Title: Cars, Camaros, and Closets
Summary: The day had finally come and Danny had to face facts. The Camaro was getting a new owner.
Author's notes: As always, thanks to the two best betas a girl could have- Cokie316 and Rogue Tomato.
Danny sighed. He couldn't believe this day had finally come.
He tried to hold it off as long as possible, actually willing time to stop. But time had its own plans and marched steadily on, despite his wishes.
He looked out the windshield of the Camaro, the sun glinting off the polished silver hood. He was thankful for the cool of the morning, when he could sit here, peacefully, in silence, and say goodbye.
Danny was not a sentimental guy. Or so he had declared to Steve several years ago.
But the truth was Danny was a closet sentimentalist. Literally. With one look into his closet, anyone could see the truth. For there, crammed on a wire hanger, was every single tie Grace had ever given him. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Wide ties. Skinny ties. Black ties. Grey ties. Ties with stripes. A pink tie with Easter eggs and bunnies. A red tie with laughing Santas and reindeer. A yellow tie with pineapples and palm trees that Danny wore once under duress. He kept them all. Not that he would ever admit it to anyone but Grace. But they were all there, years after they had last been worn.
So although it might have been a surprise to others, it was no surprise to Danny that he was having trouble saying goodbye now. After all, they had been together a long time. Longer than he would have thought possible, given Steve's driving "skills" and blatant disregard for the rules of the road. But the day finally had come and he had to face facts.
The Camaro was getting a new owner.
Cars often define segments of your life. When he was a teenager, Danny saved money for two years to buy his first car, which turned out to be an old, beat-up Chevy Corvair. It wasn't much to look at, with chipped red paint and rusted bumpers, and it really didn't even run all that well. But it was his. He could still remember how his hands shook with excitement as he carefully counted out $1,200 at Sal's Used AutoMart and handed it over in exchange for a set of keys. He was so proud of that car he immediately hopped in the driver's seat and drove off to show all of his friends.
He remembered the exhilaration he felt the day he graduated from the police academy as he slipped behind the wheel of his first official police cruiser. He smiled when he thought of Rachel rear-ending said cruiser not too long after that.
Things moved quickly and before Danny knew it, he and Rachel were married and they bought a sensible, used Camry, large enough for a car seat. Two days after Grace was born, he drove that sedan home so slowly from the hospital that he nearly caused more than one wreck on the turnpike, where impatient New Jersey drivers did not seem to care that the most precious cargo in the world was sleeping in his back seat.
He bought the Mustang when he was newly single again and still stinging from the divorce. It was the type of car he had wanted when he was younger- flashy and fast. And although he loved it, he would have happily traded it back in a heartbeat for the used Camry with the pink car seat in back.
Then, there was the Camaro.
Danny had bought the Camaro within weeks of moving to Hawaii.
Danny had bought the Camaro within weeks of meeting Steve.
Danny was still driving his Mustang when Steve McGarrett burst onto the scene, commandeering his life as well as his car. After knowing Steve only a couple of weeks, his car had not only been driven at warp speed chasing suspects all over Oahu but had also been used for cover in a more than one shoot-out.
Danny didn't even bother trying to explain the bullet holes to the insurance adjuster when he walked around the Mustang, noting the damage and "tsking" with his tongue. And when the adjuster asked what had happened to the car, Danny simply answered "Steve McGarrett". The man looked confused, but after noting the bullets were not only lodged in the car frame, but that a few had made their way into the engine, as well, he simply totaled the car. He signed off on the paperwork and handed it to Danny, advising him to avoid Steve McGarrett, whoever that was.
And, at the time, Danny sincerely wished he could.
He found himself three weeks into a new job with a new partner and a new car. But at least Steve had the decency to apologize. And Danny learned a lesson. Get a V-8 engine. And bullet-proof glass, if at all possible.
