Disclaimer: I do not own anything Hawaii Five-0, it is all the property of CBS and whoever else owns the rights to the show. I am not making any profits of any kind from this work.
Mourn What Can Never Be, Live What Still Can Be
Out of all the possible scenarios that had gone through Steve McGarrett's head in regards to how he was going to spend his day off, building a sand castle had never once entered his mind. Steve thought that he would maybe go for a long swim, continue with his renovations on the house, or maybe even head up to the mountains for some hiking and cross-country running, but building a sand-castle had never entered his mind even once.
And yet, here he was kneeling on the sun-warmed sand of the beach behind his house doing exactly that, building a sand castle. Actually, he was currently building one of the towers of said castle. Sitting across from Steve was the one who suggested building a sand castle in the first place. Eight year old Grace Williams was currently filling up her small pail with soft sand in order to add another part of the castle.
Dressed in a flowing light blue sundress and with her honey-brown locks done-up into her signature pig-tails, Grace look positively radiant as she used her bright red mini-shovel to fill her pail with sand.
Just a couple hours earlier, Steve had found himself being charged with looking after Grace when his partner, Danny Williams had shown up out of the blue at his doorstep with his young daughter in tow looking more disgruntled than he normally did. Danny had explained to Steve that Rachel and Stan, Grace's mother and stepfather had gone out of town for the weekend on a business trip leaving Grace with him. This morning Danny had gotten a phone call from his doctor asking him to come in ASAP for his follow-up exam of his knee that he injured a while back. The appointment had been scheduled for the following week, but something had come up, forcing a rescheduling. Danny had been all for refusing the appointment and putting it off, but Grace had been the one to convince him to go and make sure that everything was alright.
Steve had only been a little peeved by the sudden baby-sitting duties his partner had strapped him with, but one smile from Grace had Steve forgetting all about that. After Steve had agreed to look after Grace, Danny had thanked him profusely, hugged and kissed his 'Monkey' goodbye before he had sped off in his silver Camaro to keep his appointment. After that, Steve had seen to Grace's every need and request. Within the span of a few minutes the little girl had Steve wrapped around her fingers. Now the pair were outside enjoying the bright afternoon sun, the calm waters that lapped at the shore, and the warm sand that was perfect for building.
" This is gonna be the best sand castle ever, right Uncle Steve?" Asked Grace as she looked up and grinned at her castle building partner.
Steve smiled back, feeling a small warmth blossom inside him when he heard Grace call him 'Uncle Steve'.
" You bet it will Gracie." With a bright grin of his own, Steve went back to working on the tower he had been building with renewed vigor.
Half and hour later...
Steve and Grace stood back to admire their newly finished sand castle. In all honestly Steve thought the thing looked more like a lopsided beehive with stuff sticking out of it, but he didn't voice his thoughts because Grace was absolutely beaming. Smiling, Steve spoke.
" Hey Gracie, how bout we go inside and have lunch?"
Grace looked up at Steve and spoke.
" Can we have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches please?
Steve's smile widened as he held out his hand for Grace to take, which she immediately did.
" Sure thing Gracie."
The pair walked up the beach back towards the house hand in hand, seemingly without a care in the world.
As they walked, Grace looked up at Steve and spoke. " Hey Uncle Steve?"
Steve looked down to meet Grace's imploring gaze." Yeah Gracie?"
" Can I help you make the sandwiches?"
" Of course Sweetie. I'll also need your help making some lemonade too."
Steve chuckled as a beaming Grace bounced up and down the rest of the way to the house. Once inside the pair headed straight to the kitchen to get started on making lunch. Steve got the necessary items from his fridge and together he and Grace made what Grace dubbed " the greatest PB & J on the entire island of Hawaii". When it can time to making the lemonade, Steve took over all the cutting and had a blast watching the hilarious faces Grace made in her efforts to squeeze as much juice out of the lemon as she could for her glass. Twenty minutes later the pair were back outside enjoying lunch on Steve's back porch.
