"What time does she land?" Danny Williams asked his boss and partner as he merged onto the H-1 Freeway.
"1:09," Steve McGarrett replied, checking his watch. Danny had asked him earlier if he was nervous about her arrival and he had denied it. If he was being honest with himself, however, then yes, he was nervous. He hadn't even had a chance to talk to her during the week prior due to his imprisonment and escape, let alone before her flight departed. He was nervous – not just because they hadn't seen each other in two years – but because this summer would be the longest they would spend time together at one time. He had yet to figure out exactly what to do with her this summer as her visit was sprung on him only two weeks ago, and without him having any say in the matter. He hoped it would be an easy transition but feared it would prove to be a challenge.
Stepping on the gas, Danny glanced at over at Steve. "We'll make it, buddy. Don't worry."
Having rushed to the Arrivals Hall, Steve and Danny stopped when they reached the crowd of people waiting for their friends and loved ones to arrive. Steve checked his watch and then peered over the crowd, looking into the throng of passengers entering the hall. Seeing her, he smiled and then, waving, yelled her name, "Alex!"
Peering into the crowd, Danny had no problem picking out the 14 year-old girl, even though he'd never met her in person before. He had only ever seen one picture of her and that picture had probably been five years old, at least. Where he had pictures of his daughter, Grace, hanging in his office and in his apartment, Steve kept his personal life VERY private and did not have a single photo of his daughter on display. As it was, Steve only talked about her occasionally. Seeing the girl who was coming towards them, there was no denying who her father was; she looked exactly like the man Danny had worked so closely with for the last year. Her face was a little rounder than Steve's, but her hair, her eyes - even her smile - she had clearly inherited from him.
"Dad!" the 14 year-old girl shouted back and, upon reaching them, threw her arms around Steve, nearly knocking him over.
Kissing the top of her head, Steve hugged her tightly. Taking a step back to look at her, he couldn't hide his surprise. Toying with the beautiful pink lei around her neck, Steve stared into his daughters eyes and smiled. "Hey, there, beautiful girl! I can't believe how much you've grown." She had easily grown four inches since the last time he saw her. He took her airline ticket stub from out of her hands, put it in his pocket, and then reached for her backpack.
Returning his smile, Alexandra replied, "I'm taller than Mom now. Only like half an inch but still." She relinquished her backpack over to her dad.
"It's probably more like a whole inch," Steve confirmed, slinging the backpack over his right shoulder. He turned towards Danny. "Alex, this is Danny Williams. Danny, Alex."
Sticking out her hand to shake his, Alexandra greeted him. "Hello, Mr. Williams. Nice to finally meet you." She had spoken to him several times over the last 8 months, usually when her dad was busy being the boss and she couldn't reach him on his phone. It had been weird the first time she had dialed this "Mr. Williams" but having his number available as a backup had come in handy a few times when she really needed to talk to her dad. Mr. Williams had always been friendly and easy to talk to.
Shaking her hand, Danny replied, smiling, "Nice to meet you, too, but please don't call me Mr. Williams."
"I've always called you Mr. Williams, Sir," Alex returned, as Steve draped his arm over her shoulder and turned them in the direction of baggage claim. "Should I call you Detective Williams, instead?"
"Just Danny is fine," Danny replied, falling into step with the two McGarrett's. She was a polite kid and respectful of adults, Danny knew that from his brief conversations with her. But being called "Mr. Williams" was too formal for him. It made him feel old. "Or…"
"How about Uncle Danny?" Steve suggested, pulling his daughter closer to his side as they navigated their way through the crowd.
"So you really only have those two bags?" Steve asked, turning to face his daughter in the backseat. When they got to baggage claim he had expected to see two huge suitcases full of all the clothes she would need for the next 12 weeks. He had been surprised when one large duffel bag and a small suitcase were all she had. She couldn't have packed very much. At least not anywhere near as much as she had packed the last time she had visited him which had been for only 10 days.
"Yes, Sir," she replied, taking off the lei and her sweater and setting them on the seat next to her, before buckling her seatbelt. It was easily 20 degrees warmer here than in Seattle. She was going to enjoy this weather. "Mom told me to pack light because I need a new swimsuit anyway. She said you can just buy me whatever else I might need, too." She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket and began checking her text messages.
"Of course she did," Steve muttered, turning back around. It never failed. Even though he had never missed a child support payment and had always provided for their daughter when she needed something, Alex's mother, Cindy, was aware of how much – or how little - money he made. They had been together long enough for her to know the military pay system and, having been the daughter of a former cop herself, she knew roughly how much he made now. Even still, for some reason, she thought he had money coming out of his ears. It wasn't a big deal that he would have to take her clothes shopping – if Alex needed something he'd make sure she would get it - but it irritated him that Cindy purposely told Alex to leave a lot of her things at home, instead of just letting her bring what she needed. Cindy failed to accept the fact that their financial situations were vastly different. Either that or she simply didn't care. Most likely the latter. "Speaking of your mother, you better call her to let her know you arrived."