Danny ran his fingers lightly across the steering wheel and smiled. The thought occurred to him that if he really wanted the full effect, he should be sitting in his usual spot in the passenger seat. He chuckled and glanced over at the empty seat, where he was convinced he had endured 8,000 carguments. Maybe 8,001. He had lost count years ago.
His eyes traveled up to the headliner above the passenger seat. There, right there, above the window, he could make out the dark smudge made by his thumb as he held on to dear life, not to mention his lunch, during one of the seemingly daily car chases. He was somewhat surprised to find the headliner material still intact. He thought it would have been worn through, considering how tightly he held on.
The same could be said for the floorboard, where he braced himself with his right leg, trying to minimize the roll as they weaved in and out of traffic, chasing suspects, or slid dangerously close to the edge of a cliff. Or, as Steve called it, "a road." Danny glanced down and grinned, satisfied to see the floor mat did indeed have a large, worn spot.
His eyes worked up to the glove box, where Steve had once thought it prudent to keep a hand grenade. Poor Lomo. His pawn shop never knew what hit him. And Danny learned another lesson. Lock the glove box.
His eyes traveled over the dashboard to the radio, remembering how Steve liked that goofy "Sexy Eyes" song. It had taken Danny a solid week to get that awful song out of his head. Because, as much as it pained him to admit it, Steve was right; it was catchy. But Danny was right as well; it was horrible. And he learned another lesson. Don't let Steve play the local radio.
Something caught Danny's eye and he folded down the driver's side sun visor. A picture of Grace and an old, faded postcard of New Jersey fell into his lap. He picked them up and smiled. He had wanted to go back home so badly when he put the postcard there. It was "a reminder of a better place," he told Steve at the time. But truth be told, the "better place" had changed locations a long time ago. Not that he would ever admit that to anyone, either. He gave the postcard one last look and then tucked it and the picture into the pocket of his shirt. He would take them home and place them on the top shelf of the closet, along with a few other old photos and souvenirs he would deny possessing with his last breath.
Danny looked up when he noticed motion in the rear view mirror. The Camaro's new owner approaching. He shook his head. She looked so young. Had he really been that young when he got the rusty, beat-up Corvair?
Danny looked down and rubbed his hand over the Chevy insignia in the middle of the steering wheel. He sighed deeply and then patted it twice. "Take good care of her," he said quietly. He looked in the side mirror and saw her standing there, waiting for him. He turned the keys, removed them from the ignition, and got out.
Danny closed the door, raised his eyebrows, and smiled at her. "You ready for this?" he asked.
Grace laughed. "Of course I'm ready. I've been ready for forever."
"Yeah, I know." He grinned, his eyes crinkled up with both pride and wistfulness at the same time. Where had the time gone? How had his Grace gone from a baby sleeping in back seat of a Camry to a legal driver behind the wheel of his Camaro?
Danny held out his arms to her. "Come here, Monkey, before you go. Give your old man a hug."
Grace laughed. "You're not that old," she said, giving him big bear hug and then releasing him.
"Ouch," Danny complained with a smile, "did you just say I'm not 'that' old?"
"Ok," Grace laughed again. "How about 'you're not old'?"
Danny smiled. "That's better."
Grace grinned back and held out her hand, expectantly. "Danno… the keys?"
"So ready to get rid of me?"
"No, of course not. But I do want go over to Emily's house and show her the car."
Danny smiled again. "Sounds about right." He placed the keys in Grace's hand, clasping it for a moment. He looked her in the eyes and said, solemnly, "drive safe. And take good care of her."
"I will, Danno."
Danny stood back and watched as Grace excitedly opened the door and slid behind the wheel. She turned on the ignition, adjusted the seat and mirrors, and turned on the radio to some obnoxiously loud pop song. Then she put the car in drive and with a wave of her hand, she was drove away.
He stood there for a few minutes, his hands in his pockets, squinting in the sun, watching long after his Camaro was gone.
