Title: The Art of Bad Timing
Prompt/Summary: Danny has a condition he never bothered to tell Steve about. Written as a veeery loose interpretation of the fainting/collapse prompt at 10_hurt_comfort.
Characters: Steve & Danny (totally gen)
Disclaimer: Anything recognizable regrettably belongs to CBS. I'm just playing in their very fun sandbox while their backs are turned.
Warnings: Vague spoilers for all of season 1. Also, seizures. If you don't like those, then this is not the fic for you.
Neurotic Author's Note #1: Apparently all I write for this fandom is shameless, unabashed h/c. The only thing that seems to vary is who I'm whumping at any given moment. I can't find it in myself to regret this.
Neurotic Author's Note #2: I do promise that, eventually, I will write something other than straight-up h/c. In fact, my Big Bang is totally going to be something different. Cross my heart.
Neurotic Author's Note #3: Yes, I still post unbeta'd fic. The mistakes herein can therefore all be attributed to me.
As timing goes, this is middling, Danny tries to console himself. After all, it could have happened in the middle of a case —though he's been careful so far to make sure that doesn't happen— or when they were out in public. Still, he can count on the fingers of one hand the times it's happened in the past few years, and all of those times he was lucky enough to be at home and close to his own bed. It hasn't happened since he came to Hawaii at all, not in almost two years, and he was beginning to think that maybe all the damned pills he has to take finally meant he'd turned a corner. Obviously not.
He'd much rather have been in his own crappy apartment for this. It's not like he wants to advertise this to anyone who doesn't strictly need to know. Except, of course, he's in the middle of Steve's living room, his beer bottle sweating in his hand, Steve lounging beside him, relaxed and looking happier than Danny's seen him in a while. Not that Danny can blame him —between the weeks in jail, Kono's near-miss with dismissal, and Danny's own close call with having to follow Rachel back to Jersey, it's been a stressful couple of months. And, naturally, stress is one of Danny's triggers, because his life is ironic that way.
Danny swallows, trying unsuccessfully to rid himself of the nasty taste that's flooding his mouth. He knows it won't work —it's not a real taste, just neurons misfiring in his head— but he can't help himself. No matter how long it is between seizures, he always lets himself be lulled into a false sense of security, like maybe it's never going to happen again. Okay, he tells himself. First things first. He's got five, maybe seven minutes before this all goes to hell, and he has no choice but to tell Steve, because it's going to be goddamned obvious anyway. First, though, he has to get to a bathroom, because there's nothing worse than waking up after a seizure to find out you've wet yourself on top of everything else. He puts down his bottle, pushes himself to his feet and manages to get all the way to the small bathroom on the first floor, just a sink, toilet and mirror, relieves himself without incident. Small victories, he tells himself, even though this feels more like a failure. Nearly two years seizure-free, and it's all going to hell. He doesn't think he missed a dose of his meds, but it hardly matters now. Right now he just has to get out of this bathroom, because if he falls in here it'll be a recipe for disaster. All he has to do is get out, find somewhere flat to lie down and have his goddamned seizure unimpeded.
By the time he gets out into the hallway, though, he can already feel his body becoming heavy and uncooperative, movements sluggish, brain fuzzy around the edges. He takes one faltering step, half of another before his legs won't behave anymore, and he lands against the wall with a loud thump, his shoulder luckily taking the brunt of the impact. Damn it.
"Danny?" Steve is in the hallway, his own beer left behind. "You okay?"
He shakes his head, tries to chase down one of the errant thoughts that are all skittering around the edges of his mind like frightened mice. It's Steve, which means he has to tell him what's going on. Steve will have his back, if only he can make his mouth work. "I gotta lie down."
Instantly Steve is next to him, one hand on his shoulder, warm and solid and reassuring. "Okay, come on back to the living room. What happened, you feel sick? You haven't even had a whole beer yet."
Danny balks as Steve tries to steer him to the sofa. "No... has to be flat, I'll fall..." he manages. It's so goddamned hard to think.
"Talk to me, Danny, what's happening?" Steve's hands are on his shoulders, gripping him tightly. It's just as well, because Danny's not sure he's going to be able to stand on his own for very much longer.
Somehow he unglues his tongue from the roof of his mouth. "Having a seizure."
"What? How do you—" Steve starts, but Danny interrupts him.
"After, Steve. Explain after."
"Right. Okay, Danny. Come on, can you make it upstairs?"
