Title: Tread Softly
Word Count: 2,500
Genre: Gen. H/C
Summary: Danny wasn't exactly a quiet guy, but he'll figure something out when Steve needs some special handling.
Thank you to ga_unicorn for a swift beta!
Notes: I wanted to write a sweet, slightly self indulgent piece of h/c before I started my long serious fic. This is the result. Loosely based off a prompt by "esteefee ".
What's ten seconds in the span of a day? A freaking lifetime. Enough time to yell, "Steve!" and duck to the ground while three men lobbed grenades at your partner.
It was ten seconds of earth-shattering noise and blinding light.
Ten seconds of adrenaline and fear.
Recovering from the explosions, Danny struggled to his feet. Fifty feet away Steve appeared dead, his body sprawled lifelessly like a rag doll on the ground. Chin and Kono swept in, guns blazing while Danny's feet caught up to his dazed brain. He provided cover, maybe squeezed the trigger with too much vigor. When he finally reached Steve, the man weakly lifted his head and threw-up on Danny's shoes.
Danny laughed hysterically in relief. They were stun grenades.
Chin coordinated with HPD to round up the trash. Kono called a bus. Steve argued that he didn't need one. Then Danny dared his partner to stay in the same spot for more than five seconds.
When Danny had been served his divorce papers, he drank almost a full bottle of tequila. His bumbling attempts at walking didn't hold a candle to Steve's inability to stand.
A trip to the hospital it was.
Two hours and a Snickers later Danny was stuck in an ER waiting room, contemplating the miracle that Steve was on his way home in a wheelchair and not a body bag.
He almost lost his breakfast.
"Are you here to sign-out, Commander McGarrett?"
He smiled at the cute redheaded nurse. "Sure am."
"These are his care-sheet instructions and prescriptions. He's going to be very sensitive to light and sound, not to mention bouts of severe vertigo. Does he have any family members that will be able to stay with him for the next twenty-four hours?"
It wasn't so much a question as a thinly veiled demand.
"Yes, he does," Danny answered, accepting the papers. The instructions were thick; the do's and don'ts a mile long. "Wow, is there a Cliff Note's version?"
It appeared the nurse was immune to the Williams sarcasm, her lips a set of straight lines. "My brother serves in Iraq. Stun grenades can kill people. You may think it's a laughing matter, but-"
"Excuse me?" Danny sputtered. "Does any part of my face express humor or glee? The only time you'll see me laughing is when my crazy partner has pushed me past the point of sanity, which is most days mind you. And I've been reduced to yanking my hair out to avoid stroking out."
The nurse took two hesitant steps back, and maybe Danny had gone red in the face, his voice two octaves higher. No one had the right to question or lecture him about what he'd just experienced. Reliving the same ten seconds, over and over again. Not just in Technicolor, but in bold, glorious 3-D.
And he thanked everything under the heavens that Steve hadn't been blow apart by thousands of pieces of shrapnel.
He crumbled the care-sheets in his fist without realizing it. "Is my partner ready?" he snapped impatiently.
The nurse peered around the corner. "He's being wheeled out as we speak." She raised an eyebrow and gestured at the ruined instructions. "You might want to read that stun grenade article I printed out."
Danny counted to ten and kept his mouth shut. As a cop, he'd been trained in the proper use of stun grenades. How to pull the pin and throw it safely. And that he should never, ever look up during denotation. They incapacitated for a reason. During a live demo he'd volunteered to experience the effects first-hand.
Three hours later, his hearing and vision had still been shot to hell.
He flipped over his watch, studied the second hand go around for a full minute.
An orderly wheeled Steve over. Layers of dirt from the warehouse floor stained Steve's cargo pants and t-shirt. A set of dark sunglasses framed Steve's face while he cradled his head in his left hand.
"What the hell?" Danny yelled at the nurse. "Does he look well to you?"
The nurse glared and Danny clamped his mouth. "Sorry," he whispered.
"It's just a migraine," Steve rasped. "I've been subjected to a few flash bangs before."
"Six all at once?"
Steve winced and Danny bit his lip at the sharpness of his voice. He waved away the orderly who shook his head. The two of them engaged in a non-verbal tug-of-war of evil glares and posturing until the nurse grabbed the wheelchair with a roll of her eyes and pushed Steve toward the exit, per the inane hospital policy.
