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Hawaii Five-0 Fic: Submarines and Dolphins

Title: Submarines and Dolphins
Author: lisacali
Rating: G
Word Count: 7676
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine, no profit is being made.
Written for the stevedannoslash After Holidays Prompt Fest.
The prompt: Steve spends the entire day with Grace alone. Danny is otherwise busy with either paperwork or whatever the author decides.
Notes: Steve does spend the whole day alone with Grace, per the prompt, but I could not refuse Danny making an appearance that evening. Thanks so, so much to maverick4oz helping me out and doing a last minute beta for me. Thank you! I did fiddle a little more, so all mistakes are all me.


Steve kept talking with Chin and Kono, going over the pictures and notes of their latest case, but he was aware of the new tenseness Danny brought with him when he came back into the room after being gone for several minutes to take a call.

“Okay,” Steve clapped his hands. “That’s it.”

“Sorry I missed the end there, guys.”

“It’s okay, brah, I’ll fill you in before Monday.” Chin clapped Danny on the shoulder. “Everything okay?”

“Aww, not really…” He rubbed a hand over his face. “That was Kane Olaho from HPD. They want to know if I can come over tomorrow and help them out. Seems one of the cases I was working on with Meka just before I was assigned to” he nodded toward Steve, “the McGarrett case looks like it’s been tampered with, and they go to trial soon. Problem is, I have Grace and Rachel and Stan are going to be out of town.”

“There’s no one else to take her?” Kono asked.

Danny shook his head. “I called Rachel while I was in the other room. She asked Mrs. Wetherly, her housekeeper. She watches Grace sometimes but she has plans. So does the girl down the street that babysits for Rachel.”

Chin and Kono looked at each other. “I’m sorry we can’t help, Danny,” Kono frowned.

Chin nodded in agreement. “If we weren’t leaving the island, you know one of us would take her.”

“I know, and I appreciate it.”

Steve had been gathering and stacking the notes from the computer top; he looked up when he realized the room was quiet. All eyes were on him.

“So, Steven?” Danny held out his hands. “Can you help me out?”

“Oh, me? Sure, yeah.”

To his confusion, Danny’s look of relief soured when Steve asked, “You want me to call Kamekona for you?”

Kono punched him on the arm.

“Ow.” Steve rubbed the spot. “What was that for?”

Kono rolled her eyes and Chin just shook his head while Danny spewed.

“Really? Seriously? Are you being obtuse or do you just not want to do it? Which, if that’s the case, fine, I realize it’s kind of a big deal on short notice, and the idea of taking care of a little girl can be daunting, I know. But don’t...it’s hard enough for me to ask, so please, just...don’t.”

Halfway through Danny’s spiel, the light bulb went on. When Steve realized what Danny was asking, he felt like an idiot.

“Danny, no, I didn’t...you’re asking me to watch Grace for you?”

Danny rubbed the space between is eyes. “Yes, that is what I am doing.”

Steve smiled, pleased that Danny would ask him...and also a little unnerved about spending the day with an eight-year-old girl...until he remembered something.

“Yes, of course I’ll do it. It’s perfect – Catherine is coming to spend the weekend.”

“Oh, oh no,” Danny waved his hands in front of his face, “I’m not breaking up that booty call.”

Kono snorted a laugh.

“Danny, seriously, it’ll be perfect. Catherine has little sisters, she’s always talking about how she misses them. She’ll love it.”

Danny shook his head. “I don’t know, Steve.”

“I do, decision’s made. I’ll see you and Gracie in the morning.”

*

The next morning, Steve was pacing nervously in the front yard, waiting for Danny and Grace. Catherine had called late last night – she couldn’t make it. Seems half her unit had come down with some kind of intestinal flu, or food poisoning. Whatever it was, it left the weekend staff short-handed, so she was tapped to fill in. Steve could tell she was really disappointed – she’d been so excited when he had called her earlier in the evening.


But not as disappointed as Steve. Until that call, he hadn’t realized how much he was counting on Catherine’s help.

He’d laid in bed and stared at the ceiling, telling himself he could handle it. He’d faced down terrorists, jumped from planes with no parachute and found his way out of the middle of the jungle on several occasions – how hard could spending the day with an eight-year old girl be?

At 1:15 his nerves were threatening a panic attack.

He thought of calling Mary, but he knew he’d never hear the end of it, it being 4:15 a.m. her time.

He called Kono. She might be pissed but he was her boss and she couldn’t bitch him out like Mary could.

He was relieved to hear music and loud voices in the background when Kono answered the phone – she was still partying.

“Don’t you have a little sister?” Kono asked, after Steve explained what was going on, and apologizing profusely for calling so late.

“Yes, one who I spent most of my time teasing and trying to make cry.”

“Okay, do something with animals – all little kids like animals.”

“Like the zoo?”

“Sure, Boss, there’s animals there.”

“Don’t bust my balls, Kono, I’m kind of freaking here.”

He heard her whispering something.

“Chin says he’d love to be there to see you actually freaking – and over a little girl.”

“Well, I wish he was here, too.”

“Oh, I know! What about a submarine ride – I love those. You know, when there’s no dead bodies floating around.”

“Yeah, well, lightening doesn’t strike twice, hopefully. Okay, that’s good, Kono. At least I’ve got a couple ideas. Thank you. Now get back to your fun and have another laugh at my expense.”

“Steve, you’ll be fine. Grace likes you.”

He hoped that would be enough – Danny’s car was turning into the yard.

*

“Hello, Grace. How are you today?”

The little girl smiled, a bit shyly. “Fine.”

Danny handed over a bulging backpack. “Everything a little girl needs for the day.”

Steve hefted the pack. “Feels like a week’s worth.”

“Yeah, tell me.”

“So,” Danny clapped his hands in front of him and looked expectantly at Steve. “What’s on the agenda for today?”

“Well, to start with, I thought we might go inside.”

“Fine,” Danny nodded his head indulgently, “and then? Is Catherine here?” He looked around. “I don’t see her car.”

