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The Family Line

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Steve enters his father's house with grim determination. It's been almost twenty years since he's been here, and as many things look different, even more things look the same. It irks Steve that Victor Hesse was in this house, in this place Steve wasn't allowed to come back to for so many years. He'd talked to his father on the phone periodically, but hadn't seen him in person since he was sixteen.

So many things had happened during the intervening years, Steve felt he was walking into a stranger's house, which only had a passing resemblance to the childhood home he'd spent nineteen years alternately trying to remember or trying to forget.

Still, Steve knew his father better than the crime scene techs who processed the scene. He'd been begging his father for almost ten years to get a computer, or at least a phone capable of email. While in the service, it was difficult for Steve to be available for phone calls, and he ended up playing voicemail tag with his father more often than not.

Which is why the space on the desk, just big enough for a computer, is suspicious.

Steve needs to dust for prints, but it's not like he brought a forensics kit with him. This should've been something the crime scene techs did, but it looks like if Steve wants this done right, he might have to do it himself.

The model cars on the windowsill of the office catch Steve's eye and suddenly he has an idea. The wheel lube his father always used on his models is a powder. It should work nicely, and it does. Steve snaps a picture of the palm print, intending to send it to his CO for someone in Naval Intelligence to run through the databases.

That, along with the small-ish boot print, might get Steve closer to Hesse than he's been in six years.

It has to be enough.

In the garage, Steve's surprised to find the old Marquis still there, sitting under a dusty tarp. He wonders if his father has worked on it at all during the past nineteen years, and when he pulls back the tarp, it's obvious he has. Some of the parts are still old and tarnished, while others are shiny and new. Steve's father must have spent a lot of his time after retirement working on this car.

Steve wonders with a sharp pain of grief if Dad ever got the old girl to start.

He turns away from the car, overwhelmed, and his eye lands on his father's old red tool box. A paint spill has covered part of the label on the front, turning "Champion" into "Champ", and suddenly Steve's last conversation with his father starts to make more sense. Whatever's in this box, it must've been important, for Steve's father to make sure he mentioned it in code, when he knew his life was about to end.

The first few items in the box are puzzling, but it's the tape recorder with his father's voice that really intrigues Steve. Corruption in the HPD? Steve's father unable to trust anyone but himself?

If Steve hadn't been on the phone and hadn't heard the gunshot that killed his father, he'd almost suspect it was this investigation that got him killed.

Steve hears someone moving around in the house, and his first instinct is to protect this box and everything in it. He closes it up and latches it, drawing his weapon on whoever it is coming into his father's house. They might even be here for this evidence, if they knew John had it.

It's that haole cop Chin Ho mentioned, fresh to the department from the mainland. The odds that he's here for the evidence drop dramatically, but Steve still tries to take the box with him. It's not until he passes the detective and breathes in the slightly sweaty scent of him that Steve recognizes Danny Williams.

Steve is almost certain that this Danny Williams just so happens to be the same Danny that Steve had a one night stand with, back when he was a few years out of Annapolis and serving in Naval Intelligence.

Well, technically it was a one night stand with Danny and his girlfriend, Rachel.

Danny doesn't seem to recognize Steve at all. To be fair, it took Steve a moment to recognize Danny. After all, it was just the one night, and it was a long time ago, and in DC, not Hawaii. They both look a little different than they did back then.

Right now, Steve has more important things to worry about than a night long gone. He's got a limited amount of time before Victor Hesse is in the wind. He can catch up with Danny some other time. Right now, he has to protect his father's evidence before the rest of HPD finds it and buries it.

Steve takes just one step toward the door when Danny says, "Leave the box, or get arrested."

"Yeah?" Steve asks with a laugh, sure Danny has no idea how dangerous Steve can be. "You gonna call for backup?"

That's what cops do, don't they? Call for backup, and pretty soon this place is going to be crawling with cops. Any of them could be in on the corruption.

Danny, however, does something unexpected and says, "An ambulance."

The dangerous tone in Danny's voice reminds Steve of that night and sends a shiver down his spine. Danny is serious, and though Steve has height and reach on Danny, he'd be blind not to notice the bulk of muscle under Danny's ridiculous dress shirt. Fighting his way out of this is going to be messy, so Steve's just going to have to think his way out instead.

The governor's offer skates across Steve's memory, and it's the perfect solution. He sets down the box on the trunk of the Marquis.

"Thank you," Danny says, and Steve can't help but wonder if Danny recognizes him yet.

"Don't thank me yet," Steve replies, pulling his phone from his pocket and dialing the number he programmed in on the ride from Hickam to Punchbowl Cemetery. He hadn't intended on taking the job, but the Governor said she knew his father. It never hurt to have someone that high up in your corner.

Steve's move, transferring to the Governor's task force, seems to irk Danny, and Steve can't help but feel pleased for outmaneuvering Danny and getting under his skin. Steve might just be pulling pigtails at this point, but it's something he can worry about after he finds Victor Hesse and looks into his father's last case.

After all, Steve just agreed to move back here to Hawaii. He and Danny will be living in the same city for more than the night Steve had last time. Steve might just have to remind Danny about what they shared all those years ago, if Danny doesn't remember on his own first.

~*~

"I'm glad you decided to come over," Steve says to Danny as they sit at the edge of the lawn, watching Grace play in the sand, down near the water. "I know we got off to a rocky start, and–"

"Rocky start?" Danny cuts Steve off, laughing. "I got shot, Steve! I'd call that a little more than rocky. Don't you agree?"

The smile Danny gives him makes Steve's heart flutter in his chest. It reminds Steve of that club in DC, of the way Danny looked at him all those years ago. Everything about Danny reminds Steve of that night, the night that's emblazoned in his memory almost as deeply as any of his memories.

And yet, Steve can't get any indication that Danny remembers that night, or him.

"Yeah, little bit," Steve replies, looking back out over the water. If Danny doesn't remember that night, Steve's not going to remind him. Or maybe Danny does remember, and he'd rather not talk about it. If that's the case, Steve thinks maybe he should be lucky Danny's speaking to him at all.

Watching Grace play down in the sand, Steve misses his father, just as intently as he did in those first few moments after he heard the gunshots that took John McGarrett away. Steve remembers the way his dad used to sit up here, in this chair, and watch Steve and his sister play on the beach. Usually he'd nurse a cold beer (but never more than one, just in case he had to jump out into the water after them).

Steve would think Grace looks a little bit like Mary, playing like she used to, but Mary was always so blonde as a child.

Mary didn't even show up at the funeral. Steve went as far as to buy her a plane ticket and bribe one of his buddies at Coronado to drive her to the airport, but she didn't get on the plane. She just … walked away.