Danny snatched the handles as soon as they were outside and dared the security guard hovering around his car to give him a ticket for staying parked too long. The rent-a-cop looked from an irate Danny to his badge, down to his gun, and moved along without comment.
Steve pushed himself unsteadily to his feet before Danny reached over and grabbed him, biting his tongue to keep from yelling about waiting. "Hold on a sec," he said in a low voice, propping Steve up with one shoulder and yanking open the passenger door.
After wrangling with Steve's long limbs and his seat-belt, Danny closed the door, gently, and got into the driver's side. He glanced over at his partner and chewed on his lip. Sunlight cut like a knife through the windshield, filling the inside of the car. Steve's face was chalk white, his head propped up against the car window, his Adam's apple bobbing up and down from swallowing constantly.
"I might have a blanket in the back," Danny suggested. "I could cover your head."
Even with the sunglasses, Steve pulled a scowl worthy of Grace.
"Oh, I'm sorry. Please forgive my attempt to ease your discomfort, Mr. I Live and Breathe Through Pain."
"Won't help," Steve sighed, giving in a little.
"It could block out the light."
"Doesn't matter. Even with my eyes closed, I still see thousands of flash-bulbs."
One million candles. One many points of brilliant light multiplied by six. Danny's stomach churned in sympathy. "I've got to pick up your meds first, okay?"
"I'm fine. No need to-"
An ambulance rushed by; its sirens blaring. Steve sucked in a startled breath and gripped his head with both hands. Danny gunned the engine to escape the wailing noise.
He deployed all his defensive driving skills, minus the G-Forces his partner used behind the wheel. "See, this is called being a considerate driver."
When Steve didn't offer a witty reply, Danny yanked out his cell phone enlisting Kono's aid to run by the pharmacy while he drove straight to the McGarrett home.
If Danny bit his lower lip anymore, he'd run out of flesh. He growled and snarled as Steve fought him tooth and nail about scaling his porch.
"I don't need any help," Steve mumbled while it took three tries for his foot to find the first step.
"That's some coordination you got there," Danny gruffed, taking on more of Steve's weight up the stairs.
Thank goodness he knew the alarm code, stabbing the buttons until it beeped.
"Wait," Steve huffed after stumbling ten feet inside, his face paling further.
"Come on just a little further. All that concussive force messed with your inner ears. Not that I- a mere mortal- need to explain this to a SEAL. You love the water. Just imagine you're on a boat."
Steve dug his fingers into Danny's bicep hard enough to bruise as they frog-marched into the living room. Steve pitched forward only a few steps away from the sofa. Momentum and gravity dumped them into a heap on the floor, Danny's bad knee taking the brunt of the impact.
He cradled the joint, cursed some more, and waited for the pain to die down.
A hand grabbed his shoulder. "Danny? You alright?"
"What? Yeah," Danny grumbled. Then he realized that Steve was huddled over him, his sunglasses MIA. "Hey, I'm fine. Don't worry."
Steve's pupils were dilated to mere slits, the fines lines around his eyes doubled in pain. "You sure?"
Steve was a stoic bastard, his jaw clenched so tightly it was a surprise it hadn't snapped out of joint. Danny scrambled to his feet and located the sunglasses under the coffee table. "Here, you big oaf," Danny mocked, placing them back on.
Swallowing, Steve exhaled heavily. "This is ridiculous...I shouldn't-"
"Be hurt? You've been trained to endure torture and that's great and all. But your brain's been mildly traumatized. Although I'm sure you just call that Tuesday."
Steve pressed the heel of his hand into his forehead and Danny reminded himself to tone it down a notch.
"Your ears still ringing?" he whispered.
"Like giant gongs."
It was a small admittance, a chink in the tough as nails armor. But like a good solider, Steve got to his feet and curled on his side on the rumpled sofa, wrapping an arm over his head.
What now Williams?
Danny raced toward the open-door and met Kono with a finger to his lips. "Hey," he said softly.
"Hey," she said, matching his hushed tone. She held up a white paper bag. "I've got McGarrett's pills." Kono craned her neck toward the living room. "How is he?"
"Well, sound and light are his kryptonite and he's surrounded by it. What about our bad guys? Find out where they got a crate of stun grenades?"
"Missing inventory from HPD according to Sergeant Kapu. Chin's interrogating the leader of the ring right now."
