Steve wakes up one morning to an empty bed and the sound of Danny’s hissing out in the hallway. He blinks and looks around, notices that Danny’s cell phone is missing from the nightstand. He throws the sheets aside and swings his legs over the side of the bed, running fingers through his hair and blinking into the early morning light. When he looks at his own cell phone he sees that it’s four-thirty in the morning and he’s unimpressed.
There are a few things that Danny has taught him since moving in, and one of them is the ability to sleep in until six whenever he possibly can – barring nasty 5-0 cases. He finally makes his way out of the bed and over to the doorjamb, leaning against it to watch Danny’s darkened figure cut a path across the hallway, hands moving rapidly through the air as he whisper-shouts into the phone the entire time. “No – absolutely not – I don’t think you understand, I have a daughter I have to take care, I can’t just up and leave. No, no, no, it’s not happening. Forget it,” he’s saying into the phone.
Steve frowns, wondering who it could possibly be and sticks his head out into the hallway, peering down to check to see that Grace’s door is still shut tight. She sleeps pretty well these days, fewer nightmares than in the beginning, but both Steve and Danny like to be reassured that she’s okay, tucked safe and tight in her room, sleeping peacefully.
Danny catches him moving and shoots him a dark look, waving a hand at him before turning back to the conversation. Steve arches an eyebrow and waits. “I don’t know what you expect me to say – you can’t - excuse me? You’re what? You have got to be fucking kidding me. Fuck you!” The last part is loud and Steve winces, glancing back to Gracie’s door again before turning back to Danny again, who has hung his phone up and is beating it against the wall, tongue sticking out in frustration, grunting noises emitting from his mouth.
“Danno – hey – what’s going on?” Steve asks him, stepping out into the hallway, reaching out and grabbing his phone from him, wrapping his arms around him. Danny fights him for a few moments before falling against him and sighing.
“Everything,” he whimpers.
“Danno,” Steve chides, “What’s the matter? Tell me what’s wrong?”
Danny nuzzles his nose against Steve’s neck and sighs, gripping Steve’s arms tightly, nearly whimpering. Alarm bells go off in Steve’s head, trying to figure out what could possibly be wrong, what could possibly make Danny this clingy and angry all in the same breath. Finally, Danny speaks, “It was the FBI,” Danny says lowly, “They are… ordering me back to New Jersey.”
Steve stiffens, pulls away from Danny. “I’m sorry, what?” He says, licking his lips, unsure. “I didn’t – I didn’t catch that.”
Danny smiles sadly at him and tugs on his hand, pulling him back into their bedroom. They sit on the bed and Danny tucks himself into Steve’s side. “A few years ago, right before Rach and I got divorced, I did this undercover thing for the FBI,” Danny tells him, his breath playing out over Steve’s chest. Steve closes his eyes, not sure if he wants to hear the rest or not. “It lasted about six months and then things happened and it fell apart – we weren’t able to make any arrests. Now the gang is back together and calling Danny Fietti’s cell phone – which is in the FBI’s possession – looking for him. Wanting to meet up with him, wanting him to get in with them again,” Danny’s fingers are stroking across Steve’s biceps in a soothing manner and Steve sucks in a deep breath.
“Danny – you could be gone for a long time,” he says softly.
“I know,” he replies. “I tried denying them a million ways from Sunday. You try telling the FBI no. It’s a little like telling the Navy no, buddy,” he flashes him a teasing grin. “It’s sort of government ordered, I guess. I don’t have a choice in the matter. They could make life miserable if I keep saying no.”
“Danny,” Steve says again.
“Steven,” Danny says, and kisses his chest. “I know. I don’t want to go.”
Steve is quiet for a long moment, just holding Danny and letting Danny run his fingers along Steve skin, the comfort of being near each other enough. Finally, Danny is the one to break the silence, “You gonna take care of Grace?” he asks gruffly, clearing his throat.
“What – Danny – why would you even ask that?” Steve asks, pulling away and sitting up, looking hurt. Steve can’t believe Danny would think he’d have to look for anyone else to take care of Grace with Danny gone, with Rachel not – alive – he can’t believe Danny would think he would have to worry. Not when Grace has started calling Steve Dad in the past year, has started listening to him as much as she’s listening to Danny. Has started going for morning swims with him and running on the beach with him in the evening, practicing self-defense techniques.
Danny shifts his eyes and shrugs. “I don’t know, Steve. It’s a big thing, okay? I don’t know how long I’ll be gone and I don’t know how Gracie’s going to react and I just… it’s like you’re going to be a single father, you know? It’s a big thing. I just… wanted to make sure.”
“Danny,” Steve leans in, grasps Danny’s wrists loosely and kisses his pulse point. “Moving you in, Grace calling me her other dad, driving Grace to school and helping her with homework – that’s not me being sure?” he demands, raising an eyebrow.
Danny makes eye contact then, offering a small smile. “I don’t want to go,” he says weakly.
“I don’t want you to go,” Steve says. He kisses Danny soft and slow and Danny kisses back, falling against the pillows. When he pulls away he asks, “When do you go?”
“Three days,” Danny groans, shoving his face in the pillow. “I can’t do this, Steve. I just – I can’t. I thought hey – I’d love to go back to Jersey someday. But not… not undercover. Not without Gracie and you.”
Steve places a kiss on his shoulder and closes his eyes to block out the wave of fresh pain from the thought of not seeing Danny for an unknown amount of time. “We’ll get through it,” he says.
The alarm goes off at six but they’re both wide awake, staring at the ceiling. Grace pounds on the door at six-fifteen, her usual habit if one of them isn’t already downstairs waiting for her. She’s in her bathing suit, smile on her face, waiting for Steve so they can go for their swim. “Grace Face,” Steve offers her a smile, tying his swim trunks as he steps out into the hallway. He knows Danny is tugging on his own sweats now, getting ready to head downstairs and start coffee, pull down the cereal.
He knows he’ll wait down at the beach so he can meet Grace at the water so Steve can swim a few more yards. Grace is a strong swimmer, but she hasn’t gotten as far as Steve yet. Steve knows she’s determined to get there and he has a feeling that she’ll get there by her early teens, feels it with pride. He knows Danny’s proud, too, even if he never admits it.
Grace frowns as she studies the expression on Steve’s face and takes his hand as they make their way down to the beach. When they hit the water, they swim without a word between the two of them. When Grace turns and sees Danny’s figure waiting for her, she gestures towards it and Steve stops, waits and watches as she swims towards the shore. Once she gets there, he swims fast and hard, determined. A long, thoughtful swim, one he hasn’t had in a long time.
By the time he gets back, Danny is on the second pot of coffee and Grace on her second bowl of cereal. Steve kisses the top of her forehead and grabs his own cup of coffee, sitting down. Danny sits a plate of eggs and a piece of toast down in front of him. “Thanks,” Steve says quietly and digs in. Grace looks up from stirring her milk around in her bowl with the frown she’s still wearing from their swim.
“What’s wrong?” she asks quietly and Danny’s head jerks as his eyes widen.