Steve figures after the way Dad walked away from him and Mary, maybe that was her right to skip the funeral. Still, losing Dad so soon after losing Freddie, Steve needed Mary there, and she didn't come.

Maybe it was impulsive and coming from a place of grief when Steve left the Navy, but he felt more grounded standing there in his father's garage, looking at the man Steve hadn't stopped thinking about in almost ten years, than he had felt since jumping out of that plane, Freddie at his side. Meeting Danny again had turned Steve upside down as well, but it had also given him a new purpose, along with finding his father's killer.

Grace runs up the beach, something in her hand. "Daddy! Steve! Look what I found!" she cries, coming to a stop right in front of them, and holding up a shell. "Isn't it cool?"

Steve notices the exact lines of Grace's gap-toothed smile, and there's something familiar about it that he just can't place. He nods and puts on an appropriate face, saying, "Yeah, Grace! That's great! You know, I used to find shells just like that one on this beach when I was a kid."

"Woah," Grace replies, her eyes wide, impressed. "That was a long time ago!"

Danny snickers and Steve can't help but smile in his direction. "Not that long ago," Steve insists.

Grace shrugs, smile returning as she says, "I'm gonna go look for more!"

As Grace reaches the water, Danny says, "Thanks for inviting us over, man. You didn't have to do that."

Steve shrugs. "It's not like I was doing anything else this weekend."

Sitting back in his chair, Danny takes a sip of his beer. "You're telling me Steve McGarrett, pride and joy of Oahu, doesn't have friends here on the island to occupy his time?"

"Not really," Steve replies, picking at the label on his bottle. "I've been away for almost twenty years." He shakes his head. "You're telling me you still hung out with your high school friends when you lived in New Jersey?"

"Some of them," Danny says with a nod. "Yeah, sure. And my brother, and his friends. And if I didn't go to my parents' house at least every other week, I'd get the guilt trip of a lifetime." He looks over at Steve. "But I guess you don't really have a lot of that here, either. Sorry."

"It's okay." Steve waves off Danny's concern, though he has to admit he appreciates it. Then Steve has an idea, a way to test out what Danny does or does not know. "I like having you guys around. You feel familiar, almost. Are you sure we haven't met before? On the East Coast?"

Danny frowns, looking up at the sky for a few seconds before shaking his head. "No, I don't think so. And believe me, I'd remember meeting someone as horrible as you." Danny's smiling, which means he's being facetious, and trying to get a laugh.

Steve chuckles, smiling as he says, "You got a little bit of a bad attitude, don't you, Danny?" Then, he decides to go for broke. "Maybe you should get laid more often."

Scoffing, Danny shakes his head. He points at Steve with his free hand and says, "Unless you're volunteering, you should mind your own business."

A thrill runs up the back of Steve's neck at the memory of putting his mouth around Danny's cock, and it makes him wonder if Danny tastes the same as he did all those years ago. Steve wants to know, desperately, but he also doesn't want to drive Danny away. He wants to, no needs to keep Danny in his life, so Steve doesn't reply overtly so much as give Danny a lingering smile.

Danny raises his eyebrows and opens his mouth, but before he can say anything, Grace runs up to them, "Daddy, Daddy, I found a starfish! Come see!"

Giving Steve one last look, Danny turns his attention toward Grace. "Yeah, sure, Monkey. Let's go see the starfish."

Steve watches them head down to the water, hand-in-hand, and wonders if he and Danny are ever going to continue that conversation.

~*~

A week later, and Danny still hasn't broached the topic of making their relationship non-platonic. Steve hasn't brought it up either, but he's ready and willing to talk it over whenever Danny wants. Steve thinks about mentioning it once or twice. He thinks a lot about inviting Danny back to his house, about picking up where they left off nine years ago.

Danny still hasn't given any indication that he recognizes Steve.

It drives Steve up the wall, to be honest.

Does Steve just not have a memorable face? Had Danny and Rachel done something like that many, many times? Had they done it so often that Steve's is just one face in a dozen? One in a hundred?

Steve would be lying if he tried to say he wasn't at least vaguely offended. Mostly he doesn't say anything at all. It was an important night in Steve's life, in his realizations about what kind of person he is, in the types of people that he likes.

None of those thoughts are in Steve's head when he chases Reggie Little into a shop and tackles him to the ground, subduing him before he can lash out at anyone else with that knife in his hand. Little's tied up, spitting and cursing, before Steve looks up to see what sort of shop he's in.

The display of garishly-colored dildos right in front of his nose tells Steve that this is a sex shop. He stands up quickly, almost runs into a rack full of frilly and see-through lingerie, and decides the best course of action is to keep his hands and arms as close to his body as possible.

Danny swaggers into the shop like he belongs there, slowly blinking as he looks around and then homes in on Steve's face. "Good going, Superman," Danny says, nodding down at Little, who's still belly-down on the ground. "Let's get him up, bring him in."

Steve grins at Danny.

Holding up a finger, Danny cries, "No! Don't you say it!"

"Book 'im, Danno!"

The frustration on Danny's face is completely worth whatever retribution he's going to take later. At this point, Steve is fairly certain Danny's only retaliatory actions are passive-aggressive insults and sass, both of which Steve can handle in spades. Loves to handle in spades.

Kono and Chin come into the shop, their weapons drawn, but down. Looking around, Kono's mouth drops open, but her eyes smile. She holsters her weapon and picks up a pair of handcuffs covered in pink fuzz. She drops one of the cuffs in front of Danny's face and says, "Hey, look, Danny! Think these would be more comfortable for the perps to wear?"

Batting them away, Danny says with a suggestive drawl, "Nah. Plain old cuffs are always good enough for me."

At the thought of Danny using cuffs to tie up a partner, or to let a partner tie up him, Steve has to clench his fists tightly and breathe very carefully to avoid having a physical reaction in front of his coworkers (his subordinate coworkers). Working with Danny is going to fucking kill him.

Kono laughs. "Oh, is that right? Who're you tying up on your down time, Danny?"

Danny grabs Little and starts marching him toward the door, saying to Kono, "Like I told certain other people, if you ain't volunteering, it ain't any of your business."

Kono and Chin burst into laughter and Steve hurries to catch up with Danny. Outside, Danny hands off Little to the beat cop who shows up in her squad car, and then he and Steve start walking back toward where they left the Camaro.

Halfway there, Danny says, "You don't look like you enjoyed the sex shop very much, Steven. What, are you a prude under all that muscle?"

"Prude? What? No," Steve splutters, face flaring hot as he's sure he's not helping his case any here.