"Already did," Alex told him, "I called her as soon as we landed but had to leave a voicemail." Her mother was headed to Paris with her boyfriend, David, and their first flight to New York had left only hours after Alex's. She had been ecstatic when her mom told her she'd be spending the summer in Hawaii, but deep down Alex felt that this summer vacation had more to do with her mom's plans to travel with David on his many business trips than with Cindy's belief that Alex should spend time with her dad. It's not like she had ever really encouraged it before. Cindy hated Steve but, despite her best efforts, she had failed at influencing Alex to have negative feelings about her father. But, regardless, Alex was here now – in Hawaii, with her dad – and that was all that mattered to her.
"So, why should I call you 'Uncle Danny'?" Alex asked, typing a text quickly on her phone.
"My daughter calls your Dad 'Uncle Steve'," Danny explained, pulling out of the short term parking lot, headed for the cashier booth.
"How is Grace?" Alex asked him, her eyes focused on her incoming and outgoing text messages.
Danny smiled, glancing in his rearview mirror at the younger McGarrett. Whenever they had talked on the phone in the past, Alex had never failed to ask about Grace and even mentioned a time or two that she would love to meet the young girl. Danny liked Steve's daughter – she was polite, considerate, respectful, genuine, funny even – all characteristics that he felt Steve was lacking in at times. She seemed like a good kid; it would be interesting to get to know her a little better this summer. "She's doing well. She's actually really excited to meet you tonight."
"Tonight?" Alex asked, typing another message on her phone. "What's tonight?" She hit send and then began texting another message.
Turning around to face his daughter, Steve replied, "We're going to have dinner with Danny and Grace." Noticing her attention was focused on her phone and not on him, he continued, "Are you listening to me?"
"Yes, Sir," Alex replied, her eyes still directed towards her phone. She continued to quickly text messages.
"Can you not do that when I'm talking to you?" Steve requested after a few moments. "It's rude." As soon as they had reached baggage claim earlier, Alex had pulled out her cell phone and started sending a barrage of text messages. As a result, they had missed her bags on the first two go-arounds and would have missed them a third time if he hadn't confiscated her phone until the bags were identified. Now he realized he should have thought twice before giving it back to her.
Looking up and catching his eye, Alex replied, "Okay, sorry." She set her phone on the seat next to her, forcing herself to ignore the vibration that signaled a new incoming message. "I am capable of multi-tasking, you know, and I did hear what you said."
Steve looked at her for a moment before responding. They talked fairly regularly on both the phone and Skype but they weren't particularly close. For some reason, he had a feeling this summer would involve getting to know his daughter all over again. It wasn't just her height that had changed in two years, that was clear. This was the first time he would be dealing with her in person as a teenager. "We're going to dinner with Danny and Grace, partly to celebrate your birthday." She had turned 14 six days ago and, due to his being in prison, he hadn't had a chance to call and wish her a Happy Birthday. He hadn't even bought her a present yet.
"Oh," the girl replied, surprised. Then, smirking, she asked, "Are you sure you're not just using me as an excuse to not have to cook dinner?" This got a chuckle out of Danny.
Steve feigned a glare at Danny, then looked at his daughter again. "Real funny, Alexandra," he said before cracking a smile.
Alex smiled sweetly back at him. Steve shook his head, amused. It begins already. She'd perfected the use of that smile at age four and, to this day, it never failed. "Seriously, I feel bad that I wasn't able to call you on your birthday. I mean, you only turn 14 once."
"Okay, Dad," Alex replied, glancing at the blinking red light on her Blackberry. "We don't have to celebrate, but okay."
"Okay," Steve agreed. He turned back around to face the front. "Good. First we have to head back to the office for a little bit – sorry – and then we'll head home to change before heading to the restaurant."
As soon as he turned around she picked up her phone and started to read the text messages. "Okay, that's fine," she finally replied, distracted. Her phone started to vibrate repeatedly.
"Are you texting again?" Steve asked her, turning to face her, a look of annoyance crossing his face.
Answering him, she replied, "That's actually someone calling me. Am I allowed to answer it?"
Steve nodded. "You can answer it."
Alex picked up her cell phone and answered it. "Hello." After a few moments, she continued, "Bonjour! Comment vas-tu?" After another few moments, she said, "Bien. Que je visite mon père."
In the front seat, Danny had a surprised look on his face. "What did she just say?"
Running a hand over the day-old stubble on his face, Steve answered, "That would be French, Daniel."
"I know what language it is, Steven," Danny replied. "I asked what she said."
