Title: Most Dangerous When It Comes Late In Life

Prompt/Summary: Steve gets the measles. Danny steps up. Written for the measles/chicken pox prompt at 10_hurt_comfort.

Characters: Steve/Danny (pre-slash)

Rating: PG-13

Wordcount: 14,471

Disclaimer: Alas, still the property of CBS.

Warnings: Vague spoilers all the way to 1.12.

Neurotic Author's Note #1: This one got a little away from me, as you can see. Then it languished on my hard drive until I came up with an ending. I wrote this waaaay before most of the events of the second half of the season, so please ignore any and all continuity problems.

Neurotic Author's Note #2: Unbeta'd. All errors are mine, including any and all discrepancies when it comes to medical information and facts about Hawaii.

In the eight or so months that they've been partners, not a single day has gone by when Steve McGarrett failed, in one way or another, to make Danny's blood pressure soar until it reaches into numbers bordering on ruptured blood vessel territory. In fact, Danny is pretty sure that one of these days he's just going to keel over dead, possibly with blood leaking out through his ears and nose, and leave his daughter an orphan. Half-orphan. Whatever. And in spite of it all, Steve always managed to remain infuriatingly calm about the whole proceedings.

"Okay, in my defence, the boat would have been long gone if we'd waited for back-up," he says now, one hand draped casually over the steering wheel of Danny's Camaro, the elbow of his left arm resting on his thigh, hand dangling between his legs even though he's driving at speeds that make the Formula 1 look like a bumper-car race.

Danny throws his hands up in a gesture at once of defeat and irritation. "And you couldn't just let that go, could you, Jet Li? Nooo, you decided that leaping from the top of a whole bunch of shipping containers directly onto the boat was a good plan. A plan that involved me having to run up the main ramp, I might add, directly into the gaping maw of the beast—"

"What does that even mean?"

"It's a metaphor!" Danny makes a vague circular motion with his hand that, in his mind, has always served very well to demonstrate what a metaphor should look like, but Steve is looking at him with his I-Don't-Follow-You Face, and that just pisses him off more. "My point, Steven, is that you very nearly got us both killed! Again! I don't understand why the fact that we have both repeatedly come this close to death," he brings the palms of his hands together so that they're a fraction of an inch apart, holds them up at eye level to make sure Steve can see him, "doesn't seem to disturb you more than it does."

"I had the situation under control, Danno."

"What? I —you had —I can't believe —no," Danny sputters. "You know what? Just no. I refuse to have this conversation with you."

"It worked out, didn't it? We saved the victims, the bad guys are behind bars, and we even had a warrant, just the way you wanted. So I figure this one's a win, and I even gave you a compromise," Steve smirks, and damn but if that doesn't make Danny want to smack the expression right off his face, or possibly lay one on him, but since both of those actions are likely to get him punched into next week, he doesn't do either. Instead he makes another show of throwing his hands into the air.

"It's impossible to talk to you when you're like this."

"I'm impossible to talk to? Oh, that's rich. You barely let me get a word in edgewise, three-quarters of the time!"

"That was three whole sentences," Danny points out reasonably. "And I'm right, so that means I get to talk."

"Who says you were right?" Steve's face scrunches up into something like How Did I Just Lose This Argument Face, and Danny grins, then points ahead.

"Eyes on the road, McGarrett!"

Steve doesn't even turn his head, and neatly sails through a yellow light, making Danny clap both hands over his eyes just in case they do end up dying in a giant fireball. "Lighten up, Danno."

"Seriously, could you not call me by my daughter's nickname for me when you're actively trying to get me killed? It's doing all sorts of weird things to my head."

Steve just snorts at that, and pulls the car into its usual spot outside of headquarters. Danny thinks they may have just broken a new land speed record. "You're welcome, by the way."

"What?" Danny looks over at him, startled, then bails out of the car as soon as he's convinced they're stationary and unlikely to take off again in an unexpected direction.

"I had a very nice time at Grace's school."