"Because, you know, people like lots of different things in the bedroom, and being judgmental about it makes you kind of an asshole." Danny raises his eyebrows and looks Steve right in the eyes as he shrugs. "I'm just saying."

Steve kind of wants to punch Danny right now, because Danny should fucking remember exactly how nonjudgmental Steve can be. Oh, what's that Danny? You don't remember how I'm one of the – many, apparently – guys you and your wife invited to join you in the bedroom? You don't remember watching me fuck Rachel? You don't remember me giving you the first and only blowjob I've ever given in my life? Fuck you very fucking much.

But Steve doesn't say those things because he doesn't want to drive Danny away. So, he thinks fast and says, "Look, there's a line. In the workplace, there's a line. Is all."

Danny nods, kind of tilting his whole body along with the gesture. "Yeah, okay. You're not worried about brutality lawsuits, abuse of power lawsuits, or reckless endangerment charges, all of which I could testify against you for, by the way. But, you are worried about a sexual harassment lawsuit? You are a strange cop, McGarrett."

"I'm not a cop, Danny," Steve retorts, half-wondering if he should be worried about any of those other lawsuit possibilities, or if Danny is just being a worrywart, like usual. "I'm a SEAL. The Navy is very serious about keeping things..." Steve sighs, because he knows this sounds like he doesn't want to be with Danny, when he absolutely does. "Professional."

"That doesn't sound like much fun," Danny says with a shrug, resuming the walk back to the car.

Steve squints at the side of Danny's face as they walk. What is Danny going for here? Is he trying to be friendly with Steve? Is he trying for something else?

Eventually, Steve stays on the party line and says, "It makes for a more comfortable working environment for the female officers. I mean, if Grace were to join the Navy, would you want–"

"Woah, woah, woah," Danny says, stopping short and waving his arms around wildly. "Hold it right there. My little Gracie is never joining the Navy! What, are you insane?"

Steve rolls his eyes. "Alright, but if she were? All I'm saying is save the dirty jokes for off-duty hours, alright?"

Danny blinks at Steve for a moment, and when he does speak, his voice is softer, almost fond. "Yeah, okay. Alright."

"Okay," Steve replies, cuffing Danny's shoulder to get him to turn and keep walking. "First thing after we clock out, I got a great one for you."

Danny chuckles. "Yeah, alright. Looking forward to it."

~*~

At first, Steve thinks he finds Grace's smile familiar because she's Danny's daughter, and Steve can't help but stare at Danny's mouth all the time. The more and more Steve catalogues the way Danny's mouth moves as he smiles, as he speaks, as he frowns, Steve realizes that's not it. Grace doesn't look much like Danny at all. She has a few of his mannerisms, she says some things the same way Danny would, but she doesn't look like Danny in any apparent way.

Well, Steve figures he looks a lot more like his mother than like his father. Mary takes after their father's mother more than anyone else. Sometimes genes just aren't that straightforward.

But then Steve gets curious. What if Danny isn't her father? What if Rachel cheated on him and lied? What if one of the (apparently many, if neither of them remember Steve) men they had threesomes with is the father?

What if Steve is Grace's father?

No, that's a stupid thought. Grace is obviously Danny's. There's no question.

Still, as Steve drives Danny through Honolulu, on their way from the crime scene back to HQ, his curiosity gets the better of him. "So, how old is Grace?"

"Uh, eight," Danny says with a smile. "Just turned this summer. She's in third grade this year."

"Summer?" Steve asks, trying to remember what month he was in DC nine years ago. If it was September, like he seems to remember it being, the dates might line up. "Nice. Mary's birthday is in August. Is Grace one of the older kids in the class, or younger?" "Younger," Danny says. "Her birthday's June 3rd. Usually Stan throws her a combined birthday party and end-of-school party." He laughs bitterly. "Last year they had ponies."

"Ponies, wow," Steve replies, his mind not really on the conversation. He'll have to look back through his personnel file, but early June fits.

Steve could be Grace's father.

But no. Of course he's not. Danny is Grace's father. Steve just happened to hook up with Danny and Rachel around the same time Grace was conceived. That's it. End of story.

~*~

"Do all the rest of you drunkards have rides home?" Danny asks Chin and Kono, taking one last sip of his Coke and pushing it away. "Like, can you cab it, or am I DD tonight for everyone?"

Steve smiles at Danny, feeling warm all over. He really likes Danny. He can't tell Danny that, especially not while he's drunk.

Kono turns to Chin and asks, "Wanna share a cab, cuz? Our houses aren't that far apart."

"Yeah, I suppose we could do that," Chin says. He leans toward Steve, tequila still on his breath, "You know, you should just take a cab home, too. Let Danny go to bed."

That sounds like the worst idea in the list of bad ideas Steve has ever heard. Take a cab, when he could ride in the Camaro with Danny? Yeah, no thanks. "He promised to be DD! I'm gonna take advantage."

"No, what I said," Danny cuts in, "is that I can't afford to be hungover tomorrow because I have to meet with Grace's teacher first thing in the morning. Hence only one beer, and perfect driving skills. You're the one who designated me the driver, even though every other day you're the one driving my car."

"Can I please get a ride home, Danny?" Steve asks, giving Danny his best approximation of a humble face.

Danny throws up his hands. "Fine! Fine, but c'mon. Like I said, I've got an early morning."

Steve's already paid his portion of the tab, so he hops to his feet (perfectly, he might add), and follows Danny. As he goes, Steve waves goodbye to the others, and then slings his arm around Danny's shoulders. "Thanks, buddy."

"You're welcome," Danny says, chuckling as they get out of the bar and to the Camaro. Steve's feeling a little clumsy, but he manages to get into the car and get buckled in without too much difficulty, despite the way Danny's laughing at him.

"Shut up," Steve says, but he's laughing too, tipping his head back against the headrest.

They drive together in silence, Steve letting the pleasantness of the night wash over him. He looks over and watches Danny drive, his hands sure on the steering wheel. He grips the wheel more tightly when the road narrows, and more loosely when the road widens again. Steve thinks about what those hands would feel like wrapped around his cock, and would you look at that? Steve's not too drunk to get hard.

In fact, the longer they drive, the less drunk Steve feels, and the more he feels like making a move on Danny would be a good idea.

As they near the East end of the city and get close to Steve's house, Steve says, "Hey, Danno?"

"Yeah?" Danny replies, his eyes on the dark road.

"You got your handcuffs on you?" Steve grins over at Danny, but Danny doesn't look at him, and besides it's probably too dark for Danny to read Steve's face with any accuracy.

