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H50 fic: Pulling a Gilligan (1/1)

December 19th, 2013 (06:18 am)
productive

feeling: productive

Title: Pulling a Gilligan

Disclaimer: I do not own H50.

A/N: This isn’t really my favorite fic, but it fills my shipwrecked square for hc_bingo. Beta thanks to sockie1000. This is set in S1, probably the latter half.

Summary: Really, it’s gone pretty well -- minus the whole stranded on a deserted island bit.



-o-

“You know,” Danny says, rocking back on his heels and digging his hands into his pockets. “I never even liked Gilligan’s Island.”

“Really?” Steve asks. “Sounds like your kind of show.”

Danny scoffs. “Some idiot loose cannon runs around contrary to proper procedure and protocol and ends up costing his crewmates almost everything,” he says. “What about that sounds like I’d like it?”

Steve rolls his eyes. “Well, what about Lost,” he says. “That one’s not bad.”

“I admit, there’s some people who can act on that one -- like the one guy? From Korea?”

Steve makes a face.

Danny shakes his head. “Nevermind,” he says, coughing lightly into his hand with a wince. “And anyway, it totally doesn’t apply.”

“People stranded on an island,” Steve says.

“Yeah, from a plane crash caused by a series of confusing and nonsensical supernatural elements,” Danny says, trying to clear his throat to keep his voice from getting gravelly. “Not idiot partners who decide to crash the boat.

Steve shifts defensively. “Well, Gilligan didn’t crash the boat either,” he says. “There was a storm.”

Danny flings his hands up. “Oh, great,” he says. “So you’re worse than Gilligan. Good for you. You must be proud.”

Steven shrugs loftily. “I didn’t crash the boat.”

“Then how do you explain the shipwreck over there,” Danny says, gesturing wildly to the sinking, overturned hull of their borrowed police cruiser. Droplets of water go flying, since he’s still soaked through from their dramatic escape and swim to shore.

“There was a massive electrical short,” Steve says.

“Because criminals were shooting at us,” Danny points out, shifting his footing again to take pressure off his aching leg, which got caught up in the crash.

“Which was not my fault,” Steve reiterates.

“But you were the one who insisted we follow,” Danny says, running a hand through his sopping hair with frustration. He has to cough again, which he feels deep in his chest. “Without backup, I might add.”

“Because they are wanted in connection with multiple crimes,” Steve says.

“Yeah, and how did that turn out for us?” Danny asks. He’s used to Steve’s antics. Really, he is. But sometimes, after everything Steve’s put him through, the SEAL still manages to surprise him.

And not in a good way.

Because, yes, cops have to take risks. It’s the nature of the job, and Danny came to terms with that years ago. Hell, it cost him his marriage. But risks doesn’t even cover what he goes through with Steve. He makes a mental note to invest in more life insurance when they get back to the main island because his life expectancy is surely diminishing by the day. If it’s not high speed chases or reckless foot pursuits, it’s a shipwreck.

Steve glares at him. “You’re not going to let this go, are you?”

Danny points grandly to the shallow waters not far from the shore, jabbing his finger again, trying not to notice how his dress shoes squish and are already coated with sand. He knows he has a tendency to overreact, but honestly, this time, he thinks he’s totally within his rights. In fact, he may actually be underplaying his hand a bit. He’s wet and he’s sore and it still hurts to breathe a little. And: “Shipwreck!”

Steve sighs. “Yeah,” he mutters. “Definitely not going to let this one go.”

-o-

Danny has a point, but in typical Danny fashion, he’s also missing the point that actually matters. Sure, the boat is wrecked and they may be stranded on a deserted island. And it is possible that their suspects have managed to flee.

But -- and this is an important point as far as Steve’s concerned -- they know which direction the suspects were heading and pretty much have confirmation as to what their intentions are. Plus, with evading arrest and firing on officers, they have plenty of reasons to issue an APB and an arrest warrant, which means that this is still a significant break in the case.

Really, it’s gone pretty well -- minus the whole stranded on a deserted island bit.

Steve doesn’t think of himself necessarily as an optimist, but he’s got a healthy sense of self-reliance that makes him assume that he can cope with any situation that might arise.

This is no different.

Yes, their boat is sinking in the water, taking all possibility of radio contact with it.

Yes, they are stranded on an island with no actual supplies other than what they’ve got in their pockets or strapped to their bodies.

Yes, their cell phones are waterlogged and ruined, and it’s entirely possible that this island is not on any likely flight paths, making incidental spottings fairly unlikely.

But Steve’s a SEAL. He’s survived in worse conditions than this, and he knows he could survive on this island for quite some time, if it actually came to that. Which, of course, it won’t come to that. Because the boat has a tracking device, which will be used to locate them. Probably within the next day or two because as Danny is so keen to point out, it is borrowed.

So really, this is no big deal at all.

Extreme camping, at least to Steve’s way of thinking.

Danny, on the other hand...

The New Jersey detective apparently has decided that pouting is an appropriate response to their situation, and he’s taken residence up by the treeline, just beyond the sand. He’s scowling, trying to keeping his hair slicked back even as the the sun bakes it dry. He hasn’t said anything since his last rant, and Steve hasn’t seen fit to press him while he starts his first order of business.

Danny sighs. “You really think playing in the sand will help?” he asks.

Steve doesn’t look up from his task. “Yeah, actually, I think it will,” he says.

Danny doesn’t look impressed. “I figured you’d say that,” he says. “It’s not very encouraging.”

Steve rolls his eyes, but keeps digging his hands through it. “You know, it’s not like we’re in the middle of nowhere out here,” he says, as conciliatory as possible. Danny also apparently thinks this is his fault, since Steve should be able to predict such things.

“Um, you may want to look around again,” Danny says. “No land. No boats. No planes. Sort of looks like nowhere to me.”

“We’re in highly charted waters,” Steve says.

“Where we have no jurisdiction, if I may remind you,” Danny says.

Steve stands up, putting his hands on his hips while a new bead of sweat trickles down his face. “It was an active pursuit,” he says.

“That failed.

“There are very few places he could have gone this far out,” Steve says. “The size of his boat -- we can narrow down his likely destinations with no trouble at all.”

“Sure,” Danny says. “If we weren’t stranded on a desert island.

Steve groans and bends over again, digging his hand through the sand. “I’m working on that.”

“By playing in the sand?” Danny asks.

“By making a visible sign that we’re here,” Steve says, finishing the last letter and standing up with satisfaction.

Danny, however, is unimpressed at Steve’s large SOS. “Great,” he says. “That’ll work great until, you know, the tide comes in. Or it’s night.

“Well, I can use rocks next time, but I don’t think we’ll need it,” Steve says.

“Oh, let me guess,” Danny says. “Because you’re going to turn into Aquaman and swim us out of peril?”

“Because they’re going to send a team to look for us,” Steve says. “Sooner rather than later. We’re not going to be here more than a day. Maybe two, tops. Hell, Kono and Chin could be in the air now.”

