Title: Like Pigeons and Catholics

Summary: Steve decides to drop in on Danny one Saturday morning only to find his partner more than a little under the weather. Written for the Running Hot comment-fic meme/a being hosted at the LJ of ariadnes_string. Original prompt was by embroiderama.

Characters: Steve, Danny

Rating: PG-13 for mild swearing

Wordcount: 2,794

Disclaimer: Everything recognisable belongs to CBS. Please keep your lawyers leashed at all times.

Warnings: None, pre-slash if you tilt your head and squint a little.

Neurotic Author's Note #1: Comment-fic, no beta, very little plot. Just shameless h/c.

Neurotic Author's Note #2: Comment-fic is an awesome way to procrastinate on everything else I'm supposed to be doing, apparently. I am consoling myself that since I'm at work and can't concentrate on my "real" projects the way I need to, that that makes it okay. *cough*

It's only about five seconds after he's rapped enthusiastically on Danny's front door that it occurs to Steve that he maybe should have put a little more thought into his plan today. Sure, yes, it's Saturday and Danny doesn't have Grace this weekend, which totally frees Danny up so they can hang out together. Not that they don't hang out when he has Grace, but this is just him-and-Danny time, which Steve likes just as much. So, yes, it's good, but now he thinks eight o'clock in the morning might just be a little early by Danny's standards. Steve has been up for two and a half hours already, he's gone swimming, tidied his whole house from top to bottom, and was seriously contemplating scrubbing out the oven when he had the idea of going to take Danny out instead. Except maybe Danny was planning on sleeping in —they've had a rough week— and Steve definitely doesn't want to be on the receiving end of Danny's wrath for waking him up.

He fidgets, definitely doesn't consider making a run for it before Danny gets to the door, and clears his throat when he hears Danny fumbling with the door handle on the other side. The door opens, and whatever words were forming in his mind leak right out his ears when he catches sight of his partner. Danny's wearing an undershirt over a pair of sweatpants and nothing else, barefoot on the dingy carpet, his hair mussed as though he just got out of bed. He looks terrible, pale and sweaty, dark smudges under his eyes, and he obviously hasn't shaved yet this morning.

"Jesus, Danno, you look terrible!" Steve's never had an especially good brain-to-mouth filter when it comes to Danny, and he winces as the words tumble out effortlessly.

Danny rolls his eyes. "Good morning to you too, Steven. Why are you here? Do we have a case?"

"Oh, uh no. No case. I just came by... are you okay?"

"As it happens, I have a headache and I don't feel like having a nice chat about this in the doorway, so why don't you come in? It's also very, very early for a Saturday with no case, so you'd better have something to make up for it."

Steve holds up a paper bag. "Malasadas?"

"It's a start," Danny concedes, but he doesn't actually seem all that enthused. He lets Steve into the apartment, lets himself drop onto his sofa, which means he's already folded his bed away for the day, but there's a blanket bunched up there, as though it's been recently pushed aside. Steve squints at him, trying to figure out what's going on, and Danny sighs. "You're making Confused Face at me."

"For the last time, I don't have a 'face.'"

"You do too. So what's confusing about this?"

"You weren't sleeping," Steve decides it's pointless to argue about whether or not he has a 'face.'

"No, Steven, I wasn't," Danny says, with the air of patience people usually reserve for very small children and people with developmental delays.

"Then what's with the—" Steve gestures vaguely at Danny's obvious state of semi-undress. He doesn't remember seeing Danny out of a long-sleeved shirt, well, ever. "You're sweating," he notes.

"My God, it's like you're a detective or something," Danny scrubs a hand over his face. "Seriously, why are you here?"

"Are you sick?"

Danny points at Steve, cocking and firing a pretend-gun with his hand and forefinger. "Give the man a prize. So if you're not here for a case... it was nice of you to bring malasadas. I'll be in on Monday morning, bright and early."

Something twinges unpleasantly at the back of Steve's mind. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing, it's just the flu or something," Danny plucks absently at the blanket.

"Oh. You need anything?"

Danny shrugs. "Not really. I'm just under the weather, nothing big. You mind if I take a rain check on whatever you had planned?"

"Of course not. Hang on, I'll get you some juice, at least, so you don't dehydrate."

The flu is something that can be fixed, which is a relief. It's not an instant fix, but at least now Steve can come up with a plan. He leaves the malasadas on the table, heads into Danny's kitchen and rummages through the fridge, ignoring Danny's obligatory bitching about people who just waltz into other people's kitchens and make themselves at home.

"Turnabout's fair play, Danno!"

