It was Saturday and Steve was relaxing on his lanai when he heard someone walking through his house. As he prepared for a fight, he recognized Danny’s unique gait. He turned to greet his friend, frowning when he noticed Danny's scowl, and that he was alone. Wait, that’s not right, he should have Grace with him. "What's the matter Danny? Where's Grace?"
Danny made agitated motions with his hands as he talked. "Rachel won't let me see her. She's decided that since Stan has all of the government approvals he needs for his new hotel the governor won’t be able to interfere with her new suit for sole custody with no visitation rights." Steve stared shocked as Danny slumped into the chair next to Steve dropping his face in his hands. "What am I going to do Steve? Stan has a lot more money than I do, he can pay better lawyers than I can. I can't lose Grace, I just can’t."
Steve had hoped that the Gov.'s interference earlier would've kept her from trying again. Steve was becoming angry. How could Rachel do this to Danny and Grace? "I don't know Danny." He paused. "Wait, I might be able to help you."
"I don't think another call to the Gov. will help Steve. I mean Rachel knows now that I have some major backing but she's still trying."
Steve placed his hand on Danny's shoulder and squeezed gently. "That's not what I have in mind. I have a good friend who is a lawyer." Steve held up his other hand to keep Danny from interrupting. "I know you have a lawyer Danny. My friend Bill went to Annapolis with me. We've kept in touch over the years and I’ve had dinner with him a couple of times since I returned. He studied law at Cambridge University and graduated in the top five of his class. He served his time as a JAG lawyer before going into private practice here in Honolulu. I understand he's one of the best lawyers here in the state and specializes in family law." Steve leaned toward Danny earnestly. "I know he’ll take your case Danny and won't charge you an arm and a leg for his services because you're my friend. I know you won't take pro bono which I'm sure Bill would do, but will you accept a discounted rate instead?"
Danny rubbed his face thinking about what Steve said for a few moments. He then looked at Steve eyes desperate. "Do you really think he can help?"
Steve patted Danny shoulder. "I know he can." Steve smirked. "Personally I think that you have a strong case. After all you moved all the way from New Jersey to Hawaii just to be near your daughter, and see her whenever possible, that should go a long way with most judges here in the state. Bill will know for sure." Steve grabbed a beer from the cooler at his feet and gave it to Danny then grabbed his phone. "Have a beer while I give Bill a call right now and see if he can meet us tonight for dinner."
While Danny sipped his beer Steve talked to his friend who agree to meet them for dinner that night.
Steve put his phone away looked at Danny. "Well Bill said he'd be over for dinner in about an hour and a half. I need to check to make sure I have enough food for three." Danny nodded as Steve got up and headed to the house. He returned a few moments later smiling. "I hope steaks and grilled vegetables are alright with you Danny?"
Danny rolled his eyes. "As if you didn't know I like steak. I really appreciate you doing this for me Steve." Steve waved his hand dismissively as Danny put his hand on Steve's arm stopping the motion. "No I'm serious. I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have your help right now. I'm still freaked but not as bad as I was when I came here."
"No problem man. You're my friend, part of my ohana. I couldn't do anything else. Now why don’t you come in with me and help get the vegetables and steak ready."
The two friends headed inside so that they can get dinner prepared.
An hour and 15 min. later Steve had started the grill and Danny was placing some beer in the cooler out on the lanai. There was a knock on the door. Steve looked up. "That must be Bill. I'll be back in a couple." Steve reached the front door quickly and opened it after checking to make sure it was Bill. "Good to see Bill thanks for coming by."
Smiling they shook hands. "My pleasure Steve. Any friend of yours is a friend of mine. And it sounds like he could use some help." The two men stepped out onto the lanai. "Bill let me introduce you to my partner Detective Danny Williams. Danny this is my long-time friend William Houseman."
The two men shook hands. "I appreciate you meeting me on such short notice Mr. Houseman. Steve says you’re one of the best lawyers around and I could really use the help."
Bill smiled pleasantly. "Please call me Bill, as I said to Steve, any friend of his is a friend of mine."
