melissas_corner: (Steve/Danny)
[personal profile] melissas_corner
Steve's POV:

The explosion is close and off to my left. It shakes the ground hard enough to make me lose my balance and I fall to the ground in an undignified heap. All around me is chaos. My men have been thrown off their feet by the explosion just like me. Now they're all getting up, some are shooting in the direction of the ambush from their positions on their ass or knees. Others are making sure their brothers aren't hurt.

"Sir!" Someone to my right shouts. I turn in that direction and find myself looking into a pair of terrified liquid chocolate brown eyes that have no place here in this world of death and destruction.

"Steve!" The voice calls again and this time I recognize Danny's voice. And Grace's face.

Her eyes are wide open and tears are brimming, threatening to fall. I feel her terror as if it was my own. Another explosion rocks the house to the accompaniment of a flash of light. Distantly I know that I'm home, in Hawai'i, in Danny's arms, in his bed and that there's a violent storm raging outside; that the 'explosions' of my nightmare are nothing more than thunder.

"Danny?" My voice sounds small even to my own ears and I can feel a panic attack building, my throat closing off and tears gathering.

A rushing starts in my ears and I see Danny's mouth moving but can't hear his words. Grace nods, though, and slips slowly from the bed and walks backwards out of the room, her face full of emotions I refuse to name. The last thing I ever wanted was for her to be afraid of me. She's my everything and now I'll have to rebuild her trust in me.

A hand on my arm causes me to jump, my heart in my throat. Turning my head I see Danny frowning at me, his mouth moving as he speaks but the blood is still overly loud in my ears. I shake my head, trying to tell him I can't hear him and he presses his lips together and I feel his breath on my face as he sighs. Obviously he asked me something and took my head shake as a negative answer.

He takes my face in his hands and I flinch but it has the desired effect; the rushing in my ears has quit and I can hear the rain pounding against the windows. "Steve?" His concern is a near tangible thing. As much as I want to reassure him, I find I can't; I'm just not able to. "Where are you?"

I open my mouth to answer him but nothing comes out. Tears of frustration prick the back of my eyes. While this isn't the first flashback I've had since waking in the hospital four months ago, it is the worst. I can't shake it. Each boom of thunder triggers another flinch, keeps the sounds and smells of the ambush fresh and in the front of my mind.

"It's okay, Babe." He wipes my tears from my cheeks with his thumbs. "It's okay, I'm here." I nod and close my eyes, letting the sound of his voice wash over me; trying to ground myself in his touch. "Think you can take a shower and get dressed?" I nod again. Maybe being surrounded by falling water will break the cycle the thunder has me in and I'll be able to leave the past behind. "Need my help?"

There's no way I can let him leave Grace alone right now, as much as I feel I need him, she needs him more. "I…I think…I can…handle it." Another loud boom has me jerking so hard I fall off the bed. The jarring impact of my ass with the hardwood floor has the flashback easing its grip enough for me to give him the assurance he needs to go to Gracie. "I'm fine, Danny. Go to Grace. Make sure she's okay."

He peers down at me over the edge of the bed. "She's fine."

I shake my head. "She's terrified of me."

"Not you. The storm. To tell you the truth, it's scaring me a little, too."

"You're wrong, Danny. I saw her face. Besides, she's never been afraid of thunder before."

"Whatever." He rolls his eyes. "Believe me, don't believe me, I really don't care at this point." He swings his legs over the side of the bed and stands up. "Take your shower. I'll be back momentarily." With that, he stalks out of the room. I don't move until I hear his angry sounding footsteps on the treads of the stairs.

I slowly stand up, doing my best to ignore the flashes of lightning and cracks of thunder, and make my way to the bathroom where I strip and step into the tub and turn on the shower spray. The flashback still has me in its grip and I run my fingers along the grout of the tile, hoping that the difference between it and every other shower I've had since I left ten months ago will ground me enough to break free of the flashback.

I lose track of time and when I come back to myself, I find the water near freezing and can sense Danny standing in the bathroom. Flinging the curtain back, I find him standing there, holding a towel. "Feeling better?"

I think about it a moment, the sounds of the storm have diminished and I can no longer smell cordite and burning flesh. "Yeah. I'm getting there."

"Good." He hands me the towel. "Need anything?"

