Oprah is in the middle of explaining something about how having a cluttered house leads to obesity (and how these people even reach that conclusion is beyond even Danny's superior detecting skills) when Steve stirs a little, starts to cough, and immediately pulls away.
"You okay, babe?" Danny tries to ignore the pang of loss he just felt, reaches out to touch Steve gingerly on the shoulder, then changes tactics and hands him the now-tepid glass of water from the table.
Steve swallows a few mouthfuls with a grimace, then nods. "How long was I asleep?"
"A couple of hours. Have some more Advil, you look flushed."
"You keep saying that, and yet it keeps not being true." In spite of himself he rubs Steve's back a bit, and can't help but feel pleased when Steve relaxes under his touch. "And as awesome as cuddling on the couch with you has been, I really think you'd sleep better in your own bed."
Steve stiffens, though so slightly Danny wouldn't have noticed if he didn't already have his hand on Steve's back. "Yeah, okay."
Oh, it's like that, Danny thinks. Aloud, he makes a point of being obnoxious. "You're seeing reason, excellent. But on the off-chance that you are, in fact, lying to me in order to lull me into a false sense of security about your well-being, I am totally escorting your feverish ass up those stairs and making sure that not only do you get into bed, but that you stay there. For as long as it takes."
He doesn't miss the small shudder of relief as Steve lets him pull him to his feet, steadying him when it turns out that his legs have kind of gone rubbery. It's a bit of an ordeal to try to get him up the stairs, because even if Steve is in top physical shape with not a single ounce of excess fat on him, there's still over six feet of well-muscled McGarrett to manhandle, and while Danny himself is not exactly a lightweight, he isn't really built for this sort of thing. Still, Steve is lucid enough to grab the banister and try to help a little bit, even if he's dizzy and not quite tracking what's going on. Danny settles him back on his bed without too much fuss, and convinces him to take some more Advil and drink a lot more water before trying to go back to sleep.
Predictably enough, Steve fights going to sleep with every single scrap of energy left in his body, until Danny just gives up and sits on the bed next to him. "I told you I was going to stay here and make sure you sleep, and that's exactly what I aim to do now. Quit squirming and learn to live with it, McGarrett."
Steve looks guilty at that, and if that doesn't amplify the Labrador-puppy-with-a-broken-leg look by about a million, then Danny's a Christmas turkey. "'m sorry. I didn't mean to ruin your day."
"Who said anything about ruining my day? Did I at any point today accuse you of ruining my day? Did I?"
"But nothing. If you had ruined my day, I would have said so. I would have informed you of that fact in no uncertain terms. Tell me, have I ever before had qualms in the past about reproaching you for days that you, personally, have ruined for me?"
"I rest my case. Here," Danny grabs the thermometer from where he left it on the night stand and sticks it in Steve's mouth. "That ought to keep you busy for a little while, and has the added advantage of letting me know how you're really doing. Hold that under your tongue, and don't talk."
Steve sighs noisily through his nose –no mean feat given how congested he sounds– but he seems content to follow orders so long as Danny doesn't go too far. The thermometer doesn't have anything good to say, however, and Danny scowls at it, worry twisting his stomach into uncomfortable knots.
"You, my friend, don't know how to do anything by halves," he tells Steve a little irritably. "You're officially in seek-medical-help territory."
Steve shakes his head, wincing at the movement. "Be fine. Just gonna sleep it off."
"Yeah, that hasn't exactly helped so far."
And goddamn but Danny has never been able to resist anyone turning puppy eyes like that on him –unless they were suspects in a case, but that's a whole different story. It's a miracle Grace isn't more spoiled, frankly. He raises both hands in surrender.
"Okay, fine. But you're going to have more soup, and I'm going to stay and keep an eye on you so your brain doesn't cook in your head. And before you say that I don't have to and try to play Stoic SEAL with me, let's just nip that argument in the bud. I'm staying because I want to, and because someone around here has to be lucid enough to make rational decisions. Furthermore, if you're not any better by tomorrow, there will be no negotiating, no 'please Danny's, nothing of the sort. I will drag you to the clinic by your hair if I have to."
