The Road With Good Intentions
With their truce firmly in place after the surveillance and a thawing of the anger between them, Rachel calls Danny. It's awkward and stilted and after five minutes, there's a long pause as both search for something, anything, to fill the space normally occupied by their arguing with each other.
"This is…" Danny sighs into the silence. "This is so bad, it's not funny."
Rachel smiles softly and tucks the phone closer as she settles into her armchair. "It's not that bad, surely."
"Rachel, you're about ten seconds away from commenting about the weather, don't pretend you're not." Danny points out briskly.
Her lips curve upwards of their own accord because he's right. It's an English habit she can't shake. "We can talk about the weather if you wish."
"What's there to talk about?" Danny counters. "It's weather. I really don't see why the English have a thing about it when it always rains there…"
She can almost see the sharp hand movements he would make to underscore his points.
"...and God knows it's always sunny here so there really isn't anything to talk about unless you want to exchange notes on how many times you've been blinded by sunlight today and…"
"Danny…" Rachel chides, interrupting mid-rant. She's unwillingly amused but knows from experience that if she doesn't interrupt he'll go on for days.
There's a long pause.
"I didn't mean…" Rachel hurries to assure him it wasn't a criticism.
"Sorry, you know how I…" Danny says at the same time.
They both stumble to a halt. Rachel's heart sinks because have they really let things get so twisted between them that they've forgotten how to simply talk to one another? "So," she says brightly, "this is really bad."
Danny laughs and she feels better. There's an echo of a knock at his end and she's not surprised when he asks her to hold on. She hears the murmur of voices; Danny and Steve McGarrett.
"Sorry; there's a…I have to go."
It's so familiar. She'd heard the same words so many times as his wife that she'd lost count. There's the same small hurt that accompanies them, the feeling that his work is more important than her – always more important – but Rachel chastises herself thoroughly. She and Danny aren't married anymore; she has no right to feel anything.
"Stay safe, Daniel." Rachel says instead and lets him go.
Rachel blows out a slow breath. They're supposed to be doing things differently; they're supposed to be working things out so they can be friendly, not opening up old wounds again. "You know what? I've stated my position, and I'm not arguing with you about this."
"Really? Because, you know yelling at me that you don't approve of my last minute childcare arrangements in the middle of fucking tsunami warning feels like you're arguing with me." Danny shoots back. "I should know because you've argued with me many times, Rachel."
"Daniel." Rachel sighs and closes her eyes.
"I'm sorry." Danny says quietly and Rachel lets out a breath of relief at his capitulation. He waits a beat. "But you have to know I would never leave her with anyone if I didn't one hundred per cent believe she was safe."
"I know." Rachel admits. "I'm just…surprised, and," she takes a deep breath for her own confession, "I might have panicked when we got the news about the tsunami warning and I…I couldn't reach you immediately because of the issues with the phone network."
He sighs but she knows there's understanding behind it rather than exasperation. "You don't need to worry. Grace is safe, and we think the tsunami warning is a fake. We're tracking it down now."
There's a confidence and a surety about Danny's tone that reassures Rachel. She tries not to think about the danger he might be putting himself in tracking down whether the warning is fake or not. She has no right, she reminds herself.
They say goodbye warily and Rachel throws her phone down on the coffee table with a sigh. It vibrates again almost immediately. It's Stan. Rachel ignores it.
Things are progressively getting worse between her and Stan. If he hated that Rachel spent so much thinking about Danny when they were at odds with each other, Stan hates the truce she has instigated with her ex-husband more. Oh, he doesn't say anything untoward; outwardly he's all 'it'll be good for Grace' and 'it means we can save money on legal bills.' But she can tell that he's not comfortable with the idea that she and Danny are becoming friendly again. She'd volunteered to escort Stan on his business trip as a way of making it up to him; as a way of saying she loves him.
She hasn't seen Stan since they arrived.
