Disclaimer: Hawaii 5-0 and characters belong to CBS, only the story is mine.
Danny sat out on the lanai thinking as he drank his morning coffee. The last few days had been hectic, emotional and tiring. He had been glad that his parents had been here to help. Grace's room was now set up just the way she wanted it. She had been able to include some of the things that had been at Rachel's. However, there wasn't enough room for everything; Steve didn't own a mansion, so she had to store some of her things. Danny would have liked to get rid of some of the stuff, but knew that the time wasn't right. Grace was being forced to go through enough changes; she didn't need to be asked to choose which things she could keep and which she should give away. Steve understood and helped make room in the garage for some of Grace's things.
Stan had let Danny know that the tuition for Sacred Heart was paid for the year and he would not be looking for a refund. Grace was welcome to finish the school year with her class. Danny wanted to refuse, but swallowed his pride. It would be better for Grace to stay in the same school for the time being. Stan also offered to continue to pay for Grace's schooling now, and Danny could save for college. Danny would have to seriously think about it. Danny had finally realized that Stan genuinely cared about Grace and wasn't trying to show off. Rachel had been the one to hold Stan's wealth over Danny's head, not Stan.
Mr. Hoppy had a very nice two-level home under Steve's lanai. Kamakona had procured the wood and rabbit friendly screens for the rabbit's house. Steve, Chin and his dad had put it together. Kono had found a place to get carpet remnants for the ramps inside the home. Steve had fixed a small section of the cage to fit a litter box. Grace would be able to slide a door shut keeping Mr. Hoppy from getting out, and then open the side so that she could change the litter. Danny had laughed when Steve did this, thinking his friend had finally gone around the bend. Steve said that rabbits can learn to use a litter box when inside, than Mr. Hoppy can learn to use the litter box here too. And damn it, Steve had been right; Mr. Hoppy quickly learned to use the litter box.
So far Grace had been sleeping well. She had a couple of nightmares about losing Danny and Rachel. Danny was sure that she would have more. He was grateful for the support he had been getting from Steve, Chin, Kono and his folks. They had helped keep Grace busy when she wasn't in school.
His parents had returned to New Jersey the day before. His father had to get back to work. Danny laughed to himself. His mother had not been pleased when she found out that dad had become an inspector instead of just retiring. Danny figured his dad would work until he dropped. At least he wasn't fighting fires anymore, which had been the only good thing as far as his mother was concerned.
He noticed Steve making his way back into shore from his morning swim. Here was the reason he was even up this early in the morning. He needed to talk to Steve about Grace, but didn't want Grace to overhear the conversation. She was still asleep; it had been a rough night, she had been upset at her grandparents leaving.
"Hey partner. What are you doing up so early?" Steve asked as he grabbed his towel briskly rubbing on his chest and back.
Danny smiled wanly. "I need to talk to you before Grace gets up."
Steve sat in the chair next to Danny's looking concerned wrapping the towel around his neck. "Sure, what's up? Is there something wrong?"
Danny sighed, running his free hand through his hair. "No, nothing's wrong Steve. I just…I have something important to ask you."
"What do you need Danny?"
"Bill suggested that I should pick a guardian for Grace if something should happen to me. At this time, I don't want her to automatically go to Rachel. I was hoping you would be willing to raise Grace if something happened to me?" Danny watched Steve's face as the talked. He would have laughed if the subject wasn't so serious; he'd never seen Steve do an impression of a fish.
Steve sucked in a deep breath. He hadn't been expecting that. "I would be honored Danny. But what about one of your sisters? Won't they be upset if you don't ask one of them?"
Danny nodded, knowing that Steve would ask. "There is another reason for asking you. I can name you to stand In Loco Parentis in case I'm in the hospital. You're already my emergency contact and listed as next of kin. This will allow you to make decisions for both Grace and me if the situation arises." He raises his hand halting Steve. "Ah, we both know in our line of work it's a possibility. My sisters live too far away to be readily available in an emergency. With you, I know that Grace will be cared for and protected if I'm gone or temporarily incapacitated. Besides, you can stand up to Rachel better than any of my sisters can. My sisters can be scary; you, my friend, are down-right terrifying when you want to be. You also have the contacts to make Rachel's life misery if she tries anything else."
