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She's From Boston

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“That’s the thing about Steve. He has this ability to show up in your life right when you need him.”- Danny Williams

 

The glass of the vanity mirror shattered as the wrench crashed through it. She’d been lucky to duck the flying metal just in time. This wasn’t the first time she’d had things thrown at her. Fists, feet, shoes, whatever object was within his reach when the urge struck him. This urge had been striking him more and more often lately, and she was growing ever more fearful that he’d soon end up going too far. But what could she do about it?

 She’d never been allowed to work outside the home, never been allowed to take any kind of class to learn new things, never allowed to socialize, even with family. Not unless he was present as well. “Gotta make sure you keep yourself in line out there.” he’d said, as if she would ever dare defy any of his many rules. In short, she had no skills to find a job, no money to move out on her own. She was completely dependent upon him for her very existence.

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Being in love wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. That certainly holds true if it’s one-sided. She didn’t know why she loved him, but for some reason, she stuck around. With each  punch  and kick that bruised her body and her soul, there would still be some glimmer of hope within her that that would be the last one, that something in him would change and he would no longer wish to beat her around. But that wasn’t to be. The longer she remained under his thumb, never being able to go out with friends or even family, never being allowed to work, the more stuck she felt.

 Her cousin visited often, when she knew he’d be a work. “Sophie, he’s going to kill you one of these days.” Lydia had spoken in a sad, soft tone the day following the wrench incident. Lydia was the one person Sophie had that she could completely confide in. The two had grown up together, more like sisters than cousins. The bond between them was tight, and though it would break Lydia’s heart to see her go, she knew she needed to get her younger cousin, her sister, to a safe spot. After promising to be back by in a few days with a plan to break Sophie free, she hugged the smaller woman and took her leave.

 Sophie vaguely wondered what kind of elaborate plan Lydia was putting into action. She actually giggled at the thought. Her cousin was full of crazy ideas, most of which had nearly landed them in hot water many times. But the lively brunette had the charm to talk her way out of anything. Sophie had always admired this trait about her cousin. She was a strong, independent woman. Her husband was kind, loving and hardworking. He was outraged at the way Sophie was being treated, but had promised her he would keep quiet about it so he would not cause Brian to take it out on her. As the petite, raven haired beauty pondered these thoughts, the doorbell rang. She jumped and squealed a bit, the sound startling her.


When she opened the door, Lydia and Michael stood there with bright smiles on their faces. “Come on!” Lydia stated, gently pushing her way inside. “Your flight leaves in a few hours so let’s pack up all your stuff. Whatever you aren’t going to take with you, we’ll keep at our house.” Sophie blinked as she gazed back and forth between them. Michael chuckled at the expression. “We’re going to miss you. A lot. But we need to be sure that you are safe. So we’re sending you as far away as we can.”


Sophie’s brows wrinkled in confusion and Lydia laughed. She walked over and took Sophie’s hands in hers. “Remember when we were kids and we’d always talk about places we wished we could go? One place was always on your list and I know you’ve never been there. So….we’re sending you to Hawaii!” She beamed, even as tears glistened in her eyes. “Of course, we’ll be out to visit as soon as we can. Maybe we can be neighbors one day!”


There was a silence in the room as the couple awaited Sophie’s response. When she was able to find her voice, she smiled slightly. “Are you serious? You’re paying for me to move to Hawaii? I mean...um...thanks! That’s really far away, though.” The fear of being in a new place and not knowing anyone was clear on the small woman’s face. Michael strode over to her and gently placed a hand on her shoulder. “You know we love you, Soph. You’re our little sister. We take it upon ourselves to look after you and as much as it kills us to have you leave, it’s the best way we know how to protect you.” He glanced over at his wife, whose tears were now free falling. A warm smile curled his lips. “Tropical sunshine and wide blue ocean. A flower needs water and sun to bloom.” His own voice cracked now and his arms wrapped around the petite woman.


The trio then moved about packing the few belongings that were entirely Sophie’s that she was free to take. There was no furniture or appliances she could call her own. Once her couple boxes of personal effects were packed up, they made their way out to the waiting car. The drive back to Lydia and Michael’s place seemed to go brutally slow for Sophie. The closer it got to the time she would be leaving, the more fearful she became. Being out of the house without Brian’s knowledge was bad enough. The more time she was out in public view, the more chances he or someone he knew would see her. As the car traveled along the pavement, Sophie slid down in her seat so she could not be seen.


The stop was brief, just long enough to sort through Sophie’s belongings and pack what she was taking along. Once finished, they returned to the car and headed for the airport. Several instructions were given to her regarding the flight. “We’ve booked you for two weeks at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. That should give you time to adjust to things a little, get yourself set up.” Lydia stated. “If you need more time, let us know.” Michael chimed in. Lydia handed her a prepaid cell phone and several months worth of airtime cards, along with a prepaid credit card. “We put some money on there for you for food and clothes and things you’ll need. We were going to put you on our phone plan, but Michael thinks it would be harder to locate a prepaid phone.”

Sophie just sat there listening, her jaw dropped a bit in awe. They were talking about this like they were sending her just to the next town over as opposed to nearly halfway across the world. “I…..” She was unable to finish the thought as her emotions caught up with her and she began to sob. After several minutes, she pulled herself together and wiped her eyes. “Thank you guys so much. I don’t even know how to begin to pay you back for this.” The couple in the front seat laughed in unison. “We consider it an investment in the future. We know that you’re gonna do great things and make us proud.” Lydia stated. Sophie responded with a warm smile. The rest of the trip was traveled in silence.


The airport wasn’t as crowded as Sophie had expected it to be, but was still quite bustling. This would be her first time flying, and to say that she was anxious was an understatement. She was almost there, almost away. As her anxiety of flying grew, so did the fear that something, or perhaps, someone , would stop her. Her eyes darted around, senses on high alert. Michael was carrying her two small bags and as they approached the security checkpoint, she turned to the pair. “I love you guys so much. And I thank you for this from the bottom of my heart. Please let me go the rest of the way by myself.” There was a new confidence in her now. She was almost there. She was almost free. She stood tall and smiled at them. “I can do it. I need to do it.” They said their tearful goodbyes, then Sophie was off, going through the gates and flying away to freedom.

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 The first few days had been exciting. The scenery, the soft scents of the ocean and tropical foliage that filled the air, the warm sunshine beaming down upon her as she strolled about the streets all went straight to Sophie’s soul and though she missed her remaining family already, she had a feeling that this was the best thing she’d ever done. Still, though, everywhere she went, every few minutes, she would look around her carefully, making sure she wasn’t being watched. After a couple days to familiarize herself with her surroundings a little, she got to work on searching for a job and a place of her own.

Several days of being turned down every place she attempted to apply began to wear on her. Nowhere was hiring, at least not someone that didn’t have some kind of work experience. With each denial, her excitement waned more and doubt crept in. What was she doing here? She was so far from home, so far from everything she ever knew. Starting all over in a new place halfway across the world with barely anything to her name and no useful skills. This was crazy! But she was free. She tried to hold onto that golden fact. She would be homeless in a few days, but at least she was free. The two weeks were almost up and she wasn’t about to ask Lydia and Michael for anything more. They’d done more than enough for her. She would make do with what she had. Some money was still on the prepaid card she’d been given and she would use that for food and to wash her clothes. She could wash up in a public bathroom, sleep out on the beach at night.


When her time was up, she packed her things, handed in the keys and thanked the front desk woman for a wonderful stay, then she was out in the world to fend for herself. Being homeless was much more difficult than she thought. The first night, she realized it wasn’t quite as warm in the dark as she’d thought. Her sleep was restless, the cool breeze causing her to awake shivering several times. The next morning, she purchased a thin blanket from a local market. It would do to take off the chill. The next several days were spent spiraling farther and farther into her self doubt. She needed a place to live. To get that, she needed a job. To get that, she needed skills she did not have. Every night, she would cry herself to sleep, sending a silent prayer that something would go her way and soon.


On her sixth day of homelessness, she woke earlier than usual. Her eyes opened just as the sun began to creep up out of the ocean. She lay there on the patch of grass she’d slept on and simply watched the masterpiece form in the sky. It filled her with inspiration. Soon. It would be soon. Something would come up. It had to. But still all that day, there were only more rejections. Desperation kicked in now. What was she going to do? What was she good at? Was there even anything she was good enough at to make a career of? And then as she walked along a stretch of beach, the truck came into sight. Many people were crowded around the front, laughing and joking without a care in the world. Sophie was pretty decent at cooking. At least well enough to save herself another bruise or two. Maybe she could find work here.


She strode up to the line and waited her turn. When she approached the counter, a large, jolly looking man asked what he could get her. Putting on her brightest smile, Sophie spoke nervously. “I was wondering if you happened to be hiring at this time.” The man’s face fell slightly and a sympathetic expression appeared on his face. “No, sorry. We aren’t right now.” There was a pang in Sophie’s heart at his words. Retaining her smile, she thanked him then walked off. As she strode, her shoulders slumped as the full weight of her predicament hit her.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a group of people walking toward her and she turned slightly as she sped past them, not wishing for them or anyone else to see the tears that were now flowing down her cheeks. All the pain, all the fear, all the frustration was finally surfacing and she was ashamed that it was happening in public. But as she slumped down to lean back against a large palm tree, she glanced around. It was as if she were invisible. No one was looking in her direction. She was well and truly alone and in this moment, she allowed the pain to take over.

She sat there sobbing for several moments, wondering where she’d gone so wrong in her life. She hadn’t always been this meek little thing under the rule of a tyrant. She’d once been a happy go lucky girl, always looking for adventure and excitement. That quest had led her to be caged like a bird, locked away and left to rot. Brian had been right. She was nothing without him. She could do nothing without him.

She was so locked in her misery at that moment, she didn’t even hear the woman approach. “Hey….are you ok?” she spoke softly. Her voice startled Sophie and when she looked up at the woman, she saw a badge glistening in the sun. The woman was a cop. “Oh! I’m sorry!” Sophie stated, standing quickly and gathering her things. “I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to sit here. Sorry.” Her head hung like a scolded dog. She hoped she wouldn’t get in trouble. She didn’t have much money left, certainly not enough to have to bail herself out.