Steve shrugged. Hearing his daughter laugh, he flipped open the mirror on the visor in front of him and adjusted it to look at her. He listened to her conversation for a few minutes, wondering if he would recognize any of the words she had tried to teach him in the past. It all sounded like gibberish to him until finally he heard one word he recognized.
"C'est gris clair. Il faut que je damande à mon Oncle," was what he heard from the backseat.
Steve shook his head and closed the mirror. "No clue, Danny. All I got out of that was Uncle, so I'm assuming it was about you."
A couple minutes later, Alex finished her phone call and hung up. Leaning forward, she said, "Uncle Danny, when we get to your office can I take a picture of your car? My friend Brian wants to see it."
"Brian?" Steve asked, jerking around to face her. "Who's Brian?" Next to him, Danny laughed silently to himself. Steve's fatherly tendencies – something he'd never seen before – were already out in full force.
"A friend," Alex told him, giggling in amusement. "So, Uncle Danny did you watch the game last night? Your boys won and Ayala got his first win."
Danny smiled. One of the things he had always enjoyed most about his phone conversations with the girl was her similar interest in baseball. Not only did she enjoy watching the sport but she was also a student of the game, like him. "I only caught the last three innings. And I saw that your boys beat San Diego."
"Who's Ayala?" Steve asked, looking at Danny. "You are talking about baseball, right?"
"Are you kidding me?" Danny asked, looking at his partner. Then, looking in the review mirror, he said to the girl, "He is kidding right now, right?" Alex simply shrugged.
"No, Daniel," Steve replied, "I'm not kidding."
"How do you not know for sure that we're talking about baseball?" Danny asked.
"I like football," Steve answered.
"This is the building where you work?" Alex asked, stopping and looking up at the statue of Hawaii's former leader, King Kamehameha. She had been to Hawaii once before – four years ago – and had visited this statue and building during that trip. She had no idea it was in front of the building where her dad would one day work. "Cool."
"Alex, come on," Steve said, looking back at her. He and Danny were several yards ahead of her, getting ready to head inside the building. Alex jogged to catch up. Once inside, Alex followed slowly behind her dad and Danny as she took in the architecture and the stained glass dome ceiling. She smiled remembering the last time she was here.
Heading into the 5-0 Headquarters, Alex was a little surprised at the size of the space. As far as she knew, her Dad had a small team – three other employees – and the space seemed much too large for so small of a workforce. Standing around a large glass table – or what appeared to be a table – was a short woman with short, brown hair; a pretty, young woman who looked to be Hawaiian; and a man whom Alex recognized. Pushing past her father, Alex hurried to the table.
"Chin!" She greeted before wrapping her arms around him in a hug.
Looking down at the girl, Chin Ho Kelly greeted her. "Aloha." Chin looked past her to Steve and saw a look of confusion flash across his face. Taking a step back, he said, "Let's see – you look like her but the Alexandra McGarrett I know is this tall." He held his hand out to about a height nearly a foot shorter than Alex's current height.
Alex laughed. Looking up at him, she said, "It's me. I swear." Turning to her father, she asked for confirmation. "Right, Dad?"
Reaching the table, Steve nodded. Gesturing towards the woman with short hair, he started introductions. "Alex, this is Jenna Kaye. Jenna, my daughter." Turning to the other woman, he continued, "This is Kono Kalakaua. Kono, Alex." Looking at Chin, he said, "And I guess you don't need any introduction to Chin."
Reaching for a handshake, Alex greeted, "Hello, Ms. Kaye. Nice to meet you, Ma'am."
Returning the greeting, Jenna replied, "Nice to meet you, Alex."
Alex turned to shake Kono's hand. "Ms. Kalakaua, nice to meet you, too, Ma'am." She thought for a moment. "Kono?" Remembering, she continued, "You're Chin's cousin, aren't you?"
Smiling, Kono replied, "Nice to finally meet you, Alex, and yes, Chin and I are cousins."
Steve allowed his daughter to catch up with Chin for a few minutes while he asked the women for an update on the status of their current case. Finding out that they had made no progress with the man they currently had in custody in interrogation, Steve broke up his daughter's reunion with Chin and directed her into his office. After instructing her to stay put and not touch anything – and, no, she could not ask Jenna to show her everything the computer system could do – he headed downstairs.
"What's wrong?" Steve asked, glancing over to the passenger seat where Alex was buckling her seatbelt. Earlier, on their way downstairs to interrogation, Steve had talked to Chin about Alex. He learned that Chin had first met Alex four years ago when she was in Honolulu visiting his father. Chin frequently asked about Alex but Steve never realized he had actually met the girl. He had always figured Chin had just known about Alex from working with his father for so long.
When he had come back upstairs from interrogation, he saw a change in his daughter. Where she had been laughing and smiling earlier, she was now quiet, seemingly withdrawn, and would barely look at him. She had finally cracked a smile when Chin took her for a short spin on his motorcycle, which, according to Chin, apparently had been something he had done with her four years ago, too.
