Okay. Um. I'm sorry?
Pineapples Killed My Neighbors;
or, This Would Never Happen in New Jersey
They don't talk about it. They've been doing this thing for about three months but outside of the bedroom Steve ignores everything so hard he's going to sprain himself. Danny's pretty sure that he'd made his feelings clear three months ago, what with the whole "I kissed back" thing and all, but apparently Steve has the self-confidence of a thirteen-year-old girl trying to ask her crush to the prom, so he sits back and sort of plays it by ear.
Which is hard to do when all he gets is radio silence.
Speaking of, Steve's voice crackles over the walkie-talkie at his side. Danny's camped out on the roof of the hospital, taking his turn on watch while Steve and Kono reap havoc on the zombie population of Hawaii. Danny's at the point where he gets a little scared of Kono, sometimes, because the level of badass she's reaching at her age and—let's all be honest—stature is more intimidating by far than Steve's tall-dark-and-scowling Navy SEAL routine. You expect it from Steve, is what Danny's saying. Danny's seen Kono cut a zombie's head off while telling a fart joke.
"Thought I'd find you up here," Chin's voice says from behind him. "You love the sniper position."
"It's like playing angry birds," Danny answers with a grin. "But with zombies. I really can't emphasize enough how awesome that is, Chin Ho. I just really can't."
Chin laughs, clamping a hand on his shoulder. "Well, I hate to spoil your fun, but I'm here to relieve you. Kono's just radio'ed in; she wants to take her lunch break with Max."
"Now see, that's something I just never saw coming," Danny says, shaking his head.
"Well, you know how it is. Last man on earth and all that."
"Okay, now you're just being hurtful."
Chin shakes his head, settling into position and assuming a position of Zen-like stillness that hurts Danny down in his soul. It's unnatural to be still like that, is what it is. Chin Ho Kelly is to physical movement what Steve McGarrett is discussing feelings. Sometimes Danny wonders what exactly it was he did in another life to get saddled with such utter freaks.
Then again, he's the psychopath who decided to fall for his emotionally constipated partner, declare his love through the sweeping gesture of leaving his daughter so that they could hunt zombies together (because nothing says 'be mine' like a decapitated zombie head), and then sit back and not say anything when said partner didn't even notice. So if Kono wants to be best friends with a socially inept ME, that's her prerogative.
"Have you heard from the mainland about recall?" Danny asks when he gets to the door. Chin shakes his head, and Danny releases a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding.
What's weird is that—despite the obstacles living here presents, despite not being with Grace and not getting cable television—Danny actually likes Hawaii better like this than he ever did before Zombiepocalypse. Maybe it's the lack of tourists and Hawaiian shirts. Maybe it's the utter disappearance of pineapple.
Maybe it's the warm hand that claps down on his shoulder when he gets downstairs and the shit-eating grin of Steve McGarrett, armed like Rambo and bleeding from a cut on his face. Kono is sitting on a counter eating a sandwich and listening to Max talk about the rate of degradation in animal epidermis versus human. Kono seems interested. At the very least, it isn't putting her off her sandwich.
"You shoulda seen the bloodbath at the Hilton," Steve tells him gleefully. "We rescued a family that had been living on the top floor and Kono totally Moby Dicked a guy."
Danny raises his eyebrows as Kono throws a cheerfully victorious fist in the air. "First of all, Moby Dicked is not a verb, and secondly, sometimes you frighten me, Steven. Honestly. I worry."
Steve just laughs, and they walk together to the cafeteria. It's always empty this time of day, when the sun starts setting. Everyone huddles in groups around the hospital, crouched around the two working TVs or squeezed into too-small beds where the waiting room used to be. No one likes to be along when it gets dark.
Steve refuses to sleep where the citizens are, because—though he won't admit it—he doesn't like them to ever think of him as an actual human. He revels in the way they look up to him as invincible and heroic; to let them know that he does things like piss off the side of the building and get crumbs on his chin is unthinkable.
"Boy, you sure know how to take a guy on a date," Danny says dryly when Steve tosses him a Jell-O and a cold can of beans. "Seriously, I'm moved."
