Mo'o-niho-'awa

By Cokie

~~~H50~~~

Update: I was trying to get this uploaded last night in a hurry and somehow, after choosing a great image, compliments of Sym64, I didn't attach it. So, here is the story WITH the cool picture! She made 6 or 7 of these a few weeks ago and they were all so good, I didn't decide which one to use until posting the story. I guess I could have one for every day of the week... no, sorry, too much trouble. :) And thanks Sym for making this.

OK, I know this isn't the story I started last week, but this is a one shot and I wanted to post something this week. Chapter 2 of the interactive story has begun but it isn't finished yet! I will have it to you as soon as possible. this is a short little story that said it wanted to be written a few weeks ago and I can't argue with my muse... she can be very cranky!

Thanks to my wonderful betas again. I couldn't (and wouldn't) do this without them! And, just as a reminder, I don't own any of this franchise. But it isn't for lack of trying...

~~~H50~~~

"Man, this is hard work," Danny groused, not for the first time that afternoon.

"You knew what it entailed when you made the bet," Steve calmly reminded him, also, not for the first time.

"When I made the bet, I thought I would win," Danny argued. "Then I wouldn't be doing any of this."

His partner lifted a piece of plywood from the side of the garage and grinned. "And yet, here you are. I guess you can blame the Jets for you helping me out, right?"

"Your smugness is so unbecoming," Danny replied. "Yet you wouldn't be so smug had the Jets won. And I would have paraded you all over town wearing a dress shirt and tie for all to see."

"Well, yeah, but that didn't happen, did it?" Steve asked, grinning again. "I just got stuck with you and your whining all afternoon."

"Are we done yet? I'm starving."

"See, that's what I'm talking about. You're never satisfied, Danno. Like I said the last time you asked, Catherine is bringing dinner at five, so be patient. And can you grab the end of this board? It's heavy."

"What was your dad doing with all this lumber?"

"Not sure, but a lot of it isn't usable anymore, so I'm hauling all of it," Steve answered while setting the board on the truck's tailgate and sliding it in with the others. He leaned against the dropped tailgate and swiped his arm across his sweaty forehead, watching as Danny checked his phone.

"You got a hot date?" Steve asked.

"No, just checking to see if Grace has called. She's getting back from an Aloha Girls event this afternoon."

"Not to the jungle, I hope."

Danny made a face. "Depends on how you look at it. It was one of the girls' birthday so they took a trip to the mall and got mani/pedis. Sounds like the jungle to me."

"Yeah, I hear you," Steve agreed. He spied movement from the corner of his vision and glanced at the lumber they had just loaded, seeing something quickly skitter across a piece of wood… coming his direction.

Steve jumped away from the truck and back-pedaled several feet across the driveway, a surprised, strangled cry rumbling through him.

Danny saw the look of sheer panic on his partner's face and quickly snapped a picture with his phone. "What the hell's the matter with you?" he asked, looking from Steve toward the truck, where a four inch 'bug', as he termed it, scurried between two boards and out of sight.

Steve's breathing was ragged and he tried to calm himself down, still standing at a respectful distance from the truck. "Scorpion," he finally managed to get out.

"I see," Danny replied, checking out the picture he had taken. "And the Big Bad SEAL is afraid of an itty-bitty bug because…"

"You don't understand," Steve told him, taking a deep breath and forcing himself to calm down. "Those things hurt. More than you know. The ones here aren't as bad as in other places of the world, but I would advise staying away from them."