Stepping from the tub, I take the towel and quickly dry off. "Yeah." Wrapping one hand around his shoulder, I tug him closer. "You." I fold him into an embrace and bury my head in his neck, inhaling his scent.

"Are you scenting me?"

"Yep. Your smell is helping to ground me."

"My smell?"

I nod. "You smell like home: malasadas and coffee and Grace."

"I smell like Grace?"

I lean back to look at him. "Yeah. She smells like cotton candy and the sea." Leaning back in, I inhale deeply again. "You smell like outside, too."

"You sure you're not a Sentinel?" He chuckles, standing up on his toes and pressing his nose to my neck so he can scent me, too.

"Not a Sentinel, sorry."

"You smell like the ocean and coconut oil." He nuzzles his way behind my ear and nips the spot that makes me weak in the knees.

Taking a handful of hair at the back of his head, I tug until I can lick my way into his mouth. He wraps one leg around my hip, effectively pressing his erection again mine. Cupping his ass with my free hand, I hold him still so I can rock against him. Breaking the kiss he rests his forehead against mine. "Not really the time or place for this."

One corner of my mouth quirks in a humorless grin. "You don't understand, Danny. I haven't-" I tip my head and waggle my eyebrows. "-since I woke up four months ago. Was beginning to think my libido was gone."

He rolls his eyes and chuckles softly. "Yeah, there's absolutely no issues there."

"Guess we should go see what Santa brought, huh?"

He sighs and steps out of my embrace. "Yeah. Finish getting dressed. I'll meet you down there."

After pulling on a pair of jeans and a Naval Academy t-shirt, I head downstairs. Before I'm even halfway down, I'm greeted by an enthusiastic "Uncle Steve!" and a Gracie shaped missile aimed at my midsection.

I catch her and toss her gently in the air before gathering her to me in a fierce hug. "Oh, how I missed you."

"Missed you, too." She sniffs and tucks her head into my neck. "Don't ever go away again."

"I wish I could promise that but I can't. I can, however, promise I won't be going anywhere anytime soon."

"Good enough." I chuckle at her concession. "But you're okay, right?"

"Even better now that I'm home and have had one of your hugs."

She pulls back and takes my face in her hands. "You look tired."

"I am. It's been a long stressful four months of recovery."

"Well, you're home, now. Danno and I'll take care of you! Make you all better."

"Couldn't ask for anything more." I set her down on her feet. "But first, let's see what Santa brought."

"Okay." She takes my hand and skips back to where Danny's sitting cross legged next to the pile of presents under the tree.

Danny looks me over critically and must see whatever it is he's looking for because he nods and smiles. "Starting to look human again."

"Starting to feel human again."

"Sit down, Uncle Steve!" Grace tugs on my arm until I sit. She climbs into my lap and snuggles close.

"You want to pass out the presents, Grace?" Danny asks, tipping his head toward the pile of brightly wrapped packages.

She sighs and reluctantly crawls off my lap to grab a shoebox sized present. "Here, Uncle Steve." She hands it to me and makes herself at home in my lap again.

"Help me open it?" I ask starting to pick at the tape holding the paper closed.

"Might want to check the label, first," Danny says, tapping one finger on the name written next to the 'to' on the tag.

"Makuakane?" I shift her around so I can see her face but she refuses to make eye contact. "Grace? I thought that was our secret."

"Not anymore, apparently." I look over at Danny, expecting to see anger on his face but instead I find him looking at us fondly. "It's okay, Steve. I like that she thinks of you as a father."

"Yeah?" I give him my biggest grin.

"Yeah. But I think Makuakane is a bit of a mouthful. How about we find something else for her to call you, yeah?"

"Sure." I turn Grace completely around. "How about… Hm." I tap one finger against my chin. "How about 'Papa'?"

Grace looks to Danny, then back at me when she receives a nod from him. "Okay, Papa!" She throws her arms around my neck and squeezes. My heart clenches at hearing her call me that and I feel tears gathering again.

"Okay, Baby Girl. Time to finish opening presents so we can eat breakfast." I press a kiss to her hair and turn her back around so we can finish ripping the paper off. Under the paper is a cardboard shipping box. Luckily it's not taped shut. I pull the flaps open and stare in amazement at what's nestled inside amongst a nest of packing peanuts. "How…?" I stop to clear my throat. "Where'd…?" I have no idea what to say.

"Auntie Mary sent it to me. Said it was your favorite toy."