Steve smiled as he watched Grace all but inhale her sandwich and lemonade. Steve prided himself on being able to do a whole lot of things because of his training as a Navy Seal, but he felt a different kind of pride as he sat across from Grace and watched her enjoy her lunch. It was a strange but not unpleasant feeling to know that he could make a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich a little kid could like.
Steve and Grace enjoyed lunch with Grace talking about everything from her Danno to what was happening at school, all to the great amusement of Steve. Steve actually laughed out loud when Grace regaled him with tales of how she had convinced her Danno to play tea-party with her that one day back in Jersey.
After they had eaten their lunches, Grace had helped Steve wash all the dishes at her own insistence before the pair headed back outside. This time the pair quietly stood side by side ankle-deep in the water that lapped lazily at the sand.
It was here that Grace turned to her Uncle Steve and spoke.
" Uncle Steve, can I ask you something?"
Steve turned to face Grace with a smile and spoke.
" Of course Gracie, ask away?"
Grace hesitated for a moment before she voiced her question.
" How come you don't have kids yet?"
Although Steve managed to keep smiling at Grace as she said this, inside he felt his heart freeze dead inside his chest as nightmarish memories from the past immediately rose up front and center in his mind. Years a training saved Steve from crumbling right then and there in front of Grace as Steve forced himself to speak.
" I guess with me, it just wasn't meant to be." He said simply.
Grace's brow knotted in confusion before she spoke.
" What do you mean Uncle Steve?"
Taking a moment to decide just what he was going to tell Grace, Steve began to explain.
" You know Gracie, a long time ago I was with this girl and we found out one day that we were actually gonna have a baby together." He began.
Steve felt a sharp twinge in his heart as he watched Grace's face light up in wonder.
" Really Uncle Steve?"
Steve nodded mutely, and Grace seem to catch on that something was not quite right as her smile dimmed and she spoke softly.
" What happened to your baby Uncle Steve?"
Steve looked away for an eternally long second, his eyes gazing at the calm blue waters of the ocean before he took a deep breath and answered Grace.
" My baby died Gracie. He died before he could be born."
Steve turned and looked down when he heard Grace's soft gasp. The little girl's face was a mask of horror and incomprehension as she all but gawked up at him.
Steve felt a tell-tale burning sensation start behind his eyes, but he stubbornly held it all back as he continued to speak, kneeling down onto the sand so that he was at eye-level with Grace.
" I never got to hold him or see if he looked anything like me. He doesn't even have a name." Said Steve before he averted his gaze to the sand and continued.
" I never got a chance to see if I could even be a little bit like your Danno."
No sooner had Steve uttered these words, he was being tackled into a surprisingly strong hug by a tearful Grace. Steve immediately wrapped his arms around Grace's small frame and firmly hugged her back.
" I'm sorry Gracie, 'm sorry." Steve whispered into the little girl's ear.
Grace tightened her already vice-like hold around Steve's neck as she sniffled a couple of times before she spoke against Steve's shoulder.
" Why are you sorry Uncle Steve?" She asked. " You didn't do anything wrong."
" I made you cry Sweetie." Replied Steve. " I shouldn't have done that."
Grace drew back a little so that she could look at Steve. She had big fat tears streaming from her big, chocolate brown eyes, and the sight made Steve want to sink into the ground. Steve was kicking himself for revealing one of the darkest secrets of his entire life, but she had asked him, and he hadn't wanted to lie to Grace either. At least he had not revealed to Grace the full, horrifying details of just how he had lost his unborn child.
" It's okay Uncle Steve, you don't have to say sorry." Assured Grace before she started sobbing. " It's not fair Uncle Steve."
" What's not fair Gracie?" Asked Steve.
" You should've gotten to be like Danno too." Whispered Grace before she completely dissolved into tears.
Steve immediately pulled Grace back to him and held her tight. He swiftly rose to his feet, taking Grace with him. As he stood with Grace held tightly in his arms, a soft ocean breeze picked up and gentle swirled around the two of them.
" I know Gracie, I know it's not fair, but it's just the way things are for me." Sighed Steve against Grace's hair. " But I'm okay though, I'm okay."
" How are you okay Uncle Steve?" Asked Grace, her voice muffled against Steve's shoulder. " Your heart's gotta be broken."
