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You Can't Carry It With You

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The first time she realizes she’s married to a cop, and incidentally a complete idiot who gets himself shot at, they’ve been married for a grand total of seven months.

Danny’s partner, Jacob O’Leary, calls her and tells her that Danny is in the ICU at the University Hospital in downtown Newark. It’s half ten, and she almost doesn’t take the call because she’s in the middle of a securities blow-out. She’s in Manhattan.

She doesn’t remember the cab ride over, and she doesn’t remember asking reception or being guided to the ICU.

It’s three hours before anyone comes out to even speak with her, and when they do it’s to say that he’s stable (for now) but needs to be kept under isolation (solitary) and she can see him in a little while, they’ll keep her informed (when they remember).

“It gets easier,” one of the wives in the room says to her: Elena Rodriguez, whose husband has been a cop for fifteen years. Rachel is momentarily comforted.

“No, it doesn’t,” Anna Griswold replies, and puts her shaking hand to her worn face.

Jacob comes out, and when Rachel realizes that Jacob has been allowed in, but not her, she goes from frightened to pissed in a matter of seconds. Pissed at Danny, at Jacob, at the stupid hospital and the American healthcare system and her stupid, fucking stupid husband.

He tells her that they’d been doing a patrol, that Danny had gone after an assault and that the guy and his buddies had started firing. He tells her to be proud of Danny; that he got to the victim and shielded her with his body—Danny will be fine. Danny’s been in worse. He always pulls through.

When everything ends...well. She knows two things: that Anna Griswold was right, and after ten years of marriage it never got easier, and that Jacob was right, too: Danny always pulls through.

Danny has a huge family. His mother is Jewish and his father looks like he’s from Norway and is ostensibly Catholic, and there are six younger sisters. Danny is the oldest, and the first time she ever went home with him she had been stunned into silence.

She’s an only child, and she’s English.

At first she hates picking up the phone and hearing one of his sisters demand to know where Danny is, why hasn’t he come over, he said he was going to help at the house, that useless asshole.

By the time she’s finally used to it, they’re divorcing, and the silence is deafening.

She’s the one who can’t take it anymore, in the end. It might have gone better, their marriage, if Danny hadn’t identified with his job so much—if every time she yells at him about taking things easier, getting off of vice or doing paper pushing he doesn’t hear an attack on him. But he does, snarling back at her that they can’t all be glorified calculators, to which she points out that she’s bringing home double what he does, and a good thing too, or they’d starve.

He stays away from the house, and when he is home they scream and fuck and try to pretend for Grace’s sake—for their own—that everything is fine. Neither of them likes to admit that they’ve failed, but the day she breaks down crying when she can’t find her other shoe (her favorite pair, too expensive for her at the time, but she’s always loved Alexander McQueen and she’d had to have just one pair), sitting in their closet, surrounded by her skirts and his suits and sobbing, she knows that this is killing both of them.

She goes to work in the city, and at ten she calls Victoria. By noon she’s in Victoria’s office, and she’s begun the process of divorcing her husband.

He’s working a case: he doesn’t know she’s left him until he comes home to the empty house.

They had ten years. Five exceptional years, three mediocre years, and two absolutely ghastly years. She doesn’t think about the fact that as soon as Grace was born their marriage began to deteriorate.

She changes jobs—gets recruited to a consulting firm. She travels a lot, and Grace stays with Danny and Danny’s parents or his sisters.

She gets an apartment in Atlanta when the firm starts consulting with the Arthur Corporation, which is slowly edging out Hilton Hotels and is starting to eye Trump. She admires their ambition, and she throws herself into work, because if she’s good at this it will weigh out the fact that she failed her marriage, and now she’s failing at being a mother. She shuffles Grace back and forth from Newark to Atlanta, and decides sleep is a fallacy.

Within four months she’s making six figures a year, and the VP keeps trying to get her to be on their payroll permanently.

She meets Stan (not Stanley, he can show you the birth certificate if you’d like) Arthur when Arthur Corp decides to buy property out from under Trump.

“He’s excellent blah blah boring,” she’d been informed by Savannah, the longsuffering VP who actually tinted her white hair blue. “He also thinks money grows on trees.”

