Disclaimer: see chapter one
A/N: Well here we are. This has been a heartbreaking journey, I can't describe the emotion this story caused in me, I only hope I was able to bring it across as I invisioned it. As I've said before, for me to write a story like this, it really has to hit me hard and this one did. It came fast and literally wrote itself, I don't know if I've ever completed a multi-chapter fic this quickly, but as the emotions poured from me as I wrote I was thankful it did. That is the reason I'm posting it so quickly, this is not a story to be drawn out, to be over thought, it was written to be felt. From the bottom of my heart I thank everyone of you who've endured this heartbreaking trek I've led us on. The encouraging words gave me the confidence to know my words were getting across and that it was meant for me to go on and bring us to what I hope is a worthy conclusion. As with the image of our two heros in the warehouse that Chin found gave life to this story, the image at the end of this chapter is the vision I saw as the ending. I hope it's what you all invisioned too. Thank you all again, so very much-Montez
Two weeks had passed since the day of the funeral and Danny, along with Grace's, Chin's and Kono's help, had gone through what was in his apartment, boxed and moved the few possessions he had. It had been a furnished place so none of the furniture needed to be moved. Williams had taken the downstairs guest room in Steve's house as his own and allowed Grace to take one of the smaller ones upstairs as hers, Kono and Rachel helping her set it up. Rachel had been very understanding in Danny's need to have his daughter close to him and for the remainder of the time Five-0 was on leave, Grace would stay with her father.
He had graduated from the crutches to his cane and spent most days on the back patio watching his daughter and Kono out on the beach, the young woman showing the little girl the basics of surfing. Chin and Kono had stayed at the house those first few days, especially after the scare Danny'd gave them the night of the funeral. After that they would both come by everyday, checking if anything was needed, since Danny hadn't been cleared to drive yet.
Williams was finally cleared to drive the week before Five-0 was supposed to meet with the Governor. His release to return to work was light duty only, which meant desk duty. He wasn't sure what he was going to do, Jameson had called offering him the leadership of the task force, but he didn't know if he was the best person for it. He'd never doubted his abilities before, but the thought of walking back into those offices and his best friend, his partner not being there, he just wasn't sure he could do that.
Even after being cleared to drive, Danny had refused to drive either Steve's truck or his own Camaro that now sat behind said truck. He hadn't really had the need to leave the beach house, Chin had taken him to his follow up appointments and both cousins would bring food every few days. Grace had seemed as content as her father to stay around house. His daughter had sensed her father's need to try and deal with the loss and to her credit she seemed to understand completely, after all Uncle Steve was the first person she'd every lost too.
The morning Danny was due to take Grace home found him standing on the front porch, looking at his car in the driveway. He knew it was ridiculous to not want to drive his own car, but it just felt wrong, yet he really didn't have an option today. Chin and Kono had made plans, they had offered to cancel and be there if he needed them, but they had spent so much time at the house, he needed them to trust he would be okay on his own. Rachel had called and said that one of their vehicles was in the shop and Stan had the other, so Danny would have to drop their daughter off.
It was early and Grace was still asleep. Sitting on the front step Danny knew he'd have to do this sooner or later, he was meeting the Governor the next day. 'You know this is totally not you, right?' Williams closed his eyes as his partner's voice filled his mind. 'All that time ranting about me driving and now, you wouldn't even drive. Don't you think it's time to get past that?'
Shaking his head Williams glanced to his right, "You going to haunt me forever?" A smirk crossed his face at the grin he saw on Steve's.
'For as long as it takes' Steve's grin faded, worry replacing the look, 'You can't stay here forever, you need to start living again, Grace needs her old Danno back, not the one who sits on the back patio and stares off toward the horizon.' Danny felt a slight nudge on his shoulder. 'Five-0 needs a leader, that's your job. You were always the one that kept it together anyway, if it had been up to me, we'd never made it past the first case, I'd have probably gotten myself killed.'
"You did get yourself killed, remember?" Danny felt the emotions in his throat again. Emotions he had been warring with the past month, the idea his friend had died trying to protect him.
'I wouldn't change what happened, you made it out of there alive, that was my job, protect my partner.' McGarrett said softly.
"But I didn't protect you." Danny responded. His eyes looking at his clinched hands.
He watched as Steve's spectral hand rested over his fidgeting ones, 'It wasn't meant for you to. Grace needed you and it was my place to get you back to her, I'll never regret that and I don't want you to either. You go to that meeting, accept the role; Chin and Kono will support you. That's what I want you to do, then be there for Grace, just like you always have, watch her grow up, get married and have kids, just promise you'll tell them all about those crazy stunts you always yelled at me for, they'll never believe half of it." Steve squeezed his friend's hand, Danny's watery eyes meeting his, 'Grow old and cranky; well old anyway, hell you're already cranky.' Steve smiled as Danny laughed. 'Just don't forget what's important, friends, family and know your crazy super SEAL partner will be watching out for you.'