"That was well over a week ago —oh. Oh, I get it," Danny rolls his eyes, and makes an elaborate gesture of gratitude with his right hand. "Thank you, Steven, for coming with me to Career Day at Gracie's school and allowing fifteen small children to adulate you and develop a frightening brand of hero-worship for you for a whole entire hour."

"Was that so hard?"

For a second it almost seems like Steve genuinely got his feelings hurt, which is ridiculous. Danny sighs. "No, really, I appreciated it. It was nice of you to come, especially in light of Step-Stan being there with all his impressive millions and trips around the world and fourteen swimming pools or whatever. Mind you, I think the kids are maybe a little too enamoured of fire, now."

"It was just a small demonstration, and it was perfectly safe."

"Hey, the teacher allowed it, so I have nothing to say on the matter."

"Only because you ranted at me for three days about it."

"I did not rant. I pointed out the myriad ways in which it all could have gone spectacularly wrong. Also, I'm pretty sure my ex-wife found it hot, which is disturbing on so many levels I have lost the ability to count them all."

"You think Rachel noticed?"

"Oh, fuck you," Danny says, without any venom. He shakes his head, trying to mask his grin at the memory. "Let's just go in, file the paperwork —which is probably going to take all night, thanks to your little stunt— and I am going to pray that nothing else goes wrong today."

Of course, because Danny's life is destined to suck in new and impressive ways every day, his prayers don't get answered. Instead, while he's negotiating the intricacies of filling out paperwork, today featuring legal requirements that appear to change every two freaking minutes, the dulcet tones of 'Psycho' blare from his phone. For a moment he's tempted to just hit 'ignore' and pick up the message later, but it's the middle of the week, and that means Rachel probably needs him to pick up Grace early, or maybe take her to an appointment or something, and he's been dodging too many of her calls lately for his own peace of mind.

"Yes, dear," he doesn't quite bark, but he's got a headache building behind his eyes, and he's pretty sure that Steve is designing a new paper version of a fighter jet out of the forms he should be filling out instead.

"Daniel, how are you?" Rachel's mellifluous tone comes over the phone, and he's immediately suspicious, because she hasn't asked after his well-being in well over a year.

"I'm not quite as good as ten seconds ago before you asked me how I was, in a shocking display of acting out of character. What's wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong. Well, not really wrong. It's just... I have bad news."

He sits up in his chair. "What is it? It's not Grace, is it?"

"No, Grace is fine. It's just that I have to cancel your weekend with her. I mean, not cancel," she says hastily just as he's about to explode at her. "Postpone. There's been an outbreak of measles at the school, specifically in her class. Three of the children have come down with it in her class already."

"Measles?" Danny pinches the bridge of his nose at that. "Didn't we get her vaccinated for that?"

Rachel hesitates, and when she speaks, he's surprised to hear a tremor in her voice. "Well, yes, but I want to keep her home. Some child brought it over from a foreign country, and... I know it's not rational, but I can't help but worry, you know? What if it's something else? Something worse? Or a different strain that she won't be immune to?"

"You think so?" In spite of himself, he can feel her worry start to get to him. The idea of his little girl coming down with... whatever the hell it might be, well, it doesn't bear thinking about.

"It would make me feel better, just to keep her close for a while. Look, I'll make it up to you. You won't lose the weekend, we'll arrange for another one to replace it, I promise. She's really disappointed that she won't be seeing you, and contrary to what you believe, I don't actually take a perverse pleasure in keeping the two of you apart, Daniel."

"Rachel you —I… Okay, okay, no, I get that. So how long do you... when can I see her again?"

"The outbreak started a week ago," there's relief on the other end of the line now, "and the diagnosis was only made about four days ago, so it'll be another week or so before we'll know for certain that she's out of danger. You've been vaccinated, right? We were all there for that career thing right when the illness was in its contagious phase."