She expects him to be wiry and short. He’s broad and tall and he wears Ozwald Boateng effortlessly, and she’s impressed.

He sees golf as a necessary evil but won’t miss his tennis matches for the world. He hasn’t seen the Wizard of Oz and he thinks Barbra Streisand is the end-all, be-all (which worries her because she has a long history of being attracted to unavailable men, but gay would just be insurmountable).

They get along quite well.

That quarter his portfolio does rather poorly, and they spend hours pouring over it even though she’s not a personal investment consultant.

“You know,” he drawls, honey-thick accent even thicker when he’s trying not to grin, “You didn’t have to bankrupt me to spend time with me.”

Danny still doesn’t know she hit him on purpose. She grins at Stan. “Where’s the fun in that, darling?”

She and Danny got married in a small church in Tilton on the Hill, where she grew up, because Danny’s family wasn't particularly religious (his mother is, Danny always said, but only when people are looking) but Rachel’s parents were.

By the time she marries Stan, her parents are both dead, and even their memories can’t inspire her to find a vicar.

She and Stan have a nondenominational wedding in one of his hotels, the lavish ballroom opened up and Grace beautiful.

“I wasn’t going to get married,” she informs him, sitting carefully in the chair in the waiting room. Technically she has her own, but she can't be arsed to deal with tradition. “Again.”

“It’s bad luck for me to see you,” he informs her. He’s tying the bow on the back of Grace’s dress, and then looks up at her. “Though you look nice.”

“Nice?” she challenges, and he smiles.

“Very,” he agrees.

“Beautiful, Mommy,” Grace promises, “Just like Cinderella.”

She’s wearing Elie Saab and killing it, and she reaches down to fix Grace’s sleeve—not that it needs fixing, but this is something she’s realized about being a parent: you touch your children constantly, just to make sure that they’re still there and real.

She’s happy.

It’s only when she realizes that she is that she realizes she was afraid she never would be again.

And she loves Stan. She loves that he is so laid back, such a stereotype with his Georgia drawl and easy manner. He’s tall, with a bit of a belly from a desk job, and he’s entirely unassuming until he’s taking over another hotel chain. She loves the bright flash of his teeth against the dark of his skin and she loves to kiss the full bow of his lips.

He’s never threatened by her—never threatened by the fact that she’s cleverer than he is, and he is exclusively on her side. He never makes her feel helpless and stripped bare, never makes her feel like she's hanging onto the edge of the world by her fingernails and losing the fight.

They only met eighteen months ago, but Rachel thinks, as she says ‘I do’ that she doesn’t care if this is too fast.

She’s the one who pushes for Hawaii. The custody hearings are over and she’s listening to Stan and not speaking to Danny except through lawyers and everything is good.

They want to establish a presence on the west coast, and she likes the idea as much as anything.

Stan keeps asking her if she’s sure.

It’s only when she sees that complete lack of surprise on his face when they find out that Danny transferred to HPD that she understands why.

It’s not that she didn't know Danny was a good, devoted father. It's just that she has this issue categorizing him in her head, because he's out of her life. Done. Gone, entirely. And Grace is her daughter, and she's never been partial to sharing, even as a child.

Hawaii was meant to be her place to start over, and it is, because his transfer takes a while and then there is the prohibitive task of picking up one's life and moving.

Rachel had nothing to leave behind, but Danny has left his friends and his job and his family. Danny left behind his city and his entire life, and if she hadn't hated him so much, then, she might have felt a twinge of sympathy.

As it is, she's far too busy hating him.

It's why, at the bloody shoot out at the game he takes her daughter to, she snaps. Rages and stalks through the house and calls the lawyers and won't listen to Stan, who does attempt to point out that Danny didn't exactly invite the gang warfare, but she's too angry because this is what Danny does to her.

He makes her so very afraid, and she watched him recover from too many injuries sustained from the sidelines to be anything but irrational.

Stan comes home from a zoning meeting and tells her that she's being childish, and she throws a pair of McQueens at him and screams, ugly and red-faced, that this is her daughter and that lunatic doesn't know how to avoid trouble to save his soul, not, naturally, that he's even in possession of one—

She sobs into his shoulder as he wraps his arms around her, and Stan tucks her into bed and tells the lawyers to withdraw the petition to revoke visitation.