"Call me Danny then. Would you like a beer?"
"I very rarely turn down a beer Danny." The three men laughed. "Now let me make a suggestion, let's eat then we can sit down and talk about your problem Danny." Danny nodded.
Steve spoke. "Sounds like a good idea to me. So you still like your steak medium rare Bill?"
"Of course, it’s the only way to eat steak."
Steve chuckled. "Some things never change."
While dinner was grilled and consumed the three men talked. The conversation was light and friendly. Bill was amused listening to the two partners’ talk, if Steve hadn't told him about Danny and their partnership he might have thought the two men didn't like each other. Bill observed the two men carefully during dinner, he was amazed that two men were so different had become such good friends. He was enjoying listening to Steve and Danny as they teld stories about some of their cases. The difference in the storytelling made him laugh. Steve was fairly matter-of-fact about describing the case and his escapades; on the other hand Danny would expound on Steve's description and Steve's recklessness and disregard for police procedures. As Bill watched Danny talking with animated hands going a mile a minute, he could see that Steve was clearly amused and annoyed at the same time. He was happy for his friend, Steve had been without true friends for a long time.
Steve and Danny cleaned up the dishes while Bill grabbed his briefcase and pulled out his notepad getting ready to work.
Danny sat down at the table handing a cup of coffee to Bill and holding onto his own. "I'm going to head out to the lanai and let the two of you talk in private." Steve remarked as he headed for the sliding glass door.
"You don't have to leave in my account Steve." Danny said. "You already know the whole story so if Bill doesn't mind that you stay, I don't mind."
"Danny you're the client. If you want Steve to stay I have no objections."
So Steve turned around and sat down at the table with his coffee to support his friend.
Bill looked at Danny. "Well, Steve has already given me the basics of the problem Danny. Your ex-wife is suing for sole custody of your daughter Grace. She claims that being around you is dangerous. Can you tell me what she's basing this idea on?"
Danny sighed rubbing his hand down his face. "I think it really started when Rachel and I were still married, she wanted me to stop being a cop because it was too dangerous. She hated the odd and often late hours I kept when working cases. She hated waiting at home wondering if I would come home. I guess she just couldn't handle being a cop's wife. We had been fighting a lot before she moved out. The final blow to our marriage happened after another detective’s son was killed in a drive by shooting. She was convinced that the boy was killed because his father was a detective. She moved out and filed for divorce before I found out that the second boy who was killed was the target, not the detective’s son. By that time Rachel wouldn’t talk to me unless it was through our lawyers. She met Stan while the divorce was being finalized and married him shortly after. When Stan wanted to build a hotel in Hawaii she was happy to move with him. The move would remove Grace from my sphere of influence and the danger I presented."
As Danny talked he became agitated but calmed down when Steve placed his hand on his arm giving a slight squeeze in support. "I couldn’t live with the idea of being a vacation father so I set my affairs in order and transferred to the Honolulu Police Department. The visiting schedule set up by our lawyers while we still lived in New Jersey, has been followed since we moved here. Then I was recruited for 5-0. At first I resented Steve's high handedness in recruiting me as his partner. It didn't take long for me to realize that I found my place among people who accepted me and my daughter despite any differences we might have."
Danny paused scrubbing his face to put his thoughts in order. "The incident that spurred Rachel to sue for sole custody most recently, was because of a shooting at a high school football game that Steve had invited Grace and I to see with the rest of our team. While we were at the game two gang bangers entered the stadium and shot the quarterback’s uncle, the head of the rival gang. I sent Grace home in a patrol car, so that I could help deal with the fallout. Steve was able to help stop Rachel by getting Governor Jameson involved; Stan needed government approval for building permits so he could build another hotel. So she dropped the suit, I thought for good. However now that Stan has all of the government permits he needs for the new hotel she feels safe in pursuing sole custody again. I was supposed to have Grace this weekend; Rachel decided that since she was pursuing sole custody that Grace should get used to not seeing me. That's how confident she is that she'll win. After all, Stan has lots of money they can afford the best lawyers possible. What can cop do?" Danny said bitterly.