He decides to take the resigned groan from his partner as acquiescence, tugs the sheets up to cover Steve a little better, smooths a hand over his forehead, and heads back to the kitchen to heat up more soup. It's a struggle after that to get Steve to do anything other than curl up in a shivering ball on his bed. The fever's high enough now that he's barely coherent, and he twists away from any attempt to feed him soup or water or even more Advil, until Danny finally just slides in behind him on the bed, wraps one arm around his sweat-drenched chest, pushes the pills into his mouth and tilts the contents of a glass of water down his throat. It's a little bit like pilling a cat, Danny thinks, remembering the unfortunate pet that got given to a much more loving family after the divorce. Gracie was sad at the time, but bizarrely, after complaining for years about litter boxes and scratched furniture and hairballs, it was Danny who found he missed the stupid creature. He runs the risk of petting Steve's hair.
"There you go, McGarrett. All dosed up, so now maybe you'll be able to get some sleep and I won't have to worry quite as hard. Except that I'm definitely getting you a fresh t-shirt. Sleeping while wet is never fun. And that sounded a whole lot less dirty in my head, I swear."
He keeps up a steady stream of quiet chatter as he strips Steve out of his t-shirt and into dry clothes. Danny's never been one for stoic silences, and he doesn't feel the need to start now. Steve has gone limp and pliant in his arms, letting himself be dressed and undressed much like a rag doll, as though he's just resigned himself to putting up with whatever indignities this bout of illness is going to throw at him. Danny figures it probably has a lot to do with the fact that Steve doesn't get sick much: when it does happen, he's mostly at a loss because he never has to deal with it otherwise. It shouldn't be surprising, then, that Steve's response to this is simply to curl up and wait for death or a cure, whichever comes first.
Steve doesn't sleep so much as doze fitfully, kept half-awake by fever dreams. After watching him toss uncomfortably for what feels like far too long, Danny gets up and heads into the bathroom. He rummages until he finds a washcloth, wets it and a hand towel in the sink, and comes back to find Steve already twisted up in his sheets and muttering under his breath. He shakes his head, drags the sheets free, pulls Steve's t-shirt –newly-soaked with sweat– off him and places the towel on his chest instead. He seats himself on the bed right by Steve's side, using the washcloth to wipe his face, and Steve instinctively turns into his hand with a small sigh of relief, too out of it to even open his eyes properly.
"That's it," Danny murmurs encouragingly. "You just go back to sleep. It'll be better in the morning."
It's not his first time sitting up with a sick person, but he's much more accustomed to the sick person being a little girl. He removes his tie, pops a couple of buttons on his shirt in a vain attempt to get more comfortable. He toys with the idea of borrowing some clothes from Steve, but the idea of having to roll up cuffs and sleeves like a kid wearing his father's clothes makes him nix the plan early on. He does find a spare toothbrush, still in its wrapping, in Steve's medicine cabinet, and decides that he'll just replace it if Steve makes an issue of it, which he probably won't. Steve is many things, but petty isn't one of them.
Steve sleeps badly, and Danny doesn't sleep at all, the whole night through. The fever never rises past 104 at its worst, and mostly stays steadily just under 103, but that's already high enough that Steve spends most of the time tossing and occasionally mumbling nonsense. A few times he comes awake with a violent start, eyes wide and staring at something Danny can't see, and it takes all of Danny's powers of persuasion to keep him in bed, shaking with fever and what looks uncomfortably like fear. The third time it happens he has to hold him down bodily until he's calm again, and finally ends up with an armful of slightly-panicky Navy SEAL, who turns out to be a whole lot harder to calm down than a small girl.
"Easy, McGarrett!" he wraps both arms around Steve in an effort to keep him from making a break for it like a spooked horse, and after a minute or so of struggling Steve sags against him, blinking confusedly as though he has no idea why Danny's even here, and for that matter might not be too clear even on who he is right now.
"Danny? What's happening?"
"What's happening is you're sick and running a hell of a fever," Danny shifts so that they're not both horribly tangled together, and lets Steve lean against his shoulder. "It's okay, Steve, I got you, there's nothing to worry about, okay? You got it?"
"Yeah," his partner nods, the confused expression not leaving his face. "Okay, yeah, I got it, Danny. Okay."
"Okay, good. Come on, we're going to lie back down now. Easy does it, there you go."