"Shut your fuckin' mouth," Steve says, grinning like the thirteen-year-old he secretly is, and wraps his hand around Danny's wrist. "Just shut it."
"Make me," Danny tosses back, putting the beans down pointedly on the counter. "I've been playing angry birds all day on the roof; a little action would do me good."
Steve leans down until his mouth is just an inch away. "That so?" he asks, and his voice is almost gentle, and this is the part that kills Danny, every time, because he can see it right there but Steve is too afraid to give it to him.
In an ideal world, Danny would say, 'Yes, and let's talk about why we are standing here in an empty cafeteria, on the verge of doing unsanitary things in a space where people eat.'
But it is not an ideal world, it is the zombie apocalypse, and Danny guards jealously what little he has left to lose. So he doesn't say any of that; he grabs Steve's neck and doesn't say anything at all.
"Shit," Danny says, pressing a dirty hand onto his stomach and trying not to throw up at the touch of the slick liquid that coats his fingers. "Shit."
Keeping one arm on his stomach and using the other for leverage, Danny shimmies up a little straighter against the wall. Steve is still in the other room, the only one where they get even the tiniest cell reception. He's been trying to call Kono or Chin for the past fifteen minutes, but they both know that the cell reception towers are unreliable at best.
Frankly, Danny is tempted to give him a big, fat I-told-you-so. Danny likes busting fucking up zombies as much as the next guy, but he sees no reason to do it unprepared at midnight without informing anyone of their intentions.
It's only zombies, Steve had said. They won't even be hungry, Steve had said.
Danny glances down at his hand, which is getting cold with blood. "Fucker," he hisses, shifting uncomfortably against the wall.
The key is not to let Steve know about this, Danny decides. They are locked in a windowless basement and even Super!Steve can't kick down doors that are in the ceiling. Telling Steve about the little hole in his side will cause him to do something crazy, and everything will go downhill from there.
If there even is a place downhill from "bleeding and locked in what used to be a meth lab...full of zombies."
A few jackets are piled in the corner by one of the stoves; Danny supposes cooking up drugs made the temperature a bit toasty. He bites down hard and makes himself stand up, gritting his teeth against the pain in his side. He moves slowly, leaning heavily against the wall, before sinking with relief back to the floor near the jackets and arbitrarily pulling one from the pile to put over his shoulders. In the terrible lighting the jacket will probably obscure the wound.
The door slams open. Seriously, Danny is going to have to teach Steve how to enter a room without making it look like a scene from The Godfather.
"Any luck?" Danny asks, as casually as possible.
Steve frowns at him. "No. I couldn't get through."
Danny blows a slow breath out of his mouth. "Well, that's great, Rambo. Fabulous. I'm never listening to any of your ideas ever again."
"When have you ever listened to my ideas?"
"I'm here, aren't I?"
"Yeah, because I promised the last of our malasadas stash."
"Which, by the way, you have yet to deliver on," Danny points out. Steve grunts back at him, making a face, and Danny settles against the wall. By his best guess, it's probably around one or two. They'd gotten three of the zombies during their half-assed raid, but two had gotten away, and knowing zombies as intimately as he does, Danny suspects they'll be back. Which means that Steve and Danny have to either get through to Chin and Kono for backup or get the hell out of the building before the whole place is littered with crazy, hungry, undead people.
Steve kicks the wall in frustration. "Damnit," he swears. "I hate waiting." He glances over at Danny. "How much ammo you got?"
Danny makes a point to move fluidly, without favoring his side. He checks his gun. "Not much."
They look at one another. "I tried to send Kono a text," Steve says. "I left the phone on in the other room. We can keep checking to see if it went through."
"Yeah," Danny agrees, blowing a slow breath out of his nose. He watches with lidded eyes as Steve rattles uselessly against the basement's chained doors. It is becoming clear that this was going to be one of those nights that would end either in a metric ton of strewn limbs or . . . well, something else entirely, something Danny prefers not to consider.
"Well, all right," Steve says doggedly, "so we'll make a plan. Hopefully the text will get through to Kono; if not, we need to start rigging some things up in case of the worst. If we each take one side, it may not matter how many of them there are—zombies don't tend to be the best at hand-to-hand combat, so if we can get them as they come through the door we may be able to take them out that way. Or we could just wait; they'll find us in a few days if we can keep ourselves fortified."