"What is it, Grace?" Danny frowns at the box, straining to try and see inside it.

Reaching inside, I lift out the GI Joe action figure that I thought had been lost in the move to the mainland. "I thought I'd lost this."

"Auntie Mary said she took it so that you'd always be close." Grace doesn't seem to understand how her words are affecting me. "Since it was your favorite she felt like having it was the same as having you."

"Steve?" Danny must get what I'm feeling as Grace explains Mary's reasoning behind taking the toy.

"I'm good, D. I just didn't know Mary cared like that. By the time Dad sent us away, she was withdrawn and moody. Even with me."

"So the two of you were close?" Grace takes the action figure from my hand and straightens his clothes and his hat.

"Close enough."

"So, despite having a GI Joe, you went into the Navy." Danny plucks the action figure from Grace's hand.

"If you'll notice, he's dressed like a cop." I take him back from Danny. "I wanted to be a cop until Dad sent me to a military school that just so happened to have Navy ROTC. I liked what the Navy offered better." I shrug like it's no big deal that not only did my father send me away when I needed him most, but I no longer looked at Hawai'i as home and chose to travel the world instead of coming back here where I didn't feel welcome.

"Yeah, okay. But wasn't there a sailor in GI Joe?" I raise my brows and keep my expression blank. "Yeah, I get it." He shakes his head. "Next present, Grace."

When she goes to get one from under the tree, I stop her. "I have some in my seabag." I start to stand but she beats me to it. "No, Grace." I follow her to where I dropped my bag just inside the door and laugh softly at her struggling to move it. "Here, let me." I reach over her to pick it up one handed.

"Why's it so heavy?"

"Because it's full of all my gear."

"It must weigh more than me!" She skips back over to our place under the tree.

"About the same, I think." I sit down and she wiggles into my lap. Opening the bag, I pull out two packages, and hand one to her. "This one's for Danno."

"Here, Daddy." She hands it to him.

"Thank you, Gracie." He takes the present from her and rips off the paper. His brows wrinkle in confusion as he turns the small wooden box over in his hands.

"Open it, Danny." I reach over and show him the latch. He opens it and the room is filled with the aroma of exotic coffees. "It's a selection of Turkish coffees."

"You…" He shakes his head, totally at a loss for words.

I shrug. "I know how you like your coffee so I thought you'd like to expand your palate."

"Thanks, Babe." He leans over and presses his lips to mine. "It's perfect."

"And now, for Baby Girl." I hand her the other present.

She tears into the wrapping, not caring that I spent way too much time making sure it was perfectly wrapped. Under the paper is a box similar to the one my present was in. She pulls back the flaps and frowns down at it. "Go on." I nudge her shoulder with one of mine.

She reaches inside and lifts out the doll that's dressed in the style of the women of Afghanistan. "Papa?" She turns to frown at me.

"Sorry. Wasn't sure what to get. Thought they might have to be shipped home. This is what girls your age play with in Afghanistan."

"They dress like this?" She picks at the doll's clothes.

"They do. If you don't like it, I guess we could go get you something else."

"No! I like it. I could take it for show and tell."

"I was surprised they didn't send Mary your presents when they sent her all my other stuff. But I'm glad they didn't."

"Yeah, well, Mary sent me almost all your stuff anyway, so." Danny shrugs one shoulder. "Next present, Monkey."

The next several minutes are spent with me watching Danny and Grace open presents. Danny gets several more ties and a couple of new dress shirts as well as a pair of swim trunks. "You need to learn to surf, Danno," Grace says matter of factly when Danny raises one eyebrow skeptically at her. I happen to agree and plan on getting him on a board in the coming year.

Grace gets books on marine biology, a recent obsession of hers, a couple of cookbooks, turns out she's getting interested in learning how to make Danny's favorite foods and a new swimsuit from Kono, a one piece per Danny's request.

We all make breakfast together, pancakes with bacon and eggs. Danny protests when Grace goes to sit in my lap. I want to tell him it's fine but decide I shouldn't contradict him in front of her. "We can snuggle more later, okay?" I promise, settling her in her own chair and ruffling her hair. She pouts at me but doesn't argue.

"When are Uncle Chin, Auntie Kono and Auntie Malia coming over?" Grace asks while we clean up.

"We've pushed it back to around 2."

"What?" I hand Grace a plate to dry.