"That's just fantastic." Danny would kill for a beer right about now. "I've had all my shots. I don't know about you, but as far as I'm concerned it's just responsible parenting to get your kids vaccinated for things like, oh I don't know, polio and shit. Didn't think I'd ever be worried about measles, though. This is the problem with idiots who watch too much television and suddenly think their kid is going to develop autism because of an immunisation shot. Which is utter bullshit, all the serious studies have shown that—"



Rachel sighs. "You really don't need to lecture me on the benefits of vaccinating one's children, nor on the idiocy of parents who don't."

"Okay, fine. I'm just saying! Anyway, you and Stan are good? I mean, about the measles thing."

"We're fine. We've both been vaccinated as well. Look, I'll call you if there's anything, all right? And," she hesitates a fraction of a second, "of course you can call Grace as often as you'd like until you see her."

"I do that anyway."

"Yes, well..."

It's an olive branch, and he'd be stupid to pick a fight now. "Okay, thanks Rach. I appreciate the heads-up, and I guess when it's over I'll get her two weekends in a row. Sound good?"

"It does sound fair. I'll make sure Stan knows, and we'll hash out the details next week. Good-bye, Daniel."

"Bye, Rachel."

He puts the phone down, looks up to see Steve leaning in his doorway, arms folded over his chest, his expression softened by that odd half-smile he sometimes gets when he thinks Danny's not looking at him. Danny hasn't figured out if it's a private joke at his expense, or if it's just the way Steve's face gets when he's forgetting to be a stoic ninja SEAL and lets actual human emotion register on his features. Okay, that last bit was harsh, Danny chides himself, and Steve would be perfectly justified in telling him so. Just because his partner isn't in the habit of vocalizing his feelings doesn't mean he doesn't have them. If anything, Danny's learned to read Steve's emotions all too well over the past few months, and it wouldn't be a stretch for Steve to point out that just because Danny's having a bad day... he frowns as he notes the sudden change in Steve's expression.


"You just had an entire conversation with me in your head, didn't you?" Steve says, eyes crinkling in amusement.

He tilts his head. "Okay, maybe."

"Did I win that argument, by any chance?"

"I think it was a draw. What's up?"

"I heard your phone. Everything okay?"

Danny shrugs, flaps a hand at his phone, and manages to give a pretty succinct explanation of just how much more his day is sucking now. "And the worst part, of course, is that it's not even anyone's fault. Shit just happens, and I happen to be permanently rooted to the spot right in front of the fan."

Steve's expression scrunches up into Sympathy Face. "I'm sorry."

"Yeah, so am I. But Rachel's being civilized about the whole thing, and she's letting me have Grace two weeks in a row afterward to make up for it, so I can't exactly complain."

"And yet, here you are."

Danny glares. "You're hilarious. Seriously, you should take your show on the road. Far away from me." He ignores Kicked Puppy Face, because Steve totally deserved that.

"You want to kick off for the night? I don't know about you, but I want to drown that paperwork in a six-pack of Longboards."

"That is the first good idea you've had all day," Danny tosses aside his pen, tucks his phone into his pocket, and shoves his chair back. "I'm right behind you, Fearless Leader. Show me the way to the beer."

For all that it's been a pretty crappy day, a couple of beers go a long way to making it a whole lot less crappy. Chin and Kono are in a really good mood, and they spend the whole evening telling tales out of school, some of which have Steve throwing balled-up napkins at Chin's head in a failed attempt to make him stop, and by the end of it all Danny's laughing so hard his ribs hurt. The tension and disappointment fade away, and he has to remind himself to stop drinking once he starts on his third —and definitely last— beer of the evening, especially when he catches sight of Steve starting to fade where he's sitting. Chin and Kono are a bit more subdued now, talking quietly to each other, but Steve suddenly looks wrecked, slumped in his chair, elbow on the arm rest, head propped up on his fist. He has bags under his eyes that Danny doesn't remember seeing there before, his expression slightly strained, as though it's an effort to stay awake.

Danny gets up, abandoning his bottle while it's still nearly full, gives him a friendly pat on the knee. "Okay, bedtime for Bonzo. Come on, Rambo, even tough army types need sleep every so often."

