Through a Child's eyes
Steve was looking at the machines and monitors that were keeping his partner stable as he healed and couldn't help but feel incredible guilt. He'd always felt responsible for his men in combat. As a commander, he was not only their leader, he was also their first line of defense. He had never asked of them what he wouldn't have done himself for them. In the military, that was what was expected and his men knew that. He was used to a cadre of soldiers looking at him for guidance and in many ways, they were one unit more than several individuals. It didn't mean that he didn't feel keenly when one of his men got injured or killed. He felt every loss.
But he had never had a partner.
Yes, they were a team of four individuals that made up the task force and he, again, felt responsible for each one of them, but Danny, he was more than just another team member, he was his partner and Steve, if he were to be honest, didn't know how to deal with that. Even more so, he didn't know how to handle it when someone placed himself in harm's way to save him. Danny had done that and that action had put him in the hospital yet again. Steve knew that he could chalk up Danny's actions to training as a cop, that any cop would have acted as he had, but to simplify it that way would be to shortchange the man himself.
Steve had known Danny long enough to know the kind of man he was and he was more than just the training. Danny had shown it in the way that he had held his gun, the way he had maneuvered as they zeroed in on the perps they chased, in the way he read witnesses, but more importantly, in the way he loved his little girl. Danny loved his daughter. It was written all over his face when he'd see her and you knew that yes, he loved the job and he knew he was good at it, but he also loved his Grace and he would protect her with everything he had. It was that same kind of determination that Danny brought into his police work and Steve knew that Danny would do the same thing for all of them.
He had rushed headlong into the path of the shooter to keep Steve from getting hurt. It was quick and instinctual without any second-guessing. Some might wonder where he got such a foolhardy idea to do that and even Danny might jokingly blame Steve, that somewhere Danny had picked up Steve's gung-ho style, but Steve knew that it wasn't that. He knew that when it came to saving lives, Danny was there, first and foremost.
So that's why he was in the hospital now, unconscious. The doctors said he would be okay, that he just needed time to heal, that he was a strong man. All the platitudes of reassurance though couldn't get Steve to shake that it wasn't fair that Danny was lying there, that it should have been him.
As he buried his face in his hands, he felt a light tap on his shoulder. He looked to his left and the sweet face of a little girl stared at him. She had her father's calm demeanor for a child still so young.
"Hey there Gracie."
"Hey, Steve," she said. "You scared about Daddy?"
Out of the mouths of babes.
"Nah, your dad's going to be okay. The doctors said so."
"Yeh, I know, but doesn't mean you're not scared."
Wise beyond her years.
"I don't want you to be scared, Steve. Daddy wouldn't want you to be scared. He wouldn't want me to be scared either."
Steve stared at her, his eyes forming tears that he couldn't stop.
"I know, sweetheart."
"But it's hard, huh?"
"Yeh, yeh, it is," Steve said, wiping his eyes before his tears fell.
"Daddy worries about you too, you know."
Steve smiled a little.
"Because you lost your daddy. He worries that you think it was your fault so you worry too much about everyone else but you. He told me it wasn't your fault that sometimes bad things happen."
Steve listened to Grace and felt his heart ache. Danny had shared his feelings with his daughter and she was sharing them with him. It was revealing so much. Steve's façade wasn't as good as he thought it was. Danny had seen through him.
"He said that, huh?"
"Yeh and he said that sometimes, you have to let other people worry."
Steve looked over at Danny and took in a breath.
"Yeh, well, that's hard to do too sometimes."
"Don't feel bad about Daddy. It isn't your fault either."
Steve hitched in a breath, the guilt once again back on his shoulders and chest like a crushing weight. Grace didn't know how everything went down so of course she wouldn't blame him, but he knew and he blamed himself.
"Daddy told me that he might get hurt sometimes, maybe bad and yeh, I get scared, but he tells me all the time about how likes helping people, that it makes him happy and that no matter what, he loves me more than anything."
"He does, sweetie."
"He cares about you too, Steve."
Steve smiled remembering when Danny would swear under his breath about how much he hated him. He knew that Danny didn't mean it, but there was a part of him that didn't exactly blame him if he hated him a little. He had put him through a lot.
"Your daddy cares about everybody and that's why he's a good cop."
Grace had this guilty look on her face and Steve noticed.
"What? What is it?"
"One time, I heard him say to Kono he was worried that he would let you down."
Steve gave her a surprised look.
"Your dad could never let me down, or let Kono or Chin down."
"See? Everyone worries too much."
"Guess you're right there," Steve smiled.
Grace looked at Danny and it tugged at Steve's heart. He took her into his arms and found the much needed comfort and absolution.
"Daddy is going to be okay, Steve."
"I know he will."
Steve looked over and caught Danny's eyes fluttering open. Danny looked over and saw through blurry vision, his daughter and his partner hugging. He licked his lips.
"Hey…monkey…" Danny uttered drily.
"DADDY!" Grace squealed and then looked back at Steve. "Told you he was going to be okay."
Steve could only nod in relief. Danny had a puzzled look on his face.
"Should I be worried?" Danny asked with a rasp.
"No, no, I'm with Grace, everyone should just stop worrying."
Danny just continued to give him a puzzled expression, but was too tired to pursue it.
"I'm just glad you're okay," Steve said a little more softly than Danny had expected.
Danny just nodded. He'd have to ask Grace about it later.
FIN Hope you enjoyed this. I wanted to write a Grace-centric story to show Danny through her eyes.