“Or,” Danny says. “They could assume that you borrowed a boat, took it out of range, and trust us not to be completely inept idiots and wait until we don’t show up for work tomorrow. Since, you know, we didn’t file a request form or ask for backup or even tell anyone what we were doing.”

“Well, they would have stopped us,” Steve says.

Danny smiles. “And you say that like it’s a bad thing.”

Steve sighs. “This was the right thing to do.”

“Says the man who isn’t supposed to pick up his daughter from school today.”

Steve’s shoulders fell. “Danny--”

Danny holds up his hand. “No, I know,” he says. “All in the name of duty, right? And hey, at least this way, when my daughter has to wait until she’s the last one at school, at least they’ll know before tomorrow that we’re missing. So, really, her waiting hours thinking I forgot about her is a great thing.”

“Danny--”

Danny just shakes his head. “Just forget it,” he says, and he looks down, the humor and indignation fading.

In reality, Steve wishes he could forget it. He’s made a point in his life -- no connections. He rarely saw his father before he died, and he hardly ever makes a point to visit Mary. He defines his friends by the person fighting at his back, and Catherine is wonderful because she has no strings attached. In his world, making decisions to jump off moving cars or borrow boats and floor it into open water just make sense.

He has nothing to lose.

Danny, though -- Danny does have something to lose. For as often as Danny says that, Steve doesn’t really get it until it’s hanging in the balance. Danny’s safe and he’s okay and their case is still solid and viable -- but back on the island, there’s a little girl who won’t get picked up from school today because of Steve’s decisions.

There are worse things in the world, but that certainly doesn’t feel good.

He presses his lips together, looking at Danny with resolve.

Then, he gets back to work.

-o-

Steve doesn’t slow down to banter after that. He clears away a small patch of dirt up by the trees, close enough to offer them some protection from the sand and tide, but not too close to obscure their fire. If this were a long term stay, Steve would scout out the trees more for a more viable shelter, but one night outside won’t be problematic, especially since it’s incredibly unlikely that there are any real predators on the island.

Still, Steve does scout on the island, looking for food and water. There’s some fruit, which Steve quickly identifies as safe, and he finds a lonely stream not too far away. He helps himself to a few drinks before lugging his cache of fruit back to the shoreline.

Danny is still sitting there, suit, tie, dress shoes and all. He looks unduly miserable, though, and Steve unloads the fruit and gives him a look. “You may want to take off your shoes, at least,” he suggests.

Danny scowls at him. “I may want to be back home but that doesn’t change anything,” he replies sullenly.

Steve holds back his urge to roll his eyes. “Your shoes aren’t made to get wet,” he says instead. “They’re going to be pretty nasty if you don’t.”

Danny doesn’t reply.

“And it’s pretty hot out here,” Steve says. “You could lose the shirt--”

“I like the shirt,” Danny snaps.

Steve holds up his hands. “I’m just trying to make you more comfortable.”

“I’m hungry, sore and stranded on a desert island,” Danny says crossly. He pauses to clear his throat. “I’m pretty sure comfortable is not in the cards.”

“Well, here,” Steve says, tossing a piece of the fruit at Danny.

The detective makes no attempt to catch it, wrinkling his nose as he looks at it. “What is that?”

“Food,” Steve replies, feeling a little proud of his foraging abilities.

Danny tilts his head. “Really?”

“Yes, really,” Steve says. “I already had a few. They’re not the best, but they’ll do.”

Danny gives him a look.

“You said you were hungry,” Steve says.

Danny grunts. “For food,” he says. “Not for your spoils of a SEAL scavenger hunt.”

Steve clenches his jaw. “Just try it.”

Danny coughs a little, but picks it up. He feels it for a moment before peeling the skin. He sniffs it, then takes a pathetic, tentative bite.

Steve waits expectantly.

Danny winces as he swallows. “And this just keeps getting better and better.”

-o-

Despite Danny’s total lack of enthusiasm, Steve thinks things actually are getting better. He finally convinces Danny to take a drink at the stream, and they collect enough wood on their way back for Steve to start a fire. It’s warm enough that they don’t need it, but even Danny is swayed by the idea of black smoke in the sky while there is still daylight.

For a while, the silence is amiable, and Steve is feeling significantly better about the situation. They’re working together, and even with all their personal differences, they actually make a pretty good team. Danny may complain, but he’s good at playing Steve’s right hand man, and Steve has come to count on Danny’s consistency and reliability.

So when they finally settle down near dusk, readying themselves for the idea of the night ahead, Steve is feeling pretty optimistic.

As Danny eases himself down back on the ground, he grimaces, face drawn. Danny is many things, but optimistic is clearly not one of them.

“It’s not going to be so bad tonight,” Steve promises. “This island is tiny. The ecosystem is pretty limited. We’re going to be perfectly safe.”

Danny swallows, making a face. “Unless we’re devoured by small rodents,” he says.

Steve smirks. “You want me to keep watch?”

Danny laughs, short and hard. “You’d just do a flying tackle on one and start an all out war,” he says, biting his lip as he tries to find a comfortable position. “I’ll pass.”

Steve smiles, chuckling.

Danny’s sullen look fades, and he laughs, too, but it tapers off into a cough pretty quickly.

That’s when Steve realizes that he’s neglected one thing. He’s made preparations. He’s made signs for help; he’s found food and water; he’s started a fire. And he knows he sustained no injuries in the accident other than a small tweak of his knee that he’s able to walk through.

But he hasn’t assessed Danny at all. Sure, the other man had seemed fine, because he’s been bitching and moaning the entire time. But in the dying daylight, Steve realizes a few things he’s missed -- or at least overlooked. Because Danny is pale, and while he’s complaining, his vigor has diminished rapidly since they got on land.

Plus, he’s been coughing and while Steve’s chest feels just a little tight from those initial gulps of water, he hasn’t hacked once. Any indications of barotrauma probably would have manifested more clearly after a few hours, but it’s entirely possible that Danny’s taken on quite a bit of water -- and that his lungs are thrilled about it.

And really, he hasn’t seen Danny get up and do much. They made the one hike out, but Steve had been leading the way and he’d chalked Danny’s slowness to his general poor attitude about being stuck on a deserted island.

Frowning, Steve asks, “You feeling okay?”

Danny suppresses another cough with obvious effort. “Need we go over the situation again?”

“I mean besides the psychological trauma,” Steve says with a note of sarcasm. “You weren’t hurt in the crash, were you?”

“You mean when the bad guys shot up our boat and we lost control and flipped?” Danny asks.

“Danny,” Steve says, more seriously now because ranting is normal for Danny, but ranting is also a pretty good deflection tool. “Tell me the truth. How do you feel?”

Danny’s brow furrows, and for a moment, it looks like he’s going to protest with some long litany of irrelevant ills. But instead, he deflates a bit. “I swallowed a ton of water back there,” he says. “I know you’re all Super SEAL and stuff, but generally I’m not always prepared to take a swim.”