He's forced to lie down himself in order to coax Steve back onto the pillows, eases his arm out from under him once he's sure he's not going to pop right back up again, and starts wiping him down with the washcloth again in a futile attempt to lower his fever. By the time the first rays of dawn begin creeping in through the window Danny's exhausted, but Steve is quiet, at least, sleeping in spite of the continuing fever. Danny takes the opportunity to hop in the shower, borrows Steve's razor, and while getting back into yesterday's clothes isn't exactly the most pleasant feeling in the world, at least he's clean. He helps himself to a bowl of cereal and a banana out of the kitchen, wolfs it down in record time before hurrying back to make sure his partner hasn't seized or choked on his own tongue or something equally as dire while he was gone, even though he knows he's seriously overreacting. It's a bad case of flu, sure, really bad by most standards, but it's not like Steve can't be left alone for a few minutes.
A muffled thump from the bedroom puts the lie to his thoughts. He arrives just in time to find Steve making a futile attempt to pick himself up from where he's apparently just taken a header onto the floor, his legs tangled in his bedsheets.
"Seriously, I cannot leave you alone for a minute," Danny squats down to extricate him from the sheet and hauls him back up to sit on the bed. "What was so important that you absolutely had to get up before I got back?"
Steve scrubs at his face with one hand, looking disarmingly like an overtired kid, and Danny really needs to get a grip on the fathering instincts before he's forced to abdicate any claim to testosterone he's got left.
"I just wanted to take a leak," Steve mutters, clearly affronted by his body's betrayal. "Got dizzy, that's all."
"Okay, well, until your brain isn't in very real danger of boiling, how about you wait for me and I'll give you a hand?"
"I don't need help pissing, Danno," Steve says querulously. "And besides, people's brains don't boil until 106 degrees. Even then, people can survive up to 109 degrees."
"I can't believe you know that, let alone that you're able to recall it when your temp is over 103, which, by the way, is already high enough to warrant medical attention. You think I can't Google things? Never mind. As soon as you're ready, I'm taking you to a doctor."
"Don't you 'Danno' me. For one, you sound whinier than my daughter. For two, you've had a fever of over 103 degrees for going on three days, now, and that's really not normal. That's out of flu territory and into potentially really serious infection territory. Don't argue. You can barely win an argument with me on a good day."
Steve just groans, but he lets Danny pull him to his feet and help him to the bathroom. Once Danny's satisfied he's not going to fall over and crack his skull open on the bathroom tiles, he even gives him a semblance of privacy, standing outside the door, though he does insist it stay open a crack, just in case. After that it's just a matter of getting Steve cleaned up and dressed and out the front door to the car, in spite of his repeated protests that he neither needs nor wants a doctor.
"Quit bitching, McGarrett, and just do as I say for once. Spare us both the headache."
It's early enough in the morning that there's almost no one at the clinic, and Steve gets ushered into an exam room minutes after they're admitted. The doctor reluctantly allows Danny to go in as well once it becomes obvious that Steve isn't going to relinquish the death-grip he has on Danny's arm. He's glassy-eyed and anxious, and Danny notes with some alarm that there are moments when it seems like he's not quite tracking what's going on. The doctor is a tiny, cheerful Hawaiian woman who comes up to just under Danny's chin, and she seems to take a perverse pleasure in ordering around men three times her size using only her personality and a stethoscope. She listens carefully as Danny recounts Steve's symptoms, asks a lot questions of both of them, and generally does a whole lot to restore Danny's faith in the medical profession by insisting Steve sit quietly while she takes his temperature.
Her expression changes a little when she peers into Steve's mouth with an otoscope. "Commander, are you up to date on all your immunizations?"
Steve shrugs. "Think so."
She purses her lips. "Have you been in contact with anyone who had the measles or a measles vaccine recently?"
Danny swears volubly, earning himself a glare. "My daughter's school just had an outbreak. We were there about ten days ago."
"There you have it," she says, tapping her otoscope in the palm of her hand. "I'll run a test just to be sure, but the symptoms are classic. Looks like you skipped your measles vaccine, Commander, or else the batch you got wasn't good."
"Great," Steve mutters, scrubbing at his forehead with the back of his wrist. "Getting my ass kicked by a childhood illness."
"If it's any consolation, your manhood isn't in doubt," Danny teases gently. He turns to the doctor. "So I'm guessing bed rest, lots of fluids… is there anything you can give him for this? I've been kind of afraid his brain is going to cook in his head, what with the fever he's been running for three days."
"No, there isn't. Not at this stage, in any case. You'll probably see the rash later today or tomorrow, and the fever will go down then," she assures him. "If the fever doesn't subside after two more days, or if it goes much higher, then you should come back as soon as possible. Otherwise, as you said, rest and fluids and ibuprofen or acetaminophen, whichever he tolerates best. I'll give you a list of signs to watch for possible complications," she adds, looking at Danny, "and which of those constitutes a medical emergency."