"Why?" Danny asks, his voice full of confusion and incredulity. "You got the urge to arrest someone?"

Steve sighs. This is going to be more difficult than he thought. "Do you have them or not?"

"They're in the lockbox in the trunk, along with my gun," Danny says, making the turn into Steve's neighborhood. The porch lights on the houses do almost nothing to combat the vast darkness of being on an island in the middle of the ocean. Steve likes the darkness. It makes it easier to see the stars.

Steve turns in his seat, the better to see Danny's face in the light coming from the dashboard. "You ever find anyone you wanted to use them with?"

"Did I ever…" Danny repeats, like he's trying to understand what Steve's getting at. He turns the Camaro sharply, correcting it back on the path of the road and away from the mailboxes at the curb. "Holy shit, Steve! I'm driving!"

"Is that a no?" Steve asks. "No one in your love life right now?"

"Why?" Danny shoots back, breaking hard as he almost misses the turn onto Steve's street. "This is harassment, as per your rules, Steven. And it's none of your business."

"Unless I'm volunteering," Steve says, turning that phrase back on Danny. "Well, consider this me, volunteering."

Danny breathes heavily through his nose as he drives. After a moment, he says, "You're drunk."

"Not so drunk anymore," Steve insists, carefully putting his hand on Danny's shoulder. "If you want to wait until tomorrow, I'll volunteer again. Or…"

Danny's teeth are clenched as he replies, "Or what?"

Steve smirks. He's got Danny on the hook now. He waits until Danny pulls into his driveway and puts the Camaro into park. Steve leans closer to Danny and says, "Or, I'll let you cuff me to my bed tonight, and let you do whatever you want to me."

"Fuck," Danny groans, grabbing Steve by the sides of his head and kissing him roughly. When he lets go, there's this moment where Steve is sure Danny's about to change his mind. Danny says, "Get out of the car," and Steve's heart just drops.

"Danny, I–"

Danny kills the engine, saying, "I swear to god, Steven, if you don't get out of this car and let me into your house right now, I'm gonna change my mind."

Steve scrambles to get out of the car. He beats Danny to the front door just barely, and while he's trying to unlock the door, Danny catches up. Danny's hands run up Steve's sides and around his chest, and Danny's pressed hot against Steve's ass and back. "How'd you even know I'd be into you, or any guy?"

Door unlocked, Steve pushes it open and turns in Danny's arms as he flicks on the living room light. "I had a hunch," he says, pulling Danny into the house and shutting the door behind him. When Danny pulls, Steve falls into another kiss, and then another.

God, Steve has missed this. He only ever got to experience it that one night, and he feared maybe he'd built it up in his head, that reality could never compare. With Danny's hands on Steve's face, and Danny's lips pulling at Steve's, Danny's tongue licking into Steve's mouth, it totally compares to Steve's imagination. Outstrips it, even.

Steve's got Danny halfway up the stairs when Danny lets out a sharp breath and says, "Shit."

"What?" Steve asks, pulling back and searching Danny's face to make sure he's okay.

"I forgot the cuffs in the car," Danny says.

Steve waits for there to be more to Danny's misgiving, but that's all he's giving, so Steve lets out an amused breath. "I don't need them if you don't."

Blinking at Steve for a moment, Danny seems to ponder that statement. It only takes him a few seconds before he nods and says, "Next time."

"Next time," Steve agrees, pulling Danny the rest of the way up the stairs and into his bedroom.

Danny follows eagerly, and Steve doesn't even care if he ends up regretting this decision later.

~*~

Steve's made it halfway through reorganizing the living room bookshelf, when Danny comes into the room with two mugs of coffee. It's the third time he's spent the night, and the first morning he didn't have to rush out of the house right away. Steve tries to tell himself not to get too used to Danny sticking around in the morning. Their sexual relationship is barely a week old.

Still, Steve can't help but imagine every morning starting this way.

He takes the mug Danny offers him. "Thanks."

Danny smiles and doesn't duck away when Steve leans closer to press a kiss against Danny's lips. "You're welcome." He looks down at the piles of books and things, and points to one in particular. "Is this what I think it is?"

Taking a sip of the coffee (which is a little too sweet for Steve's taste, but he's not going to complain about being brought fresh coffee in his own house), Steve replies, "What do you think it is?"

Danny sets his mug down on the coffee table and picks up one of the books. "This is a photo album. Have we got pictures of little Steve in here?"

Steve shrugs, refusing to let Danny embarrass him. He saw the albums when he was unloading the bookshelf, but he deliberately didn't pay much attention to them. They undoubtedly have pictures of Mom before she died, and Steve didn't feel like confronting those particular feelings at that moment.

"If you don't want me to look at them, I won't look," Danny says, even though he's got one of the big albums in his hands.

Steve looks over at Danny, at beautiful Danny, who is just so amazing with Grace, and who's got a sentimental streak a mile wide. Steve thinks that if he looks at the photos with Danny, it'll be more fun than looking at them alone. "Nah," Steve says, abandoning the bookshelf and dropping down onto the couch. "C'mon, let's take a look."

Danny smiles like it's Christmas morning and sits down on the couch right next to Steve. "I can't wait to see what awful haircuts you had as a kid."

"I think this one's mostly my baby pictures," Steve replies as Danny cracks open the cover of the album. There's a faded polaroid of Mom in the hospital, holding Steve just after he was born. There's more early baby pictures, which Danny coos over, and then a few pages later, they're into the toddler and preschool-era photos.

"Holy shit," Danny says, pointing at a picture of Steve wearing a bowl on his head.

Laughing, Steve asks, "What?"

"It's funny how much kids all look alike," Danny replies, "because I swear I have this exact same picture of Grace." He holds up his finger and pulls his phone out of his pocket. After poking and swiping at it for a moment, Danny turns the screen toward Steve. "She was three."

It's not hard to see the resemblance. Grace's eyes are brown, instead of blue, and her hair is longer, but with the bowl on both of their heads, the similarities between their cheeks, their noses, and their chins is impossible to ignore. Steve's stray thought from a few weeks ago comes rushing back in. He could be Grace's father. Clearing his throat, Steve says, "Yeah. I was three in this picture, too."

Danny smiles at the picture of Grace one last time, and then puts his phone away. "What else is in here?" Danny pages through the rest of the album.

Steve sees Grace in every single picture of himself, and even in some of the ones of Mary. He watches the side of Danny's face and tells himself to get used to keeping the secret from Danny. Danny needs that little girl in his life more than Steve does, and Steve loves Danny too much to do anything that might take her away.