Steve placed his hand on Danny's shoulder. "Plenty Danny. Especially when he has the support of his ohana."
Danny smiled gratefully at Steve before turning back to Bill. "So do you think you can help me?"
Bill sat back in his chair looking thoughtfully at the partners. "I believe I can Danny. Custody cases are not just about money, they’re about providing for the needs, all of the needs, of the child or children. Money can only provide material things, children need their parents love, support, and stability or as much stability that can be provided under the circumstances. The judge will take into account your profession Danny, but it shouldn’t count against you as much as your ex-wife seems to think it will. After all, there are plenty of cops who are good parents. The judge is really looking at whether or not you're a good parent not that you’re a cop and the inherent dangers associated with the profession or how much money you make compared to the ex-spouse." He paused tapping his chin thoughtfully. He sat up looking Danny in the eyes. "I'm not going to lie to you and say this will be easy. Your ex's new husband will try and throw his weight, rather his money, around to get what he wants. That normally does not work in custody cases as it does when trying to get a building completed. The real question is whether or not you want me to be your lawyer. I believe I can help you. I want to help you, Steve has a lot of good things to say about you, and I like to help good men and women. Knocking arrogant people down a peg or two doesn’t hurt."
The three men chuckled. "Steve says you're one of the best, I trust his judgment. So how about we stick it to my ex and her new husband." The two men shook hands as Steve smiled happily. "Now my favorite part of talking to a lawyer, how much is this going to cost me?"
Bill tapping his finger on his notepad replied. "I'm going to charge you at cost Danny. Which means you'll pay for any investigator I may hire, materials and my paralegal. My work personally will be pro bono." He held up his hand forestalling Danny. "Danny, you know that Steve and I go way back right?" Danny nodded. "I’m sure that Steve didn’t tell you that he saved my life during a training exercise. I won't go into details but it's part of the reason why I went into law instead of the SEALs." Danny's eyes widened as he looked between the two men, comprehension dawning. "Steve told me that you’re a proud man and wouldn't accept charity; otherwise everything would be pro bono. Honestly, I can easily afford it. However I won't trample on someone's pride."
Danny smiled gratefully. "Thank you. I'll take you up on your offer. So what else do you need from me?"
Bill made a list on a separate page of his notepad as he talked. "I'll send you the paperwork that you'll need to sign to have everything transferred from your old lawyer to my offices. I'll need you to provide me with a list of character witnesses as well as a copy of your work history."
Danny interrupted. "Should I see if someone from Jersey can come as a witness outside of my family?"
Bill nodded. “That would be a very good idea since your tenure at the New Jersey Police Department was probably longer than HPD or Five-0. If the person or persons can’t come, a notarized affidavit will work just as well." Danny nodded to let Bill know that he understood. "Just to warn you, we may have to call in a child psychologist to speak with Grace in order to show that taking you out of her life would be detrimental to her mental health."
Danny sighed shaking his head. "I understand, I don't like it, but I understand. Damn Rachel for putting us through this. Excuse me I need a minute." Danny got up and walked out to Steve's lanai for breath of fresh air.
Steve watched his friend leaving with concern. "Let me know if there's anything I can do to help Danny other than be a witness. I just can't bring myself to think about what would happen if Danny lost Grace. She's everything to him. And no I'm not just worried about him going back to New Jersey either. Granted I would hate it if he did that, he's my friend and a great partner. I'm more worried about his mental health if he lost Grace."
Bill scratched his cheek in thought. "Right now, the best thing you can do is be there for him. He's going to need a friend. This means you need to go out there and be there for him now."
Steve nodded getting up determined to help Danny. He found Danny leaning against the railing of his lanai so he joined him. He didn't say anything just looked at the ocean. Since talking wasn't Steve's strong suit, he allowed his presence to say what his words couldn't that he was there for Danny. Steve stood next to him waiting to see if Danny wanted to talk or if he just wanted to look out at the ocean.