Danny glances at Steve, who's nodding off where he's sitting, leaning against the wall behind the exam table. "That doesn't sound reassuring."
She gives his arm a pat. "I don't mean to alarm you unduly. It's more common for adults to develop complications, but there's no reason to think a young, healthy man like your partner won't recover quickly without any complications. It's just a precaution."
"Okay. How long can he expect to be out of work?"
"Another week or so, I would say, barring complications, as I said. He won't be feeling up to much before that, I daresay, after running that high a fever for so long."
Danny snorts. "If he had his way, he'd already be back out there, lassoing the bad guys with home made rope and hanging them off buildings."
"I'm sorry?" her eyes widen comically, and Danny flaps a hand at her.
"Never mind, it's a long story. Okay, Super SEAL," he pockets the list of symptoms the doctor hands him, "you're going straight back to bed. Come on, here we go."
He thanks the doctor, tugs Steve back onto his feet, and settles him back into the car with a minimum of fuss, tucking a thin travel blanket around him when he realizes he's started shivering again. "You okay if we stop for a few minutes? I'm going to pick up a few things, since it looks like we're in this for the long haul."
Steve sits up a little. "Look, Danny, you don't have–"
Danny doesn't let him finish. "Seriously, are we going to have this same conversation five times a day for the next week? Because it's already starting to get old."
His partner lapses into silence, punctuated only by the occasional cough, and Danny feels more than a little shitty about the tone he took, except that there's not much he can do except let Steve stew there in wounded silence. Steve might be the one who's sick, but it's been a long week for Danny too. Neither of them have gotten much rest of late, and Danny has never coped all that well with sleep deprivation. He pulls up outside his own apartment, gives his partner's shoulder a nudge.
"Hey, I'm just going to run in, pack an overnight bag. You want to come with me, or are you okay here for a couple of minutes?"
Steve shivers. "'m okay here.
Danny isn't sure he believes him, but he tells himself it will be much faster and easier if he just leaves him to sleep in the car for five or ten minutes at most, so he makes sure the blanket is tucked securely around Steve's shoulders, and he sprints up the stairs to his apartment, pulling out his cell phone at the same time to call the office.
He almost laughs when Kono picks up. "Doesn't Chin ever answer the phone?"
"You know he doesn't, brah. That's the rookie's job," she laughs, good-natured as always. "What's up? You sound exhausted."
"I spent the night at Steve's–" he rolls his eyes when she snorts indelicately, "–and get your mind out of the gutter, Kalakaua. Remember that outbreak of measles at Gracie's school? Yeah, turns out Super SEAL doesn't have all his shots up to date, so now he's down for the count."
"You're shitting me!"
"No, I'm really not. If I were shitting you, I would have come up with something a lot more elaborate and improbable, like a rare case of Manchurian foot rot, or something."
"Never mind, it's not important," Danny moves as he talks, opening up a duffel bag and tossing in a couple of pairs of jeans, some changes of underwear, and some t-shirts. He's not going to be at work for a couple of days at least, he figures, so he may as well be comfortable.
"You and Chin both got vaccinated, right?"
"Yeah, of course."
"Thank goodness for small mercies," Danny blows out a breath, puffing his cheeks. "Anyway, he's in pretty bad shape, so I'm just putting together a couple of things and then we're heading right back to his place."
"You're not there now?"
"No, I dragged his semi-delirious ass to a clinic this morning, which is how I know he's got the measles," Danny says, packing up his meagre supplies into a toiletry bag. "I'm going to stay with him a couple of days, just until I'm sure he's out of the woods. Needless to say, neither one of us is going to be in, but I'll commandeer his home computer, so if anything comes up you can send it to me there or on my phone."
"Sure thing. Hang on, Danny." He can hear Kono put her hand over the mouthpiece of her phone and begin talking, presumably filling Chin in on the situation. A moment later she's back, her voice no longer muffled. "Okay, no problem, you just tell Steve to get better for us, you hear?"
"Goes without saying."
"You guys need us to pick anything up? Groceries or meds or anything?"
Danny thinks about it for a moment. "I'm going to stop by the drugstore on the way back and pick up some essentials, but if you have time to get food, that would be fantastic. He…" he stops, suddenly hesitant to reveal just how anxious Steve was at the idea of being left alone. "I just don't like leaving him alone for long, when he's this sick."
