Title: Of Partners and Superheroes
Disclaimer: Not mine.
A/N: This ficlet is for geminigrl11, who is celebrating her birthday today. Much thanks to moogsthewriter for a beta, and I hope that Gem has a great day :)
Summary: This is what Danny gets: a thunderstorm, a plane, a private airport asleep for the night, an overshot runway, and no one around for miles except his smart-ass partner.
It actually might be kind of funny if it happened to someone else.
But it's not happening to someone else. It's happening to Danny and Steve, aka the Machine of Human Destruction.
This is what Danny gets, he tells himself as the night deepens. This is what he gets for allowing Steve's creative police work to take over. This is what he gets for joining in the antics even when he can hear the voice of his captain back in Jersey screeching about police protocol in the back of his mind.
This is what Danny gets: a thunderstorm, a plane, a private airport asleep for the night, an overshot runway, and no one around for miles except his smart-ass partner.
It actually might be funny - really, very funny - assuming, of course, that Danny lives long enough to see the humor of it in the light of day.
Steve tells him it's not that bad.
"This is a popular tourist destination," he explains patiently. They're sitting in the dark because when Steve took the plane without permission, he neglected to see how well it was stocked. Upon overshooting the landing and crashing off the runway, they had discovered that the answer was not very well.
"So people come here often to get stranded in the middle of the night?" Danny asks.
Even in the dark, he can feel Steve roll his eyes. "I'm talking about the morning," he says.
As if somehow that should make Danny feel better.
"You know what your problem is?" Danny asks when a few hours have gone by. He's tired but can't sleep; the pain in his side ratchets up and the tourniquet on his leg doesn't seem to be working as well as it should. Yeah, all the pressure is uncomfortably there, but it can't stop the persistent seepage of blood from the intermittent tears on his thigh and shin.
"I'm pretty sure you're going to tell me," Steve returns with equal exhaustion. Steve has told Danny that he's fine, just a bump on the head and a throbbing in his ankle. Danny is not necessarily inclined to believe his partner, but at the moment he doesn't have the energy or resources to contradict him.
"You think you're a superhero," Danny continues, allowing the sarcasm because for once it's rightly placed.
"I don't think I'm a superhero," Steve counters blandly.
"Really?" Danny asks pointedly. "You run around like you're invincible. The only thing you're missing is a cape and tights."
"I don't have any superpowers," Steve points out.
"Neither did Batman."
"You're really going to bring up a fictional character for reference?"
Danny gestures in the dark. He doesn't care if Steve can't see it or if it makes his side throb. "You're the one who runs around acting like one," Danny protests. "I mean, you stole a plane! Who actually steals a plane?"
"Our suspect was getting away," Steve replies.
"So a normal cop would put out an APB and send local law enforcement to secure the area until we can assemble a team to follow," Danny says, reciting the correct procedure from memory.
"Stealing a plane was faster," Steve returns.
"Only a superhero would think that," Danny says, feeling a little bolstered by that conclusion. "I mean, maybe that's your power. You think you can fly."
"Well, it would have worked," Steve says, and he actually sounds a little petulant. "Until we crashed."
Danny nods. "Yeah, that might have put a small wrinkle in the plan." He wants to be angry about that, thinks of a few good lines to rub it in, but figures what's the point. There's no need to kick a superhero when he's down, because idiocy or not, Steve always means well and usually gets the job done.
They lapse into silence. In the blackness, Danny hears Steve take a breath. "It was still a good plan," Steve says.
Danny just rolls his eyes.
Danny starts to feel light headed. He's thirsty and uncomfortable. They've moved toward the back of the plane, trying to stretch out, and in the still dark Hawaiian night, they're leaned up against the seats side by side.
"Do you think the suspect is still in the area?" Danny asks, even though it doesn't really matter at this point. Still, in all of this, he sort of wants to think it's worth it.
Steve shifts, leaning a little closer. "Can't go far in this storm," he says. "Unless he finds shelter in one of the higher caves, he might not even make it."
Danny considers that, shivering a little.
Steve nudges him. "Hey, you okay?"
Danny blinks and straightens slightly. "I'm in a crashed plane on some deserted island during the middle of the worst thunderstorm in history," he quips back. "How do you think I'm doing?"
Steve seems to relax somewhat. "Just making sure," he says, and Danny can almost see his smile.
When he can't stop shivering, Danny starts to think of Grace.
"She's growing up too fast," Danny explains. "It's like I blink, and suddenly she's changed. She has a cell phone, did you know that? What kind of eight year old needs a cell phone?"
"They can be very helpful in case of emergency," Steve points out.
Danny grunts. "You mean when you're stranded in a crashed plane in a thunderstorm?"
"You know what I mean," Steve says, and if he's trying to sound exasperated, it's not quite working.
"I just don't want her to grow up too fast," Danny laments. He sighs and closes his eyes for a moment. "I just want to see it all."
There's a moment of silence as the storm rages outside.