"Sounds like personal experience," Danny said, turning when Catherine's car pulled into the drive behind his Camaro. Steve had already taken off to meet her while Danny pushed another couple buttons on his phone, smiling at the result.

~~~H50~~~

"Catherine, thank you for dinner," Danny told her, leaning back in his chair, fully sated.

"Yeah, thanks," Steve added, placing his arm around her and pulling her closer, kissing her temple. "It was good."

"You both do know that it is carry-out, right?" she asked. "I mean, all I did was pull into the parking lot and wait until they brought it to the car."

"Yes, but it was perfection," Danny said. "And it feels good to sit down. I swear, Catherine, this man is a slave driver."

"Oh, come on. You moved a few pieces of lumber from the garage to the truck. I hardly call that manual labor. And it took what? Three hours?"

"Yes, but a long and hot three hours," Danny argued, taking his phone from his pocket again.

"Did she check in?" Steve asked when Danny manipulated the screen.

"Yes," Danny said with a grin, turning the phone so that they could see. "And I have a photo of pink toes to prove it. Hey, Steve, call me."

"Why?"

"Don't ask. Just do it."

Steve made a face but pulled out his phone and dialed his partner, thinking he would hear another of Danny's dumb ringtones. The last one for him was "Popeye, the Sailor Man".

Popeye still played when the phone activated, but Danny smiled at the screen before showing them. "Check this out, Cath. How's that shot of our cool and collected SEAL friend?"

Steve took one glance at the phone and tried to grab it away. "Danny, that isn't funny!"

Catherine pushed his hand away so that she could see the photo of him, a look of panic on his features. "Who in the world was chasing you?" She glanced at his clothes and then back to the picture. "That was today. What were you doing?" She looked back at him. "Who was here?"

"Not a who, but a what," Danny said. "An itsy-bitsy spider."

Steve huffed out a breath and rolled his eyes. "Not a spider. It was a scorpion. And he startled me, that's all."

"No kidding," Danny agreed. "I thought you were going to climb the tree."

"That's not funny."

Catherine shook her head and placed her hand on Steve's arm. "No, it's not. He didn't get you, did he?"

"No, but it would have been OK if he had. These guys aren't that dangerous."

"But you've been stung before, you don't need to go through that again."

"Wait," Danny interrupted. "So, it was personal experience? You've been stung?"

"Yeah, in… overseas."

"Classified, of course."

"Yes. Let's just say it wasn't the best night of my life."

"Do tell."

Steve shrugged. "It's not that interesting," he said, clearly not wanting to recollect the details.

"Tell you what," Danny bargained. "You tell the story and I'll remove the picture from my phone."

"Seriously?"

"Yeah, of course. I swear."

Steve nodded. "All right. Here it is. You remember Boomer and Buck, right?"

"How could I forget? So they were there?"

"Oh, yeah."

~~~H50~~~

Bagram U.S. Military Base Camp - Near the Afghani Border

August 2003

Steve "Smooth Dog" McGarrett exited the shower area wearing nothing but a thin towel and a smile, receiving cat calls from several other members of his team who were lounging in the make-shift barracks.

"That was longer than a three-minute regulation, Dog!" Boomer called to him.

"Yeah? At three minutes, the dirt was just turning to mud!" McGarrett exclaimed. "I think I forgot what skin looked like."

"I hear you," Buck, the team's medic said. "And to have running water… let alone hot running water is a treat."

"Are you going to the mess hall in your birthday suit?" Boomer asked. "If not, get a move on. We haven't had a decent meal in a month of Sunday's."

Lieutenant McGarrett hastily donned a clean uniform… something else he hadn't had in a while… and the trio of comrades met their other team members in the officer's mess hall.

This was their first down time in almost three months of fast-paced action in the desert. It was a dirty, hot, and pretty much thankless job they performed, day in and day out, seven days a week, for weeks on end. To be able to sit down at a table and eat a meal, to stand under a hot shower, to have time to laugh with friends… well, that was a treat.

After a few beers in the PX, the SEALs were in vacation mode. Several of the team members were leaning against crates of supplies, enjoying the cooler night temperatures, basking in the knowledge that all was quiet in their small area of the world.

"Yeah, I'm telling you," Boomer told them with a shake of his head. "Dog here is the best I've ever seen at getting a gal to follow him."

"Shut up, Boomer. You're drunk," Steve told him.

"Am not," he replied with an evil grin, loving to goad his friend. "All he has to do is show her his pearly whites and bat those eyelashes a couple of times and the girl is like putty in his hands. I swear it is a beautiful sight to behold."

They snickered, laughing more at Boomer's antics than at Steve himself.

"And maybe if you would stop gawking at me, you could get a girl of your own," Steve shot back. "Ever think of that?" He laughed with the rest of them and leaned back against the crate before jumping forward. "Ow!"

"What's wrong?"

Steve was rubbing his elbow, trying to check it out in the low wattage light overhead. "Dunno. Guess I caught a splinter."

Buck had been next to Steve and leaned over to look for splinters. A quick movement between the boards caught his attention and he stepped back, urging the others to do the same. "Hey, let me see that," he ordered Steve, reaching for his wrist, holding his arm up in the light.

"I just saw a scorpion and I think you've got two sting marks on your arm," Buck explained. "Let's get over to the infirmary and check it out."