She's been stuck in a hotel room all day and she can guess that Stan's calling to tell her that he's delayed again. It's strange, she muses, staring up at the whirling fan; she'd always complained that Danny put his work first but so does Stan. But at least, Rachel considers seriously, she's never going to have to worry that Stan won't come home eventually as she did – does – with Danny.
Rachel shakes herself. Truthfully, she thinks Stan's absence from their home has more to do with his avoiding their marital issues and less to do with any workaholic tendencies he might have. She wonders how they're supposed to work anything out if Stan's never around. It's a question she's still pondering hours later.
"We're really very bad at this." Rachel remarks with a sigh when there's yet another awkward pause in the conversation. She taps her fingers against the steering wheel, peering out at the front of the school. It's her turn to pick up Grace and she's early. Way too early.
"My Mom says we're out of practice." Danny says.
Rachel's taken aback a little. She knows Danny's close to his family but somehow she hadn't expected him to have confessed their truce to them. It explains the Christmas card she received at least. "How is your mother?"
"Good." Danny says quickly. "Keeping Pop in line like always."
Rachel had always liked Danny's parents even when she'd found them overwhelming. She wonders what they think of the truce and decides not to think about it too closely.
"Anyway, she says we're so used to either screaming at each other or not talking at all that we're out of practice conversing like rational people." Danny continues.
Rachel thinks Danny's mother is probably right. "Does she have a solution?"
"Keep practicing." Danny replied immediately. "That was the limit of the wisdom she shared."
It's not bad advice.
"So I guess we just continue having these awkward pauses and leaving stilted messages and eventually they'll work themselves out." Danny finishes.
"Oh, I don't know," Rachel jokes, "you left me a perfectly lovely message the other day." He had too. She's suddenly inspired. "Actually, that could be the answer."
"What?" Danny sounds confused and she doesn't blame him even though she rolls her eyes.
"Messages." Rachel explains. "We don't actually talk to each other; we let the phones go to voicemail and practice talking politely and sensibly through messages."
"So, let me get this straight, you want us to practice talking to each other by not talking to each other?" Danny says rapidly. "How does that even make any kind of sense? I don't think this is exactly what my Mom had in mind, babe."
"What can it hurt?" Rachel says, trying hard not to feel warmed by Danny's casual use of the word 'babe.' It's reserved for people he likes and she hasn't fallen into that category for a while. "Let's try it and see. It's not like people will be surprised that we're avoiding each other's calls." And it might just give her some breathing room with Stan who's become more distant than ever.
"OK, never let it be said that Daniel Williams isn't prepared to try something new." Danny replies. "But for the record, I think this is nuts."
"So right up your street, Danny." Rachel counters. They say goodbye just as the school doors open and Rachel hurries out to collect Grace.
After a day of car-jacking and house-breaking, Grace is unsurprisingly needy at bedtime. She won't let Rachel leave her after her story and she asks for the bedside lamp to be left on. Rachel waits until Grace is asleep before she marches through the hotel suite they've rented while the house is put to rights. She finds Stan in the small sitting area with a glass of scotch in his hand. By the flushed look on his face, he's already had a few.
She sits down opposite him in a padded armchair and clasps her hands on top of her knees. "Tell me what happened and please; do me the courtesy of not repeating the story you and Daniel tried on me earlier." Like she would accept that having a gun pointed at her, her daughter threatened and her home violated was nothing more than a misunderstanding.
Stan drains the scotch and tells her. When he's done, he pours himself another and she crisply tells him to get her one too. The glass is cool and hard in her grip. She takes a sip and winces as the spirit burns down the back of her throat. She's so angry. At the fucking housing commissioner for being weak and pathetic and threatening them. At Stan for playing at being a hero and getting into trouble. She's even angry at Danny for actually being a hero and making it all OK again because he was right, damn him; it was Stan's fault and maybe Stan had been well-intentioned but he'd been stupid: utterly and completely goddamned stupid.
"Why didn't you tell me?" demands Rachel. "I'm your wife! You could have confided in me!"