“No no...you’re ok.” the woman said with a smile. “You just seemed like you could use a friend.” She extended her hand out to Sophie. “I’m Tani.” Sophie shook her hand and attempted to return her smile. “I’m Sophie. And I’m ok. I just…..” She swallowed the lump in her throat and tried to will away her tears. She had to be strong now. But how? She’d forgotten how to be. She’d forgotten how to act around others, she’d forgotten the lost girl of just a few short years ago.


The flood couldn’t be contained and Sophie sat there sobbing and spilling her story to this stranger. Tani listened with a sympathetic ear. Her face scrunched in anger when Sophie spoke about this Brian guy. When Sophie was finished, Tani was quiet for a moment, then she smiled and gave the smaller woman a warm hug. “I can see that you think that you are nothing. Hell, you even just said as much. But I’m pretty good at reading people and I can see something in you. There’s a spark there. So don’t give up, ok? Promise me.” Sophie wiped her eyes and nodded her silent agreement. “Good!” Tani said, her smile widening. “Now let’s go get some shrimp. You can meet my friends!”

Sophie looked over at the table area next to the shrimp truck and saw a table with several men looking in their direction. A blonde man waved to them and Tani waved back. Sophie’s eyes widened and her heart began to thud. She wasn’t supposed to talk to other men. That was the most forbidden thing. This thought crossed her mind and her face scrunched before she shook the thought from her mind. The OLD Sophie wasn’t allowed to do that. But this new girl, this FREE girl, she was allowed to talk to whoever she wished. Though still anxious at even simply talking to a stranger, never mind many strangers who were males, she nodded and began to follow Tani.


As they approached the table, Sophie’s anxiety grew to a fever pitch and she wondered if this had been such a good idea. But she followed Tani’s lead and sat down in the free seat next to the blonde man that had waved to them. She placed her bags on the sand close to her side then her hands in her lap. She didn’t look up from them as she sat there awkwardly. She wasn’t left to suffer for long before Tani began the introductions. “Guys, this is Sophie. She moved here a few weeks ago from Boston. She left to get away from a…” Sophie’s breath caught at this pause. How much would Tani tell them? “Predicament.” Tani finished, casting a glance and a smile at Sophie. “Sophie, this is Danny.” Tani said, indicating the blonde man next to her. Sophie smiled and shook Danny’s hand when he offered it to her. “And then there’s Lou. He looks scary. He’s not.” The men laughed and Lou pretended to look offended but soon joined in the laughter. “This is Adam.” She indicated the dark haired man sitting at the opposite end of the table on the other side. Adam nodded and smiled. Next was a younger man. “This is Junior. And this..” She placed her hand on the shoulder of the man sitting next to her and patted it gently. “Is the boss man, Steve McGarrett. We’re five-0. So we’re not real cops.” A wicked gleam appeared in her eyes as she paused. “We’re better.” The men laughed and cheered, each raising their bottles of beer.


“I’m going to go get us some shrimp. I’ll be right back. You boys be nice to her!” Tani warned jokingly as she made way for the truck. There were a few moments of silence and Sophie had to remember to breathe. “So, Sophie. How are you liking Hawaii? It’s a lot different than Boston, huh?” the man named Steve stated. Sophie knew that it was polite to look at someone when speaking to them, but when she attempted to look at him, she found that she forgot how to speak for a moment. “I...um….” she stuttered. Her cheeks pinkened and she took a deep breath and began again. “Yes, it’s a lot different. It’s much better here. Warmer, for one. I like that.” God, she felt so stupid right now. Luckily, Tani returned with the food and everyone began to eat.


When they were almost through, Tani spoke again. “So Sophie’s been having a rough time finding a place to live and a job. I figured we could keep our eyes out for anything. Anyone know anywhere that’s hiring or anything?” Sophie’s cheeks flushed once again. She liked Tani, but wished in that moment that the woman wasn’t quite so bold and outspoken. The men were silent for a moment before Steve spoke up. “Well. Junior and I could use someone to clean up the house a little. Maybe do some cooking on occasion.” He smiled over at Sophie and the petite woman’s breath caught in her throat. There was something about this man named Steve. Some…. thing Sophie couldn’t explain. But being in his presence made her feel safe. She realized that since she’d joined them at their table, she hadn’t looked over her shoulder once. “Junior here is staying with me for a while. He had some trouble finding a place, too. We have plenty of room. If you’re interested in the job, we can discuss payment.”


Sophie blinked. Cooking and cleaning were certainly things she was good at but….. “You want me to stay at your house? But….you don’t even know me. Why….” The others began to stand up to toss their trash and stretch their legs. “Well, Junior and I are former Navy SEALs. I think if you turned out to be a homicidal maniac, we could handle ourselves against you.” Steve said with a soft chuckle. “What do you say? A job and a place to live all in one day.” Tani stook next to them, a bright smile on her face as they waited expectantly to hear Sophie’s response. “Uh...y..yeah. Sure!” A wide smile appeared on her face. “Thank you!”

After a few minutes of talking, everyone began to go back to their cars. Steve approached Sophie and asked if she was ready. “We’ll go get your things then we’ll go back to the house, get you settled in.” Sophie’s cheeks flushed once again as her eyes cast to the ground. She leaned down and picked up her bags. “I have all my stuff right here.” Steve’s expression gave nothing away as he simply nodded. “Ok. Then we’ll just head to the house.” They walked to his truck in silence, then he took the bags from her and opened the door to place them inside. Once they were settled, he stepped back to allow her to get inside. He closed the door, then rushed to the driver’s side and sped off.

The scenery on the drive was amazing. She’d not yet been this far out of town and she was glad to now have the opportunity. Her eyes widened when Steve pulled into his driveway. The house before them was gorgeous! “This is your place?!” she asked excitedly. “It’s amazing!” Then she realized that she had maybe expressed too much excitement. Her eyes fell to her feet and she spoke softly. “I mean….it’s a really nice place.”

The change in her demeanor did not go unnoticed by the commander. His brows furrowed and he turned to her. “You know. It’s ok to be excited about things. This is your home now, too. You are free to come and go as you please. I just have one rule.” He spoke this last statement in a more stern tone. Sophie recognized this and her eyes widened as she looked over at him. “I’ll follow all the rules. I promise!” Steve chuckled at her reaction and gently placed his hand on her shoulder. “My only rule is that you have to relax and be yourself.” He paused for a moment, a thoughtful expression on his face before another chuckle emitted from him. “Ok, so maybe that’s two rules. But...just relax. Have fun. Be yourself, not what you think someone else thinks you should be, ok?” Sophie nodded and Steve flashed her a smile before exiting the vehicle and racing to the passenger side to open the door for her. He helped her down, then got her bags out before the pair entered the house.


She looked around, her eyes widening. It sure was much different than the small, dingy apartment she and Brian had lived in. At the thought of him, she sighed. “Hey, Steve. There’s something I should probably tell you. I….” She paused for a moment then took a deep breath. “My cousin and her husband paid for me to come out here because I was living with an abusive boyfriend and they didn’t want me to die. It sure seemed like it was heading that way.” A shiver coursed down her spine when she thought back to the many times she could have possibly faced her death. “Anyway….they figured that this would be far enough away that he wouldn’t come find me but….I don’t know how persistent he would be about it. I….I just thought you should know. You know….just in case he does find me and all. I’ll understand if you’d rather I not stay here now.” Chocolate orbs once again fell to her feet and she felt more tears prickling her eyes. “If he finds you, I’ll just have to have a talk with him. If he doesn’t want to listen then I’ll just have to kick his ass.” Steve said nonchalantly. Sophie looked up at him and he flashed her a wide smile. She laughed and shook her head. “I think I’m going to do just fine here.” Steve nodded. “I think so, too. I think this will be a fun adventure.” Sophie lifted her eyes to his and smiled. “Me, too.”





Chapter Text

The first few days Sophie was at the McGarrett house were spent getting familiar with her new roommates as much as their schedules would allow. There had been a few torturous hours on the second day where Steve insisted Tani take Sophie to the mall and get her some new outfits and and anything else she would require, all on his dime. “I guess I didn’t mention the fine print in the contract when you took the job.” he said with a wide grin. “By accepting the position, you were automatically enrolled in our little ohana. We look after each other. I want it so, should you ever decide to leave, you’ll have much more than two bags to take with you. You’ll have lots of things that are /yours/.” Sophie couldn’t hide the tears in her eyes as a smile spread across her face and her heart soared.

Before she knew what she was doing, her arms were flung around his neck and her lips pecked his cheek. When she realized her actions, she gasped softly and stepped back. Her cheeks flushed bright and her eyes cast down. “I’m sorry. I got a little too exuberant.” she said, her voice barely above a whisper. He chuckled and placed his hands gently on her shoulders. “I’ve thought of another rule.” he stated. “I would like you to /please/ stop apologizing for being excited about stuff. There’s nothing wrong with it. At all. In fact, it puts this cute little glimmer in your eyes that’s honestly very enjoyable to witness.” Another of his award-winning smiles was flashed before his arms wrapped around her in a warm embrace. “I don’t know your whole story yet, but I know enough and enough about how those things go to be able to say this. Forget all the crap he told you. He’s wrong. You’re not any of the names he might have called you, none of anything was your fault. Period. He’s scum and he better hope I never meet him.” She felt his arms tighten around her at these last few words, a hint of a growl in his voice as he spoke them.

 Ugh! Why do I have to be so emotional?! she asked herself when she realized her tears had created a wet spot on his shirt. This all still felt like a dream to her. She was in /Hawaii/, far away from the cold, dreary New England winter, surrounded by people she didn’t even really know, who were treating her as if they’d been best friends for years. It felt wonderful, but pessimism lingered and made her doubt, made her wonder when the other shoe would drop and she’d wake up from this perfect world and be back in the tiny apartment where the nightmares were all too real. As these thoughts funneled through her mind, Steve’s strong arms held her tight as if he were trying to drive away any dark thoughts she had simply by pure will.

 They stood like that for several moments before there was a knock on the door and Tani peeked her head in. The door opened wider and the bubbly woman entered, a bright smile on her face. “So a shopping adventure, huh?” she as she walked over to the pair. “On the big kahuna’s dime, too. Maybe we should take it a little easy. I have to work with the guy and you have to live with him.” she teased. Steve and Sophie laughed and he took a step back to remove his wallet from his back pocket. “It does have a limit.” he said, handing his credit card to Sophie. “If you reach that limit, you’ll both be my indentured servants until it’s paid off. I’ll make you help out fixing the restaurant. Under Danny’s command.” His attempt to appear stern and serious was lost when his laughter erupted. “And believe me….you do /not/ want that.” The trio stood there talking for a few more moments before the women walked toward the door. “Have fun, ladies. We’ll meet up for lunch later.” Sophie turned and waved to him, then they were gone.

