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When it is dark enough, you can see the stars

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One of Steve’s favorite memories of growing up in Hawai’i was sitting out on the beach at night and staring up at the stars. He remembered his dad sitting next to him and pointing out the different stars and constellations. Their backyard was a perfect place to stargaze as there were very few lights in the area.

Throughout his time in the Navy, Steve would take the opportunity to look at the stars. It was his one remaining connection to his childhood; something that reminded him of the good times, before his mother’s death.

He had hoped to one day share his love of the ocean and the sky with his own child, but as the years went on, that seemed to be less and less a possibility. That was until Steve found himself back in Hawai’i and he met Detective Danny Williams and his daughter, Grace.

Steve had never had much contact with children, so at first, he really didn’t know how to act around Grace. It wasn’t long before she had him wrapped around her little finger. She had surprised both Steve and Danny by calling him Uncle. He loved her as if she was his own child. He knew that he would do anything for her.

Steve had it all planned. During Grace’s next weekend with Danny, they would spend it at Steve’s. He didn’t tell them what they were going to do, but Grace was excited, which made Danny happy.

Then the unthinkable happened. Grace had been kidnapped by a man hell-bent on revenge against Danny. That day had been one of the worst days in Steve’s life. There was a period of time where he had no idea where Danny was or what he was being forced to do, but that wasn’t nearly as bad as the thought that Grace was missing, and he didn’t know if she was still alive or not. If it was tearing him up that bad, he didn’t want to think of what it was doing to Danny.

Thankfully, Danny was found, Rick was arrested, and Grace was saved. Steve wanted nothing more than to pull his niece into his arms and hold her tight, but it wasn’t his time. She needed her parents, and they needed her. So, Steve stood back and watched the heartbreaking reunion.

The following week had been tense. Danny wasn’t himself and no matter how many times Steve tried, he couldn’t get Danny to talk about what happened. Everything came to a head on Friday, the night Danny and Grace were supposed to go to Steve’s house for the weekend.

“Danny, we need to talk.”

“No, Steven, we don’t.”

“Grace is going to know something is up. You’ve been so…”

“I’ve been what, exactly? Huh? So I don’t want to talk about my feelings. Since when are you all about feelings?”

“No, what I was going to say is that you’ve been quiet… too quiet. I just wish…”

“You know what? Maybe coming over this weekend isn’t a good idea.”

Steve felt like he’d taken a punch to the gut. It took him a moment to recover.

“Fine, if that’s what you want.”

“Yeah, I think it is.”

Danny looked at his watch and noticed the time.

“I have to go pick up Grace. I’ll see you on Monday.”

Danny turned and walked out, leaving Steve standing there. He was hurt and confused. He didn’t hear Chin walk up behind him.

“Steve, just give him some time.”

Steve was startled from his thoughts. He turned to Chin.

“I don’t even know what just happened.”

“You pushed and he pushed back.”

Steve rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I know that, but…”

Chin placed his hand on Steve’s shoulder. “He’s got to deal with this in his own way. When he’s ready, he’ll come to you.”

“I hope you’re right.”

“I know I’m right, brah.”

Steve grinned. “Thanks.”

He returned to his office to finish up some paperwork and then headed home. He locked the front door once he was inside, grabbed a beer from the fridge and sat down in front of the TV.

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Steve was startled awake by a loud knocking on the door. He looked at the clock and realized he’d been asleep for about two hours. He wasn’t expecting anyone, so he slowly made his way to the door.

There was another knock, and then Steve heard an unmistakable voice.

“Are you going to let us in? I know you’re in there.”

Steve pulled the door open and Danny walked past him holding Grace’s hand.

“Hi, Uncle Steve.” Grace was more subdued than normal.

He knelt down and hugged Grace. “Hi, Gracie.” He then stood and looked at Danny.

“I didn’t think you were coming.”

Grace looked confused. “What do you mean, Uncle Steve?”

Danny pinched the bridge of his nose. “She was so excited when I went to pick her up. I couldn’t upset her. She’s been so sad since…”

“It’s okay. I’m glad you’re here… both of you.”

Steve turned around and headed toward the kitchen. “Sorry I don’t have anything ready.”

“That’s okay, Uncle Steve. Can we order a pizza?”

“Sure, sweetheart.”

