Notes: This is an adaptation of a snippet I wrote about ten years ago for another fandom and it seemed to fit the 7B universe as well. Gratuitous Daniel and Crane h/c for May's birthday so you can blame her for the posting of this plotless sap. *g*

a 7B snippet by PKatt

Daniel shuffled toward the refuge of his bed, each step tugging one way or another on the damaged muscles running the length of his side. The doctor had called it a separated rib; to Daniel that didn't begin to describe the torment invading his body. It felt as if every fiber had been twisted and ripped in half before being stuffed back under his skin. Damn yearling calf. Bad enough a flailing hoof caught him in the ribs, but did he have to get slammed into the iron gate as an encore?

He remembered Crane and Adam yelling after him, their worried faces hovering as he lay in the dirt, too stunned and too scared to move. Daniel had known moving would hurt.

It still did.

Just walking from the bathroom and back had sapped his strength and tested all resolve not to scream with each step. The shot Doc Meade gave him a few hours ago was wearing off and even though he hated shots almost as much as thrashing hooves he would welcome another one if it would stop this searing agony. Right now he prayed for bed and unconsciousness; he just wasn't sure he could manage it in that order.

"Hey, what are you doing?" Crane met him, gripping his arm and supporting Daniel toward the mattress. "I told you to let me know when you were done."

Daniel had figured it was degrading enough to need his brother's help to get out of bed. He didn't want to compound that with an escort to and from the john. Of course by the time he'd made it halfway up the hall Daniel was rethinking the virtues of humiliation.

"I'm all right." Daniel protested, knowing Crane wasn't buying any part of his bravado. Especially when he could barely get the words out without getting winded.

"Uh, huh." Crane said. "Want me to let go?"

Daniel knew he was bluffing, but gripped his brother's forearm in response. No, damn it, I don't want you to let go.

"Then shut up and let me help."

Smartass. Daniel couldn't get breath to actually say it, but Crane's smirk told him he had somehow conveyed that message as well. His brother could read him too well.

"All right, you ready?"

He wanted to shout no, not in the least, but Daniel knew he couldn't stand up any longer. Pain snapped and tightened around his side like the jaws of a steel trap as Crane eased him onto the edge of the bed. Daniel normally would have been embarrassed at the brief scream that came straight from his vocal cords. Then again, this was Crane, his best friend, his big brother. He wouldn't mind if Daniel gave into the fact that everything hurt like hell.

They'd been through a lot worse together.

Daniel pitched forward, Crane the only barrier preventing him from hitting the floor. Another hoarse cry tore from his throat as damaged muscles rebelled and his entire torso cramped from the effort.

"Easy, kiddo. Take your time." Crane encouraged. "Just relax."

He tried. He really did. Just lean back, let gravity do the rest; it should have been easy. Except it wasn't. A simple wish, Daniel thought as he glanced at his pillow, but it felt impossible.

So close, yet so far.

Daniel let out a short laugh, regretting the exhalation of breath and the sharp intake of air he needed afterward. He couldn't move, couldn't breathe, and right now he was longing to just pass out and spare his battered body.

"C'mon, you can do this." Crane's voice sounded far away despite the gentle puff of air as his brother's words drifted into his ear.

"Can't." Daniel huffed out between shallow breaths.

Crane gently grasped Daniel's neck. "Just relax and fall. I'll do all the work."

It took a few seconds to fight his brain's resistance, but Daniel's exhaustion and absolute trust in Crane finally won out. A sharp twinge flared again and Daniel tensed in spite of himself.

"You're all right, just relax." Crane said, patting his brother's uninjured side. "Let go."

The effort wasn't entirely painless, but Daniel gave in, finally reaching that coveted pillow as Crane lifted his legs onto the mattress.

"Thanks." Daniel whispered though the effort of breathing still required concentration.

"Anytime, little brother." Crane said, pulling the quilt up to Daniel's waist. "Hang on, I'll be right back."

Daniel let his body melt against the soft sheets. God, he was so incredibly tired.

"Here, let's try this again." Crane sat on the edge of the bed next to him and carefully placed the familiar ice pack against his side. Daniel hissed at the abrupt cold and pressure against his sore ribs, but Crane held it steady until the pain began to fade into a bearable ache.

"Better?" Crane asked, shifting himself into a more comfortable position as he held the ice pack in place.

Daniel nodded "I'm good."

"Okay, get some rest. Tomorrow's a new day and those calves aren't going to brand themselves." Crane laughed, popping him playfully on the leg.

"What? Are you serious?" Daniel couldn't believe Crane would suggest letting him out of bed, much less allowing him back to work.

"Oh, hell no. You're gonna be hurtin' worse tomorrow." Crane grinned at him and Daniel figured his brother might be reading what Daniel was telepathically telling him to shove and where. "And even worse the day after that."

Okay, Crane was enjoying this way too much. "You are not helping." Daniel managed to spit out between painstaking breaths.

Crane laughed and ruffled Daniel's hair; the same soothing gesture Daniel longed for when he was little. That subtle signal telling Daniel that big brother was looking out for him, that he had someone watching his back no matter what.

"Go to sleep, Danny."

Daniel closed his eyes, more than happy to oblige. He did have to admit he kinda liked knowing his over-protective big brother was still there when he needed him. And that wasn't such a bad deal. Even if that brother could be a colossal pain in the ass.

- fin -