 The mall was crowded and Sophie’s anxiety began to show it’s ugly face. She stuck to Tani’s side as they walked through the shops. There were several items she’d seen that she liked, but when she looked at the price tags, she returned them to their racks. Tani questioned her on this after the third time. “Why do you keep putting things back? They would look nice on you.” Sophie gave her a small smile before responding. “Did you /see/ the prices on those things? It’s crazy expensive. Just because we aren’t paying for it, that doesn’t mean I’m going to get something that’s borderline extortion. Isn’t extortion illegal? Can’t you arrest them for that?”

The two women had a short giggle at that as they moved on to the hallway and to the next store. “Ooooh!” Tani said, her eyebrows wiggling as they approached a Victoria’s Secret shop. Sophie’s cheeks flushed but she followed Tani into the shop. She looked around and saw many things that she would never even think to wear, and wondered if this was such a good idea. Tani was looking at a display of lacy thongs. “You know. I lost a lot of hope in humanity when butt floss became a thing.” she said, tossing the flimsy item back into the bin and moving to a rack of dresses. She filtered through several then pulled a couple out to hold them up to Sophie. “Blue looks really good on you. I think you should get this one.” She handed the spaghetti strapped sundress to Sophie, who nodded in approval. At least the ones Tani was currently studying were /normal/ dresses, as opposed to the silky, leathery, feathery other things on display.

After selecting a few more things for Sophie to try on, Tani ushered her to the fitting rooms. “Alright! Fashion show time!” Tani stated as she settled onto the plush couch in front of the row of fitting rooms. Sophie tried on the first item, the blue sundress, then timidly stepped out to show Tani. Dresses weren’t something she was used to, but this one wasn’t too bad. Tani’s smile and nod of approval earned the dress a stop in the keep pile and Sophie returned to change to the next. Several outfits were modeled and only two of them were decided against. As they walked to the checkout, Tani spoke. “You should change to that blue dress before we meet McGarrett for lunch. I bet he’d like to see what his money paid for.” Sophie smiled a bit and nodded. She didn’t think it was that great an idea, her not being all that comfortable in a dress, but she decided to step out of her comfort zone a little and give it a shot.

 The items were purchased and they walked back out into the mall, discussing where they should go next. Tani’s excitement for this adventure rubbed off on Sophie and eased her nerves a bit. Before she got with Brian, she had loved to go to the mall with her friends. She wanted to rediscover that girl she was, let go of the demons that were haunting her. And so she let herself get wrapped up in the excitement and was able to truly have fun for the first time in many years. Several more stores were explored, items purchased. Sophie still thought things were too expensive, but Tani assured her that it was fine. “Steve knows things cost. If he didn’t think he could handle it, he wouldn’t have given you his card. You’ve only spent about three hundred dollars so far. We’ve hit some good sales!” She gave a whoop then held up her hand for a high five. Sophie laughed and slapped her hand, then gasped as her phone startled her when it rang. She answered, spoke a few words then hung up. “Steve and Junior are here. They’re gonna meet us in the food court in a few minutes.” she spoke, her voice slightly higher than usual as nerves kicked in again. This feeling confused her and she queried it out loud. “Why am I nervous to be having lunch with them? That’s weird.” Tani grinned knowingly as they walked toward the bathrooms for Sophie to change. “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe it’s just because you aren’t used to wearing dresses. It’ll be alright. It looks fantastic on you.”

 They arrived at the bathroom and Sophie quickly changed into the dress and matching shoes. Almost as an afterthought, she took out a necklace and earrings she’d purchased. The small palm tree earrings made her smile. She hadn’t been allowed to wear anything cute like that for a long time and it felt good to be able to once again. The thin chain decorated with a tiny dolphin pendant was fastened around her neck and she exited the stall. “Ok! Let’s go!” She smiled brightly and linked her arm with Tani’s as they walked to the food court.

 It was silent for a moment, then Sophie asked something she’d been curious about. “So. You and Junior. I see you….talk a lot. Are you….a thing?” Tani laughed and shook her head. “I mean, he’s cute and stuff but we just work together. We’re friends.” A sly smile appeared on Sophie’s face. “For now.” she teased. Tani rolled her eyes and shook her head as they arrived at their destination. Many different scents were in the air and mingled to create the unmistakable smell of a food court. The pair looked around and it was Sophie who spotted the men first. “They’re over there.” she said, pointing to a table arranged next to a large window.

 The women weaved their way through the tables and chairs. As they got closer, Steve noticed them and gave a small smile to the petite woman wearing a dress that was the exact same shade of blue as his shirt. This fact did not go unnoticed by the commander, nor Sophie. She returned his smile with a shy one of her own as she sat down. “Ok. How bad was the damage? Am I going to be working til I’m ninety to pay it off?” he asked, cringing playfully. “Hardly! She wouldn’t buy anything! I /tried/ to get her to buy a thousand dollar jacket, but she vetoed it.” Tani quipped and they all laughed then Sophie shook her head. “We didn’t do too bad at all. A little under three hundred. Of course, I expect this to be taken from my wages.” she stated with a small nod of her head. Steve’s brows furrowed and he shook his head. “No no...this wasn’t an advance payment. This is a gift.” A wide smile appeared on his face. “I couldn’t...I…” Sophie stuttered. Junior cut her off. “If there’s anything I’ve learned about McGarrett, it’s that if he puts his mind to it, that’s it. He’s a mule like that.” The quartet laughed.

 Sophie took a deep breath and gave Steve a bright smile. “Thank you so much.” She looked around at the others. “All of you. Lou, Danny, Adam, everyone. You’ve all been so nice to me, so giving. And you barely know me. I am forever grateful for that.” They returned her smile then Steve clapped his hands. “Ok! What are we gonna eat?” Three different voices spoke out three different choices, causing all four to erupt into more laughter. “Alright well since it’s Princess Sophie’s day, I think we should let her pick.” Another masterpiece smile appeared on his face and he flashed Sophie a wink. Her cheeks flushed at his words and she muttered. “I’m hardly a princess.”

 After a short pause, she looked around at the choices. “A lot of things look really good, but I gotta say...it’s been a really long time since I’ve had a Whopper. Can we get Burger King?” Steve nodded affirmatively. “Flame broiled it is!” Orders were given then Steve stood and took Sophie’s hand. “You can help me bring stuff back. If that’s ok?” He stopped and looked expectantly at her. He hadn’t meant it as an order and he didn’t want her to feel she had to against her will. “No that’s fine.” She allowed him to lead her through the mass of chairs and tables until they made it to the Burger King counter. Steve grinned when he spotted a stack of paper crowns. He took one off and placed it on Sophie’s head. She chuckled and and looked at him questioningly. He shrugged his broad shoulders. “A princess needs a crown.” he proclaimed as if this were a very ordinary thing to do, then turned his gaze to the menu. Sophie chuckled and shook her head, an admiring smile on her face as she watched him.

 There were several things she’d noticed about him when she first met him. Of course, his stunningly handsome looks were the very first thing. But the more time she spent with him, the more time she had to study him, she noticed more detailed things. There was the vein in his neck that stood out when he clenched his jaw. She’d seen it the first night she stayed at his home. They and Junior were sitting in the backyard sipping a few beers and talking. The topic of music came up, and being slightly under the influence, Sophie had divulged that she hadn’t been able to listen to music she enjoyed for years. Steve hadn’t said anything. His eyes were fixed on the ocean before them, but there was that clenched jaw, that angry vein. Junior, too, had noticed it and quickly changed the subject.

 Another thing she’d noticed was that he looked at her. A lot. She’d lost count how many times she’d caught him watching her. Of course, she’d been caught looking at him, too. This was how she’d seen him watching. Both would look away shyly then go on as if nothing had happened. These and several other details she’d noticed flowed through her mind and she was startled when she heard Steve speak her name loudly. “Hello! Earth to Sophie!” he chuckled, waving a hand in front of her face. Her cheeks pinkened and she laughed softly. “Sorry. I was thinking.” He grinned then pointed at the guy waiting to take their orders. She didn’t even remember moving up in the line. The orders were given and they waited in silence. Once the food was handed to them, they returned to the table.

 Raucous talk and laughter surrounded the table as the quartet dined. This was definitely something Sophie would have to tell Lydia the next time they spoke. Her cousin had been thrilled when Sophie called her and told her of her arrangement with Steve. She was glad Sophie was settling in and had even made some friends. Just as they were finishing up their meal, Steve’s phone rang. His face immediately went stony as he listened. “Alright. I got Tani and Junior with me. We’ll be right there.” He hung up and looked apologetically at Sophie. “I’m sorry. We have to cut this short. We gotta get to work.” She smiled and nodded, standing up and picking up the tray piled with trash. “It’s ok. I understand.”

 She moved to toss the trash away then rejoined the trio. “I’ll bring Sophie home and meet you guys back at the station.” Tani and Junior nodded then said their goodbyes and left. Steve led Sophie to his truck and stored her bags in the back before helping her in. She was curious as to what the case was, but decided it wasn’t her place to ask. If it was something she should know it would be on the news. When they arrived back at the house, Steve helped her out of the truck and carried her bags inside. “Alright. I gotta get down to the station. If you need anything, call me ok?” She nodded and he gave her a quick hug before heading to the door. Before exiting, he turned to her and smiled. “You look great, by the way.” Before she could respond, she heard the door click shut. With a content sigh and a bright smile, she fell onto the couch and picked up her phone to call Lydia and tell her all about her day, the paper crown spinning lazily on her finger.

Chapter Text

Steve’s POV

 

Steve McGarrett was a pretty observant man. His current occupation and his SEAL training had taught him well. He’d noticed the petite, raven haired woman scurry past them, hiding her face as he and his team approached Kamekona’s shrimp truck. Tani had noticed, too, and went to speak to the woman. Steve watched carefully but casually, not wanting to be noticed examining the woman as he was. Even with tears cascading down her cheeks and a look of despair in her dark eyes, Steve thought she was gorgeous. He had considered going to see what the problem was himself, but Tani seemed to be doing fine on her own.