“Oh, she couldn’t make it,” Steve answered, hoping he sounded more nonchalant than he felt.”

“Oh, don’t tell me.” Danny turned his back to Grace, jerking his thumb in her direction where she couldn’t see. “Did something change her mind?”

“No, Danny, really, I’m telling the truth. She was looking forward to it.”
Steve smiled at Grace over Danny’s shoulder. “It’s a work thing she couldn’t get out of.”

Danny looked skeptical, but didn’t have much choice at this point. “Okay, okay. So, what’s the plan, after you go inside, of course.”

“I was going to leave that up to Grace.” Steve looked at the little girl, now holding her father’s hand. “Have you had breakfast?”

She shook her head.

“What?” Danny was doing a good job controlling it, but Steve could see he was irritated. “Your mother said she was going to feed you.”

Grace looked up at Danny, frowning. “She made oatmeal, but it had things in it.”

“Things. What kind of things? Probably pineapple.”

“Peaches and nuts.”

“You like peaches and nuts.”

“Not in oatmeal.”

“Okay. I guess she hasn’t eaten then.”

“No problem – you like waffles, Grace?”

She nodded enthusiastically, her pigtails bobbing.

“I like waffles,” Danny said, plaintively.

“But you have to go to work,” Steve reminded him, though he was really wishing Danny would come in, postponing the start of this day.

Danny crouched down in front of Grace. “Sometimes life just isn’t fair.” He tugged on the green-ribboned pigtails framing her face. “You have fun today, right? You listen to Steve, unless he wants to take you hang-gliding, or shark hunting. Then, you call me.”

Grace’s eyes widened. “I would like to go hang-gliding.”

Danny shook his head and looked up at Steve. “Look what you started here.”

“Me? How did I start anything?” Steve was simultaneously annoyed and amused at the way Danny had the tendency to point the blame finger at him for everything.

Danny stood, one hand resting on his daughter’s shoulder. “It’s in the air wherever you are. You exude and –somehow, at the same time – attract danger.”

“Exude? Whatever.”

“Okay, I have to go.” Danny kissed the top of his daughter’s head, and then pulled her up into his arms and a tight hug. “Who loves you?”

“You do, Danno. I love you, too.”

Steve smiled at the scene. You only had to listen to Danny talk about Grace for oh, maybe five seconds to realize his devotion to her. Seeing them together, you knew it was mutual.

After waving Danny off, Steve took Grace inside, sitting her at the kitchen table while he pulled out the waffle iron, setting it up next to the sink. “You like bacon, Grace?”

“Yes.”

“You ever have bacon in your waffle?”

She shook her head. “No.” The word was drawn out, sounding doubtful.

“Oh.” Right. “You just said you don’t like things in things, didn’t you?”

“Ummm, I would try it.”

Steve thought maybe she was just being polite; Danny and Rachel, no matter their problems with each other, had done a good job raising their daughter.

“The good thing about waffles is it only takes a few minutes to make. You don’t like the bacon, we’ll make another one.”

Steve took some pre-cooked bacon from the freezer, tossed it in the microwave and then set about pulling out ingredients for the waffles. Throwing a glance in Grace’s direction, he saw her sitting quietly, hands in her lap, looking out the window.

She looked bored.

“Hey, you wanna help?”

Her eyes brightened and she nodded.

“Come on then.”

Retrieving a small step-stool from the back of the pantry, Steve set Grace up next to the waffle iron and put the mixing bowl full of ingredients in front of her. “You’re in charge of stirring.”

After letting Grace ladle the batter onto the iron – while trying not to hover - he laid two strips of bacon in an X across the top. And congratulated himself on finding something they could do together.

A few minutes later they were eating the waffles, with strawberries on the side, and Steve was pretty sure Grace wasn’t just being polite at the way she was putting the waffles away. In fact, he was shocked at how much food such a little girl could hold.

While they ate, Steve brought up what they might do that day.

“I had a couple thoughts, tell me what you think. Submarine ride, or the zoo?”

“Submarine!”

Steve grinned at her enthusiasm, and reminded himself to buy Kono something nice for her help.

*

As they finished eating, Steve’s phone rang. It was Danny calling.

“That didn’t take long for you to check up on us.”

“Oh, and hello to you, too. Not checking up, just wanted to say ‘hi’ to my daughter.”

“Uh huh. Sorry, she’s not here right now. She’s out having a swim while I make breakfast.” He winked at Grace, who covered her mouth and giggled.

“You know if that were true, there would be nothing in your background training that could protect you from me. Let me talk to Grace.”

Steve finished his orange juice while Grace and Danny talked, a conversation Steve couldn’t help overhearing; cell phones were not good for privacy.

“Hey, Gracie, how’s it going? Did you have your waffles already?”

“Hi, daddy. Yeah, they were so good, they had bacon in them!”

“What, bacon in waffles? I guess that’s better than pineapple in oatmeal.”

“They were peaches.”

“Right, peaches. Hey, I’m probably going to be here for a while – you’ll be okay, won’t you?”

“Uh huh. We’re going swimming later but first we going on a submarine ride to look at the fish!”

“That sounds like a great day, honey. Just make sure Steve gets a ticket and waits in line like a regular person – don’t let him drive the car directly onto the sub.”

Grace snuck a suspicious look in Steve’s direction.

“He’s kidding,” Steve whispered.

“I’m just kidding, honey. I’ll call you later. Let me talk to Steve - love you.”

“Love you, Danno.” She handed the phone back.

“What’s up, Danny?”

“It’s kind of a mess.” Danny sighed. “The case was almost closed by the time I got involved. All my stuff checks out but it looks like there may have been some tampering with some of the early evidence Meka had collected. And you know I loved the man, but he kept really bad notes – I mean, Egyptian hieroglyphic type stuff. So, looks like I’m going to be here a while.”

“Hey, no problem, really. I’m looking forward to showing Gracie what a great place Hawaii is.”

“No comment. Just be careful.”