"It's the Navy," Steve corrects automatically, but Danny can tell his heart isn't in it, and that sort of worries him more than even having Steve leap off the top of a really high stack of shipping containers onto a boat filled with armed opponents.

"You okay?" he asks, nudging him back toward the car.

Steve nods, slides into the passenger seat without even trying for the driver's side, and damn but if that doesn't make Danny worry even more. "Just tired."

"Yeah, okay. Good night's sleep, and you'll be right as rain in the morning," Danny says, and wonders who he's trying to convince more: Steve or himself. He drops Steve off at his house, watches as he makes his way slowly up his porch stairs and through his front door, and stays long after the door has closed and all the lights have been switched off before reluctantly heading home.

Steve calls in sick the next day.

"Did hell freeze over while I wasn't looking?" Danny asks when Kono tells him the news. "Steve McGarrett called in sick? Steve? McGarrett?"

Kono shrugs. "Said he had the flu or something, and that he'll be in tomorrow."

Danny drums his fingers against his desk top, trying not to feel as though his entire world has been flipped upside-down and dropped him on his head. Steve is meant to be indestructible, not to get the flu and call in sick. It's ridiculous, he tells himself, Steve is just a guy like anyone else. Sure, he's a guy who knows ten languages, six different types of hand-to-hand combat, and can apparently re-inflate a man's lung in the field using nothing but a twig, but he's just a guy nonetheless, and everyone gets sick now and then.

"It's just weird," Kono says, echoing his thoughts, and he grins uneasily.

"I know, right?" He sighs. "Right. Well, let's get some actual police work done here while McGarrett isn't around to sabotage us by flying choppers into buildings and blowing up warehouses."

"Yeah, okay."

But the day seems to go on forever, and it's almost a relief when Steve drags himself into work the next day. Almost a relief, because he's a sweaty, congested, feverish mess. He looks like hell, and Danny's the first to tell him so when he finds him leaning on his desk with one hand and coughing miserably into his clenched fist.

"Seriously, you're so convinced we can't manage a day without you here that you come in looking like something the stray cats outside my apartment puked up?"

Steve glares, but it lacks his usual intensity. In fact, his gaze is rather glassy, his eyes red and watering slightly. "Got work to do, Danny."

"Nothing that can't have waited another day or so. You look like warmed-over crap. You got a fever?" He reaches for Steve's forehead, ignoring his partner's insulted-looking attempt to fend him off. "Give me a break, McGarrett, your virtue is safe with me. Jesus, you're burning up. How long have you had that fever?"

"Since early yesterday," Steve admits after a second's hesitation. Whatever else you can say about the guy, he's always been honest with Danny. "Maybe late the day before? But it's not that bad."

"Not that bad, my ass. You're going home. Actually, no, scratch that, I am driving you home, because I honestly don't know how you're even upright with a fever that high."

Steve stifles a cough, pulls a tissue out of the pocket of his cargo pants and wipes ineffectually at his nose. "I'm fine," he insists, just before a coughing fit belies his words.

"Yeah, see, no. Your definition of fine is clearly not the one that appears in any known dictionary. For one," Danny starts ticking off points on his fingers, "healthy people don't cough that much. For two, you're running a fever that I can feel with my hands. For three, you've got a wicked-looking case of pink eye, in case you hadn't noticed. There's nothing going on today. None of us has received a call, which means you need to go home and take it easy and not come to the office and spread your contagion around, which is just plain irresponsible and inconsiderate, to boot. Nobody in this office wants your cooties, McGarrett."

"First off, only five-year-olds say 'cooties,'" Steve musters an air of injured dignity. "And anyway, I'm going to stay in my office. If you don't come in, you won't catch what I have."

"Not the point. I realize that you think you're indestructible or whatever, babe, but the truth is you're human –even if you're a weird, souped-up version of what passes for human in the rest of us." Danny nimbly steps up and catches Steve by an elbow before he can jerk away, and begins steering him back toward the front door. "That means that when you get the flu, you take a few days off and trust your team to take care of things and to call you if you're absolutely needed."

Kono is hovering none-too-subtly outside the door to Steve's office. "You going home, boss?"