"Nah, it's good. You sure it's a scorpion and not a splinter?" he asked, trying to look at the back of his arm. "Doesn't feel bad now… kind of numb."

"Look," Buck pointed, showing the two slightly red marks, "Here and here. Those aren't from splinters."

"Come on, you wussy dog… ," Boomer turned Steve around. "Let's get to the hospital."

"Guys, this isn't necessary. It's just-"

"Humor us," Buck argued, prodding McGarrett in the back. "We're going to get it checked out."

With Buck on one side and Boomer on the other, Steve had little chance to disagree.

~~~H50~~~

"So, they ganged up on you?" Danny asked.

"Yeah, those two are like conjoined twins. If one of them doesn't think of it, the other one does. And they always have to have their way."

"Boy, that sounds familiar," Cath commented with a grin. "SEAL trait?"

"Hey," Steve grinned. "I'm not like that."

"Oh, of course not," she agreed while rolling her eyes and listening to Danny's snort of amusement.

"So, was it bad?" Danny asked, eager to hear the rest of the story.

"No, not at first," Steve admitted. "But then…"

~~~H50~~~

The small, fifty-bed hospital was reasonably quiet on this night. Thankfully they had no incoming in the last couple of days, so the few inpatients were sleeping when they entered triage.

"Hey, Doc," Buck called to another medic who was on call. "Got any antivenin around? I think we have a scorpion sting."

Dr. Anders, an Army colonel stationed at Bagram, motioned them over to a triage space curtained off in the building. "Let's see," he said, turning on a bright light and motioning McGarrett to sit on the exam table.

"Really, I think it's a splinter," Steve tried once again.

After taking one look at the two red, slightly swollen marks, he quickly disagreed. "Nope. Looks like bite marks to me."

Steve deflated. "So, what do we do?"

"Not a lot. Does it hurt much?" Anders asked, while unlocking a white, metal cabinet in the corner of the room.

Steve shook his head. "No. Sort of tingly, but that's all. Really, do you think it's a big deal?"

"It could be," the colonel commented, readying a syringe. "We'll watch it for a few hours, ice the site and give you the antivenin. In fact, Buck, if you stick with him, you guys don't even have to stay here. I heard you just got back in this afternoon."

"Yeah," Boomer said. "We had time for a shower and a meal before Doggie here got himself bit. Great R&R, Pal."

"This isn't going to stop us," Steve said. "There's a pool table in the Mess with our name on it."

The doctor swabbed a spot on Steve's arm and injected the antivenin. "Buck, there's a bottle of Tylenol in that cabinet behind you. Why don't you get him a couple for the road."

"Anything we should be on the lookout for?" Buck asked.

"Blurred vision, muscle twitching, rapid eye movement, fever, nausea, agitation, unusual behavior in general. If the venom takes hold, there can be lots of symptoms, but once the sites are clean and the antivenin is given, there is generally no problem. Let me get you an ice pack and a sling and after I clean it up, you can get out of here. Just come back and let me check your arm in a couple of hours."

"A sling?" Steve argued.

"The sling is to hold the cold pack."

"How the hell can I play pool with a sling on?"

"Very poorly, I hope," Boomer said. "Maybe I'll have a chance to win tonight."

"In your dreams," McGarrett warned. "Bet you twenty I can beat you with one arm literally tied."

"You're on, Dog. Get your money ready. The night is young."

~~~H50~~~

"So, you played pool one-handedly?"

Steve chuckled. "Let's say my arm wasn't always getting iced."

"And you wonder why you got worse," Catherine chided him.

"So, it did get worse?" Danny asked.

Steve shrugged. "Yeah, sort of."

Cath rolled her eyes at him. "Uh huh, I've heard this story. 'Sort of' really covers what happened."

~~~H50~~~

"Pay up, Boomer!" Steve said after winning three in a row.

"No way! You used both hands. The deal was that you could beat me one-handed."

"He's got you there, McGarrett," Buck said. "And since you won, you'd better get that arm back on ice for a while. Looks like it is swelling some."

Steve checked out the two red welts on the back of his forearm. "Doesn't feel bad," he said while sliding it back into the sling. "Kinda tingly, but it's good. Good enough to win, anyway," he added with a grin, ordering another round of beer for the three of them. He paced the floor and watched his two friends play a round.

"Hey!"

"Huh?" Steve jumped, startled when Buck was in his face.

"I called your name like three times. Where were you?"