"I was trying to protect you!" Stan gets to his feet and paces to the window.
"Well, you did a bang up job there!" Rachel lashes out furiously. "You did such a good job that there was a gun pointed at me and Grace!" Her voice cracks on her daughter's name and tears flood her eyes because, God; she could have lost her daughter, her baby, and she's not sure she can ever forgive Stan for that. He moves to comfort her and she shrugs off his hand, jerking away from his touch until she's over the other side of the room, arms wrapped tightly around her middle.
Stan pushes a hand through his dark hair. "How do I fix this, Rachel?"
"I'm not sure you can." Rachel admits, wearily. "You know I spent the day defending you to Daniel. And now…now I feel like a fool."
"Daniel." Stan bites out his name. "It all comes back to him, doesn't it?"
Rachel sighs. "Your jealousy is the issue with our marriage, Stanley. Danny is Grace's father. He's always going to be a part of my life, and yes; I love him. Even when I hated him, I loved him." It's a relief to say it. "But that marriage failed for a reason and I'm your wife now. I love you. I moved to Hawaii to prove that to you and I don't know what else to do. I don't know how to fix this."
"I'm not sure you can." Stan admits, repeating her own words back to her. "I thought I could handle having Danny in our lives but…" his shrug is eloquent.
The agreement for a separation to work out what they want is swift if not painless. Rachel eschews the bedroom Stan leaves for her and curls up around her daughter. She can't believe she's failed at yet another marriage. The pillow is damp with her tears when she finally falls asleep.
The house is eerily silent. It's been two days since they moved back in and Rachel can't shake the feeling that it's tainted because of the break-in. She checks on Grace who is oblivious and sleeping in sprawled abandon under new pretty pink covers.
She and Stan haven't told Grace about the separation. Grace is fond of Stan and Stan is agreed they should protect her from anything that could rock her security. Before Stan left for yet another business trip, he'd told her that he's determined that the separation is going temporary; a way of giving them space to work things out. Rachel's not that convinced. She's been through a separation before, and it was nothing more than a preamble to divorce.
More, Rachel doesn't see how her marriage to Stan can survive. Stan is always going to be jealous of Danny, and underscoring that is the worrying thought that maybe she should never have married Stan in the first place; that it was too soon after Danny, that her relationship with Stan is ultimately nothing more than a rebound, that maybe Stan has a right to be jealous because maybe Rachel's steady love for him lacks the passion she's always had for Danny – still has.
Rachel sighs. She can't blame Stan really. She's always loved Danny; is always going to love Danny, and no matter that she loves Stan too, it's not really fair on him. Regardless of what they tell Grace – that it's OK to love both her Danno and Stan – in the adult world, it's not that simple. She knows how she would feel if their positions were reversed and she had to deal with Stan having an ex-wife that was so much a part of their lives: she would hate it.
She shivers and checks the window is closed and locked. The other problem is that issues with Danny and Stan aside, she doesn't know that she can ever forgive Stan for the car-jacking and the fear that she could have lost her baby girl that day. She left her marriage to Daniel because she didn't feel secure; because she was scared that every phone call would be the one that made her widow and would leave Grace without a father. Now she's just scared. She hates that she is – she always thought of herself as stronger than that.
A flash of light at the end of the driveway outside the gates catches her attention and Rachel moves swiftly into the cubby-hole in Stan's office where the new security monitors are keeping watch of everything. The camera over the gate zooms in on her command and her heartbeat slows as she recognises Danny's Camaro.
He's watching over them, Rachel realises; watching over and making sure they're safe, she and Grace. She doesn't know if it's something Grace has asked for, if it's just something Danny is doing anyway, but she's just so damned grateful she blinks back tears.
She touches a finger to the screen. She could go down to his car, invite him up to the house…and seriously, she needs to get a grip. Nothing would happen, she tells herself defensively. She only meant that he could be comfortable and they could talk. Right.