"Yes, he is," Danny says, just as Steve replies "No, I'm not," and so Danny matches him, glare for glare.

"Danny's right," Kono points out to Steve, and Danny has to make a special effort not to look too smug, lest it drive Steve to an even bigger fit of mule-headedness. "You'll just make yourself worse and then you'll miss even more work."

"Are you going to deny the rookie's logic?"

Steve just sighs and rolls his eyes, which Danny chooses to interpret as victory, and doesn't protest when Danny leads the way to his car. He doesn't even try to get in the driver's side —the second time in a row— which is probably a very good indication of just how crappy he actually feels. In retrospect, Danny should have figured out right away that he was feeling under the weather.

"You got any kind of meds for this at home?" he asks, and his partner shrugs.

"Got some Aspirin, I think."

"Okay, so we're going to make a couple of quick stops first. You," he points at Steve's chest with an index finger, "stay in the car."

"Not a dog, Danno."

"No, you're not, which is why I didn't offer you a treat if you were a good boy. It'll go faster if I'm alone without you trailing behind me like a wheezing ghost."

"I don't trail," Steve starts, then breaks off in another coughing fit. When it passes he simply lets his head fall back against the headrest, and no more mention is made of his getting out of the car at all.

It's just lucky for Steve that Danny happens to be one of the most awesome fathers on the planet. He's been through more than his share of colds and flus and stomach upsets, and therefore is something of an expert on what's needed to weather this exact sort of crisis. He stops at the drugstore first and the grocery store second, stocks up in record time, and returns to find Steve dozing uncomfortably exactly where he left him. Moving more quietly than he would otherwise, he drops his purchases in the back seat, and takes a moment to look at his sleeping partner. Steve looks younger like that, open and a little vulnerable the way he never is when he's awake, and Danny has to fight a sudden impulse to reach over and smooth his hair a bit.

Instead he hits the gas, and marvels at the fact that Steve doesn't so much as twitch until they're parked right outside his house. Danny gives his arm a little shake. "Come on, Sleeping Beauty. You'll be better-rested in your own bed instead of the front seat of my car."

Steve comes awake with a start, then rubs blearily at his eyes with the fingers of either hand before letting himself out of the car. He stumbles a bit, but compensates right away, and Danny pretends not to have noticed, figuring he needs to pick his battles. He gathers his purchases out of the back seat while Steve disables the alarm system in the house, then carries them to the kitchen and sets them down on the counter while his partner follows close on his heels, looking strangely at a loss.

"Okay, sit," Danny tells him, then goes to investigate the contents of Steve's fridge. It's not as bad as he feared. He was worried that he might only find spinach and wheat germ, but Steve appears to have enough in there for the makings of soup and other things that are generally good for you when you're sick. "There's ibuprofen and stuff for your throat, and I bought you some of the really awesome tissues with lotion. Trust me, you will be thankful I did when you're blowing your nose for the millionth time and don't feel like you're scraping off your skin with sandpaper." He sets down a glass of orange juice in front of Steve, who's slumped on a stool and leaning on the counter with both elbows. "Drink up, babe, it'll make your throat feel better."

Steve glares at the juice as though it's personally responsible for all his troubles. "I never get sick," he complains.

"I bet even Batman gets the flu now and then. And you're welcome. Really, don't mention it." Sometimes, it's hard to let go of the sarcasm. Danny watches Steve like a hawk, just in case he's one of those infuriating people who only pretends to take his pills, but Steve obligingly tilts the bottle and shakes out two pills which he swallows without so much as making a face. "Okay. Bed or couch?"

Steve shrugs. "I was going to–"

"If the sentence that comes out of your mouth involves the word 'work' in any way, I don't want to hear it. You get two choices: nap in your bed, or lie on your couch and either nap or watch TV if you don't want to sleep."

"It's my house, Danny, I can do what I w–" Steve coughs painfully into the crook of his elbow.