As far as Steve understands, Danny's had a hard time winning custody from Rachel and her millionaire husband. Steve definitely doesn't want to give them anything (like lack of paternity) to use against Danny. If Danny lost Grace because of Steve? Steve wouldn't be able to stand it.

~*~

As luck would have it, a case eventually brings them to Rachel's place, even though Steve has no clue whose house it is until Rachel's opening the door. Steve stands there, waiting for Rachel to recognize him any second, but she seems more interested in antagonizing Danny.

Jesus, Steve must've been completely forgettable. Was his performance that bad? Certainly it had been the first time Steve had ever had a threesome, and the first time he'd ever sucked a dick. Actually, the first and only time for either of those things until he and Danny started trading blowjobs when they got together three months earlier.

Rachel finally extends her hand toward Steve. "It's very nice to meet you," she says, overly polite with a scathing look for Danny as Steve takes her hand and shakes it.

"You, too," Steve replies. Hey, we've actually met before. I'm 95% sure I'm your daughter's biological father. So glad I made a lasting impression that one night almost ten years ago. You know the night? I slept with you and your then-husband, who's now my partner and boyfriend?

Steve doesn't say any of that out loud.

They head up to Rachel and Stan's bedroom, because that's where the best view of the neighbors' house is, and as they stand around awkwardly, Steve gets the weirdest sense of deja vu. They're all ten years older, and now it's Steve and Danny who are together, rather than Rachel and Danny. And Steve's the only one who remembers it happening at all.

When Rachel offers tea, Steve accepts, much to Danny's annoyance. Seeing them interact now is weird, because Steve remembers how they were so in love, so passionate for each other, despite the fact they invited Steve into bed with them. He guesses a lot can change in nine years.

While they're watching the suspects, and after Rachel has left to deliver an overnight bag to Grace, Steve gets the rundown on how Danny and Rachel met. Steve asks, "What year was that?"

"Uh," Danny says, looking up and tapping his fingers together as he remembers. "I guess it was during '99 sometime. I'd been on the force almost two years." He smiles fondly. "Rachel helped me study for my detective exam."

There's some of that love Steve remembers. He wonders if maybe the divorce was on the uneven side. "So what happened?"

Shrugging, Danny shakes his head and throws up his hands. "I don't know, honestly. Our relationship was really fun and exciting for a good couple of years. And then one day, Rachel woke up married to a cop, and decided it wasn't really for her." He shrugs again. "What're you gonna do?"

"Yeah," Steve replies, checking on the suspects again. "I hear having kids can put a real strain on a relationship."

"Maybe that was part of it," Danny replies with a sigh. "I don't know. I mean, I wouldn't trade Grace for anything, so if that's what I had to go through to get her, it was worth it."

Steve looks away, unable to meet Danny's eyes for a moment. If Danny ever finds out he's not Grace's biological father, it's going to break his heart. Steve thinks about living without knowing for sure whether or not Grace is his, and he can't stand the thought.

Getting a paternity test run won't be too difficult, if Steve asks Max for the favor with just the right incentive thrown in. The problem is going to be keeping Danny from finding out during the process.

When Steve takes a bathroom break (down the hall, because using the master bathroom feels creepy), he notices one of the other bedroom doors is open, and the room beyond is very pink. He can't help but stand at the doorway and peek into the room. It's a lot bigger than the room Steve had as a child, and a lot more feminine. Steve notices the soccer trophy in a place of honor atop one of the dressers, and he's glad Grace has at least some experience with sports, besides the tennis lessons or whatever else Rachel has her in.

There are drawings all over the place, and stuffed animals, and a few toys here and there, and Steve has to take a deep breath and let it out slowly. He's missed so much. Steve doesn't know how anything could've been any different. Even if he had given his number to Danny and Rachel, they never would have called it. They had no reason to believe Danny wasn't Grace's father.

Steve knows he used protection with Rachel. He always has. Every single time. He's never had a girlfriend long enough to have the talk about getting tested and getting rid of the condoms. Even with Catherine, things had been so off and on for so long that the topic had never come up.

Danny's the first person Steve thinks he could get there with.

"Steve? We've got movement!"

Steve shakes himself out of his thoughts and heads back into the master bedroom. He can wonder more about his and Danny's personal relationship later. Right now, he's got work to do.

~*~

"Come on, baby," says Rachel, her accented voice soft and alluring. "Come upstairs with us."

Steve's head is swimming in the loud, stuffy air of the bar. Rachel's hands are on the back of Steve's neck and on his chest. Danny's hands are on his hips, fingers digging in pleasantly.

"I've never done anything like this," Steve says, his lips heavy with the whiskey he's been drinking.

"Just give it a try," Rachel insists, her hand trailing down his chest to cup his cock where it's hard in his pants. "It's just one night."

Steve kisses her and the club has disappeared. He's in a hotel room, on his knees, Rachel draped around him, her hand stroking his cock. "I want to see you try it," Rachel whispers into Steve's ear. Danny's cock is right in front of Steve and he wants more than he can even think of, but mostly he wants to make Rachel happy.

He leans forward, opening his mouth and letting his tongue relax. Above Steve, Danny rumbles, his voice low, "Fucking beautiful, babe." Danny holds his cock in one hand, rubbing the head lightly against Steve's tongue.

Steve shivers and groans, inhaling deeply and pulling at Danny's cock with his lips. It's different, but so good and Steve wants so much more.

"Fuck, that's hot," Rachel whispers. "Keep going."

Steve lets himself grab Danny's hips, grip Danny's ass, pull Danny closer and suck Danny hard enough to make him cry out. Steve knows this isn't quite right, because the first time there was a condom, and he doesn't remember being this good at taking Danny apart the first time.

He looks up, and Danny's looking down at Steve, eyes hooded and hand cupping Steve's stretched-open jaw. "We're going to fuck you so good," Danny murmurs, and Steve starts to come in Rachel's hand.

Last time Steve didn't come until he was inside Rachel, and that's how…

Steve wakes up, his cock achingly hard. His face is buried in the back of Danny's neck, his arm draped across Danny's waist. Oh, God. Steve can't help but touch Danny, run his hand down Danny's side to his naked ass. "D-Danny?" Steve croaks, his voice cracking after a night of disuse.

"Mmm?" Danny replies, sucking in a breath through his nose when Steve finds Danny's cock and strokes it.

"Need to fuck you," Steve admits, pressing his cock against the cleft of Danny's ass cheeks. "Please?"

"Mmph," Danny says, but he reaches out and opens the bedside drawer, taking out the lube and handing it to Steve over his shoulder.