Steve made the call to their favorite pizza place and then they all sat on the sofa and watched some TV till it got there.

“When we’re done eating can we watch a movie?”

“I’m sure we can find something to watch, Monkey.”

“Actually, there’s something I’d like to show you first, Grace.”

“Okay.” She smiled, but she was still subdued.

Steve and Danny exchanged a look. Steve pointed toward the office. Danny nodded.

“Baby, Uncle Steve wants to show me something in his office. We’ll be right back, okay?”

“Don’t take too long.”

“We won’t, right Steve?”

“Right, just a couple of minutes.”

Grace nodded and went back to eating. Danny followed Steve into the office.

“So, what’s so important that I have to leave her alone?”

“Danny, there’s something that I’d like to show her that may help get her mind off what happened. I’ve had this planned for a while. It’s something my dad shared with me when I was her age, and now I’d like to share it with her. She’s the closest thing I have to a daughter.”

“Steve… this really affected you, didn’t it? I didn’t realize.”

“It’s okay, Danny. You had to worry about her.”

“Yeah… so… what is it that you want to show her?"

“The sky.”

Danny gave him a strange look. “The sky?”

“Yeah, the stars, planets, constellations… It’s a beautiful night. Do you mind if I take her out there alone, at first at least?”

“I don’t mind, but she may not want to. You’ll have to ask her.”

“Okay.”

Steve and Danny made their way back into the living room where Grace was sitting. She was anxiously awaiting their return.

Steve knelt down in front of Grace.

“Gracie, I want to show you something very special, but its outside. Are you feeling up to going outside with me?”

“Yeah, okay. Does Danno get to see it too?”

“Yes, but I’d like to show you first. Is that okay?”

“I guess so.”

Steve gave Danny a concerned look.

“He’ll be up on the lanai, and then once you’ve seen it I’ll ask him to come down to the beach where we’ll be.”

“Okay.”

Steve stood and took Grace’s hand. They walked out the back door and down to the beach. Steve had hung a blanket over the back of one of his beach chairs. He grabbed it and laid it out.

“Okay… first, I want you to look up at the sky.”

Grace looked up, and her eyes widened. “The stars are really pretty. I never got to see them much back in New Jersey.”

Steve sat down on the blanket. “Grace, come sit next to me.”

She sat down next to him on the blanket. Then Steve laid down.

“This is the best way to look at them. No risk of getting dizzy and falling over.”

Grace laid down next to him.

Steve pointed straight up. “You see that cluster of stars right there? That’s the constellation Gemini, The Twins. In Hawaiian, that’s Na Mahoe. Can you see it?”

He watched Grace and could tell immediately when she saw the constellation. “I see it!”

“Good. There’s one more that I want to show you. It’s one of the best known and easiest to find.”

He pointed slightly to the southwest of Gemini. “Now, you see those three stars in a line? That’s Orion’s Belt. Orion, or Ka Hei-hei o na Keiki, is my favorite constellation. Orion is a great hunter. Do you see him?”

“I do, I do. Are there more?”

“There are many, many more.”

“Can we see them all?”

“Not right now, sweetheart. Some aren’t visible from here, and the others, I’d like to save those. My dad would bring me out here on the weekends and show me a couple at a time. Made it easier to remember them later.”

“Okay. Can we come back out and look again tomorrow?”

“Sure.”

They both sat up. Steve motioned for Danny to join them.

“So, what’s so special that I had to wait to see?”

“Danno, look up. See there? That’s Orion. He’s a great hunter.”

Danny looked up at the sky, looking straight at Orion. “Wow, Monkey, that’s really amazing.”

Danny looked over at Steve and smiled. “Thank you.” He looked down and Grace smiled back up at him. “You don’t know what this means to me.”

“Thank you for letting me share this with her.”

Before Danny could say anything, Grace tapped him on the arm.

“Daddy, can we come here on all my weekends and look at the stars?”

“I don’t know, baby…”

“You’re welcome here anytime.”

“Are you sure? I wouldn’t want to intrude.”

“Of course, just let me know so I can have food and stuff.”

Danny chuckled. “Okay.”

“Great!” He beamed at Danny.

“You are such a child.”

Steve continued to grin at him. He felt better than he had in a long time. He was so happy that he could bring a smile to Grace’s face after everything she’d been through. He’d do anything for her, and a smile was the least he could do.