Steve smirked. "As long as it's what Grace wants, than I would be happy to be her guardian."
Danny smiled relieved. "I'll talk to her about it in a few days. I don't want to overwhelm her. One last thing I want you to know. If the worst does happen, I will also have paperwork signed allowing you to adopt her if you choose. You would be a great second father for her."
Steve ducked his head. "I don't know about that Danny. My dad was a good man, but not the best father. I'm not that good with kids…"
"Stop, just stop." Steve looked up at Danny in surprise watching him run a hand down his face. "I'm sorry I said you weren't good with kids now. I didn't know you well enough then to make such a harsh statement. You forget, I've seen you with Grace. You were there for her when the school called. She told me what you said, and it was the right thing to tell her. I know that you love my daughter, more importantly, so does Grace."
"But how? I've never told her how I feel. I'm not good at saying what I feel, you know that." Steve interrupted.
Danny smiled. "No, you're not good at saying what you feel, what you think, absolutely no problem there. However, you don't have to say the words; they would be nice but aren't necessary. Grace can tell by the things you do and how you act. Let me tell you about a conversation I had with my brilliant daughter before this mess with Rachel happened. We had spent a great weekend here and I was taking her back to Rachel's…."
Danny glanced at Grace. "What's up Monkey?"
"Why does Uncle Steve have trouble telling people that he loves them?" She asked curiously.
Danny nearly choked on air. "What makes you say that Monkey?"
Grace tilted her head before answering. "Well, his actions tell me he loves me. I can see it in his eyes and his smile. He listens to me like you do. He sat on the floor and had tea with me and my dolls and acted like it was normal. My friend Lili's father won't play tea party with her and he's her dad. He hugs me for no reason, ruffles my hair, and he's kissed me on the head. I don't think he knew that I felt it. That's how I know that he loves me, even if he's never said the words."
Danny smiled proudly at his daughter. "You're right, he does love you, and I'm proud that you figured it out for yourself. I'm not sure of the reasons Uncle Steve has a hard time saying what he feels. Although I do believe that Uncle Steve was hurt very badly when he was younger so he tries to hide his emotions, he's afraid of getting hurt again."
"But I would never hurt Uncle Steve." Grace interrupted upset.
"I know that Grace. Believe it or not, so does Uncle Steve. By now, he's kinda set in his ways and it's hard to change. There is one other thing that made Uncle Steve unable to say what he feels. You know that he joined the Navy, and became a SEAL. When a SEAL goes on a mission, they can't let their emotions get in the way so they learn to tuck them away until it becomes a habit. Some have a hard time taking their emotions back out after they come home. When I first met Uncle Steve, I thought he was unable to relate to the human race. Do you remember me telling you that Grace?"
Grace thought about it and replied. "I think so. You said that your new partner was like a robot, cold and hard."
Danny grinned wryly. "Well, even your dad can be wrong. At that point I had only seen him at work. Once we started hanging out after work, I began to see the good, caring man who hides behind the walls he built around his heart. He became so used to not showing emotion, that he still has a hard time doing it now. Do understand what I'm saying Grace?"
"I think so. It's like you told me that actions can speak louder than words. Uncle Steve's actions speak for him."
Steve stared at Danny completely floored by Grace's observations. He looked down overcome by emotion. He cleared his throat. "You've raised a remarkable girl Danno."
Danny smiled hearing the emotion in Steve's voice. Time to change the subject. "Thank you. Speaking of Grace, she should be getting up soon. Why don't you take your shower and I'll get breakfast ready."
