Dan hummed as he looked down at this daughter. They were sprawled on the couch in Steve's house still in their pajamas and watching Saturday morning cartoons on the ridiculously huge television. It was strange to think that this, this sprawling on the couch in Steve's house next to each other every weekend had become their ritual.
It'd been years now since Dan had packed up his meager belongings and moved 5,000 miles to a tiny island to be near his daughter. Years since he'd met Steve McGarrett busting in on his investigation of his father's murder. And it'd been four years and three months since he'd slammed Steve up against a wall and kissed him until his lips were bruised and he'd come in pants.
Danny had been very pleased to discover that that was an effective way to get the ex-Navy Seal to shut the fuck up.
"Jason's dad got re-married today," Grace said, big brown eyes still looking up at him.
"Jason? Jason Spirelli?" Dan asked, blinking owlishly at her.
"Yes," she replied.
She shifted slightly on the couch so she was no longer sprawled along his side but sat facing him, legs crossed in front of her. She looked so serious; so grown up. Danny swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat.
"Okay…" Dan responded, one eyebrow lifting up. "Congratulations?"
"You and Steve have been together longer than his dad and his boyfriend," she started, and Danny immediately knew where this was going and he was not ready for her to ask– "How come you two aren't married yet?"
Danny stared at his daughter, speechless. Well, this was certainly not one of those things he'd ever expected to have to handle at godawful seven o'clock on a Saturday morning. He opened his mouth a couple of times, trying to say something, anything, but he drew a blank. Instead he stared at Grace, who stared back at him impassively, waiting patiently. He didn't know where she got that from; neither he nor Rachel were particularly patient people – probably one of the many things that contributed to the explosive death of their marriage.
"Don't you love him, Danno?" Grace prodded when it became obvious he wasn't going to say anything.
"I… what?" Dan finally to choke out. "Grace, what–" He stopped, closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Okay, missy. We can have this conversation. But, it's going to have to be after breakfast."
"So, when Steve comes back?" Grace asked, eyes big and wide and– Damn it. She'd gotten that expression from her mother.
"No. We are definitely not having this conversation with Steve here. Okay, fine. We can have it now." He shifted on the couch so he sat mirroring his daughter, legs crossed and arms on his knees. "I love Steve very much, honey."
"As much as you love me?" she asked.
"No," Dan said emphatically. "I could never love anyone as much as I love you."
"I know, Danno," she said, nodding solemnly.
This had been an ongoing conversation between Dan Williams and his daughter since she could remember. Sometimes it scared her how much her father needed her to know how much he loved her. As if she didn't know. As if she couldn't see it when everything he ever did was for her benefit and to keep her safe. She wasn't a little girl anymore who didn't understand why she had been taken away from her Jersey home and flown miles and miles to an island where she didn't know anyone and, mostly importantly, where her father didn't live.
She still remembered the day when he mother had told her that her father was going to be moving to the island and live here as well. She'd been bouncing off the walls the rest of the day and had begged and pleaded for her mother to let her call him so she could talk to him. He'd told her that then; that he loved her and that he would never love anyone as much as he loved her. And it had been obvious, even to her seven year old self, that he'd meant every word of that.
"Good," he nodded.
"But that's not what I'm talking about," she said, looking him in the eye. "That's a different kind of love. We have a father-daughter love," she explained seriously.
So seriously that Dan had trouble keeping the smile off his face.
"I'm asking you if you love Steve as much as you love me in the grown up kind of love. You know, the kind that…" she paused for a second, eyes breaking away from Dan to look at the couch. "The kind that you and mom used to have."
Dan looked at his daughter, watching as she picked at the upholstery of the couch with her stubby nails. He wasn't sure when she'd started biting her nails, but he knew that was a habit she got from watching him. And it was a bad habit, but not one he was going to actively try and stop her from doing.
"Me and your mom," he started and stopped, trying to find the words. "Rachel and I had something special, Grace. And we loved each other very much. But..." He stopped again and scrunched up his face. "I don't know if you and I should be talking about this. You're not old enough."
"Dad!" she whined, glaring up at him and smacking her hands against the cushions. "I'm almost thirteen already. I'm not so little that I can't have a serious conversation with you about your boyfriend."
Danny choked. "Okay, okay. You win." He sighed and looked down at the couch.
"Well?" Grace prompted when it was obvious her father was stalling.
"Steve and I… It's not the same thing as what I had with your mother, Grace. It's… I'm not sure."
"But you love him."
"Yes," he replied without hesitation.
"So, you love him, but not enough to marry him?" she asked.
"What? No, Grace, I– What?" Dan blinked at her, confused. "Where is this sudden need to know about me and Steve and marriage coming from?"
"I told you. Jason's dad got married," she said exasperated.
"I got that part, sweetie. What I want to know if how you went from 'Jason has a new dad' to 'why isn't my dad married to Steve?'"
Grace raised her eyebrows at him and tilted her head to the side. "Really, dad? You don't see the connection there?" she deadpanned. But before Dan could say anything she waved her hands in front of him in shush motion. "No, nevermind. Look, I got curious because you and Steve have been together longer than they have, and, well, I like Steve."
"You do," Dan said, though Grace couldn't be sure there wasn't a question in there.
"Yes," she nodded. "I do." There was moment of silence as father and daughter looked at each other. Grace finally cracked a smile and leaned forward, wrapping her arms around Dan's neck and settling in his lap. "I guess what I'm trying to say, Dad, is that if you wanted to marry Steve, I'd be okay with that."
Danno wrapped his arms around his little girl and hugged her tightly for a second before relaxing his hold on her. He chuckled softly. "Look at that. My daughter giving me advice on my love life."
"Well, someone has to, Danno," she mumbled into his neck.
"Dad, you never answered my question" Grace complained as she pushed herself off her father's chest to look at him.
"What was it again?"
"Do you love him enough to marry him?"
Dan smiled softly. "Yeah, kid. I love him enough to marry him."
Grace smiled brightly and hugged her father one last time before getting off the couch and pulling him along. "Come on dad! I want pancakes!"
"No. Grace, no. We talked about this last week. No pancakes for you this weekend. I can make you an omelet, but you had pancakes last weekend. On both days," Dan said firmly.
Grace stopped in her tracks and crossed her arms, lips out in a pout. "But dad!"
"No buts, little missy. Now go put on some clothes while I cook us some breakfast. Steve should be back from his run soon," Dan ordered as he shooed her toward the staircase while he made his way to the kitchen.
Once he was safely out of sight, Grace grinned wickedly and tiptoed to the backdoor. She cracked it open and peered outside cautiously, just like Steve and Danno had told her to do countless times. Once she spotted what she was looking for she opened the door wide and stepped outside to stand by the sweaty man.
"Mission accomplished, boss!" she chimed, hands going up in a salute.
"Good work, soldier," Steve McGarrett grinned, hands planted on his hips. "Now, spill the bean."
"Operation Step-Steve is a go, sir," she reported, lips set in the biggest grin Steve had ever seen the girl sporting.
"Then let's get to it, soldier," he said as he lowered his hand and Grace low-fived it.