"No problem, brah. We'll call first, though, make sure it's a good time to come by."
"Kono, you are a pearl among women. Beautiful, smart, ninja-like, and considerate."
She laughs. "Shut up. Go take care of Steve."
He slings his bag over his shoulder, locks the door to his place behind him without a second thought, and hurries back down the stairs. "I owe you one. Thanks."
Steve is fast asleep in the car, twisted a little awkwardly in his seat, and doesn't so much as flinch when Danny tosses his bag in the back seat, buckles himself in, and drives to the closest drug store. He leaves a note on the dashboard just in case Steve wakes up and finds himself alone in a strange parking lot, then hurries in to buy a few more things –most importantly calamine lotion, which he figures they'll need before long– and returns to find his partner still sleeping, much to his relief. Truth be told, he feels like he could probably use a nap himself. Well, there will be plenty of time for that later, when Steve is properly tucked back into his own bed and dosed to the gills with Advil and orange juice.
The rest of the day passes a lot like yesterday, except that this time Danny falls asleep on the couch halfway through a re-run of Magnum, P.I. (of all the ironies), and wakens right before lunch to find Steve sprawled in his lap again, cheek pressed up against his stomach. There's no visible improvement, not really, but then it's early days yet. Part of him can't help but wonder just how spectacularly awful the fallout from all this is going to be, once the fever breaks and Steve figures out that Danny has totally been taking advantage of the fact that he was at a weak point both physically and emotionally. Sure, it kind of seems like Steve needs it just as much as Danny wants it, but that's hardly the point. There's sort of an issue of consent here, since Steve is half out of his mind with fever and not exactly making a whole lot of sense. Hopefully Steve will be forgiving about the non-consensual cuddling, once he's back in his right mind.
Danny extricates himself gently out from under his partner, and does his best to ignore the soft murmur of distress that Steve makes at the loss. After all, only one of them is lucid enough to make lunch right now, and that is definitely not Steve. He rearranges the blanket over Steve's shoulders, resists the temptation of petting his hair while he sleeps –no point in twisting the knife and torturing himself with what he can't have – and heads back to the kitchen. There's more than enough soup leftover for Steve, and after a bit of rummaging he comes up with some tomatoes and mayonnaise and what looks like ridiculously healthy bread with twenty-seven or so different kinds of grain. Figures. Still, homemade soup and a tomato sandwich is a perfectly serviceable lunch, and Danny munches happily on his sandwich and waits for the soup to heat while pondering just what he can improvise in terms of dinner out of Steve's refrigerator contents.
He spends the afternoon alternating between prepping dinner, catching up on the paperwork that Kono forwards to him, and checking on Steve. His partner is still sicker than the proverbial dog, coughing miserably when he's not dozing, and he's too out of it to offer any resistance to Danny's more than competent administration of drugs and soup and juice. He does, however, balk at the idea of food, no matter what Danny tries to tempt him with, complaining that he'll definitely throw up if he tries anything else. Finally Danny sighs, looks outside to where the light is beginning to fade.
"Okay, fine. But tomorrow you're going to have to eat, and more than soup."
Steve just tries to burrow further under the blanket, with limited success. There's only so much a guy over six feet tall can do to disappear under a blanket designed for smaller people, and Danny bites back a smile.
"Come on, let's move this party to your bed. You'll sleep better there."
Steve mostly makes it up the stairs under his own power, which is pretty good considering that his fever hasn't gone down at all. He lets himself fall onto the bed and curls up on his side while Danny covers him up with a comforting pat on his hip.
"You know, I like you like this. You don't argue, don't make weird faces at me, and I haven't been shot at, hit or blown up in well over two days. I could get used to this, you know. Maybe I'll keep you sick, to make my own life better. Sort of like Munchausen by proxy, except that it would be a life-saving measure instead of an attempt to garner sympathy from others."
Steve looks up at him from where he's been trying to disappear into his pillow. "You're doing that thing again, where you throw words together and hope they make sense."
"You love it. Now hold this under your tongue," he snags the thermometer from the bedside table and waggles it at Steve. "No bitching," he adds, as Steve groans and tries to turn away. "Come on, it's thirty seconds out of your life. When I was a kid we had to hold these things for three minutes, so count yourself lucky. Open up, McGarrett."
