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"Grace?" Danny's voice and his firm knock on her door wake Grace from a sound sleep.

It takes her a moment to figure out where she is and once she does, the grief comes flooding back, bringing with it fresh tears. Her body protests the fact that she spent the night on the floor, having cried herself to sleep and at first it refuses to cooperate when she tries to stand.

"Grace? You're going to be late," Danny calls again.

"Coming, Danno." She steadies herself against the door for several seconds before opening it and stepping around him to the bathroom.

"If you didn't have a test today, I'd let you skip." He reaches out to caress her hair but she dodges it.

"I'm fine." Keeping her face stubbornly averted, she closes the bathroom door in his face. 'Let him think I'm just tired,' she thinks, bracing her hands on the edge of the pedestal sink.

As she gazes at her reflection, tears well in her eyes again. "God, Grace!" She whispers harshly. "Get it together. You can't let them know!" She allows herself to cry for about a minute, then splashes cold water on her face before taking care of her morning needs and exiting the bathroom.

With a deep breath, she walks down the stairs and into the kitchen where she finds Steve and Danny standing near the mostly set table embracing. It's not clear which one is doing the comforting or if the two of them just felt like hugging but Grace doesn't care. She backs out as far as the stairs to give them some more privacy. Then, making as much noise as she can, she enters the kitchen again. This time Danny's finishing setting the table and Steve's finishing cooking breakfast.

"Morning, Monkey," Danny greets. And if his tone isn't as chipper as usual, then who is Grace to say anything? Especially in light of the faint tear tracks on his cheeks.

"Hey, Baby Girl." Steve drops a kiss to the air above her head as she passes him on her way to give Danny a hug.

"Hey, now." Danny chuckles and hugs her back. "What brought this on?"

Grace shrugs and tightens her hold on Danny's shoulders. "Just felt like it."

"Where's my hug?" Never one to be left out, Steve pouts at the embracing father and daughter.

"Right here, Papa." Grace lets go of Danny so she can go wrap her arms around Steve's waist and squeeze.

"Mm. You give the best hugs." He presses a kiss to the top of her head. "Sit. Breakfast's almost done."

Breakfast is a more somber affair than usual but none of them is willing to discuss it. As soon as she finishes her last bite, Grace gets up and puts her dishes in the sink.

"Papa?" she says, stopping next to his chair.

"Yes, Baby Girl?' He runs one hand down her back and twitches the ends of her hair. Something that usually makes her smile, but not today.

"Will you take me to school?"

Danny and Steve share a look. Danny usually takes her, it's their own special alone time. "You sure you don't want Danno to take you?"

She shakes her head. "I need to talk to you." Ever since she was little, Steve has been one of her biggest confidants.

"Okay." He pats her backside. "Go finish getting ready.

She brushes a kiss to his check before turning and leaving the room. But she doesn't go far. She has learned the fine art of eavesdropping and since it worked so well last night…

"I don't think this is a good idea, Steve."

"Relax, D. I have built up quite a resistance to her interrogation tactics, ya know."

"You mean, unlike me?"

"Exactly. So, if she was going to press for what
really happened last night, she'd have let you take her."

'Great. Now his guard'll be up.' But she can't let that discourage her. If she's ever going to get them to treat her like an adult, she has to make Steve tell her the truth.

She hurries upstairs and throws on the first clean uniform she can find, brushes her teeth for not quite three minutes but figures once won't hurt, quickly applies what little make-up (mascara and colored lip gloss) she's allowed to wear and braids her hair while jogging back down the stairs.

"I'm ready, Papa!" she calls in the direction of the kitchen. "I'll be in the truck." Picking his keys up from the side table, she exits the house and skips over to the truck while rehearsing what she's gonna say.

Danny, Rachel, Steve and Stan have all said that she can get her permit next year and her license the year after and so she sits behind the wheel as often as possible. Climbing up into the cab she's reminded of just a few weeks ago when Steve took her out to the rainforest and let her drive. It was fun and she's been pressing him to do it again. She thinks she did well, but judging by how he's been hesitant to do so, he doesn't agree.

Steve begins shaking his head the instant he rounds the corner and can see her sitting behind the wheel. She grins at him and bounces in her seat. Despite what he told Danny, Grace has him wrapped just as tightly around her finger as she has Danny. He finds it just as difficult to say no to her, especially after he 'died' four years ago.

"Not today, Baby Girl," he says, opening the door. The look on his face says 'and not any time soon, either' but Grace knows that the adults in her life will have to let her practice driving once she gets her permit. She also knows that they don't want her to grow up too fast and they see her having the ability to drive as a sign that soon she'll be gone, off to college and then married with children.