Danny turned and saw Steve, patiently waiting for him, arms crossed, leaning against the front right fender of a bright, shiny, new silver Camaro. Danny had been very careful when he ordered it, making sure it came complete with a V-8 engine, extra floor mats, satellite radio, and a separate lock for the glove box with only one key, which he had hidden away where Steve would never find it. Unfortunately, bullet proof glass was still too expensive.
Danny walked slowly over to the car.
"You ready?" Steve asked.
Danny looked down and rubbed his hand across the back of his neck before answering, "yeah."
"She'll be ok," Steve reassured.
Danny shoved his hands deeply into his pockets, pursed his lips, and nodded. He glanced over his shoulder before turning back to Steve and replying, "yeah. I know. She's a good kid."
"I know Grace will be ok. I was talking about the Camaro," Steve clarified.
Danny pulled up himself up and looked startled. "What makes you think I care about the Camaro?"
Steve grinned his lop-sided grin and glanced to the left for a moment. Then he looked back, raised his eyebrows, and replied, "Danny… I've seen your closet."
"And…" Danny probed.
Steve shrugged. "And… I know about the ties."
Danny sputtered for a moment before regrouping. "What? You think that just because I keep some old ties, which are all very nice and were given to me by my daughter, I might add, that I'm a big softy about a car?"
Steve stood up but kept grinning as he walked around to the driver's side door and opened it. "I think we're more alike than you'd like to admit."
"No, no we are not alike," Danny protested as he opened the passenger door. He had given up on driving his own car long ago. "There is a big difference between keeping some very fashionable and serviceable ties in your closet and keeping an inoperable hunk of scrap metal in your garage."
Steve grinned over from the driver's seat and started the car. "Whatever you say."
Danny rolled his eyes as he put on his seat belt and sighed. "Please don't 'whatever' me. What are you, a 16 year-old girl? They are not the same. I have to keep those ties. Goodness knows, I would never be able to replace them on this professional-dress-challenged island. And, as I told you before, I am not sentimental."
Steve raised his eyebrows. "That so?"
"Yes," Danny nodded.
"So, what's that in your pocket?" Steve asked, nodding towards Danny's shirt pocket as he maneuvered the car out onto the street.
Danny frowned. Crap. Steve had seen the postcard. But maybe, if he was lucky, he wouldn't remember what it was. "Oh. That's just an old picture of Grace," Danny replied with a dismissive wave of his hand.
"And a postcard of New Jersey?"
Danny scowled and ignored Steve by looking out the side window, watching as the palm trees and surf passed by.
Steve chuckled. "It's ok, you know. I've seen your shelf of souvenirs, too."
Danny turned and looked at Steve, incredulously. "What, you're digging through my things, now?"
"No, not digging." Steve shrugged, then grinned sheepishly. "It's just that you leave the closet door open sometimes, and that shelf is right at my eye-level."
"Unbelievable," Danny muttered as he rolled his eyes and turned to look back out the side window. "This day just gets worse and worse."
Steve laughed. "It's ok, Danny. I've known about them for years. And I've never said a word to anyone. Your secret is safe with me."
"How come that doesn't make me feel any better?" Danny mumbled.
"Well, it should. I've been trained to withstand torture without talking. I think I can keep mum about you being sentimental."
"Not helping, Steven."
Steve grinned. "Ok then, since you're having such a hard day, seeing your daughter drive off in your beloved Camaro and all, how about I help make it better by buying lunch?"
"You brought your wallet?"
"Well, ok then." Danny nodded. "Sounds good."
"Good." Steve nodded. "Sidestreet?"
"And Danny," Steve added, looking over at his partner, intently, "it really will be ok."
Danny looked over and locked eyes with Steve for a moment.
He knew Steve was right. It was going to be ok. Grace was a good kid and a responsible driver. She and the old Camaro would take care of each other. And he had already survived the first cargument in his new, improved, "Steve-proofed" Camaro, which surprisingly, actually resulted in Steve offering to buy lunch.
"I know," Danny answered, sincerely.
He turned and looked back out the side window, watching as the palm trees and buildings whipped past his window, and smiled.
Everything was going to be just fine.