“How much water?” Steve asks.

“Sorry, I didn’t measure it,” Danny quips.

“Danny--”

“I don’t know!” Danny says.

Steve reins himself back, as much for his own benefited as Danny’s. “Anything else?”

Danny shrugs. “Sort of sore,” he says. “Got caught up in some of the wreckage. Cut my leg.”

At this, Steve’s heart flutters. “Let me see.”

He’s moving forward, reaching for Danny’s pants, but the shorter man yelps and swats his hand. “Excuse me,” he says. “But we are definitely nowhere near the point where you can be reaching for my pants without my permission. Especially while I’m still wearing them.”

“This isn’t personal,” Steve says. “We need to clean and wrap any open wounds.”

“Oh, so now you’re a doctor as well as a superhero?”

Steve doesn’t back down.

Sighing, Danny hikes up his left pant leg, and Steve sees the wound immediately. It’s about two inches long, cut deep into the back of Danny’s calf. The edges are jagged and dried with blood, and when Steve touches it, Danny hisses and pulls back.

“That hurt?” Steve asks.

Danny glares at him. “What do you think?”

Steve is more careful this time, but Danny still flinches badly when Steve touches it. It’s a little warm to the touch, and while it has stopped bleeding, it’s still red and inflamed -- none of which is good.

“Just a scratch, right?” Danny asks, and Steve knows the other man is either being purposefully obtuse or obscenely hopeful.

“Sure,” Steve says, getting to his feet. “I’m just going to get some water and clean it out again and then we’ll wrap it.”

There’s a flicker of concern in Danny’s eyes. “It’s just a scratch, Steve.”

Steve forces a smile. “I know.”

-o-

Just a scratch or not, Steve is methodical in his first aid. He’s always been better with guns and fighting than gauze and healing, but he knows his way around a first aid kit.

Not that he has a first aid kit. Fortunately, SEALs are educated to survive and while Steve’s usually been focused on his own well being, the same principles apply to keeping Danny alive as well.

Of course, Danny doesn’t exactly make it easy on him.

He makes a fuss when Steve insists on going to the shore, but as they walk across the dimming beach, Steve wonders how much is Danny being contrary and how much is the fact that his leg hurts. Either way, Danny is barely concealing a limp, and it’s plain to see that his face is tight with pain when Steve settles them next to the water.

Once situated, Steve reaches down and promptly rips Danny’s pants.

“Hey!” he objects. “Those are my good pants!”

Steve raises his eyebrows and looks at Danny. “They’re already ripped and soaked with salt water,” he says. “You really think they’re still worth much.”

Danny’s brow darkens. “There’s a principle involved.”

“Yeah,” Steve says. “Saving your life.”

“Well, it wouldn’t have been in jeopardy if you hadn’t pulled a Gilligan,” Danny says, practically pouting.

Steve rolls his eyes and rips the pant leg all the way up to the knee for good measure. “You really aren’t going to let that go, are you?”

“Need I remind you of our current predicament?”

“No,” Steve says, shrugging out of his overshirt and ripping it in two. “I think you’ve reminded me enough.”

“Well it bears repeating,” Danny says with a frown. “Especially since you’re getting undressed now. Seriously, my pants and your shirt? Can’t we just finish a mission fully dressed?”

Steve smirks reaching over and soaking on of the strips in the water. “Where’s the fun in that?”

Danny gives him a forced smile. “Just when I think this can’t get any worse.”

It’s probably not the best timing, but Steve’s not exactly thinking that one through when he takes the strips and presses it to the tender skin on the back of Danny’s calf.

Just like that, Danny’s complaints are cut off as he yelps, jerking back with a hiss. “What the hell?” he asks.

Steve gives him a look. “I can’t clean it without touching it.”

“Sure, but you don’t have to torture me, do you?” Danny asks. “I mean, you just doused it with salt water without even telling me.”

Danny is objecting loudly and stridently, but it’s pretty clear that it’s just a mask for the pain. Steve sighs. “I’ll be more careful,” he concedes. “But it has to be done.”

Danny looks distrustful.

Steve doesn’t yield.

Letting out a breath, Danny relaxes his shoulders, putting his leg back where Steve can work on it. Cautiously, Steve gives Danny one more appraising before trying again.

This time, Danny goes stiff but doesn’t pull away when Steve presses the cloth to the wound. For a moment, Steve merely soaks the wound before starting to dab away the dried blood. As the smeared blood starts to be cleared away, Steve takes a better look at the gash. It’s already stopped bleeding, which is the good news, but it’s still not a pretty wound. Carefully, Steve opens up the torn skin, reaching down to rinse his cloth before squeezing water in it.

Danny tenses, and his face is pinched in the fading daylight. He keeps his lips pressed together, and he says nothing. When Steve repeats the process, Danny’s breathing quickens, and as Steve uses the rest of the shirt to fashion a tight bandage, he sees the other man fist his hands into the sand.

Still, it’s done. They have no antibiotics but the salt water will provide a decent cleanse. It’s as much as Steve can do, and it could be much worse.

But as Steve’s eyes linger on Danny, still breathing through clenched teeth, he also reflects things could be a hell of a lot better, too.

“There,” Steve says, for lack of something better to say. “How does that feel?”

“Peachy,” Danny says tautly as he clambers awkwardly to his feet. Steve hurries up beside him, hovering a bit until Danny glares at him. “I can walk, thank you very much.”

Steve holds up his hands. “Just trying to help.”

“Yeah,” Danny grumbles. “As if I can handle any more of your help.”

-o-

Back at their fire, the sunlight is entirely gone now and Steve looks around with some curiosity at the darkened beach. It is rather scenic. To think, many people would pay for this kind of vacation.

It’s not a vacation, though. And Danny’s miserable face across the fire drives that home.

“You know, with the fire, we could still pick up a notice at night,” Steve offers helpfully.

Danny doesn’t look up.

“And if not, by morning, they’re going to have a full party out,” he says. “Shouldn’t be long.”

Danny snorts softly. “Been long enough.”

Steve sighs, because he knows what Danny means. He can’t help but think about it, too. About Grace at home, tucked in bed with a father who didn’t show up and no idea where he is. It’s not an image he relishes, and Steve’s not even very good with kids.

“Danny,” Steve begins.

But Danny shakes his head. This time, he tilts his head up, the ghost of a smile playing sadly on his lips. “Just got to get through until morning, right?” he asks, the bitterness replaced by sadness.

“Morning,” Steve agrees.

This time, it’s Danny’s turn to sigh. “Then I think I’m going to bed,” he says.

Steve feels a spike of concern -- it’s still early.

Danny’s grin widens a little, but it’s clear he’s doing it for Steve’s benefit. “Apparently getting shipwrecked is exhausting,” he quips.

“Okay,” Steve agrees, because there’s nothing else he can do. “I’ll take first watch.”

Danny grunts as he settles back onto the ground, head padded in the brush as he looks up at the vast sky. “I feel better already.”