"Oh. I'm here. Just thinking." He blinked rapidly to get the room back into focus. "Dibs on playing the winner."

"Which would be me," Boomer boasted. "And I'm on a roll, so don't expect to win the next one, Dog. And don't bat those baby blues at me… you're not my type."

"I'm not batting anything," Steve said, standing and rolling his neck, trying to get a twitch out of it.

As he played the game, Boomer got Buck's attention, wanting him to watch their friend. Steve repeatedly blinked his eyes and rolled his shoulders or turned his neck like he was uncomfortable. Buck was sitting on the sidelines, closely watching.

And waiting… until the game was finished.

Unfortunately for McGarrett, his game appeared to be a little off and he lost, much to Boomer's delight.

"Oh, the Dog has finally gone down," Boomer laughed. "Should'a had a bet on that last one."

"I'll get you both back," Steve promised, wiping his arm across his forehead, blinking sweat from his eyes.

"OK, Lieutenant, party's over. You need to go back to the infirmary to be checked," Buck reminded him.

"Nah, I'm fine," Steve said. "Come on, one more game."

Buck shook his head. "No, come on, let's call it a night. It's been a long day."

Steve stood his ground. "I'm not ready to call it a night. If you wusses want to go back to barracks, go ahead. I'm staying here. Hey," he called to the bartender. "Another round for me and my friends." He reached his hand up and rubbed his neck again. "Man, it's hot in here."

Boomer got the barkeep's attention. "Ix-nay on the beer. We're done. Come on, Dog, let's go."

"Did you not hear me say I'm not leaving? Now, come on," he called out. "Who's ready to play pool?"

Buck got the attention of another team member and whispered something before the man got up and left. He then grabbed a pool cue. "All right, if you want to play another game, rack 'em up, Dog. One more and then we go."

"About damn time," McGarrett groused, readying the table.

Once again, luck was not on his side and Buck won the next game within three minutes. "Okay, okay, let's try again. I was just off that game 'cause it's so damn hot in here." No one mentioned that he could barely wrap the fingers of his left hand around the pool cue.

"No, the deal was one more game," Buck reminded him.

"Hey, McGarrett," Colonel Anders called to him while walking across the room. "Did you forget to check back in with me tonight? And I gave you that sling for a reason."

"No need, I'm good. Besides, can't play pool with that dang thing on my arm."

"I'll be the judge of how fine you are," the doctor said, stopping in front of Steve and getting a good look. His patient was sweating and his left eye was twitching. At a glance, he could see that Steve's arm was more swollen, down to his fingers.

"Let me see your hand."

"Why? It's fine." He held it up to stare at it.

"I can see. Make a fist."

Steve stared at his fingers that barely refused to move.

"Can you feel your hand?" the captain asked.

Steve made a face. "Yeah… but it's kinda numb."

"Kinda, huh? It's red, numb and swollen and your fingers are beginning to look like fat sausages. You're having a reaction to the sting and need to get back to triage."

"Look, would everyone get off my back? I said I was fine."

"Come on, McGarrett, you're not fine," the doctor patiently told him. "You're having a major reaction to the venom and while you may think you're OK, you need help."

"I'll show you a reaction," Steve warned, his voice getting louder. "Now get off my back!" he told them, heaving in a deep breath after the outburst.

"Lieutenant, I need to check you out. I'm giving you a chance to come willingly." the doctor tried again.

Steve snorted in derision and tossed the pool cue onto the table. "Do I look like I'm planning to go anywhere willingly?" he asked, feet planted in a fighting stance.

Boomer and Buck were both behind Steve and the doctor nodded to Buck for his assistance. Before McGarrett could react, they each had one of their legs around his, locking his knees. Buck grabbed his good arm while Boomer had one fist in the back of Steve's belt and the other grasping the collar of his shirt.

Steve tried to buck them off, but the two of them knew all the moves and they countered his uncoordinated fight. The doctor quickly moved in and swabbed a place on his arm. "Hold him still," he told the others as he slid a needle beneath the skin.

The fight immediately left him. "What the hell was that?"

"A mild relaxant," the doctor said. "Lieutenant, I can see you're having a reaction to the scorpion and we need to stop it before it gets worse. Do you understand?"

Steve sighed, the tension leaving his body. "Doesn't look like you gave me much choice," he grumbled, trying to pull his arm out of Buck's vice-like grip.

Boomer smacked him in the back. "Let's go, Bud."