Rachel shakes herself briskly and walks out of the room. If Danny wants to get cold and cramped watching over them from his car, that's his business. But as she climbs into bed, Rachel can't deny she feels safer knowing he's there.
Stan's away again; his fleeting visit has resolved nothing except to confirm that they're still entrenched in their positions. He's annoyed that Rachel has physically moved into the guest suite. Grace hasn't yet questioned why Mommy is sleeping somewhere different. She's excited about Danny's brother visiting and is too filled with chatter about her Uncle Matt. But Rachel can't help think it's only a matter of time.
And then Danny will know because Grace will tell him.
Rachel closes her eyes. She really can't face telling anyone that her marriage is in trouble. She and her mother have never had that type of relationship and God knows she can do without the "I told you so" that would undoubtedly be the first thing that her mother would say to her.
She's considered calling her oldest girlfriend but the time difference between England and Hawaii is crap and she's not sure she can stand Caroline's no-nonsense Yorkshire bluntness with any kind of grace.
She's tempted to talk to Danny. Since the car-jacking, they're doing a whole lot better on the conversational front although ninety per cent of their conversations still revolve around the logistics of Danny's visitations with their daughter, and their joint parenting of Grace. But to talk to Danny about how her marriage is failing would be self-indulgent. It would be unfair to Stan and unfair to Danny.
But she's tempted because Danny is familiar and solid and…And she thinks she might be falling in love with him again. Which is stupid because Danny's still a cop; still ends two out of three conversations abruptly because there's a case, or a break in the case, or something work-related that trumps talking to her. Yes, her fear of losing him has eased since the surveillance when she had no choice but to face it but Danny himself hasn't changed.
No, talking to Danny about the state of her marriage is a Bad Idea. And it wouldn't just be talking. It would be the start of something, Rachel's certain of that enough that she's resisted because it scares her how tempted she is. She's always disapproved of people who have affairs, who can't remain faithful and monogamous. She's never thought that she would be someone who would, could, might…yet she's acquiring an understanding that she doesn't want to have.
It doesn't help that Rachel firmly believes her marriage is over; that once Stan is back from his latest trip that they'll start the divorce proceedings. It just makes it even more tempting to tell Danny because she can convince herself that it's not really cheating…
The phone call from Matt inviting her to spend the day with him and Grace is a surprise but he's always been the easiest of Danny's siblings to get along with; Matt's just a very easy-going kind of a guy.
She blows off the work she's supposed to be doing and heads to the hotel. A day spent with her daughter and maybe even a dinner with Danny sounds wonderful, and best of all, nothing will happen because Matt will be there as a chaperone.
Rachel hugs Danny close, comforting him in the wake of Matt's abrupt flight from justice. There's more to it than what he's told her she's sure but she doesn't question him. Instead she invites him in to see Grace.
She watches him check on their daughter, his movements as he strokes Grace's hair away from her face, kisses her forehead and pulls up the blankets achingly familiar. He walks out quietly and closes the door softly so he doesn't wake her.
"Thanks." Danny pushes a hand through his hair.
Rachel nods. She frowns as his gaze slides sideways and her breathing stutters as she realises he's caught sight of the open bedroom door to the guest suite.
He raises an eyebrow at her. "Sorry, I didn't realise you had someone staying."
"I don't." She replies, her heart pounding. She swallows to moisten her mouth. "I'm…Stan and I…" she finally meets his gaze and takes a breath to tell him, "it's over."
"Since when?" Danny questions, frowning.
"Since the car-jacking." Rachel confirms. "He told me everything."
Danny grimaces and shuffles his feet. "Yeah about that…"
"You don't need to explain why you covered for him; I wouldn't have believed you if you'd told me the truth." Rachel admits. "I almost didn't believe him. I couldn't believe he'd been that stupid. If anything had happened to Grace…" her voice breaks.
