Author's notes: So, what is wrong with Steve? I'm happy to say, a few of you did guess correctly.
Since this is the final chapter, I wanted to thank you again for reading and especially reviewing. I know you have a choice in fanfic reading and I appreciate you choosing sockie fic. (wow…. I've had too much caffeine already this morning.) Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed the story.
And thanks again to my beta team of Cokie316 and Rogue Tomato. And Cokie- I'm sorry I made you suffer through so many drafts of chapter 4. I promise I'll make it up to you.
"What do you mean, it wasn't a mosquito?" Danny demanded, but Steve was trying so hard to breathe that he couldn't answer.
Cursing, Danny pulled up Steve's t-shirt to take a look at his side. There was a red mark near his waist, about the size of Danny's hand, but other than that, he couldn't see anything wrong. He felt gently along Steve's ribcage, but didn't detect any damage. In short, Danny had no idea why Steve couldn't breathe, but it was clear he was not getting any better. They needed to get out of the cellar.
Danny dropped Steve's shirt and squeezed his arm reassuringly. "Don't worry, Steve. I'll get us out."
Steve barely managed a nod and Danny took that as his cue to get moving. He stood up and raised both his hands to dig, no longer concerned about protecting his injured shoulder, when all of a sudden the cellar went dark.
Danny cursed again and looked around, but the light from Steve's phone was gone, its battery most likely dead. Danny pulled his own phone out of his pocket, hoping he still had some battery life left; he hadn't thought to check before. He held down a button and breathed a sigh of relief when the phone lit up. He hit the button to find his flashlight when something caught his eye—the round, red, unmistakable face of an Angry Bird.
Steve's words from earlier in the day echoed in his mind. "I keep telling you, it's a straight-up physics game. Once you know the physics, you know how to shoot the bird."
"Or in this case," Danny mumbled to himself, realization dawning, "once you know the physics, you know how to dig the hole."
Suddenly, he knew what he needed to do. He stepped around, looking for a soft spot in the dirt, and found one. He thrust his leg down into the hole and was rewarded by a thunk on his first try. Danny smiled and reached down with his hands, pulling up one of the broken boards from the cellar door.
He looked at Steve on his way back to the top of the dirt mound. His partner wasn't doing any better but at least he was still alive.
Danny got into position and studied the earth, plotting his angle. Then, he began to dig, using the board to press down the dirt as he dug, forming a perfect, circular tunnel, about four inches across. His right shoulder was screaming in protest from the use but he didn't dare stop. He glanced back at Steve who was now arching his back off the ground, desperately trying to draw in a breath of air.
"Hang in there, Steve! You hear me?" Danny yelled.
Steve didn't respond. But he didn't stop breathing either, and at this point, Danny took that as a win.
He turned back to his tunnel and after another minute, he saw it. A tiny spot of blue, as big as a marble. Danny dug more furiously now and in less than a minute, the marble sized hole was big enough for his hand. He set the board down and grabbed his phone, extending it through the tunnel towards the fresh air above. And, more importantly, he hoped, into cell phone range. Danny couldn't see if he had any bars, but he turned on the speakerphone and pressed a few numbers anyway, praying they would work.
After a few seconds, he got his answer when he heard the most beautiful voice in the world on the other end of the line.
"9-1-1, what's your emergency?"
Steve knew he was in a hospital before he even opened his eyes. There was no mistaking the scratchy feel of the sheets or the strong scent of bleach and Lysol. But for once, Steve didn't mind the smell because it meant he could breathe. He inhaled deeply, relieved to finally be able to do so, and noticed the air seemed a bit humid. Oxygen, he thought. Must have a cannula.
He heard a sound and opened his eyes to see Danny rising up from a chair on the right side his bed. He looked exhausted and more than a little ticked off. His clothes were still covered in dirt and the only clean spot on him was the sling that immobilized his right arm and shoulder.
"Sleeping Beauty awakes," Danny announced, flatly. "Or should I call you Little Miss Muffet?"
Steve blinked. "What happened?" he asked, a bit groggily. He looked down and noticed several leads extending from his chest, snaking out from underneath a dreaded hospital gown, past a pulse ox on his finger, over to several machines to the left of his bed.
"You mean after you lied about getting bit by a spider?" Danny asked.
Steve looked chagrined as he pushed the button to raise the head of his bed into a sitting position. "You figured it out, huh?"
Danny rocked back on his heels. "No, I didn't figure it out. Raul did. He was the paramedic who saved your lousy butt. I told him how you'd lied about the mosquito bite and he took one look at your side and immediately knew not only that it was a spider bite but that you were having an anaphylactic reaction. At first, I didn't think that was possible, because surely my partner would have told me something as important as having a potentially fatal allergy to spider bites. Especially if he had, oh… I don't know," Danny paused dramatically for effect, "been bitten by a spider?"