"Sounds like a plan partner." Steve stood up smiling at Danny. "We have to meet Kono's cousin today about Grace staying with her while we're working." He put a hand on Danny's shoulder. "I think that this will work out. I've done some discrete checking and Noelani's day care has a very good reputation."
Danny scoffed using his hands to emphasize his point. "You, be discrete? I just can't see it. That means everybody knows that you've been asking about Noelani, including Kono."
Steve chuckled as he headed into the house followed by Danny. "Danny, Kono expected me to check around, so did Noelani. All perspective parents do, and since you were spending time with your folks and Grace, I did it for you. Now, I'm getting hungry so why don't you get started on breakfast?" He headed up to his bedroom before Danny could find his voice.
"Jerk." Danny called after Steve shaking his head. He could hear Steve's laughter fading away.
Steve had taken his shower and was headed downstairs. He met Grace who was walking out of her room. "Good morning, Leia. Howzit?"
Grace smiled taking the hand that he held out to her. "I'm good 'Anakala Steve. What are we doing today?"
"Well, we are going to meet Noelani Kalakaua. Danno told you about the small day care she runs close to your school. She's also one of 'Anake Kono's cousins."
Grace looked up at Steve with sad eyes. "Will I like it there? I wish I could stay with you and Danno."
Steve squatted so Grace wouldn't have to look up at him. "One of the reasons we are going today is so that you can see what it will be like. Danno and I wish you could stay with us too. Unfortunately, if we don't work who will help 'Anakala Chin and 'Anake Kono put the bad guys away? Well, Danno would say that his job is to keep me from getting into trouble." Grace smiled. Danny had told her that more than once. "I think you will like it with Mrs. Kalakaua. I talked with some other parents whose children go there, and their children like it."
"Will there be a lot of children there?"
"Not too many. I was told that Mrs. Kalakaua watches no more than 8 children. According to 'Anake Kono, Mrs. Kalakaua keeps her day care small so that it is more like a large family instead of a small school." Steve reassured Grace.
Grace knew that Steve would not lie to her. "Okay 'Anakala Steve. I would like to make some more friends."
"That a girl. You're just like your dad, koa. Koa means brave. Now, I think we should head downstairs because I'm certain Danny has breakfast ready for us." As he stood up, he kissed Grace on the forehead and smiled at her surprised expression. He might not be ready to say the words, but he could show her more openly how he felt.
The duo found Danny making blueberry pancakes, Danny and Grace's favorite. "Danno!" Grace let go of Steve run to Danny and hug him.
Danny returned the hug one handed, he was holding the spatula in his other hand. "Morning Monkey. I hope you're hungry because I felt like making pancakes this morning."
Grace nodded vigorously, making the two men laugh.
Steve headed for the fridge. "What would you like to drink Leia?"
"Pineapple juice please."
"One pineapple juice coming up. I've got some fresh mangos. Would you like some?" Steve pulled out the juice and a mango.
"I'd love some mango. Can I help?" Grace asked Steve.
"Have you ever pealed, and then cut a mango before?" Grace shook her head. "I'll show you. You'll find the peeler in the drawer right behind you." Steve pointed to the aforementioned drawer.
Grace looked for the peeler while Steve got a couple of bowls and the cutting board. He also pulled a small stool out of the pantry so Grace could reach the counter. Grace found the peeler after Danny pointed it out to her and joined Steve.
Steve pointed at the stool. "Up you get. This is how my mom taught me to prepare a mango."
Danny smiled watching them together. Grace was listening and following Steve's directions carefully. He didn't worry about Grace handling a knife with Steve. The man knew how to handle a knife, and not just how to kill someone with it. So he went back to his pancakes.
The mangos were done and Grace asked. "'Anakala Steve, why did you have me put the peels in this bowl instead of the trash can with the seed?"
"Grab the bowl and I'll show you." Grace grabbed the bowl, hopped off the stool and took Steve's hand. "We'll be right back Danny." Steve took Grace out to Mr. Hoppy's home. "While I was researching designs for Mr. Hoppy's home I printed out a list of foods that are safe to feed a rabbit. Rabbits can have some fruit, no more than a tablespoon a day. Mango is one of the allowed fruits. I wanted to see if Mr. Hoppy would eat the peels instead of throwing them away. What he doesn't eat can be put out for the birds."