Steve screwed his eyes tightly shut and used sheer will to keep himself from falling part right then and there. Letting out a slow, shaky breath Steve spoke.
" You're right Grace, it is broken." Admitted Steve. " But I'm okay now, I'm fixing it as I go."
" Does it still hurt?" Asked Grace.
" Yeah, it still hurts a lot, but I try not to think about it." Said Steve.
" How are you fixing it Uncle Steve?" Asked Grace. " Cause I wanna help."
Steve let out a soft, cracked chuckle as he gave Grace a light pat on the back and spoke.
" You already have helped me a lot Gracie." He smiled.
" What do you mean Uncle Steve?" Asked Grace as she drew back and eyed Steve in tearful confusion. " How did I already help? I didn't do anything."
" That's not true Gracie, you've done a lot just by being in my life." Explained Steve with a smile. " I never talked to anyone about my baby, you're the first person I've ever told."
" Really?" Asked Grace with a small sniffle as she wiped at her wet cheeks.
" Yes Gracie, really." Said Steve. " And I feel so much better because I told you instead of anyone else."
It warmed Steve beyond words when Grace's lips turned upwards into a small, watery smile before she lunged forward and hugged him once more.
Steve naturally hugged her back, and the pair drifted off into silence save for the occasional sniffle from Grace. It was Grace who finally broke the silence.
" Uncle Steve?" She asked.
" Yeah Gracie?" Replied Steve.
" I think you would've been a great daddy, just like Danno." Grace said softly into Steve's ear.
That just about did Steve in as his face crumbled and his breath hitched. But true to his nature, Steve refused to allow himself to break into a million peaces. Instead, Steve took in a deep, rattling breath before he spoke.
" Thank you for saying that Gracie." He said softly. " I'm glad that at least you think so."
" What do you mean Uncle Steve?" Asked Grace.
" Nothing Gracie, forget I said it." Deflected Steve.
Steve felt Grace nod silently against his shoulder and the pair once again drifted into silence. They stayed that way for a long while after that, with Steve standing before the calm blue ocean water with Grace held tightly in his arms. But as he stared out into the water, Steve felt like he was being shredded inside as a single tear escaped from his eye and carved a glistening trail down his cheek before it dripped off his jaw. Steve quickly forced down anymore tears from breaking through before he drew back so that he and Grace were eye to eye as he spoke.
" Hey now, no more crying Gracie." Said Steve with a warm smile before he continued. " You're Danno'll kill me if he sees that I upset you like this."
Grace still looked at Steve with sadness as she made a valiant effort to regain her composure, but it wasn't working at all. Deciding to switch tactics, Steve's smile turned into a mischievous little smirk as he spoke.
" Well Gracie, I gotta let you know that my arms are starting to get tired here." Said Steve as he began stepping closer and closer towards the water.
" I don't know if I can hold you up much longer..." Steve trailed off as he deliberately loosened his hold around Grace to emphasize his words.
Grace's eye grew wide and a smile started curling up the corners of her lips as she caught on to what Steve was doing.
" Oh no!... You're getting too heavy Gracie... I might just... I MIGHT JUST DROP YOU RIGHT IN!" Shouted Steven as he lowered Grace til the tips of her feet hit the surface of the water.
Grace let out a loud squeal of delight as she clung to her Uncle Steve and began to giggle.
" You're being naughty Uncle Steve, Danno's gonna kick your butt cause he said I wasn't supposed to go swimming."
" Well Danno's only gonna know that if you tell him." Grinned Steve. " So don't squeal on me Gracie, cause I don't wanna die."
" But your supposed to be the Super Seal Uncle Steve." Challenged Grace, laughing as Steve gently swung her around over the water.
" Yeah, I am." Chuckled Steven. " But that's only when I'm working. Today's my day off, and I really don't wanna be at the end of another one of your Danno's loud rants today."
" Yeah, me neither." Agreed Grace before she let out another squeal of delight when Steve fake dropped her again before swinging her round and round.
The pairs laughter was soon filling the calm Hawaiian air and the despair from before faded away, if only temporarily.