"I…" Steve tried to cut in.
"Stop!" Danny replied, angrily, his hand in the air. "I am not finished yet. I've had to sit here quietly for two hours waiting for you to wake up, so you don't get to say a word until I am finished. Got it?"
Steve closed his mouth and sighed. But he nodded, knowing the rant was inevitable. Sometimes, it was just best to let Danny go ahead and get it out.
"Good," Danny nodded back. "Now where was I? Oh yeah, I was marveling that my partner would fail to inform me of something as significant as an allergy to spider bites. But Raul was convinced that was what it was and since you were unconscious and quite honestly, almost dead, he loaded up a syringe with epinephrine and jabbed it in your leg. Imagine my surprise when you magically started breathing again."
"Zip it! Remember?"
Steve sighed but nodded again.
"Ok. Now, I have a few questions for you which you will answer truthfully," Danny continued, in full interrogation mode. "First and foremost, did you or did you not know you were allergic to spider bites?"
Steve peered at Danny. "Do I have permission to speak?"
Danny nodded. "Permission granted."
Steve rolled his eyes. "Yes, Your Majesty, I knew I had an allergy. But I haven't had a reaction since I was a kid. And the last time, I only got a few hives. I've never a reaction come on that quickly or get that bad before. I actually thought I had outgrown it years ago."
"Hmph," Danny replied, obviously displeased. "So why did you lie and tell me you were bit by a mosquito?"
"I know you're not crazy about bugs and I didn't want to upset you," Steve replied, matter-of-factly.
Danny looked at Steve, incredulously. "We were buried alive and running out of oxygen. You thought a visit from the Itsy-Bitsy Spider would send me over the edge?"
Steve looked a bit apologetic. "In hindsight, lying probably wasn't the best idea."
"Ya think?" Danny exploded, throwing his good hand up in the air. He paced around in a circle for a minute, working through his anger. Then he turned, looked at Steve, and blew out an exasperated breath.
"Do you know what you need?" he asked, pointing his finger at Steve.
"An AMA release form and a plane ride home?" Steve offered, hopefully.
"No," Danny replied, wagging his finger. "You, my friend, need a better appreciation for nature. From now on, you're going to carry an Epipen."
Steve looked at Danny, trying to decide if he should be amused or annoyed. "Who are you, my mother?"
"No, but I am your partner. And I'm the one who has to save your life, which is far more difficult than it should be," Danny replied, his rant mode engaged. "Your normal day-to-day activities are bad enough and that's before you start throwing life-threatening allergies in just for fun. So you will have one with you at all times. We'll put one in your house, one at the office, and one in the glove box with your beloved stash of grenades. And if you don't like that, I'll make you carry one with your gun. And I have to tell you, the ladies will find your thigh-holster decidedly less sexy after I've duct-taped an Epipen to it."
Steve sighed, not really liking the idea, but also knowing Danny's suggestion made sense. After all, Danny was just trying to keep him alive and even Steve had to admit he was partial to breathing. He held up his hands in surrender. "Fine. You win."
"And you're going to stop lying to me about your injuries."
Steve scowled. Agreeing to have meds on hand was one thing; this was something else entirely. The last thing he wanted was a babysitter for a partner. "I'll tell you about the big ones," he suggested as a compromise.
"No," Danny shook his head. "This is not 'Let's Make a Deal'. And you don't get to choose what the big ones are since obviously you can't tell. You'll tell me about all of them or you'll look for a new partner."
Steve looked carefully at Danny. The seriousness and determination in the detective's eyes told Steve he wasn't bluffing. And as much as Steve hated to admit it, he knew Danny was right. Steve prided himself on being able to function well, and even excel, at less than 100%. But he also needed Danny to function at his best, too. Their effectiveness as a team would be hindered if Danny was always worrying about what Steve might be hiding. And after today, Steve knew he owed Danny complete honesty.
"Ok, ok," Steve acquiesced. "I'll tell you about all of them."
"Good," Danny affirmed with a nod, finally appeased.
"Would now be a good time to tell you I got a hangnail this morning?" Steve half-grinned.
Danny scowled. "Not funny."
"Oh, come on. That's funny," Steve replied. Then, looking at Danny's still unhappy face, he decided to change the subject. "How's your shoulder?"
Danny waved his hand dismissively. "It's fine. Doc said it should heal up in a few weeks, in spite of your best efforts to rip my arm off my body."
Steve grinned, recognizing Danny's speech for what it was. "I knew you'd thank me later."
"Yeah, yeah," Danny said flippantly, waving his hand around again. "As it turns out, it was a good thing you set it. Otherwise, we wouldn't have made it out of there."
"So how did we get out anyway?" Steve asked.