Steve doesn't waste any time. He slicks up his fingers and works them into Danny. He's sleepy and relaxed, so it doesn't take long, and then Steve's sliding in with a sigh of relief. "Oh, god, thank you, Danny."

Danny groans and tilts his hips. It doesn't take long for Steve to come, though Danny's not quite there yet. Steve pulls out and turns Danny onto his back, scooting down the bed until he can get his mouth on Danny's cock. Danny sucks in a sharp breath and groans. "Fuck, babe. That's good."

Steve sucks harder and looks up at Danny, reminded of his dream. Danny cries out and pushes at Steve's shoulder just before he comes.

Danny laughs and clears his throat, smiling as Steve crawls back up the bed to sprawl halfway on top of Danny. "Not that I'm complaining," Danny says, squeezing Steve close, "but what was that about?"

Steve admits against Danny's jaw, "I had a dream. About you." He leaves out the part about how it was more memory than dream, and that Rachel was there too.

Danny laughs and kisses Steve. "Dreaming about me, huh? Nice."

Steve nibbles at the soft skin of Danny's neck, just to make him squirm.

~*~

Steve notices Grace grimacing during the movie he's watching with her and Danny, but he thinks her expression has to do with the bugs on the TV. A minute later, he hears Danny lean toward Grace and ask quietly, "Everything okay, Monkey?"

When Grace doesn't immediately smile and assure Danny she's alright, Steve pauses the movie. "Gracie?"

Grace closes her eye tightly and puts her hand over her lower stomach. "It kind of hurts," she says.

"Okay," Danny says, reaching for Grace as he gives Steve a worried look. Steve's heart beats wildly in his chest. Is he supposed to do something? He feels like he should be doing something. Turning back toward Grace, Danny asks, "How 'kind of' are we talking about here? Because it looks like maybe it kind of hurts a lot."

Nodding, Grace says, "Yeah. A lot."

Danny puts his hand to Grace's forehead. "No fever."

Grace gets this odd look on her face, and it's an expression Steve's not sure he's ever seen before. The expression does something to Danny, though, because he dumps the remaining popcorn from the bowl onto the coffee table and gets the bowl under Grace's chin right before she throws up, spectacularly. "Ugh, Daddy," she says plaintively, like she knows Danny will make her feel better somehow.

Steve jumps to his feet, even though he's still not sure what he can do to help. Danny, on the other hand, knows what to do without even thinking. Grace is so lucky to have Danny as her dad.

"I know, Monkey," Danny says, petting Grace's hair. "C'mon, up. Let's get to the bathroom."

Grace whines pitifully, so Steve gets around to her other side and crouches down next to her. "Want me to carry you there, Gracie?"

"Mm-hm," she says with another whimper.

Steve gets one arm under Grace's legs and the other around her back. He uses his legs to lift her, but she hardly weighs anything, so it's easy to move her.

Danny gets ahead of them, taking care of the bowl and washing it out. Steve sets Grace down in the bathroom, and almost immediately, she lurches over toward the toilet and vomits again. Steve tries to breathe through his mouth and not his nose.

"Did that help the pain at all?" Steve asks Grace, rubbing her back as she sits down heavily on the bathroom floor.

"No," Grace says, putting her hands over her lower right abdomen.

Steve's heart drops. He puts his hand on Grace's forehead, and he doesn't know what Danny was talking about, she's definitely warmer than she should be. As Danny comes into the bathroom with a blanket, Steve catches Danny's eyes, trying to convey how worried he feels.

Danny puts the blanket around Grace's shoulders and then says, "Hey, Monkey. Uncle Steve and I need to have a talk. You gonna be okay here for a minute or two?"

"Sure," Grace says, resting her forehead on her arm.

Pulling Steve away from the bathroom by his arm, Danny asks, "Stomach bug?"

Steve takes one last look at Gracie, and then turns the corner so Grace can't see him. He pulls Danny along too. "Look, I'm not a doctor, but she's having symptoms I was trained not to ignore. When you've got that right-side pain and a fever, the brass tells you to get to a medic ASAP."

"Why?" Danny asks, his face going pale. "What is it?"

Steve hates the fear in Danny's expression, but he knows he has to air his suspicions. It could mean Grace's life. "Appendicitis."

"Shit," Danny says, exhaling a shaky breath. "Shit. Okay." He presses his hand to his mouth for a long moment. "Let's bundle her up, get her to the ER."

Hours later, after Grace has been taken into emergency surgery to remove her appendix, Steve sits in the waiting room, his arm around Danny's shoulders. Rachel and Stan are sitting across the room, holding hands.

The wait feels interminable, and Steve wonders if it's normal to feel like this, if this is what parenting always feels like. "She's going to be fine," Steve absently tells Danny.

"Yeah," Danny replies, leaning his head back against Steve's shoulder. "Of course. She has to be fine."

A few hours later, the surgeon comes in and assures them that Grace actually is fine, the procedure went well, and that she should be waking up any minute. As Grace's parents clamber into her room, Steve hangs back. He wants to be up there, brushing Grace's hair back into place, holding her hand, but he knows he can't be. Stan barely gets to do more than gingerly pat Grace's ankle, and he's Grace's legal step-father.

Grace is understandably cranky when she wakes, spending just enough time awake to notice everyone there, before she's insisting she has to go back to sleep.

Steve sits in a chair just near the door of Grace's room, and falls asleep. It can't be too much later when Danny squeezes Steve's shoulder and murmurs in his ear. "I'm taking this watch. Rachel and Stan are going to go get some sleep. You should go home too, babe."

"You're staying?" Steve asks, not quite processing all of Danny's words. When Danny nods, Steve says, "Then I'm staying too."

Danny rolls his eyes, but there's a small smile on his lips, and he doesn't argue further. Once Rachel and Steve are gone, the chairs near Grace's bed open up, and Steve moves to one of the recliners. He tells Danny, "Wake me up if anything happens."

It's not until the morning that anything happens. Steve wakes up as a nurse comes into the room to check on Grace, and the look on the nurse's face gives Steve pause. He prods at Danny until Danny wakes as well, just in time for the nurse to come back with a doctor in tow.

"What's going on?" Danny asks the doctor, who gives Grace a smile.

"Oh, nothing too much to worry about," the doctor says. Steve wishes he had this doctor in the interrogation room at HQ. At least there he could do something other than feel completely useless in the face of her obvious lie. "We're going to draw a little blood for our post-operative work-up. The nurse is a little concerned by Grace's blood oxidation, but we'll do our tests and then we'll go from there."

"Blood oxidation?" Danny repeats, like he doesn't quite get it. Maybe he's still half asleep, or maybe he just doesn't understand how there could be something still wrong with his little girl. Steve knows enough med training to hope that this complication is a minor fix, rather than to hope there won't be a complication at all.