Maybe if he'd headed right up as soon as he felt it hit, Danny thinks, but definitely not now. He can't move, can't even shake his head, can't do anything except stay right where he is, fingers digging into Steve's forearms. I've run out of time, he thinks, and then the world shatters into a million pieces and he doesn't think at all.
The afternoon had been going really well up until now, as far as Steve was concerned. After weeks of being trapped behind bars with no one's company but his own, followed by weeks of relentless work and sleepless night tracking down the last of the leads on the case. Sure, there are still a whole bunch of loose ends to tie up, but there's something really nice about relaxing with a celebratory beer with his best friend —his best friend who finally got his head out of his ass and is staying in Hawaii where he belongs. So, Steve figures he can't be blamed for letting his guard down for a few minutes.
So, of course it figures that those few minutes is when everything chooses to go south again. He doesn't take much notice at first when Danny gets up and heads in the direction of the small bathroom just off the front entrance of the house. It takes a little longer than usual, though, and just when he's beginning to wonder where Danny got to he hears a muffled thump coming from the hallway. When he gets up to investigate, he finds his partner leaning against the wall, trying to make his way forward on unsteady legs, and feels his mouth go dry.
Danny's revelation makes no sense. How can he be having a seizure? But Danny's trembling in his arms and there's no time to try to figure it all out now. Whatever it is, explanations will have to wait until this crisis has passed. Luckily, Steve is really, really good at crises. Crises are what he does best. He can't take Danny upstairs, it's too late for that, but he manages to get him into the living room and shoves the furniture out of the way, clearing a space for him on the carpet.
"Come on, Danny, let's get you lying down," he starts, but when he turns to look at Danny's face he can tell his partner hasn't heard him.
Danny's standing stock-still in the middle of the room, gaze vacant, his mouth slightly slack, eyes blinking rapidly. Partial focus seizure, Steve has time to remember before grabbing him under the arms and bearing him down to the floor, pulling a couple of the cushions from the sofa for to place under his partner's head. He rolls him onto his left side, makes sure there's nothing he could bump against and hurt himself, arranges him in the safety position that's one of the first things they teach you in basic first aid, let alone during the advanced training Steve has had. It doesn't take long before Danny's eyes roll back in his head and he goes rigid, all his muscles tensing up, and Steve finds himself watching anxiously, counting down during this phase, wishing he knew exactly what kind of seizure he's dealing with. He's willing to bet it's tonic-clonic, but he won't know for sure unless... sure enough, after a minute or so Danny's body jerks once, then again, keeps spasming as Steve looks on, wishing there was something he could do to actively fix this rather than just wait for it to be over.
Instead, he sets the timer on his watch, just to have something to do. Danny's head is tilted back, jerking along with the rest of him, and Steve can just see the whites of his eyes, like half-moons under his lids.
One. Two. Three...
There's no reason to call emergency services unless this phase lasts more than five minutes, but Steve's not taking any chances. At three minutes he's going to call anyway, because they're seven minutes out anyway and that means, worst case scenario, that Danny will have been seizing for ten minutes straight, which Steve doesn't even want to think about.
Eighteen. Nineteen. Twenty...
He has no idea how long Danny's seizures last. Hell, up until five minutes ago he didn't even know Danny had seizures at all. He's flying entirely blind here. He's pretty sure this isn't a side effect of the sarin exposure, although he supposes he can't discount it. Danny seized then, too, though it was nothing like this.
Twenty-nine. Thirty. Thirty-one...
The fingers of Danny's right hand are brushing against his thigh, just the tips, over and over as he thrashes. It takes all of Steve's self-control not to reach out, to still the twitching fingers, to put his hand behind Danny's head just to make sure he's not bumping it against anything. Don't interfere, he reminds himself. There's nothing you can do until it's over.
And then, just like that, Danny's body relaxes with a drawn-out sigh. His face smooths out as the rest of him goes boneless. His eyes slip all the way shut and Steve watches anxiously as his breathing evens out into the sleep of the postictal phase. That means Steve can finally do something to make himself feel useful, carefully checks Danny's mouth to see if he's vomited or bitten his tongue, to make sure he doesn't aspirate or swallow too much blood while he's asleep. When he's satisfied Danny's sleeping comfortably he pulls the throw blanket off the sofa and tucks it around his partner's shoulders. When Danny's awake Steve will move him somewhere more comfortable than the middle of his living room floor, but for now this will do. He fidgets while he waits for Danny to wake up, a dozen unanswered questions spinning in his mind, worry warring with anger and relief that this wasn't as bad as it could have been.
