Author: DC (fatorangekat )
Pair: implied Danny/Steve, Grace
Spoilers: a coda of sorts for ep#16 - E Malama
Warnings: Well, it's a character study, not slash
Disclaimer: The Hawaii Five-O characters do not belong to me. I simply love to play in their sandbox. (or on their beach.)
Author Notes: Huge thanks to HCat for her awesome beta skills and indulging me in this. And to kare for her encouragement and cheerleading.
Summary: Grace hasn't worked through what happened with the carjacking.
Danny sat back in the chair, watching his daughter as she built a sand castle. The breeze from the ocean played with her hair and she'd pull it back out of her face with one hand as she kept digging and shaping with the other. She had a single minded determination that worried Danny somewhat.
Rachel had called, asked if he wouldn't take her for the evening. Danny was never one to turn down a chance at a few unexpected bonus hours with Grace but he sensed by Rachel's tone that there was more to it than that. When he picked up his little girl at the house, there had been something in her eyes that made Danny wrap her up tight as he looked over her shoulder at Rachel.
"Hey, Monkey." He kissed her cheek as she clung to him. "I was going to go over to Uncle Steve's for a while, you want to come along?"
"Can I play on the beach?"
"Can you play on the beach?" Danny tsk'd as he shifted her weight to his hip. "Of course you can play on the beach." He brought her over to the car and after buckling her in and closing the door, looked at Rachel. "You want to tell me why she's so upset?"
Rachel hesitated, looking back at the house before meeting Danny's eyes. "She hasn't been comfortable since the carjacking and everything. She won't talk about it to me, she absolutely refuses."
"And you're telling me this now? Rachel, why didn't you call me?" Danny tried to keep the agitation out of his voice as he deliberately shoved his hands in his pockets. It wouldn’t help to get into an argument with Rachel.
"Because I thought she'd get past it in a few days! She'd been so frightened."
"A few days? For godsakes, it's been almost two weeks! What else haven't you told me?" Okay, no help for it, the hands weren't going to stay put.
"Don't, Rachel, okay? I just want to know what's going on here. And not that I mind getting a bonus evening with my little girl, but why is she upset tonight?"
Rachel wrapped her arms around herself, eyes bright as she looked away, dark hair spilling over her shoulders. Danny watched her, sensing her uneasiness and reluctance.
Then it clicked in. "Stan was out of town and came back today, didn't he?"
"Yes, but you're misunderstanding. Stan's her stepfather and he loves her."
"Uh huh." Danny shook his head as he regarded Rachel. "McGarrett invited us over to his place since I didn't have any plans. Maybe she'll talk to me there."
Grace had been quiet the entire drive over, more so than usual. Danny kept up a steady conversation, keeping it light, trying to draw a smile out of his daughter. But outside of a yes or no or uh huh, she said nothing else.
Now she worked on her sand castle, still quiet as Danny watched her. He looked up when Steve arrived, offering a beer. "Thanks," Danny nodded and looked back at Grace. Steve sat in the other chair, long legs stretched out in front of him as he took a swallow of his beer. "And thanks for the offer to have us come over."
"Are you kidding? She's a sweet kid, Danno, I like when you bring her around." Steve was also watching her now as Danny glanced at him.
It hadn't been the best couple of days at Five-O either. Steve had been edgy and off balance and considering the cases they'd had, it was understandable. When Danny told him he was getting Grace for the evening, Steve didn't hesitate with the invitation.
But it was more than that. Danny hadn't missed the hope in the other man's eyes that Danny would take him up on it. Hope and something else, something that Steve normally did a good job of tucking away.
He was lonely. That was something Danny understood all too well. Steve had lost so much when it came to family. He considered the team his family now, Danny knew that. But Steve regarded Danny and Grace on a different level. He'd never admit it, he'd deny it if Danny were to come out and confront him about it, being the tough as nails Navy SEAL he was.
But Danny caught it every so often, the wistful longing to have what Danny had with Grace and the vulnerability that came with that.
"Can I ask you something?" Steve slid Danny a careful look before sitting forward in his chair.
"Sure. What's on your mind?"
Steve nodded in Grace's direction. "She's awfully quiet tonight. Not that she isn't a quiet girl to begin with, but more so tonight."
Danny sighed, rolling the bottle between his palms. "Rachel said she's been unhappy since the carjacking."
"Seriously? But that happened what, two weeks ago? You never mentioned anything." Danny didn't miss the concern in Steve's voice as he glanced at Grace.
"Because I didn't know until tonight that there was a problem." Danny finished the beer, trying to wash the bitterness down that came with the knowledge he wasn't there for his daughter every day the way he wanted to be.
"I'm sorry, Danny."
"Yeah, well…" Danny shrugged and put the empty bottle down beside the chair. "Apparently Stan was away, yet again, and came home today. Rachel wouldn't come out and say it but I think Grace is suddenly uncomfortable around him."