“Danny, you know I’d protect her with my life.”

“I know. Thank you.”

As they cleaned up the breakfast dishes, Steve wondered what else they could do, if Danny worked late. Grace had seemed to enjoy making the waffles…he got an idea.

“Hey, Grace, before we go on the boat ride, let’s head over to the market. We’ll get some things to have a barbeque later.”

“With my dad?”

“Of course. He should be home by dinner time.” Let’s hope. “What do you like? Hot dogs, hamburgers?”

“I like grilled shrimp. But Daddy likes hamburgers.”

“I know he does.” How many hours had Danny spent, informing Steve of the superior burger joints to be found in New Jersey? “But I’m in the mood for a steak - you think your dad would go for that?”

Grace nodded enthusiastically. “He loves steak.”

“And I know a place that has the biggest, freshest shrimp you’ve ever seen.”

*

At the market, Steve steered Grace toward the produce section before picking looking over the seafood. “Maybe we should have a little green stuff to go with our dinner, huh?”

“I like broccoli.”

“Really? A little kid who likes broccoli? Let’s get some.”

When Steve paused at the brussel sprouts, Grace immediately started shaking her head. “Dad hates brussel sprouts.”

“Does he?”

“When he was little, Grandma made him eat one and he threw up.” She giggled. “And one time Mommy put one on a fork and chased Daddy around the house with it. He jumped over the couch and broke the lamp.”

Steve chuckled. He loved the image of Danny being terrorized by a small, green vegetable. And it was nice hearing that Grace had fun memories of her parents together.

He bagged up some brussel sprouts.

*

After putting the groceries away and taking a couple steaks out to thaw, Steve and Grace headed out to the beach.

As they drove, the quiet in the cab became more and more obvious. He turned the radio on, but he felt like a schmuck, not saying anything. Anytime he and Grace had been together before, there had always been others around. The ride would last several minutes - what did one talk about with an eight-year-old girl? Why didn’t he ask Kono? Why didn’t she tell him?

Okay, he thought of something. “Uh, so, your dad says he’s going to take you back to New Jersey for a visit next month. I bet you’re excited about that.”

Grace nodded, but didn’t say anything, and didn’t turn from where she was looking out her side of the car. Shit, had he messed up? Maybe she missed Jersey and he’d just upset her, making her think about it. Of course she missed it, that was where all her old friends were, and her aunts and uncle and grandparents and he’d probably just ruined her day and he thought about calling Danny...

“Steve, do you see the rainbows? There are two!” Grace was pointing out her window.

Steve looked past her to the double rainbows. “Hey, look at those. Cool, huh?”

“There are a lot of rainbows here.”

“Yeah, there are.”

“I’ve taken some pictures of them to show my grandma and grandpa. I can’t wait to see them.”

Steve sighed quietly. He hadn’t traumatized her; she’d just been entranced with rainbows.

After Steve thought to ask Grace about school, the rest of the ride went quickly, with Grace chattering happily about her classes and tennis lessons and the classroom pet hamster.

*

Waiting in line to board the boat, Steve became aware of attention they were drawing from some of the women around him. A look would go from him, to Grace, and then back, accompanied by a warm smile.

He realized what was going on, Danny had laid it out for him once.

If I were the kind of guy to use my daughter, I could be rolling in women.”

“Sounds kind of painful for the women.”

“You are not funny. Seriously, when I’m out with Grace, I get all these looks from women, getting the warm fuzzies over seeing a young, good-looking guy spending time with his daughter.”

“Young and good-looking? You talking about yourself here?”

“Shut up. One of my sisters explained it to me. She says that a man’s sex appeal rises when he’s a good father.”

“But you never use that knowledge for nefarious purposes.”

“Nefarious, I like that word. But it does not describe me. When I’m with my daughter, all my focus is on her.”

“Except when you’re noticing women noticing you.”

“I’m focused, not dead.”


Now Steve realized he was feeling a small bloom of pride – misplaced though it was – that he was being perceived as being a good father, on a date with his daughter. It felt…nice.

As they took their seats on the submarine, Grace informed Steve that she had been here once before – with Stan. Steve felt a stab of disappointment they she’d already experienced the ride; he was understanding how Danny felt and his annoyance – to put it mildly – at having to share his daughter with another man.

“So, do you want to go, do something else?”

Grace shook her head. “I like it.”

“Me, too. I haven’t been here in years.” Steve took out his phone. “Anything you want a picture of let me know.”

A few minutes into the ride, a small hand landed on Steve’s wrist in an excited grip. “Uncle Steve, an octopus! Please take a picture.”

Steve dutifully snapped off three pictures of the small creature, all the while thinking of Grace calling him ‘uncle,’ and the unexpected warm feeling he was suddenly feeling.

He watched the back of Graces’ head as she leaned forward, the perfect part of her hair smoothing into two braids hanging over her shoulders. He wondered if she meant to say it, or if it had been a slip of the tongue. He wondered if he should say something. She didn’t seem to be too concerned over it; maybe she didn’t even realize she’d said it.

He shook his head – he was making too much of it – he needed to just relax. After all, Chin had introduced himself as Uncle Chin the day they met. No big deal.

*

After the ride (dead body free) they bee-lined for the shave ice stand down the beach. Waiting for their order, Steve turned to hand a napkin to Grace…and she wasn’t there.

In the few seconds it took him to turn 360 degrees, looking for anything the same light green shade as Grace’s top, Steve recalled the times he thought he might not come home. In some instances he had a literal second for his life to flash before his eyes; in other cases he had hours, even days, imagining how his father would be told that he was missing – or dead. Agonizing over what that would do to the man.

And he knew that could not happen to Danny. Grace was his life – he wouldn’t survive it.

He began moving, his head slowly and purposely moving, ears tuned for the sound of a child’s voice in distress. His heart was pounding and his mouth had gone dry. He pulled his phone out, pressed the button for HPD...and then a large group of laughing teen-agers moved off the sidewalk and there was Grace, walking toward him, a carefree smile on her lips.