She smiles up at me. "Daddy thought we should have our ohana with us today. They were supposed to come around noon for lunch."

"Ah." Obviously Danny asked to push it back to give me time to rest.

"Yeah, so if you want another nap, now's your chance." Danny steps in close and presses a kiss to the side of my neck.

"I think I'd like to just veg on the couch with my two favorite people. Maybe watch some Christmas specials on TV."

Danny glances at the clock on the microwave and nods. "I think we have time for that." We'd better since it's only 10am and everyone's not expected until 2pm.

The kitchen clean, all three of us snuggle together on the couch with me in the corner, Danny tucked against my side and Grace sprawled across both our laps. We fall asleep somewhere during The Santa Clause movie and wake to the sound of car doors slamming outside.

All of us groggily disentangle from each other and make our way out onto the front porch. Grace is still mostly asleep and clings to my leg until I pick her up. She lays her head on my shoulder and gives a tiny sigh of contentment and I know that given half a chance she'd be fast asleep again in no time.

"Steve!" Kono greets me with a huge grin and an enthusiastic hug; one that lingers a bit. Kono and I share a special bond; I am teaching her how to be a sniper, after all.

"Okay, Cuz, that's enough." Chin laughs and gently pries her from my embrace, then promptly engulfs me in his. "You had the haole worried, Brah."

"So sorry. Did not mean to worry him." I chuckle, knowing he means it in the same way my father did when he'd tell me that my mother was worried when I was late or that she missed me when I was away at camp.

"Steve." Malia and I don't know each other well but she makes Chin happy and that's enough for me.

"Malia." I hug her too and notice that there's more of her than before. Pulling back, I look and sure enough there's a noticeable bump in her midsection. "You're expecting?" How could Danny not tell me?

"We are." Chin wraps one arm around her shoulders and tugs her closer. "Four months." He runs one hand protectively over her belly.

"We were going to name it Steve if it's a boy." Malia smiles lovingly up at Chin.

"No one says you can't still."

Chin shakes his head. "We don't name children after the living."

I shrug. "Makes a good middle name, too."

"Enough, Steve." Danny places both hands on my shoulders. "Let them pick the name. It's one of the fun things they can do together as a couple."

"Hey, Cuz." Kono takes Grace from my arms. "You get my present?"

"I did. It's real pretty."

Kono's dimples make an appearance when she smiles. "Shall we put it on and go play in the surf?"

"The beach is bound to be nothing but mud after that rainstorm this morning," Danny protests.

"It's fine, Danny. Part of the reason we have outdoor showers."

He turns to frown at me and I fear he just might rant about me overstepping myself but Grace derails it with a simple "Please, Danno" combined with the stuck out lower lip.

"Fine, fine!" He waves them away.

"Excellent!" Kono and Grace high five. "C'mon, Malia." Kono grabs Malia's arm and the three of them disappear into my house, their giggles lingering long after they're ensconced behind the door to Grace's room.

"Want a beer?" Danny asks Chin, leading the way back inside.

"I could go for a beer, yeah."

Danny and Chin continue on into the kitchen but I find myself unable to move past the foot of the stairs. This is the first time since my shower that Grace has been out of my sight and I find myself at a loss for what to do without her and Danny's grounding presence.

"Steve?" Danny's head pokes back out of the kitchen. "Babe, what's wrong?"

I shake my head. "Nothing." I can't keep my gaze off the upstairs landing, waiting for Grace's feet to appear.

"You know she's safe with everyone here, right?"

I nod. "Can't help it, though." I know he'll understand, he's her father after all.

He pats me on the arm. "C'mon. They may be a while. Being female and all." He leads me through the kitchen and out onto the lanai where Chin's already settled in a chair, sipping a Longboard.

"Everything okay, Steve?" Chin asks, concern heavy in his tone. "Danny told me about the TBI."

"Yeah, I'm fine." I snag a bottle from the cooler on the coffee table and sit myself in the one chair that boasts an excellent view of the door back into the house.

"For some reason he's finding himself overly protective of my daughter." Danny chuckles and sits in the chair closest to me.

"Not a bad thing, that; having a SEAL as your child's guard."

"Didn't say it was. Just never seen him like this, is all."

"You do know he can hear you, right?" I hate being talked about like I'm not even there.

"Sorry, Brah." Chin takes another swig from his bottle. "Any ideas why you're feeling this way?"