“Monkey, why do you think something is wrong?” He automatically shoots Steve a glare as though Steve has given away the secrets already and Steve shrugs and shoots one back. He can’t help it he feels like shit, but that doesn’t mean he’s told her anything without Danny’s permission. He also can’t help it that – like he’s told Danny a thousand times – Grace is a cop’s daughter and therefore an exceptionally good reader of people. She knows when something is going on, can detect it from a mile away. Their silence and unwillingness to get out of bed and go this morning has her on high alert and she’s just waiting for someone to drop the bomb.
“You’ve both been quiet, Danno,” Grace says, pushing her bowl away and standing up. She tosses her hair over her shoulder and goes over to her father, crawling up onto his lap like she’s not ten years old and somewhat long-limbed for her age. Danny smiles and hugs her tight against him.
“You’re right, Grace,” he says softly, sweeping her hair back and beginning to braid it thoughtfully. “We have been quiet, but it’s nothing that can’t wait until after work and school, okay? You should go get your shower. I’ll yell up when you’ve got fifteen minutes left.” He lets her hair fall loose and kisses the top of her head, nudging her gently. She turns around to look at him curiously before turning to look at Steve, as well. Steve offers her a smile, nodding.
“Go ahead, Grace Face. We’ll be fine,” he says. He tries like hell not to think that he’s lying.
Chin and Kono think they’re joking. Steve can tell by the identical looks of confusion and then disbelief on their faces when Danny announces it to them after delivering their coffees to them. Steve grips the edge of the tech table so hard his knuckles turn white and tries not to lose his temper at the fact that he’s not the only one who doesn’t understand why Danny is such a necessity to some case from a few years back. Why he’s being ordered to return to New Jersey for God knows how long for this.
“You just – up and gone?” Kono asks, waving her hands through the air in a very Danny-like fashion. Steve thinks she’s getting her inspiration and ninja-like skills from him, maybe, but her attitude from Danny and intelligence from Chin. It’s a beautiful mix. Not to mention she’s got a touch of bad-ass all her own.
Danny sighs and runs his fingers through his hair before picking up his coffee and taking a drink. “Yes. And I don’t know how long I’ll be gone, either – before you ask. It was a difficult case, the last time. They were a part of the drug wars back in Jersey. When their group split up it was because the two bosses went against one another, forcing the gang to take sides. Eventually one of the bosses killed the other, forcing people to split. My alias was one of them – I would’ve been on the shitlist, otherwise. There was no way I could get in with the other side – they wanted me dead.
“Apparently now they’ve killed the big boss and taken over and they’re looking for me. I was somewhat of an expert with… some things – it’s classified, don’t give me that look, Steven,” Danny cuts Steve a look and Steve shifts his eyes, biting his lip to keep from laughing. He knows they can’t have the entire, story, but it still bugs him. “So I’m being forced back.”
“That’s – jeez, Danny,” Chin says, shaking his head. “Dangerous. Shitty. What are you going to tell Grace?”
Steve looks away at that, scrubbing his face with his hands and then resting his elbows on the table. He’s tired and they haven’t even started their day; it shouldn’t even seem possible. Beside him, Danny laughs hollowly and shrugs, “Hell if we know. She’s already got it figured out that something is wrong. Woke up this morning and knew right away.”
“She’s smart,” Steve pipes up, “And she’s strong too. But that doesn’t mean it’s fair. She just lost her mother barely a year ago and now the FBI is yanking her father away from her for who knows how long? It’s not right at all. She’s strong but – that doesn’t mean she’s going to react to it strongly.”
He has a sinking feeling in his stomach as he says it and is only comforted by Danny reaching out and gripping his hand tightly.
They sit down for dinner that night and Steve has barely taken two bites before Grace speaks. “Are you going to tell me what’s wrong?” She asks, looking up at them with innocent ten-year-old eyes. Danny sighs and sets his fork back down, folding his hands together. Steve isn’t surprised – what he’s said about being a cop’s daughter and all – but he still has been dreading this all day.
They made the decision as a unit to leave Chin and Kono running HQ for the next two days so the three of them can spend their last days together as a family. The only promise Kono had wrung out of them was that on the last night there had to be a farewell barbeque with all of them there. Steve had agreed, not the least because he was afraid Kono could possibly kick his ass if he didn’t.
“Monkey,” Danny says hesitantly, looking to Steve for reassurance and back-up. It’s strange – Steve isn’t the back-up in most things, but he’s always the back-up in parenting and that’s where he feels most comfortable. “Danno has to go away for a while.”
Across the table, Grace’s lip trembles and she looks between the two of them searchingly, as if to see if they’re messing with her. “How long? What about Dad? When? Where?” She demands all in one breath, sounding all-too-much like her father. Danny glances at Steve again and Steve reaches out and takes his hand before also taking the conversation-reigns.
“We’re not sure how long, Grace Face,” Steve says calmly, soothingly, “I’ll be right here, with you – I’m not going anywhere, okay? Danno is leaving in two days, now. And he has to go back to New Jersey for some Government police work.”
Grace’s eyes fill with tears and she shakes her head, “What do you mean you don’t know how long?” she cries. “How can you not know how long?”
“They can’t know for sure how long, Monkey,” Danny says, his own voice shaky with tears. “It’s an important job and they can’t know for sure how long they’ll need me.”
Grace shakes her head frantically now and Steve’s heart thuds a little faster in his chest. “You should’ve told them no!” She shouts loudly, the sound echoing through kitchen. Steve flinches because he knows how this will make Danny feel.
“You should have told them no!” She shouts again, standing up. Her glass gets knocked over in the process, water spreading across the table and Danny’s eyes flicker to it sadly. “All you care about is your dumb job, Danno! Now you get to go to New Jersey and leave me here and it’s not fair. I hate you!” She crosses her arms.
Steve stands up and crosses his arms and looks down at her and she starts sobbing. “Grace, that wasn’t right,” he says, calm, stern and emotionless, trying to inflict the right parenting into his voice. “Go to your room and think about what you’ve just said. We’ll be up to discuss it with you in a little while.”
Grace doesn’t say anything, just lets out a sob and runs out of the room and he hears her small footsteps on the stairs a moment later before her door shuts quietly. He sends a quiet thanks to whomever that she hasn’t hit complete drama queen stage yet and isn’t slamming doors and stomping up steps yet. Beside him, Danny shudders and lets out a little sob of his own. Steve collapses into the chair and wraps his arms around him. “Danno, hey – she didn’t mean any of that.”
“I – Steve, she’s right, I should’ve said no.”
“You did say no,” Steve reminds him, “Several times. No wasn’t an option, remember? We just didn’t get a chance to explain that to Grace, right? Danny, it’s going to be okay. She’s upset right now – that’s understandable. What she said wasn’t right, but she wasn’t thinking straight, either. We need to sit down and talk it over with her, you know that. It’s going to be okay,” Steve repeats for the third time, breathing against Danny’s neck. Danny reaches out and brushes his fingers through Steve’s hair.
“Fuck,” Danny breathes out, and Steve laughs, shakes his head.