Grace dragged a chuckling Steve to the food door. He bent down so he wouldn't hit his head on the lanai. Grace let Steve go to open the door and put a few peels in the food dish before closing it. "I have a treat for you Mr. Hoppy. I hope you like it." Mr. Hoppy came right over and started eating. "Cool, he likes it. Thank you 'Anakala Steve." Grace leaned into Steve while watching her bunny eat.
"You're welcome Leia. We can go over the list later so that you know what things that Mr. Hoppy can and can't eat. For now we should toss out the rest of the peels and go back in. I bet the pancakes are ready and waiting." He pointed to a good spot for the peels. He ruffled her hair as she moved off to take care of the peels.
Once the peels were tossed, Grace ran back inside to tell Danny about Mr. Hoppy's new treat.
Breakfast was quickly consumed and the kitchen cleaned up. Danny had Grace pack her backpack with a couple of toys and books so she would have something to do just in case.
Meanwhile Steve called Noelani to let her know they were on the way.
Steve parked in front of a very nice home. It had a spacious front yard. They could see some of the back yard and it had a small jungle gym, sand box and other assorted toys. Kono's little red compact pulled in behind the Camaro as they were climbing out.
Grace hurried over to Kono hugging her. "Good morning Grace. I thought I would introduce you to my cousin personally."
"What's she like 'Anake Kono?
Kono smiled as she led Grace to the house. "Lani is very nice. She loves taking care of children. I know you'll like her. She watched me when I was your age."
"Absolutely. I had lots of fun with the other children she was watching over."
The front door was opened by a smiling older woman. "Kono! It's good to see you." She hugged Kono. Before smiling at Grace. "Now you must be Grace Williams. I am Noelani Kalakaua. You may call me Lani. All the children do."
"It's nice to meet you Lani. This is Danno and he is 'Anakala Steve." Grace remembered her manners.
Lani smiled at the men. "Welcome to my home Detective Williams, Cmdr. McGarrett." She shook their hands. "Please call me Lani."
"Pleasure. Call me Danny."
"Call me Steve please. It's nice to meet you."
"Come in, please." Once they were inside, Lani lead them to the kitchen. "Let me show you around, as I tell you about how the children generally spend their day, then we can talk."
Once the tour was over Lani spoke to Kono and Grace. "Kono, how about you and Grace go out back so she can play with the other children while I talk to her father?"
"Sure Lani. Come on Grace, I recognize two of my other cousins. I think you'll like them." Kono led Grace out the back door.
"Can I offer you gentlemen anything to drink?" Lani asked.
"No thank you Lani." Both men answered.
Lani nodded in acknowledgement before speaking. "Kono let me know that you have recently gained full custody of your daughter and need to have someone watch her while you are working. Normally, I only watch children from my family or people that I know personally. Kono speaks very highly of both of you, and considers you part of her family. For that reason, I would be happy to watch your daughter Danny."
Danny liked this woman. "You're very direct, I like that. Kono also speaks highly of you. Not to forget this one did some checking of his own, because he's aware that this is hard for me." Danny looked down at the table.
Smiling, Lani reassured Danny. "I know Steve did some checking. I would have been disappointed if he hadn't. His father would have done the same thing." She placed her hand on Danny's arm. "Danny, this is a big decision for you, I don't need an answer today."
Danny looked up. "Thank you. Let's talk about the cost."
"Of course." Lani laid out the costs depending on when school was in session and when the children were on vacation. She also discussed the costs of Grace staying in the evenings or on the weekend, explaining that most of the children's parents were either police officers, firemen, or rescue. So she provides the extended services for them.
"Why do you charge less for a Saturday or Sunday than a weekday? I would think that the cost would be more since it's the weekend."