Steve McGarrett isn't what she expects. Jacob and all the partners who followed were loud, and matched Danny perfectly. Steve seems to enjoy winding Danny up as much as anything else, and has that military courtesy—the kind that can almost pass for manners, if one squints.

He's also insane.

But then so is Danny.

And apparently, so is she.

“He...did surveillance in the house,” Stan says, raising an eyebrow at her, sighing almost mournfully at his bags. He'd barely gotten in before she'd explained everything. “And then you...totaled the car to get prints from the murderous criminals living next door.”

“That about gets it,” she agrees.

He sighs. “This is like the thing where you almost bankrupted me to get me to notice you, isn’t it?”

She smirks. “A bit.”

“Normal people say ‘hello’, Rachel,” he informs her. “They don’t attempt to bankrupt or injure the other party.”

“I don’t see the fun in that,” she says.

“The really sad part is that you don’t,” he agrees, kissing her shoulder. “Well, it’ll make things a hell of a lot easier on Grace,” he adds as he heads for bed.

She thinks that that is likely true, and has that moment where she knows she’s been a bad mother—or at least not a good one.

The thing is, after the divorce she got used to seeing Danny in a certain way. Used to being surrounded by her friends, who told her it was about time, who took her side. Stan, who is in her corner all the time and unreservedly with his expensive lawyers and his ability to take them away. Danny became this villain, and it was easy to believe that that was all he was when he played the role so effortlessly. When he screamed and raged and wouldn’t leave her in peace, couldn’t understand that she was done—just done. She’s Grace’s mother, and whatever she decides has to be best. The American court system agreed with her. She kept him far away and he became a caricature of himself.

But to see them—to see someone else discovering Danny for the first time. Someone who mocks him and loves him, presses buttons just for the joy of having found them. She remembers what that was like.

And the Danny who went into her neighbor’s home and inspired her to do something as stupid as crashing her car into the gate—the one who would have had McGarrett committing casual arson—that’s the Danny she loved. Loves. She didn’t have to stop loving him. It just wasn’t ever enough, and eventually she hated him more than her love could endure.

They’re going to be better, though.

They do get better. They manage to speak on the phone regularly, and Danny comes into the house to pick Grace up and she goes to his apartment and is appalled. Student housing is better than this, but she can't exactly say anything because they're trying, and they're getting better, and the man did pick up and follow his daughter to Hawaii.

Still, it's a pull out couch.

"Shut up," he warns.

"I only worry for your lower lumbar region," she says, sweetly, as Danny stands with a grunt and hands Grace the Barbie she's lost.

"Shup up, Rachel," he replies just as sweetly, and she rolls her eyes and guides Grace to the new BMW z7. It's gorgeous and darling and drives far too fast.

Rachel will never tell either of Grace's fathers (and she would never tell Stan or Danny that she clumps them together), but she and Grace put the top down and take the turns too fast, screaming laughter into the blue Hawaiian sky.

Danny gets shot five times.

She’s watching Kono teach Grace to surf and Danny is glaring at Steve with his hands clenched into fists, torn between watching Grace and facing the opposite direction.

(This is why Danny hates the water, as near as Rachel has figured out based on conversations with his family: when he was little his best friend was Trevor Westphalen, and they would to Trevor’s grandfather’s in upstate New York and swim in the pond. They would swim to the bottom and then kick up to the surface: Trevor’s feet got stuck, and they had to dredge the pond for him. Danny can swim quite well, actually, but he doesn’t trust it. She can’t exactly fault him for it.)

It all seems perfectly gorgeous, except that Stan isn’t here, stuck in yet another board meeting. She glances down at her phone when it vibrates: Could I get a tax return if I buy Han Solo’s belt?

No. she shoots back, laughing a little, because she managed to marry a geek and she still doesn't know how it happened.

That’s when the shot rings out.

A girl collapses into the sand, a huge bodybuilding blockhead of a man up on the boardwalk with his gun pointed at her.