“Understatement,” he murmurs, and then sits up and looks at their now cold, ruined and unfinished dinners. The spilled water is dripping onto the floor now and some of it had even gotten onto Danny’s plate. “Let’s clean up, let Gracie sit in her room a while before we go talk to her,” he decides, and Danny brushes his fingers along Steve’s cheek, something sparking in his eyes. Steve arches an eyebrow, “What?” he asks, curious.
“You’re good at this,” Danny tells him confidently, like he’s positive he’s made the best decision. Like he knows that Steve is the one who needs reassurance. “You’re a really, really good father, Steve. Don’t let anything make you second guess that, okay? Me or Grace or something or anyone.” And then Danny kisses him and that’s all the reassurance Steve needs.
They clean the kitchen up in silence and when they’re finished Danny stares at the stairway in silence as though he’s mustering up the strength to face some very large monsters. Steve grips his hand tightly and pulls him forward, up the first step. “We can do this,” he says. Danny offers him a weak smile and follows him.
“We can,” he says quietly and they make their way up to Grace’s room.
Grace is sitting on her window seat, staring out at the ocean. Steve remembers that when they’d moved all her stuff into Mary’s old room, that was the first thing she’d requested: that they buy a lot of large fluffy pillows so she could sit comfortably there. He knows that she can spend hours there reading and he and Danny have spent quite some time there themselves, helping her with homework or talking about Rachel whenever Grace wants or needs to. She doesn’t look up when they walk in, just sniffs and leans her head against the window pane. “Grace,” Steve says crossing the room to take a seat next to her on the sill. She avoids making eye contact. “Grace,” he repeats, “You need to look at me, Grace.”
She turns finally, looking at him and Steve’s heart breaks a little at how hurt and upset she looks; face tear streaked and eyes red. Danny has taken a seat on her bed and he looks over to see him grinding his teeth, also upset. Steve knows he has to be the strong one here, has to be the one to get them through all this and he doesn’t resent it. “What you said to Danno wasn’t right,” Steve clears his throat, “And you will apologize for it, Grace. But we need to talk more about Danno going away, too.”
“I don’t want to talk,” Grace mumbles.
Steve exchanges a look with Danny and Danny shakes his head, sighing. “Grace, you don’t have a choice,” and his voice is a tone of steel, the one he once told Steve he hates using more than anything in the world on Grace but that will usually instantly have her listening. Steve isn’t surprised when Grace turns her head with wide eyes to look at her father, tears filling them. “We need to talk about what’s going to happen while I’m gone. We need to – we need to talk about this, period.”
Steve feels the need to interject here and reaches out and puts his hand on Grace’s, “You know Danno isn’t going away forever, Gracie, right?” he asks softly, and her tears drip down her face at this. She shakes her head.
“I don’t want you to!” she sobs, “It’s dangerous. I won’t be able to see you! I don’t know when I’ll be able to see you!” she says, folding in around a pillow that she’s clutching and sobbing helplessly. Steve slides down the bench and wraps his arms around her and Danny is up and off the bed, over to them and running his fingers through her hair, whispering soothing words into her ear.
When she’s finally calmed down enough, Steve pulls away enough to speak. “It’s going to be okay,” he says and wonders when, in the last few years, that’s become his mantra? It’s not exactly a confidence-inspiring one, he thinks, but it’s the best he can do under the circumstances. He can’t promise that Danny will come home unscathed, because that would be a lie – he doesn’t know if Danny will or not. He can only believe that it will be okay, and hope that Grace will do the same.
“It is going to be okay,” Danny agrees, nodding at Grace. “You have Steve here with you, right, Monkey? And I’m going to call you every day that I can and talk to you over the computer whenever I can, too. And we’ll email as much as we possibly can, too. But you have to listen for Steve, okay?”
Grace frowns, “I always listen for Dad, Danno,” she tells him like it’s the most obvious thing in the world. Danny bites his lip.
“I know you do, Monkey. I just – I just needed to remind you, okay?”
She stares at him for a moment before throwing her arms around his neck tightly and letting loose another sob, “I don’t hate you, Danno,” she announces like they both thought it might be true. “I’m sorry I ever said I do. I’ll miss you.”
Danny is quiet, holding her close for a long moment and Steve just watches father and daughter closely.
“I’ll miss you too, baby,” Danny murmurs.
Danny leaves early on a Sunday morning.
Sundays are usually sacred in their house, treasured because they are the only day that is promised off. It seems even criminals have a day to recuperate and rethink and to just spend time with their families most weeks and even if they don’t, well – HPD was here long before 5-0 was, as Steve has said every time someone brings it up. Sundays are spent sleeping in until early afternoon, waking up to Danny making a big brunch and then, depending on the weather and their moods, lazing around on the beach – where Steve and Grace will swim and then they’ll all participate in building a sand castle or playing Frisbee – or in the house, where they’ll watch a huge marathon of movies, ranging from the full spectrum of the Disney Princess collection to the latest cheesy action flick that’s PG-13 at the most, Danny will insist.
Sundays are ruined, now.
By the time he gets to New Jersey it will be early on a Monday morning with all of his layovers – and no doubt he’ll get delays – he grumbles into Steve’s chest as they sit waiting for his flight to be announced. Grace is sitting on his lap and they’re all tangled together and it’s awkward but the need to be close and together is strong and present and there’s nothing Steve can do to get rid of the lump in his throat so he just – does it.
Then Danny’s flight is getting called and he’s kneeling down next to Grace, hugging her tight and she’s sobbing, sobbing so hard that it makes Steve’s vision blur with tears a little as Danny straightens up, his own face streaked with tears he’s trying hard to hide. Danny leans up and kisses him once, hard and fast and then shakes his head, says, “Don’t blow up the island while I’m gone,” says, “Take care of our little girl.”
And he’s disappearing behind the gates and if Steve never thought he’d be the Navy Wife well – he was wrong, he guesses. Because he’s here, picking up a sobbing Grace who is calling out for her father and watching Danny’s back disappear and trying so hard not to chase him down and it hurts. Grace kicks her feet out against him when he picks her up and he brushes her hair back and kisses her forehead and she sobs. “I don’t want to lose him,” she cries, “I don’t want to lose him like I lost mommy.”
“I know, baby,” Steve murmurs, and he’s aware of all the onlookers gaping at the two of them standing in the middle of the airport, a sobbing, broken mess at having lost their Danno for who-knows-how-long, but he can’t find it in him to care in that moment.
It’s the longest Sunday he’s had in a long time.
They spend the rest of the day lying on the couch staring at the History Channel. Steve’s not really sure what it’s playing and he doesn’t think Grace knows, either. Occasionally he looks over and she’s staring off into space or sniffling quietly. The last time he looks over, she’s asleep and he sighs, looks down at his watch and notices that it’s incredibly past lunch time and that’s bad parenting. Great start, McGarrett. But she’s asleep and it’s the first time she’s looked peaceful all day and he doesn’t want to wake her up; he doesn’t want to ruin it. So he settles back against the couch and closes his own eyes and drops off into sleep himself.
