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Lips Like Sugar

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Slowly but surely, Steve is learning how to make foods other than grilled proteins. He made a pie the other week that tasted pretty good even though the top never really browned the way it was supposed to and the crust kinda fell apart as he sliced it. He makes meal-sized salads that somehow get Danny to eat vegetables without bitching too much. Plus he makes piles and piles of fish—seafood in other regions, while it can be good, just isn’t the same as what he grew up eating, and what, he supposes, Grace will now grow up eating, too.

And after a few false starts he's finally got waffles down. (They've got eggs, and in Steve's experience eggs are tricky—magical, but tricky.) On the Sunday morning of a Grace weekend Steve can get out of bed, whip up the batter, leave it to sit while he goes for his swim, come back, and get the waffle iron heated before either Danny or Grace come downstairs. Danny isn't as grouchy about waking up to an empty bed when he can smell waffles. Everybody wins.

Waffles with a ten-year-old are a messy thing, as syrup and fruit that didn't make it precisely into a waffle dimple tumble onto the table. Grace is wearing her Sandy Cheeks nightgown, which now stays permanently in the bureau in her room at Steve’s house, or really Steve-and-Danny’s, now. He never would have thought, when he was first back in Hawaii, that he’d be inviting a man and his daughter to live with him, but it’s good. Really good. Probably the most life the house has seen since his mother died, and Steve is ready to be surrounded by more life and less death. There’s something about sitting on the lanai with Danny watching Grace practice her cartwheels on the beach that’s just about perfect.

After breakfast Grace delights in giving them both sticky kisses—Steve as thanks for waffles, Danny just for being her Danno—before running off to the little downstairs half bath to wash her hands and face. Danny is clearing the table with that crooked half-smile where his jaw is offset, humming tunelessly as he loads the dishwasher. Steve finishes his coffee and moves to help, but Danny signals that he's got it, and kisses him where he sits, so Steve has to lean up to Danny for once. What started as a peck turns into something a little more and Steve is glad he put some trousers on over his swim trunks.

"Danno!" says Grace, who apparently has chosen this moment to come back into the room, and is at that age where public displays of romantic affection are considered gross.

"What?" Danny says. "You stuck us together with all that syrup! I couldn't get away!"

"Sure," Grace says, folding her arms and scowling a little, but she has that same little fond glint in her eyes that her father does when he scolds Steve, and Steve falls in love all over again.