Steve was, honestly, minding his own business. He wasn't climbing a mountain or running a marathon or taking down a dozen smugglers with only a pocket knife and his shoelaces (and really, Danny was exaggerating that time). He was just jogging in the park. It was a nice change, even if he was only jogging because he wasn't allowed to get the stitches wet for another three days.
And actually, it's an accident. He almost trips over her. (Almost.)
What actually happens is that he sees her at the last second and performs the kind of contortionist dodge that would have had Danny flipping his shit pretty much automatically.
He still loses his balance and goes over though, and when he finds his feet again, panting, she's still standing there in the middle of the trail. She's looking at him curiously, her hands in her pockets.
"Are you okay?" she asks. She looks about Gracie's age, maybe a little younger.
"Uh, yeah," Steve says, checking to make sure he's still got his keys; they're there. He looks around. "Are you all alone?"
She immediately looks suspicious. "I'm not supposed to talk to strangers." Then she cranes her neck back to look up at him. "You're tall."
"Thanks." Steve pats himself down for his badge, but he left it in his bag in the car. He didn't think he'd literally stumble across a lost kid in the park. He tries anyway. "I'm a policeman. I'm not asking where you live or anything - are you here with your parents?"
She looks at her feet. "My parents are dead."
Shit. Steve looks around again, for any sign of an adult. Then he sighs and crouches down, which brings him about level with her. "Look, kiddo, what do you say we go over to the shave ice stand? There's another policeman over there, see? He can call your - whoever's supposed to be watching you."
Now she crosses her arms. "I'm looking for my dog."
Of course she is. And Jesus, with her arms crossed and the obstinate expression, she reminds him uncannily of Danny.
"Your... your dog, huh?"
She nods. "If I leave the park he'll think I abandoned him. He's very sensitive."
"O... kay," Steve agrees, wishing Danny was here. The kid won't go with him anywhere - and fair enough, he hasn't got any ID, somebody trained her well - but he can't just leave her alone. He tries to catch the eye of the uniform flirting with the shave ice girl and points to a bench not ten feet away.
"Look, I'm gonna go take a break, sit over on that bench. You wanna join me, just for a minute? We can call... whoever's supposed to be looking after you."
She frowns at him, looks out over the park again, towards the trees. Then she looks back. "You promise you won't kidnap me?"
"No! I mean - yes, I promise. We'll just sit, okay?"
She observes him narrowly for another few seconds, and then sits down next to him on the bench. Steve finally manages to catch the eye of the uniform, who comes strolling over. It's Cheung, who he actually knows, thank God.
"Hey, Commander. Howzit?"
"Not too bad, Cheung. Hey, be my character reference? This young lady--"
"Lilo," provides the kid, after a lightning-fast visual comparison between them.
"--seems to be lost--"
"I'm not lost," Lilo says, with an exasperated huff. "I lost my dog."
"--has gotten separated from..." he pauses, looking to Lilo again.
"My sister," she says, in a voice that suggests sisters are the worst of all possible fates (Steve can relate), and then, in an undertone, "she is going to be totally freaking out."
"She very rightly refused to let me walk her to the police station, since I don't have my ID on me."
Cheung grins. He's always grinning; has that kind of face. "Oh, sure, Commander. Hey, kaikamahine, don't you watch TV? This is Commander Steve McGarrett of the 5-0. He's legit. Promise."
Lilo glances at Steve, and then looks at Cheung critically. "Can I see your badge?"
"Sure thing, shortstuff." Cheung hands her his badge, and she turns it over in her hands a few times. Eventually she seems to be satisfied, and hands it back.
"Okay," she says to Steve, "I guess you're not a kidnapper."
"Thanks," Steve says, with as much dignity as he can muster.
"Can I see your gun?" she asks Cheung, who laughs out loud before saying no as nicely as he can.
And that's when the ugliest dog Steve's ever seen comes bounding up to them out of the woods and Lilo greets it like a long-lost friend.
Lilo, Steve, and the dog all ride back to the station in the back of Cheung's patrol car. Lilo is delighted.
"It's like we're being arrested," she says, grinning hugely. The dog looks less thrilled, but stays calmly pressed up against Lilo's side, looking out the window. "Though I've been a prisoner cooler places," Lilo adds, and Steve doesn't ask her to elaborate.
"Does your sister know you went out without her?" Steve asks, covertly texting Danny to tell him he's going to be late with lunch because he has to take a lost kid to the police station.
Lilo sighs a very put-upon sigh. "No. She had a job interview. I was just supposed to stay home all day with our cousin and not go anywhere, but he went for groceries and then Stitch wanted to go out and then..." She shrugs elaborately. "I didn't think we'd walked that far."
Steve ignores Danny's answering text: only you, and nods. "You guys from Honolulu?"
Lilo shakes her head, absently scritching Stitch behind one ear. The dog flops against her, looking blissed-out. "Nah, we're from Kaua'i. And the job's at home but the company's here and there wasn't anybody to watch me 'cause Jumba and Pleakley and David went fishing for the whole weekend, but Nani had to come today, so I came too." She kicks her sandaled feet against the seat. "Are we almost there? I'm hungry."
