was a miscommunication, he remembered. Had Danny thought he was dead? Would such a thought illicit such a response from the blond detective? The thought both strangely warmed Steve and made him feel a chilling sort of guilt.
Startled, Danny looked up, wiping his face on his sleeve. His breath caught in his throat. He was hallucinating, that was the only explanation. The real Steve would never look that uncertain, or concerned. Danny's gaze focused on the gash in the black t-shirt, the dried blood.
"Steve," his partner's name came out half laugh, half sob. He started to unfold himself, but Steve met him halfway and Danny wrapped his arms around him tightly, another sob-laugh escaping him.
"Steve," he whispered, the name caught against his partner's collarbone.
"Hey," Steve greeted softly, returning the hug somewhat awkwardly. "Hey. It's okay."
"No, it's not, because you're dead and I failed you."
Steve pulled away from the blond so that he could get a good look at the other man's face. There was more color in it than there had been on the rooftop, giving credence to the antidote that Dr. Parker had spoken of. Even so he looked drawn, his eyes shining with a fever that spoke volumes of the stress his body had been under the last fourteen hours. Steve forced a half smile - one that he hoped put the other man more at ease - before grasping his shoulder, not willing to relinquish his grip, lest Danny vaporize into thin air and truly be dead.
Steve reached up and touched the side of Danny's face. "You've never failed me, Danno. You're still here, that's all that matters."
Danny held onto him, sniffing. "I'm not crying. It's the beach. It gets to me."
Steve smiled his full smile and tugged his partner close again, their foreheads resting together.
"Oh, sure." Steve said. "Blame the beach."
"I do. Sand. It gets everywhere. In my shoes, in my sheets, in my eyes."
"We should head back."
"No. No, no. I don't want to. Not just yet. Every time we're in a hospital something bad happens." Danny pointed out. He felt okay. He felt okay enough to stay right where he was, his partner alive and well and with him.
"Okay." Steve said. "We can wait."
Danny looked up at him. "You shot everybody, didn't you?" he asked.
"There's no one for me to book, is there?"
Steve grinned. "Not this time, Danno."