"Good. Listen, why don't you sit with McGarrett and I'll help Chin with-"
"Whoa, hold on a sec," Kono snorted. "I'm on my way to the lab to pick up some rushed results. IAD is breathing down our necks about taking over. They want to know how their toys made it on the street."
"Another mole hunt, huh?"
"Yep." She hooked a thumb behind her. "So, I've got to run."
"But McGarrett's not supposed to be left alone."
She quirked an eyebrow. "You're here."
"Yes, I am well aware of this, but I'm a detective, and this whole situation," he pointed inside the house, "is not on my list of job skills."
Kono chuckled. "Nothing about 5-0 is in any training manual I've ever seen." Danny scowled and Kono shook her head. "He's your partner, bro."
"Yes, my pain in the ass partner. I know how to deal with Grace when she's sick, but how the hell do I deal with Mr. Black Ops?"
"Who says you need to treat him any differently?"
"You're kidding?" Danny scoffed.
"I don't know. I bet both of them require a soft voice and a big stick," she winked. Kono patted him on the shoulder. "I'll bring you guys' dinner later tonight. Tell the boss I hope he feels better."
"Right, I'll just go babysit," he said to himself. Meds securely in his hand, Danny walked toward the kitchen. "Hopefully, your cupboards aren't empty," he grumbled in Steve's direction.
Half-way toward his destination, a piercing ring cut through the silence. He patted down his slacks, realized it wasn't his cell, and hurried toward the living-room.
"For crying out loud," Danny let out a frustrated sigh when he saw his partner sitting up, cell phone fused to his ear.
"What? I don't think so. This is 5-0's jurisdiction!" Steve snapped, digging his knuckles into his temple. "No, you listen to me!"
By the time Danny could snatch it away; the phone slipped from Steve's grip, an irate voice screaming from the other end. Steve buried his head into the cushions and Danny grabbed the cell. He recognized the HPD extension on the display and clicked end. Then he pried out the battery, stuck it inside his pocket and shook his head in defeat.
Alright, partner. What would you do if our roles were reversed?
Approach things from a tactical perspective.
First. Get rid of all outside stimulus.
"Come on, let's go upstairs."
"Just leave me here...'m fine."
Kono was right. Soft voice. Big stick.
Instead of snapping his fingers, Danny helped Steve to his feet and wrapped an arm around his waist. "Need me to carry you?"
That did it. It was a low blow. No one ever questioned Steve McGarrett's fortitude, but the means justified the ends.
Danny would have to ice his knee tonight, but he ignored the angry twinge, his arms straining with his friend's weight. It took all his will power to keep from commenting about ten mile runs and a four thousand calorie diet.
He eased Steve onto his bed and pulled up his legs. Then he searched the room for any phones to unplug just in case. That task complete, Danny quickly located the extra linen stored away in a hallway closet. Wary of his knee, he carefully stood on a chair and covered the drapes to black out the daylight.
Steve sighed in relief.
It made Danny feel good. Busting bad guys, keeping his daughter's home safe was something to be proud of. But it wasn't everyday you could ease someone's pain.
Danny could count the number of his good friends on one hand. He didn't need anymore. But the ones he did have-he'd do anything for.
Including untying their shoes and taking them off.
Not to mention, limping down and back up a flight of stairs to fix lunch. Okay, maybe lunch was opening a can of chicken broth and sticking it in a microwave, but time was of the essence. While waiting for the beep, he filled a washcloth with ice-cubes, trying to ignore a sense of déjà-vu regarding Steve and encounters with stun weapons.
He went back upstairs, slipped off Steve's sunglasses and set them on the nightstand. Kono was right. Coaxing someone into eating soup when they'd rather curl up in a ball of misery was familiar territory.
"Come on; all you have to do is drink it."
Following commands was an ingrained instinct for Steve no matter what. He reached blindly for the bowl and Danny guided it to Steve's mouth.
Neither of them said a word. Partially out of maintaining Steve's dignity , partially to keep things quiet. When the bowl was empty, Danny gave Steve his meds. Steve dry-swallowed the pills before Danny could get back downstairs to get him a glass of water.
He chalked it up to some military thing.
Danny leaned against the wall, listened to the tranquil silence, his eyes adjusting to the darkness.
"Thanks, brother," Steve slurred.
A few minutes later, he was fast asleep.
Danny counted to ten in his head.
And let out a heavy, contented breath.