"Hey, hey." Danny moves and gathers her up into his arms. He's comforting her now. "It didn't happen and nothing's ever going to happen. OK, babe?" He eases back and wipes a tear from her cheek. His fingers linger on her skin and he's right there…right there, and…
They're kissing. They're kissing before Rachel can process it because it feels so right and so good and, God, she's missed him. Missed this…his mouth on hers, his hands on her skin, and it's not enough…not enough because it's been too long and…they stumble into the bedroom; sprawl on the bed. Danny's weight on top of her feels so right that Rachel pushes away the guilt and the second thoughts and the regrets. She wraps herself around Danny and gets lost in him.
They lie together tangled in the aftermath, silent but constantly touching as though neither of them can believe it. His phone vibrates and he reaches down to the floor and pulls it from his pants.
"It's Steve." Danny murmurs but he doesn't answer it. "I should…I should go." He's already pulling on clothes. He pauses half-dressed to stoop and kiss her again. "I have to…there's stuff with Matt to sort out…with the FBI and…I have to talk with Mom and Pop and…but once I'm done with that, we should talk."
Rachel nods and lets him kiss her again. When he's gone, she stares up at the ceiling and wonders just how stupid she's been.
Danny is in New Jersey when Stan arrives home determined to win Rachel back. He waits until Grace is at her tennis lesson, and sits down with Rachel in their beautifully appointed parlour.
"I've done a lot of thinking and I want us to try again." Stan says bluntly. He's right in front of her, sitting on the coffee table. "We have problems but we love each other and…"
"I slept with Danny."
Stan rears back. "You…"
Rachel's hands twist in her lap at the hurt on his face but she takes another deep breath and finishes it. "I…I told him it was over between you and I. He and…it just happened. It wasn't planned." She bites her lip. "I'm not proud of it."
Stan gets up and walks over to the window. He pushes his hands into his pants' pockets and stares out at the pool behind the house. She waits because he deserves the time to process her confession; it's the least he deserves. "Did you mean it?" He says eventually.
"Mean…?" Rachel trails off confused.
"That our marriage is over." Stan turns and looks at her. "Did you mean it?"
She swallows the urge to get defensive. She's cheated on him. He has every right to question her. "Yes." Rachel says. "I meant it."
"I don't accept that." Stan says. "You know what? This…this is what I've feared all along; you and Danny sleeping together and…now it's happened, it's almost a relief."
Rachel stares at him.
"It's done." Stan says. "You're still my wife and I'm still your husband."
"Stanley…" She doesn't even know where to begin.
"I'm asking for a chance." Stan says, forcefully. "We try and make our marriage work. You took vows and I know you meant them; I know I did. You owe me at least a chance, Rachel."
She turns away from his fierce glare. He's right. She does owe him at least a chance to make their marriage work but if she gives him a chance, she doesn't know where that leaves her with Danny. They haven't talked and they need to talk.
Rachel rubs her upper arms and sighs, turning back to Stan. "I don't know."
"Let me ask you this, Rachel," Stan says firmly, "the reasons why you and Danny split up and divorced; have they changed at all? Because I can't see that they have. Danny's still a cop; his work still comes first and yes, I know I haven't exactly been all that available either lately but I'm prepared to change: is he?"
He's right. Rachel sighs and tells him she'll think about it.
Rachel manages to arrange a face to face meeting at Danny's apartment. She lays out Stan's position which can be succinctly summed up as 'he wants to try again' with her own 'confused' and asks Daniel point blank where he's at. Danny sighs and adjusts his stance; he's leaning against the breakfast bar that separates his living and kitchen space. Rachel had sat on the sofa, relieved that it's not pulled out as a bed. She looks up at Daniel expectantly.
"This is a mess." Danny says finally with an accompanying hand gesture that sweeps through the air.
She can't argue with him. "Have you told anyone?"
"Have I…" His face flushes red. "No! Who am I going to tell?"
"Your partner?" Rachel says dryly. She knows there's a close bond between Danny and Steve.
Danny huffs. "Despite SuperSEAL's wish to know everything about my life, no: I have not told him."