Slightly less than half an hour passes before Danny's eyelashes flutter. Steve brushes his hair back from where it's fallen into his face. It looks kind of comical, all mussed up like that, except that Steve has never felt like laughing less in his whole life.
"Steve?" Danny murmurs.
"Hey, you back with me?"
"Um. Was I gone?" Danny's voice is already growing stronger.
"In a manner of speaking. What do you remember?"
"We were watching the game… did I have a seizure? My head hurts like a bitch," he complains weakly.
"Yeah, you did. Do you need to eat or drink something, Danno? Or do you just want to sleep the rest of this off?"
"No, no I don't… we didn't eat, did we?" Danny's a little confused, but that's to be expected. "Did I throw up?"
"No, you're fine. Come on, I'm putting you to bed so you can get some sleep. The floor is not an appropriate place for a nap, as I'm sure you'd agree."
Danny just nods a little vaguely, cooperates in a way that he probably never would if he were compos mentis when Steve pulls him upright, one of Danny's arms over his shoulders, and half-carries him up the stairs to his bedroom. He thinks Danny would probably put up a squalling fuss under normal circumstances, is grateful for the relative peace and quiet now. He pulls off Danny's shoes and jeans, grateful at least that they were off-duty and that Danny came over wearing nothing more complicated than a t-shirt. The idea of trying to loosen his tie during a seizure is not something Steve wants to contemplate.
Seconds after his head hits the pillow, Danny's asleep again. Steve pulls the sheets up over his shoulders. "Sleep tight, Danno. We're going to have a long talk when you wake up."
Danny's head is throbbing when he wakes up. For a second, while his eyes are still closed, he can't tell where he is, and the thought alarms him. It doesn't feel like his bed –more like the one he used to have when he was still living in Jersey with Rachel and Gracie, but he hasn't had a bed like that in years. He forces open his eyes, squinting against the bright light coming in through the –blinds? He doesn't have blinds, never had blinds. Never had bed sheets this colour, either, or been in a bed where the other side is still slightly warm where someone was very obviously sleeping before.
He pushes himself up with a small groan, massages his temples with the fingers of either hand. The digital clock on the bedside table tells him it's morning, though the hour is pretty ungodly by his standards for a day off work. This is definitely Steve's bedroom, and the last thing he remembers is watching the game and… oh. Right. Shit. That means he had a seizure in the middle of Steve's living room, and now he's going to have a whole lot of explaining to do, hopefully after he's found some aspirin and a spare toothbrush and used Steve's bathroom again. He finds Tylenol in Steve's bathroom cabinet and a spare toothbrush –the man was a Boy Scout after all, so of course he has a spare toothbrush– makes use of the shower and shamelessly borrows Steve's razor. He wants to face the inevitable conversation clean, even if he has to wear yesterday's clothes, which Steve thoughtfully left neatly folded on the chair by the door.
By the time he makes his way carefully down the stairs he's feeling mostly human again, and the smell of cooking food wafting from the kitchen is making his mouth water. He hasn't had anything to eat since yesterday afternoon. He's also missed a dose of his meds, but since he was sleeping off a seizure he figures it doesn't much matter. His pills are in his jacket pocket, hanging by the front door, so he'll just take them with breakfast.
Steve looks up from where he's frying eggs in a pan –an obvious concession to Danny's culinary sensibilities, because Steve never eats fried anything. "Good morning."
"Uh, morning." Danny slides onto a seat by Steve's counter. "So, uh, thank you. For yesterday. A lot."
"Anytime, Danno, you know that." Steve slides the eggs onto a plate along with several different varieties of fruit –no pineapple, Danny is pleased to note, although he might have wished for bacon instead. Beggars can't be choosers, he reminds himself. "So I think maybe you owe me a whole lot of explanations. I've seen you drink coffee, but I don't know if it's contraindicated for you right now."
Danny would murder for a cup of coffee. "I'm okay for a cup or two. Same with alcohol. Moderation in all things, yadda yadda."
"So how are you feeling?"
He shrugs. "Kind of shitty, but it's not so bad. My head hurts and I'm starving, but I found Tylenol and I have food, so another half hour, maybe an hour and I'll be good to go. Maybe a little shaky until I get another good night's sleep, but I'm pretty much fine now."
"Were you ever going to tell me?" Steve's voice is deceptively quiet, even as he pours coffee into two mugs.
