Green and Red

by Jane Davitt

"You really thought I was jealous?" Danny asks a sprawled out Steve sipping a forbidden beer on Danny's bed. It's only one beer, though, and the careful way that Steve's swallowing makes Danny think that it's destined to go warm and flat in the bottle. Steve looks like shit. Pale, bloody, his eyes…they look kind of blurred as if Steve's trying not to look at what he can see when he closes them, which makes no sense, but hell, Danny's tired, too and he hasn't just killed a former best buddy and had his house shot up.

Distracting Steve enough to get him relaxed enough to actually do as he was told and rest is a kindness. Choosing a question that Danny really wants to know the answer to is efficiency. Serendipity. Something.

Steve stops pretending to drink and stares at a piece of air that probably starts confessing to being on the stale side after three seconds of being frowned at.  (Danny always means to tidy up. Good intentions count for something, right?)

"Maybe. You kind of came across that way. I didn't mind."

The painkillers the medics gave Steve for his arm and his head and all the other marks left scratched into his skin are slowing Steve's speech, but he's not out of it enough to make Danny feel guilty for pushing.

"You didn't mind? How can you not mind -- oh, never mind."

Steve smiles at that. Danny knew he would. "I didn't mind. Don't know why, though. It wasn't because he was a friend."

There's just the faintest hint of a question there and Danny shakes his head. "Not at all. No. Friends are good. The more the merrier."

"Yeah." Steve purses his mouth and Danny swallows, watching the shape his lips make without letting himself picture them parted, rounded in an oh, an oh, a gasp. "So it was the hug then."

Whoa. That's… Okay, that was -- Danny makes sure that his voice is under control before he answers and even then it comes out a little strained and tight. "The hug? Oh, yeah, the hug. Nah. I bet you'd hug me if you hadn't seen me for a couple years, right?"

"No," Steve said. "I wouldn't hug you."

"Okay, now I'm mad. Just a little, not a lot, don't get bent out of shape because I'm not --" Danny begins, keeping it light, keeping it buddies, keeping it real.

"If I hadn't seen you for years, I'd have pined away," Steve says, solemn as a judge, that smile, that incredible sunrise and kittens playing with yarn fucking smile nowhere to be seen apart from in his eyes, which don't look so out of focus now because they're not looking at images of night and blood and dying men, they're looking right at Danny.

"Okay, you can stop right there --"

"Turned my face to the wall and refused to eat --"

"Any time. Any time now."

"Stayed in bed clutching one of your old ties --"

"You're mean when you're wounded, you know that?" Danny demands, getting to his feet in a huff that's less fake than he wants it to be. "The pain makes you bitchy as hell."

Steve sets the bottle down and gets up off Danny's bed, wobbling just a little so that Danny's over there steadying him without thinking. He didn't rush over, protective instincts kicking in; it's a small room. Tiny.

"I wouldn't hug you because it wouldn't happen," Steve says. "Even if you went back to that hellhole you call home, I'd swing by and visit now and then."

"New Jersey is not a hellhole," Danny says very firmly. He has to be firm with Steve over things like this. Steve gets away with too much shit as it is. "And they don't let you in without a tie."

"So I'll buy a tie. Just for you."

It's more of that weird flirting they do, that's all, but Danny's chest is tight and aching and his ears are buzzing. That doesn't usually happen.

"You'll buy a tie," Danny repeats, just to be moving his mouth and filling up the space between them. Not much of a space. His hand is on Steve's arm, his fingers curled around bare skin and his other hand is making a fist as he fights not to bring it up to trace the slash of red over Steve's eye. He want to touch it. He knows how to do that so that it doesn't hurt. He needs to touch every scrape and cut and bruise the day's punched into Steve's body and check for himself that they're not serious, they'll mend.

Rain's hammering against the windows, a shower that's going to leave the sky scrubbed bright and blue come morning, but right now it's so late it's almost early and the world is dark.

"I guess we could hug even if it hasn't been a few years since we saw each other," Steve says and there's never going to be a time when Danny wants the teasing and the flirting to go away because hell, it's fun, but as Steve's arms come around him, tentatively at first, as if Steve's working out how much his damaged arm can handle, or maybe how much of a hug Danny can handle, he thinks that yes, he's ready for more, too.

The hug lasts longer than the one he got jealous over by a good thirty seconds. In fact, if he was going to get all pedantic and stuff they're talking cuddling here. Steve's leaning and squeezing and his hands are moving up and down Danny's back and hands don't move in a guy hug except to maybe smack briskly on a shoulder.

In fact, even when they pull back and look at each other, they're still hanging on to each other, like they're both magnetized maybe. Danny clears his throat and tries not to watch his thumb moving in slow strokes over a square inch or two of Steve's bicep. "You, uh, plan on doing that every morning? Because I'm thinking people might start to notice."

"Notice what?" Steve says and seems to mean it. Jesus, he's so oblivious sometimes, or really, really good at yanking Danny's chain. Either. Both. "Tell you what, I'll hug Kono and Chin, too, how's that?"

"No," Danny says, the word shooting out, bullet-fast. "Just me."


"Just you?" Steve asks and yeah, the smile's back.

"Just me," Danny says with a sigh. "And not every day. And not when people are watching. And not --"

"God, you talk a lot. Is that a New Jersey thing, too?"

"Maybe," Danny allows and peels off his hand so that he can use it to point to his bed. "Lie down. Rest. No more talking."

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