"I know, Papa." She scoots over and buckles her seat belt, waiting patiently for the right moment to ask her questions. Steve's not the talker her father is so having a silent drive with him isn't unusual. Even if she wishes he'd volunteer the information.

"What period is your test?" Steve actually manages to startle her with his question.

"Uh, second. French."

"Ah. Oral or written?"

"Both."

He nods. "If you're still tired after, call and one of us will come get you."

"Danno agree to that?"

Steve chuckles. "Let's say he did, okay?"

"Papa!" She laughs with him.

Ever since Steve came into their lives, things have been so much more fun. Grace would love Steve just as much even if he and Danny had never gotten together. But of course they did and she loves having three fathers. Stan has finally relaxed around her, having been reassured of her love for him when she began calling him 'Pop', and now treats her more like Steve does.

"Papa?" Grace finally works up the courage when they're about ten minutes from the school.

"Yes, Baby Girl?"

"I know."

Steve takes his eyes off the road for a second to frown at her. "You know what, Keiki?"

"About Aunt Shelly and the baby."

He slams on the brakes, throwing one arm out to stop her from being thrown too hard against her seat belt. "You what!?" he roars amid the blaring horns of the cars behind them.

"Papa, please!" She indicates that he should get out of the way of traffic.

Grinding his teeth so hard that she can hear it, he jerkily pulls the truck into a nearby parking lot; puts it in park and gets out to angrily stalk around the front to yank open her door and drag her out.

"Start. Talking." She can feel the effort it's taking for him to not shake her until the words come tumbling from her lips.

She stares into his anger filled eyes, scared of him for the first time since she met him, and is momentarily rendered speechless. His frown deepens and his lip begins to curl and the words fall from her mouth so fast she's afraid he won't be able to understand what she's saying.

"Danno's right. You have a face for everything. I knew you weren't telling the truth about the blood. And I knew you wouldn't tell me if I asked. You and Danno don't tell me anything so when you sent me to bed, I hid around the corner, knowing you two would talk about it. I deserve to know. Everything you two do effects me, you know. And yet you hardly ever let me know things." When she runs out of words, she holds her breath, wondering what he'll do; trying to not imagine the worst but hoping for the best.

"We tell you plenty! I didn't want to tell you about my PTSD but Danny insisted with my doctor's urging." He releases her arms with a slight push and paces away, running both hands through his hair. "We hadn't told anyone. We were just a week away from telling you that she was going to have our baby."

"Would you have told me about the miscarriage?"

"Probably not. And not because we don't think you should know but because Shelly doesn't want anyone to know."

"But, Papa!" She takes a step forward but halts at the look on his face, convinced that should she touch him now it would be rejected. "I'm not just anyone! I'm your daughter!"

He nods. "I know. I tried to get Shelly to let us at least tell you but she didn't want you to grieve for a sibling you were never going to meet."

"Why not tell me about the baby before?"

"Because about twenty-two percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage before the end of the first trimester and seventy-five percent never even implant. Once we knew for a fact that she was pregnant, we began waiting for the end of the trimester." He sags back against the side of the truck and presses the heels of his hands against his eyes. "We had it all planned; how we were going to tell you. We were going to pick you up early from school and take you to a prenatal appointment. Then we were going to let you tell people."

"You should have told me! I deserved to know!"

"Why? Because you're fourteen now? Because you don't like being kept out of the loop?" She's never seen him this angry before. "Guess what, Sweetheart?" He doesn't say the endearment the way he usually does, the tone is all wrong and it's in English and she knows she's crossed some line that should never have been crossed. "You don't get to decide that. Your other parents and I do! It's why human children stay with their parents until they're eighteen. We're not here to be your friends. We're here to guide you and teach you right from wrong. And the fact that you can't seem to see that what you did was wrong, wrong so very wrong, tells me you're nowhere near ready to be on your own." He takes several deep breaths and Grace worries that she may have pushed him close to a panic attack. He hasn't had one in months and even then it was small but she remembers when he used to have big ones; big enough to cause him to have to take medication and be hospitalized. "Get in the damn truck." He walks back around to the driver's side and climbs behind the wheel.

Grace hesitates for a second, actually thinks about grabbing her backpack and just hoofing it the rest of the way, before following suit. The second her door is closed, but before she can buckle up, Steve puts the truck in gear and continues on to the school, acting as if nothing happened.

The tension in the cab is thick and it presses in on Grace's chest, leaving her short of breath while she fights her tears. While Steve has taken a more active role in her raising since Danny won primary custody when Rachel and Stan moved back to the mainland last year, he has never yelled at her like that. Nor has he ever said anything as hurtful as when he said he wasn't her friend.

'That's not exactly what he said,' a small voice deep inside her whispers but she ignores it in favor of sulking over what feels like is the end of her special relationship with her Papa.

