“I don’t like chocolate.”
“What do you mean, you don’t like chocolate, Uncle Steve?” Grace asked, still holding the bar out towards Steve.
Steve shrugged and looked beseechingly at Danny.
“Monkey, some people -- deeply strange, alien people -- don’t like chocolate.”
Steve rolled his eyes.
“It’s okay,” Danny continued, “it still means that we can be their friend.”
So Steve didn’t like chocolate. It was unusual, in Danny’s humble opinion, because despite his mien of ‘my body is a temple,’ Steve actually really liked sugar. He just strove to rise above the cravings for malasadas and coconut treats. Danny dropped the two chunky squares of dark chocolate in the chilli and watched them melt. It was about making it tasty, not about making it an unhealthy, sugary treat.
Danny was the last one to get to the team night at Steve’s. He skirted around to the back heading straight to the lanai.
“Yay!” Kono carolled from her sun lounger, basking in the glow from the fire pit. “You did make chilli.”
“My secret, secret recipe.” Danny held up the Tupperware.
“Steve’s in the kitchen. He’s made nachos.” Resting beside her, Chin pointed over his shoulder at the warm lights emanating from the kitchen.
“See Steve believed me when I said I was making chilli.” They had been mocking his culinary skills all afternoon. Or to be more accurate, they had been mocking his tiny kitchen. But to make chilli you only needed a sharp knife, chopping board and pot.
Inside, Steve was painstakingly inserting wedges of lime into long necked bottles of beer. A plate piled high with re-fried beans, salsa and nachos, sprinkled with green chillies was on the kitchen table. The guacamole, sour cream and grated cheese were in separate little pots.
“So health conscious.” Danny shook his head.
“Danno.” Steve smiled goofily.
“Hey.” Danny lifted the Tupperware. “I brought chilli.”
“There’s a pot on the stove to reheat it. Or you could use the microwave?”
Steve ignored him. “Do we want to eat in the kitchen or on the lanai?”
“It’s nice out here,” Kono called.
Steve smacked his lips. Tongue darting out to touch his lips.
“Did you like it?” Danny asked, mopping up the final bit of sauce from his bowl with a nacho.
“My lips have gone numb. How many chillies did you put in this?”
“It wasn’t that spicy,” Kono said.
“I thought that you could handle chillies?” Chin said.
“I can.” Steve sort of lurched a bit on his lounger. His stomach gurgled loudly. “Oh.”
“Oh? Oh?” Danny echoed.
“Shit!” Steve bolted into the mess of monstera and growing umbrella trees beside the lanai and retched, loudly. The unmistakable wet splash of vomit followed.
“Babe?” Danny abandoned his bowl and went over to his side. Steve was on his knees, one hand braced on a tree trunk as he christened the roots. “You okay? Stupid question. You’re so not okay.”
Steve threw up the chilli and, based on the volume, everything he’d eaten in the past week. Then it was repeat. Danny winced in sympathy.
“Shit.” Danny gingerly picked his way towards him. Finally, Steve retched, spat up just stringy dregs and then gagged but nothing came up. Danny rested a hand between Steve’s heaving shoulder blades – breathless like he’d been running a marathon. “Finished?”
Steve sagged, head hanging low.
“Here.” Chin had made his way over to their side. He proffered a glass of water, which Danny took.
Danny crouched, ignoring his sensitive knee. “Hey, Chin brought some water. Rinse your mouth out.”
Blindly, Steve reached back, fumbling for the glass. Carefully, Danny caught his hand and folded his fingers around it.
“Thanks,” Steve rasped before rinsing and spitting.
“You want to try standing up?” Danny asked.
Steve answered by pushing off the trunk and trying to stand up. As he weaved, Danny strove to brace him. Chin caught him on the other side. And between them they managed to stop him face planting. Even in the poor light, Danny could see that he was sheet-white, despite being closed mouthed and stoically uncomplaining.
“Do we need to call the paramedics?” Kono had her cell phone out.
“No,” Steve growled, squinting away from the low night-time lights. “I just need to--” He blew out harshly. “What in the Hell was in that chilli? Do you guys feel okay?”
“I feel fine,” Chin said.
“Nothing unusual. It was just chilli,” Danny said.
“Whoa.” Steve shrugged off the helping hands and turned away. “Sorry, I’m gonna go lie down. You’re welcome to hang around. Let yourselves out.”
He staggered off into the house, wobbling just a little bit.