Finally, Steve shifts, his body heat coming closer. "You will, Danno," he promises. "You will."
Steve shoves him with his shoulder.
"Stay awake," he says.
"Why?" Danny asks.
"Because you've lost a lot of blood," Steve says plainly.
"It's dark," Danny whines. "How can you tell?"
"Maybe I have x-ray vision."
Danny grunts, letting his eyes drift again. "Figures."
Steve shoves him again, harder still.
Danny opens his eyes and glares into the darkness. In a flash of lightning, he can see the angry worry all over Steve's fast. "Okay, okay," he relents. "You don't have to hit me with a flying tackle. I surrender."
In the early predawn, Danny rouses. He doesn't know how long he's been sleeping, but his head is lolled on Steve's shoulder. Outside, the storm has abated, the thunder distant. In the strained rays of morning sunlight, Danny sees their predicament for the first time.
The plane is a mess. Structurally, it's intact, but all its belongings are tossed. Some of the windows near the front are broken and he can still smell the rain-soaked chairs in the busted cockpit.
Shifting, he manages a look at his partner. Steve has blood down the side of his face, and a knot the size of a golf ball sticking out from the blood-matted tufts of his hair.
When Danny looks down, he sees the hasty tourniquet Steve applied in the dark, and the blood pooling on the ground by his leg.
For a second, he thinks he should wake Steve. Tell him that they made it through the night, that they might actually have cell reception now. He thinks he should check his phone, make a move, do something.
But the orange-yellow dawn is only the promise of a beginning, and Danny doesn't know if he has the energy to meet this one, even when he knows he should.
In the dark, Danny still thinks of Grace. Thinks of her smile, the way she laughs. Thinks of the way her face scrunched up before she cried as a baby and thinks of how beautiful she'll be on her wedding day.
Somewhere, things are happening. There's movement and sound, yelling and action. Danny wants to curl away from it because none of it makes sense, not even a little.
Then he feels a hand on his shoulder and a voice in his ear. "You still can, Danno," Steve says. "You just have to hang on a little longer."
It feels like years have passed when Danny finally opens his eyes. His mouth is dry and sticky and his eyelids are almost stuck together. It takes him a moment to focus and when he can see again, he realizes promptly that he's in a hospital.
He's trying to get some saliva back in his mouth, although Danny's not even sure what he wants to say. He blinks and turns his head toward the light coming through the window and somehow isn't surprised to find Steve sitting there.
His partner is asleep, sprawled haphazardly on a chair. It looks horribly uncomfortable to Danny, even worse because Steve looks like he should be cooped up in a hospital bed of his own. The bandage on his head seems to hide the worst of the injury, but the bruise stretches down his face and has totally blackened one eye. His arm is in a sling for good measure, and Danny thinks he probably should chew the SEAL out for being such a liar.
Somehow, Steve stirs. He shifts, his face twisting in a grimace before his eyes open.
"About time you woke up," Danny says. His voice is a little garbled, but the point still gets across.
Steve smirks. "Isn't that my line?"
Steve tells him what happened. In the morning, Steve couldn't wake Danny up. He had to exit the plane before he got any kind of signal and arranged for a medical transport. It only took another half hour, but Danny can tell from Steve's voice that it was probably the longest half hour of all.
Really, Danny's kind of glad he doesn't remember that part.
When Steve's done explaining, he tells Danny to go back to sleep. The surgery to his leg wasn't extensive, but the blood transfusion is nothing to scoff at. Chin and Kono have picked up the search for their suspect and there's already a body on the beach that might be a match.
"Things will be better when you wake up," Steve promises.
Danny believes him as he drifts back to sleep.
This time, Danny wakes up to the sound of voices.
"Are you sure he's okay?" Grace asks.
"Yeah, he's just resting now," Steve says. "I talked to his doctor and everything."
There's a small pause. "You sure?"
Danny's never been able to stay away from that. His eyes open, a little blurry still, but he's already smiling. "He's sure, monkey," he says.
Grace's face lights up with a smile. "Danno!"
Danny knows his leg is still injured and his side still hurts, but to be honest, he doesn't really give a damn. He pushes himself up in bed and extends his arm.
That's all the invitation Grace needs before she runs headlong into his arms.
Her small arms wrap around him and he pulls her closer. He can feel her breath against his shoulder and the warmth of her body through his hospital gown. He tightens his grip and buries his head in her hair for a moment, clinging to her with the desperation of a once-dying man.
He still thinks of her smile, the way she laughs. Thinks of the way her face scrunched up before she cried as a baby and thinks of how beautiful she'll be on her wedding day.
He thinks about how damn glad he is that he'll be around to see it.
Lifting his head, he opens his eyes, meeting Steve's gaze.
He has to swallow hard as he nods, just once.
Steve smiles, nodding back.
Burying his head in Grace's hair again, Danny thinks he may have to reconsider his stance on Steve being a superhero after all.