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The Taste of Flowers on My Tongue

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"When I met you, flowers started growing in the darkest parts of my mind.”
— Unknown

 

 

It's rose petals this time. Blood red and beautiful, they float on the water in Steve's toilet. He stares at them for a long time, his stomach still roiling, thankful that this won't last much longer.

 

It started with coughing. The first time it happened, it confused him as he covered his mouth and discovered lilacs resting in his palm. That lasted a week. Then it changed to pansies and passion flowers.

 

The coughing he could handle. He would cover his mouth or turn his head and no one seemed the wiser. The vomiting, however, was a little harder to conceal and a great deal more upsetting. Upsetting to the point where he broke down and confided in Chin and Kono.

 

It wasn't a surprise they knew what was wrong. Hanahaki Disease was what they called it. Or unrequited love with some seriously fucked up side effects and there were only two ways to cure it. Surgery to remove the infection from the heart and brain that would leave the person void of emotions for the rest of their life. Or have the feelings returned.

 

Steve already knew his choice. He isn't exactly sure when he fell for Danny, but it didn't matter. He knew Danny would never return his affection.

 

It's the way Danny talked that told Steve everything.  He's repulsed by the idea of relationships, by commitment, and by the very idea of love. It made sense. Danny's divorce from Rachel had left him broken and scarred. Steve knew that he had no chance of breaking through that kind of damage.

 

After waving away Chin and Kono's concerns, Steve shut himself off in his office to find a doctor. He found a specialist in Hanahaki and set up an appointment.

 

The doctor was very helpful. She went over the procedure in detail, what Steve would need to do to prepare himself for the surgery and what he could expect afterward. All in all, he felt good about his decision as he scheduled a date for the operation. He felt even better about it after he got home and spent a good twenty minutes puking up yellow tulips.

 

Picking himself off the floor of his bathroom Steve flushes the toilet and showers. The operation is in a few days and he can't wait. Then he can be rid of this burden and move on with his life. 

 

Although if Steve is honest, the idea of a life without emotions scares him. He has trouble imagining not knowing joy, or hope, or even fear and sadness. He spent a long time suppressing everything. Now he is starting to actually to embrace his feelings, he has to throw them away. Danny would be so disappointed in him.

 

At once his stomach churns and he's bent over double, rose petals spilling from his lips. It goes on for several minutes and the roses clog the drain. He wants to cry, but that never solves anything. He cleans the petals out of the drain and finishes his shower. He refuses to think anymore about Danny.

 

The rest of the day goes well all things considered. He teams up with Chin deliberately not meeting Danny's perplexed gaze. There are some setbacks and more than a few explosions, but at the end of the day, the team catches the bad guys. They all celebrate with beers at their favorite bar.

 

Steve puts up a good front. He buys a round of beer, laughs at the cracks about dropping the chains off his wallet, and makes a show of having a good time. He refuses look at Danny, even when Danny looks at him, his blue eyes full of concern and questions. Steve makes a point to ignore his stares.

 

As the night wears on, Chin and Kono both yawn saying their goodbyes. Steve's left alone with Danny. His stomach is doing flips and his mouth is full of saliva. He has already excused himself three times to throw up. Each time Danny's expression becomes more and more troubled.

 

He stands finally and with some effort, flashes Danny a smile. “I think I'm going to call it night.”

 

“You good to drive?” Danny looks at him frowning, his brow wrinkled.

 

Steve’s heart skips a beat. He feels shaky and lightheaded. “Yeah. Yeah, I'm good.”

 

“Good,” Danny says. He finishes his beer and stands. “Give me lift?”

 

Steve's minds flies into a blind panic. The last thing he wants is to be trapped in a car with Danny. He's sweating and it runs down his neck. His stomach churns again and he's running for the bathroom.

 

He hits the door hard and in spite of his speed, he doesn't make it to the toilet. He does manage to make it to the sink just in time. This time the rose petals mix with sunflower petals and tuberose. His stomach heaves over and over, until he is dry gagging, tears running down his face.

 

“Steve?”

 

Steve grips the sides of the sink so hard he thinks it might break in his hands. He doesn't want Danny to see him like this. He straightens and turns as Danny walks in.

 

Danny is staring at him. He looks scared and at a loss for words. Steve tries to force another smile but his mouth won't work so he props himself against the sink and lets out shaky breath.

 

“Kono said you were sick, but I had no idea it was this bad,” Danny says. Steve heart sinks. Silently, he curses Kono. Danny steps closer to him and he's hit with a wave of dizziness. Steve locks his knees to keeps from falling.