"Almost there," Cheung confirms, and he's grinning at Steve in the rear-view mirror. Steve thinks that he really shouldn't have his mirror angled that low and oh God Danny is rubbing off on him way, way too much.
Steve does not expect Danny to be at the police station, though in retrospect he probably should have. There's a minor argument about the dog and the dog coming inside and Lilo flatly refusing to get out of the car unless Stitch can come too, and then when Steve, Lilo, and the dog finally walk into the lobby of Honolulu PD, Danny is there. He's talking to the desk sergeant, wearing jeans and a t-shirt, which is novel enough that Steve stares for a second before remembering he's here to turn in a missing kid and not stare at his partner.
"He's got funny hair," Lilo says, next to him. The dog is sitting at her feet, also staring at Danny, who is a dog person, so yeah, that makes sense. Less sense when the dog darts across the lobby and buts into Danny's knees so hard Danny almost goes over.
"Hey!" he exclaims, before looking down. "Oh. Hey, boy." He leans over, hand cautiously out. The dog inspects it, then turns and trots back to Lilo. This is when Danny spots Steve. He throws his hands in the air, not even saying anything; just letting his body language speak for him.
Eventually, though, there are words. Words, with Danny, are inevitable. Thankfully he waits until they find somebody to take down Lilo's information - her name is Lilo Pelekai, she's eight years old, she's from Kaua'i and her sister's name is Nani... it goes on for some time. Lilo seems to be one of those kids who, once you get her talking, it takes her a while to run down.
Like someone else Steve knows.
"Seriously," Danny says eventually, after they've sat down with Lilo, who is swinging her feet and staring impatiently at the door, "how do you go out for a jog and trip over a kid? I mean, literally trip over her?"
"I didn't trip over her," Steve protests.
"Yeah you did," Lilo says, helpfully. "Or, almost."
"How do you go for a jog at all? You got shot three days ago, Steven. Three days. The doctor forbids you swimming and so you go on a ten-mile run instead? In what universe does this behaviour qualify as normal?"
Steve doesn't bother answering. There's not much he can say that won't get him another lecture, so he just leans his head back against the wall and shuts his eyes briefly. Danny goes on for a few more seconds anyway, before turning to Lilo and asking conversationally: "Do you have anyone this aggravating in your life?"
"Oh, yeah," Lilo answers, grimly.
The dog barks. It's a weird bark, almost more like a noise a human would make, trying to sound like a dog. But when Steve looks at it, it's just staring into space, panting, tongue lolling out.
"What are you doing here anyway?" Steve asks Danny. "I'm pretty sure I could handle getting a ride to the station and back to my car without supervision."
"Not in my experience," Danny tells him. Then he shrugs. "I was on my way to pick up Grace. Who is very excited about this barbecue thing of yours, so you had better deliver, my friend." He pokes Steve in the chest, carefully nowhere near the place where the bandage is covering his stitches. It was only a little bullet wound. Steve's had worse, but no matter how many times he tries to explain stuff like that to Danny, Danny just freaks out.
"It'll be fine. I had pretty much everything ready except the steaks. I'll pick 'em up when we're done here."
"Steaks?" asks Lilo, looking interested. "I like steaks."
"Don't we all," Danny says, nodding as though they are clearly kindred spirits. "What are your feelings on hot dogs?"
"My feelings are..." Lilo actually seems to consider it. "Good."
"A woman after my own heart," says Danny.
Danny holds up his fist. Lilo solemnly bumps it with her own.
Nani Pelekai appears about fifteen minutes later, looking windblown and harassed and - okay, actually, kind of smoking hot in her two-piece skirt suit, if way, way too young for him - worried. She strides into the station, stops, and looks around, eyes scanning the space like lasers before alighting like a little red target dot on Lilo's face. Lilo stiffens, looking guilty and a little like she's planning on making a break for it as Nani bears down on them, face thunderous.
"Lilo, you lolo, I told you to stay there. Was that so much to ask? For an hour and a half? Really?"
"Stitch wanted to go out!"
To Steve's surprise, Nani actually pauses to glare at the dog, who shrinks back behind Lilo's legs.
"Stitch does not make the rules."
"That's not what you said when the aliens--" Lilo starts, but stops at a glare from her sister. "Sorry," she amends, more quietly.
Nani sighs, pulling Lilo to her feet and inspecting her quickly from head to toe. About five seconds later, apparently satisfied, she finally seems to notice Steve and Danny. Danny is staring, a little, but he snaps himself out of it quickly enough.
"Uh, officers?" Nani begins, uncertainly.
Steve gets up, offers her his hand. "Commander Steve McGarrett, ma'am. Of 5-0. This is my partner Detective Danny Williams."
Nani shakes his hand, recognition dawning, then dread. "You're... oh of course you are. What did she do?" When she says this, she looks, interestingly, at the dog.
