For those of you who have not read my stories I changed some things from the movie storyline. Danny and Evelyn never get involved, she does get pregnant but the baby is Rafe's, Danny does not die in China and he and Sandra are married.
Why am I writing again after I said I was done? To put it simply, I've missed all of them.
As they had promised they would do at the end of the war, the pilots and nurses gathered in Pearl Harbor in August of 1950. They had exchanged letters, telephone calls and been to weddings and christenings since they had all parted five years earlier but had been wanting to get together in the place where they had all ended up in 1941.
Rafe had rejoined the Air Force as a reserve officer, so he and Evelyn were able to fly into Hickam on a military transport. Their children Danny, Sarah and Joseph had been left at home with their grandparents on the farm in Shelby Tennessee. Danny especially had wanted to come with his parents, but Evelyn had had to explain to him that it wouldn't be fair to his brother and sister if he got to go and they didn't. Rafe had told him that they would take a family trip to Hawaii and the three of them would get to see where they were born.
That placated Danny and he was able to say goodbye to his parents without being too disappointed.
As it turned out, they were the last ones to make it to Hawaii. Danny, Sandra, Red, Gooz, Barbara and Martha all stood at the gate waiting for them to get off the plane. It was a step back in time for Evelyn as she ran to Barbara and they hugged. "It's good to see you sweetie. It's been too long."
Evelyn pulled away and looked at her. "It's always much too long between visits."
"You got that right." Martha agreed and she hugged Evelyn. "You look really good."
"So do you Martha."
Rafe had collected their bags and walked over to the group. When he put them down, he found himself pulled into a bear hug from his best friend. "Damn Rafe, it's good to see you."
"It's good to see you too Danny." And he clapped him on the shoulder. "How the hell are you?"
"Doin' fine. The situation in Korea ain't good though."
"Ain't that the truth." And he shook his head.
"Back together for two seconds and they're already talking shop." Red joked as he came over to shake Rafe's hand. "It's been a while Rafe."
"That it has Red. Haven't seen you since Danny's youngest was born."
Danny grinned at the mention of his daughter. "She just turned a year old."
Rafe looked at Red, surprised. "Has it been that long?"
"It doesn't seem like it does it, we talk on the telephone so much."
Gooz grinned. "My wife says I talk more to all of you than her."
Evelyn came to stand next to Rafe and put her arm around his waist. "I know how she feels." She smiled.
Rafe didn't take the bait. "Excuse me Mrs. McCawley, but you talk to these three as much as I talk to the boys here." And he kissed the top of her head.
Sandra laughed. "You two haven't changed a bit."
Danny put an arm around his wife. "Honey, they wouldn't be Rafe and Evelyn if they did."
"That's true. If you two are ready, let's get back to the house. Danny and I have got a surprise for all of you."
"What is it?" Martha asked her.
"If we told you it wouldn't be a surprise, now would it." Danny said.
Gooz looked at Red. "Do you know what this surprise is?"
Red grinned. "I do, but I can't tell you. I have to work with this guy everyday." He said, indicating Danny.
"And I still outrank you." He answered with a grin.
As they had done when the house had been Rafe and Evelyn's, the crowd gathered at Danny and Sandra's and got to see the most recent pictures of the two little girls. The older girl Ann, was named in honor of their fallen friend Anthony and had just turned three and one year old Shelby was named for her daddy's home town in Tennessee. Evelyn was amazed how much she had grown.
Being a wife and a mother had forced Sandra out of her perpetual shyness but she was still somewhat reserved. There was no doubt in anyone's mind however, that she loved her husband and her daughters.
For Danny, being a husband and a father had brought out a side of him that the other's, except for Rafe, had never seen. He was relaxed and happy and loved being with his family. It was always somewhere in the back of his mind that until he went to live with the McCawley's after his father died, his young life had been hard. And because of that he never wanted his daughters to ever have any doubts that he loved them and wanted them to have an easy life.
He and Sandra had had a few discussions about that because she didn't want them growing up believing the world revolved around them.
When they all gathered on the back porch, Sandra excused herself to go pick up the girls from her next door neighbor. "She's a really nice lady. Her husband's been in the Navy for ages and all of her own kids are grown. So she looks after the girls when we need her to." And she walked into the house.
Danny came out with beers for the pilots and joked that if the ladies wanted anything else, they were on their own. "Sandra usually does the fancy stuff. And if I know Mrs. Callahan, she'll talk her ear off before she lets her go."
Barbara got up and went to the small bar. "As it so happens, my pop has a tavern in Queens." She smiled and asked the girls what they wanted before she started to mix drinks. "You'd be surprised what you learn hanging around a bar." And before Martha could open her mouth to comment, Barbara turned around. "Not a word out of you honey." And they all laughed.
Red sat there listening to the exchange between his friends and it was like they had never left Pearl Harbor. How many evenings had they sat on this very porch when Rafe and Evelyn had still lived here and ribbed each other over the smallest things?
He was glad when Danny had decided to stay after the war because it meant a connection to the past, before the Japs had bombed Pearl and killed Betty. Even after all of this time, it still hurt like hell and it was something he had never gotten over.
"Hey Red, you all right?" Rafe's voice broke into his thoughts.
Red mentally shook himself and sighed. "I'm so glad to see all of you, but it brings back a lot of memories."
Martha sighed. "Are you really serious about never getting married?"
"I know you think I should have found someone after Betty died. But every time Danny and Sandra set me up with someone all I can think of is that she's not Betty."
They were all quiet.
"Don't feel bad for me, will you? This was my choice, just like it was my choice to stay here and be close to her in some way."
"And you're sure it's what you want?" Evelyn asked him gently.
Red looked at her. "Do you remember how you felt when you thought Rafe had died?"
"You said once that if he hadn't come back, you don't think you would have ever gotten married. You said Rafe was your one true love and didn't want anyone else."
What could she say? He was right. "We just want you to be happy."
"I am happy, being Uncle Red to those two girls. And I do date, but it's never anything serious."
Gooz decided it was time to lighten the mood and asked Danny about the pile of bricks in the middle of his yard. "What in the hell is that?"
Danny and Red looked at each other before Danny explained. "It's a barbeque."
"What in the hell is a barbeque?"
He explained what he and Red had seen when the Air Force had sent them to California for a couple of weeks. "It's real popular with them. They put a grill over a flame and they cook anythin' that ain't nailed down." He joked.
Gooz looked at Red with disbelief. "This is what you've been hinting at for the last few weeks?"
Red smiled. "Don't look like that Gooz, it's actually good."
"We'll see." Was all he told his friend.
"As soon as Sandra gets back with the girls, I'll get started and you can see how good it is."
"If this woman talks as much as you say she does, we may starve before you get a chance to prove it." Barbara remarked.
Rafe stood up. "Well why we're waiting, any of you boys want another beer?"
"I'll take one." Gooz told him.
He held out his hand to Evelyn. "Care to give me a hand Mrs. McCawley?"
Evelyn looked at her husband and smiled. "Of course." And she took his hand and went with him into the house.
"They really haven't changed, have they?" Martha grinned and they all relaxed, waiting for Sandra to come back.