“Grace!” He started to run and her smile faltered and he knew he was scaring her. He cut his run to a brisk walk and refrained from grabbing her when they met. Instead, he knelt in front of her and calmly asked where she had gone.

Her eyes were wide and shit, her bottom lip was trembling. “It’s okay, Grace, don’t cry. I just got worried for a minute when I didn’t see you.”

Grace nodded. “I’m sorry,” she whispered.

Steve forced a smile he wasn’t quite feeling and took her hand. “Come on, our shave ice is waiting.”

After getting their ice, they found a picnic table in the shade of a palm tree, with a nice view of the ocean, sailboats crossing in the distance. Grace explained that she had seen a baby drop a toy from his stroller and had run it over to the family.

“Okay, that’s nice, that’s a nice thing.” Steve hoped he was doing a good enough job of walking the line between not wanting to scare her, but wanting her to know how important this was – shit, how do parents do this? “Just, you know, be sure you tell me if you go anywhere, anywhere at all, okay?”

“Okay.”

Steve searched for something to say to fill the quiet. “How’s the surfing going?”

“It’s fun. Kono is really nice.”

“She is.” It was on the tip of his tongue to ask how Danny was doing, but his interrogation tactics drew the line at little girls; happily for him, the little girl volunteered the information.

“Daddy is funny when he falls. He tries not to say bad words.”

“Yeah?”

Grace nodded. “Last time he got seaweed stuck on his toes and he yelled really loud.”

“Did he?” Steve managed to keep his expression in the ‘oh, really, how amusing’ range.

Intent on her treat, Grace said, almost off-handedly, “He’s doesn’t like the water because he’s scared of someone named Jason.”

Steve almost choked on his ice. “Jason? From the movie?”

Grace nodded. “I heard him talking about it with Kono.”

“You’ve never seen that movie, have you?”

“No. Daddy said it’s too scary.”

Apparently, Steve thought, laughing silently. Friday the 13th is why Danno doesn’t like to swim? Hysterical. It must have been torture for Kono to keep that to herself.

Just as they were finishing up, Danny called.

“How’s everything?” Steve’s glee over learning Danny’s secret dissipated as he thought about what the man’s reaction would be if he learned of Grace’s disappearance.

“Good, Danny, really good.” That wasn’t really a lie – it was all-good ...now. “We just had a shave ice and we’re on our way home. Here’s your daughter.”

“Daddy!”

Steve moved away to give Grace some privacy, but close enough he could be by her side in half a second. Unfortunately, Danny was all too eager to share the conversation with him a few minutes later.

“You lost my daughter.”

Great. Steve would never ask Grace to keep something from her father; he had just been hoping that it wouldn’t come up for a while. He braced himself. “Obviously I didn’t, you just talked to her.”

“Just because you found her doesn’t mean she wasn’t lost!”

“She wasn’t really lost, just out of my sight, for like three seconds.”

“Do you know what can happen in three seconds? You cannot take your eyes off of her. Kids are like Houdini, you blink and they’re out of the handcuffs and on their way.”

“Danny, I’m sorry. I turned to get something and – ” He stopped, not wanting to sound like he was blaming Grace, and knowing nothing he said would matter anyway.

“I know, I know, she explained it to me.” After a long pause, Steve heard his partner sigh. When he started talking again the force was gone out of his voice. “I can’t imagine her being safer with anyone other than me. It’s just, kids, they’re their own kind of difficult, Steve, and I worry like crazy about her.”

“Of course. Jesus, Danny, when I lost sight of her, what I felt, I can’t explain...”

“You don’t have to. Just, please...”

“If I say don’t worry, will it help?”

“No.”

“Didn’t think so. Listen, we’re going swimming when we get back to my place, so if you call and no one answers, don’t freak out, okay?”

“Okay, thank you for letting me know that, I appreciate it. And hey, Grace didn’t tell me what happened. I could just tell something had gone on. So don’t give her crap, okay?”

Steve felt himself finally relax a little. “Okay, no noogies or wet willies for Grace for ratting me out.”

*

Back at his house, they wasted no time in changing into their swimsuits and hitting the beach.

Grace was a natural in the water and was soon showing Steve how she could do a handstand and how long she could hold her breath.

“You want to do some jumping?”

Grace looked around. “Where?”

“Right here.” Steve patted his shoulder. “Let’s go out where it’s a little deeper.” Holding her hand, Steve led Grace out to where the water was chest deep on him. He hoisted her up, holding onto her ankles while she steadied herself with her hands on his head.

“Okay, you stand up and jump. Just whenever you’re...” He didn’t have time to finish before a little girl-sized splash hit him in the face.

Grace surfaced, wiping the water from her eyes and laughing. “That was fun! Can we do it again?”

After a couple more jumps, Steve told Grace he’d help her go higher. “When you’re ready to jump, I’ll lift you up by your ankles, okay?”

This delighted Grace and Steve thought she’d go all day if he let her. “Hey, let’s take a little break. You know how to float?”

On their backs, they watched the clouds overhead. “Steve, look at that cloud. It looks like an ice cream cone.”

Steve couldn’t see it...and then he could. “It does, Gracie.” He pointed to the one next to it. “And that one looks like a smiley face.”

Steve couldn’t believe the difference in how he felt at that moment, compared to just hours earlier. He’d been so nervous, so panicked at the idea of the idea of taking care of Grace for the day. And now...he couldn’t remember a time when he’d been so relaxed.

“Look,” Grace quickly pointed. “A dolphin!”

“You like dolphins a lot, don’t you?”

“Yeah. I got to swim with them when Daddy took me to a hotel.”

Steve smiled over at her. “I know. I still have the thank-you note you made for me.”

Grace smiled shyly back. “I forgot you gave us the room.”

“That’s okay. As long as you had fun, that’s all that matters.”

Grace lightly kicked her feet, moving herself in a wide circle. “I saw some at Sea World, too. Daddy took me there before we moved.”