Lani smiled. "Simple. People like yourselves are providing protection for people like me and this is how I repay you. Since you are essentially a single father, I will also be available if Grace needs to spend the night in an emergency."
Danny was overwhelmed. He had not expected this type of help. He cleared his throat. "Thank you. I didn't know anyone who would offer to do that. I figured I would have to find a babysitter or two who could be on call."
"Much of my family is in law enforcement. So I understand that someone like yourself has different needs that the average business person." Lani explained to Danny.
Danny nodded before standing up. "If you'll excuse me, I'd like to talk to Grace and see what she says."
"Of course, Danny. Take your time."
"Thank you. Steve, do you want to wait here or come with me?" Asked Danny.
"If you need me I'll come with you, otherwise I can stay here Danny. What do you need?" Steve countered placing a hand on Danny's arm.
"I think I'd like to talk to my daughter alone."
Steve squeezed his arm before releasing it. He quietly watched Danny leave.
"The two of you must have a very good relationship Steve." Remarked Lani.
Steve looked at her surprised. "Relationship? You mean like a romantic relationship?"
"Well, yes. The two of you live together. Kono called you partners. I thought that meant you were together." Said a confused Lani.
Steve smiled. "No, Danny and I are work partners. He has become the brother I never had. Of course when I was young, the brother I imagined was nothing like Danny, but now I wouldn't have it any other way. We live together because it's convenient. He lived in a closet when he first came here; it was all he could afford. I inherited my dad's house. I had plenty of room for Danny and Grace. So I asked him to move in. There's nothing more to it."
Lani looked embarrassed. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have assumed. You two just seem so close."
Steve waved her apology away. "Don't worry about it. You aren't the first to think that, I'm sure you won't be the last."
The two talked quietly while waiting for Danny.
Meanwhile Danny found Grace playing with some of the children as Kono and another woman looked on.
"Hey Danny. This is Alana, Lani's daughter. She helps her mother with the children." Kono introduced the young woman.
"It's a pleasure to meet you Detective Williams. You have a beautiful daughter." Alana held out her hand.
Danny smiled shaking her hand. "Thank you. Call me Danny please. Grace seems to be enjoying herself."
Alana smiled. "She does. Two of the children are her age. The others are younger but no younger than 6."
Danny smiled watching Grace for a moment before calling her. "Monkey, can you come here?"
Grace looked up at her name and came running over while Kono and Alana moved away giving them privacy. "Danno, where's 'Anakala Steve?"
Danny directed Grace to a nearby bench as he answered. "He's in the house talking with Lani. I wanted to talk to you for a minute." He paused while they sat down. "So, what do you think? Do you think you might like it here?"
Grace looked out to where the children were playing than up at Danny. "The children seem nice. So does Lani and Alana. If I can't stay with you, than I think I would like it here."
Danny hugged Grace to himself. "We'll try it then. If you don't like it, we'll look for something else. How does that sound?"
Grace leaned into Danny. "Okay Danno. When will I have to start?"
"Well, today is Thursday, so how about you start on Monday. I think that Steve and I can take one more day before we have to get back to work. How does that sound?"
"Okay Daddy. Are we leaving now?" Grace wanted to know.
"Not quite yet. I'm sure that there is some paperwork to do so that you can come here. There's always some paperwork to be done. Maybe I can get Steve to do it?"
Grace giggled. "You tell me that he always tries to get you to do his paperwork for him."
"That's because he's better at it than I am Leia." Steve spoke from behind father and daughter.
Danny snorted, and Grace giggled. "No I'm not. You just don't want to do it."
Grace laughed. "Oh, you think that's funny do you?" Grace nodded at Steve before he plucked her off the bench squealing and laughing as he hung her over his shoulder. He winked at Danny as he walked over to Kono and Alana with his prize.
Danny laughed watching his partner cart his daughter around. Steve put Grace down and she ran off to join the other children.
