Gracie is spending the weekend at Uncle Steve (and Danno's) house. Even though it's Saturday morning, Gracie is not her usual cheerful self and she does not go unnoticed by either of her dads.
"Hey, Monkey," Danno says as he sits down across the kitchen table from Gracie, "You okay, Babe. Looks like something's bothering you. What'cha workin' on?"
"Hmmmm? Oh hi, Danno," Gracie says a bit startled out of thought, then looking up into her father's face. Her eyes reflect a combination of deep thought, worry and stress, dark circles under her eyes and her mouth a thin line except for the pencil she is gnawing on that is sticking out of the right side of her mouth Yuck! Danny has never seen her chewing on pencils so he knows that something is definitely up. On the table in front of her is a standard size piece of white copy paper showing a map of the United States. Every state is a different color and a city is highlighted in yellow in each of the states. Listed below the map is a series of abbreviations.
"I have this test coming up next week where I have to know all fifty states (with correct spelling), their capitol cities and their abbreviations. All fifth graders in the entire country need to pass this test. I have two chances to pass it, but I really want to pass it the first time around. I've been studying on my own for the past week, but I just can't seem to keep them all of them straight in my head. Mrs. Kamae was discussing how we could best study for the test yesterday. One of her ideas was to partner up with another person in class to be a 'Study Buddy.' Josh offered to be my 'Study Buddy,' but Mrs. Kamae said we had to ask our parents for permission before making plans to meet with classmates or invite them over." Gracie loses eye contact with him, choosing to look down at the sheet instead and bite her bottom lip as she finishes and braces for Danny's response.
"Monkey, isn't Josh that boy you were talking to at the Hilton last month when you and I went to the water slides," Danny asks and Gracie can already see the frown forming on his face.
Steve enters the kitchen in that quiet stealth-like way he does (Crazy Ninja Seal!), causing both Gracie and Danny to nearly jump out of their skin or fall out of their chairs. "Stop doing that, Super SEAL, before both of us have a heart attack and die an untimely early death, " Danno rants as his right index finger wiggles, pointing to both Gracie and him for effect.
"Did I hear something about 'Study Buddies' and Gracie's new friend, Josh," Steve grins at Danny raising an eyebrow and gives Gracie a mischievous all-knowing look.
"Yes, you did, you big goof," Danny rolls his eyes at Steve and then looks at Grace waiting for her to answer.
"Yes, Danno, that's him, but we're just friends. We're just going to study. Can't he just come over? I really need a Study Buddy," Grace answers exasperated and whining.
"Well, no.... Just no. Can't you find anyone else to study with? What about one of your GIRL friends," Danny says staring at Gracie, pinching the bridge of his nose and trying to avoid the headache he feels coming on.
"Not really, Danno. See Em is still visiting her Grandmother in England. She'll be back the day before the test. Kel has a post season basketball tournament all weekend. Jen is on an overnight trip this weekend with her Girl Scout Troop at the Honolulu Zoo to see the opening of their Australian Walkabout exhibit. And Eliza has gone to the mainland for her cousin's wedding. I don't know anyone else, Danno,” Gracie whines.
Steve has joined them at the kitchen table listening to the conversation and observing it as if he was watching a ping pong match. He turns to look at Danny whose face has screwed into something between a scowl and Constipation Face. After a long, silent moment, Steve can’t resist calling him on his expression. “Uh, Danno. You’ve got Constipation Face. Have you come up with a response for Gracie yet?”
“Steven, if you must know, I do not have Constipation Face,” Danny says with a hint of sarcasm and defensiveness, “Unlike you, I do not have ‘faces’ which express my feelings. This (as he draws a circle around his face with one hand) is me contemplating my answer and trying to come up with a reasonable solution.”
“Uh-huh,” Steve responds, rolling his eyes at Danny and turning to look at Gracie’s face with a half smirk. It’s not that Steve isn’t concerned about the possibility of Gracie starting to show interest in boys (which will later lead to dating). He feels just as fiercely protective of her as Danny does. However, Steve isn’t as fearful or worrisome as Danno. Besides, Steve is confident in his ability to injure or maim any boy that dares hurts their Gracie. So it is in this instance that he feels he is in agreement with Gracie. What’s the harm in a little “Study Buddy” so long as he can keep a calm and watchful eye on them? Steve could practice his “Thousand Yard Stare” on them.