"Maybe because she's barely left my side since this morning?"

"She missed you," Danny says softly.

"We all missed you," Chin adds, his voice just as soft.

I nod my appreciation, feeling tears gathering again. Why do I always start crying when confronted by emotion?

"Papa!" Grace comes running out wearing a pretty pink and purple one piece swimsuit and carrying a bottle of sunscreen.

"Since when does she call you 'Papa'?" Chin asks Danny.

Grace crashes into my knees. "That's Danno!" She points at Danny. "This is Papa!" She climbs up into my lap. "Put sunscreen on me, please." She hands me the bottle.

"Maybe you shouldn't encourage her." Chin raises his brows and looked pointedly at me.

"It's okay. Danno said so. Besides, Uncle Steve'll be my Papa for real when they marry."

"I never said we were getting married, Grace."

She pouts at him. "But you filled out the paperwork."

"For a domestic partnership. Different from a marriage which I doubt will ever happen. Right, Steve?"

"Hm?" I hum, rubbing some excess lotion off Grace's nose.

"You and Danno'll get married one day, right?"

"Steve, tell her it'll never happen." Danny talks over her.

The expression on her face matches how I feel. A look at Danny shows he's serious about us never getting married but I find I can't break Grace's heart again. "I don't know about never, Danny. Most certainly not now."

Danny rolls his eyes. "Steve…" He begins but before he can say anything, Kono and Malia emerge from the house.

Kono's dressed in a barely there bikini and Malia's wearing a flattering tankini in difference to her pregnant belly. "Grace, you really shouldn't run off like that."

"It's okay, I knew Danno and Papa were out here with Uncle Chin."

"Papa?" Kono and Malia both turn to me to ask. I just shrug my shoulders as if to say 'What're ya gonna do?'

Kono holds one hand out to Grace. "C'mon, let's get in that water. Leave the adults here to talk." Grace pecks me on the cheek before sliding off my lap and skipping down the beach at Kono's side.

"Steve?" Danny reaches over and places one hand on my arm and suddenly I find it all to be too much.

Jumping to my feet I murmur an apology before bolting for the door back into the house and sprinting up the stairs to shut myself in the bedroom.

I sit on the edge of the bed, brace my hands on my knees and try to remember how to breathe. There seems to be no air in the room but I can't make myself get up and open the window.

"Steve?" Danny's voice filters in through the door. "Let me in, please."

"It's not locked."

He slowly opens the door and cautiously approaches where I'm sitting, trying to not give in to the building panic attack. "You okay?"

I shake my head. "This is bad, Danny."

"I know, Babe. I want to help. Tell me what I can do."

I close my eyes and two tears slide down my cheeks. "I don't think you can and that terrifies me."

I can hear the unspoken quip he wants to make in the silence of the room. I'm grateful that he gets the seriousness of the situation but also miss his snarky humor.

He sits on the bed next to me. Close enough to touch but not actually touching. "I'm here, Steve." I've never heard him use this particular tone of voice before but I find it comforting. It makes me feel protected. "I sent everyone home."

"What? No! Danny!" I turn to stare incredulously at him.

"It's for the best, Steve. I should have known it would be too soon." I shake my head. "You just returned home less than twenty-four hours ago after six months in that hell hole followed by four months in a hospital recovering from a serious head injury. I should have followed my gut and told Chin not to come."

"This has nothing to do with them being here." And it doesn't. Well, not all that much.

"Then what? Did you have another flashback?"

"No. Not a flashback."

"Then what!?" Danny throws his hands in the air and lets them fall back to his lap with a loud slap.

"It's nothing, D. Really." How can I tell him my panic attack is because of what he said? Would he even understand?

"Alright, don't tell me." He frowns at me. "I know I joke about you needing help but I really think you need to see someone about this."

I nod. "I have an appointment in the morning."

"Good." He starts to touch my arm but hesitates. "Can I touch you?" I nod and he runs his hand over my hair. "You know I love you, right? And want to help you get better. You tell your therapist that I'm willing to do whatever to make that happen." It's on the tip of my tongue to ask how he can say that he loves me after all but rejecting me in front of everyone. But I don't. Instead I nod my head and allow him to tug me closer so I can put my head on his shoulder.

"I think I should look into staying at the base or a hotel."

"Absolutely not."