"Oh, that." Danny perked up and grinned. "That was easy. We were digging the wrong way. Instead of just straight-forward digging, which allows the dirt to keep pilling in, we should have been digging a tunnel. That way, the pressure from the ground is evenly distributed in a continuous arch, thereby creating a stable passageway."
Steve stared at Danny, stunned.
Danny chuckled at Steve's expression. "Don't look so surprised. You're not the only one who knows something about science. I went to college, too, you know. And I took physics. And once you know the physics, you know how to dig the hole," he added with a grin.
A slow smile spread over Steve's face. "Danny Williams, a physics genius. Who knew?"
Danny grinned back. "If you want, I'll loan you my phone so you can play Angry Birds and brush up on your physics prowess."
Steve laughed. "I thought you stunk at that game. Grace is always beating you."
"That's because my daughter is brilliant and extremely lucky, not because I'm a bad player," Danny said, pointing to himself, proudly. "I even managed to put my mad skills to use this afternoon, showing the cute nurse down the hall how to clear a few levels in exchange for a copy of your MRI report."
Steve shook his head. "I don't need an MRI."
"Too late," Danny responded. "They already took one. Your doc wanted to check for brain damage."
"Let me guess," Steve interjected. "You told them an MRI was unnecessary because you already knew I had brain damage?"
"Nope." Danny shook his head, grinning with glee. "I told him to put a rush on it. I want documented medical proof that you're not right in the head. Once I get my hands on the report, I'm going to laminate that sucker and stick it on my fridge."
Steve shook his head but a smile crept up on his face anyway. "So, can we go then?" he asked, flipping back his blanket and hanging his legs off the side of the bed. "We need to find Jennings."
"We can go in a few more hours," Danny replied, motioning for Steve to get back in bed. "The doctors want to monitor your oxygen levels and heart rate for any adverse effects from the epi. And Jennings won't be a problem."
"How's that?" Steve asked, quizzically.
"Well, apparently he was so nervous after he gave us the premature burial that he ran a stop sign a few miles from his house. A cop pulled him over and when he ran his plates, he recognized Jennings name from the morning briefing. The officer knew we were looking for him so he did us a favor and brought him to the precinct for us. Hawaii PD had no idea he had already buried us in the cellar. They are charging him with two counts of attempted first degree murder as we speak. They're also going to send him to Honolulu next week so we can question him about the smuggling ring."
"So," Steve mused, "the trip was all for nothing after all."
"No, not all for nothing," Danny corrected, then waved his hand. "Don't get me wrong. It was mainly for nothing and I'm never coming back to this miserable island again even if there's a smuggler standing on every street corner. But thanks to this little fiasco, I know you're not going to lie to me anymore. And now you know I'm a physics genius. So," Danny smiled as he shoved his hand in his pocket, "we got something good out of it after all."
"Sounds like you got all the upside," Steve teased. "What did I get?"
"Are you alive?"
Danny inclined his head, rocking forward on his feet. "That's what you got. And if you have a problem with that, let me know and I can stick you back in the cellar with your little eight-legged friend."
"Nah," Steve ginned and shook his head. "I'm good. And Danny?"
Steve looked up Danny, sincerely. "Thank you."
Danny paused for a moment before answering. "You're welcome. And thank you, too."
Steve nodded. "No problem, partner."
Then Danny chuckled. "It is kind of funny, though."
"You," Danny replied, with a lift of his head. "You go around the world, taking down terrorists and gun runners and who knows who else, yet you get taken down by a spider faster than Superman with Kryptonite." Danny pretended not to notice Steve rolling his eyes and continued. "But of course, you're actually more like Spiderman. What was his Achilles heel?"
It was Steve's turn to frown. "A partner who didn't know when to shut up?"
Danny shook his head. "No, that wasn't it."
"That's right," Steve conceded with a nod. "Spiderman had the good sense to work alone."
Danny ignored him and began pacing and gesturing as he thought out loud. "All I'm saying is if I were you, I'd feel a little gypped. When you got bit by a spider, you went down for the count. It wasn't even a close contest. Charlotte and her little friends from childhood nursery rhymes, 1. Super SEAL, 0. But when Peter Parker got bit by a spider, he got all sorts of cool super powers." Danny stopped pacing and turned to Steve with a grin. "Hey, maybe you got some super powers, too. Have you tried shooting webs out of your hands?"
"I can think of one thing I can shoot out of my hand, no super powers required," Steve replied, complete with a sarcastic grin and a visual demonstration.
Danny ignored him again, clearly enjoying himself. "You know, I bet Kamekona could get you a good deal on a nice Spiderman costume. Granted, it would be at least five sizes too big, but you're handy with a needle and thread. I bet you could tailor it to fit in no time. Just make sure you sew on a little pocket for your Epipen. Duct tape doesn't stick to fabric very well."
Steve shook his head as he chucked under his breath.
This time Danny didn't ignore Steve. He looked at his partner and grinned.
Steve grinned back.