"It might be your house, but until you start speaking sense you don't get a vote. Have another glass of juice, I can practically feel you dehydrating from here," Danny steps up behind him and presses a hand to his forehead, frowning as he realizes Steve's fever has worsened, even measuring just by feel. The gesture merits him an irritated snort. "Don't be a baby, Steven. Drink your juice, strip and go to bed."

"Strip?" Steve sounds horrified, as though Danny has just suggested he perform a burlesque show on the spot, complete with can-can and feather boa.

Danny rolls his eyes. "Or stay in your work clothes, for all I care. You'll just be more comfortable if you shed at least one layer." Steve doesn't move, though, just stares at him as though he's grown an extra head. Danny blushes a little, but tells himself it's desperate times, which means he'll just have to man up. "Fine. Since you're obviously not going to do it by yourself…"

He nudges him out of the kitchen, chivvies him up the stairs since Steve doesn't appear to be about to make a decision on his own anytime soon, and sits him down on the bed. There's one thing to be said about military organisation skills, they make things very easy to find. He pulls out a pair of sweatpants and a comfortable-looking t-shirt, and drops them in Steve's lap. Steve looks down at the clothes, then back up at him, blinking a little stupidly, until Danny sighs quietly and simply pulls his shirt up and over his head, determinedly not admiring the expanse of tattooed skin and toned muscle that he's just revealed.

"You can take off your own pants, thank you very much," he says, regretting that it's coming out crankier than he intended. He deliberately softens his tone. "Come on, I know you feel crappy, but I guarantee you'll feel better the minute you're changed and lying down."

It takes a little more coaxing and nudging, because apparently once Steve's defences are down they're completely down and he pretty much stops functioning, but Danny gets him settled in bed, from where Steve watches him with fever-bright eyes that seem to have grown to twice their usual size. He drops Steve's sweaty clothes into a laundry hamper he finds in one corner of the room and digs out a thermometer from the bathroom. He makes Steve swallow more Advil when he finds his temperature hovering at 103 degrees and sets a glass of water and the bottle of pills by the bed.

"I'm going to make soup, get you set up here, and then I'll head out back to the office. But you can call me on my cell phone if you need anything, okay?"

Steve doesn't answer, gaze firmly fixed in his lap, but he does give a small nod, and Danny figures it's a good a victory as any. He heads to the kitchen, busies himself chopping whatever vegetables he can fish out of Steve's crisper that seem like they'll make a good addition to chicken broth, and just about jumps out of his skin when he turns to find Steve standing in the doorway, watching him quietly. He's wearing the t-shirt and sweatpants he went to bed in, his feet bare, and obviously just got out of bed and went directly to the kitchen.

"You okay? Need anything? You could have yelled," Danny waggles the soup ladle accusingly at him as his pulse returns to normal.

Steve shrugs, hugging his arms to himself. "No, I'm good." He shivers a little, and comes back to sit on the stool he was occupying before.

"Then why are you up?"

Another shrug. "Not tired." It's a blatant lie, and Danny will be damned if he can figure out just what the hell is eating at his partner. "Thought I'd keep you company, while you're here."

"Except that you're about to keel over from fever. I don't need the company nearly as much as you need the rest."

"It's not that bad." Steve's making Kicked Puppy Face again, and damn if that doesn't do terrible things to Danny's heart rate.

"You're about one quarter of a degree of fever away from my taking you to a clinic. That's bad in my books," Danny deliberately turns back to the stove starts stirring the soup, lowering the heat before it scorches and sticks to the bottom of the pan.

Steve props his chin in his hands on the counter. "You making soup from scratch?" He actually sounds impressed, before he breaks into another coughing fit.

Danny pours him a glass of water as he stirs the soup, trying to figure out what of Steve's meagre spice collection he can use to make it more interesting. He settles on dried parsley. At least it's keeping him from thinking far more inappropriate things. "Mostly. I cheated and used broth cubes. My mother would disown me if she knew. Okay, seriously, what will it take for you to go lie down and rest like a normal person?"

"I'm normal," Steve mutters mutinously into his hands. "I don't know why you keep insisting I'm not. There's nothing wrong with me."