 

Steve turned his attention away when he glanced over and saw Danny looking over at him with a curious expression. Steve’s eyes dropped and he said nothing. Danny chuckled softly and grinned. He knew that look, but he wouldn’t mention it. Yet. To Steve’s surprise, Tani brought the woman along to join them. Up close, she was even more stunning and Steve found himself a little lost for words. He studied her as Tani made introductions. The woman he now knew was named Sophie seemed fearful and rather shy. He didn’t yet have all the pieces to the puzzle, but he saw the picture well enough to know that she was in trouble.

 

He had to make a quick decision. His offer to have her stay with him and Junior and play maid was spoken before he’d really even thought it through. He was shocked himself when he heard his own voice speak the words. He couldn’t take it back now. Not that he wanted to. The more the idea sunk in, the better he liked it. She’d be close by. He’d be able to look after her and make sure she was taken care of…. Wait. What? Why was he thinking about looking after her? He was just helping out a troubled young woman who was obviously running from some demons. Right? There was that. But there was also this part of him that liked the idea because it meant she would be close by and he would be able to get to know her better.

 

He was glad when she’d agreed and followed him to his truck. Her excitement when she saw his house caused a wide grin to appear on his face. This quickly fell into a scowl when her demeanor had changed. Someone had obviously mistreated her. He had his suspicions as to what had happened, but he wouldn’t pry. If she wished to tell him at some point, he would listen. He wanted her to relax. She was much too tense. After stating the “rule” he’d set in place, he took her inside. When she told him about her reason for leaving Boston, his jaw clenched. How could anyone treat her in such a way? That was the moment that Steve McGarrett decided he was going to show her that not all men are not the same.

 

Now that he knew more pieces of the puzzle that was this petite beauty, he was able to put into action his plan to try to undo what her ex had done. Never would he force her to do anything against her will, nor force himself on her in anyway. He would simply be there for her, whatever she needed. Dating would surely be the last thing on her mind and Steve’s track record in that department was disastrous. That didn’t mean he couldn’t treat her right, make sure she had everything she needed, and some things she wanted. He didn’t feel that he was dating material. He was married to his job and it made it difficult to hold down a steady relationship. She deserved someone that would be around for her when she needed him. Until the time came when she met that man, Steve took it upon himself to be her protector.

 

The first night she was at the house, she’d sat out back with Steve and Junior, laughing and joking around. It made Steve happy that she wasn’t holding herself back. He sensed something in her. Now that she was no longer locked up in a cage and didn’t have to worry about where she would sleep or when she would eat next, her energy had grown stronger. Her true personality was resurfacing and Steve very much liked what he saw. Her off-handed statement about being told what kind of music she could listen to really got under his skin. He was glad Junior had changed the subject.

 

A crazy idea had occurred to Steve as he lay in bed that night trying to fall asleep. The next morning, he had called Tani to ask if she would take Sophie shopping. When he’d announced the news to Sophie, she had been hesitant. He explained to her that she was now ohana. He wasn’t yet able to put into words what that meant, but he was sure she would feel its power. Her reaction to this statement caught him off guard. He felt her small form crash into him and her slender arms wrap around his neck as her plush lips touched his cheeks. The warmth he felt was startling. He kept his composure with great effort. It was going to be difficult to be around her and not want to touch her. No one said he couldn’t look, though.

 

After he saw the women off to the mall, he called Junior and asked if he’d like to go to lunch. It was only when his housemate arrived that he mentioned he was going to meet Sophie and Tani at the mall. The younger man looked a little flustered and Steve simply grinned. He knew what he was doing and now that Sophie was around, Tani would have a good excuse to visit the McGarrett home often.

 

He and Junior had arrived at the mall and he’d called Sophie. The two men found a table in the food court and waited. What Steve saw when the women arrived nearly took his breath away. Sophie’s new outfit looked incredible on her and she had a glow about her. He was really going to have to work hard in keeping his cool around this woman. If he had his way, he would sit there and stare at her all day. In a non creepy kind of way, of course. He’d look at her like she deserved. As if she were the most beautiful creature on the planet. Because she was. He’d shook his head lightly and chuckled to himself. When had he gotten so cheesy?

 

He’d taken her with him to get the food for the quartet and couldn’t resist emphasizing his “Princess Sophie” comment by placing one of the paper crowns on her head. Trying his best to play it cool, he’d shrugged it off as a joke, then turned his attention to the menu. He felt her eyes on him then and it rattled him a bit. Already they’d caught each other looking several times.

 

He’d lost track of time as they ate, laughed and joked around, then reality kicked in when Steve’s phone rang. A dangerous drug cartel had made itself known and the team was needed. He heaved a disappointed sigh as he relayed the news. The drive back to the house to drop Sophie off was driven in a comfortable silence. He’d helped her with her bags then told her to call if she needed something. He was at a loss as to what to say next, so he just headed for the door. Something stopped him, however. He couldn’t leave without acknowledging her new outfit. He didn’t want her to think he didn’t appreciate it. /“You look great, by the way.”/ he’d said before exiting. As he walked to his truck, several questions sprung into his mind. Who was this woman? Why was he so unnerved in her presence, yet desiring to always be around her? The usually steadfast soldier wondered if this woman would be his undoing.

Chapter Text

Danny’s POV



Danny’s eyes followed Tani as she’d made her way over to the petite, raven haired beauty that had rushed past the group as they walked along the sand. The men seated themselves and Danny looked over at the women, casting a smile and waving when he saw them looking in their direction. It didn’t surprise him at all when Tani brought the woman over to join them. His co-worker had stopped by several less fortunate people and offered whatever assistance she could. For all the machoness of the men, each had a kind heart and welcomed this newcomer.

The expression on Steve’s face when he looked at the woman didn’t go unnoticed by his long time partner. Danny grinned, knowing what that look meant. Whether Steve would go for it or not was still unknown. Danny politely offered his hand when he was introduced, then covertly watched Steve as Tani went around the table stating everyone’s names. 

He could sense Sophie’s apprehension when she was left alone with the men while Tani went to place an order. He bit back a chuckle as Sophie stuttered on her words while responding to Steve. It was clear that the commander had caught her eye as well. Maybe this would be good for Steve. He always went all kamikaze. If he had someone waiting on him at home too, maybe he would take more precautions. Probably not  Danny thought. With Steve, it was all or nothing. Go big or go home seemed to be his motto. Still, Danny couldn’t help but wonder if they’d see Sophie again after this day.

Danny listened as Tani explained Sophie’s predicament and his eyes widened when Steve spoke up. Did he…...just offer to let this woman live with him? Of course, Steve would play it off as being cordial, looking after someone in need. But Danny, and probably the others, could tell that it wasn’t just that for the boss.

The next day, Danny spoke with Steve, who’d told him about the outing he’d arranged for Sophie and Tani. “Ah. Sending the little lady on a shopping spree? She doesn’t seem like the type that can be bought, though.” Danny teased with a chuckle. A flat “Shut up.” from Steve was his response, and Danny laughed out loud.

He went about his morning, taking Gracie to the movies then lunch. Just as he was dropping her off, Steve called and told him they had a case. The short explanation he got told him it was going to be an interesting one. A bank robbery in progress with several hostages inside. The culprits were suspected arms and drugs dealers, real bad asses. Danny stated that he’d be at the station soon, then sped off once his daughter had exited the car.

He grinned widely when he walked in, heading directly for Steve. “Had to cut the shopping spree short? You know that means you have to make it up to her, right?” Steve just rolled his eyes and turned toward Lou to get the information he was waiting to share, but Danny saw the slight smirk on Steve’s face. Yep. He’s got it bad for her already Danny though, a wide smile lingering on his face. He knew that his friend deserved happiness, even if he didn’t think he did. And Sophie seemed like a nice woman. He hoped that Steve wouldn’t let past crap muck anything up.

The team broke apart to meet SWAT at the bank and for the first few minutes, Danny was silent, then turned his head toward Steve. “You know. She’s a nice girl. And you’re a nice guy. Mostly. You’re a neanderthal, but you have a good heart.” Steve raised a brow and glanced over at his partner. “Is this going somewhere?” Danny chuckled. “What I’m saying is she’d had it rough, you’ve had it rough. I don’t know. Maybe they cancel each other out and you can start with a clean slate. Just don’t /not/ go for it because of past stuff is all I’m saying. If you don’t, then make it for a valid reason.”

Steve remained silent the rest of the ride. Danny wondered if maybe he’d overstepped his bounds, but as an observant detective and Steve’s friend, he felt he needed to make his thoughts known. Steve wasn’t angry about it. He would have had some smartass comeback. Danny thought maybe McGarrett was actually thinking on his words, taking them into consideration. When they arrived on the scene, they walked to the command post that had been set up. Just before they joined the group, Steve stopped and grabbed Danny’s arm, stopping him. “You’re right, you know. Thank you.” A wide grin appeared on Steve’s face. “Valentine’s Day is coming up. I have an idea.” Without expanding on this statement, he turned to join the other officers and Danny stood there laughing and shaking his head for a moment before joining the group.

Chapter Text

The bank heist had gone sideways. They had managed to get Steve and Tani inside, the pair posing as paramedics to assist several of the perpetrators and patrons who had been injured. The team knew these men had access to very powerful weapons and they were a dangerous, brutal bunch. They needed to get eyes inside to more accurately plan out a take down. The pair saw that there were three injured criminals, two perps still standing with their automatic weapons, and four hostages who had been injured. One of the outlaws had been killed instantly, one clinging to life and the other with a flesh wound to the leg.  A hostage was bleeding profusely, also barely clinging to life. The other two had cuts, scrapes and bruises from tussles with the instigators.

In all, Steve counted twenty three people inside. The fourteen others  were all huddled together, leaning against the counter. As he worked on the near death bank patron, he glanced over at Tani, who was trying to stop the bleeding in a gunshot wound to the stomach. The perp looked like he could die any second. Steve saw too much blood on the floor beneath the man, and upon closer inspection, he spotted what he thought might have been a piece of the man’s intestines peeking out through the bloody, gaping wound. One of the remaining criminals strode over to Tani and pointed a gun at her head. “If he dies, everyone here dies, so better do your job well, sweet cheeks.” he spoke gruffly, though there was a tone of panic in his voice.