He wakes up to Grace shaking him. She looks at him with wide, serious brown eyes and says, “We fell asleep.” He yawns, looking at his watch and notices that it’s now five o’ clock in the evening.
“We did,” he said, “And we never ate lunch, either. I’m hungry. How about you, Grace Face?” She nods and follows him into the kitchen, taking a seat and watching him pull things out for dinner. She’s quiet for about ten minutes until she finally asks,
“When do you think Danno will call, Daddy?”
Steve pauses in chopping up the vegetables and turns around slowly, chewing on his bottom lip. “I don’t know for sure, Grace. I – there might be a lot he has to do, you know? I just know that he’s going to call the moment he can, baby. Okay?”
She nods and for a second it looks like she might ask more, but she doesn’t, just jumps off the chair and reaches up on the counter and steals a carrot before disappearing into the living room. Steve lets out the breath he’d been holding and continues making dinner.
He can do this.
It’s going to be okay.
Being a single dad, Steve realizes a week in, is not everything it’s cracked up to be. He’s always, always admired Danny for being able to do it, but he suddenly admires him a thousand times more. It’s not easy – especially for a ten year old girl. He knows that Grace is exceptionally easygoing for a girl her age and he could have it even harder, but it’s still taxing on the both of them and they’re still trying to adjust and find their middle.
It doesn’t help that they haven’t heard from Danny yet, so their nerves are frayed and they’re walking on edge. Grace is well-behaved most days but she has her father’s temper and ability to slip into rants when she’s nervous and upset, something that slips out more and more each passing day without hearing from her Danno.
They’re sitting at the table eating dinner after Steve has picked her up from soccer practice and she’s in the middle of ranting about pizza, which she’s suddenly decided she’s hated with ham and pineapple, just like Danny. Before, she could tolerate it, Steve knows. Now that he’s not here, apparently – “I’m just saying that we could at least – I don’t know!” She says, breathless, finishing her rant by sweeping a hand over the one large ham and pineapple pizza. Steve knows that she’s gesturing to where the medium pepperoni pizza should be, the one that was only Danny’s but that Grace always stole a piece of.
“… Right,” Steve says, uncertainly. “So I’ll just – next time,” he hooks a thumb towards the box as well.
“Thank you!” She says emphatically, palms up.
They go back to picking at their pizza.
There’s other things, too. Grace isn’t sure how to ask him to participate in the traditions that Danny used to do with her on top of all the things that Steve does with her, now. It was always Steve’s job to wake up with her and Danny’s job to tuck her in and it was a big ritual and on the first night, Steve just… shuts the light out, because he isn’t sure what she wants. She makes a small noise in her throat, but doesn’t say anything. By the third night, she has apparently had it, sits up and turns her bedside lamp on and thrusts her book out towards him. “Please, Dad,” she says quietly, wide brown eyes on him, glancing uncertainly at him and then back towards the two picture frames on her bedside table – one of her and her mother, the other of her and her father. Steve nods wordlessly and moves over to the bed, sitting on top of the covers and wrapping an arm around her before taking the book from her and beginning to read.
Danny and Grace also had chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream Friday Nights every week, Steve knows, which was their time. They usually sat out on the lanai and Steve could hear their giggles while he worked on the Mercury or cleaned the kitchen or just watched TV. Danny once told him it was their way of unwinding from the week and Grace’s way of talking to him about things if something was on her mind. He knows that they’re close – closer now after Rachel’s death than even before, if it were possible – and he knows that it will be hard for Grace to go without these Friday nights. That’s why he’s shocked when she comes to him in the garage on the first Friday night, two bowls of ice cream and a hopeful look on her face. “I…” she trails off, uncertainly, and for a ten year old she looks so old and wise and beautiful, Steve thinks, and he’s proud to call her his daughter.
He wipes his hands off and takes a bowl from her, kissing her forehead, “Come on, Grace Face,” he says.
They sit on the lanai and for the first few bites they’re quiet, watching the waves roll in on the beach until Grace speaks, “In school we started learning how to write letters,” she says. “Like, formal ones. The proper way to write them, I guess you could say. It made me think about – I kind of want to write letters to Danno,” she finishes, looking up at Steve unsure. “I know we can’t send them to him because we can’t know where he is or whatever, but my teacher said that sometimes writing letters to the people we miss about the things we feel can make us feel better.”
Steve clears his throat, “I think your teacher is right,” he tells her, stirring around his softening ice cream, “Letters are a really good idea, Gracie.”
“Why haven’t we heard from him, Daddy?” She asks softly, tightening her grip on her spoon.
“I don’t know, Grace,” Steve murmurs. “But we will soon, okay?” She nods and takes a bite of her ice cream.
“So, Danno usually tells me about all the crazy stunts you’ve pulled this week on chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream Friday Nights,” she says, looking at him. “In a G-rated way, of course,” she says in a perfect imitation of Danny’s voice and Steve stares at her in alarm before they both break out into giggles, sprawling across their deck chairs.
“Be prepared,” Steve warns, “It’s been a crazy week. There was a warehouse fire involved.” Grace looks down at her almost empty bowl.
“We need more ice cream,” she announces, and Steve grins, thinking they’re finally finding their medium.
The phone rings late one night, late enough to be considered morning, but Steve is awake in bed, laptop open and doing paperwork. He answers it cautiously because it’s an unknown number and he’s on edge. “Babe,” Danny’s voice comes across the sounding somewhat worse for wear but the same as ever. Steve is breathless with surprise and hope and he nearly sends his laptop flying across the room in excitement.
“Danno, is that you?” He asks, gripping the phone tighter. Danny chuckles over the line and Steve can practically picture him rolling his eyes and nodding his head in amusement at Steve being deliberately obtuse, as he so often says Steve enjoys doing.
“It’s me,” Danny agrees quietly. “I don’t – I don’t have a lot of time. I haven’t had a lot of time since I landed, pretty much. The crew I’m working undercover with demands a lot of my time and when I’m not with them I’m reporting back to the FBI and spending all my time planning and strategizing. It’s taxing.”
“Are you getting anywhere?” Steve asks, silently praying that he is. That he’ll be home soon.
There’s a long silence on the other end of the line and Steve takes that to mean that they’re getting exactly nowhere, dread pulling at his stomach. “Not… not where we’d like to be, babe,” Danny finally sighs and Steve knows he’s running fingers through his hair.
“Okay,” Steve clears his throat, “Okay, that’s unfortunate but. Okay.”
It’s been three weeks already and it’s the first time they’ve heard a word from Danny and Danny – Danny was the one making promises about phone calls and video conferencing and Steve knows, logically, that he couldn’t have known what he was getting into, not completely but. Still, Steve thinks. Still, Steve is hanging on by the seat of his pants without talking to Danny, without hearing his voice every night, and he knows Grace is, too.
“I’m just going to – you want to talk to Gracie, right?” Steve clears his throat again, shifting and getting off the bed. “She should be asleep – school night – but I’ll wake her up for this, you know.”
“Yeah I – I didn’t wake you, did I? I’m sorry, Steve,” Danny says softly. “It was the only time I could get away and I – I don’t know. It’s like six in the morning here and I just took the opportunity.”