Danny appreciated Steve's silence. He wasn't ready for talking yet, but having Steve standing next to meant a lot to the detective. So the two men stood in silence lost in their own thoughts.
When Danny was ready to go back inside he straightened and turned to Steve smiling slightly. "Thanks Steve. I'm ready to go back and now."
Returning the smile Steve patted him on the shoulder as Danny walked ahead of them towards the door.
"Sorry about that Bill. I was afraid that if I kept talking I'd start yelling instead. Neither of you deserve that it's not your fault."
Bill waved away his concern as the two men joined him at the table. "I can certainly understand your feelings Danny. Why don’t we set up an appointment to meet during the week, so that we can go over any information that we missed. It will allow both of us time to consider the issues at hand and you can give me the list of witnesses for yourself."
"Alright, that sounds good."
Bill pulled out his business card and gave it to Danny, who exchanged his own card with Bill. Bill took the card put in his briefcase along with his notepad getting ready to leave. "I'll have my secretary call you first thing Monday to set up an appointment." He looked at Steve slyly. "Hopefully your boss will let you have the time off to meet with me."
"Well, if you think it's really necessary I guess I can give Danny the time off." Steve sighed dramatically.
"Oh you're funny, just so funny. I'll be waiting for your call; hopefully we won’t get a case that will interfere with the appointment."
Steve huffed. "Danny, unless were in the middle of a gunfight, I think we can spare you for your appointment."
Bill stood up followed by Steve and Danny. "Well I really have to go. My wife is expecting me home soon."
At the door the three men shook hands. "Thanks for coming Bill. A appreciate you helping Danny like this."
"So do I Bill. So do I."
"Not a problem gentlemen. Glad to help."
He left and Steve shut the door. "Want another beer Danny, I sure could use one."
Danny headed for the lanai with Steve right behind them. "So could I."
Beers in hand the two men sat in Steve's Adirondack chairs looking out at the ocean. "Danny I have been thinking about something else that might help."
Danny's head hit the back of the chair dramatically. "That statement right there is enough to make me want to run and hide." Steve quirked an eyebrow at him in question. "You're thinking usually leads to gunshots and explosions."
"Now who's being funny? Seriously Danny I'd like to help." Steve paused gathering his thoughts, before looking directly in Danny's eyes. "I'd like you to move in with me. Let me finish please. We both know I've got plenty of room, for both you and Grace when she comes to visit. The house is in a nice area, you'll be able to deliver her or pick her up from her current school with ease. I hate to say it, but this place will look better to the courts than yours." Danny grimaced. "I would also like the company. I guess I’m still used to the Navy and living with other people unless I was on a mission. The house is paid for so all you would have to do is contribute for your half of the expenses and some money for taxes. Also this is not a spur of the moment thing; I already have a rental agreement, drawn up by Bill, for you to look over when I asked you. This just upped the time scale. Just think about it Danny, please?"
Danny looked back out the ocean thinking. He knew Steve was right about his place. It was just that if he moved in with Steve living in Hawaii would feel more permanent, something he realized subconsciously he was trying to avoid. He sighed scrubbing his face, but as long as Grace was here, Hawaii was home with his second family. It was time to face that fact.
He looked at Steve. "Thank you. I'd like that, bullet holes and all."
Steve mock scowled. "I fixed all the bullet holes thank you very much. So when do you want to move? You are still living out of boxes so it shouldn't be too difficult to pack you up and get you here."
Danny wanted to make a sarcastic retort but he knew Steve was right, he had never really unpacked. "Do you think tomorrow's too soon? I'm on a month-to-month lease that's up at the end of the week. If we can move my stuff tomorrow I won't have to pay another month's rent. The landlord told me when I first moved in that one week would be sufficient notice."
Steve snorted as he pulled out his cell phone sending a text. "Why am I not surprised? I’m texting Chin and Kono to see if they can help tomorrow." He put his phone away. “Now why don’t we look at Mary’s and my old rooms to see what needs to be done to make them more personal. Dad never changed either room after he sent us away, and I haven’t had the time or inclination to do it.”
The two men headed inside to make some lists.