Suddenly, Danny’s eyes light up. “Gracie, What about Billy? I know he’s not in your class, but he is at your school. I’m sure that all of the fifth graders at your school will take the test at the same time, right?” Danny has a soft spot for Billy Hanamoa. Billy’s dad, Meka, was Danny’s first partner back when he was with HPD. Meka was a true friend - loving, loyal and accepting of Danny when everyone else on the force looked down on him as the hao’le from the mainland. Meka, his wife, Amy, and Billy were Danny’s first Ohana. Danny was devastated when Meka was found burned beyond recognition at the bottom of a roasting pit at an Oceanside luau. He’d kept in touch with Amy and Billy, treating Billy as if he were his own son.
“Good comeback, Danno! Not bad, my friend. Not bad at all, Steve thinks. Judging by the time it took and the intense expression Danny had on his face, Steve is sure that this solution must have taken quite a few brain cells from Danny’s stubbornly thick skull.
Gracie purses her lips, taking some time to think about his suggestion. “That’s a good idea, Danno. I didn’t even think about that. Can we have Billy and Auntie Amy comes over?”
Danny breathes a sigh of relief smiling at Gracie. “Sure, Monkey. We could see if they are free to come over sometime around 2:00. That would give you and Billy at least a couple of hours to study. Then, we could have a BBQ. How’s that sound?” Danny looks to Steve for confirmation. Steve nods in agreement.
“Sounds good, Danno, except for one more thing. Could we have the rest of the Ohana over for the BBQ? Would that be okay, Uncle Steve? I mean Daddy Steve?”
“Sounds like a plan,” Steve says as he smiles widely at being called ‘Daddy Steve’ as they transition into being a true and solid family unit. Steve texts Kono, Chin and Malia.
Several hours later, Billy is rattling off all the states and its capitals on the western sea board and Gracie’s got the eastern sea board. Both of them are reciting the middle states in unison. Without missing a beat, they switch with Gracie rattling off the western states and Billy the eastern states, then reciting the middle states in unison. Next, they are playfully quizzing and challenging each other to name the states’ abbreviations. Despite all the hard work memorizing everything, Gracie and Billy are having a great time. Satisfied with the results, Danny and Amy call a swim/surf break for the kids. Gracie races Billy to the house to change into their suits. Gracie grabs her surfboard and offers Billy her boogie board as they dashed back past their parents and into the surf in record time. Danny, Steve and Amy smile at one another. “Thanks, Guys, for having us over. It’s good to see you all and great to see Grace and Billy together again. It’s been a while,” Amy says with a thoughtful grin on her face as she sees the kids catch their first wave.
“You’re welcome, Amy,” Danny puts his arm around her and pulls her into a quick hug. “I’m just so sorry that we didn’t do this sooner. It took this test of theirs to make the excuse to get us all together. “
“Yeah. We need to do this more often just because,” says Steve, staring at Danny and Amy affectionately. Steve smiles at them, knowing how much both Amy and Billy mean to Danny. He had told Steve as much when Meka died. Meka and Danny had agreed to look out for each other’s family should anything happen to either of them.
About an hour later, Gracie and Billy are out on the lanai in search of stuff to munch on and drink as the rest of the Ohana shows up. Chin and Malia show up first with two six-packs of Longboards and a homemade pineapple upside-down cake. Knowing how Danny feels about pineapple, Malia whips up a mini batch of homemade malasadas just for Danny. Kono shows up with Charlie a few minutes later ready to join “Study Hall” as she brings her textbook and notes. Being Steve’s protégé, Kono knows that she often forgets the finer points of police procedure and decided to take a police procedure course through UH this semester. Danny smiles, giving the rookie and friend kudos for being a shining example to Steve and a role model to the kids. Charlie is walking beside her holding a dozen or so Spam Musubi and a huge bag of Maui Chips. He is immediately descended upon by the kids who grab both, thank him graciously and head for the chairs on the lanai to tear into them.
Kono, Gracie and Billy spread a large blanket out in the sand as they form a makeshift outdoor study hall. All three of them look over their notes sharing information on what they’ve learned. Danny drags Steve over to look at Kono’s text and notes as Danny lectures Steve on the finer points of police procedure.
Everyone breaks into hysterical laughter witnessing the academic scene on the sand.