Steve puts his hands on Danny's arms and holds him, whispering, "It's okay, Danno. It's okay."

Rachel and Stan have called and are on their way back to the hospital when the doctor returns. She tells Danny, and Steve, by proximity, "Grace has lost more blood than we accounted for during surgery. She's not in much immediate danger, but we would like to give her a transfusion in a few hours, when we get her blood type from the bank downtown."

"You don't have any on hand?" Steve asks, frowning when the doctor shakes her head. "What's her blood type?"

"B negative," the doctor says. "It's very rare, especially here in Hawaii. There's only a few units on the island at any given time. We'd give her O negative in a true emergency, but type-matched has a much lower risk for cross-reactivity."

"I'm B negative," Steve remembers suddenly. "I'll donate."

"Steve," Danny says softly, taking Steve's arm in his hand. "You don't have to–"

"I know, but I want to," Steve insists. He asks the doctor, "Where do I go?"

The doctor gives Steve directions to the phlebotomy lab, just as Rachel and Stan arrive. Steve heads for the door, stopping when Danny calls out, "Steve, wait."

Steve pauses, turning back to watch as Danny kisses Grace's forehead, and then hurries after Steve.

"I'm coming with you," Danny insists.

With a chuckle, Steve says, "I'll be fine. It's just donating blood. I used to do it all the time in the Navy."

"It's not that," Danny replies, following Steve into the elevator to go down to the basement level. "I'm her father. I should at least try and see if I'm a match, too."

"You don't know your blood type?" Steve asks, and Danny shakes his head.

"I mean, it's in my medical records somewhere, but I don't know it off the top of my head." Danny shrugs. "Doesn't hurt to try, does it?"

"No, of course not," Steve replies, putting his arm over Danny's shoulders and holding him close. Steve can't help but feel nervous, though. He can't quite remember how blood types go, genetically. What if Danny's blood type reveals the fact that he's not Grace's father? What if this one little thing, this thing they're doing to keep Grace healthy, makes everything fall apart? Steve kisses the side of Danny's head and tries not to think about that possibility too hard.

Things get a little tricky when Steve and Danny have to fill out a questionnaire before donating. Steve has definitely been out of the country in the past three years, and oh, look at that, he has had sex with a man ever in his life. Shit.

Steve must be staring at the form for too long, because Danny leans over and whispers, "Just lie."

"But, Grace?" Steve asks. He wanted to do this for her, how now…

"Will be fine if she gets your blood," Danny insists. "We went and got tested together, so I know we're good."

"Your call," Steve says, checking the "no" box.

He only feels slightly bad signing his name to a less-than-true statement.

"Good news," the doctor says an hour later, while Steve and Danny are back up in Grace's room, bandages on the insides of their elbows. "Commander McGarrett's blood was a great match. We're going to start the transfusion now."

Rachel reaches over and puts a hand on Steve's arm. "Thank you."

"I'm happy to," Steve replies, sharing a smile with Grace, and then Danny. "Whatever you guys need."

~*~

Steve wishes there was some other way to do this, but the information his team needs is in the brain of one of Danny's CIs, and she'll only talk to Danny. Sighing, Steve heads up the stairs of Danny's porch and heads right in. "Hey, it's me," he calls into the apartment. "Danny?"

The apartment's tiny, so it doesn't take long for Danny to come out from the back room and greet Steve with a short kiss. "Hey, babe. What's up?"

Steve explains the situation at HQ, watching as Danny's expression falls.

"I'm supposed to have another day and a half with her while she recovers from the surgery," Danny says, almost pouting. "If I have to bring her back to Rachel early…"

"I can stay with her," Steve offers. "I mean, you're only going to be at HQ for an hour, tops. Just get what we need from the CI, and then come back, and I'll go back to work."

The edges of Danny's lips twitch upward. "You'd do that?"

"Sure." Steve smiles and guides Danny in the direction of the door. "Besides, you've been home with her for two days straight. You probably need a little break, huh?"

Danny rolls his eyes, stepping into his shoes and pointing at Steve. "I'm doing this for the case, not for myself."

"Whatever you say, Danno."

Danny says a quick goodbye to his daughter, and then Steve is left alone with Grace.

He's glad that she's eight, because he'd probably have no clue how to take care of a younger kid. He goes into the bedroom and sits at the foot of Grace's bed. "Hey. How're you feeling?"

"Better," Grace insists. Somewhat hopefully, she asks, "Good enough to get out of bed and play?"

She's got this twinkle in her eye that Steve recognizes from growing up with Mary, who always did everything in her power to get around the rules. "How about we play something while you're in bed?" Steve suggests, looking around the room. "Your dad keep a deck of playing cards around here somewhere?"

"The drawer across from the sink," Grace replies, and Steve quickly retrieves the cards, opening them as he walks back to the bedroom.

Steve shuffles the cards and asks, "You want to play Go Fish or something?"

"Texas Hold 'Em?" Grace says in counter-offer, her face completely serious.

Steve can't help but be a little amused (and a little scared) that poker is Grace's game of choice. He's sure that was Danny's doing, and Steve sort of loves Danny for raising Grace this way. "Something tells me it would be unwise to play you for money."

"When I play with Danno, we usually bet pennies," she says, taking the cards from Steve's hand and shuffling them expertly, despite her tiny fingers. "There's a jar over there on the dresser."

Steve spots the jar right away. "Well, if we're playing for Danno's money, I don't see the harm." He winks at Grace, which makes her laugh.

As he retrieves the penny jar, Steve feels his heart clench. In this moment, he desperately wants to be responsible for the existence of this amazing person.

~*~

Sitting on Danny's bed, waiting for Danny to be done in the shower, Steve thinks through the evidence he has. About nine months before Grace was born, Steve had sex with Rachel (and Danny, but that's beside the point). Grace bears a strong resemblance to Steve's childhood pictures. He and Grace share the same blood type.

It's good evidence, but it's not definitive, and Steve needs to know whether or not Grace is his daughter.

He stands up and heads to Grace's room. She's staying at Rachel's today, which means her room is empty, but Steve still feels a little weird wandering into it. All he needs is a DNA sample. Something simple like – like the hairbrush on her dresser.

Before he can think about it too much, Steve grabs the brush and pulls out a bunch of the hair, making sure he has at least some strands that are still attached to their root ends. The shower in the other room turns off, so Steve leaves the brush and moves quickly to the kitchen, where he finds a plastic sandwich bag to store the hair in. He gets the hair in, and the zipper on the bag closed just before Danny leaves the bathroom.

