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Safe Word

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I’m working on expense reports when Danny barges into my office saying, “You!”

“Me?” I question having absolutely no clue what I’d done now.

Danny comes to stand in front of my desk says, “Yes, you!” and stabs a finger in my direction as if to prove his point – whatever that is.

“I know you put her up to it. Don’t you dare deny it.”

“Put who up to what? Danno, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

My partner flails a hand to the side and turns to walk towards the windows.

“No idea, he says. No idea.” He turns backs towards me and is obviously trying to remain semi-calm as he says, “Fine, Steven. I don’t believe your innocent act for one second, but fine.”

Danny puts his hands in his pockets for a moment, but apparently they refuse to stay there because they’re out of his pocket the very next moment in order to help illustrate his words to me.

“Remember your suggestion for a code word – a safe word that only Grace and her ohana would know? A word that would tell her that it was safe to go with someone she didn’t know.”

I sit forward in my chair finally recognizing my partner’s train of thought, but still wondering what I could have possibly done to deserve this particular rant.

“It was just an idea, Danny. You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to.” I stand frustrated that I’m seemingly being blamed for making a suggestion to help keep what happened to Grace from happening again. “SEAL teams have used a similar idea in…certain situations and it’s definitely saved my ass a couple of times.”

Danny takes a couple of steps from the window and back towards me. “No, you goof. I love your idea. In fact, I completely endorse it. So besides me, only Rachel, Stan, Chin, Kono, and of course you will know the word. I don’t think I could survive if something ever happened to my little girl and this might help if, God forbid, this type of situation ever comes up again.”

“So, if it’s a good idea, then what’s the problem?” I ask adding a gesture to punctuate my point and then wondering if the use of gestures was contagious.

Danny mirrors my action and closes the gap between us.

“The problem, my friend,” he pauses and pokes a finger at my chest knowing how much I hate it when people do that to me. “The problem is the word Grace picked.”

“And how is that my fault?” I ask poking him in the chest in retaliation hoping it annoys him as much as it does me. “I haven’t seen or talked to Grace since Peterson…” I trail off not wanting to stir up memories of just a few days ago.

“I know it had to be you who put her up to this,” Danny uses my pause to cut in. “I just know it was you.”

Trying to be reasonable, I ask, “What word did Grace pick that has you thinking I had anything to do with it?”

“As if you don’t know,” he accuses.

I truly don’t and say as much while trying to maintain my cool and not get angry at my friend.

Danny puts his hands in his pockets again, bows his head a little as if embarrassed and mumbles something I don’t quite catch.

“What was that?” I ask grinning a little because of a word I thought I heard him say. “I don’t speak Mumble.”

He glares at me and repeats, “The word she chose was – pineapple on pizza.”

“That’s a phrase not a word,” I point out.

Danny smacks me in the shoulder and says, “Yes, thank you, Grammar Police. I know that, but it’s what my daughter chose so I’m not going to going to argue with her.”

“What’s wrong with that – other than the obvious word/phrase thing?” I ask genuinely curious why what Gracie picked was so bad.

“What’s wrong with that, he asks,” Danny retorts as a hand cuts through the air in his continued frustration. “You know that I find pineapple on pizza to be an abomination, Steve. Why would she pick that?”

I put a hand on his shoulder to try and calm him.

“I just think she wanted to pick something that she knows would definitely mean it was from her Danno and not some nutjob.” I drop my hand when I feel that my friend finally does fractionally relax.

“You think so?”

I nod and shrug my shoulder then as I sit back down in my chair, I say, “Sure, why not?”

I can tell Danny is still suspicious and is trying to figure out if I had anything to do with Grace’s choice, but after a moment he nods slightly, “Okay, Steven. I believe you. I apologize for…” He pauses to gesture towards me.

“No problem, brah. It’s been a tough week,” I say letting him off the hook.

“Yeah, thanks. Uh…” He points towards the main room. “I’m going to go tell Chin and Kono about Grace’s safe word for February. Later.”

Lifting a hand in a sort of wave, I say, “Later, Danny.”

A few minutes after my best friend leaves my office, I get an idea.

I honestly did not have anything to do with Grace choosing her father’s least favorite food ever as this month’s safe word/phrase, but it did spark an idea for a way to subtlety, but good-naturedly, torture my friend in the future.

Next time I get to see Grace, we need to have a chat about safe words.

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The end.

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