Lou, Danny and Junior, along with other HPD officers and SWAT on the scene heard everything that was going on inside. Nerves were on edge, the intensity of the situation palpable in the air. Duke and several other officers had cordoned off a three block area around the bank and were fielding a few questions from the many reporters on the other side of the tape. Careful not to give away too much information, Duke allowed the questioning to last only a few minutes before he gathered up the officers and headed back to the command post.

Steve McGarrett was good under pressure, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t just as tense as anyone else here inside the bank nor his comrades on the outside. As he tried to halt the bleeding of the man in front of him, his eyes darted around, looking for any opening he could to disarm the felons. While the perpetrators’ attention was on Tani, Steve saw his opening and took it. The man standing back a bit from his partner was just a few steps away from the former SEAL. Steve stealthily moved to his feet and put the man in a choke hold. When the man passed out, his gun slipped from his hand and Steve caught it deftly.

Surprised gasps from the other hostages alerted the man standing over Tani and he whipped around, only to be met by an armed McGarrett. Steve wasted no time in shooting down the man, who fell to the floor with a loud thud. “Clear.” Steve spoke simply. This told the officers and paramedics outside that it was ok to come in. The unconscious perpetrator that Steve had taken down was cuffed and transported to the hospital. All the hostages were checked over, the most critical one quickly transported to the nearest emergency room. Steve made note to check in later to find out the man’s condition.

The rest of the five-0 team entered and Steve and Tani smiled as they approached the group. “Score another one for the big kahuna” Tani said, chuckling softly. Danny pulled Steve aside for a moment and spoke softly when he was sure no one else could hear him. “Hey, Superman. There’s someone outside that you might want to go let see that you’re alive. She’s pretty worried. Steve’s brows furrowed, but when he realized who Danny was speaking about, a slight smirk curled his lips and he patted Danny’s shoulder. “Thanks, buddy.”

Steve gently pushed his way through the crowd of former hostages and exited the bank. The moment he stepped outside, he saw movement to his right and an officer calling out to someone, telling them they were not allowed to approach the building. “It’s ok.” Steve called out in response. “She’s here for me.” No sooner had he gotten the words out then Sophie’s small form crashed against him, arms flung around his neck and she hugged him tight. He felt her body tremble slightly with her sobs, then, as if realizing her actions, she pulled back and composed herself before lifting her eyes to the commander’s ocean hues. “I saw the news. I was scared.” Steve chuckled and and pulled her to him. “I’m ok. Everyone is ok. Except most of the perps. There’s only three left alive, one barely. A couple of the hostages were injured, one pretty bad, but I think they’ll get him to the hospital in time. Come on, Shortcake. Let’s go home.”

———————-

Sophie’s conversation with Lydia was light. The two women giggled like schoolgirls at Sophie’s tale of her shopping excursion. Lydia was glad that her cousin finally had something right going in her life. After the details of the mall adventure, Lydia told Sophie that she and Michael were going to try for a baby.  It took a serious turn, however, when Michael urgently encouraged his wife to cover the phone for a moment. Sophie could hear muffled voices, then Lydia returned. “Sophie, Michael gets news alerts from Hawaii. We like to keep up on things going on in your area. Turn on the tv.”  she spoke seriously. The petite woman did as told and her eyes widened when she saw what was on the screen. A bank had been held up, hostages inside. This must be what the scene they had to go to. she thought.

Terror filled her. She knew her new friends were in there. It was all too coincidental. This was confirmed by the newscaster’s announcement that the five-0 team had arrived. The camera picked up a group of officers standing a block away from where the news trucks were located behind the yellow police tape. Sophie immediately recognized Lou and she quickly said her goodbyes to Lydia then hung up the phone. She grabbed her purse and sped out the door.

She wasn’t thinking straight and couldn’t remember which direction to take to get to the downtown area. She did her best to compose herself before running across the street and approaching a neighbor about to enter her vehicle. “How do I get downtown?” Sophie asked, the urgency clear in her voice. “First, you take a deep breath and try to calm yourself down. You won’t make it into town if you are passed out.” the elderly woman spoke softly with a warm smile. “Then you get in the car and I will give you a ride. I saw you in the driveway at the McGarrett place yesterday. I’m sure if Steve allows you in his home, you aren’t dangerous.” Sophie blinked and stood there for a moment before her body moved and she slid into the passenger seat. The gray haired woman slowly situated herself into the driver’s seat and started the engine. She was silent for a moment, then as she pulled out of the driveway and drove down the street, she glanced quickly at Sophie. “What’s got you in such a tither, dear?”

Sophie paused for a moment to collect her scattered thoughts. “On the news they had a thing about a hostage situation at a bank and Steven and his team are there. I need to get there.” she spoke rapidly. The elder woman cast her a knowing smile and nodded. “Alright. I will take you to the station. You can wait for word there. But I will tell you, you can breathe. The task force is very good at what they do. They have taken down some of the baddest of the bad. They know what they are doing. Don’t you fret. They will be ok.” She paused then offered her hand to Sophie. “My name is Kala.” Sophie smiled a bit and shook the woman’s hand gently. “It’s nice to meet you, Kala. I’m Sophie. Thank you for giving me a ride.”

The trip took a little longer than it usually would, as traffic had to be detoured from the crime scene. In this time, Kala told a story about a five-year-old Steve and the Christmas gift he’d given his neighbor. “Oh, he was so proud of himself! He’d made it in the workshop John had set up in the garage. It was supposed to be a Christmas tree, but it was slightly warped. Of course, John had guided him as he cut the wood, just there to keep small fingers from the sharp edges. He let Steve lead the way. For his first project, he didn’t do too bad. I was proud to be the recipient.” She paused for a moment, a smile appearing on her face. “I still have it hanging up in my living room. I’ll have to show you sometime.”

Sophie smiled at the thought of young Steven and his warm, generous heart. This helped her to calm a bit. Her heart wasn’t racing quite as much as it had been, though she was still anxious. Kala dropped her off and before Sophie exited the car, the elderly woman made her promise to come visit sometime soon. Sophie watched the car speed off just for a split second before heading into the lobby of the police department.

She wasn’t sure where the five-0 office was, so she went to the reception desk. The woman told her that the headquarters were located in the building across the street. Sophie thanked the woman then jogged over to the correct building. She approached the reception desk in the lobby of the second building and stated what office she was looking for. The woman looked at her skeptically and Sophie explained who she was. “Hold on just a moment, please.” the woman said, then stood and went into a small office behind her to make a call. She reappeared and handed Sophie a visitor’s badge, then gave her directions for the correct office. Sophie thanked her and rushed off.

When she arrived at the office, she saw a worried looking Jerry standing in the middle of the room in front of a table computer observing one of the several monitors along the wall. He heard her enter and flashed her a small smile. “Hey. So I don’t know what you know or anything, but Steve and Tani are inside.” Sophie’s eyes widened and her heart began to thud in her chest. She felt so helpless standing there, just waiting to hear the fate of her new ohana. “Jerry, I can’t just stay here and do nothing. I mean, I know I can’t do anything but….I want to be there. I need to be there. I…” Her voice faltered as tears prickled her eyes. “They have to be ok. He has to be ok.” she spoke so softly, Jerry was barely able to hear her words. He thought for a moment, then told her to stay put, he’d be right back.

He went into one of the offices and closed the door. Through the glass, she saw him pick up the phone and make a call. He glanced in her direction a few times as he spoke. When he hung up, he exited the office and told her how to get to the scene. “It’s taped off, but Junior is gonna have an officer waiting for you to take you to the command post. You’ll be safe there.” Sophie hugged him and thanked him for his help after he gave her directions on where to go.

She wasn’t sure of how to pronounce the street names, but the street signs clearly displayed them and she could sound it out. After a few blocks, she began to see small crowds gathered, waiting. She had to be close. What else would all these people be standing around for? To be certain, she strode up to one group and asked what was going on. When they told her, she knew she was on the right path. Not wanting to make any mistakes, she slowly pronounced the name of the street she was to meet the officer at. “You go three blocks up, two over. They have that street mostly blocked off, though. That’s where the cops are.” Sophie simply nodded, thanked them for their time and continued her journey.

When she arrived at the corner, she looked down the street and saw the large crowd of officers, along with several SWAT trucks and ambulances. A younger, portly officer was approaching her and asked if she was Sophie. She stated that she was and he smiled. “I’m Officer Kai.” He lifted the tape for her to duck under, then began to lead her toward the crowd. “Officer Reigns said to take you to Detective Williams.” Sophie nodded but said nothing. Her heart was thudding too hard in her chest and it was a little difficult to breathe.

They arrived at the command post and Danny rushed over to her and hugged her. “You know, you really shouldn’t be there. This is highly unusual.” He took a step back from her and grinned. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost. You…” He turned and pointed to the large marble building that was the bank. “You’re not worried or anything, are you? Oh, this is a walk in the park for Steve. He lives for this kinda stuff. You’ll learn in time. He’s crazy.” He chuckled and draped his arm around her shoulders, then led her to a chair at the command post. “We might get in trouble for letting you in here, but Steve will smooth it over. Probably promise not to let it happen again. Even if he knows it could.”

Sophie didn’t understand how Danny could be so casual about all this. It must be a cop thing. The sky was darkening now, the sun beginning to set on an otherwise beautiful day. She hadn’t been there long when she heard a gunshot from inside the building and almost instantly tears were streaming down her cheeks. Please don’t let Tani or Steven be shot she prayed silently. Before she could process what was going on, a collective sigh came from the officers and EMTs around her. “They’re good. See? Told you he’d be ok.” Danny said with a smile. “I’ll let him know you’re here.”

Sophie stood and waited anxiously, then her heart lightened when she spotted Steve stepping out from the building. She ignored the officer trying to keep her back and ran up to the commander. So relieved that he was ok, she quickly pulled him into a tight embrace then began to sob against his chest. After several moments, she stepped back and looked up at Steve. “I saw the news. I was scared.” Steve’s arms snaked around her and he held her close as he gave her the rundown on the situation. When he was finished, he smiled down at her. “Come on, Shortcake. Let’s go home.”

Sophie nodded in approval. “Yes. Home. Where you’re gonna take a hot shower while I cook you the biggest steak the grocery store has, then you’re gonna relax and watch a movie with me. Don’t argue with me, Steven. Go do the paperwork and whatever else you have to do to finish up here so we can leave.” Steve chuckled and nodded his head. “Yes, ma’am.” He gave her another quick hug, kissed the top of her head and walked toward the command post to relay what had happened.