Steve runs for the man, and Danny runs for the girl, and Rachel watches Danny’s body spasm as the bullets bury themselves in him. The girl under him is screaming and crying and everyone is screaming—Kono has Grace shielded with her body, and Chin, who went for shave ice, crouches over Danny, ripping his shirt off of him to see the absolute horror of Danny's back, and Rachel is never going to be able to eat meat ever again. She can see Steve slamming the bodybuilder's head against the pavement, and then she runs for the water, taking the sobbing, hysterical Grace from Kono and dialing 911, somehow keeping calm with the dispatcher until the ambulance arrives.

Steve bullies his way into the ambulance, and Rachel takes Grace and Kono in the BMW (the three of them squished into the tiny car, Grace on Kono's lap and it's stupid and dangerous but Danny's been shot and she doesn't have time for this) while Chin follows on his motorcycle.

At the hospital Stan collects Grace, who wrings promise after promise that they’ll call as soon as Danny is awake, and she sobs fresh into Stan’s neck as he carries her out. Rachel stands, watching them go, and is so grateful, and feels like such a shite parent.

Rachel goes down to the cafeteria and gets two coffees, and tries to feel like she's not passing the bloody torch, here.

“I’d recognize that look anywhere,” she says mildly when he takes the cup of coffee. There is blood on his shirt, and gauze peeking below his sleeve and above his collar. “You’ve never done this before, have you?”

“I—a lot of guys in the platoon—” he starts, and she waves it away.

“No, no,” she says, sipping horrible hospital coffee and watching the hospital staff scurry about. Hawaii, New Jersey, London—some things are universal constants. “You’ve never been here. On the other side of the glass, hoping that the bullet missed something vital, that this won’t be the time his luck—and yours—wears out. Wondering if you’ll be able to stand looking at him when he wakes up, because you know the first thing he’s going to do is apologize.”

“How often—?” he says, wrecked, and she’s always been good at this—talking. Self-defense, perhaps, living with Danny all those years. But it helps to talk about him when he’s not here to take up the space himself. If she can fill all the silences, maybe he’ll get annoyed and wake up and start talking, defending himself from these defamations of character and even the bits that are full of praise. Danny never could take a compliment.

God help her, she misses the talking. She knew there was a reason she divorced him.

Right, Steve's asked a question.

“More often than I’d have liked. Danny...well. I think he did try, at some point, to rein it in. When Grace was just born, when we’d been having a fight and counseling was going well. But he was only ever going to be Danny, and the quiet times would pass, and I would be here, sitting where you are, with that look on my face.”

“He’s my partner.”

“Yes,” she agrees, and takes another sip. There’s more light here, which she thinks Danny will hate. He’s a miserable patient, she remembers that: wanted the blinds drawn and to recuperate in solitude. She had fought with him through all of his recoveries, scared and miserable and wondering why he didn’t love her enough to stay safe and hating herself not a little for even thinking that. For being that girl, whatever that means. She was younger and stupid and Danny and she were never a good idea.

Chin comes into the hall and bullies Steve into at least changing his clothes, and Kono reports on the shooter: fresh out on bail after his wife put him in jail for assault. He’s in the SICU: brain trauma. Rachel watches Steve’s hands flex and wonders how hard he smashed the man’s head into the pavement. However hard it was, it wasn’t nearly hard enough.

They stay caught up in their silences again until the doctors come out, and they listen attentively as they explain that Detective Williams has incredible luck—that only one bullet did any real damage, but that the surgery was invasive and extensive and his recovery will be slow. They all listen, but she can tell that Steve is just waiting for the end, for the moment he can say, “So can I see him?”

They let him into the room, and she stands with Chin and Kono, just outside. She pulls out her phone, ready to call Grace, watching Danny through the glass.

He looks terrible, washed out and bruised, but he tracks Steve well enough, which is good: no concussion. That one concussion—well.

“You got me fucking shot,” Danny snaps, and she chokes on a laugh, startled.

“I—this was not my fault!” Steve shoots back, and Kono laughs, wetly, and Chin puts his hand up to his face. It’s trembling, and he keeps it there, taking deliberate, measured breaths.

“Yeah, well, from where I’m standing you didn’t get to your guy in time, and now I’m the one in the hospital bed," Danny snipes.