He actually sounds kind of hurt, much to Danny's surprise. "Hey, come on," he softens his tone, reminds himself that Steve is feeling shitty and will be bordering on delirium anyway if his fever goes any higher. "You know that's not how I meant it. If you don't want to lie in your nice, comfy bed, how about the couch? I'll find you a nice soap opera that you can ignore or make fun of, and by that time the soup will be ready."

After a while Danny starts to feel like he's trapped in a weird comedy of errors. Every time he thinks he's finally gotten Steve to stay put, the guy is up again like a feverish jack-in-the-box, following him around the house like a puppy without a mother. It's actually kind of cute, in a disturbing way, right up until Danny's standing in the doorway ready to leave, and finds Steve still less than ten feet away. He looks more than a little lost, staring at the floor like if he looks long enough it might provide answers to some imponderable question, and that's when the epiphany hits like the proverbial ton of bricks: Steve doesn't want to be left alone. It's a big house, and there are still bleach stains where they scrubbed his father's blood out of the floor, the walls fileld with photographs of his family, of his dead mother and his absent sister, and if it were Danny he sure as hell wouldn't want to be alone with all that and nothing but a fever to keep him company. It's no wonder Steve is always trying to keep busy, no wonder he dragged himself to work even when he was half-dead. He probably nearly went stir-crazy after a day by himself with nothing but this all around him.

"Jesus, McGarrett," Danny makes a show of steering him back toward the couch, gently shoves him down on it, then drops down beside him, kicking off his shoes. "Stay put," he orders him sternly, and pulls out his phone, dialling the office. When Kono answers he allows a hint of false irritation to creep into his voice. "It's Danny. Your boss is being a pain in the ass and refusing to lie down like a regular human being, so I'm going to stay for a while longer and sit on him until he falls asleep. You guys good to fly solo for the rest of today?"

Kono snorts in a failed attempt to stifle a giggle. "Sure thing, Danny. I bet Steve's a terrible patient."

"You're quite right, he is a terrible patient," Danny confirms loudly and pointedly, staring at Steve, who has the grace to look sheepish. "Call me if there's anything."

"You got it, but there won't be. You guys are the ones who seem to attract most of the crazy."

"You don't know how right you are," Danny hangs up, rolls his eyes, and pats Steve's shin. "I am getting you a blanket. I will be right back, so don't get up and follow me. Just lie there, pretend like you're going to nap the way I suggested, and I am going to come right back," he repeats, hoping it'll somehow convince Steve to heed his words for once.

He locates a blanket, fills a glass with water and tucks a box of tissues under his arm, and snags a beer for himself out of the fridge. He brings all of it back to the living room, and is pleasantly surprised to find that Steve is still there, although he has sat up and is watching Danny a little anxiously, as though he might disappear at any second. Danny drops the blanket over him, tucking it around him as best he can, puts the glass and the tissues on the coffee table, and lets himself plop onto the couch as well.

"Since you're clearly incapable of getting any rest without a babysitter to watch your every move, I am taking my payment out in beer," he lifts the bottle to demonstrate. "We are going to watch something mindless until you fall asleep, and you don't get a vote. This is not a democracy, it's a benevolent dictatorship. So I hereby claim this small portion of your couch. You get to lie down on the rest of it and sleep. Clear?"

Steve nods –and it's really pretty cute how extra-specially non-verbal he gets when he's sick, which furthermore is a thought that Danny should very much not be entertaining right about now– and then to Danny's everlasting astonishment he curls up right next to him, resting his head against the couch mere inches away from Danny's shoulder, one leg pressed up against him. For a second Danny freezes, rooted to the spot, because this… this is unheard-of. Never in his wildest, weirdest dreams would he have imagined this, not that he hasn't sort of maybe a little bit indulged in the odd fantasy of cuddling up with Steve (although, admittedly, his fantasies involved Steve being a whole lot healthier than this and a whole lot closer), but it never occurred to him that it might in any way be realistic. He can feel the heat from Steve's fever even from a few inches away, though, and he feels a pang of sympathy, lets his hand drop gently on Steve's head, stroking his temple with his thumb.