They released him and the three friends followed the doctor out the door, Buck and Boomer keeping close watch on McGarrett who didn't appear too steady on his feet. Halfway across the base, Steve braced himself against the bumper of a Jeep and leaned over, upchucking his dinner along with any number of beers he had drank that night. His friends reached out and held him up while he emptied his stomach then kept their support when he was finished.

"Oh, God, I don't feel so good," he groaned, trying to drop to his knees.

"Just a little further," Buck said as they pulled him up and half carried him the short distance to the hospital.

"Get him up here," the doctor ordered, pointing to an exam table. He reached for the injured arm and looked closely at the bite marks. "Son, do you have feeling at all in the arm?"

"Hmm?" Steve scrunched up his face in confusion and closed his eyes.

"Hey! Lieutenant! You with me?"

"Uh, yeah." Steve opened his eyes and blinked. Repeatedly. "Yeah, I'm with you."

"Buck, get me his BP. Steve, try to make a fist," he ordered once again.

Steve stared at his hand in concentration. "Can't… can't feel my fingers."

The doctor noticed his repeated eye blinks and held up his penlight. "Follow this," he ordered while moving the pen across his line of vision. His reaction was sluggish and the doctor clicked the light on. "Open your mouth," he requested, checking inside, then feeling the glands in his neck.

"Any trouble swallowing?"

"Don't… think so."

"BP's way too low at 80 over 50," Buck said.

The doctor nodded and placed a thermometer in his patient's ear and waited. "102," he muttered and looked at the wounds once again. "It's almost like we haven't taken measures to prevent this. Cleaning the wounds and giving antivenin should have worked." He reached for the necessary supplies and quickly started an IV. "Are you sure you weren't bitten anyplace else?"

"I doubt it, Doc," Buck replied for him. "He jerked away from the crates as soon as he felt the sting."

Steve lay there and suddenly shivered. "Cold." He tried to take a deep breath, but shuddered in the attempt, before beginning to pant, sucking in air.

"Steve?" Buck asked.

"Can't…" he tried to swallow and catch his breath. "Hard to…" After sucking in air, he added, "breathe."

They reached for oxygen and placed a mask over his nose and mouth. He reached up his hand to stop them but the movement became jerky and he began to convulse, his eyes rolling back into his head.

The doctor stepped into the hallway while Buck and Boomer held their friend. "Corpsman, get me a flight to Kabul. ASAP."

The seizure was over in less than two minutes although it felt much longer to the men who were watching it. Buck reached for the thermometer and again checked his fever. "Climbing, at 103," he told them, reaching for the BP cuff. After checking, he shook his head and tried again. "Bottom reading is near 45."

The doctor took the mask away and felt his patient's neck and patted him on the cheek. "Hey! Can you hear me?"

With a groan, Steve slowly replied, "What hap'nd? Don't feel… so good." He choked and saliva dribbled from his mouth when he began coughing.

"Steve, try to swallow."

"Try—" his voice deteriorated as he struggled to catch a breath.

The next couple of minutes were a blur. Steve heard the corpsman mention a chopper before hearing the doctor order Diazepam . There was a burning pain in his arm as medication was injected and quickly his body turned to jelly.

Dr. Anders moved to the head of the bed and grasped his chin while someone sprayed something in his mouth that numbed his tongue.

"He's not out yet," the corpsman remarked, but Anders replied, "Out of time. Let's go."

Steve gagged when a hard, plastic tube was forced into his mouth. Tears leaked from the sides of both eyes before the tube stopped grating against the sides of his throat.

"Five more mg," the doctor ordered while securing the tube onto his cheek with tape.