“You didn’t wake me,” Steve murmurs just as softly, and they stay silent for a long moment before Steve finally goes to wake Grace, who is overjoyed and cries into the phone after hearing her Danno’s voice.
Things fall into pattern in the next month; Steve wakes Grace up, they go for their swim – now Steve’s is shortened since Danny isn’t there to meet Grace at the beach – Steve makes breakfast for he and Grace, they shower and get ready and he drops her off at school before he goes to work. At work, Chin and Kono try their best to keep him under some semblance of control without Danny there to rant and ramble at him throughout the day and it’s quiet – more quiet than Steve has had in two years. At three-fifteen Steve always takes Grace’s phone call to make sure that she’s made it from school to her babysitter’s – a carefully chosen young woman by the name of Lanila who Grace adores – one of the Kalakaua/Kelly clan – and he continues work until five or maybe seven, depending on the day and the workload and the amount of phone calls from the Governor received that day.
When he’s done at work, he picks Grace up, who is usually happily chatting in the passenger seat beside him. Once home, he’ll shower the dirt and grime of the day away before helping Grace with her homework while dinner cooks on the stove. After dinner they’ll watch television and then comes the bedtime ritual.
Friday nights are still chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream Friday Nights and Steve has become used to giving the ‘G-Rated version’ of his week to his little girl while she giggles away at what she has termed his ‘heroic abilities’ even though Steve had tried his best to glare at her when she’d said it. He has the sinking feeling Danny had called them that first, though, so he lets it slide, really. After he’s done with his stories, they move on to another bowl of ice cream and Grace will tell him her stories of the week.
“Tommy’s been telling stories again,” she tells him this Friday night as he chews thoughtfully on a cookie dough chunk. “He says that police officers die young a lot.”
“Tommy is a liar,” Steve says automatically. “Most police officers live to retire.”
Grace is quiet for a long moment before she says, “I know that. That’s why I said Tommy was telling stories, Daddy. I just don’t like thinking about Danno in danger and us not being there. It’s been a while since we heard from him, again.”
It has been a while, three weeks since the last video chat, to be exact. Steve knows this because he marked the date in his phone and looks at it every day, at least three times a day. He’s not proud to admit it, but he does what he needs to under the circumstances to get by. When they’d seen each other over the computer Danny had looked skinnier and there had been bags under his eyes, like he hadn’t been sleeping or eating right. Steve had bitten his tongue against the urge to Mother Hen him, but Grace hadn’t hesitated. “You look tired,” she’d fussed and Steve noted how much she’d sounded like Rachel in that moment. Sometimes she looked and sounded so much like her it was like Steve could feel Rachel in the room right next to them, insisting her presence be known in her daughter. “You look like you haven’t been eating, Danno. You need to eat, okay? Dad makes sure we eat, so you have to eat, too.”
Danny had looked at her through the camera, amused and run a hand through his hair, “Jeez, Monkey, okay. I’m taking care of myself, I promise.” Her only response had been to frown even deeper, reach out and brush her hand across the computer screen where his cheek was, like maybe if she pressed hard enough, she could feel him, skin and bones and blood thousands of miles away through the screen.
Steve had resisted the urge to do it himself.
Now, Steve says, “I know it has, Grace Face. Hey – are you still writing those letters?”
Grace turns surprised eyes on him and nods. “Sometimes, when I’m lonely. We write lots of letters in school for practice so I don’t always feel like writing them when I get home but sometimes when I miss him a lot I will. You should try it, Daddy. It makes me feel better.”
She stands up, stretching and contorting to crack her back in that way that only small, lithe ten year old bodies can do before kissing his cheek and taking his bowl, disappearing into the kitchen. Steve stays outside, staring at the waves rolling in for a long time, thinking about all the things he’d write if he knew how to.
Steve gets knocked down two flights of stairs and knocked out on the job a week later and sent to the hospital for his concussion because it took him half an hour to wake up. The ER insists on him spending the night and he argues long and hard but he has a doctor he things was probably a Naval Captain before he was a doctor because he argues back just as much, stressing the importance before finally pushing him back down on his bed and stating that he’s not going anywhere and if he does sign himself out, the doctor won’t sign clearance on his work release form and then he’ll have the governor to deal with.
Steve is crossing his eyes and arms and sighing loudly, resisting the urge to pout and punch a wall in frustration when Grace bursts through the door sobbing loudly, Kono not far behind her, a sympathetic look on her face. “I thought I lost you!” Grace is crying as she throws her arms around his neck, gripping for dear life. Steve immediately wraps his own arms around her, rubbing his fingers up and down her back lightly. “You can’t do that, Daddy! I thought I lost you and Danno and Mommy! I don’t know what I’d – I can’t – I’d be all alone. I don’t want to lose you, Daddy!” She’s shaking in his arms and he closes his eyes against the tidal wave of emotions that slam against him in that moment.
“You didn’t lose me, baby,” he murmurs in her hair. “I’m not going anywhere, Grace Face, I’m right here. You’re not going to lose me.”
Kono offers to take Grace to her place for the night and Steve knows that normally Grace would jump at the chance, but Grace refuses, stubbornly curling up against his side, closing her eyes and pretending to fall asleep – her way of insisting on staying with him the entire night and he can’t argue with that, so he thank Kono and sends her on her way, wrapping his arms around Grace and falling asleep quickly.
He won’t leave Grace alone with her fears, ever. He won’t leave Grace and Danny alone, can’t leave them alone because he knows he’s found something for him, finally.
He’s found family.
Steve jabs the redial button angrily and listens to the monotonous dial tone echo in his ear for the fourth time, growling out loud as he paces back and forth. The voice mail message reaches his ears and he punches a fist in the air, pissed off and tired and clicks the end button before hitting the redial button once again.
He doesn’t want Danny’s voice mail, he wants to hear his fucking voice the son of a bitch. Beside him, Chin finally stands up and takes the phone from him, clicking it off quietly, putting a calming hand on his shoulder. “Come on, brah,” he says softly. “It’s going to be okay.”
“It is not – no,” Steve says tightly, voice a whirlwind of mixed emotions with nowhere to go. “This is not okay Chin. It’s not. I can’t get ahold of him when I need him the most and I don’t even know what to do and Grace is – Grace is sick!” he flings a hand towards the hospital room where doctors are checking up on her before reaching up to scrub at his face.
“It’s not okay,” Steve whispers, collapsing down on the waiting room chair. “None of this is fucking okay and I miss him.”
Chin nods knowingly like Chin just does, patting Steve’s shoulder. “I know, Steve. I understand. But you gotta be strong, brah. Because there’s a sick little girl who needs you right now, okay?”
Steve nods because he knows this, deep down.
But fuck, he’s tired. He’s damn tired and he just needs Danny here, by his side for once, unlike the last four months. He swallows, stands up and nods again, “I’m just gonna go –“ he gestures towards the halls, “Take a walk,” he says and hurries away, shoving his hands in his pockets before he punches the brick of the hospital walls just to make himself feel better.