Sophie stood back and watched as the medical examiner appeared on the scene and the hostages were treated and interviewed by officers. Was this the kind of things the task force always did? She hadn’t even really thought much about that. She knew police work was dangerous, but this….this was a whole new ballgame. Of course, a task force would take on more serious cases. They didn’t do simple traffic stops. It was going to take her some getting used to having her friends be in danger all the time. Even though that might be difficult, she knew they were the best of the best. They had to be to work on such a team. After a few moments, Steve returned to her. “Alright. Anything else can wait til tomorrow. I’m ready for a hot shower and half a cow.” Sophie laughed and allowed him to take her hand and lead her back to headquarters where his truck was parked.

The walk was silent nearly until they arrived, then Steve turned to her. “You know, you aren’t supposed to be at crime scenes. I don’t like the thought of you being in danger like that. I’m not mad at you. I am just requesting that next time, please stay at the office where you’ll be safe. I’ll make sure you’re kept updated as best we can ok?” Sophie’s head hung as she nodded. “I’m sorry. I felt stuck there, helpless. I needed to know that you guys are ok. I will do my best to keep control of my emotions better in these situations.” Steve wasn’t angry with her, but she knew that his words were serious. She didn’t want to get him in trouble, nor distract him from his job. “I hope I didn’t get you in trouble.”

Steve laughed and shook his head. “No, I won’t be in trouble. I just want to know that you’re safe whenever something goes down. I can tell that you’re not one to sit around idly and wait for a call.” He grinned and squeezed her hand gently. “You’re feisty and I’m not gonna hold you back. Too much, anyway. As long as you’re not on scene, you can hang out in the office as long as you want.”

He led her the office to collect a few things and talk to Jerry for a moment before they walked down to his truck. “How did you get here anyway?” he inquired. “I went out and asked the neighbor across the street how to get downtown. She offered me a ride.” A mischievous smile appeared on her face. “I can’t wait to see the wooden Christmas tree she has in her living room. I heard so much about it on the way.” Steve groaned then laughed. “Ah, you met Miss Kala. She loves to tell people that story. I’m glad she still enjoys her gift. She’s a sweet woman. Now. Let’s go to the store before all the good steaks are taken!” He opened the passenger side door and helped her in. Before closing the door behind her, he stood there observing her for a moment. “You know. You’re awful adorable when you’re worried. But I’ll try not to upset you as much as I can.” He booped her nose and grinned before closing the door and moving to the driver’s side. Sophie blushed slightly but didn’t say a word. Her bright smile, however, spoke volumes to the commander.

Chapter Text

After a quick trip to the grocery store to buy some steaks and a few other items, Steve and Sophie made their way back home. She was totally relaxed now, even laughing heartily at Steve’s silly jokes. She had only known the commander for less than a week, yet it felt like she’d known him for years. She felt completely comfortable in his presence, which was something she never thought possible with anyone but Lydia and Michael. As the pair crossed through her mind, she made a mental note to call them and let them know everything was alright once she and Steve arrived home.

The grocery items were brought inside and Steve went up to shower while Sophie put things away and fired up the grill. As she waited for it to heat up, she picked up her phone and called her cousin. “Lyd, it was awful! I was so scared! Steve and Tani went inside! But everything turned out ok. Steve took them down.” Lydia could hear the pride in her younger cousin’s voice as she spoke about this hero named Steve McGarrett. The way Sophie spoke about him, the man seemed like he could walk on water.

They talked a little longer, then Sophie ended the call to begin cooking. Steve finished his shower then came downstairs to attempt to help with the grill, but his hand was promptly swatted away. “You’ve worked enough today, mister!” Sophie said. “Sit back and let me pamper you a little.” While the steaks were searing to perfection, she cubed up some potatoes, added a few garlic cloves and other spices, then wrapped the lot in some tin foil to throw on next to the meat.

Steve sat outside on a lawn chair sipping a beer and watching her work. He smiled as she moved about, curious about this potato recipe. When she brought the foil wrapped package out and placed it on the grill, he questioned her. “Where did you learn the potato thing?” She turned to him and smiled. “My dad taught me a thing or two about grilling. Actually he taught me a lot of things about cooking in general. My mom was a good cook, but my dad was a great one.”

The two talked about Sophie’s life growing up in New England as dinner cooked. She checked the food once in a while, then sat back down to answer his many questions. Why he was interested in her younger years, she didn’t know, but it felt nice to have someone interested in what her hopes and dreams and fears were. Some of the questions hit a nerve she wasn’t yet ready to pluck just yet, but Steve understood and did not pry.

When the meal was finished, she plated the food and set the dishes down on the small table between them. They ate in silence for a few moments, then she looked over at him. “What about you? Have you always lived in Hawaii?” Steve chuckled and went silent for a moment. “I was born here but I moved to the mainland when I was fifteen, after my mother passed. That’s a story for another time, though.” Sophie smiled and nodded, understanding that each probably needed to get to know the other better before such intimate details were spoken of.

Steve complimented her cooking skills several times as they ate, stating that she’d have to teach him her potato recipe. A comfortable silence set in for another few moments, then Steve looked over at her. “I’d like to hear some more about your childhood. What was one of your favorite things to do?” Sophie thought for a moment then smiled. “Well, autumn was a kind of big thing in my neighborhood. There were several people that had grand Halloween parties. Those were always fun, even if pretty spooky sometimes. The best haunted houses were there. But my favorite thing during that time was apple picking. I don’t know why I enjoyed it so much, but the apples always tasted better fresh off the trees.”

She paused and took another bite of her food, then laughed softly. “Of course, there was the time that I broke my arm at an orchard. I should have listened to my dad when he told me not to climb too high, but there was an apple that looked absolutely perfect and I was determined to make it mine. So I climbed higher and higher. ‘Sophie, I said don’t go too high! I’m not taking you to the hospital if you fall!’ he told me. But when I did inevitably fall, he was the first one at my side, followed closely by my mother. When we got home after the trip to the emergency room, he sat down with me. ‘I hope now you understand why I told you not to climb too high.’ he said and I just nodded. He often told me things and I didn’t always listen. I still wanted to try things. But if his warning came to pass, he would always make sure I understood why he had given his advice.” The silence once again sat in, Steve allowing her to get lost in her memories as they dined.

Once the food was finished, both fully satisfied, they cleaned up the table and moved to the living room. “It’s still your day, Princess Sophie. You pick a movie.” Steve said, a bright smile on his face. She blushed slightly and began to look through his movie collection. Most of them were action films. Though several were among some she enjoyed a lot, none were quite what she was in the mood for. “Ok you’re gonna think I’m silly, but I have a movie up in my room that I’d really like to watch right now.” Steve nodded his approval and she made her way to her room to search through her backpack, where she kept a few of her favorite movies that she’d brought with her.

After finding the film, she returned to the living room and turned on the dvd player. “Ok promise you won’t make fun of me for this? I used to watch this with my parents all the time. It’s one of my favorites ever and….” With the talk of her parents and her childhood, memories were flooding back to her and tears prickled her eyes. “I just kinda wanna watch this right now.”

Steve chuckled and sat down on the couch. “I promise I won’t make fun of you for it. ” Sophie pushed play then joined him on the couch. “It is considered a kids kind of movie but I think it’s for adults as well. It always makes me feel...I don’t know. I guess comfortable would be a good word? It brings back a lot of good memories for me. Dad would always pop us some popcorn and pour some apple juice for me. I probably drank an orchard’s worth of apple juice as a kid.” she said, laughing softly.

Both went silent then, watching the screen as the opening of the Wizard of Oz began to play on the screen. “Now this brings me back. I watched this with my parents a few times, too.” Steve stated simply, placing an arm on the back of the couch behind her. They settled in to watch the film, but when Steve looked over at her not more than a half hour after it began, he saw that she was asleep.

He chuckled and moved to pick her up. Carefully, he climbed the stairs and placed her gently on her bed. A blanket was draped over her, as the night was beginning to cool down and her window was open. When he went back downstairs, Junior was walking in the door. The younger man saw the film still playing on the screen and he raised a brow in question. “Sophie picked a movie to watch. She’s clearly had a long day, though. Passed out not long after it started.” Steve explained as Junior got himself some food, then sat on the couch.


She was back in her childhood home, fourteen years old once again. The gray autumn afternoon loomed over them, but the temperature was still rather warm. Rain had been threatening for days, but none had yet fallen. She was reading the newest book in her collection out under her favorite tree as her parents were packing up for a weekend trip to their cabin. She had decided she’d rather stay home and read, and her parents had agreed that she was old enough to stay on her own for a couple days. It probably had helped her case that her grandparents lived next door.

Once the car was packed, her parents walked over and gave her some last minute instructions and her father handed her some money so she could treat herself and order take out for dinner that night. They kissed her, hugged her and told her they loved her, and she returned their affection. She was anxious to be staying by herself, but she knew if she got too spooked, Nana and Papa would welcome her to stay with them. She smiled and waved as she watched her parents walk away. Her smile faltered a bit, though, when the first few drops of rain caressed her face. This meant she’d have to go inside now.

After settling herself in the rocking chair, she decided that she wanted to work on the crochet project she’d begun a few days before. Nana had taught her the craft and Sophie was excited to make her first blanket. Of course, it would be a Christmas gift for her parents. She didn’t know how much time had passed, but it was beginning to get dark and her stomach was rumbling.

She moved to the kitchen and looked in the drawer for the takeout menus, trying to decide what she wanted. Pizza was decided on and she called in an order for a large Hawaiian pizza. She settled back in now, the steady rain calming as she resumed her project. After some time, she heard a knock on the door. ‘Pizza got here quick’ she thought, but when she went to the door, it was not the pizza guy.

Lights from two police cars flashed in the darkness and two somber looking officers stood at the door. “Is this the home of Leonardo and Marilyn Russo?” the younger looking officer asked. Sophie’s heart thudded in her chest as she nodded. Her mouth was too dry to speak. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Nana and Papa walking over. “Miss, is anyone here with you?” the second officer asked. Sophie shook her head, her voice raspy as she spoke. “No, but my grandparents are here.” she said, pointing to the elderly couple that had reached the bottom of the stairs.

“I’m so sorry to tell you this, but Leonardo and Marilyn were in a car crash about an hour ago. A drunk driver hit them head on.” the young officer said, his voice cracking slightly. “Neither of them survived. I’m sorry.” Sophie’s head began to spin. The lights made her even dizzier and she heard a scream in the distance. She didn’t realize it was her own scream until Papa’s arms were around her, catching her just before she hit the ground.