Steve blinked away tears, trying to figure out what was going on. He glanced to his right and saw his friends, both standing there looking more worried than he thought possible. He tried to think… it was just a bug bite… no big deal…

~~~H50~~~

Steve slowly opened his eyes, staring at the putrid green walls of a military hospital room. He lay there, his body feeling like Jell-O and tried to piece together his memories as to why he was in a hospital bed. His brain was mush, but he was feeling no pain and raised his head to take stock of his body. He was lying with pillows propping his left hand and arm and also pillows beneath his left hip and leg, causing him to lay almost on his right side. An IV in his right hand allowed whatever was in the two bags above his bed to flow.

He stared at the swollen fingers of his left hand and his memories slowly surfaced.

Scorpion.

Just a little sting. What the hell happened?

He lay his head back down, tired from that small exertion. His eyes closed and time passed while he wavered in and out… just on the edge of consciousness.

He felt someone's touch and opened his eyes, finding a nurse smiling down at him. "How do you feel?" she asked, changing out one bag of empty fluid for a full one.

He stared at her and opened his mouth to reply, but couldn't think of anything to say. How did he feel? He was so numb he didn't even know. And so doped to the gills that he couldn't even talk.

She smiled and smoothed the sheet around him. "Don't worry, the doctor will be in this evening to check you again. You're doing just fine."

He took her word for it and closed his eyes once more. When he opened them again, a familiar, although blurry face, was staring at him.

"Welcome back, Doggie," Boomer said, grinning at him. "Lookee, Buck at who decided to wake up."

Steve glanced to the other side and found Buck on the opposite side of the bed, his chair leaning back on two legs.

"You done scaring us, McGarrett?"

He swallowed, and said, "Hey."

It came out sounding like he was gargling marbles, even to his ears.

"Here," Buck dropped his chair to the floor and grabbed a cup of ice and a spoon. "This might help. Do you remember what happened?"

He closed his eyes, letting the ice melt in his mouth before trying to speak once again. "Scorpion."

"Yeah, he remembers," Boomer said. "He thought it was a splinter. If that was the case, you got a splinter in your backside, too."

Steve tried to process that information, but it made no sense, so he turned to Buck once again.

The medic shook his head. "You went into shock and were rushed to Kabul by chopper. Your airway closed up and your BP almost bottomed out."

"Wanna know why?" Boomer asked "Cause after they got you breathing again back in Bagram, they started stripping you and they found another scorpion bite… right on your tushie. It hadn't been cleaned and had begun to fester and swell. Your leg from your hip to your knee was all red and swollen and they had to cut you outta your pants."

"I swear, Dog, only you could be bitten three times by a scorpion and not even know it."

"But, good news," Buck assured him. "There's still some swelling and you may not have much movement in your hand yet, but once they gave you another hefty dose of antivenin, everything's good. You should be out of here tomorrow."

"How long… here?" His throat still felt tight and it hurt to talk.

"You came in last night," Boomer said, all kidding aside. "Once they got you stable, you were in ICU until this morning. You've been asleep most of the day."

"Can't remember."

"Yeah, well, you did a good enough job scaring me," Boomer told him. "Glad you're OK."

Steve nodded. "Thanks. This does explain a lot," he told them.

"What's that?" Boomer asked.

"If I was at 100 percent, no way in hell would you have beaten me in pool."

~~~H50~~~

"Hang on," Danny said, grinning. "You were bitten on the ass by a scorpion… and didn't even know it?"

"It wasn't my ass," Steve quickly assured him. "On the left side of my hip."

"Close enough," Danny replied. "How the hell did you not know it?"

Steve shrugged. "The doc said when I leaned back against the crate, the scorpion panicked and first stung me in the hip. I didn't feel it because it went through my uniform. But the tail whipped back around and stung both places on my arm pretty quickly and I was concentrating on that and didn't realize the other." He reached down and rubbed his left hip. "But I had a knot there for weeks, and it did hurt for a while after that."

"How long were you sidelined?" Cath asked.

"I was out of the hospital and back in Bagram the next morning. Had about eight days before our next assignment, so I was good to go. But that is the reason I don't trust scorpions."

"I can understand that," Danny nodded, picking up his phone. "And I guess I have to delete the picture."

"You did swear to it," Steve reminded him.

"In a weak moment," Danny agreed. "Can I show Chin and Kono first?"

"Danny!" Catherine exclaimed. "You are so unfair."

"Just teasing," he assured them, pushing buttons on his phone. "There. Done."

"Thank you."

"Oh, damn!" Danny exclaimed. "Did I just email the governor?"

Steve grabbed his friend's wrist and wrangled the phone from him." remove quotation mark

"Kidding! So, what else are you afraid of?"

"Me?" Steve asked. "Nothing."

"Oh, come on," Danny said, not believing that for a second. He glanced at Catherine who was smiling. "Cath, spill it, what's the big guy afraid of?"

"Don't ask me," she told him, glancing at Steve and smiling. "I'll never tell."

"See! I knew it. There is something else. What is it?"

Steve got up from the table and tossed the phone to his partner as he walked away, repeating, "nothing" over his shoulder.

Danny followed him to the garage. "I don't believe you, so spill. You know I'm not going to let this go, right? So, just tell me..."