Jesus, Danny's an ass. He scrubs at his face, trying to figure out exactly how he can even start to fix this. "It's not like I was trying to keep it a secret from you or anything, Steve. It hasn't happened in nearly two years. I thought I was mostly past it, you know? I take my meds on a regular basis, make sure I don't overdo it with the alcohol or the caffeine and try to get enough sleep and all that. It was working just fine, up until yesterday."
"What if you'd had a seizure during a mission?" Steve turns on him, eyes flashing, and Danny can see the anger there and, more surprisingly, pain as well, and something that looks a lot like fear.
"I didn't. I wouldn't. I… look, I know I'm not exactly making a convincing case for myself here, but I had it under control up until recently."
"So what is it, epilepsy?"
Danny shrugs. "The short version? A bust went bad years back. God, it must be nearly six years now. It was an apartment building, a flophouse, one of those places you don't know where to step so you don't land ankle-deep in filth. Anyway, the perp shot me. The vest took all of the hits, but the momentum knocked me back and I fell down, God, I don't even know how many flights of stairs." He turns his coffee mug in his hands, heart fluttering even at the memory of falling backward and feeling nothing but air behind him. "I cracked my head at the bottom when I landed, fractured my skull. They told me that by all rights I should be dead, which just goes to show that people are right when they say I have a hard head," he huffs a laugh, looks up to see Steve watching him, his face grim. "I was in a coma for eight days."
"And that's when the seizures started?"
He nods. "Seizures, chronic dizziness, migraines, the works. I was out of commission for months, nearly a year. Spent a month in ICU, another month in the hospital, another two months barely able to sit up for more than a few minutes because I was always too damned dizzy. Rachel was beside herself, trying to juggle her job, a four-year-old kid and a husband who couldn't do much more than sleep and puked if he even tried. That's when our marriage really started to fail, when she saw just how bad being a cop's wife could get."
He takes a sip of his coffee, doesn't look up to check what sort of expression Steve has on his face, doesn't think he could handle it right now, whatever it is. "Anyway, I got better. The dizziness went away first, then the headaches, and we got the seizures under control with meds. They flared up again during the divorce, but only for a little while. Stress is pretty much the only thing that'll set me off these days."
"Stress." Steve's voice is flat, inflectionless.
"Believe it or not," Danny mutters into his coffee cup, and nearly chokes when Steve startles him by throwing his head back with a bark of laughter. "Jesus, Steve, are you trying to finish me off, here? Administer the coup de grace by coffee aspiration?" he grumbles, mopping coffee off his chin with a hastily-grabbed napkin, grateful that he at least didn't get any on the only t-shirt he has with him.
"So what you're telling me," Steve chortles, "is that all the times you ranted at me that I was going to cause you to have a seizure, you were actually being literal for once?"
"Um. Maybe," Danny hedges.
Steve shakes his head, still smiling. "You're a piece of work, Danno."
"You're opening yourself wide open to pot and kettle analogies, you know."
Steve glares. "Today I get a free pass on everything. On principle."
"Yeah, okay." It's easy enough to agree to that. "I figure, you watch me have a seizure in the middle of your living room floor and put me in a comfy bed to sleep it off, you've more than earned that privilege today."
"You realize I'm not letting you drive home."
"Steven, I am not an invalid. I am perfectly capable of–" he pauses mid-sentence. "There's no way I'm gaining the high moral ground on this one, is there?"
"Just so we're clear, my acquiescing to whatever you have planned today in no way, shape or form is to be construed as my giving you free reign to fuss, mother-hen, or in any way become an overbearing wet blanket in the future, right? No monitoring what I eat, no stealth programming my medication schedule into my phone, no constantly asking me how I'm feeling, got it?"
Steve smirks. Danny sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose.
"So… what was your plan?"
"My plan was to finish the game –I TiVo'd it, so we're good– then have lunch, then maybe sit on the lanai for a while. I'll have beer and you will stick to juice or water or whatever, and then you'll spend the night. You can share the bed with me again, or you can take Mary's room, whatever. Then tomorrow morning I will drive you home and you are going to take it easy, and then on Tuesday you're allowed to come back to work."
"I've run out of sick days." The protest is a feeble one, pro forma.
"Your boss is generously extending your sick leave by twenty-four hours."
"Sitting on the lanai, huh?"
There are many battles that are won long before they're even fought. "Okay, sounds good."
Steve beams at him. "I knew you'd see it my way, Danno."
Danny finishes his coffee, watches as Steve refills it for him as though they've been doing this their whole lives, and decides that there are far worse things in his life than the day that's stretching out before him, already full of promise.