"I'm gonna miss you partner." Danny said, clearing the lump in his throat.
'Me too man. Now…' Steve stood, looking down at Danny, a huge smile on his face, 'go drive your damn car.'
Williams looked toward the silver vehicle again, laughing at the humor in his friend's voice, but when he turned again, Steve was gone. Standing Danny wiped the tears that had slipped free, knowing it would be a very long time before he saw McGarrett's face again, though he was sure the SEAL's voice would echo occasionally in his mind, he turned to enter the house, he had to take Grace home.
The first few months of Five-0's reestablishment had been rough, going back to the offices they each knew Steve would never enter again. It was months before Danny finally moved Steve's things from his office into his own. This time a third flag rested on the shelves behind Danny's desk, representing the last three McGarrett men, a small case containing each of the fallen men's service medals hung on the wall just above each man's flag.
Danny had also done just like Steve had when originally forming the task force; they had recruited a brand new recruit just out of the academy. The three original members had screened and checked out their newest member, then just like with Kono, all other training was on the job, the team flowed again. This time Danny and Chin paired up, allowing Kono to be the training officer for their rookie.
Years passed, cases came and went, yes they still had a few gun battles on their hands, but strangely enough not as many as when Steve had been the leader. They would sit around sometimes and talk of those times, even occasionally mentioning how they missed them. Governor's came and went, but with the success of the task force it remained permanent. To valuable an asset to do away with, new people would come in, other's moved on, but the original three stayed, always teaching the next generation.
For fifteen years Danny lead the group, until the knee injury that had plagued him for years made it too difficult, but he stayed on consulting and teaching. Chin had retired, health issues prompting his reluctant leaving, though occasionally he would come in and help, trying to keep up with the technology he'd loved to work with. Kono took over the leadership role when Danny stepped aside, she turned out to be a natural at the job, almost like Steve had been, but at least she had the cop background that the former leader had lacked.
Steve's sacrifice that day in the warehouse had allowed Danny all the things he feared he would not see, Grace growing into beautiful young woman, they went through graduations, both high school and college. Though her college years had been on the mainland, she returned to Hawaii as much as possible. Getting her degree in Forensics, she came back to the island and took a job in the crime lab, keeping her close to her father and her extended ohana.
Danny had also taken his friends advice and finally took up swimming, he did find it helped clear his mind, though he never did it to the extent of his former partner; he would attempt to swim at least a few times a week. He'd also let Kono teach him and Grace how to surf, much to his daughter's delight and now as he sat in the beach chairs that still remained at the water's edge he watched his daughter teaching his granddaughter how to surf.
Williams could still remember the day his daughter told him she was getting married. He hadn't been happy with the prospect, but the young man she'd met at work really cared about his little girl and the fact his background and financials came back clear eased Danny's mind, he really enjoyed that immunity and means sometimes. But that had been years ago now and her marriage was still a happy one, that was all Danny had ever wanted, to see his daughter grow, to see her happy and Steve had given him that.
The sun was starting to set as Grace came up the beach, surfboard in one hand, Mikayla holding the other, "Grandpa Danno!" the little girl called out as she released her mother's hand, climbing into her grandfather's lap wrapping her arms around his neck.
"How's my two favorite girls doing?" Danny responded, hugging the smaller girl, while Grace leaned over, kissing her father's cheek.
"Did you see me standing up?" Mikayla asked as her mother took a seat in the other chair.
"I sure did baby, you're doing great. Your momma's a great teacher." Danny smiled at Grace. "She had Auntie Kono teach her everything she knew when your mom was learning."
"And now she's teaching me. Auntie Kono will be so proud of me when she sees me surf, won't she?" The little girl asked, reminding him so much of Grace at that age.
"She sure will." Williams replied as the small child leaned back against his chest, staring out at the water.
"Would Uncle Steve been proud of me?" Mikayla had always been told stories about her uncle Steve, who had died when her momma was little. She loved to hear her grandpa talk about all the crazy things his former partner, his brother had done. Between her Uncle Chin, Auntie Kono, her grandpa and her mother, Mikayla felt she knew the man personally, though she had never heard how he died, she knew it was trying to save her Grandpa Danno and she was so glad to have her grandpa around.
"Oh honey…" Danny pulled her close, not really shocked by the question; Steve was always talked about when everyone got together. He hadn't wanted anyone to forget about his friend, his partner, his brother. "He'd have been thrilled with you, you were born right here in Hawaii, you love to swim, you love to surf and most of all you love pineapple on your pizza." Williams kissed the little girls head.