He closes his eyes, settling a bit more, before lapsing into silence. It occurs to Steve how strange it is. Not just to be here -- but to see Danny so quiet. It’s not like him, and Steve has had the utmost confidence in everything, but this throws him.

This bothers him.

Because the reality of it is stark, that it’s not just about doing the job or upholding the law. He has a responsibility to Danny, to the man lying on a deserted island because of Steve’s choices. There’s no guarantee that doing things the official way would have ended up better, but Steve’s so used to following his gut that he’s never thought twice about the consequences.

And there are consequences.

Steve just hopes that when morning comes, they’ll be consequences he can live with.

-o-

Steve calls it first watch, but as the hours wear on, he doesn’t really intend to wake Danny up. More than that, he finds that he’s not very tired. He tends the fire with skill and precision, at one point venturing back into the nearby thicket to restock their supply of wood. Leaving Danny causes him some hesitation, even though he knows that the island is entirely safe and the worst things that could happen to them have probably already happened.

Beyond that, he finds it hard to keep busy -- not for a lack of trying. He does what he can to tidy up their campsite, as if removing rocks and twigs actually made much difference. He tinkers with his phone for a while in the off chance that he can salvage some parts, but he knows there’s not much point.

Rescue is coming. The HPD has a downed boat not far from the shore; tracking it will be easy.

Steve’s done everything he can do, and that’s all he’s ever expected of himself. And this isn’t his fault. He knows that. He knows that Danny knows that, no matter what he says to the contrary. Steve’s simply always believed that action is better than inaction. That’s why he took that boat and followed the suspect. Because he’d never know otherwise. It’s been his practice to take the risks, for better and for worse, and deal with the consequences.

Even when it leaves him shipwrecked on an deserted island.

He still did the right thing for the case. The outcome doesn’t negate the validity of the decision in the moment. No one will blame him.

As the night wears on, Steve finds there’s not much solace in that as the embers flicker in the moonlight.

-o-

In the early morning, Steve wakes with a start, jolting upward and blinking in confusion. Of course, he knows exactly where he is -- a deserted island -- and he knows what happened -- an altercation with a suspect led to a subsequent crash of HPD’s boat.

He just doesn’t remember exactly falling asleep.

Furrowing his brow, he gathers his wits, feeling more than a little chagrined. The island is safe, but the fire is burning low and there’s no guarantee Steve didn’t miss a chance to spot a boat or plane at night. It’s unlikely, but so is being stranded on a desert island in the first place.

That’s all not the point, though, and Steve sets about salvaging the fire, building it back up and blowing gently on the embers to encourage the flame to catch. His careful nurturing brings the fire back to a crackle again, and Steve sits back, satisfied at his progress.

Across the way, Danny moves -- and groans. He reaches up, rubbing a hand across his forehead before squinting over at Steve. “Can you turn the inferno down?” he asks crossly.

Steve shrugs. “Not if you want to get out of here.”

“Of course I want to get out of here,” Danny says woodenly as he slowly levers himself to a seated position. His hair is wild and unkempt, and he makes a face of disdain while he swallows. “I just don’t want to die of heat exhaustion before I do.”

Steve is nonplussed. “It’s not that hot out,” he says. “Sun’s not even out yet, and we’ve got a great breeze.”

Danny’s look is nothing short of incredulous. “I’m roasting,” he says sullenly, using a hand to sweep his hair back in a vain attempt to control it.

Steve’s about to say something snarky when he actually looks at Danny. Not just the wild hair or the sleepy eyes -- but the pale skin, still too pale in the approaching dawn. The sweat across his forehead, already starting to collect.

Steve frowns. “How’s the leg?”

“How do you think?” Danny asks.

“We should probably go wash it out,” Steve suggests.

“Because you haven’t tortured me enough on this trip?”

Steve gives him a look. “Danny.”

Danny returns the look, but then falters. “Do we have to?”

“You tell me,” Steve says. “What’s proper police protocol?”

“I’m pretty sure police protocol involves not stealing boats for unsanctioned chases,” Danny points out.

“Someday you are going to have to get over it,” Steve says.

“Yeah,” Danny agrees with a thin smile. “But not today.” He grimaces as he gets up. “Definitely not today.”

-o-

The walk over to the ocean is even slower this time, and it doesn’t escape Steve’s notice that Danny’s limp is far more pronounced. It’s possible Danny’s just not hiding it anymore, but given how weary the other man looks, Steve figures it’s safe to assume that he’s feeling worse.

As Steve unwraps the makeshift bandage, it’s not hard to see why. The cut on Danny’s leg is inflamed now, much worse than before. It’s starting to ooze a little bit, and Steve has no choice but to clean it thoroughly again.

Danny doesn’t complain this time, though he looks absolutely miserable. When Steve is finished washing the cut, he shrugs out of his t-shirt and starts to rip it.

“Whoa,” Danny protests. “How naked are we getting here?”

“We need another bandage,” Steve says, matter of fact.

“And your sweaty, sandy shirt is a good sterile option?”

Danny’s not wrong about that, but Steve also knows that it’s the lesser of a few evils. “Better than putting the same one back on,” he says. “Or if you’d like to leave it open--”

Danny blanches a bit, all his protests ceasing.

Wrapping the wound, Steve almost feels guilty for that. Danny’s clearly having to work at being snarky this morning, and the fact that he can’t muster the energy for a good reply doesn’t seem like good reason to always have the last word.

In fact, it’s never occurred to Steve just how much he counts on Danny’s banter. Danny’s rants and his complaints -- they’re frustrating and annoying and fundamentally a part of how their partnership works. Steve jumps on people; Danny complains about it. There’s a necessary balance there, and without it, Steve feels completely askew.

It’s actually rather bothersome, and as he ties off the fresh bandage, he smiles at Danny again, but this time he can’t quite pull it off. “I know it doesn’t feel great, but we’re going to be out of here soon.”

Danny meets his gaze, his blue eyes tired. “And I’m supposed to believe Gilligan?”

“There are worse choices,” Steve says.

“Yeah, like what?”

Something churns in Steve’s stomach, and he diverts his gaze. “Come on,” he says instead, offering Danny a hand to pull him back to his feet. “We should get back to the fire.”

-o-

Steve spends the morning keeping busy. They share a simple meal of fruit and water, which Steve devours quickly. He’s meticulous about the fire, and when he gets too restless, he start in on the SOS sign again. Danny offers no commentary this time, but sits on the sand and keeps his eyes fixed on the sky.

“You’ve got to give them time to get rounded up,” Steve lectures Danny. “Search parties have to be organized. Just a few more hours.”

Danny grunts. “Can’t hardly wait.”

-o-

When the SOS sign is complete, Steve checks their wood supply and then goes out get more food. Then, he hollows out two coconuts to make jugs for water. After several more hours, he decides it’s time for lunch, and gives Danny more than his share of food and water for the meal.