"Aw man," Steve shook his head. "Has Gracie said anything to you?"
"No, and she won't talk to Rachel either. I'm hoping that a few hours here, at your place where I know she feels safe will get her to open up to me."
"Hey, if that's what it takes, I'm glad I could help! There isn't anything I wouldn't do for her. For both of you when it comes down to it."
That last part was said so softly that Danny wasn't sure he heard it correctly. He glanced at Steve but the other man had his focus on Grace. Danny didn't say anything, just sat and waited until Steve finally looked back at him, his eyes dark. The other man shifted restlessly, dropping his gaze and Danny nodded.
He'd file that little bit of information away for later.
It was past afternoon, the shadows starting to lengthen with the early evening daylight beginning its long fade. Grace continued to heap sand and build as the breeze came in off the ocean.
"You hungry, Monkey? Maybe get a burger?"
She didn't even look up, only shook her head, her silence gnawing at Danny more and more.
"No burger, huh. How about you pick the place? We'll even stop for shave ice at Kamekono's."
She simply shook her head and Danny sighed his frustration. He wouldn't push her. When it came to Grace, Danny knew all about patience and he knew his young daughter. There'd been times during the ugliness of the separation and divorce that she'd gone quiet, barely speaking a word. During those periods Danny learned then to wait her out and he would do so now.
"Something's got her really tied up tonight, doesn't it?" Steve rested his elbows on his knees, still holding his bottle.
"Yeah, something does. She'll come around when she feels safe enough. She's almost there, she just needs a little more time."
The tide was starting to come in.
Steve sat back in the chair, studying Danny as he watched Grace. It never ceased to amaze him, the gentleness and simple ease he had with his daughter. Danny, who was all barely contained energy with his quick sarcasm and sharp hand gestures, eclipsing everyone in the room when on one of his legendary rants.
But with Grace he was someone else entirely, someone you saw only in the presence of a frightened victim or his daughter. It was like night and day, Danny switching from frustration and anger to a soft spoken gentleness in the space of a breath. Often it caught Steve unaware and it had left him reeling on more than one occasion, trying to catch up.
He'd never met anyone like this man. He was convinced he never would again.
"You amaze me sometimes." Steve looked at the label on his bottle, running his thumb over it.
"Yeah, how's that?"
"I don't know of anyone who would do what you did." He hesitated when Danny transfixed him with those intense blue eyes. "You gave up everything you knew, you were comfortable with, your entire family and followed Grace out here. You moved halfway around the world pretty much and I know you’d do it again. You don’t like Hawaii but you have no regrets. Seriously, Danny, who does that?"
"I get one shot at her growing up." Danny pointed at Grace. "One. There's no do-overs and I have enough regrets, but Grace isn't one of them." Danny shrugged. "I will be in her life no matter what that takes. Maybe that makes me selfish."
"Are you kidding me, Danny? Honestly?" Steve nodded at Grace. "Someday, years from now, wherever that puts you, she's going to remember this."
"Maybe, but it doesn't matter. It won't make up for the divorce, won't make up for the bitterness that took a part of her away I keep hoping will come back. She used to laugh, really laugh, Steven, and you had to laugh with her. It was infectious and she'd light up a room with it. She hasn't been that kind of happy in a couple of years." Danny sighed and shook his head, staring out over the ocean where the evening sunlight sparkled on the waves. "I keep hoping she'll turn that corner. I think she was close to it—thanks to you and Chin and Kono. She loves you guys. But this mess with the carjacking and the house being broke into…" Danny trailed off.
"And she'll get past that, Danny. She knows she’s safe, because of you, even if you can't be there all the time." Steve knew that was eating at Danny, it had been since it happened. That he wasn't there to stop it, only to pick up the pieces afterwards. Steve sensed something more had happened, something Danny wasn't telling him about but he refused to push it. Danny never did tell him how Stan Edwards was involved and what he did to resolve it.
The sky was turning into a riot of color with the advance of the sunset. Grace had stopped, looking out over the water. A sailboat skimmed along in the distance. It was a postcard moment, the kind the tourists lived for.
Grace got up, brushing off sand before coming over to Danny.
"Hey, Monkey," He gathered her into his lap, heedless of the sand as she wrapped her arms around his neck and buried her face there.
Steve couldn't help but watch, mesmerized by the pair.
"Feeling any better?" Danny rubbed her back with one hand. She nodded, face still hidden. "You gonna talk to me about it, yes?" He pressed a kiss into her hair, rocking and swaying her a little. "You gonna tell Danno what's going on?" He glanced over at Steve.
And there it was, that rare unguarded look in the other man's eyes, the open vulnerability that only Grace could unmask. And Steve understood. Swallowing, he reached over and rested his hand over the one Danny had on Grace's back and nodded.
Danny gave him a quiet smile. "Come on, kiddo, let's go. We've got lots to talk about, I think."
And although Danny was speaking to Grace, there was no doubt in Steve's mind that there would be more than one conversation this evening.