Grace had developed a cold earlier in the week but insisted she was fine, wanting to go to school because they were working on some big ‘fun’ project, so Steve had given her some cough and cold medicine and sent her on her way. He’d noticed that the coughing hadn’t gotten any better has the week wore on and tonight he’d sent her to bed early, bringing chicken noodle soup upstairs to her. He’d checked her temperature and it was higher than it had any right to be. Late in the night she’d woken up screaming – fever dreams – and her temperature was dangerously high, so he’d practically flown to the emergency room to learn that she’d developed pneumonia sometime in the last week – nothing severe, thankfully because he had been taking care of her, regardless of what it might look like or feel like, the doctor reassured him.
Now, Steve just wants to tell Danny that his daughter is in the hospital, wants to hear Danny say that everything is going to be okay or even just hear one of Danny’s rants about whether or not Steve is using the right hospital and the right doctor and the right kinds of medicine for Gracie because he should know she only likes the grape kind – not the bubble gum, that tastes like acid.
Steve slips into the hospital gift shop and pokes around, trying to keep his mind off things. He buys Gracie a giant teddy bear and two balloons and as he’s checking out he notices it: it’s a stationary set, butterflies decorating the paper and one decorating the corner of every white envelope, a fancy fountain pen included, even. Steve recalls Gracie’s words about writing to Danny and picks it up for her on impulse. It costs a ridiculous amount – hospital gift shop and all – but Steve couldn’t feel better about it if he tried.
When he gets back to Grace’s room, she’s awake, Kono telling her surfing stories, sitting on her bed with her and Chin sitting on a chair in the corner of the room. She looks up, smile brightening – though still weak – when Steve walks in. “Daddy,” she says, eyes widening at the balloons and giant bear. Steve dumps the balloons on the bedside table and thrusts the bear out to her. “Oh, Daddy!” she says happily, reaching out to wrap her arms around his waist. “I love you,” she mumbles against his stomach and he brushes her hair back.
“Love you too, Gracie,” he murmurs.
“We should be going, boss,” Kono says, offering him a smile. She hugs him before she goes and Chin tells him that if he needs anything, just call. Steve sends a silent prayer up for his team before he sits down next to Grace.
“I um – I picked you up something else, too,” he says, handing her the butterfly stationary set. She stares down at it for a long moment, observing it before she realizes what it is and then turns to him, eyes wide and bright with happiness.
“It’s perfect,” she says, breathless. “Thank you, Daddy.”
“You’re welcome, Grace Face,” he says, sweeping the hair out of her face and kissing her head. “Write whatever you need, okay?” Grace is leaning against her pillows, eyes drifting closed already, and she nods.
“You’re not leaving, right?” she mumbles sleepily.
“Never,” Steve whispers fiercely.
He’s jolted out of his uncomfortable sleep in the hospital chair by his phone vibrating. He answers it with a hiss. “Steve?” Danny asks and his voice sounds alarmed. The anger from earlier returns with a vengeance and Steve slips out of Grace’s room as quietly as he can.
“Danny,” he hisses into his phone, “Where the fuck have you been? I’ve been calling you – a lot.”
“I can’t just answer this phone, Steve – it’s not supposed to be my actual phone. I – I’m sorry,” Danny says, “What’s wrong? What’s the matter, Steve? You called like ten times.”
“Of course I called like ten times!” Steve whisper-shouts into the phone harshly and a nurse at the desk looks up, sending him a sharp glare. “All I wanted was to hear your fucking voice and to tell you something and I couldn’t even get ahold of you. God, I sound so ridiculous. Do you even know how ridiculous I sound right now?” Steve laughs hollowly, only just realizing it himself. He sounds ridiculous because he himself is a SEAL, he of all people should know how incredibly difficult it is for someone deep undercover to maintain contact with family. He shouldn’t be sounding like a lovesick housewife but – he was panicking and he is angry. At himself and even at Danny, yes. For no reason whatsoever.
“Do you know how many times we’ve talked to you in the last four months, Daniel?” Steve demands, throwing his hand in the air. “Three. Three times we’ve talked to you and Grace is – she’s terrified you’re going to up and leave her, that she won’t have a dad on top on not having a mom. And I – I don’t have a partner and I don’t have a boyfriend and I’m doing the single dad thing and it’s – it’s hard. It’s hard and our daughter got pneumonia and you aren’t here and I didn’t know what to do so I bought her a stationary set.”
There’s silence on the other end for a long moment before Danny says, “It’s really fucking low of you to call and make me feel even more like shit,” in a low voice and – wow. Does Steve feel like a dick.
He’s breathless from his big rant, more words said in the last two minutes than in the last four months and he just feels like a dick because everything he said might have been true but it was selfish of him to let it all out on Danny. Danny, who is dealing with his own stuff right now. Danny says, “I thought you knew what you were getting into when you agreed to be with me. This is what parenting is, Steve – it’s being there when another parent can’t be. It’s staying strong when another parent can’t be there. I thought you knew what you were getting into when you agreed to look after Gracie when I got called away.”
“I did – I do. Jesus, Danny,” Steve swallows. “I just – it’s hard. And I don’t feel in control and when Grace got sick tonight, all I wanted was to talk to you and I couldn’t and I just. Jesus, Danny.” Steve kicks at the tiled floor, tired and worn out. “Grace is my daughter too. Don’t ever think that this is making me rethink that. I’m just freaking out and I don’t have anyone here to – to calm me down, I guess.”
There’s silence on the line until Danny finally says, “Okay.”
“Okay,” Steve repeats.
“Okay,” Danny says. “Please tell me Grace is okay.”
“She’s okay,” Steve says.
They let Grace out of the hospital with a load of medicine and farewell wishes, Steve carrying her and about ten thousand balloons and stuffed animals to his truck at once. Kono and Chin are waiting back at the house to help tuck her into her bed because the doctor has ordered another week of light rest before she can go back to school. Until then, she’s doing homework with Lanila, who will stay with her during the day. Thankfully Lanila is off college for some sort of break-thing – Steve didn’t ask to many questions, just sent silent thanks and continued with plans.
Danny promises to call again sometime today but Steve doesn’t hold it close to his heart and doesn’t tell Grace because he absolutely doesn’t want her hopes up. He knows she’s already hoping he’ll call, anyways.
When they get to the house, Steve carries Grace up to her room and tucks her in while Kono and Chin set the balloons and stuffed animals up around her room. Grace takes one of her new bears and curls herself around it half-asleep as Steve tucks her blankets in tighter for the thousandth time. She opens her eyes as Steve pulls away and shoots her arm out, grasping her tiny fingers around his wrist tightly. “Stay, Daddy,” she slurs, pulling at him. “Please.”
Steve can’t resist her, so he shrugs at Kono, who is smiling at them both and climbs into Grace’s bed with her. Before Grace curls into Steve’s chest, she reaches out onto her bedside table and fumbles for a moment, grasping the picture of her and Danny, holding it tight against her chest. She mumbles something sleepily that Steve can’t make out and then she is gone, out like a light. Chin and Kono both shake their head with adoring smiles on their faces and tell them that they’ll be downstairs if he needs them and he nods.