Danny stops listening. He leans his head against the wall. With this kind of talk there's really no getting around the whole zombie-wound thing. "Steve," he says in resignation, "there's an element to this you aren't considering." He waits until Steve glances irritably over at him, surely about to assure him that he's considering all the elements, that's what Navy SEALs do.
Danny slips off the jacket he'd taken off his shoulders so the red on his shirt can be seen. He shrugs. "I don't have a few days to wait."
Steve swears violently and sweeps over to Danny, dropping to his knees beside his partner and batting Danny's hands away when he tries to block his view. Danny sighs. Yeah. Panicked little girl mode kicked in, judging by the way that Steve was frantically patting himself down like he'd find a doctor in his pockets.
"Shitfuck, Danny," Steve mumbles. "Okay. Shit. Fuck. Okay. We can deal with this. We'll wrap it with cloth strips. There's got to be something in here we can use to clean it, keep you from getting infected—"
"In a meth lab?" Danny asks, amused despite himself. "Yeah, that seems likely. Nothing says 'neat freak' quite like a meth head. Those guys just love sterile needles."
"We can sterilize it," Steve says brusquely, glaring at him. "There's flame in here."
"You're not sewing me shut with a needle we found in a methamphetamine lab," Danny replied firmly. "Not happening."
"Once we sterilize it, the needle will be—"
"Still from a meth lab!"
"Danny," Steve tries again, a little gentler, but gives up at Danny's glare. He sighs. "Is it at least . . . clean? I mean, are you—did you take a dose of Max's serum this morning?"
Danny closes his eyes as he shakes his head. It was supposed to be his day off. He'd planned to stay in the hospital all day, but then Steve had geared up to go on one of his raids, and Danny hadn't been able to let him go alone.
And now there is something foreign and unwelcome inside of him, growing, breaking down his cells and turning him into the very thing he'd set out to destroy. Danny swears softly. He hates everything. If they get out of this, he is never speaking to Steve ever again. Ever. He doesn't care how many malasadas his partner bribes him with.
Steve settles beside him. Danny can see his brain working through their options. Danny lets him, because it probably makes him feel better.
"If . . . if we don't get out," Danny begins, but Steve cuts him off sharply with a glare.
"We'll get out," he says flatly. "There's still time to take the serum."
Danny sighs. "Okay," he acquiesces, because he knows Steve, and he doesn't have another choice, "fine. But if we don't—"
"But if we don't, Steven. You have to promise me."
Steve looks away. He studies the dirt on the floor. "We'll see," he says at last, and Danny nods, because knows that this is—for the moment—the most that Steve can give him.
Steve is not panicking.
Steve is not panicking.
Steve is not—
Steve slaps the heel of his hand against the wall. Danny is dozing. They've been here for almost an hour, and he looks pale and sick. Everyone is on a steady diet of cheese and milk, all that is left over, so they have a grace period; but Danny—though he'd kill Steve for saying it—is fucking short, and who knows how long it will take for the sickness to take hold. It had taken just half a morning, with Mary.
The thought of his sister still hurts, so Steve does what any good Navy SEAL would do and shoots a hole through the wall instead of feeling it.
"Steven," Danny says tiredly from his position against the wall, "behave yourself."
"I hate waiting," Steve snaps, because angry is easier.
Mary's voice is still in his head: time is short and wrought with motherfucking pineapples.
"On the other hand, I love slowly decomposing while I keep my fingers-crossed that somebody shows up in time to keep me from rotting to death," mutters Danny dryly, and Steve winces.
Fuck. Fuckity fuck fuck, this was not how he pictured today ending. He'd had something a lot more pleasant in mind, something with less clothing, something more—
Except not really more than that, actually. Because emotions and talking and relationships are sort of a sticking point, for Steve, sort of a phobia of his, sort of the scariest fucking thing on this goddamn planet, and Danny slowly decomposing in the corner is the reason why.
Steve may or not be panicking.