The results aren't any more reassuring than before, but if the doctor's right, then they've got maybe one more night of this, and then he's probably going to have to deal with an irritable, itchy SEAL instead of a delirious, clingy one. As if sensing his thoughts, Steve catches him by the wrist as he tries to get up, his grip surprisingly strong for a guy who's been running a fever strong enough to fell a horse for three days.
"Are you leaving?"
If there was any justice in the world, Steve McGarrett would never, ever have that lost expression on his face. Danny gently pries his fingers loose, and resolutely doesn't pet his hair. "No, I'm not leaving. Just going to take care of some things and then crash for the night."
"'kay. Don't go..."
Danny snorts softly, but finds himself smiling in spite of himself. "You're lucky I love you. I wouldn't put up with this from anyone, you know." The words are out before he's even aware he uttered them, and now he could kick himself. Luckily, Steve doesn't appear to have heard him, just keeps staring at him like he's about to vanish into the mist.
"You're not going?"
"Not going anywhere, babe, I promise."
Danny had planned to sleep on Steve's admittedly really comfy couch, but that plan gets scuttled pretty fast when he comes back to check on him maybe forty-five minutes later after locking up the house and brushing his teeth to find him tossing in his bed. Shit, Danny thinks, brushing the back of his fingers against Steve's face and finding it burning to the touch.
"Steve, you with me?" he says softly, but he only gets a moan in response. "Take that as a no. Okay, hang in there. We're going to work on getting that fever down again."
There's no real point in talking to a guy who can't hear what he's saying, but it sort of makes Danny feel better to do it, so he keeps up a steady stream of reassuring chatter as he arranges his newly-stocked arsenal of supplies by the bed. This time he's come prepared for a high temperature, and once he's managed to get more ibuprofen into Steve he sets about placing ice packs strategically —one under either arm and bringing up both of Steve's hands to hold one in place on his chest— and uses a wet washcloth to wipe his face. Steve shudders as the cold begins to seep through into his skin, and Danny places a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
"I know it's cold, but I need you not to knock any of it off you, okay? You hear me, Steven?"
"Danny?" Steve twists to look at him, reaches for him tentatively, as if he's not sure Danny's even there.
"That's my name. Don't wear it out," he answers glibly, catching Steve's hand and putting it back on top of the ice pack. "Hold still for me, babe. There you go."
"Why's it cold?"
"It's cold because you're holding an ice pack."
Weirdly enough, the answer seems to satisfy Steve, and he drifts back to sleep almost immediately afterward. Danny, on the other hand, spends yet another sleepless night trying fruitlessly not to worry, stretched out on the bed next to his partner, just in case. He does manage to doze off a couple of times when Steve is quiet only to wake up not too long after, heart racing, worried that Steve might have worsened without his noticing. Nothing of the sort happens, though. Steve just shifts uncomfortably in his sleep and ends up tucked in along Danny's side, solid and hot from the fever. Danny pats his arm gently, though he doesn't expect any kind of response.
Sometime just before dawn the fever breaks, and Steve shoves himself even further into Danny's personal space with a contented sigh, leaving Danny to stare at the ceiling and try very hard not to read too much into what's happening. It's ridiculous, is what it is, he tells himself shortly. Clearly he's been spending too much time in the company of his partner —his boss, no less, even if Steve does mostly treat him like an equal in all matters— and it's messing with his head. Okay, maybe the fact that Steve is pretty much snuggling him right now is messing with his head more, but that's not Steve's fault. He's sick and up until not too long ago was out of his mind with fever and it's not like he can be held responsible for anything he does while he's asleep.
Danny exhales slowly, puffing out his cheeks, then carefully extricates himself from Steve's embrace and crawls out of bed. On the plus side, he's apparently not so far gone as to be entirely turned on while Steve is still so damned sick. That's probably the only point in his favour right now, which is such a depressing thought that he turns the shower to its coldest setting just on principle alone. It does serve to wake him up properly, however, and he makes short work of washing, shaving and getting dressed in order to face yet another day of spending way more time than is good for his mental health in close proximity to his partner without having work to serve as a buffer between them. He should call Chin or Kono, he thinks as he starts making breakfast. That would be the mature, responsible thing to do. Find someone else who can come and stay for a couple of days while Steve gets back on his feet, and get himself out of this situation that is pretty much guaranteed to make him lose his mind.
When he goes back upstairs, Steve is only beginning to stir under the covers. Danny puts the tray down on the night table, puts a hand on his shoulder.