The team night pretty much died a death, Kono and Chin figuring that Steve wouldn’t be up for much more company and it would be better if he did rest and if they stayed he would insist on coming back down to the lanai as soon as he felt a little better. Danny, of course, was nominated to stay.
Danny cleaned up, tossing the bottles in the recycle bin, washing the pots and bowls, packing up the leftovers and popping them in the fridge. Then taking them out and scraping them into the garbage disposal. If something had made Steve sick, keeping leftovers was a mistake.
Damn, that had been one good chilli. Shit. Danny looked at the Tupperware he was about to rinse.
“You stupid goof. Why didn’t you say you were allergic?” Danny asked the ceiling.
He took the stairs two at a time and burst into Steve’s bedroom. Steve was curled on top of the covers wrapped around a pillow clutched to his stomach. He hadn’t changed his clothes; just flopped on the top sheet and fallen asleep.
Danny froze. “Steve?”
Steve didn’t move.
Shit. Danny dropped down on the edge of the mattress. Carefully, he rested a hand on Steve’s shoulder.
“Steve, wake up.” He shook him. “Steve, wake up. I need to make sure you’re all right.”
He shook Steve a little harder. Danny shifted around to better check him over, all the time muttering under his breath: Wake up, if you don’t, I’m calling the paramedics; Shit, you’re too warm; Wake up; It was only two pieces of chocolate; Steve, wake up; Thank God, you’ve got a pulse… Steve!
That garnered a response. Steve’s moaned and his eyes flickered open. His normally hazel-blue eyes were flecked with bright amber.
“Steve?” They were luminous – light flecked. That was one damn weird allergic reaction. “You with me?”
Steve looked at him blankly through long lashes.
“Steve? You’ve got two seconds to respond or I am calling the paramedics.” Gingerly, he pushed, and Steve rolled onto his back. “McGarrett!”
“Go away,” Steve muttered, close mouthed.
“Look, I put chocolate in the chilli. I didn’t think. Do you have any antihistamines?”
Steve looked at him blankly and then mumbled, “Oh, chocolate. Figures. Go away, Danno.”
“There were only two chunks in the whole bowl. Surely, that’s not enough for an allergic reaction?”
Steve glared balefully, the amber in his eyes making it more malevolent. He held his hand over his mouth like he was going to be sick again. “And how big is a pollen grain? You’re making my head ache.” He rolled away, pushing his face into the mattress. “Go away.”
“Shit, man, I’m just trying to help. We need to get you checked out.” He caught Steve’s shoulder and hauled him back.
“Go away!” Steve growled, flashing elongated, white canines.
“Holy shit!” Danny skittered backwards, falling off the bed. He scrambled to his feet and fetched up against the dresser with a thud.
Steve stayed where he was, curled up in a morose ball on the bed. He grabbed the pillow and pulled it over his head.
Danny pointed his finger at the lump, tried to string two words together and, for the first time in his life, failed.
The lump didn’t move.
“Babe?” Danny finally managed.
“Leave me alone to die,” Steven grumbled.
“What?” Danny took a hesitant step towards the bed. “Seriously? Steve?”
Steve uncurled enough to lift his head a fraction from the pillow. “I’m not going to die, even though you poisoned me with theobromine. I just wish I was dead.”
“What the hell is wrong with you? The eyes? The teeth? Shit. What are you, Steve?”
“Why are you still here?” Steve whined. “Go run away, find a pitchfork.”
“I’m not going to get a pitchfork and return with villagers and flaming torches.” Danny dropped down on the mattress beside the forlorn, miserable lump. “Tell me what’s going on?”
Steve rolled over onto his back and rested his forearm over his eyes. The tips of his pointed canines rested on his bottom lip.
“Steve,” Danny ordered. “Do we need to get you help or something? Is there someone I can call? Anyone?”
“No. I threw most of it straight up. There isn’t anyone to call. It’s not like you can take me to the emergency room. I just have to sweat it out.”
“It being this theobromine stuff? In the chocolate, yeah? This stuff which makes your eyes turn gold and your teeth grow.”
“Jesus, do you ever shut up.” Steve groaned. “Anyone else would have run away, but not you.”
“I’m just trying to figure out how to help you. You look like shit, despite being all--” Danny waved his hand trying to encompass the fangs and glowing, amber eyes, “-- weird and wolf-like. Ohh.”
Steve lifted his arm and gazed at him.
“Shit,” Danny realised, “I gave chocolate to a dog.”
“I’m not a dog,” Steve said indignantly, “I’m a werewolf.”