About half an hour later...
Danny Williams smiled as he smoothly pulled his camaro into Steve's driveway. His doctor's appointment, though jarring and out of the blue, had gone off without a hitch. The exam showed that Danny's knee had healed up just fine. As he turned off the ignition at got out of the car, Danny's mind quickly went from doctors and busted knee to his Monkey, who he was going to be reunited with momentarily. As he walked up to the front door of Steve's house, Danny had to smile as he wondered just what kind of antics his baby girl and his best friend got up to while he was at the doctor's. Danny fished out the house key Steve had given him a while back from out of one of his jeans pockets. Once he was at the door though, Danny decided to test the knob to see if he needed the key. Danny smiled when he found the door to be soundly locked. It pleased Danny to no end to know that despite all of Steve's recklessness, when it came down to it, Steve knew when a certain amount of responsibility and security were necessary, like today with Grace staying with him.
Danny used the key to unlock the door and let himself into his partner's house.
The first thing Danny noticed was how quiet things were, which said something considering how his Grace could be a real ball of energy most days. But on top of the silence, there was this air of calmness over the house that served to appease Danny's instincts at a cop. As far as he could tell nothing was wrong, but he still hadn't caught sight of his daughter or his partner. Danny made his way further into the house as he continued to look for Grace and Steve.
When he still couldn't catch sight of them, Danny had it in mind to call out for Steve and Grace but then he turned a corner that led into the den. The sight that greeted Danny had him stopping dead in his tracks.
There laying on her front on one of the plush looking sofas was Grace. She was completely conked out with a light blanket covering her lower half. Sitting on the floor with his back propped up against the edge of the sofa was an equally conked out Steve. The man's head fell back to rest on the same pillow as Grace's, and the little girl had an arm loosely wrapped around Steve's neck so that her small hand came to rest on the center of the man's chest, right over the spot where his heart was. They made a perfect picture of bliss, and it had a bright grin slowly spreading across Danny's face.
As quietly as he could, Danny stepped into the den and made his way over to the pair. Once he was just a few feet away, Danny pulled out his iphone and pressed the camera app. Danny then held out the camera at arms length and adjusted accordingly to get the right shot of his baby girl and his best friend. Danny's smile widened as he took several pictures with his phone.
It was a very cute scene, and could be used for future blackmail material against his 'tough-guy' best friend. Danny took a final shot before he put his phone away and reached out towards Grace. Gently placing his hand over Grace's back, Danny gave his daughter a light shake to rouse her from her slumber.
" Mmph." Groaned Grace as she stirred beneath her father's hand.
Grace's eyes fluttered open and blinked away the remnants of sleep. When her vision cleared, she was greeted by the smiling face of her Danno. Grace's face broke out into a wide grin, and she was just about to yell when Danny gently stopped her.
" Hold on Grace, let's stave off on the yelling until we wake up your Uncle Steve." Smiled Danny before he and Grace turned their attention to Steve, who surprisingly was still asleep.
Danny knew Steve to be a light sleeper who could wake up to the sound of a paperclip falling to the floor, he'd seen it happen at the office a few times himself. Now Danny felt a small level of smugness at knowing that all he had to do was get Grace involved, and his best friend's honed, Super-Seal senses get dulled to the point of uselessness. With a smile, Danny leaned in close till his face was just a few inches away from Steve's before he spoke.
" Hey Steven." He said lowly.
No response, Steve didn't even twitch. Grace sat back and watched, wondering what her Danno was up to. Danny leaned in a little further and spoke again.
" Oh Sleepy Beau-" He began to say in a sing-song voice, but before he could finish that last word, Danny let out a loud yelp as it felt like an iron bear trap clamped down on his entire head. Next thing he knew, Danny found himself trapped in a firm head-lock by his smiling, wide-awake best friend.
Grace gasped when she saw Steve lash out with lighten fast precision and grab her father, but seconds later she was laughing along with a chuckling Steve as Danny floundered about in a vain attempt to free himself from Steve's unyielding but surprisingly gentle hold.