"Rise and shine, princess. I brought oatmeal, and you need to eat all of it."
He gets an irritable grunt in response before Steve carefully pushes himself up on one elbow, squinting at him in the bright light of the early morning. "Danno?"
Danny sighs. "Yes, it's me," he brushes a hand against Steve's forehead, but finds it cool to the touch. "Your fever's gone, so you're not getting a pass on calling me 'Danno' anymore. Sit up and eat your oatmeal."
"Not hungry," Steve scrunches up his face, and damn if it isn't kind of adorable, with his hair sticking up in all directions. Danny manfully doesn't run his fingers through it.
"Too bad, you're going to eat anyway." He picks up the spoon, dips it in the oatmeal, and waggles it meaningfully. "Either you eat it by yourself, or I'm going to spoon-feed you like a toddler, and neither of us wants that, do we?"
Steve mutters something under his breath, but he sits up, still a little clumsy from being so sick before, and accepts the bowl with barely a wobble.
"Not a dog, Danny."
"No, dogs have more common sense and listen to simple directions. Crankiness aside, how are you feeling?"
Steve shrugs. "Okay, I guess."
"Right. And now how about an answer that isn't a lie?"
Steve pauses to swallow a mouthful of oatmeal. "What do you want me to say, Danny? I've been sick as a dog for three days, speaking of dogs. So I still feel kind of crappy and from the sound of it I'm going to keep feeling crappy for a while longer."
Danny sighs. "I'm trying to help, here."
His partner just keeps eating his oatmeal.
"You were a lot more agreeable when you were delirious. Cuddlier, too."
Steve stops eating. "What?"
"Nothing, it's fine. Finish your food."
"I'm really not that hungry," he makes a face. "I could use a shower, though."
"Bath, and keep it tepid. Otherwise you're going to pass out and neither one of us wants me to have to drag your heavy, naked ass out of there."
"Wow, you're bossy."
"It's what I do best. Here, lift your arms," Danny liberates the mostly-finished bowl of oatmeal and tugs on the hem of Steve's shirt.
"I can undress myself, Danno," Steve mutters, but he lifts his arms up obediently enough, so Danny doesn't bother correcting him as he pulls off his shirt. He doesn't know what expression he makes then, but it must be a doozy because Steve makes Aneurysm Face at him, which Danny hasn't seen him make since his sister arrived in town. "What?"
"Uh, looks like the rash is setting in, right on schedule."
Steve looks down at his chest and stomach, already covered in a bright red rash. "Fuck," he sighs.
"The bright side is that apparently it doesn't itch nearly as badly as chicken pox," Danny tries to console him.
"I'm going to take a shower," Steve pushes past him with an air of injured dignity, padding in bare feet toward the bathroom. "I promise to keep it tepid," he says with obvious distaste, "but I am not taking a bath!"
"Fine!" Danny calls after him. "But you fall and crack your skull and I will have I-told-you-so's lined up until you're ninety!"
The rest of the morning feels strangely familiar. Steve still settles on the couch, though he's a lot more alert than before. The rash is pretty widespread, all over his chest, stomach and part of his back, and creeping up slowly to cover his face, too. It would be funny if he weren't obviously so miserable. Danny consoles himself with the thought that he's on the mend, at least that's what it feels like until he catches Steve repeatedly pressing a couple of fingers just behind his ear, as though he's trying to relieve pressure there or something.
"What's up, babe?"
"What?" Steve looks over, a little startled, which is weird.
Danny makes a sweeping up-and-down motion. "What's with channelling Uhura there?"
"My ears are blocked, or something. It's fine."
Danny rolls his eyes. "Again with the fine. You and I have very different definitions of the word, my friend. Do they hurt?"
He gets a sheepish look at that. "Um."
"So you've got an ear infection, which the doctor told us could happen. You didn't think you should mention that?"
"The doctor what?"
"Oh my God, you're going to make me repeat everything I say, aren't you? I'm getting flashbacks to talking with Grandma Williams when I was a kid," Danny throws up his hands in surrender, then talks louder. "Why didn't you say anything?"
"I thought it would go away on its own."
"You thought –I honestly cannot believe you. For a grown man capable of killing people using nothing but a piece of chewing gum and a paper clip, you are remarkably obtuse at times. Come on, we're going back to the doctor to get you a proper prescription."
Danny sighs, makes sure he's staring Steve in the face, and enunciates clearly. "Doctor. Now."
