Pairing: Sheldon Hawkes/Don Flack
Spoiler: Tag for The Deep
Summary: A helping hand is a good beginning...
"It was nothing,” Danny said self-effacingly. His efforts to save Sheldon from certain drowning in the East River were nothing to sneeze at, but that didn't mean that Danny was going to get a swelled head about it. “I mean you'd do the same for me, right?"
Danny squinted at Sheldon for a moment before he allowed a smile to escape his lips. He shook his head and gently patted his friend on the back.
“Get out of here, Doc! Go home and rest. I don't want to see you back in the lab without a doctor's note--written by a doctor who's not named 'Hawkes'.”
Sheldon was only too glad to comply. His shoulder was sore and his ribs ached with every breath he took. He said goodbye to the rest of the team and made his way to the elevator. When he reached the ground floor he stepped outside and sighed at the scene that confronted him. The street was teeming with people out to enjoy the midday sun. Sheldon didn't relish the thought of having to cross that sea of humanity to reach the curb. Just the thought of being bumped or jostled made him wince, so he stood there hesitantly, contemplating a strategy for catching a cab without incurring further injury. That's when he felt a light touch at the small of his back.
“Right this way, Doc,” Don said softly as he gently propelled him forward. “Smitty, come here. Give me a hand with the Doc.” A patrolman appeared on Don's other side and he stepped forward to clear a path for Sheldon. The crowd parted to allow Don to lead Sheldon to a waiting car. He helped Sheldon into the back seat before walking around to the other side.
“Great,” Sheldon said wryly as Don started the engine. “Now everyone will think I've been arrested again.”
“You're welcome,” Don shot back, glancing up at the rearview mirror. “Where to?”
“Home,” Sheldon replied. “And thanks. I was just going to get a cab.”
“No need,” Don said as he pulled out into traffic. “You going to tell me where you live or should I just drive around until we run out of gas?” Sheldon smiled and gave him his address. He slumped a little, leaning against the door, and stared out at the passing traffic. “Go ahead and get some shut eye, Doc. I'll let you know when we get uptown.”
“I'm not sleepy. It just hurts like hell,” he said wincing as he repositioned himself slightly.
“They didn't give you the good stuff, eh? When I was in the hospital last year they gave me stuff that made me forget that pain existed.”
“I'm not that badly hurt. Besides, they really can't do much for pain in the lungs without compromising their function.”
“That sucks.” Don turned down the radio so that the voice of the dispatcher was reduced to nearly a whisper. “How long will you be out of work?”
“A few days, maybe.”
“A week, at least,” Don corrected, shaking his head. “I've broken ribs before.”
“You're in the field. I can ride a desk without risking further injury.”
“If you can breathe,” Don reminded him.
“I'm breathing fine.”
“Glad to hear it,” Don said with a meaningful glance at the mirror. It was brief, but Sheldon caught it and acknowledged it with a smile.
They rode on in silence. Sheldon shut his eyes after a few minutes, but Don knew he wasn't asleep. He got off the FDR Drive and took side streets in order to avoid the heavy traffic, detouring around a large pothole so as not to jar his passenger. Sheldon noticed the smooth but sudden movement of the car and peered out the window. He was amused by Don's thoughtfulness but didn't say anything until they pulled up in front of his building.
“Thanks, Flack,” he said as he carefully sat up straight. Don got out and went around to the passenger side to open the door for him. “Were you a chauffeur in a past life, man?” Sheldon teased. Don smiled and extended a hand to help him out. “Wait--maybe I should get out on the other side. I'm not going to be able to move that way.” Don nodded and went to the other door. He held up traffic with one hand and helped Sheldon out of the car with the other.
“I got you, Doc,” he said, taking hold of his arm. He shut the door and led Sheldon to the curb.
“Thanks, I'm good,” Sheldon said, slightly embarrassed by the attention.
“You okay to get upstairs on your own?”
Sheldon couldn't read the look in Don's eyes, so he reluctantly ignored his own heart and nodded.
“I'll be fine,” he insisted. “Besides, you're on duty. You've got bad guys to chase.”
“Okay,” Don replied, his voice slightly tinged with disappointment. “Look, I'm off duty in a couple of hours. If you need anything--.”
“I'm sure I'll be fine,” Sheldon said too hastily. As much as he wanted to ask Don to stay, he wasn't about to make Don feel obligated to do so. “I'm just going to go upstairs and chill out on the couch for a while.”
“Good,” Don said, turning toward the car. “Be careful,” he added, pausing to look back. “If you change your mind, you know my number.”
Sheldon thanked him for the ride and went into his building, a smile on his face. Don waited until he was out of sight and then headed back downtown. While idling in heavy traffic sometime later, his phone rang. He frowned when he saw Sheldon's name on the caller ID.
“Doc? What's up? Are you okay?”
“I'm fine,” Sheldon said. “I was just thinking...”
“Well, I've been home for twenty minutes and I'm already bored out of my skull. You said if I needed anything...”
“Name it,” Don said, grinning from ear to ear.
“Well, if you aren't busy later...” Sheldon began tentatively.
“I could come over with some take out,” Don suggested. Sheldon smiled.
“That sounds like a good plan.”
“What would you like?”
“You choose,” Sheldon replied happily. “I've got beer. Of course, I can't drink any of it, but I'd be willing to watch you drink it while we catch a game.”
“Pre-season hockey?” Don asked hopefully. Sheldon shrugged, wincing at the twinge of pain he elicited.
“Whatever. Just call me first before you come, in case I fall asleep.”
“You need to rest, Doc,” Don replied, his smile fading. “If you want to sleep--.”
“I want to watch pre-season hockey,” Sheldon said, not even trying to sound convincing. The smile on Don's face was worth the lie, even if Sheldon couldn't see it. He knew it was there.
“I'll see you in an hour,” Don said, as the traffic began to move again. “It should be fun. For once, I'll actually know more about something than you.”
“I'm looking forward to the lesson,” Sheldon replied. He hung up the phone and smiled. Don didn't have to know about his two-year stint as a trainer on his college hockey team, did he?