 

Danny must sense something because he stops moving. “What's a matter, Steve?”

 

Steve shakes his head, sweat running down his brow. “It's nothing.”

 

“Yeah, I'm gonna call bullshit here, babe.” Steve's knees buckle and he hits the grubby tiled floor. Immediately, Danny is at his side, a hand on his shoulder. “Steve? Hey! You okay? Talk to me, babe. Tell me what you need.”

 

The touch of Danny's hand feels like it's burning a hole into Steve's skin. It puts him on edge. He shoves Danny away hard. “I need you to stop calling me that,” he cries.

 

From his place on the floor, Danny stares. “What? What are you talking about?” His tone tells Steve everything. That he's angry and hurt.

 

Steve stomach cramps and continues to roil. “Stop calling me 'babe.' Stop touching me. Stop talking to me. In fact, I need you to stay away from me.” He sees the wounded look on Danny's face. It makes him want to shrivel up and die. “Just for a few more days. Then it won't matter anymore.”

 

“Steve, please. Goddamnit, just fucking talk to me.” Danny gets up and he's back at Steve's side. Another wave of dizziness and Steve can't stop falling to the floor completely. He hits his head, but that's not the worst of it. As soon as he lands he starts to vomit again.

 

More rose and sunflower petals pour out of his mouth onto the floor. He rolls onto his side and curls up into a ball as he continues to heave. It hurts this time and his body is convulsing each time he pukes. Next to him he hears Danny gagging and then he too throws up.

 

Steve is crying again. He tries to breathe in, to calm down, but his chest feels too tight, and it's difficult. Behind him, Danny groans and swears, his voice raspy.

 

Finally, Steve manages to take several deep breaths before he rolls over to face his friend. He expects to see Danny disgusted and freaked out. What he sees is Danny wiping his eyes, kneeling in a puddle of regurgitated beer and yellow tulips.

 

“Danny?” Steve sits up. He's shaking badly, but he manages. The bathroom smells of beer, stomach acid and flowers. It's an awful combination and it burns the inside of Steve's nose. He doesn't care about that, though, because Danny is shaking his head, his fists balled up over his face.

 

“Fuck. Fuck. Fuck,” Danny says in a hushed tone over and over again. Steve reaches out and touches Danny's shoulder. As his hand makes contact, Danny jumps and falls away from Steve's touch.

 

His face is splotchy and his blue eyes are bloodshot. He sees Steve and look of shame crosses over his face. “I'm sorry. I didn't want you to find out, but now that you have, can you do me a solid and not say anything?”

 

Steve looks the flowers under Danny, their bright cheery color contrasting with everything around them. Licking his lips he asks: “How long?” 

Danny shakes his head. 

“Danno, how long?” 

Danny jerks forward as more Tulips leave his mouth. Steve gags, but thankfully doesn't throw up again. He sits there silently waiting for Danny to finish.

 

When Danny looks at him again, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, Steve gives him a weak smile. “It's okay Danny. “ He points to the mess he's made. “See? I've got it too.” Danny looks to where Steve is pointing and mutters something under his breath. His expression though is what interests Steve.

 

It looks hopeful. All of a sudden Steve doesn't feel half as bad as he did five minutes ago. He scoots closer to Danny, noticing the way Danny starts to tremble. “How long?” he asks again.

 

Danny shuts his eyes and exhales loudly. “I don't know. A few months. Maybe. Give or take.” 

He licks his lips and blow out another breath. “You know what? Fuck it. Lemme tell you how long. Ever since I walked on to a crime scene and found some guy messing around. Turns out he's the son of the man whose murder I was investigating. But I don't know that at the time. So, I pulled my gun and he pulls his and we have this stand off right then and there. And the whole time I'm thinking, “I really hope this guys back off, cause, fuck me, he's gorgeous and I don't want to have to shoot him.

 

“But then the guy takes over my case and forces me to work with him and it turns out he's insane. Like absolutely insane. And an asshole. A complete and unrepentant asshole, but he's still gorgeous. Then it turns out he's got this big heart, and he's smart, and he likes my daughter, and next thing I know I'm coughing up lilacs.”

 

“An asshole? Really?” Steve laughs. It feels good and he has an honest grin on his face. His body doesn't ache anymore, nor does his stomach feel like it's trying to crawl out through his throat.

 

“Yes. An asshole, and you know what? He’s still an asshole and completely insane.” Danny is no longer shaking. He has light behind his eyes and he's crossing his arms over his broad chest. “Your turn.”