"Feeling pretty shitty, huh?"

"'s not so bad." Steve is definitely avoiding his gaze, as though he's embarrassed at being quite this overtly clingy but can't quite help it, either. For a second Danny wonders if this is what he can look forward to when Grace is old enough to feel embarrassed at needing her Dad. He dismisses the thought with a shake of his head, turns back to Steve.

"Liar. C'mere," he cups the back of Steve's neck with his hand, and tugs. For a split-second he encounters resistance, but his timing is seems to be good: Steve's defences are pretty much down, and it doesn't take much before he's practically in Danny's lap, his whole length pressed up against him, overly warm and solid. Steve wriggles a bit until he's settled more comfortably, and his eyes drift shut. Danny wonders if he hasn't maybe stepped into an episode of the Twilight Zone, or something.

"You don't have to stay," Steve mumbles into his lap, and Danny rolls his eyes. "'m fine."

"Yeah, whatever you say. Get some sleep, while I watch this riveting talk show."

Steve hums something that sounds vaguely like agreement, and after a few moments he's breathing evenly, having finally succumbed to the combined pull of sickness, medication, and liberal quantities of soup. Danny leans back against the couch, sips at his beer, and eventually just mutes the television when the shouting gets too loud, worried that it'll wake Steve, who's drooling comfortably against his thigh. Apart from the fact that his partner is sick, it's all pretty nice, he thinks. He'll take this, since it's unlikely it'll ever be more.

Danny's a pragmatic guy, for the most part. Statistically speaking, there are few guys who swing his way, and while a few people understand the whole sexual identity thing, generally cops aren't the understanding type. Furthermore, despite the fact that Don't Ask, Don't Tell just got repealed about five minutes ago, doesn't mean that most military types won't haul back and punch a guy repeatedly before they stop to ask questions. Steve might be his partner and his friend, but the fact of the matter is that he's military, first and foremost, and Danny doesn't really know all that much about his personal beliefs. At worst, doing anything about those feelings he sometimes harbours would be a career-ending move with a side-order of grievous physical harm. At best, it would sour what is probably the best working relationship Danny has ever had in his entire career, and he doesn't know whether to be impressed or depressed by that realization.

In short, there is no compelling reason for Danny to encourage this line of thinking in himself. Steve, by all outward evidence, is straight as the proverbial arrow, and has given no sign whatsoever that he's ever been interested in any gender that doesn't sport breasts. It's not Steve's fault that Danny can't stop his heart from skipping a beat every time Steve gives him one of those goofy grins, or that all his insides twist with irrational terror every time Steve goes off to do something insane and suicidal. Steve is just Steve, and the fact that that is exactly what Danny finds attractive (not to mention that Steve is quite simply drop-dead gorgeous and Danny kind of wants to lick his way from his clavicles all the way down to his delicious-looking hipbones and maybe a little further, even) is not Steve's doing at all. Danny has never been the type to impose his attentions where they're not wanted, and this doesn't strike him as the time to start. Besides, right now there are more pressing problems, like the fact that Steve is giving the proverbial dog a run for its money and is apparently more pathetic than a Labrador puppy with a broken leg when he's sick.

It's ridiculous, Danny tells himself. Steve is a grown man, a Navy SEAL, and knows fourteen way to break Danny's spine using only his pinky finger and a wad of chewing gum. He does not need saving and certainly does not need coddling when he's sick —except that apparently he kind of does, and damn if that doesn't awaken every single one of Danny's nurturing instincts. Danny comes by them honestly, from both the maternal and paternal lines in his family. The Williamses are worriers by nature, and they like to take care of people by feeding them more than they can ever possibly eat and fussing over them when they're sick. As if on cue, Steve shifts a little and settles closer to him, still fast asleep, tightening his hold on Danny's leg. Danny sighs and scrubs at his face with the hand that's not currently curled protectively around Steve's shoulder. He is totally, completely screwed.