"Hey," Danny says as he heads back toward the closet where he keeps his clothes. "Where was it you wanted to go for breakfast?"

"Wherever you want," Steve replies, shoving the bag as deep into his pocket as it will go.

It takes far too long for Steve's liking to manufacture an excuse to be away from Danny for a few hours, but eventually Steve manages it. He ends up at the medical examiner's office, because where else is he going to go? "Max?"

"In here, Commander," Max calls from the lab portion of his office.

Steve tries not to look too hard at the body on Max's table. "Hey, how's it going?"

"Not badly, at all." Max smiles and moves part of the body into a big metal bowl. Steve clenches his jaw and looks at Max's face. "What brings you to my humble neck of the woods today? I assured Sergeant Lukela that this is most likely death by natural causes."

"It's not about a case," Steve admits, crossing his hands over his chest and looking away toward the wall. "I wondered if I could ask a favor." Steve grudgingly meets Max's eyes, to better convince him to do this. "A personal favor?"

Stammering for a moment, Max says, "O-of course. What is the favor?"

With a sigh, Steve takes the bag out of his pocket. "I need you to run this sample for DNA."

"Against what?" Max asks, stripping out of his gloves and paper apron.

Steve closes his eyes and takes another breath before admitting, "Against my DNA."

~*~

"What's going on with you?" Danny asks, straddling Steve's hips and sitting on his thighs. Steve automatically finds his hands on Danny's hips.

Kissing Danny's jaw and wishing neither of them were wearing pants, Steve replies, "What do you mean?"

"What do I mean?" Danny asks with a scoff, rolling his eyes. He taps on Steve's temple with two fingers. "You've been a thousand miles away the past few days. What's going on?"

"Just, the case my dad was looking into," Steve insists, half glad he has another emotionally-draining event in his life to blame his inattention on. Steve smiles at Danny and pulls him closer. "Help me get it off my mind?"

"Glad to." Danny kisses Steve deeply, and it's almost enough to make Steve forget the fact that he's waiting to hear back on whether or not he's his boyfriend's daughter's biological father. Whatever John McGarrett was looking into regarding his wife's death, it can't be much crazier than this situation Steve has gotten himself into, all on his own.

Danny's touches and his mouth are almost enough to distract Steve, but he keeps getting caught up in his thoughts. "Need more," he tells Danny, grasping at him like Danny's a lifeline.

"What more can I do?" Danny asks, squeezing Steve's cock.

Steve's not quite sure what makes him say it, because he never has before, but it slips out. "Just fuck me."

"That…" Danny huffs. "I could do that. If you want me to."

"Yeah," Steve says, letting go of everything else and just focusing on Danny. "Yeah, I want you to."

The way Danny makes love is a little soft, but intense, and the funny thing is that it works. Steve can't think of anything else while Danny is inside of him. When Steve comes, it's a relief, and he feels absolved somehow.

It's not until the next morning that Steve starts to worry again about the test results.

~*~

Steve has about ten minutes before Danny is supposed to show up with pizza so they can watch the Sunday evening (afternoon in Hawaii) game together. Max handed Steve the envelope at brunch that morning, and Steve hasn't gotten a moment alone to open it yet. Normally, Steve loves having Danny around almost every second of every day, but he's going out of his mind with the need to know.

Locking himself in the bathroom, just in case, Steve rips open the envelope. The paper inside says "Percent chance of paternity: 99.98%."

Oh.

Steve knew it was a good possibility. He suspected.

It's another thing altogether to have proof.

Grace is Steve's daughter.

Steve's not sure where to go from here. He knows he doesn't want to interfere with Grace and Danny's relationship. Danny's the father Grace has known her whole life. There's no way Steve wants to take that away from her. Or Danny, for that matter.

Shit. He never should've done this test.

And now Danny's going to be here any minute. He can't see this piece of paper. Steve has the urge to burn it, so no one will ever see it. He's halfway to the kitchen to get a lighter, when he realizes he might need this piece of paper someday. What if the unthinkable happens and Grace needs someone to step up for her? Steve's not ashamed to be her father. He couldn't be prouder, actually. He just doesn't want to hurt Danny by letting him find out the truth.

So Steve makes a detour, and unlocks the file drawer of his father's desk. He hides the paper in a folder with old tax returns, and then locks the drawer again.

It's just in time too, because the front door opens and Danny calls out, "Hey, I hope you don't mind. Rachel called. She's going to drop off Grace in a few minutes."

Steve meets Danny in the kitchen. "No, I don't mind. I love having Grace here."

Danny smiles and kisses Steve quickly. He moves away, but then stops short. "Hey, you okay?"

"Yeah," Steve replies, pulling Danny into his arms and squeezing tightly. "Yeah, I'm just fine."

When Grace comes in and pulls up a chair, eating with them, Steve has to work very hard not to stare. Grace is his daughter. She's sitting right here, having dinner with him and Danny, talking about her day at school, and she's Steve's daughter!

Steve has held onto bigger secrets. Maybe not secrets this personal, but bigger, more devastating ones. He can hold onto this secret, too.

~*~

In the morning, Steve makes an appointment with a lawyer. He has to do something about this secret, and he's figured out what to do. He's going to change his will.

When he meets with the lawyer, she asks him, "Are you sure you don't want your daughter to know you're her father until after your death?"

"I'm sure," Steve insists. "I'm only her biological father. She has a Dad, who I care about more than I can put into words. I don't want this information to be used against him."

The lawyer, Regina Soo, chews on her pen for a moment. "Would you like to add a letter to your will about your preferred guardianship over Grace? If a judge knows how much you want Grace's current father to remain one of her guardians, they will be less likely to award sole custody to her mother upon your death."

"Yes." Steve replies, nodding his head decisively. "Let's do that. I want it to say that Danny should have either sole, or equally shared custody with Rachel."

Ms. Soo smiles and puts down her pen. "Alright, I'll get those changes written up. You can come back in a few days and we'll get everything signed and notarized."

"Thank you," Steve says, reading over the draft of his will as he leaves. Mary will still get some of Steve's money, should the worst happen, but Steve will leave the rest of it to Grace. Steve might not have been the one to give her a childhood, or a home, or his name, but he can leave his estate to her, and that's going to have to be good enough.

A few days later, when he signs the final version of his will, Steve feels more settled than he has since he first met Grace, and started to connect the dots. Danny and Rachel still don't remember meeting Steve before Hawaii. Or, if they have, neither of them has said anything to him about it.

It's still a secret he has to keep, but Steve is used to keeping secrets. This one is very much worth keeping.