“Sea World is a cool place. What did you see there, besides dolphins?”
“We saw seals doing tricks, and whales jumped and got us wet. Daddy’s hair got all messed up.”

Oh, to have seen that sight, Steve thought.

“But Danno doesn’t like to talk about that because I got lost there.”

“What?” Steve splashed upright, snapping his mouth shut.

“After the whale show, all the people were pushing when we tried to leave and I dropped Daddy’s hand.”

“Were you scared?”

“Uh huh.” Grace had stopped floating and was treading water in front of Steve. “I told a lady that worked there and she took me to Lost and Found. Daddy came and got me.”

For a second, Steve felt the scales balance – Danny could give him all the shit he wanted over losing sight of Grace, but it wasn’t anything he hadn’t done himself. But the notion of throwing anything in Danny’s face quickly faded as he thought about how frantic, how completely terrified his partner must have been. Steve had been a mess during those brief moments earlier; Danny would have suffered for several minutes at least.

“Let’s do one more jump then go in and start getting dinner ready, okay?”

Grace nodded happily and clambered onto Steve’s shoulders. “Really high this time, Uncle Steve!”

Steve hesitated for just a second before he lifted the girl up and out.

When Grace surfaced, Steve offered his arm and pulled her toward shore until she could stand. She was quiet as they came up on the beach – Steve was just about to ask her if anything was wrong when she solemnly looked up at him. She brushed the strands of hair that had come loose from her pigtails out of her eyes.

“I called you ‘Uncle Steve,’ she said quietly, looking unsure.

“I noticed.” Steve hunched down so they were face to face. “I would love it if you called me that. I don’t have anyone else to call me Uncle.”

Grace nodded and took Steve’s hand.

*

After they showered and dressed, Grace asked Steve to braid her hair.

“Sure.” He was fairly confident this was something he could handle. He was in the Navy, for God’s sake – knots and braiding rope were a part of his life.

After a few attempts, Steve looked at his fingers like they were separate entities.

“It’s okay if you can’t do it.”

“I’m afraid this is as good as it gets,” Steve said reluctantly, looking at the lop-sided strands of hair. He looked around for the last hair band. “I think I lost the hair thingy.”

“I have more.” Grace, holding the end of the braid, grabbed her backpack.

“Here, let me get it out.”

“They’re in the side pocket.” Unzipping one of the many compartments, Steve reached inside, dislodging a folded piece of paper in the process.

“That’s Daddy.”

“This?” Steve unfolded the paper, revealing a small color print of a photo, obviously taken in little girl’s room. Danny guessed it was Grace’s room in Jersey – it was bright and clean and cheery, but it was definitely not the same room he had seen at Rachel and Stan’s house.

The walls were painted yellow, with shelves holding books and dolls and figurines, and there was a child-sized table, set for a tea party. The guests were a large Raggedy Ann doll, a blue teddy bear, and Danny Williams, wearing a pink and green polka-dotted, ruffled-brimmed hat. And an orange scarf around his neck. He was holding a rose-covered teacup, lips pursed to take a drink, pinky fingered extended.

Oh, this was gold.

*

After finishing up with Grace’s hair, Steve popped some corn and they settled down to watch TV – Grace was asleep in ten minutes.

Steve took the opportunity to call Kono – he’d promised he’d let her know how it was going.

Then he called Danny. “She’s napping right now, she’s wiped out.”

“Okay, but don’t let her sleep too long, she’ll be awake all night.”

“You almost done there?”

“Yeah, I think so, maybe an hour. Why, you had enough?”

“You know, if I had thought about you asking me that question this morning, I probably would have guessed my answer to be ‘yes’. But I’ll tell you, Danny, I’ve had a great time with your daughter.”

“Hard not to, isn’t it?” Steve could hear the rough affection in his voice. “So, see you in an hour.”

“See ya.”

*

After letting Grace sleep another half hour or so, Steve gently woke her and they began getting dinner ready. Steve let Grace do as much as possible, measuring and mixing all the ingredients for the marinade for the steaks, and arranging fresh vegetables on the plate as he cut them.

As they worked, Steve learned more about Grace’s life, and he even shared what he could about his. He told of some of the places he’d visited, leaving off the less pleasant reasons for most of the visits, and when she told him she was doing a visual report on Australia, he promised to let her go through the photos he’d taken when he’d been there.

Grace had just finished mixing up a pitcher of lemonade when they heard the front door open and a voice call out.

“Hey, I got a report from the ASPCA about a monkey causing mischief around here – anyone see anything?”

“Daddy!” Grace hopped down from the stool and ran into the other room. She was back a moment later, carried by a grinning Danny.

“So, you finally get things sorted out?” Steve asked, chopping into a carrot.

Danny set Grace down and shrugged. “I hope so. I think they’ll be able to trace the tampering to the source – maybe get whoever it was to roll and provide more incriminating evidence for the trial.”

He came over the counter, eyeing the food spread out there.

“Look at how big those shrimp are, Daddy.” Grace said, pointing to the bowl of ice holding her dinner. “Jumbo!”

“Jumbo shrimp. That’s called an oxymoron.”

“What’s that?”

“When two words that go together don’t really make sense. Like jumbo,” he held his hands far apart, “and shrimp.” He brought his hands close together. “Or idyllic and Hawaii. Or…” eyeing Steve, “…search and warrant.”

Steve rolled his eyes. “That’s not really an example of –”

“So!” Danny rubbed his hands together. “We’re having shrimp for dinner?”

“Uncle Steve has steaks for you and him.”

“Uncle Steve, huh?” Danny raised his eyebrows in Steve’s direction. “You expand the family while I was at work?”

“He doesn’t have anyone to call him ‘uncle’ so he said I could.”

Danny looked from daughter to partner, nodding his approval. “That’s good, that’s good.”

Steve smiled, seeing that Danny really meant it.

Danny put a hand to his chest. “You know what else sounds good? That steak. I am starving!”

