I seem to be following a pattern with these stories - a light-hearted one, followed by one that's more serious. There's a little of both here, but since Belief was such an emotional episode, there's quite a bit of angst too.
I hope I've spelled Meca's name right. I've seen so many variations on different sites, but several of them have used Meca, so I'm using that for this story. I've set it during the end of that episode, as Steve helps Danny through Meca's memorial.
Mingling in a crowd of strangers was hard at the best of times. At a funeral wake, it was even harder.
Luckily, Chin had his cousin to help him break the ice, and make mutually respectful conversation with colleagues who, just days ago, had stared at him in shunning disdain. As both sadly reflected, how sad it was that it took a death in a broken family to bring that family back together.
Away from all that, and even more luckily, Danny had his own family at his side, helping him through every cop's worst nightmare. As Chin proudly observed to Kono, they were friends, partners, brothers, in every sense of ohana.
Wherever he went, to comfort Amy and Billy, or reminisce with his former colleagues, Steve went too. Joining conversations when he had to, keeping quiet when he didn't, he stayed subtly at Danny's side. And while discreet pats on his shoulder went mostly unnoticed, Danny felt every one of them – each one met with a smile that spoke volumes for the bond that had formed, and grown, between them.
Danny needed that support more than ever now, as something he couldn't describe, something more than memory drew him back, again, to that table of photographs. Lost in bittersweet memories as he fingered its frame, it took several seconds for him to realize that Amy had joined him - his eyes widening when his attempts to replace it were gently stopped. It was a photo that she wanted every person who'd come today to see – but only one person to have.
Now all she had to do was persuade him to take it – and it was proving harder than she'd expected.
"No, Danny. Please, keep it," she said at last, pressing it back into his hand as he tried to place it back on the table. "You both look so happy, and… well, it was one of Meca's favourites. He'd want you to have it."
"Yeah, we'd just closed our first case," Danny replied just as quietly, smiling too at the memory – glancing up at Steve so that he'd see the gratitude in his eyes, and the private message beyond. "He must have wondered what the hell he'd taken on, but… no, he stood by me, no matter what."
"The best partners always do," Amy agreed, her voice wavering, before her smile bravely returned – finding all the comfort she needed as she watched the formation of another priceless friendship.
Just as Meca's had done at their first introduction, Steve's hand had settled on Danny's shoulder – a gesture of protective unity that broke down all barriers, and dismissed all differences between them.
It was a moment for them all to savour. Her only regret was that she couldn't enjoy it for longer. But she had a roomful of guests to consider, and her son looked so lost and alone among them – stepping into another father's comforting embrace as instinctively as he'd done with his own.
"Yeah, buddy, I know. I'm gonna miss him too, so much," Danny whispered, hugging him tighter – hiding his own grief behind an encouraging smile as he made Billy a soft but heartfelt promise. "If you or your mom need anything, day or night, any time… you call me, okay?"
Keeping a protective hand on Billy's head as he straightened, he then turned back to Amy and smiled – recognizing the same tiredness in her eyes that he now felt for what had been an emotionally draining day.
As that day drew to a close, both of them knew the time had now come to reflect in private – a steady exodus of guests giving Danny the perfect chance to say goodbye too, and make her the same heartfelt promise in a hug of mutual comfort.
"I'm here, whenever you need me. Any time, you just call me. Okay?"
Only then did Steve leave him, moving tactfully away to find the rest of his team – all three closing in protective rank around him as Steve led the way out to their respective cars.
More comfort came for him there. A pat on the back from Chin. A gentle hug from Kono. Both were met with a wearily grateful smile. But only one person was going to drive him home.
For once, if sadly understandably, there was no bickering. No debate on interrogation techniques. No argument on whether shark cages were worse than jump leads.
Instead, under subtly watchful eyes, Danny sat quietly, studying the photograph in his hand. Fingering its frame, lost in a sanctuary of memories, he finally smiled and shook his head – his voice inevitably catching with grief, but still reassuringly stronger than Steve had expected.
"He was the first friend I made here. Sometimes I thought he'd be the only friend I made here."
A reply was there for the taking, but Steve just nodded. Right now he didn't trust himself to do it. The hostility that he'd seen his friend endure, from his own colleagues, still infuriated him.
Yes, they'd redeemed themselves later, after Danny had shown them how police work should be done. Some of them had even shaken his hand as they'd left, a bloodied Kaleo in tow, but… damn it, that wasn't the point. Haole or not, he'd sacrificed so much to come here, and… damn it, they should have recognized that.
Then again, as a wry voice reminded him, cops from New Jersey could be just as stubborn.
"…couldn't have been easy. When I first got here, apparently… I was a prize pain in the ass."
This time Steve did smile, in proud relief, as he glanced across into promisingly bright blue eyes – seeing enough strength and spirit within them now to lift the mood between them, as only he could.
A pause. A familiar glare. Then, at last, a reply that one needed to say, and the other needed to hear.
Both of them smiled then, a distant roll of thunder causing Steve to grin, then laugh aloud in recognition. When you heard the heavens laugh with you… yes, you knew the spirits within them were happy. You knew the pain they'd left behind them would heal.
You knew everything was going to be okay.