Danny accepts it all, but only picks at it. “You know, Rachel probably made Grace go to school today,” he says, playing with a piece of the fruit. “She’ll want her to keep things as normal as possible.” He looks up, giving Steve a bitter smile. “If I died, she’d probably not want Grace to miss school for the funeral.”

Steve’s face hardens. “You’re just being melodramatic now,” he says. “Help is coming. Soon.”

Danny looks away again. “Yeah,” he says, almost nodding to himself. “Yeah.”

-o-

In the afternoon, the sun is relentless. Steve and Danny shift back to the shade, and the small move seems to exhaust Danny. He’s trying not to show it, but the detective is looking worse.

When Steve suggests Danny tries taking a nap, it’s not encouraging that Danny agrees immediately. “When are you going to make a hammock for us?” he asks, blinking sleepily in the shade. He clears his throat with a cough. “Worked so well for the Skipper.”

“Not for Gilligan, though,” Steve says. “Besides, we won’t be here long.”

Danny hums. “Might be worth it for the hammock.”

-o-

Danny sleeps most of the afternoon. Steve keeps busy, checking the fire, collecting wood, organizing the food. When they have enough wood for two days and enough fruit for three, Steve reminds himself that it’s only going to be mere hours. They will only eat one more meal here -- if that.

Help’s coming. Chin is probably organizing the effort now. Kono’s probably on a boat, zeroing in on the tracking device in the water.

Steve looks at Danny, still asleep.

Help will be here by the time he wakes up.

-o-

It’s approaching dusk when Steve finally decides to wake Danny. They should eat something -- just in case.

It’s all very practical. It has nothing to do with the fact that Danny’s been sleeping for hours and Steve is bored, stir-crazy and starting to get concerned. He’s a man of action, after all.

But when he reaches over, touching Danny’s shoulder, he almost recoils. Danny is hot to the touch.

Groggily, Danny stirs, eyes opening. But they’re fever bright, and it takes the detective far too long to find Steve’s gaze and even longer to return it with recognition. “Steve?” he asks, the letters slurring a little. “We okay?”

It’s a simple question, one with an implicit trust that Steve suddenly doesn’t know what to do with. Because Steve looks out for himself, and he’s been on his own so long that that’s all he knows how to do. He makes choice for the mission, and he takes risks like he has nothing to lose.

And this isn’t just about the fact that Danny’s a father. It’s not about a little girl waiting for her father to pick her up or sitting in math class wondering if he’ll come home.

It’s about Danny.

His partner.

Steve commandeered himself a partner one day in on the job, and he’s been driving that partnership recklessly ever since. He’s done what he had to do -- what’s always seemed right and necessary -- and he’s never thought twice...

Until he’s shipwrecked.

Not the boat in the water.

But this. His partnership.

His friendship.

The unexpected surge of emotion is unsettling, and he pushes it back and settles for guilty resolve. He holds Danny’s gaze, uncertain though it may be. He doesn’t believe in blind promises for himself -- but this isn’t just about him anymore.

“Yeah, Danny,” Steve says. “Everything’s going to be just fine.”

Danny’s brow creases. He breathes in, coughing heavily for a moment before asking, “Help’s here?”

Steve bites the inside of his lip, squeezing Danny’s shoulder. “Any minute now,” he promises, eyes flitting toward the sky. “Any minute.”

-o-

By nightfall, Steve builds the fire higher. He keeps it raging, shifting Danny back further to avoid the smoke. He wants the flame to be seen for miles -- and then some.

He doesn’t know why rescue hasn’t come. There are thousands of reasons. Maybe the tracker malfunctioned. Maybe they’ve had mechanical difficulties. Maybe there have been other, unexpected issues arise.

Maybe Steve’s miscalculated.

Maybe Steve got it wrong.

He doesn’t know, but he does know that Danny has to get out of here -- and soon. Although Steve coaxed the other man into drinking, trying to convince him to eat fruit had been too much. They’d managed an hour of stilted conversation before Danny had drifted off again and Steve hasn’t had the heart to wake up.

Instead, he sits idly now. There are no more tasks except to poke the fire, throwing on a log every now and then. He’s going through wood too quickly, he’ll need to resupply if help isn’t here by the morning.

He looks at Danny.

Help has to be here by morning.

There’s no other option.

-o-

The darkness deepens even as Steve’s fire rages. It’s futile, though. There’s no sign of a plane; no sign of a boat.

Just two partners, stranded on a desert island.

-o-

It’s late when Danny’s breathing hitches and starts to turn wet. The other man has snuffled in his sleep on and off, coughing and muttering every now and then while the fever rises. But this time, his breathing catches and he hacks, coughing so hard that he curls in on himself. When he’s done, he lies limply on his side, still asleep with his mouth open.

Only now, his breathing is jagged, each inhalation more noisy than the last. It could be nothing, but with the infected leg and the water Danny probably swallowed during their time in the water, Steve’s not so sure.

As if things could get much worse.

-o-

In the dawn, Danny’s breathing is frighteningly labored, each breath rattling and laborious. He’s burning up under Steve’s touch, and he doesn’t rouse even when Steve checks the wound on his leg. The wound is vivid red and seeping, and Danny doesn’t even stir.

Desperate, he throws everything on the fire and watches the smoke billow. Help has to come. It has to.

Steve gives until he has nothing left. This is just how he is.

He hopes it’s enough this time.

-o-

The fire has all but gone out, and Steve’s hope is dying with it.

On the ground, Danny’s breathing is taking on a desperate keening, and Steve sits numbly and remembers how this feels. He’s been here before, talking on a phone while someone kills his father. To be so intimately useless. Steve always thought, if he had just been there.

He’s here now. It doesn’t change anything.

Danny’s still dying. On a deserted island from one of Steve’s chases.

“I’m sorry,” Steve says, and he closes his eyes. “I’m so sorry.”

The emotion chokes him, and his eyes burn. His chest tightens and his heart pounds.

Then, he hears it. Beyond the pound of his heart; beyond Danny’s labored breathing.

A steady, mechanical pounding, far off but coming closer.

The emotion forgotten, Steve’s eyes are open and he’s on his feet in an instant. He scrambles across the beach and squints in the sky, using his hand to block the sun as he looks and looks and--

There it is.

A helicopter.

Steve nearly cries from relief.

-o-

The helicopter can’t land, but it comes up over the shore, and one of the crew is lowered down. Over the roaring engine, it’s a little hard to hear and Steve positions himself in front of Danny to block the sand upturned by the blades.

The woman approaches. “Commander McGarrett?”

“Yeah,” Steve says. He nods back toward Danny. “Are you equipped as an ambulance?”

She looks around Steve toward Danny, her brow furrowing a little. “Yeah, I’m a certified air medic,” she says, moving toward Danny. She goes to her knees next to him. “What happened?”

Steve follows close. “Cut on his leg seems to be infected,” he reports. “I did what I could--”

She nods, running a hand over Danny’s forehead before dropping down close to his chest. “Sounds like he’s getting pneumonia,” she says. She glances up at Steve. “Did he swallow some water?”