“They didn’t feed you over there?” Steve handed Danny a carrot stick, taken gratefully.

“Well, they tried. They ordered pizza, but...”

“Pineapple?”

“Ham.”

“You could have just picked it off.”

Danny crunched another carrot. “Not the point, really,” he said.

“And the point is?”

“Shouldn’t have been there in the first place. I give up my Saturday; give up time with my daughter... ” Danny’s hand dropped to Grace’s head, rubbing lightly while he talked,

“...Spend hours staring at Meka’s chicken-scratch, secret code pile of notes until I’m practically blind, and yet I still have to deal with ham on my pizza.”

This time he popped a couple olives into his mouth. “I’m sure they’re doing it on purpose. You know, see how mad you can make the haole. Watching my blood pressure rise has become the Hawaiian nation pastime.”

Steve blinked. “I see you don’t hold yourself in high regard at all.”

“Just feed me, please.”

“Sure.” Steve suppressed a grin as he nodded over Danny’s shoulder to the refrigerator. “Why don’t you help Grace get the steaks out?"

Grace took Danny’s hand excitedly. “I made the mari...mar...”

“Marinade,” Steve helped out.

“I made the marinade, Daddy!”

“What? Are you going to become the chef in the family?”

Grace nodded enthusiastically.

“Too bad your name’s not Mary. We could say, ‘Mary made the mari...”

Danny trailed off as they turned toward the fridge. Stuck right in the middle, blown up to an 8x10, was the picture of Danny at Grace’s tea party.

“What...is that doing there?”

Grace’s smile was huge as she looked up at her dad. “Steve made a copy. He said I can leave it here for when I come back.”

“Oh, I’m sure he did. I’m quite sure he was all over that idea.”

Danny looked over his shoulder at Steve, his smile tight. “Nice.”

Steve shrugged, struggling to keep a straight face. “I think so. It looks so nice, in fact, I think I’ll leave it there. You know, so everyone who comes over can see it.”

Danny pointed a finger at him. “Or maybe you just want it to remind yourself of how lucky you are to have a partner as patient and forgiving as me.”

Steve laughed. “I’m pretty sure that isn’t it.”

*

While Danny got the grill started and Grace set the table out back, Steve finished up in the kitchen, letting father and daughter have some time together.

“Uncle Steve, Daddy said the steaks are done.”

Steve brushed a speck of green from Grace’s cheek. “You didn’t fill up on broccoli, did you?”

“No, I want shrimp!”

“I’ll be right there.” When Grace turned to skip back out, Steve noticed her hair had been redone, tight and neat. Seems Danny had a secret skill he’d been hiding. Steve pulled the last dish from the oven, put the contents in a bowl and followed Grace outside.

Steve paused to look at the scene. The sun was just setting, making the sky a warm, dusky color. The water was a sheet of glass beyond the yard. Danny was setting the steaks down on the table, next to the shrimps, while Grace was pouring lemonade, giggling at something her father had said. It was a perfect, if unconventional, family scene, and Steve felt honored to be a part of it.

“Okay, here we go.” He set the bowl on the table and everyone took a seat.

“What is that?” Danny looked in the bowl, and then jerked back like he’d been punched. “Is that brussel sprouts? Really, of all the food in the world, brussel sprouts?”

“Yeah, something wrong with that?” Steve winked at Grace, who was covering her grin with both hands.

“Oh, I see how it is!” Danny pointed at both of them. “You conspired against me! Gracie, how could you have done me so wrong?”

Grace’s eyes were wide and she shook her head.

“No, it wasn’t Grace,” Steve came to her rescue. “She told me you didn’t like them, but let me ask you this – how were they cooked when you tried them?”

“How were they cooked? How were they cooked? They were cooked disgustingly, that’s how they were cooked. How would I know how they were cooked? God, just the smell makes me queasy!”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I think I know from queasy.”

“Smell these.” Steve pushed the bowl toward Danny, who pushed it back.

“You’re a nut job.”

“I bet the only times you had them, they were boiled to an inch of their lives. These have been baked with seasonings and oil – try them.”

“You, my friend and Julia Child wanna-be, have come to the wrong guinea pig.”

“Daddy,” Grace said, her tone stern and accusing. “You said I never had to eat anything I didn’t like, but I had to try it first.”

“Oh my god,” Danny whispered behind his hand, “she sounds just like Rachel.” Smiling at Grace, he replied, “Yes, sweetie, a good rule to live by, I’m a very intelligent man. But I’ve already tried brussel sprouts.”

“Not these brussel sprouts.” Steve pointed out.

“I feel quite ganged-up on, you know.” With a sigh, Danny poked his fork into one of the small, green orbs, squeezed his eyes shut and aimed for his mouth.

Grace was watching, transfixed as he chewed, not opening his eyes until he swallowed.

“Well?” Steve asked.

Danny glared.

“No good?” Steve was quite disappointed.

“Actually, and I hate to admit this more than you can imagine...”

“No, I can imagine,” Steve grinned.

“As I was saying,” Danny speared another sprout from the bowl. “I hate to admit it, but they’re not bad.” He handed the fork to Gracie - she looked doubtful but took it. “I don’t know if I’d order them, but I don’t hate them.”

“I like them!” Grace declared, taking another.

“Of course you do.” Danny shook his head dramatically, and threw his hands into the air. “I can see it’s been a fun-filled day of conspiracies against me for you two.”

The rest of the meal passed pleasantly, with Grace filling her father in on the day’s activities she hadn’t covered earlier, with pictures from Steve’s phone to illustrate.

After dessert, a simple ice cream sandwich (“My favorite!” Danny exclaimed. “All Gracie’s idea,” Steve informed him.) Grace snuggled onto Danny’s lap and was promptly bored to sleep as Danny detailed what his day had been like.

“Hey, you want a beer?” Steve got up, moving toward the house.

“Nah, we gotta be going soon. You go ahead, I bet you’re ready for one.”

When Steve came back with his Longboard, he also had a lightweight throw with him. “It’s cooling down a little.”