 

When the two men heard the scream from Sophie’s room, they both leapt to their feet and bounded up the stairs. She was sitting upright on her bed screaming and crying. She was confused for a moment, then realized where she was now, and whose arms were now around her. They weren’t Papa’s arms. He had died almost a year ago. They were Steve’s. “Hey. Hey I got you. We got you. What’s wrong?” he spoke softly, gently caressing her hair.

It took a moment before she was fully aware that she’d had a nightmare. It had been a long time since she’d dreamt of the worst night of her life. “Come on. Why don’t you come downstairs and we can talk about it if you want.” Steve practically carried her back down the stairs and sat her on the couch. “I…..I dreamt of the night my parents died. I hadn’t for a long time. I don’t know why I did tonight. I’m sorry for startling you guys.” Steve and Junior both frowned. “You don’t have to be sorry for that.” Junior stated. “We were just concerned is all.” He went to the kitchen and brought her back a bottle of water.

“It was probably my fault. I’m sorry for asking those questions earlier.” Steve stated. “No, it’s fine. I’ve talked about them before and didn’t have any nightmares. They haven’t happened for a long time.” she restated. “I like talking about them. Sometimes it makes me sad, but I want to like I don’t know….keep their memories alive. That was a really bad time for me. I was fourteen. I went to live with my Nana and Papa after that, but about a month after, we moved. It hurt us all too much to live next door to where my parents used to be.”

The next few hours were spent with Sophie telling the men tales of her youth. She told them about the time she and Lydia had nearly gotten arrested because her cousin had “borrowed” her parents’ car. What the older girl hadn’t said was that she hadn’t informed her parents that she was taking the car and they’d reported it stolen. The cop pulled them over and Lydia was in tears as she tried to explain that it was her parents’ car. This story earned a loud peal of laughter from both men.

Her eyes went slightly misty and a smile graced her face when she spoke about being the maid of honor at Lydia and Michael’s wedding. “Everything was perfect! It was supposed to rain that day, but the sun shone bright the whole ceremony. They wanted to get married in the place they met, which was on a beach in Maine. The rocky coast, ocean splashing behind us, birds chirping, the scent of the ocean and the many MANY flowers just…..” She trailed off for a moment then blushed slightly and chuckled. “Sorry. I got lost for a minute. Anyway, I owe them so much. They are the ones that got me here. Honestly, if it wasn’t for them, I probably wouldn’t even be alive right now.” Several other tales of her adventures with Lydia were told, some sad, some happy, all helping to make the nightmare disappear as her thoughts focused on two of the most important people in her life.


After a while, Junior excused himself to go up to his room. Steve and Sophie stayed downstairs and finished the Wizard of Oz. When it was over, Sophie turned to him, her cheeks flushed slightly. “I have a request. It’s weird, I know. But I feel….safe with you. Would it be ok if I slept in your room tonight? Or at least for a little while. I’m still kinda shaken by that dream.” Steve smiled and nodded. “Of course you can. I’ll be your personal dream catcher. If anymore bad dreams want to get to you, they have to go through me first.”

The pair made their way upstairs and Sophie collapsed onto the bed, still in her clothes. She didn’t bother to get under the covers. The room felt rather warm tonight. She felt kind of odd being in Steve’s bed, but he didn’t seem to think anything of it. They were friends, after all, and he wanted to assure that she was able to sleep peacefully. He was glad that she felt safe with him. As she lay there, she wondered how many other people felt safe because Steve and his team were always on duty to serve and protect. Her eyes were starting to drift closed before Steve even got under the covers. “Good night, Princess Sophie.” he said. “G’night, Steve.” she mumbled in return before she fell into a deep sleep.

Chapter Text

Sophie woke up the next morning slightly confused as she looked around the room. She remembered then the previous night and though she knew that Steve and Junior wouldn’t make a big deal about it, she felt pretty embarrassed. She looked over and saw that Steve was not there. He probably didn’t want to make things awkward by being here when I woke up. she thought, but just as it passed through her mind, a smiling Steve entered the room with a tray of food. “I made breakfast and figured I’d bring some up to you so you didn’t have to get up until you wanted to.” he explained.

 

She returned his smile as she sat up. “Thank you, but I want to get up. I have a lot to do today. There’s tons of laundry to do and I want to take stock of what groceries there are so I can make a shopping list.” She was eager to get to work and earn her keep, but Steve placed the tray on the night table and sat down on the bed. “No rush for that. We have plenty of clean clothes and food still. It can wait a little while. I’m curious about some things and I was wondering if you’d feel up for telling me about them.”

 

His statement made her feel slightly anxious, but she also felt that she owed him some explanation for whatever it was that he wished to know. “Ok. I’ll try to answer whatever questions you have.” He nodded and thought for a moment then asked his first inquiry. “How did you end up with the man you came here to escape?” She gasped softly and her eyes widened. She hadn’t expected him to come right out and ask such a personal question right away. “It’s ok if you don’t wish to speak about it, but I think that maybe you’ll feel a little better after and it will also give me insight on what we’re dealing with here.”

 

She didn’t know where to begin, but again, she felt she owed him at least some kind of explanation. After all, there was a possibility that Brian was more dangerous and psychotic than she thought. Perhaps he would somehow find out where she was and come after her. The more information Steve had, the better prepared they all would be should this happen. She sighed deeply and turned to Steve. “It’s a long story but I’ll try to explain everything.”

 

“I met him through my former best friend. She and I don’t talk anymore because of him. She’d met him when she went camping with her family one summer and they stayed in touch. She liked him at first, but when he met me, he became interested. I knew she liked him so I didn’t play along with his flirting and such. She was my best friend. I wasn’t going to betray her. But she found out he liked me and it didn’t matter to her that I didn’t flirt back. She was jealous and told our other friends that I’d ‘stolen’ him from her.”

 

She was surprised that she was as calm as she was while she spoke about this man. But she decided that that was one of Steve’s superpowers. He made people feel calm. “Nana used to tell me that the name calling and accusations would cease if I just ignored them, but it took a long time for that to happen. By then, I didn’t really have any friends left. None that I could fully confide in, anyway. Except Lydia. I was so glad when she and her parents moved in down the street from us. Things got better after that because Lydia didn’t care who she offended by telling them to lay off me.” she said with a chuckle.

 

“She met Michael the following summer when she got a job at a seafood stand at this beach in Maine. He worked at the carnival near the beach and they were both staying at the same rooming house for the summer. They discovered they only lived a couple towns away from each other back in Massachusetts. Anyway, she had graduated school and she and Michael decided they were going to move in together after their summer jobs were over. They found a place in Maine and both got jobs there, so I was on my own for my last year of high school.”

 

Her emotions were threatening to take over now, but she kept them in check as best she could. “Brian was the only one that was nice to me anymore, the only one that ever wanted to hang out with me. So I stupidly agreed to his ‘rules’ he put forth, not recognizing them for what they really were. It got worse and worse and then when the cancer came for Nana, I was defeated. Lydia and Michael moved back to help us take care of her. My aunt and uncle lived in California by then and wasn’t able to get back and forth much. Brian had me convinced that Nana would be ok. She had other people to take care of her. I could hang out with him and only him. And I was stupid and did so.”

 

She looked up at Steve now, the shame apparent on her face as her eyes glistened. “I should have been there for Nana, for Papa. I don’t know why I let him keep me from them. I guess I just didn’t want to deal with it. I couldn’t watch her fade before my eyes. Lydia and I spoke often and she would tell me that they all wanted me there and that I should tell Brian to take a flying leap, but I just couldn’t. I don’t know why I was so weak. By that time, he really had me broken down pretty well. We’d moved to a town in the next county over and I didn’t drive so I had no way to get there. I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone where we lived, either.”

 

“That place was where the physical abuse joined the mental abuse.” she spoke softly and when her shoulders sagged, Steve’s jaw clenched. This guy already pissed him off with the little he knew about him but hearing her speaking about being physically abused was building a fury within the commander. How could anyone do such a thing to a nice, sweet girl like Sophie? She was lost and he preyed upon her like a hawk. Steve hoped karma would hit this prick hard.



“It was just little things here and there. I can’t even remember when it escalated. But he’d have friends over more and more and he’d be drunk all the time. We were evicted from three different places before we moved into the ratty old apartment above his brother’s garage. About a week after we moved there, Lydia called me to tell me that Nana was fading fast and she wanted to see me. I begged Brian to let me go and to my surprise, he allowed it. I don’t know why he said yes but I was glad he did. He dropped me off at a gas station across town and  MIchael picked me up.”

 

She paused for a moment and took a deep, shuddering breath as tears began streaming down her cheeks. She composed herself and continued. “We got to the hospice and were told that it was a good thing we got there when we did because Nana probably had only minutes left. I was crying so hard, I could barely see but when I walked in, Nana smiled a little. She was drugged out pretty bad so I don’t even know if she knew it was me, but I went over and hugged her, apologized for not being there for her and told her I loved her. She said ‘It’s ok. I love you, too.’ then she died.” Sobs wracked her small body now and Steve wrapped his arms tight around her and held her. “I’m sorry, Sophie. You don’t need to tell me anymore if you don’t want to. I didn’t mean to make you drudge up such bad things.”

 

Sophie shook her head, took another deep breath and looked up at him. “No. I want to tell you. I need to. You need to know what kind of person you’re dealing with if he does find out where I am and comes after me or something. I don’t know if he will but he’s crazy. He might.” Steve nodded and she continued. “He let me go to the funeral, too. But he had to be there as well. No one wanted him there but they didn’t make a scene. Papa was able to pull me aside and tell me that he thought Brian was bad news and that I needed to get away from him. I didn’t respond to this. I only told Papa I was sorry I wasn’t there for him when he needed me. He didn’t blame me for it or anything. He just said he wanted me to be safe. I told him I was ok and before we could say anything else, Brian came and told me that we needed to go.”



“I’ll spare you all the gory details but over the next ten years, things got worse and worse. There were several trips to the hospital for me, and he did a few stints in jail. Never for very long because I was afraid to press charges. Cops were called because he’d hit me in public and someone else called them. I never would have dared to do it myself. I didn’t talk to Lydia, Michael and Papa much because I wasn’t allowed to. Even if he was in jail, I was afraid to call them much or stay on the phone too long because he would check my phone when he came home. I mostly called to tell them I loved them and to let them know I was still alive.”