The fridge is practically empty, which is really depressing. Somehow he gets the feeling that Danny only really buys groceries when Grace is visiting. After a second he locates a can of frozen orange juice concentrate, looks through the cupboards until he finds a plastic pitcher, and sets about adding water to it. He sets down a glass of orange juice on the coffee table in front of Danny, who glares at it like it's the source of all his troubles.

"There'd better be vodka in that."

"Don't be ridiculous," Steve heads into the bathroom. "I hope you at least have Advil on hand, Danny."

Danny hasn't moved from his spot on the sofa, resting his head in his hands. "I'd protest the invasion of my home, but I doubt it would make a difference. Yes, there's Advil and no, don't bring it unless you have a headache, because I've already taken more than the recommended dose, thank you."

Steve brings the bottle anyway. "You'll need it later."

"Why do I even bother?" Danny asks the ceiling, palms up in a gesture at once of supplication and despair.

Steve sits on the sole other chair in the tiny apartment. "You want help pulling the bed back out?"

"Do I —no, no Steve, I don't want help pulling the bed out. I'm just going to stay where I am and continue watching the game I taped before the case started, which was two weeks ago, thank you very much."

"You want some company?" Steve drops onto the vacant spot Danny's left on the sofa without waiting for an invitation.

Danny manages to turn hand-waving into a sarcastic art form. "By all means, make yourself at home. But if by some chance you know how this game ends, I forbid you to spoil it for me."

"Okay, Danno."

"It's only going to make my head hurt more to try to argue with you about using my daughter's nickname for me, so I'll just leave it up to you to imagine that I've protested your use of it, vociferously. Got it?"

"Vociferously, got it," Steve agrees amiably, since Danny's letting him stay. It's only polite.

It's not quite how he envisioned the day going –certainly it's not like he enjoys having Danny be sick– but it's not all bad, Steve decides. Sick or not, Danny still has an opinion about everything, and a very loud set of opinions on exactly how the football game he taped should be played –apparently they're doing it all wrong, not that Steve really cares. He should care, of course, football is his game more than it is Danny's, but he finds himself staring at his partner while he gesticulates in annoyance at the crappy TV set when his team or even the other team does something particularly objectionable. Eventually, though, the running commentary slows down, until Steve realizes Danny's not really paying attention to the game anymore, his gaze fixed on a point about two feet left of the television, staring out the window at nothing Steve can see. His face is flushed, eyes glassy.

"Danny?" He slides closer when he doesn't get an answer. "I should go. You're not looking good, you should go back to sleep."

Danny turns back to him his expression one of mild surprise, as though he'd forgotten Steve was even here. "It's the pigeons," he says, as though he's explaining something, and Steve blinks.


Danny nods. "They're flocking."

In spite of himself Steve glances out the windows, but there aren't any birds –pigeons or otherwise– anywhere in sight. "What are you talking about?"

Danny shakes himself visibly. "What?"

"You were saying something about pigeons."

"I was? What pigeons? I hate pigeons," Danny mutters, expression darkening. "Flying vermin. Like rats with wings."

"How bad a fever are you running, anyway?" Steve abandons his pretence of not worrying and reaches over to press a palm to Danny's forehead. "Yeah, definitely bed. When's the last time you took any Advil?"

He gets a baffled look, like maybe he's grown a second head or something. "I don't know. I thought we were going back."

"Back where?" Steve asks, but he's pretty sure Danny has no idea what he's talking about. "We're not going anywhere, Danno, you're burning up. How the hell did you manage to get the flu, anyway? No one we've seen has been sick."

Danny shakes his head. "Pigeons," he says, apparently picking up where they left off. "Disease-carrying vermin."

Steve gives up. "Okay, pigeons," he agrees, then grabs Danny by the arms to pull him up off the sofa and sits him down on the chair. "You stay put for a second. I'm going to get you some more juice and then I'm pulling the bed out for you."

By the time he's back from the kitchen with another glass of orange juice Danny's shivering a little, huddled on the chair, looking utterly miserable. He doesn't resist at all when Steve insists he drink all the juice and swallow more Advil, just sits with the empty juice glass cradled in his lap, half-watching as Steve pulls out the bed and makes it up again. Steve gives his shoulder a pat.

"How you doing, Danno? Let's get you lying down, okay?"

Danny jerks away irritably when Steve tries to take his elbow. "Not a child… shit," he staggers a little.

Steve just rolls his eyes and grabs hold of him, makes sure he doesn't faceplant before he's at least lined up with the bed. Tending to sick people isn't exactly his forte, but he's not completely useless. He has memories of his mother and even his father taking care of him when he was sick as a kid, and while this isn't exactly the same he figures it can't be all that different, either. It's easy enough to make sure Danny's tucked into his crappy bed with an extra blanket, to fill a glass with water and put it on the table nearby, next to the bottle of Advil, and hunt down Danny's thermometer. At least he owns a thermometer, which Steve was afraid he mightn't.