At the school, he pulls smoothly up to the curb and puts the truck in park. "Grace…" He starts but seems to be as at a loss for what to say as she is. "Good luck on your test," he finally says, chewing his bottom lip.

She can tell he wants a hug but she's punishing him for being so harsh and so she just nods and slides down from the cab, grabs her bag from the backseat and heads up the stairs and inside.

She makes it through most of first period English, she's always thought it funny that both her language classes were back-to-back, before she asks to go to the bathroom where she pulls out her phone and calls Danny.

It rings five times before he answers with, "I don't have time to talk right now."/i>

"But-" She begins but he talks over her. "Not. Now. We'll discuss this later." The line goes dead in her ear.

Tears well in her eyes as what the brief conversation with Danny means becomes clear: Steve told Danny first chance he got. He didn't even wait to see if she might confess her wrong doing without any urging.

And just like that, Steve crosses over from parental figure who has her back to totalitarian who delights in her misery. Never mind that deep down where it counts, she knows he's not like that - could never be like that - but right now the rebuke from Danny hurts too much and throws her into a typical teen meltdown.

She slowly makes her way back to class and tries to pay attention because mid-terms are coming up and she prides herself on being on the honor roll. But she finds it difficult as her mind supplies what she can expect to happen when she gets out of school and can finally sit down and talk to Danny with each scenario worse than the one before.

Finally the bell rings and she files out onto the hall with all the other students, making her way to her next class: French. She really wanted to take American Sign Language but her mother suggested French, letting it slip that they might take a trip to Paris for her sixteenth birthday.

Luckily for Grace, her teacher, Madame Haag, is the type to call the class up alphabetically starting with 'A' and today is no different.

The written portion of the test is fairly easy but Grace is distracted just enough to falter on some of the questions. She answers the final question a second or two before Madame calls her name. She carries her test with her and hands it to the parent entrusted with keeping the class from cheating while Madame is out of the room giving the oral part of the test.

"Read this. French first, then English," Madame says in French. She's one of those teachers that think the best (only) way to learn another language is immersion and so she teaches class in French. She even speaks to her students in French when she sees them in the hall.

The list Grace is to read is their most recent vocabulary list. She knows all the words on it but her brain is still on the confrontation with Steve and the coming one with Danny and so she draws a total blank on pronunciation and English translation.

"I…" Grace begins to say only to have Madame interrupt with, "En Français". Grace clears her throat and tries again. "Je…" She gives up with a shake of her head. "I'm sorry, Madame. I can't."

"What's wrong?" Madame asks, this time in English.

"I had an argument with one of my dads."

Madame nods in understanding. "Since you're such a good student, I'm going to let you try again at the end of class."

"Thank you." Grace hands the list back and returns to her seat.

One of her good friends, Mary, leans over to whisper, "What happened?" but Grace just shakes her head and pulls out her text book. She's not sure if Madame wants it known that she's giving Grace a second chance so Grace decides to not tell anyone.

When the bell rings, she waves her friends off, saying she needs to speak with Madame and she'll catch up with them later.

The list she's given this time is different from the one before. The words are ones she should know very well by now and so it tests not only her ability to retain what was recently taught, but what she's been learning all along. She only hesitates a moment before reciting the words.

"Très bon," Madame says with a tiny smile.

"Merci," Grace replies, with a small curtsey.

"Your accent still needs work but other than that…" Madame is back to speaking in French and ends her sentence with a one shouldered shrug.

"Sorry. I am working on it," Grace replies in French.

"Go on to class now." Madame hands her a tardy slip and shoos her from the room.

Grace really wants to call Steve and let him know how she did on her test but she's still punishing him for this morning so she texts Danny instead. She fully expects a 'Good job, Monkey' or something similar back but she gets nothing. It doesn't compute that Danny could be punishing her as well, so she decides to imagine that he's off chasing a bad guy, or comforting Aunt Shelly. Doesn't make his snub hurt any less, though.

The rest of her day is spent so totally distracted that she nearly gets hit by a wayward soccer ball during gym, gets detention for failing to show proper respect to her math teacher (she snapped 'What!?' when he asked her a question) and walking into, and knocking over, the bronze bust of the school's founder. Luckily for her that last one doesn't have any lasting consequences. Doesn't mean she's not still thoroughly embarrassed by it (it would have to happen right in front of Tommy Martin who is only the cutest boy in the whole wide world!).

Part three

(no subject)

Date: 2013-02-11 01:48 pm (UTC)
simplyn2deep: (Default)
From: [personal profile] simplyn2deep
Oh boy. Interesting how that conversation managed to mess her entire day. I can only imagine how its going to be when she gets home and Danny has a chance to talk to her...

(no subject)

Date: 2013-02-11 02:12 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I love how he called grace out. She never seems to get in trouble.

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