There are reasons behind his not saying anything but evidently he isn't going to share them. She can guess: insecurity over whether it was a first step to them reconciling or a mistake; that he's embarrassed at sleeping with her because she's still married to someone else and he's always tried to do the right thing.
"You told me it was over." He reminds her, pointing an accusing finger in her direction. And she guesses the latter is the one he's focused on now.
"I didn't lie to you, Danny." Rachel gets to her feet. "I thought it was over."
"And now?" Danny presses.
"I don't know." Rachel admits. She pushes her hair behind her ear and picks up the picture of Grace he has displayed. "As I've said, I'm confused."
Danny opens his mouth, pauses and closes it again as he collects his thoughts. "You know I want this," his hand moves back and forth between them, "you, me and Gracie." He pauses and his eyes, deadly serious, meet hers. "But you have to be sure. You have to be absolutely certain this is what you want."
"I know." Rachel says softly seeing his eyes drift to the picture she holds. Because Grace always comes first with Danny and he wants to protect their daughter. They've already put her through so much.
He pushes off the bar and walks over to her. He takes the picture out of her hands. "So, take your time and figure out what you want." He manages a smile. "I'm not going anywhere."
Rachel feels her throat close up. It's more than she expected. She leans in to brush her lips against his before pulling away. She makes for the door and only turns back when she's half-way through it. "We'll talk?"
She walks out and tries hard not to feel like she's walking out on him again.
Rachel watches Danny in the mirror for as long as she can before the road demands her attention. She's made her decision.
Because she has been thinking seriously enough in the past weeks about what she wants; about her marriage to Danny and the mistakes she'd made, that he'd made, that they'd made; about whether they truly should try again or not; that maybe they owe it to Grace to try. And she's thought about her marriage with Stan too, and the mistakes there. She's concluded, somewhat grudgingly, that her mother had been right; Stan had been too soon after Danny; that he was a rebound.
Rachel can see with hindsight that the trip to Maui that she had agreed to take with Stan to essentially try and save their marriage, had been nothing more than a sop to her guilty conscience. Just as she can see how she'd placed obstacles in his path; insisting on separate rooms that he'd agreed to immediately; on a means to communicate with Grace before they went that he'd solved by buying a cell phone for her.
Stan had made such an effort and she feels like a fraud because as soon as she'd gotten the phone call from Grace and heard that Danny was in the hospital, she'd known exactly where her heart lies.
She and Danny haven't really talked beyond the words they'd exchanged as they parted although her behaviour with him, the kisses and open affection, had probably been a big clue to her making a decision about the future and which way she'd made it. But he'd been recovering and Grace had been with them. They're going to have to take it slowly, Rachel muses, and there's a lot that they need to work out.
She has to tell Stan. He'd been somewhat understanding about the need to fly back, as with Danny in the hospital there had been the question of who would look after Grace. So Stan isn't aware that her decision on their marriage is made and she needs to tell him. But face to face because he deserves that much. And after that…she and Danny need to work out where they go from here.
Hawaii had been Stan's idea; it's his home, his territory. Rachel isn't sure staying is the best course. Danny had never wanted to move from New Jersey in the first place. His family is there and the life he left behind in order to follow them, to follow Grace. Grace…well, Grace will need to move schools anyway with the divorce from Stan and returning to her previous friends will be less jarring than starting again somewhere else. Maybe they can go back. She'll need to discuss it with Danny but she knows, knows, he'll agree.
Rachel relaxes, her plan made. She tries to ignore the little voice in her head that accuses her of running away from Hawaii just as she once ran away from New Jersey; of trying to pretend she hasn't made any mistakes, that she never married Stan or tried to cut Danny out of his daughter's life even if it was done to protect Grace from the pain of losing her father another way.
She shakes away the thought and frowns. She knows she's made mistakes but she's doing her best to make things right again. It'll take time for her and Danny to rebuild what they've lost but they can do it for Grace.
Her future is with Danny and Grace, and she's focusing on the road ahead.