 

Steve freezes but only for a moment. If Danny can do this, so can he. “I wanted to find the man that killed my dad, so I went to his house and did some looking around. Then this short ─”

 

“Excuse you? Short?” Danny is scowling. It’s such an angry look, but Steve laughs, which makes it worse.

 

“Yeah. Like really short. I mean just tiny ─”

 

Danny is raising a finger to Steve’s face. “Careful,” he says, but Steve just bats it away and keeps talking.

 

“ And this guy is yelling, pointing his gun at me, and I don't have time for that. Oh and he's loud. God, he is loud.”

 

“Loud?” Danny shouts.

 

Steve presses a finger to Danny’s lips. “Yeah. Kind of annoying too, and I just pull my gun out because I don't know who he is, but I remember thinking he's cute.”

 

“In spite of being short, loud, and annoying?”

 

“Yep. Anyways, I piss the guy off by stealing his case and making him work with me to solve it. I try to make it up to him, though, getting him a room at this nice hotel for him and his daughter, because he’s lives in this dump.”

 

“Boy, you are something else, you know that?”

 

Steve leans in and pulls Danny to him. “He tells me that a lot. I like it. In the end, I get him to join my task force and I get to spend every day with him, just bitching and nagging me to death.”

 

“Nagging? You, my man, are heading right for a punch in the face. I will lay you out.” There is fire behind Danny’s blue eyes.

 

Steve gives Danny a tight squeeze. “He's got a pretty mean right hook. But he's a great guy and I love him.” Steve reaches up and cups the side of Danny’s face, his thumb stroking a cheek.

 

For a long time Danny just stares the anger gone, his mouth open. “Really?” He asks finally.

 

“Yeah.”

 

“So, Uh. What are you going to do about short and annoying?”

 

Steve shrugs. “I don't know. What are you going to do about Mr. Insane Asshole.”

 

“Actually, it's Commander Insane Asshole and I don't know.”

 

“Well,” Steve says. “How about this?” He leans in and kisses Danny. At once all the tension in his body lets go and he is melting into that kiss. Danny kisses him back, his arms sliding around Steve's neck.

 

Steve moans at their warmth, savoring the way it burns him. He lets his lips part which Danny take full advantage of as he slips his tongue into Steve's mouth. It tastes slightly sour and like old beer with the scent of flowers just barely making an appearance but Steve doesn't care. Danny's fingers are in his hair and his hand are on the small of Danny's back. They fall to the floor with Steve on top, their bodies fitting together perfectly.

 

Danny’s hands move to Steve's chest, gently pushing him back. Steve pulls away but reluctantly. For the first time in months, he's not sick and he wants to stay right where they are. Danny gives him a soft thoughtful look, his face flushed.

 

“Babe, not that this isn't great and all, but we are currently lying in a puddle of my puke and frankly that is not romantic.”

 

“I guess it's not,” Steve concedes. He pushes off of Danny and sits up. Danny follows suit and they look at one another expectantly. “Showers can be romantic,” Steve tries.

 

Danny snorts. “I don't know about that, but joint showers are really hot.”

 

“Yeah, they are.” Steve’s on his feet helping Danny up off the floor. “You wanna come have one with me?” he asks pulling Danny to him again.

 

“Why do you think I mentioned it, ya goof?” He smiles brightly. Steve feels his insides turning to goo.

 

Speaking of goo... He looks down at the floor, frowning. “We should tell someone about the mess before we leave.”

 

Danny's gaze follows his. “Yeah, but hey. It's a bar. They're used to people puking in the bathroom, so it'll be alright. We'll just mention it to the bartender as we're leaving.”

 

Steve nods. “And ask for some trash bags.” Danny raises an eyebrow. “For the truck seats. We're both kind of gross and it will be cheaper than trying to clean the upholstery.”

 

“I bow to your logic. Now hurry and take me home with you. I want that shower so badly right now.”

 

Steve reaching and grabs Danny ass. “Can't wait to get to the action uh?”

 

“Actually, I just want to get out these clothes and get clean. Because we're both disgusting.”

 

Steve deflates. “Oh.”

 

“Oh, don't get me wrong. I wanna do the naughty stuff too. Just after we're clean. That's all.”

 

Steve brightens. “Then let's now waste any more time here.” He keeps one arm around Danny's waist as they walk out of the bathroom. He doesn't let go until they get to the truck, but only long enough to line the seats with plastic and get in.

 

The next morning while Danny's still asleep Steve cancels his operation. It seems like he won't need it after all.