Danny closes his eyes. He's surprised that it doesn't hurt more. He had expected to feel the death of every cell in his body, but it's not like that. It's like someone keeping you awake when all you want to do is sleep. He is dizzy and tired and hungry for no reason.
He figures he'll start worrying when Steve's flesh starts to look delicious. Until then, he sits, and closes his eyes, and waits. He misses Grace. He misses Rachel. He even, oddly, misses Kamekona.
He is tired. He is tired. He is tired.
"Wake up, Danny." Steve's voice is right by his ear, and Danny startles a little. "Keep your eyes open."
He sighs, squinting towards the sound. "Okay," he agrees dutifully, if only because at the moment, the thought of arguing with Steve is even more exhausting than keeping himself conscious. "Any luck with Kono?"
Steve has been obsessive-compulsively checking the cell phone every four minutes. Danny already knows what the answer will be, but the conversation helps keep him focused.
Into Steve's answering silence, Danny says, "We're coming up on it, you know."
Steve looks at him sharply, and then back. "We're not there yet," he says, and Danny sighs.
Steve checks the phone again. Still nothing. He has been over every square inch of this room, looking for something—anything—to slow the process that is eating away at Danny, anything to get them out faster, anything that will do anything. He cannot stand to be in this room while the night gets darker and Danny skin gets sallower and he is so fucking useless right now and Goddamnit this had been his stupid idea—
"We're not there yet," he says to Danny when his partner murmurs, the words slurring together, "we're coming up on it, you know."
And oh, goddamnit, Danny is right. Steve knows he is right. Steve knows that if they don't figure something out, if he doesn't fix this, then the moment will come and it won't be Mary on the telephone saying I love you like she'd been thinking it her whole life. It will be Danny's dead eyes and his brains spilling out of his mouth and Steve's knife in his hand. It will be Danny's hot blood on Steve's face. It will be that. It will be nothing but that.
"I'd rather you did it than one of them," Danny says, and his voice is so quiet and so tired, every letter of every word biting into Steve. There are so many things that Steve wants to say, that he hasn't said, because—because he's been such a fucking coward, but it was always easier to take Danny's kisses as promises than make any of his own.
"Danny," he snaps warningly. "We're not getting to that point."
"Steven, for pity's sake," Danny bites back, bitter laughter in his voice. "How much closer do we have to get until we're 'getting' there? My hair is falling out like I'm my Uncle Rudy on his fiftieth birthday, Jesus."
"There's still time," Steve insists stubbornly.
Danny's head lolls to the side and he raises his eyebrows. "There might not be. We don't know how long we have until it's irreversible."
"Danny," Steve says, and he hears the desperation in his own voice, the entreatment. He can barely believe the sound that comes out after, the air that sounds like tears around the single word he manages: "please."
But Danny shakes his head, pitiless. "Promise me," he demands. "I am keeping me eyes open, but promise me."
Steve says it, though he hates every word: "I can't. You're too . . . I can't."
"Do it anyway."
There are noises upstairs, the familiar moans and shuffles of bodies too decayed to be walking. Steve glances at the phone. The message still hasn't gone through. Danny pulls a small tuft of hair out of his scalp and tosses it away.
"Danny," he manages, and doesn't care about the way Danny's skin is beginning to become see-through, "you don't understand."
Danny wants to laugh, but he is too tired.
Doesn't understand? He can feel himself slipping away, slowly and laconically but slipping all the same. He gave up his daughter to Step Stan and a world without pineapples. This morning Steve had looked at him and killed Danny with all the words he didn't say. Now Danny can see his own blood in his veins and Steve still isn't saying anything, but there is one promise left to him and he will get it, because it is the last thing he will do.
"You lost Mary," Danny says, ruthless. "I'm sorry. But I'm not your consolation prize."
Steve looks startled. "You never were," says the other man, and he shifts so that he is kneeling before Danny's hunched form. "Danny. Danny. You were never that."
"Okay then, partners," Danny agrees dryly, almost bitterly. "Whatever. Your life isn't my problem right now. Mine is. Now promise me, or I'll do it right now."
Steve looks panicked. He takes Danny's hands into his own as if to prevent them from reaching for a weapon. He is quiet.