" Okay, okay I give." Said Danny flatly as he tapped at Steve's forearm. " Lemme go ya caveman."
" I dunno Danno." Smirked Steve before he looked to Grace. " Should I make him sweat a little more Gracie?"
Danny looked up and smiled brightly at Grace, who in turn shook her head.
"Let my Danno go Uncle Steve." Smiled Grace before she did her best puppy-eyed face. " Please."
" You're using your cuteness against me." Sighed Steve with exaggerated despair before he grinned widely. " As you wish."
Steve then promptly unwrapped his arm from around Danny and let his partner fall to the floor beside him with a light thud.
" Oww, not cool man." Grumbled Danny before he turned his attention to his Grace. " Thanks for the save Monkey."
Danny then held out his arms and Grace immediately jumped into them for one of her father's bear-hugs. Steve sat back against the edge of the sofa a smiled at the sight, all the while feeling a dull twinge in his own heart as he again remembered his own loss. But Steve quickly pushed those dark thoughts to the back of his mind as he focused on finding out how Danny's doctor's appointment had gone. More amusing antics and bickering followed as Danny regaled him with how the appointment went. Then Grace jumped in and started telling Danny everything she and Steve had done during the afternoon, though she thankfully left out Steve's painful confession about his past.
Twenty minutes later, Grace and Danny were waving goodbye to Steve and speeding off back to Danny's apartment in the Jersey detective's silver camaro.
A little while later Danny was pulling into the parking lot of his apartment complex, but as he was parking the car, Danny noticed that his daughter, who was usually a chatter box, and grown uncharacteristically silent as she sat in the backseat and stared out the window.
" Hey Monkey, what's wrong?" Asked Danny as he looked up at the rear-view mirror to eye his daughter. " Why so quiet all of a sudden?"
Danny was expecting maybe a glum reply that she missed her Uncle Steve already. What Danny didn't expect was to see Grace's big brown eyes suddenly fill with tears as her bottom lip began to tremble.
" Danno." She blubbered softly.
In an instant Danny was out of the driver's seat and all but ripping the back passenger door of the camaro open to get to his very upset daughter. The moment Danny undid Grace's seat-belt, the eight year old was launching herself into her confused and concerned father's arms and holding onto him for what seemed to be dear life.
" Hey Monkey, what's wrong?" Asked Danny urgently as he stood up with his daughter in his arms. " C'mon tell me, please."
The only response Danny got was Grace's soft sob against his neck. Seeing that Grace was just too upset to talk at the moment, Danny snatched up her backpack from the back seat with some practiced parental skill before he shut the car door and quickly headed for his apartment, thankful that it was located on the ground floor. Without setting Grace on the ground, Danny held his daughter and her backpack in one hand while he quickly fished out his house keys from his pocket with the other. Danny then used the keys to get the door to his apartment open before he hurried inside with Grace.
Once inside Danny shut the door with his foot before he haphazardly dropped Grace's backpack on the floor and focused his sole attention of consoling his daughter.
Grace was distraught for several long minutes, and Danny knew better than to get her to talk, so he just held her and waited for her to calm down on her own. When Grace made a final hitched breath, Danny decided to test the waters.
" Monkey?" He asked softly against Grace's hair.
" Y-Yeah?" Replied Grace, her voice muffled against her father's shoulder.
" Are you okay now baby?" Asked Danny. " Can you tell me what's got you so upset?"
Grace sniffled softly before she finally drew back and met her father's concerned gaze as she spoke.
" It's Uncle Steve." She said softly.
" What about Uncle Steve?" Asked Danny instantly.
" I made him really, really sad Danno." Answered Grace as a few tears escaped from her weepy brown eyes.
" Hey, c'mon Monkey." Said Danny as he reached out and wiped at his daughter's wet cheeks with his hand. " What do you mean yo made him really, really sad?"
" We were just sitting by the water and I asked him why he wasn't a daddy yet." Said Grace softly.
Danny instantly felt his heart freeze inside his chest while a loud roaring filled his ears as he stared at his tearful daughter.
" You asked him that?" Asked Danny softly. Grace nodded mutely. " What... What did Uncle Steve say Monkey?"