Steve helped Danny get the throw tucked around Grace and then sat back, stretched out his legs and drank down half his beer. “That’s the stuff,” he sighed.

“Hey, I will take a rain check on that beer,” Danny said. “Maybe next weekend?”

“Yeah, that would be good.” Steve rubbed at his eye, trying to maintain a casual demeanor. “We could get a burger, maybe rent a movie. I hear there’s a new director’s cut version out of Friday the 13th.”

Steve wasn’t sure of Danny’s expression – but he thought he could see, in the soft glow of the yard lights, that his eyes had narrowed, looking at Steve suspiciously.

“You know the movie – the one where Jason comes up out of the water at the end and he’s all slimy and gross, ‘cause, you know, he’s been living in the water all those years and –”

“Yes, Steven, I’m aware of the movie. What did you do, spend the day grilling my daughter? You know I don’t like brussel sprouts...”

“Didn’t,” Steve corrected, “didn’t.”

“Okay, didn’t,” Danny reluctantly agreed. “And you know that the reason I don’t like the water is because of that movie, which, by the way, I was only ten years old when I saw it and it completely freaked me out – I had nightmares for weeks, years!”

Steven gave up all pretense of trying not to laugh. “I absolutely did not ‘grill’ your daughter. It came out in normal conversation.”

“Yeah, what else came out?”

It was on the tip of Steve’s tongue to mention Sea World, but it was a good night, he didn’t want to ruin it.

They sat in comfortable silence until Steve finished his beer and looked seriously at Danny. “I’m impressed, Danny. I’m impressed with anyone who’s a good parent, and you are.”

“Wow, I’m touched, that’s so...what’s that all about? Hard day?”

“Good day.” Steve stretched his legs out in front of him. “Surprisingly good, I admit, but tiring.”

Danny nodded. “Listen, I really, really appreciate this. You saved my butt today. I really wanted to do this, for the force...and for Meka.”

“I’m glad I could do it. Please, anytime you need me...”

“You might regret saying that.”

“Never. I learned a few things today, Danno, not just about you, but about myself.”

“Such as...?”

“Such as the fact that it is unbelievably hard to braid a little girl’s hair.”

Danny chuckled. “You don’t know how long it took me to get the hang of it.”

“Especially with your goofy thumbs, right?”

“Hah. What else?”

“I learned that even with all the shit I’ve experienced in my life, nothing is as scary as losing a kid.”

Danny nodded. “A fact I know, first hand.” He protectively cupped the back of Grace’s head. “We’ll talk more about that later.”

Steve was sure of it. And he’d make sure Danny didn’t know he’d already heard about what went on at Sea World.

Grace stirred and tried to stretch, whimpering when she couldn’t find a comfortable spot.

“Guess we should be going.”

“She should sleep forever.”

“You’d think,” Danny said, getting to his feet with a grunt. “I’ll be sure and tell her you said that when she’s waking me up at 7:00 am.”

“You need anything besides her backpack?”

“No, I got my keys, that should be it.”

“Why don’t you just go around the house, it’s lighted over there, and I’ll grab her backpack and meet you out front.”

When Steve got out to the car, Danny was buckling Grace into the back seat. He took the back pack and set it on the seat next to her. “If you find anything we missed, just bring it to work, would you?”

“Yeah, no problem.”

“And I’ll bring the blanket then.”

“Don’t worry about it. Let Grace keep it at your place.”

Danny was just about to close the door when Grace reached out her hand and said something Steve couldn’t hear.

“She wants to talk to you,” Danny told him, moving out of the way.

Steve crouched down by the back seat. “I’ll see you soon, Gracie. Don’t forget we have to look at those pictures of Australia, okay?”

“I won’t.” Her eyes were droopy and her voice a soft slur. “Thank you for such a fun day, Steve...Uncle Steve.”

“Hey, thank you, Grace. I can’t remember when I’ve had a better day.” And he realized it was the truth.

When Grace held out her arms and Steve leaned in for an awkward hug, he had to clear his throat before he could whisper ‘good night’ in her ear.

After closing the door, Steve turned to find Danny watching, an understanding smile on his face. He reached out and gave Steve’s arm a light squeeze. “Thanks again, really.”

Steve gave a quick nod of acknowledgement. “You know, Danny, there’s one more thing I learned today.”

“What’s that?”

Steve looked in the car window and pointed at the little girl, already back to sleep. “I think, one day, when the time is right, I'd like to try this for myself.”

Danny nodded and got into the car. The last thing he said before he pulled his door shut...

“You’ll be a great dad.”

Comments

( 39 comments — Leave a comment )
theeverdream
Mar. 27th, 2011 09:51 am (UTC)
Really sweet and adorable, and I think you got a good balance in between that and the snark - these parts made me laugh so hard:
Just make sure Steve gets a ticket and waits in line like a regular person – don’t let him drive the car directly onto the sub.
Sounds kind of painful for the women.
Or…” eyeing Steve, “…search and warrant.”

I really enjoyed this story :)
lisacali
Apr. 1st, 2011 12:12 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! :)
sherry57
Mar. 27th, 2011 10:57 am (UTC)
What a lovely story. Thanks for sharing. A really nice look at 'Uncle' Steve with Grace. Some funny and some touching moments. You got all of the characters spot on...I could see them in my head and hear their voices.....so either you wrote them really well or I'm going crazy!! Really nice read!
lisacali
Apr. 1st, 2011 12:13 am (UTC)
Thank you!
lillyg
Mar. 27th, 2011 11:10 am (UTC)
That's a really good and adorable fic!
lisacali
Apr. 1st, 2011 12:13 am (UTC)
Thank you!
sexycazzy
Mar. 27th, 2011 11:36 am (UTC)
Excellent! I love it! Steve nervous about spending the day with Grace and ending up enjoying it! :)
lisacali
Apr. 1st, 2011 12:13 am (UTC)
Thanks, I had fun writing it! :)
zortified
Mar. 27th, 2011 01:20 pm (UTC)
This was really amazing. Steve was perfect as a new father-for-a-day. I loved how he panicked when Catherine cancelled.
lisacali
Apr. 1st, 2011 12:14 am (UTC)
Aww, thank you!
ciaimpala
Mar. 27th, 2011 03:11 pm (UTC)
This was so so wonderful!