Danny, Danny, Steve thinks silently, desperately, you don't realize what you're asking.
'Consolation prize,' he had said, and it had carved away at Steve's heart like Kono's machete. He's known that Danny loves him. Danny is many things, but subtle is not—has never been—one of them. Once he decided to be Steve's, he simply was, one-hundred-percent. But Steve isn't like that. Steve can only be Danny as long as no one says it out loud.
He has learned nothing in life if not that good things never stay, so he avoids calling Danny "good" and hopes he can outmaneuver fate.
But here is his partner, falling to literal pieces, calling himself a 'consolation prize,' as if Mary had died and Steve had looked for some sick replacement.
"I'm not saying I won't," he promises, looking hard at their linked hands. "But shit, Danny. You're—that's too big. That's . . . I haven't . . ."
"I've never asked you to say it," Danny interrupts. His eyes are hard. "But if you love me, you'll do it. You'll promise me now and you'll do it if you have to. I'm not asking you to be something you aren't, Steven. I'm just asking you to be exactly what you are. No exceptions."
If you love me, Danny says, and the words echo in Steve's skull. If you love me, if you love me. Be exactly what you are.
The words rip and tear in his throat, but he says, "I promise."
It hurts so good to hear the words, because it means that Steve loves him—it is the closest they will ever come, Danny is sure—but it also means that he is dead, now. There is only waiting.
The call won't go through. Danny knows this. Steve probably knows this.
But Steve had said 'I promise' when he meant 'I love you,' so Danny—always the romantic—figures perhaps it isn't so bad, this ending.
Four hours later, his phone vibrates. Steve doesn't read the text. He knows what it says. They are coming.
Danny's breath is shallow and his eyes keep closing. He looks up at Steve and smiles a little, hard.
"Okay," he says.
Steve fingers the knife in his hand. "I'm sorry," he offers. About tonight, about never saying what he should have, about Grace. "You'd have been better off if you'd never met me."
Danny laughs. "No," he disagrees wryly. "I'd have spent the rest of my life pining after Rachel."
He coughs. Blood spills out of the side of his mouth. Steve raises the knife so that the blade bites a little into Danny's nerveless skin.
"I love you," he says at last, helplessly. The words spill out of him.
Danny nods. "You promised," he reminds him gently. "And I know. Though, for future reference, you should have said."
"I didn't . . . I was . . . the situation seemed uncertain."
"Steven, the depth of your emotional constipation is not surprising to me anymore."
Steve rests his forehead against Danny's. "It should have been me," he murmurs, and he is sincere. He has no one else. Danny has Grace, has Rachel, has—
"Don't make my glorious exit about you," Danny laughs, and brings a shaking hand up to punch his shoulder. "Shit, you fuckface, we live at the goddamn end of the world. It was going to happen sometime."
Mary again: nut up.
"I love you," he says again, twice as many times has he has every said it to anyone that wasn't Mary.
Danny smiles. "Prove it," he whispers, and Steve, weeping, does.
When it is done, Steve puts the phone on a shelf, out of reach, for Kono to find. He listens to a moment to the shuffling sound of hunger and tosses his knife into his good hand.
"Okay, fuckers," he says as the door begins to give under the weight of the insistent undead. He stands at the ready and waits. "Come and get me."
By the time they get to the building they had tracked Steve's cell phone to, Kono knows what they are going to find.
She thinks of Ben. That's surprising—she hasn't, in such a long time. But now, halted before the closed door that is standing between her and carnage, she thinks of him.
Chin breathes quietly behind her, his hand on her shoulder.
"Was there really any other way it could have ended?" he asks, implicitly acknowledging what they expect to find.
"Yes," Kono says, eyes dry, throat closed. "They could have found some miracle exit. Steve the Science Guy to the rescue. Danny would have been talking the whole time, covering up his fear. He'd—they'd banter, fight, because that's how boys show they care. They'd get back to the hospital. Steve would say I love you because he was scared. They'd wake up in the morning and place bets on who got the most kills that day."
Chin squeezes her shoulder, waits. Kono puts her hand on the door handle and sighs. "No," she admits quietly, "there was never any other way."