Grace reached out and took her father's hand when he spoke of Uncle Steve, she watched as tired eyes looked over at her. "You okay Danno?" the young woman asked softly, watching her father take a deep breath.
"I'm fine Monkey, just tired. Why don't you all go in and get something to eat, I'm gonna stay out here a while." Grace saw something cross her father's face that made her heart skip a beat. Her father had been tired a lot lately, spending most of his days sitting on the patio or out here near the water. Standing she leaned over and kissed his forehead, "I love you Danno."
"I love you too Monkey, now go, take little Monkey inside and feed her a banana or something." Danny tickled his granddaughter, taking in the innocent sound of her laughter as it echoed across the beach.
The little girl latched onto his neck, "Love you Grandpa Danno." She smiled, kissing his cheek.
"Love you too little Monkey, you take care of your momma for me okay." He hugged her tight.
"Okay." Mikayla slipped from his lap, taking her mother's hand as they made their way toward the porch. Danny watched them go before turning back toward the ocean and the setting sun.
For several minutes he sat, staring at the incoming waves, listening to the gentle pounding of the surf as it met the shore. This place always did have a calming effect on him, even in those dark, hard days after Steve died. He had hated his friend for leaving, for giving him the house, but as the years past he was grateful to the man. How could he not be to man who saved his life, given him the chance to continue to be Grace's father.
But now, sitting here Danny felt tired, exhaustion had started to creep into his body over the last several weeks and now, listening to the soothing sounds of the surf he drifted to sleep, images of his daughter and granddaughter heading inside playing in his mind as well as the image of his friend swimming away from him in his beloved ocean.
"Hey brah, since when do you fall asleep out here? You don't even like the ocean." Steve's voice pulled him to consciousness.
Sitting up Danny looked up at his partner, dressed in dark blue swim trunks, blue and white stripped beach towel hanging around his shoulders catching the water the dripped from his dark hair. "It's your fault; I wasn't sure how long you'd be, so I thought I'd wait. Plus who said I don't like the ocean? It's kind of grown on me…I even learned to surf while you were gone." Danny smiled as Steve took a seat in the other chair.
"Yeah man I know, that was damn funny the first time you tried to stand up on a wave, hell Grace did better than you, man even little Mikayla's done better than you did." Steve laughed at the mock horror on his partners face.
"Well did you see I started swimming and not just for survival? Told you I could swim." Danny countered; he'd missed this back and forth. "Though I could never match your marathon sessions, I finally started to understand why you liked it so much. It really can help clear your mind, like it washes everything away for a while." Danny's voice took on a solemn tone, "It helped me get through the rougher days. It wasn't easy you know."
"I know, but you made it, you've done a great job since I left. Five-0's still around, you raised a pretty awesome daughter and have a beautiful granddaughter, so to me it was worth it, I told you that before." Steve reached over and squeezed his friends arm.
"Thank you for that." Danny said patting his friend's hand that rested on his arm.
"See you finally lost the tie." Steve's said, a smirk on his face as Danny's eyes met his.
"Kind of had to when I started swimming, kept getting in my face." Williams smiled.
Steve laughed out loud at the comment before standing, throwing his towel in the unoccupied chair. "I could use another swim, you up for joining me, now that you're tieless?"
Danny looked up at him, "Yeah, I think I could go for a swim." Williams stood, slipping the flip-flops from his feet, pulling his tee-shirt over his head, dropping it in his chair. Pausing before he turned to follow his friend toward the water, Danny looked back up at the house.
"They'll be okay. You raised Grace right, plus they still have their ohana. It's time for us to go." Steve's voice pulled Danny's attention back to him, standing just feet behind him.
"I know, it's…" Danny glanced at the house one more time.
"It's not easy on this side either, but you have to trust your ohana and let go." Steve squeezed Danny's shoulder. "Beside's I need someone to watch my back, you always did worry too much about what might be in the water with us."
Danny smiled sadly before turning to follow Steve, "God please don't tell me you attract shakes now when you're swimming?"
Williams smirked again when a hint of the crazy super SEAL he remembered glanced his way. "You always said I attracted trouble." Steve smiled before diving under the incoming waves.
"Great just my luck, now instead of getting shot at I have to worry about being eaten. Steven you better be joking…" Danny waded out a little deeper as another mischievous smile crossed McGarrett's face before he took off. "Steven!" Danny dove in after his friend, catching up to him in a few strong strokes. For the first time in so many years Danny finally felt he was back where he belonged, at his partner's side.
Grace glanced out toward the water behind the house; she could see her father's head leaning over slightly. She knew when she left him on the beach, he would be leaving her, she'd felt it coming for a while now. A tear slipped free as movement in the water just off shore caught her attention; she could have sworn she saw her father and her Uncle Steve swimming toward the sunset, taking a deep breath she whispered, "Take care of him Uncle Steve."