“Our boat went down pretty quickly,” Steve says.

Back on her feet, she picks up her radio. “We’re going to need the stretcher,” she reports. After the affirmative crackles in reply she looks at Steve. “And you’re okay?”

“Yeah,” Steve says. “Not a scratch.”

It’s a bitter irony. This was Steve choice; this was Steve’s mistake. And Danny’s the one with a raging fever. Steve’s going to walk away fine.

Danny might not walk away at all.

He thinks of all the things he could have done -- the things he should have done -- and none of it changes this. Steve can make decisions in isolation, but the consequences are no longer singular to him.

Things have changed, and he’s been more than ready to accept the benefits of working with a partner -- with a team.

And now he has to face the consequences, too.

Steve’s a man of action, but he’s never felt more useless in his life.

-o-

The medic is efficient, which Steve appreciates, but it’s still hard to watch her load Danny up. The shorter man is strapped down the backboard, and Steve helps her transfer him to the basket. Danny would hate this if he were conscious. He’d rail against it, complain and bitch and moan.

But Danny’s not conscious. He stays still, eyes closed and face pale as he’s lifted, the small basket buffeted by the winds.

When the basket is secured and Danny is moved inside, another cord is dropped down. The medic grabs it and turns to Steve. “Your turn,” she says. “You need some help?”

Steve shakes his head, numbly taking the harness. “I’m a SEAL,” he says.

“Oh,” she replies, eyebrows up. “So you know what you’re doing, then.”

Steve only wishes that were true.

-o-

The flight back isn’t long, but Steve feels like it takes forever. He spends only a few minutes visually ascertaining their location from the air, and he’s chagrined to realize just how far off course he’d let them go. He’d been so intent on following the perp, that he hadn’t realized how far they’d gone.

That sheer distance alone had likely complicated search efforts.

Steve’s stomach churns guiltily as he looked at Danny. The medic is tending to him now, opening up his shirt to listen to his lungs and hooking him up to a heart monitor. She unwraps the makeshift bandage on his legs and frowns before replacing it with a pristine piece of gauze.

There’s nothing she can do. Her job is to get her patient from point A to point B.

It’s Steve’s job to make sure his team is safe.

This isn’t his first failure by any means. But short of standing at his father’s graveside, this may be the worst.

-o-

The flight is redirected to the hospital, and Steve climbs out, helping navigate the backboard to the waiting gurney. He keeps pace with the medical team, providing answers as they make the trip down the elevator.

Danny doesn’t move much apart from grimacing when the doctors aggressive check his responses. His brow creases in what seems to be annoyance before it smooths out and Danny is lost to unconsciousness again.

At the ER, Steve tries to follow the team in but he’s stopped by one of the nurses. “You’ve done all you can now,” she says, by way of assurance. Her smile is perfunctory; sympathetic. “Let us do our job now.”

Steve has no choice but to comply.

-o-

By the time Chin and Kono show up, Danny’s already been moved to an ICU room.

“What happened?” is Kono’s first question.

“How is he?” is Chin’s.

Steve takes a breath and lets it out. “The suspect resisted arrest,” he reports. “So we took a boat and followed him. The pursuit got hot.”

“And long,” Kono says. “Why didn’t you call for backup?”

“There wasn’t time,” Steve says automatically, because that’s the truth of it. He hadn’t meant for this. He hadn’t meant...

“And Danny?” Chin asks, a little quieter now.

And Steve can’t look them in the eyes.

-o-

The cut on Danny’s leg isn’t necessarily serious, but it is badly infected. The infection seems to have compounded the fluid in lungs, presumably from the near-drowning experience. All things considered, Danny’s fighting a barrage of infections in his lungs and in his leg, and there’s evidence that it may be trying to spread to his blood and other organs. If that happens...

Well, that can’t happen.

As it is, Danny’s fever is dangerously high and not responding well to medication. His breathing has continued to degrade and when his oxygen levels bottomed out under 80 percent, they went ahead and intubated him, mostly as a precaution. The doctors are hopeful that an aggressive treatment of antibiotics will help turn the tide, but only time will tell.

Chin takes the news stoically, but the weight of it is heavy in his expression. Kono’s eyes goes wide, as if she almost can’t believe it.

It occurs to Steve that it’s his place to comfort them. It’s his place to tell them what’s going to happen next. He’s the team leader; he’s in charge of this.

Standing there, though, he doesn’t know what to do. He has no comfort. He has no plans. He has nothing.

Just a team he can’t lead and a partner he can’t save.

For the first time, Steve starts to wonder if he should have turned the governor down all those months ago and spared them all of this.

-o-

The hardest part, though, is telling Rachel.

He insists on doing it himself, and tells Chin and Kono to sit with Danny while he does. He considers calling, but it doesn’t seem right so he borrows Kono’s keys and takes her car instead.

At Rachel’s house, he has to be beeped through the security gate and when he gets to the front door, Rachel is already standing there, grim faced and ready.

“It’s not his fault,” Steve tells her quickly. “Our boat capsized; it sunk. I was driving it. It’s not his fault.”

She sighs, moving wearily away from the door to let Steve inside. “It never is.”

-o-

Rachel doesn’t say much as Steve tells her Danny’s prognosis. She doesn’t ask questions; she doesn’t place blame. Instead, she lets out a breath. “What should I tell Grace?”

He thinks about what Danny said, about the lies about how Rachel would want to hide it. Danny would never want to scare Grace, but he knows Danny well enough to know he’d tell her enough of the truth to count.

“Nothing,” Steve says.

Rachel’s eyebrows go up.

“I’ll do it,” he says to Rachel’s obvious surprise. “I’ll do it.”

“She’s not your daughter,” Rachel remind him.

“No,” Steve agrees. “But Danny’s my responsibility in the field. I’ll tell her.”

-o-

At Grace’s door, Steve knocks. He hears scurrying away from the wall and he opens it to find Grace perched on the edge of the bed, trying to look like she’s been there all along. Her big eyes are expectant, and even if Rachel hasn’t told her much, it’s pretty clear she already has her suspicions.

“Is Danno okay?” she asks.

Steve swallows, making his way over to her bed. He sits down gingerly beside her. “We had an accident,” he starts.

She flinches, almost bracing herself. “But he’s okay?”

With another measured breath, Steve nods. “He’s at the hospital,” he explains. “The doctors are taking real good care of him.”

“Danno doesn’t like hospitals,” she says.

Steve smiles. “Well, let’s hope he won’t stay there long then.”

She smiles back, but it falters after a moment. “You were gone for two days,” she says.

Steve’s own smile fades. “I know. I’m sorry about that.”

She shakes her head, looking up at him earnestly. “Danno said I never have to be too scared when he’s with you,” she says.

Steve frowns. “Why’s that?”

“Because you’re his partner,” she says. “And Danno says partners look out for each other, no matter what.”