"You are a very lucky man Danny to have such a family." Lani observed from behind him.
Danny agreed as he stood up. "That I am, Lani. Grace would like to stay here with you while I'm working. So why don't we get to work on the paperwork that my partner has effectively left me to fill out." The two people heard several squeals, turning they saw Steve chasing the children, pretending to almost catch one, before going after a different one. Danny laughed. "Lani, may I present the man who thinks he isn't good with children."
She laughed. "Well, this group seems to like him." The two entered the house to do the paperwork while the children played.
Once the paperwork was finished, Grace was offered the opportunity to stay for the rest of the afternoon so she could get to know her new friends better if she wanted. She decided to stay. She was having fun and knew that she would see Danny later.
That evening, Grace told Danny and Steve all about the children and what they did for the rest of the day. She was excited and happy.
Grace had a question as they were sitting on the beach after eating supper. "What if one of my other friends invites me over after school, will I be able to go?"
Danny considered the question. He would have to talk to the parents to be sure that Rachel was not allowed to pick up Grace, other than that, he didn't see a problem. "I think that we can work something out. I'm sure that we can arrange for you to be picked up by one of us, or dropped off at Lani's if we can't get you. Now, it's time for all little monkeys to get ready for bed."
Grace got up and gave each man a hug. "Good night Danno, 'Anakala Steve."
"Good night Leia."
"I'll be up in a few minutes to tuck you in." Danny watched Grace head into the house. He flopped back into his chair. "Thanks for all your help Steve."
"Anytime Danny. I think Grace will like it at Lani's place." Steve answered smiling.
"Yeah. She did enjoy herself today. So did someone else I know. Did you manage to catch any of the children?"
Steve laughed. "Nah. Wasn't really trying, though they caught me a couple of times."
Danny laughed. "See, I told you that you're good with kids. Just let yourself be in the moment and don't worry about anything else. Now I'd better go tuck my daughter in. She had a long day."
"But it was a good day." Steve's voice followed him into the house.
Yes, it had been a good day. Tomorrow, Steve and Danny would go into the office while Grace was in school to work on paperwork. Steve had called the governor to let her know that they would be back to work on Monday. Grace wanted to do something with the team on Saturday, so they were thinking about going to the zoo.
Danny hoped that he would be able to give Grace everything she needed. It was going to be difficult, Five-0s hours could be unpredictable. Well, he was going to do his best, and he knew that his ohana would help them any way they could. They already had. Thanks to Kono, he had someone to take care of Grace while he was working. Steve provided a great place to live for both he and his daughter. Steve hadn't even blinked an eye when he knew Grace would be staying full-time. Danny knew that if he didn't have the support of his ohana, he would have been forced to move back to New Jersey. He would have needed the support of his New Jersey family to help with Grace. He put those thoughts out of his head when he entered Grace's room.
Steve watched Danny go in the house. He knew that Danny worried about Grace and how he was going to handle being a single dad. He was glad that he could help even if he didn't think it was all that much.
He decided that he was going to call a couple of friends tomorrow and point them in Rachel's direction. He would make sure that Stan was left alone, the man was as much a victim as Danny and Grace. How could two good men get taken in by someone like Rachel? He thought about Rachel's looks and her innocent act, never mind. He really shouldn't criticize; he was fooled by his old buddy Nick after all.
Steve looked forward to getting back to work. He had enjoyed his time off, but he was a man who did not do leisure time. He knew that Danny was looking forward to it as well even if he would miss spending time with Grace. Danny was a man who liked to use his skills to help make Hawaii safe for Grace, something that Rachel just could never understand.
Danny joined him with a couple of beers. The men enjoyed the weather and the company before heading in for the night.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed the ending for this story, or should I say beginning? I would like to thank everyone who has read this story. It has been a challenge to write, a very rewarding challenge. I have some ideas running around in my brain for some one-shots and maybe short stories to go directly with this story. I have one story in production that I believe I will adjust to go along with the new custody arrangements. Aloha.