“Jesus Christ, Danny,” Steve mutters, and his hand is wrapped around Danny’s and he looks like he might collapse.

“Get a chair, you look awful,” Danny says, and then turns his head. He smiles faintly at her before gesturing (carefully, mostly with his fingers) for all of them to come in.

She doesn’t. She—she needed to make sure he was all right. That here, in this place where he doesn’t have the entire Newark Police Force and entire family around that someone...that there were going to be people here for him. And then she just needed to make sure that he was going to open his eyes.

That this wasn't going to be the time his luck went bad.

“Tell him I went home to tell Grace he was all right,” she says to Chin, who nods, smiling tightly at her before following Kono into the room.

She goes home and closes the doors and then goes to Grace’s room, stretches out on the very pink bed and sleeps curled up around her daughter.

In the morning, Danny calls to speak with Grace, and tells her he’ll be staying at Steve’s.

She raises her eyebrows when she comes with Grace for a visit—Danny has reluctantly agreed that having her for an entire weekend might be a bit much, with copious side arguments from Steve.

“I’ve been kidnapped,” Danny informs her from the guestroom bed. “Hey, kiddo.”

“Stevenapped,” Grace corrects, and Danny sighs and listens to her talk about her week with genuine interest. Grace selected a garish plush shark from the hospital gift shop, and she presents it to Danny, who looks at it and then tucks it somberly under the covers with him.

Rachel smiles faintly and heads downstairs where Steve is nursing a cup of coffee and putting pills into a weekly organizer.

“You know, he’s not perceptive,” she says.

He raises his eyebrows at her. “He does all right.”

“Not about this kind of thing,” she says. “I hit him with my car and he’s only just realized that I did it on purpose, and only because I’ve hit him with a very large cluebat.”

Steve turns a little to look down the hall, and then he shrugs a shoulder. "Like I said,” he says, the smile on his face very private and very besotted. "He does all right."

"I have to go to a meeting—I'll be back in a few hours," she tells him, and he nods, heading back to make sure that Danny is holding up.

Her hands don't shake on the steering wheel at all, though she does have to turn the music off, because…she just doesn't know Danny anymore. She used to know every detail, all of his buttons and triggers and his habits, every detail of who he was, and he's not that person anymore. There's a very small part of her that feels jealous—not because she wants him back, but because he was hers first, and she never did learn to share well.

It's not as though she's going to fight for him, or change how they are or, it's just that she's a little irritated that Danny is still pushing her off-balance.

Divorce was meant to solve this issue.

Christ, she can't even think that and not sound fond.

Things aren't perfect. Grace comes home crying one day because the kids at school tell her that Danny is a faggot and a pussy and words that eight-year-olds shouldn't know, and she and Stan and Steve and Danny have to go and present a united front against the school. She thinks it's too early in Danny and Steve's relationship for Steve to be coming to a parent/teacher conference like this, and the tightness around his eyes makes her think that she's right. Danny's hand rests on the small of his back, though, and Steve leans into it and does his silent SEAL intimidation routine, introduces himself as Commander McGarrett, and she thinks maybe Steve can handle whatever the world throws at him.

At them. That maybe that's an important distinction to make.

Rachel and Danny still scream at each other over parenting and Danny's job and Rachel and Stan's supposed corruption of his daughter by way of country clubs and horseback riding lessons.

Steve still abuses his connection to the governor to make things difficult for Stan (and thus her) on Danny's behalf.

Things aren't perfect, but they're an actual family, and on days like Grace's ninth birthday where they're celebrating on the beach…these are good days.

Danny's entire team is there and his parents are visiting, Stan's rock paper scissor lizard spock shirt is absolutely mortifying and Grace laughing and showing off her surfing skills and eating so much cake that she has to lay down in the sand next to Danny, who is in jeans and a t-shirt, which Steve looks incredibly smug about.

Danny watches the surfing tensely, and bitches at Steve when he presses a wet kiss to Danny's pout, and Rachel sighs and leans in against Stan and thinks that for now, at least, they're all going to be fine.

Then Grace sits up and announces that she's going to ask Chris Xiu to go out with her, and the moment of calm shatters into a thousand pieces.