"No buts! Get your attractive ass in gear, babe."
It's both easier and harder to get Steve to the doctor when he's not half out of his mind with fever. Easier because Danny doesn't have to act as a makeshift crutch, and harder because Steve is a lot less cooperative when he's feeling better. Still, they manage a relatively painless visit to the clinic where the tiny Hawaiian doctor clucks disapprovingly, wags her tongue depressor at Steve chidingly for not telling Danny right away that his ears hurt, and prescribes a course of antibiotic ear drops. Steve sulks.
"Can't I just take pills?"
Danny rolls his eyes, accepts the generously-offered free bottle of drops, and chivvies him back to the car. "Ear drops will not kill you, Super SEAL. I will even help you put them in, if you hold still."
"What did you say?"
"Oh, this is going to get very old, very fast."
After a while, Danny begins to suspect that Steve is deliberately messing with his head by making him repeat everything three or four times. Eventually he resorts to writing things down on a a legal pad, scowls when Steve mocks his handwriting and stalks off to the kitchen before he hits his partner with said legal pad as hard as he can.
"See if I ever stick around and mop your fevered brow ever again," he mutters, dropping the pad on the kitchen counter, the pen following it with a clatter, consoled by the knowledge that at least Steve can't hear him and start feeling guilty. "The things I do for love," he says forlornly to the casserole he's making from scratch, just to make sure Steve has something to eat besides soup, the ingredients available courtesy of a quick visit from Kono and Chin in the late morning.
He starts at the sound of Steve's voice coming from right behind his shoulder, heart skittering like a frightened rabbit. "Jesus, Steve," he turns to look up into his partner's face, which is a comical blend of red from the measles rash and blotchy pink patches of calamine lotion. Or it would be comical if his expression wasn't so damned earnest. It's some sort of variant on I'm-Worried-About-You-Face that Danny doesn't recall seeing before. "You okay, babe?"
Steve nods. "I, uh..." he pauses, licks his lips. "I just wanted to say I'm sorry."
Danny sighs, barely refrains from rolling his eyes. "Didn't we discuss this?"
"No," Steve makes an impatient gesture. "I mean, not about that. I mean, yes, I... look, I'm really glad that you stayed, and... and everything. I wanted to apologize for, you know," he waggles a hand vaguely at the notepad on the counter. "I wasn't trying to be an ass."
Danny grins. "Yes, you were. It's fine, Steve. I'm willing to take it as a good sign, that you're feeling good enough to deliberately screw with me again."
Steve ducks his head with that shy smile that makes Danny's heart do really unhealthy things, rubs the back of his neck. "Okay. I just... I was worried that I, uh, hurt your feelings or something."
"Hurt my feelings? What am I, a twelve-year-old girl?" Danny feigns indignation, wishing there were more than a couple of inches separating them. It's one thing to have Steve sick and asleep in his lap, quite another to have him looming over him like this, looking at Danny like he's trying to bore holes through his skull.
"I heard what you said," Steve says, and Danny's heart tries to make a hasty exit through his stomach.
"That's a first for today," he says lightly. "It's not like you've heard anything else I've been trying to tell you. Which kernel of wisdom did you manage to retain, then?"
And then Steve's hands are on his shoulders. "I heard what you said last night."
Danny swallows hard. Shit. "Look, Steve, I don't —you shouldn't— I never meant to—"
Steve kisses him. Just puts both hands on either side of his face and presses his lips to Danny's, and God help him Danny moves closer, presses up against him, parts his own lips when he feels Steve's tongue. It lasts forever and not long enough, until he's breathless and shaking and weak in the knees. He pulls away first, touches two fingers to his lips a little disbelievingly. He wonders if he's not dreaming, but the smell of burning casserole tells him that he's not nearly that lucky. He opens his mouth, closes it, for once at a loss for words, finds Steve grinning at him.
Steve grins even wider. "You have calamine lotion on your face."
"You sure?" They both know what he's asking.
Steve makes a show of wiping Danny's chin, displays a pink-coated finger. "I am absolutely sure. Actually, it turns out I have some unexpected time off work..." he adds, looking expectantly at Danny.
"Do you, now?"
"I do. So, you know, if you need some convincing, I have a lot of spare time that I am perfectly willing to spend proving it to you."
Danny's mouth manages to go even drier. "Okay, then. In which case, let me just say that I am more than open to having you state your case."
After that, he only barely manages to remember to turn heat off under the casserole before it burns.