"C'mon, Danno, open up," he waggles the thermometer in front of Danny's face, ignores the vaguely insulted look he gets. The thermometer tells him nothing good, not that he was expecting it to. "Why is it that you never do anything by halves?"

"Pot. Kettle. Etc," Danny replies, half-muffled by his pillow. His hair is sticking to his forehead, matted with sweat. "What time is it?"

"It's just before noon."

He can tell Danny's not really listening. "I have to go get Gracie…" he tries to push himself off the bed, and Steve has to hold him down.

"Easy, Danny, it's the weekend and you don't have her this weekend, remember?"

He's starting to hate the bewildered expression Danny turns on him. "Are you sure? I'm gonna be late…"

"Yes, I'm sure. Sit tight a minute okay?" Steve gets up, goes to find a washcloth in the bathroom and soaks it in cold water. It's one of the few things he remembers his mother doing for him when he was a kid, aside from giving him ginger ale and letting him watch cartoons all day, wiping his face with a cool cloth when the fever got bad and he ached all over. It's a good memory, even though it's laced with pain.

"It was the pigeons," Danny informs him when he gets back, and Steve doesn't know whether he should laugh or haul his partner directly to a hospital.

"Yeah, I know," Steve lays the folded cloth over Danny's forehead. "They're flocking, I remember. Take it easy, okay? The pigeons are long gone, I promise. Whatever it is you think they did, it's over, you hear me?"

Danny shifts uncomfortably in his bed, squirming a little under the cloth. "Why's it so hot?"

"It's not, it's just you, Danno."

"The snow's gonna melt. How're we supposed to go sledding if it melts? It's not supposed to be this hot."

Steve chews on his bottom lip, retrieves the cloth and wipes his partner's face with it. "You keep this up, I'm taking you to a hospital."

As if on cue, Danny settles back onto the bed with a quiet sigh, eyes closing. Steve carries on wiping his face for a moment, then carefully folds the cloth and sets it aside. He should probably go, he thinks, except that he doesn't want Danny to wake up all alone with a fever this bad. What if he falls, or gets worse or something? Besides, it's not like Steve has anything waiting for him at home other than an oven that needs cleaning and a house full of unpleasant memories and phantom blood stains. He doesn't really like being there, not unless Danny's with him… he shakes his head, too late to rid himself of the traitorous thought.

He stops the recording of the football game and rewinds it partway, figuring Danny probably won't remember most of it by the time he's well and will want to watch it again. He switches on the TV, keeping the sound muted, and after a moment's hesitation he sits on the bed next to Danny's sleeping form. The chair is very uncomfortable after all, and this way, he tells himself, he can keep a better eye on Danny. He's drowsing himself, lulled by the heat and humidity and the low drone of the television, when Danny sits up abruptly, startling him.

"You okay, Danny?" It's a stupid question, but Danny hasn't heard him anyway. His undershirt is soaked through with sweat, his hair falling in his face.

"I'm late, Gracie's going to be waiting," Danny's breathing hard, his voice laced with something close to panic, and before he realizes what he's doing Steve puts out a hand to steady him.

"It's not your weekend with her, remember?"

Danny looks honestly baffled for a moment, then drops his head into his hands, scrubs at his forehead with the back of his wrist. "Shit, I don't… I could have sworn… Steve?"

Steve coaxes him back down on the bed. "It's the fever that's messing with your head, that's all."

This time Danny goes down without a fight, curling on his side and facing Steve. "How long have you been here?"

"Since you let me in this morning. Drink this," Steve props him up and holds the glass of water for him. "At least you're not going on about pigeons anymore."

Danny chokes a little on the water, coughs, manages to swallow all of it. "Pigeons?"

"Something about flocking and rats with wings. I don't know about that, though," Steve allows a smile to play on his lips. "I think there's something to be said for pigeons."

"Am I supposed to know what you're talking about?" Danny squints at him suspiciously, struggles a little as Steve tries to ease him back onto his pillow and ends up sprawled awkwardly in his lap. He sighs, mumbles something that sounds suspiciously like "screw it," and stays where he is, shifting his weight until he's comfortable.

Steve grins down at him, shifting himself in order to better accommodate him, lets his hand drop to rest lightly on Danny's neck where it joins his shoulder, rubbing circles on the sweat-slick skin with his thumb. "Did you know that pigeons mate for life?"

Danny huffs. "Figures you're be a romantic goofball even about avian biological trivia."

But for all that he doesn't move away, his breathing evening back out into sleep, and Steve leaves his hand where it is, content simply to sit and keep watch for as long as his partner might need him.