“Then…..” Her voice cracked and she paused. “Then last year, Michael called to tell me that Papa had passed. He died peacefully in his sleep, not in any pain. That part at least was good. Nana had been in so much pain. But now he was with her again. And my parents.”  Another deep breath was taken and she continued once again. “He let me go to Papa’s funeral, too, which once again surprised me. He was too hungover to go so I was able to go by myself. That was quite a shock to me, but I didn’t question it. It was then that Lydia and Michael talked to me about getting into an abused women’s shelter or something before Brian ended up killing me, but I was too afraid. But if I thought the previous ten years was bad, the last year things got even worse.”

 

“He started throwing things at me when he was mad. It didn’t matter what it was. I have scars all on my arms and stuff from when he cut me open with a heavy pan that had grazed my arm or a picture frame that shattered on my hand. A few days before I came here, he’d thrown a wrench at me and smashed a mirror. That was Lydia and Michael’s breaking point and they set up for me to move here. I miss them so much.”

 

She looked up at him with tears in her eyes. “But I’m glad I’ve met you guys. Not even a week and I just spilled my guts out to you. So thank you for making me feel comfortable enough to tell you that, Steve. And thank you for inviting me into your home and giving me a place to stay and stuff. I’m very grateful to everyone. I know I’m damaged, though, and I’m sorry if I’m a burden….” Steve stopped her right there with a finger gently placed over her lips. “I’m gonna stop you right there.” His hands moved to rest on her cheeks and he made her look at him. “I’m gonna tell you something and I really need you to listen and believe me, ok? You are not a burden. Not even close. You are part of our ohana and we take care of our own. When one is down, the rest of us help that person to stand again. We’re here to help you stand again, no matter how long that might take. I know you have some things to work through and I’m here. We’re all here. If you need to talk or just have someone sit with you a while, we’re here. I know I can speak for everyone else on this because I know them. I know they feel the same.”

 

He hugged her tightly to him and moments later, he felt the wetness of her tears as they soaked through his shirt. “Thank you, Steve.” she said, her voice wavering. “I never really felt like I belonged anywhere. I didn’t know things others did. Like driving and such. I was never allowed to learn any of that stuff, never allowed to better myself, but I’ve been given a second chance and I want to make the best of it. I want to make people proud of me. I want to shed that shriveled skin of the woman I’ve been this last decade. I want to be free of that cloud. I’m just….not sure how to do that.” She lifted her head and looked up at him now. “But I want to thank you for everything again. You really are a guardian angel, Steve McGarrett. A real life superhero.”

 

Steve laughed at this statement and shook his head. “I’m no superhero. I have a lot of baggage myself. But I will tell you one thing. No harm will come to you while you’re on my watch. I will personally see to that. I think you’re a great person already, but if you feel you want to better yourself, then I will help with what I can. There are several colleges you can look into. I already know you’re a great cook. We got a couple great culinary academies here. Let’s start with those?” Her eyes lit up at this statement. Cooking was one thing that she loved to do. She hadn’t been able to experiment and hone her skills too much while she was with Brian, but now that she was free, she could do whatever she wanted. And this was what she wanted. “That would be amazing!” She was practically bouncing on the bed as she thought of the possibilities. Steve chuckled softly at her change in demeanor then stood. “Ok. Eat your breakfast then get ready. I’ll drive you down there myself.”

 

Chapter Text

Steve had taken Sophie to the Culinary Institute of the Pacific admissions office less than an hour after she’d disclosed more of her past to him and had waited there while she filled out her application. There was a fee, of course, and of course the commander paid for it, much to Sophie’s dismay. She appreciated his help, but she didn’t want him paying her way all the time. “Consider it an investment in the future.” he said, echoing Michael’s words before she’d left Massachusetts. “You learn to cook even better than you already do, I get to reap the rewards of being your guinea pig. It’s a win-win situation.” Steve stated with a bright smile. Sophie couldn’t argue with him, especially when he flashed that mesmerizing grin at her.



She was anxious and on edge every time she checked the mail for the next week and a half. The admissions process was stressful with all the waiting. This was the only school she’d applied to so far and if she got in, she could start within a month. She busied herself with cleaning up the house. Laundry was done, floors swept and mopped, windows washed, on just the first day. Steve came home that night and chuckled as he looked around. “The place hasn’t been this clean in years. You know, you don’t have to do everything in one day.” He gave her a smile and a gentle hug. “It looks really good but seriously. Don’t wear yourself out. You’ve done a lot today. Junior should be here soon. Let’s all go grab dinner somewhere.”

 

That night was her first time at the restaurant of the Hilton Hawaiian Village. She’d stayed there two weeks when she first arrived, but never dined in their restaurant, always choosing cheaper food from a small grocery store a few streets over. The place was fantastic! The entertainment was amazing and of course, the company was great. She found herself examining the food when it was brought to them, noticing how it was presented and other such things she was sure to learn when she got into cooking school. It wouldn’t hurt to take some notes beforehand.



The dinner was great and by the time the trio arrived back home, Sophie was more than ready to fall into bed. The next few days she busied herself with some light cleaning and some reading. On the third afternoon, she decided to go online to see if there was a craft store nearby. To her happiness, there was! And, she discovered, it was on the bus line. She took what little money she had left and made her way to the shop.

 

She hadn’t been in a craft store in many years. Brian had never allowed her to do much that she sought pleasure in. Crocheting certainly was off the list. But as she looked around at the rows and rows of different yarns on the shelves, her eyes glistened with tears. She remembered sitting on Nana and Papa’s front porch trying to learn how to begin a project. It took her a few times, but Nana had been very patient with her and exclaimed with joy when she finally got it right.



The blanket that she’d abandoned after her parents were killed still sat unfinished in a box in Michael and Lydia’s garage. Maybe one day she would finish it. But now, she wanted to begin something new. She picked out several skeins of yarn, the colors of camouflage, and found a few hooks that were the sizes she would need. Once the items were purchased, she made her way back to the house and begun what would be a gift for Steve.

 

Over the next several days, after her housework duties were finished, she worked on the commander’s present. It got a little frustrating on a few parts, but she was able to figure it out and things were coming along quite nicely now. It was almost finished. On day nine, Steve had come in with a few pieces of mail. “Is there a Miss Sophie Russo in the house?” he’d called out, a bright smile on his face. “I have what could be a very important letter for her.”



Sophie rushed out from the kitchen where she was fixing herself a light snack and snatched the envelope from him. She tore it open and her eyes began welling up with tears as she read. She had to read it over a few times before the message sank in. “I got in.” she stated flatly. “They…...I GOT IN!” Her face broke into a huge smile and she flung her arms around around Steve’s neck. “Thank you, Steve!” She showed him the letter, the smile never leaving her face. He, too, was all smiles as he read the letter and congratulated her. “This calls for a celebration! I need to make some calls.”

 

He went upstairs to shower and make his calls as she sat looking over the materials the package contained. She’d have to get some supplies and books, but that could wait til tomorrow at least. Tonight, she would bask in this victory to reclaiming herself in full. When Steve came back down, he informed her that they were going out for dinner with the ohana. Jerry, Kamekona, Flippa, Lou, Adam, Tani, Danny and Junior would be joining them to celebrate Sophie’s big day.

 

She once again took some note of how the food was presented but didn’t allow herself to think too much on this. Instead, she got caught up in the atmosphere of the night. Their party was a little boisterous, but everyone was in good spirits and she laughed more than she had for a very long time. That was, until the waitress kept trying to make passes at Steve. Sophie scowled slightly at this, but didn’t say anything. Steve was free to talk to or date whoever he wanted to. One of the times, she noticed Adam looking at her during a scowl and he raised a brow. She quickly looked away and was very interested in the conversation Jerry was having with Lou.

 

Several times this waitress came back and tried to capture Steve’s attention and it annoyed Sophie. Still, she kept quiet about it. She didn’t understand why she was feeling so annoyed by this. Steve was her friend, her roommate, her employer even. Why was this stupid waitress getting on her nerves so much? Steve hadn’t responded to her advances, Sophie was glad to see, but that didn’t stop the wench from trying. Maybe she’s just trying a little too hard to get a good tip Sophie thought, and put the girl out of her mind to enjoy the rest of the evening.

 

Much food and many drinks later, the group dispersed to go home. Steve, only having had a couple beers, drove Tani and Danny home, then returned for Sophie and Junior. Once they arrived back home, Sophie sleepily wished the two men a good night and trudged up to her room. She’d intended to work more on Steve’s blanket, but instead she fell on her bed and went right to sleep.

 

The next morning when she woke, the house was empty. There was a note from Steve on the fridge telling her that they’d had to get to the office early today. She went about making herself some breakfast then did the dishes before putting a load of laundry in the machine. While the clothes were washing, she sat down and worked on the blanket. With any luck, she’d have it finished by this afternoon. The sun was bright and just as she decided she wanted to go sit in the back yard and read for a bit, there was a knock on the door.

 

She opened the door and was surprised when a delivery man from a florists’ shop stood there. “Sophie Russo?” he asked and she nodded. He smiled and pushed a beautiful arrangement of flowers toward her. “If you could sign right here……” She signed his paper and thanked him, then took the vase inside. There was a card in the middle that said simply “To Sophie. From your secret admirer.”

 

Her brows narrowed as she thought about who these could be from. She didn’t know many people here yet and most of those she did were already taken. None of them had shown any interest in her in that manner. She allowed herself a smile when she wondered if they were from Steve. This would be something he would do just to brighten her day, but it was still early and he was at work. He wouldn’t have had time to call for the delivery. Then panic set in when she thought about someone else they could be from. Had Brian found her? Did he know where she was staying? Suddenly, she didn’t want to be home alone anymore.



She was startled by the buzzing of the washer indicating that the load was finished. She quickly shoved the clothes in the dryer, turned it on and made her way outside and across the street to Miss Kala’s home. She knocked on the door and was glad when the woman answered. Sophie asked for a ride into town and Kala grabbed her keys and the pair was off. Sophie tried to keep her panic to a minimum and not let anyone know she was upset. When she got to the office, she greeted Jerry with a smile. “Hey, Jerry. Mind if I hang out a little while? It was kind of boring sitting at the house by myself.” was all that was offered as an explanation.