"What if I have a flashback and hurt your or, God forbid, Grace? I couldn't live with myself If that happened."

"How about you stay here tonight and ask your therapist tomorrow if she thinks you should go elsewhere. We'll deal with it then, yeah?"

"Yeah, okay."

We sit there for several minutes, just being with each other. I find myself matching my breathing to his and it helps calm me further.

"Papa? Daddy?" Grace pokes her head warily into the room.

"Come in, Baby Girl." I hold one hand out toward her.

She bites her lip and tip-toes across the room to where we're sitting on the bed. "I'm sorry."

"For what, Keiki?" I pick her up and set her in my lap, fully expecting her to cuddle up against me. But she instead slouches on my knee and begins playing with a loose string on the hem of the shirt she's wearing as a cover-up.

"For causing you and Daddy to argue."

Danny and I blink at each other over her head. "We didn't argue, Monkey." Danny uses two fingers to tip her chin up so he can look her in the eye. "This has nothing to do with you or what you said." No, but it does have to do with what Danny said.

Two big fat tears spill over her lower lids and slide down her cheeks. "You're sure?"

I gather her close. "Of course, Gracie Girl." I rock back and forth like one would with a fussy baby and press a kiss to her hair. Taking a deep breath, I decide to follow Danny's lead and treat her like an adult. "I have something called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Plus I'm still recovering from a serious head injury. I'm all messed up in my own head right now. There isn't a thing in the world that you could do that would make me angry with you."

She sighs. "Okay." I'm nearly positive she doesn't believe me.

"I wasn't angry, Grace. Honest."

She pulls back to look at me. "Then why'd you run inside?"

"Because I needed to be alone for a while."

"Grace," Danny interrupts. "Steve has a disorder that is very serious and will cause him to not act like his normal self at times. We will just have to be patient with him. Can you do that?"

She nods. "How'd he get it?" She wrinkles her nose.

"There are many different ways to get PTSD. The doctors I spoke with in Germany think I've had it since my mother died."

"I'm sorry she died." Grace throws her arms around my neck and squeezes.

"It's okay, Grace. It was a long time ago. I may still miss her but being with you helps."

She shifts her grip to my waist and makes like she's settling in for a while but before she can get completely comfortable, my stomach rumbles, reminding me that I haven't eaten since early this morning.

"I guess we should have lunch," Danny says, standing from the bed.

A glance at the clock shows that we've been up here for over two hours. "Maybe we should make that dinner," I suggest, also standing and cradling Grace like a baby. With a mischievous grin, she lets her body go limp so that it looks like she's unconscious. When Danny notices he just rolls his eyes.

"Oh, no! King Danno, whatever will we do? It looks like Princess Grace has fallen under an evil spell that causes her to fall deeply asleep."

Grace chokes on a giggle and Danny pauses about half way down the stairs. Turning to me he raises one brow. "King Danno?"

I shrug. "From my bedtime story."

"Ah. Then this is your game. I'm staying out of it."

"Spoilsport." I stick my tongue out at his retreating back.

"I saw that, Steven!"

"Whatever." I look down at the little girl in my arms. "Only a kiss from her true love will break the spell. But where is he? Does he even know she needs him?" Grace again stifles a giggle.

"I was planning on burgers and hot dogs with Chin, Malia and Kono. Shall we fix that?" Danny asks when I enter the kitchen.

"Sure." I put Grace down on the table, arranging her like Snow White in her glass coffin. "Shall I try and kiss her to break the spell, King Danno?" Danny just turns and looks at me over his shoulder. "Right. I'm your true love. Maybe if I… tickle her!" I attack her sides with my fingers and she squeals with laughter. After a few minutes she begs me to stop and then gets up and attacks me before I can even step back from the table.

I allow her to 'tackle' me to the floor where I curl up into a ball leaving only my sides exposed for her to tickle. I'm nearly breathless from my laughter when Danny picks her up off me and tosses her over his shoulder like a sack of flour.

He gives her bottom a playful slap. "You two are going to be the death of me. You know that, right?"

We both just laugh. "You know we love you, Danno." Grace kisses him on the cheek, back to her sweet self.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," he mutters, setting her down. "Help Steve up, then set the table."