“Danny said that about me?” Steve clarifies.

She nods. “He said he’s never had a partner quite like you before.”

Steve has to laugh. “Are you sure he meant that in a good way?”

Grace doesn’t catch the joke. Instead, she nods again. “So he’ll be okay, right?” she asks.

Steve’s chest tightens, and he tries not to think about Danny laid out in the ICU. He tries not to think about Grace waiting at school for Danny to pick her up. Now, two days later, she’s still waiting and Steve is no closer to giving her back her father.

But Steve can’t lie to her.

There are other truths to tell, though.

Tentative, he reaches out, wrapping one arm around Grace’s shoulders. “I hope so,” he says.

She turns toward him, flinging her arms around him and nodding into his chest. “I know so.”

Steve isn’t sure what’s more surprising -- the force of her hug or the certainty of her words. Either way, all he can do it hold her, waiting until she’s ready to let go.

-o-

Grace takes him back downstairs, and she all but insists on seeing Danny. Normally whining children make Steve uncomfortable, but he’s with Grace on this one. Rachel has no choice but to agree, though it’s easy to see Rachel wants to go, too.

When they arrive at the hospital, Steve wastes no time taking them up to see Danny. Kono and Chin are still crowded into the room, and there’s a breathless moment when they’re all in there together.

Rachel and Grace, Chin and Kono. Danny in the bed. Steve in the door.

This is his responsibility.

More than cases; more than a job.

This is his.

He just wishes he’d seen it sooner.

-o-

Grace wants to linger, and Steve is not about to stop her, but Rachel eventually shoos her out. She exchanges a look with Steve at the door. “You’ll call...”

“Either way,” Steve promises.

Her gaze goes back to the bed. “He trusts you, you know,” she says. “He never had one good thing to say about this island before joining 5-0.”

“Not sure he’ll have much to say good about it after this,” Steve remarks.

Rachel looks at him, eyes narrowed a little. “Just look out for him,” she says. Then she adds, more softly, “Please.”

“There’s no task I value higher,” he promises, because now he knows it’s true.

-o-

It all comes back, just like instinct. He rounds up Chin and Kono first, taking them to the waiting room and asking if they’ve had any updates about the suspect.

“We’ve been here,” Kono says, a little surprised.

“Well, it’s time to get back out there,” Steve says. “The suspect went pretty far out -- there’s not a lot of place he could go from that position.”

“We could draw up a list of possible destinations pretty easy based on the location of your boat,” Chin says.

“Exactly,” Steve replies. “Which is what I want you to do. He’s had a two day head start, but if we’re lucky, he’ll be laying low, waiting for a better time to make a break for it.”

“We automatically put out an APB when you went missing,” Kono says.

“Good,” Steve says. “Now I want you to get that upgraded to include a warrant for an arrest.”

“For resisting?” Kono asks.

“How about attempted murder,” Chin says.

Steve nods. “Now you’re thinking,” he says, smiling slightly. “Get as many resources as you need. If anyone says something to you--”

“I’ll refer them to you,” Chin says.

“No,” Steve says. “You can refer them to the governor. If we’ve ever need that long leash, this is it, and I intend to use it.”

“Got it,” Chin says.

Kono hesitates. “And Danny?”

Steve takes a breath and calms himself. “That’s my responsibility for now, okay?”

She nods, looking down.

Chin grasps her shoulder in solidarity. “He’s not your average haole,” he says with a wry grin.

Kono chuffs. “He’s not your average anything.”

We’re not your average team,” Steve clarifies. “Now come on. Let’s make this count for something.”

Steve’s never been much for inspirational speeches, but somehow he pulls this one off. Somehow he’s rallied his team. Normally, he’d be out there, tracking down the suspect. But Steve trusts his team.

Besides, Steve knows he has more pressing responsibilities.

-o-

When Chin and Kono leave, Steve takes one minute to collect himself. It hasn’t even been a day since they got off the island, no more than three since the boat was shipwrecked. A lot has happened, and yet, not so very much. Steve’s left with the debris of this case, but he thinks he can salvage something from this shipwreck yet.

And he’s not just talking about the suspect.

Decided, he goes back to Danny’s room.

Inside, the other man is no better and no worse. He hasn’t moved, still unconscious and intubated on the bed. In some ways, the medical intervention is reassuring -- on the island, Danny was helpless and dying and Steve could only watch the inevitable slide.

Here, Danny’s comfortable and he’s getting the help he needs. Steve’s still helpless, but at least it’s better than nothing.

Even so, his resolve falters when he gets to Danny’s side. He lingers, feeling out of place. It’s an unnatural feeling, watching someone in a hospital bed. Especially someone like Danny. Danny’s always moving, always talking, always shifting. Now, he’s utterly still, his face blank and his limbs slack.

With a steadying breath, he reaches down, scooping up Danny’s limp fingers in his own. He hesitates, then squeezes.

It’s like part of Danny never left that island. As if Steve never dragged all of him to shore.

That’s not the way it is, though. At least, it’s not too late. The doctors are still optimistic, and Steve’s never quit on anything, and he can’t quit on this. “We made it back,” he says. “A little later than I thought, but we made it back.”

Danny doesn’t say anything. The machines beep and whir.

Steve swallows hard. “Now I’m just waiting on you,” he says. “No matter how long it takes. We’ll do it your way this time.”

Because, in the end, that’s just what partners do.

-o-

Steve loses track of the hours. On the island, he’d been acutely aware. He’s used to being in full control of his senses. In Danny’s hospital room, though, things exist in a different way. Time has a different meaning, measured in beeps and doctor visits.

Steve takes calls, talking through the case with Chin and Kono. They’ve got a good lead, and Steve gives them a go to take in the son of a bitch. He even talks to the governor once, patiently explaining what happened and why and promising he had it all under control.

Rachel brings Grace again before the night, and they spend a few minutes. Steve retreats, but doesn’t leave, and he watches as Rachel lets Grace curl up next to Danny. Before they leave, Rachel’s fingers linger in Danny’s hair and she gives Steve a knowing, plaintive look.

He spends time with Danny’s doctor, getting updates every time they check him. He parses their optimism, and tries to believe it. Danny’s holding steady; he’s not getting better but he’s not getting worse. That’s something, they tell him.

When they all leave, it’s just him and Danny. It still feels weird to Steve.

It also feels right.

-o-

Steve spent the last two nights stranded on a deserted island. Those had been unpleasant nights, fraught with answers to questions he’d never wanted to answer.

The night he spends by Danny’s hospital bed is worse.

He stays on, though. Dogged as ever. They’ll get through this night. Things will be better in the morning. Steve’s making the same promises, but he trusts that this time it’s true.

He hopes this time it’s true.

Because Steve will stay and fight for Danny -- just like Danny will stay and fight for him. They’ll make it.

Together.

-o-

In the morning, Steve realizes he’s fallen asleep. There’s a crick in his neck and light coming in through the window. He squints, sitting up with a wince and rubbing his neck.