" Uncle Steve told me that a really long time ago, he with this girl and they were gonna have a baby but..." Grace trailed off, unable to keep going.
" But what Monkey?" Urged Danny, desperate to know what his best friend had told his daughter while his heart was pounding like a drum within his chest.
" Uncle Steve's baby died Danno." Said Grace softly, almost in a whisper.
No sooner had these softly spoken words reached Danny's ear, the whole world seemed to come to a screeching halt.
" Oh my God." Swore Danny softly as he closed his eyes and gathered Grace to him in a fierce hug.
Danny just stood there hugging Grace as though his life depended on it, all the while feeling like he was being ripped apart inside as the horrifying tragedy his best friend went through hit him without mercy.
Steve lost his child... His best friend lost his child.
" Uncle Steve never got to be like you Danno, and he really wanted to be." Said Grace against Danny's shoulder. " He told me so."
Danny screwed his eyes shut as tight as he could as he felt the searing burn of tears. Blinking rapidly and using sheer will to keep himself from loosing it, Danny spoke.
" Oh Monkey I'm sorry, I'm so sorry."
" Daddy, why're you saying sorry?" Asked a confused Grace. " You didn't do anything, and Uncle Steve kept saying it too even though he didn't do anything wrong either."
" Oh Baby, I'm just sorry that this made you so upset." Explained Danny as he pressed a kiss to Grace's hair. " I think Uncle Steve said sorry because he didn't mean to upset you either Monkey."
Grace nodded against Danny's shoulder in acceptance.
" Did your Uncle Steve tell you anything else Monkey?" Asked Danny a few moments later.
" Yeah." Whispered Grace before she drew back to look Danny in the eye before she continued. " I told Uncle Steve that it wasn't fair, that he should've gotten to be like you Danno."
Danny nodded mutely with a small, sad smile aimed at Grace, all the while feeling his heart swell with pride for his daughter and bleed in despair for Steve at the same time.
Grace took a moment to give Danny a watery smile back before she continued.
" After that Uncle Steve kept telling me that he was okay but I didn't believe him. I knew his heart was broken Danno." She said softly.
Danny nodded mutely and waited for her to go on.
" Uncle Steve fessed up that his heart was broken, and that it still hurt a lot. So I asked him how he was going to fix it cause I wanted to help. Then he told me that I already helped him, but I didn't understand how." Said Grace.
Danny felt a deep warmth spread through him as he thought about Steve, and how despite all the Hell he was going through, the man had still put Grace first.
" Did..." Danny cleared his suddenly too tight throat before he went continued. " Did your Uncle Steve explain to you how you already helped him fix his heart?"
" Uncle Steve told me that I helped him just by being in his life." Answered Grace. " He told me that he never talks to anyone about his baby, and that I'm the first person he's ever told. Uncle Steve said that he felt a whole lot better because he told me about his baby instead of anybody else."
Danny let out a shaky breath and had to look away for a moment as his heart broke all over again for Steve. Once he was sure he wasn't going to lose it, Danny refocused his attention of Grace and spoke.
" What happened after that Monkey?" He asked.
" I just hugged Uncle Steve real hard and I told him that I thought he would've been a great daddy, just like you are Danno." Replied Grace softly.
So much for being sure that he wasn't going to lose it. Danny let out a small, choked off sound before he all but crushed Grace to him.
" Oh Monkey, you're so good." Said Danny against Grace's hair, his tone reverent. " I'm so proud of you."
Grace didn't say anything, although her cheeks turned slightly pink at her father's praise, and simple hugged Danny back hard. The pair just stood there for a while, simple hugging each other. It was Grace who finally spoke.
" Danno?" She asked softly.
" Yeah Monkey?" Replied Danny.
" Are you gonna help Uncle Steve fix his heart too?" Grace asked as she drew back and looked at Danny with large, pleading eyes.
Danny gazed back at his daughter as a wide smile slowly spread across his face despite how his eyes were over-bright with the sheen of unshed tears. Danny took a deep breath to steady his composure somewhat before he answered Grace.
" You better believe it Monkey, or my name ain't Danno."