We decide to eat on the lanai and spend a very enjoyable evening playing in the surf. Until it starts to rain, that is. We move inside and play some of the games Grace found in a closet back when she and Danny first moved in. Grace beats the pants off Danny and I in Monopoly and Life and is about to do the same in Uno when she yawns big enough for me to count her teeth.

"Time for all good girls to go to bed." Danny puts his cards down and starts picking up the discarded ones.

"But I'm winning!"

Danny and I share a look over her head and have a silent conversation that I'm sure parents the world over have on a nightly basis. "Okay, we'll finish this hand and then it's straight to bed, Monkey."

Grace beams at us and proceeds to smoke us, leaving us both holding at least one Draw Four, Wild and Double Wild card.

"She must have cheated," I mutter, picking the cards up off the table.

"If she did, she learned it from you." Danny blows a kiss my way to soften the harshness of his comment.

"Nuh-uh." Grace shakes her head. "Uncle Kamekona," she says when we just look at her.

"Of course," Danny and I say together.

"He is never watching her again," Danny says adamantly.

"Agreed." I nod my assent.

"I like Uncle Kamekona." Grace pouts.

"He teaches you bad things."

"But he makes delicious shrimp." She marches up the stairs when Danny waves her in that direction.

"Yes he does but he isn't the best influence on a young girl such as yourself." I reach around Danny to tweak a lock of her hair.

She gives what has to be the world's most put upon sigh and turns to face us from the bathroom doorway. "Fine. Don't let him watch me. Now if you don't mind-" She shoos us off with her hands. "-I think I can handle it from here. I'll call if I need any assistance." She then shuts the door in our faces.

"Well." Danny turns to face me, a stunned expression on his face. "Did that really just happen? Did my little girl just reject me?"

I awkwardly pat his shoulder. "It was bound to happen sooner or later, D. You had to know that."

"Well, yeah, but I thought I had another two years - three tops - until it happened. She's only ten."

I shrug. "Don't know what to tell ya, Babe."

"What do I do now?" He looks so lost.

"Wait somewhere else!" Grace shouts through the door.

I bite my lip to keep from laughing. "It's not funny, McGarrett," Danny hisses, stomping past me and into the bedroom.

"It kinda is." I sit down on the bed and prepare to engage in my favorite pastime: Ranting!Danno watching.

He mumbles to himself, pacing back and forth and waving his hands in the air. Occasionally I catch the words 'Grace' and 'too soon'. Every few steps he pokes his head out the door and looks in the direction of the bathroom.

He catches me off guard when he suddenly spins on his heel and marches up to where I'm sitting so he can shove his finger in my face. "This is all your fault!"

"I'm…sorry?"

"You got her all upset."

"Seemed to me she was having fun with me today."

"Today, yeah. But before that you were dead."

"Oh, that. Pfft," I scoff, waving one hand as if swatting a fly. "I think she's just upset at having to go to bed and is punishing you the only way she can."

"Oh, that," he mocks me. "Really? That's your response to us thinking you were dead for four fucking months!?"

"Danny…" I get up and wrap my arms around him.

He fists his hands in my shirt and lets all the emotion he's kept locked inside all day out. "Four months, Steven." He shakes me a bit. "I thought you were dead."

"I know, Danny. I'm sorry. What did you want me to do? Call and say 'Hey, I'm not dead but I don't want to see you'? Yeah, that would have gone over like a lead balloon and you know it. Way I saw it, I was damned if I did and damned if I didn't. Figured you wouldn't mind my trying to get better first."

He wipes his cheeks with the backs of his hands. "You're right. I should be grateful you're alive. And I am! I swear. It's just hard to forget the past four months, is all."

I nod and pull him closer, wrapping my arms around his shoulders and burying my face in his hair. "I'm so sorry you had to go through that, D. If I could, I'd take it all back."

"Take what back?"

"The past ten months. I'd go back to February and have that letter never get written."

"Can you tell me if you even completed the mission?"

"I didn't but I found out that another SEAL team did."

"Good." We stand there for a minute, just holding each other and breathing each other's scent.

"Who's tucking me in?" Grace interrupts the moment before it can go beyond the comforting stage.

"Me!" Danny and I say at the same time when we break apart.

She rolls her eyes. "Okay. Let's go."

We follow Grace across the hall and into her room. She crawls under the covers and Danny pulls them up to her chin, smoothing out any wrinkles before kissing her forehead. When he steps back, I take his place and tug the covers just a bit before also kissing her forehead.