He is grateful for the family that he has, he thinks as he drifts off into sleep.
He’s once again woken up from sleep to the sound of the phone ringing. He fumbles in his pockets for his cell phone, trying not to disturb Grace as he does and finds it, answering it with his eyes still closed. “Steve? Is everything alright? Did Gracie get discharged?” Danny’s concerned voice fills his ear and Steve’s eyes fly open.
“Yeah,” he says, sitting up some and trying not to jostle Grace at the same time, “Gracie got discharged with instructions to rest for the week and take all her medicine. She should be okay and she goes back for a check-up in a week, as well. Lanila has the week off, thankfully, so she’s going to watch her during the day but I’m only taking half-days at work, when I can,” Steve explains, “And Lanila is going to help her with her makeup work while I’m at work.”
Danny breathes out a sigh of relief across the line and then there’s silence for a long moment before he says almost uncertainly, “Is she… can I talk to her?”
“What – of course,” Steve says, startled. He taps Grace gently on the shoulder and she shakes awake, looking up at him with confused brown eyes. Steve holds out the phone to him. “Someone wants to talk to you, baby,” he whispers to her and her eyes widen.
She takes the phone from Steve and shouts into it, “Danno!”
Steve listens as Grace and Danny talk for a good ten minutes before Grace starts sniffling into the phone as she clutches the picture frame she’s holding tighter. “I miss you, Danno,” she says softly, “I want you to come home.” She leans into Steve as she talks and Steve hears Danny’s soothing voice come across the line, reassuring her. “Okay, Danno,” she says, sniffling again. “I know. I love you too. Bye.”
She clicks the phone off and looks up at Steve with tear-filled eyes before throwing her arms around his neck. “Danno loves you,” she says quietly.
Steve doesn’t say anything for a long moment before he finally says, “I love him too. And you, Grace Face.”
It hits the six month mark and school lets out and Grace’s birthday hits all at once. Steve knows that Danny has to be hurting, not being able to be here for her birthday. Grace decides she doesn’t want anything big, a fire on the beach with Steve, Kono and Chin, with a cake, she says. She tells him she’d like to go surfing during the day and that for her birthday all she wants is Danny to come home.
Steve’s heart crumbles a little at that and he knows he can’t give her that. Instead he picks her up Tangled and the last of the Harry Potter books, because she’s got all but the last two of them. They’ve been reading their way through them at night before bed. He’s walking back to HQ when he passes a jewelry story and notices a locket twinkling in the light on display. He stops and stares at it for a long moment before he steps inside and buys it on impulse, getting the date of Rachel’s death engraved on one side and Grace’s birthday engraved on the other. It’ll be ready by the time Steve’s done at the office, the jeweler tells Steve, so Steve goes back to HQ and finds the pictures he wants.
He resizes them so they’ll fit inside the heart-shaped delicate silver locket and cuts them out and when he returns to the store later that evening, he has the jeweler put the pictures on each side before wrapping the box up decoratively. The entire necklace was bought entirely on impulse and he’s not sure what Grace will think about it, but he has a good feeling about it, he thinks.
It’ll be okay.
He doesn’t give it to her when she’s opening her other presents. Something stops him from it – he thinks that it’s a present that should be shared between the two of them and Danny, when he can finally see it. Later, when it’s just he and Grace curled up on the deck chair watching the dying fire, he pulls the wrapped box out of his pocket and clears his throat.
“Grace Face,” he says nervously, “I um – I got you another present. I wasn’t sure what to really get you and I was walking past and saw this…” he trails off as she carefully unwraps the box and looks up at him with serious, wise brown eyes. Then she slowly opens the box. The silver necklace twinkles in the firelight and she looks up at him with surprise again.
“It opens,” Steve says hesitantly, “I – I had them put um, two pictures in and there are two dates engraved, one on each side –“
“Mommy’s date,” Grace interrupts softly.
“Yes,” Steve nods. “The other is your birthday. Um – inside is –“ Grace opens the locket and her eyes widen even more as she sees the tiny pictures, one of her mother on the right side and the other of her and Steve and her father on the opposite. “… You can change them…” Steve trails off, awaiting her reaction.
Grace looks up, tear-filled eyes on him and holds out the locket to him, “C-can you put it on me, please Daddy?” She whispers, and Steve takes it from her, fingers trembling.
“If you don’t like them –“ he starts, but she shakes her head fast.
“No, daddy,” she says fingering the silver numbers on the heart as Steve locks the clasp in place before settling her hair around her shoulders. “I love it. It keeps mommy and Danno and you close to my heart when I can’t be near you. Especially mommy,” she whispers. She hugs Steve close, kissing his cheek. “Goodnight, Daddy. I love you.”
“I love you too, Grace Face.”
It’s mid-summer and they’ve talked to Danny two more times when he gets a phone call from Mrs. Williams, who is crying on the other end of the line. “Danny’s been shot,” she’s crying into the phone, hard to understand. Steve’s whole world stops on a dime and he’s not sure if he can even breathe. He can’t process thoughts right, the only thing he’s thinking is, what time is it for her to have called me here? Because it’s six o’ clock in Hawaii so it’s got to be late in New Jersey, but Steve can’t get his brain working fast enough to think of the actual East Coast time. “Steve,” Mrs. Williams is saying into the phone, distant and distorted, “Steve, are you there? Hello, Steve?”
“I – what, is he –“ Steve chokes off because he can’t even voice the thought is he dead?
Because how dare he? How dare he get shot when he promised Steve that he would be okay. How dare he?
This is not okay.
“It’s serious,” Mrs. Williams sniffles into the phone. “They’re not giving me a lot of information, Steve – I don’t know everything right now, just that he’s in surgery. I – you should –“ she breaks off into tears again and Steve can’t take it, can’t deal with it. He ends up hanging up on her and calling the airport to book to tickets for the first flight out to New Jersey.
He calls Lanila and tells her he’s coming to get Gracie early. He thinks, fuck the FBI, fuck the government, he’s going to see his Danno if it’s the last thing he does and he couldn’t give two shits less what they think. And if they think they’re going to stop him well – they’ve got another thing coming.
Lanila widens her eyes in concern when he steps through the door stone-faced and determined. “Commander McGarrett is everything alright?” She asks in her soft, soothing voice, and Steve just flicks his head once. Grace comes running into the foyer, her backpack on her shoulders and a smile on her face that dies as soon as she sees Steve.
“Daddy…” she trails off, lower lip trembling as she comes to a halt three feet from him. Steve doesn’t say anything, just stoops down to her level and opens his arms and she flies into them, wrapping her arms around his neck tightly.
“We have to go to New Jersey, Gracie,” he murmurs in her ear and she chokes out a sob, clinging tighter to him. “You have to be strong right now, okay? We have to get things gathered up so we can get to the airport. It’s gonna be okay, Grace Face.” She shakes in his arms and Steve throws Lanila a look of thanks, to which she returns one of sympathy, before shutting the door behind him.