You wrote Steve and Grace so perfectly-they were so sweet and so them-and I love the way you wove Danny into it as well.

And that end scene-amazing!
lisacali
Apr. 1st, 2011 12:15 am (UTC)
And that end scene-amazing!

Thanks - I was afraid of being too shmoopy!
whogeek
Mar. 27th, 2011 03:15 pm (UTC)
Oh Steve. The panic when he thought he'd lost Grace was so perfect. And I remember getting separated from my parents once, and how terrified I was until I remembered the rules. 1)Stay calm. 2)Stay Where You Are. 3)If you can't, find someone who can help, like a policeman. Grace is a smart kid, and I don't doubt that Danny would have set up similar rules with her.
lisacali
Apr. 1st, 2011 03:47 am (UTC)
Grace is a smart kid, and I don't doubt that Danny would have set up similar rules with her.

Exactly. I was thinking about going into that, but I was hoping everyone would think the same thing.

Thanks for the fb. :)
(Deleted comment)
lisacali
Apr. 1st, 2011 03:38 am (UTC)
I'm glad to hear it made you smile - thank you! :)
somehowunbroken
Mar. 27th, 2011 05:03 pm (UTC)
Steve and Gracie = ♥

So cute!
lisacali
Apr. 1st, 2011 03:38 am (UTC)
They're both the cutest things ever!
(Deleted comment)
lisacali
Apr. 1st, 2011 03:39 am (UTC)
Thank you very much!
bi_nocturnal_g
Mar. 27th, 2011 08:11 pm (UTC)
There are so many things in this that made me feel giddy and and warm with fuzzies. There were tons of times where I laughed out loud, but instead of pointing out which parts those were I'm going to stop before I'm gushing all over you and your awesomeness.
lisacali
Apr. 1st, 2011 03:40 am (UTC)
There were tons of times where I laughed out loud

Thank you so much, that is such a great compliment to me!
mrssnape13
Mar. 27th, 2011 11:21 pm (UTC)
Sweet AND snarky! Loved it. :)
lisacali
Apr. 1st, 2011 03:41 am (UTC)
Thank you!
sylvanelfqueen
Mar. 28th, 2011 01:44 am (UTC)
That was so sweet and adorable! I may be a big softie but I had a tear in my eye at the end. A good tear though! A tear because it was just so cute and sweet ! I love it!
lisacali
Apr. 1st, 2011 03:42 am (UTC)
but I had a tear in my eye at the end.

I love when a fic can make me cry, so that means a lot to me, thank you!
americandirrty
Mar. 28th, 2011 02:43 am (UTC)
This is so great!
lisacali
Apr. 1st, 2011 03:43 am (UTC)
Thanks! :)
casness
Mar. 28th, 2011 09:29 pm (UTC)
This was adorable. Thanks so much for writing it. It's perfect.
lisacali
Apr. 1st, 2011 03:44 am (UTC)
You're so welcome, thank you for letting me know you liked it. :)
lobster87
Mar. 28th, 2011 09:54 pm (UTC)
ok, this is freaky, because I was thinking earlier how good Alex looks with children (in Mary Bryant and the Back Up Plan) so this was just adorable!
lisacali
Apr. 1st, 2011 03:43 am (UTC)
Good timing. *g* Thank you!
zed_pm
Mar. 29th, 2011 08:29 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed every second of that. THANK YOU FOR SHARING.
lisacali
Apr. 1st, 2011 03:44 am (UTC)
*blush* Thank you and you're welcome!
jtsbbsps_dk
Apr. 23rd, 2011 09:00 am (UTC)
ghdfhtgjgfgdhfd

THIS IS SO ADORABLE I CANNOT EVEN ♥ ♥ ♥

*draws hearts all over this*
lisacali
Apr. 28th, 2011 01:34 am (UTC)
*loves the hearts* Thank you!
tobyfan
May. 23rd, 2011 04:45 pm (UTC)
Awwww. This is so cute. You have a LOT of nice detail. Clearly you have raised a girl. ;)

And I must say there were so many moments when I smiled or laughed out loud. I love when a story does that. I have to say the remark about the director's cut of Friday 13th just made me burst out laughing.

Oh and you have some good voices here too. I can totally hear Danny saying, “You, my friend and Julia Child wanna-be, have come to the wrong guinea pig.” Yes!

Also LOVED the picture on the fridge!

And this little exchange -

Danny pointed a finger at him. “Or maybe you just want it to remind yourself of how lucky you are to have a partner as patient and forgiving as me.”

Steve laughed. “I’m pretty sure that isn’t it.”


- was perfect!
lisacali
May. 26th, 2011 02:57 am (UTC)
Thanks for the great fb, Anne! I had so much fun writing this story, I'm really glad you enjoyed it and that it made you smile. :)
mijmeraar
Sep. 9th, 2011 10:43 am (UTC)
This is so very lovely :) The Steve&Danny friendship is gorgeous, such a nice serving of affection and teasing from both of them. I love how hard Steve tries with Grace, and just gets it right by being himself [the whole 'I think I lost the hair thingy' was such a BOY thing to say and do I laughed].

Then the way you ended it with Steve realising that this would be a wonderful thing to have for himself. So sweet, without being TOO sweet, thanks so much for sharing :)
lisacali
Sep. 10th, 2011 01:59 am (UTC)
So sweet, without being TOO sweet

Thank you for that, I have a hard time walking that line sometimes.

And thank you for the rest of the lovely fb. :)
sofa2urfer
Jul. 17th, 2013 10:13 pm (UTC)
Wonderful. I really enjoyed this!
( 39 comments — Leave a comment )

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