Steve's father, John, had been crazy about Alex. He'd been a proud grandfather. He had visited her in Seattle frequently, had talked to her nearly every day and, as a result, the two had had a close relationship. Alex – and Steve's relationship with her – had been a huge source of tension between him and his father. Talking with Chin had reminded him of this: his father had known his daughter better than he did. What served as a further reminder was now that the initial excitement of her stepping foot in Hawaii was over – now that he was alone with his daughter – the typical awkwardness that always greeted them was settling in.
"Nothing," Alex replied, staring out the window. Everything. During the hour she spent in her dad's office, she had looked at every item hanging on the walls. Although it was about four times smaller than her mother's office, it reminded her very much of that space on the 75th floor of Seattle's Columbia Center. Her mother's office was a place that lacked any sense of a personal touch: no flowers in a favorite vase, no plants of any kind, no favorite coffee mug sitting on her desk, no color of any kind to lighten up the dull and gray space, no pictures. She had been in the offices of some her mom's co-workers and all of them had pictures of their children. So she knew that the lack of pictures of her in her mom's office was due to personal choice, instead of being prohibited from having personal items at work, like some of her friend's parents. For some reason – maybe because of how clearly she remembered her grandfather's office – she thought that her dad's office would be different.
On her visit four years ago, Grandpa had taken her to his office only once and that was to introduce her to his work buddies. She vividly remembered sitting in his desk chair and seeing her picture sitting in a frame on his desk, alongside a picture of her Dad and Aunt Mary from when they were younger. Her grandfather also had some of the pictures she had drawn for him when she was younger and a few of the cards she had sent him for Grandparent's Day and his Birthday. Sitting at his desk, seeing those items and seeing how happy he was to introduce her to his friends, she had felt how much he loved her.
Maybe it was stupid for her to assume that her dad's office would be like Grandpa's. She hadn't imagined that sitting in his office would make her feel the same way she felt whenever she visited her mom at work – ashamed and unloved.
"Are you sure?" Steve probed, pulling out of his parking space. "Because you're really quiet."
Alex didn't respond – didn't even look at him – and Steve sighed. This was definitely not going to be easy. After many minutes more of silence, Steve finally found something to talk about.
"So, how did your finals go?"
"Fine," Alex replied, still looking out the window.
"Did you get all A's again?" Steve asked. She was a bright kid – that was clear from an early age – and academics came easy to her. She had yet to struggle with any class; in fact, this past school year she had taken two courses at a high school, having always been a year or two ahead in math and science when compared to the majority of her peers. He always felt a sense of pride knowing how well she did in school.
"Dunno yet," Alex replied. "The school year's not over for another two and a half weeks."
Raising his eyebrows, Steve looked at her. "What do you mean?"
"There's still a week left in May, Dad," Alex said, finally looking at him. "The last day at my school is June 15th." The look she gave him made him feel stupid for not knowing that.
Still confused, Steve started, "So, how did –" He stepped on the gas pedal as the light turned green.
Returning her eyes to the window, she answered him. "Mom had them give me my exams early." Shrugging, she continued. "I guess when you give as much money to the school as Mom does, you do anything she asks." She attended the elite Mount Rainier Academy, a small, PreK through 8th grade school, in Tacoma. If it were up to Alex, she would have preferred to attend the public school near their apartment in Seattle with several of her friends, but her mother believed that public schools were beneath them. Even though she herself had attended public schools growing up, no daughter of Cindy Aberdeen would ever be "subjected to the public school environment". Not only did she pay the $17,000 annual tuition in full at the start of every school year, she was also one of the school's leading benefactors. Alex really hoped that she'd get her way and be able to attend the local public high school with many of her friends in the fall instead of another private school. Maybe she could get Dad on her side and maybe he could help convince Mom.
Steve nodded, now understanding. "Sorry. I should've realized your Mom did something like that to make it possible for you to stay here for so long." Looking at his daughter, Steve could see she was chewing on the inside of her cheek.
After a few minutes, when Alex finally spoke, it was so quiet Steve had to strain to hear. "This is weird for you, isn't it?"
Slowing down as they entered his neighborhood, he looked at her again. "Is what weird?"
Catching his eye, she shrugged. "This. Me being here. My staying here for 3 months." She expelled a breath. "I mean, it's not like you asked me to come visit."
Stopping in front of the house, Steve put the car in park as Alex turned her attention to the house she hadn't seen in four years. He gave her a few moments, and then reached out to touch her hand. When she looked at him, he answered, "I'm glad you're here, sweetheart." She kept eye contact with him for a few moments, and then reached down to unfasten her seatbelt.
"That's not what I asked," she said. Then, opening her door, she continued, "but okay."