Steve buckles Grace into the car and speeds towards the house, where he quickly throws things into two overnight bags for him and Grace as she watches him on his and Danny’s bed, curled around a pillow and fingering her locket now and again. “How bad is it, Daddy? How bad is Danno?” she asks softly into the pillow.
Steve swallows, folding one of Grace’s pink shirts extra carefully before slipping it into the Navy issue duffle bag. “I don’t – I’m not sure, Grace. Grandma didn’t really… she couldn’t say,” he says.
She doesn’t reply, just closes her eyes and lets a few more tears slip out.
Steve tells himself it’s going to be okay because he has nothing left to tell himself.
The flight is a redeye so Grace sleeps through most of it – if a little restlessly, curled into Steve’s shoulder. Steve doesn’t. He stares out the plane window, watching clouds pass them by the entire time. They have no layovers and it’s a straight shot from Honolulu to Newark, where Danny’s father will meet them. Steve can hear Danny’s voice in the back of his mind, yelling about how much he’s spent on plane tickets to get to Danny at such rapid speed but he pushes it to the back of his mind. He’d have hijacked a plane if it got him there faster.
They land and it’s six a.m. Eastern time, Steve guesses by the early sun shining through the airport. Grace lifts her arms up to be carried and Steve doesn’t hesitate, moving through the crowds towards the gate exits quickly. They don’t need to pick up luggage, they both had overnight bags, so he just scans the crowd for Mr. Williams. Grace lifts her head to help and points to a tired looking older man who Steve can definitely see the resemblance between he and Danny.
Steve makes his way towards him. Mr. Williams smiles at Grace and observes Steve with a sad smile before reaching out to shake Steve’s free hand. “You must be – ah, Steve,” he says with a smile. “Shame we’re not officially meeting on better circumstances.”
“It is, sir,” Steve nods tightly, gripping Grace a little tighter. She squirms a little in his arms.
“Daddy,” she makes a noise and Steve loosens his hold a miniscule amount. Mr. Williams smiles. “Grandpa,” Grace says, “Danno’s hurt.”
“I know, Gracie,” Mr. Williams says softly. “We’re going to try and go see him as soon as we can, alright?”
Grace offers a nod before nuzzling her nose back into Steve’s neck and breathing out a sigh, closing her eyes. Steve throws a shrug towards Mr. Williams, following him out to the parking lot. It’s humid and grey out, but Steve barely notices, all his focus on Danny Danny Danny, and getting to him as soon as he possibly can.
Mr. Williams drives into a suburban neighborhood and reaches a white house that Grace runs into with much ease, as though she once upon a time did it often. Steve follows cautiously and the smell of coffee and bacon hits him as soon as he does. Danny’s father offers him another smile – and it reminds him of Danny’s smiles, comforting and full of feeling – before telling him to set their bags by the door and to follow him to the kitchen.
In the kitchen, Danny’s mother is busy hugging Grace close while simultaneously stirring something in a pot. “Gravy,” she tells Steve when he peers at it curiously. “It’s so nice to meet you,” she says scooping him into a breathtaking hug. Steve hugs back, surprising even himself. It’s comforting, too, and he needs it, he surmises. And that’s okay.
Grace is now sitting at the table coloring in a coloring book that must have been set out for her ahead of time, Steve guesses, while drinking chocolate milk. Mrs. Williams offers him a shrug, “I like to prepare,” she says. “I know what my Grace likes when she comes to Grandma’s house, right Gracie?”
Grace looks up and offers her a smile before looking back down at her coloring book. “Sit down,” Mrs. Williams pushes at Steve until he sits in the chair opposite Grace, “I’ll get you some coffee. You like eggs? I’ll get you eggs. You need to eat, I bet you haven’t eaten in a while.”
“I’m not – when are visiting hours starting?” Steve asks, looking up at her. Mrs. Williams eyes shadow some and she frowns.
“Eight o’ clock,” she says softly. “Steve they’re being very –“
“I’ll get us in to see him,” Steve interrupts, “If it’s the last thing I do, Mrs. Williams.”
Steve goes to the hospital himself the first time. There are agents stationed outside Danny’s hospital room and Steve tells them who he is, that he’s Danny’s partner at 5-0. They say they’re sorry, there’s nothing they can do but they’ll give him an update when they give his mother an update. Steve loses his temper pretty fast after that, which is never a good thing, as a lot of people can guess. “You think I flew all the fucking way over here for an update?” he shouts, arms crossed and a look on his face he just knows Danny would call Aneurism Face if he saw it.
“Sir we –“
“Let me tell you something,” Steve hisses, “It’s not alright to mess with me, okay? It’s not alright to rip my family apart for going on seven months now and then go and get my partner shot and not let me see him. That doesn’t make me a happy person. And do you know what I’m like when I’m not happy? I’m not a good person. I’m not a pleasant person, alright? So I’ll just let you keep that in mind while I go and make some phone calls and when I come back, you’re probably not going to like me too much.”
Steve stomps off down the hall, nurses and doctors alike looking after him somewhat fearfully.
Steve puts in a phone call to the Governor and a few higher ups in the Navy he knows and then waits impatiently in the waiting room. He gets what he needs though and three hours later he walks up to two very sheepish looking FBI agents. “Sir we’re very sorry we –“
“Can you just – save it?” Steve interrupts, “I don’t need apologies. I need to see him. I need to know what happened.”
The men let him through the door and explain at the same time. “Takedown,” the one on the right says shortly. “What we’ve been working up to all these months, we finally got enough to get the bastards, thanks to your partner here – he’s good at what he does. He’d be good in the FBI.” Steve takes a moment to think no fucking way and shoot the man death rays before motioning for him to continue, “It turned into a huge shootout and Danny took one to the chest. Went deep,” he shrugs apologetically.
“Right,” Steve says tersely, nodding. “Thanks.”
He takes a seat next to Danny’s bed and grips his hand tightly. Danny’s looking pale and thin – sick on top of his bullet to the chest, Steve thinks instantly, reaching down and kissing the hand he’s holding. Like he hasn’t been taking care of himself even though Gracie told him to. “Danno,” Steve murmurs, “Missed you.”
And Steve waits.
Grace arrives sometime later, grandparents in tow. Mr. and Mrs. Williams leave eventually after sitting with them for a while, but Grace stays, curled up in Steve’s lap, holding Danny’s hand with him. “It’s gonna be okay,” she whispers to both of them. Steve knows it is, it has to be, but he’d at least like to hear Danny’s voice. He’s missed it so much and now he’s right here in front of him, but he can’t speak to him. It makes it hard.
“Right, Grace Face,” Steve says, and tightens his hold on Danny’s hand again.
Grace falls asleep eventually and Steve leans forward in the silence, kissing Danny’s hand for what seems like the hundredth time today. “Come on, Danno,” he whispers. “I was so scared and nobody could tell me anything and – I’ve missed you for so long. I need you. I need to hear you. Come on, please,” Steve whispers hoarsely.
He’s answered with a tightening of his hand and when he flicks his eyes up to Danny’s face, sparkling blue eyes are staring back at him. “Hey,” Danny whispers, “babe, it’s okay.”
And it’s okay.