He’s still in the hospital room -- the governor’s special 5-0 rules had never been explicitly expanded to medical facilities, but Steve had pushed his luck on that one and got 24 hour access -- and Danny’s still laid out. Heart beating, lungs breathing --

Eyes awake.

Steve blinks, startled, moving forward to get in Danny’s line of vision. The other man looks genuinely confused for a moment, and as the looks heightens to distress, Steve remembers his part in all this.

“Hey,” he says. “Take it easy.”

Danny’s brow furrows deeply.

Steve chuckles. “I know you don’t want to, but this one’s not my call.”

Danny takes a moment but seems to calm himself, although he still looks uncomfortable.

“Hey,” Steve says with a shrug. “At least we’re not stranded on a desert island anymore.”

Danny can’t speak, but the look of hatred in his eyes is pretty telling. And if that isn’t enough, the lone finger Danny manages to raise on his hand is a hard indictment to ignore.

Steve laughs again. “Glad to have you back, Danno.”

-o-

It’s funny. A few days ago, Danny was sure that the worst thing in the world was being shipwrecked and stranded on a deserted island with a psychopath.

Now he knows that’s not true.

No, the worst thing in the world -- and it really is the worst -- is recovering from being shipwrecked and stranded on a deserted island with a psychopath that will just not go away.

Not only is it painful -- they shoved a damn tube down his throat -- but it’s also humiliating. Doctors and nurses seem to think they have the right to pull off the blankets and lift up his gown -- God help him, he’s stuck in a dress -- and Steve doesn’t have the decency to leave. Not to mention the fact that they let him lose the tube, but it still feels like he’s got a swamp settled in his chest and every breath is monotonous and horrible and he breaks down with coughing fits that leave him crying.

Not only is it all those things, but it’s boring.

Danny almost died from infection and he’s fighting a nasty case of pneumonia and it’s boring.

Because when he’s not being accosted by medical staff or curling over wanting to die, all he can do is stare at a wall and listen to Steve ramble. Normally Danny likes conversation. Steve, however, is no sort of conversationalist.

And the man won’t leave.

After nearly an entire day of torture, Danny breaks down and says, “What are you still doing here?”

Steve stops abruptly, looking genuinely surprised. “What?”

“What are you still doing here?” Danny asks, enunciating the words carefully, which is actually easier said than done considering the fact that taking a deep breath is basically like shoving a knife in his chest. Repeatedly.

“I don’t understand,” Steve says stupidly.

Danny rolls his eyes. He tries to groan but it gets garbled and he coughs instead. It takes him a good thirty seconds to stop, and when he does, he glares at Steve again. “I mean,” Danny says slowly, trying his best not to exacerbate his so-called delicate condition, “shouldn’t you be chasing a criminal?”

Steve tilts his head. “Kono and Chin are on it.”

Danny is taken aback. “But that’s the sort of thing you do yourself,” he says. “At all costs. Stealing boats and sinking them -- all in the name of the righteous end.”

Danny doesn’t actually mean anything by it. He’s not actually mad about that, but the slight blanching in Steve’s face is a telling surprise.

Danny’s hit a nerve.

“I just thought you had a job to do,” Danny explains. “And you can’t do it from the inside of a hospital room.”

He’s winded by the speech, so he’s fairly glad that Steve finally replies. “That’s not the only job.”

Danny waits for more. When more doesn’t come, his jaw drops. “What?”

Steve shrugs. “You were right,” he says. “The case isn’t the only thing that matters. I prioritized the case over your well being, and I’m sorry.”

Danny is actually gaping now, and he’s keenly aware of that fact but he’s not entirely sure how to stop. “You’re apologizing?”

“It was reckless--”

“Yeah--” Danny says.

“So you were right,” Steve concludes, as if that’s all there is to say about it.

But that’s not all there is to say about it. Because Danny rants and raves, but that doesn’t always mean he disagrees with Steve. At least, not about everything.

He shakes his head. “But so were you.”

Now it’s Steve’s turn to be taken aback. “What? You were pissed about the boat.”

“Well you crashed it,” Danny says, pausing briefly to take a breath. He shakes his head. “And you really should have just filed a requisition form for it.”

Steve looks confused. “So you do think I was wrong--”

“You should have filed the requisition form and then left before it was processed,” Danny corrects him. Steve looks stunned. Danny shrugs. “There are ways to bend the rules without breaking them.”

“We still would have crashed, though,” Steve points out.

Danny sighs -- and regrets it when his lungs burn. He controls the urge to hack until he pukes and concedes, “Probably.”

“And you still would have almost died.”

Danny forces a smile. “Thanks for that wonderful reminder.”

“I’m just saying,” Steve says, and Danny notices for the first time that Steve looks different than normal. Tired and weary. Strangely non-hellbent on defying logic and reason at every turn. “My actions still would have gotten you hurt.”

“No,” Danny says, and this time he does sigh. He has to swallow hard to avoid a railing cough, but somehow he pulls it off. “We crashed because some idiot resisted arrest and decided to fire at us.”

Steve looks perplexed.

“I prefer to blame criminals for crimes,” he says. “Partners can have poor judgment and they can do stupid things, but we’re still on the same side.”

Steve is completely shell-shocked.

And now it’s Danny’s turn to feel guilty. Because that’s what this has been, he realizes. Steve feels guilty. He blames himself for Danny’s injuries, and he’s been sitting vigil in some attempt to rectify that mistake. As if to get his priorities in order.

It’s sort of sweet.

It’s sort of damaged.

And it’s sort of Danny’s fault. Because he does blame Steve for things. He goes off on tangents and he fixes blame where it’s easiest because that’s what Danny does. He talks and rambles, and Steve acts and doesn’t look back.

That’s probably why they’re a good team.

And partners make things right. Even when they don’t want to.

“Look,” Danny says. “No matter what I said back there, I never doubted you. I knew you’d get us off the island.”

“It’s not like I did much,” Steve says. “The rescue team did most of the hard work.”

“The rescue team was a day late,” Danny reminds him. “And that’s a day I don’t even remember, and the only reason I can talk about it at all is because of you.”

Steve seems reluctant to hear it, but he also can’t deny it. Slowly a smile spreads across his face. “So I guess that means I’m not Gilligan after all.”

Danny snorts, which leads to a cough he manages to cut off after a few seconds. He swallows painfully and shakes his head. “No way,” he says. “You’re totally still Gilligan.”

Steve makes a face of mock protest. “But you just told me I was the hero!”

“Sure,” Danny says. “And in that idiot sitcom, somehow, against all odds, Gilligan was the hero even with every stupid and nonsensical thing he did.”

“So you’re telling me I really am your hero,” Steve clarifies.

Danny groans, and he feels the rant brewing in his gut. It’s close to apoplectic rage, which is why Danny knows everything is going to be okay.

Steve’s still a psychopath; Danny still has ample reasons to complain.

As far as Danny’s concern, things have never been better.