Danny laughs. "Nothing apart from the obvious. My big tough Navy SEAL partner here tripped over her in the park."
"I didn't trip--"
"Yes you did," Danny and Lilo say, at almost the same time, and Lilo dissolves into giggles.
"It was just a right place, right time thing," Steve demurs.
Nani still looks uncertain, but she nods. "Well, thanks, anyway," she says, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear with the same gesture as her little sister. "She's a handful, obviously."
"Hey!" protests Lilo, stamping her foot. Nani ignores her.
"I really appreciate it," Nani says. She grabs Lilo's hand. "Come on, lolo, let's go."
"Hey, wait," Lilo drags her feet, "can't we go with them? They're having steak. I'm tired of shrimp."
"Lilo!" Nani looks embarrassed. "You don't just invite yourself to other people's houses! And Cousin's being real nice to us, you eat what he makes and you smile and say thank you--"
"Hey, no, that's a great idea," Steve says, before he can really think about it. Nani stares at him. So does Danny.
"Seriously. We're having a barbecue. There's always lots of food."
Nani is unsure, her hand on Lilo's head. Lilo looks something like triumphant. The dog is unmoved. "I don't know..."
Beside him, Danny looks confused, but he sighs and says: "No, really, he always makes food enough for a whole platoon. And my daughter Grace'll be there, you guys can hang out, it'll be cool." This last is to Lilo, who beams up at him before turning huge brown eyes on her sister, who glares at her for a long few seconds before giving in.
"Fine, fine, okay, enough with the face. Maybe - maybe - we can come. Would it okay if we brought our cousin? Only if he hasn't got other plans."
There is more hand-shaking and exchanging of information and all that, and then they're gone and Steve is in Danny's car heading back to pick up his truck, because Danny says it would be a wasted trip to make some uniform ferry Steve back out to get it.
"So what was all that about, anyway?" asks Danny eventually.
"What was what about?" Steve asks innocently.
Danny spares a glance from the road to look at him with one eyebrow raised. "Really?"
Steve shrugs. "I don't know. They're not from Honolulu and she seemed kind of..." He trails off.
"What, the sister? Yes, I will concede that she is a very, very fine example of young womanhood, but wasn't she, like, twenty-two?" Danny sounds mildly scandalized, the way he does any time anyone suggests a female under the age of thirty might have a sex life. Gracie’s going to just love adolescence.
"Christ, no!" Steve says. Honestly, most of the last half-hour it was not Nani Pelekai he was having vaguely inappropriate thoughts about: it was Danny, wearing the big smile he wears around kids and talking to Lilo and petting her weird-looking dog and making it all look so easy. "Lilo. She seems... kind of lonely. Or like she would be. And they're from out of town," he pushes on, when Danny takes a breath to say something, "and yeah, the sister looked kind of stressed-out, and I just thought it was a hospitable thing to do, okay?"
Steve is staring resolutely out the windshield throughout this explanation, and when he finally looks at Danny, who has been uncharacteristically silent for ten or eleven whole seconds, he sees Danny smiling fondly at the road.
"What?" Steve demands, feeling kind of sulky.
Danny shakes his head, drums his fingers on the steering wheel. "Nothing."
"You're smiling at nothing?"
"I'm smiling at you, you goof."
Steve frowns. "I'm a goof? What'd I do?"
"You, with your... your always trying to make everybody happy. It's just... it's kind of..." Danny's smiling, still, but looking kind of embarrassed.
"Kind of what?"
Danny shakes his head, flicking on the turn signal at the park entrance where Steve left his truck.
"You are such a pain in my ass."
Steve grins. "You love me."
Danny pulls into a parking space next to Steve's truck and waves at him. "Go, go," he says, but his face is a little pink and not from sunburn. "Go on. You've got shopping to do."
Steve relents and gets out of the car. "Say hi to Gracie for me."
Danny rolls his eyes. "Say hi yourself, you'll see her in like twenty minutes."
When Danny's gone, Steve drives to the grocery store, fills his basket quickly and efficiently, ticking items off his mental list. At the last minute, he picks up a couple of pineapples, because they grill up nice with a little pepper, honey and lemon juice - dual-purpose: delicious and it will annoy Danny - and some extra steaks for his maybe-extra guests.
He hopes they come. It'll be nice to have a full house, along with the team and Gracie; he has a feeling Lilo will get along with Kono. That Nani will appreciate the opportunity to put her feet up for a while and let somebody else do the work, like Danny's always trying to get him to do when it isn't post-case paperwork.
Steve wonders how Danny will feel about that tonight when he's doing all the cooking; last time they had a barbecue Danny complained so extensively over Steve's methods that Steve decided Danny could do it himself next time.
And maybe, thinks Steve, Danny will be too distracted and happy, with Gracie there, and other people, and food, and Steve to order around, that he'll forget to ride Steve anymore about getting shot this time.
Steve's not holding his breath. But for some reason, that makes him smile, too, the whole drive home.