"Want us to read you a story?" Danny asks looking over the few books stored on the bookshelf built into the window seat.

"Not tonight."

We both frown at her. "Want me to tell the one I made up, again?" I ask perching on the edge of the mattress.

She shakes her head. "Why not, Monkey?"

She shrugs. "Just don't want one. Is that a problem?"

"Not at all, Baby Girl. Sleep good, 'kay?" I brush a kiss to her cheek and get up, making my way to the door where I turn and watch Danny give Grace a hug and another kiss.

He smoothes his hand over her hair. "Love you, Monkey."

"Love you, too, Danno." She turns over and faces the wall, signaling that she's ready to go to sleep. Danny and I share a confused look but figure she has her reasons so we exit the room, turning off the light and closing the door behind us.

Back in my - our - room, we change for bed; Danny strips down to his boxers and a t-shirt and I pull on a pair of sleep pants. It's rather early for bed but we're both pretty tired from the emotional upheavals of the day. Once under the covers, we settle on our sides, facing each other.

Reaching out with one hand, I lightly trace his eyebrow. "This is what kept me going every day I was gone. Whenever I felt like giving up I'd just think of you and Grace and I'd have my reason for pushing forward."

Danny closes his eyes but not before I see an emotion that I'm not exactly sure of but that tells me he's not over my 'death' and probably won't be for a while to come. "Cath told me that you told her that I'm your home."

"And you are. Just like Gracie's yours. If you were to ever leave, I'd follow."

"Steve…" He opens his eyes and they're shiny with tears he's refusing to shed. I know what he's going to say and I can't let him.

"Don't, Danny. Please."

"Why? Tell me that."

"Because I need you like I need air. And if you tell me to not follow-" I stop to swallow the lump in my throat. "-it would kill me."

His brow wrinkles for a moment before he rolls his eyes. "Idiot," he mutters, a note of amusement in his tone. "That is not what I was going to say." Now it's my turn to be confused. "I was going to say that I don't plan on ever leaving you, ya big goof."

I give a sigh of relief. "Yeah?" He nods his head. "Good." I lean forward and press my lips to his. "Because if you did, I'm sure you'd have a lot of people chasing after you to bring you home where you belong."

"Good. I can't be expected to protect you all by myself."

"I do not need protecting." Now I'm offended.

He snorts. "Says the man with a TBI."

"Yeah, whatever." I snuggle down until I can press my face against his chest. "Can we go to sleep now?"

He kisses the top of my head. "Yeah." He rolls until he's on his back with me draped over his torso. "Danno loves you," he whispers, sweeping his right hand down my back from shoulder to hip.

"Love you, too," I say around a big yawn.

Rubbing my face against his chest much like a contented cat would when scent marking, I close my eyes and allow sleep to pull me under.

Part three

(no subject)

Date: 2012-12-08 04:01 am (UTC)
simplyn2deep: (Default)
From: [personal profile] simplyn2deep
I sort of got a motional whiplash from this chapter, but it was good.

hope this further explanation into why Danny doesn't want to marry Steve (if getting married was a legal possibility for them).

(no subject)

Date: 2012-12-08 07:50 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I really enjoyed this chapter. I like how you write Steve and Grace together, it's warm and sweet and believable. Also like very much the h/c with Danny trying to be there for Steve the best way he can (even if he doesn't understand exactly what's going on in Steve's mind...) I feel the tenderness and the love between them in your story : )! What has me a little disturbed is the whole dead/not dead, previous thing. To me it feels too big an issue and I can't really imagine it happening. But that's just me, and I like how the story is developping now, so I'll be looking forward to read the next chapter! Thanks for sharing! antivol

(no subject)

Date: 2012-12-08 02:00 pm (UTC)
rungirl60: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rungirl60
This is so beautiful! I'm so glad that your Danny muse decided you had to write this!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-12-08 04:19 pm (UTC)
landrews: (Default)
From: [personal profile] landrews
Still reading! Very interesting! I got what Danny was saying about marriage immediately :-) Can see why Steve wouldn't because of the emotional/rational deficits of his TBI- can also understand his damaged reasoning for not wanting peeps notified he was in fact alive, but I wonder if the military would have honored that since he is TBIed- not that that matters - the story's fine :-) What's not fine is that even logged into Dreamwidth, I'm locked out of part three!!!! No access allowed :-/

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