Storm Ravaged

Chapter 31

After Grace got home from visiting her father, Rachel heard her humming a happy tune to herself in the kitchen. Not only was her father on the road to recovery, he would be getting out of the hospital in just two more days. Rachel smiled to herself as she ransacked her tea collection in the cupboard. Grace's soft song was a remarkable transformation from just a few days earlier when the little girl had so terribly withdrawn from everyone and everything.

Rachel knew exactly what her daughter had up her little sleeve, too, and she couldn't be more proud. She hadn't been asked directly to help yet, but she knew that Grace's request would be coming very soon. The failed Father's Day would go on as planned and would be even more important despite the fact it would happen almost more than two full weeks after the National day that was steadfastly marked on a standard, commercial wall calendar. A simple date would never matter as much to Grace as the spirit of the special day she would spend with Danno.

Beating her daughter to the punch, Rachel couldn't help broaching the sensitive subject first. "Where did you put it, Grace? Did you keep it in a safe place?"

Her mother hadn't dared ask until that very minute and she smiled as she brewed a cup of tea. With her back to Grace, she blew on the hot black cup before taking a sip and her smile deepened when she heard the answer. Grace knew exactly what she meant without needing to know more, so they were both on the same mental pages.

The soft humming stopped and the reply was quiet and nearly wistful. "It's under my bed with the card."

"Good, sweetie, because Uncle Steve and I are going to help you and your father make up for that lost weekend. You're going to need to make sure your gift is still wrapped just right." Her sudden announcement created an excited stir behind her back and Grace's arms encircled her waist before Rachel could turn around.

"Really? This Friday? For the whole weekend?" It solved the last of Grace's private, thoughtful riddles because Danny wasn't coming home from the hospital on one of their shared times together. Plus she understood that he would need days yet of rest to be fully well. With her mother's offer, she didn't have to wait even longer as her excited, anxious mind caught up with things she wanted to do. Her mother had just solved the biggest hurdle and Grace hugged her even tighter.

"Yes, really. Plan on seeing your father this weekend as long as he's up to it." Rachel laughed because Danny would be up to it; very much up to it just like their daughter. She grinned as Grace ran upstairs to her bedroom to make sure the gift was just as she'd left it. Rachel only briefly lost her smile as she thought about the gift and Danny's surprise. If she had done so many things differently, she would be able to see his face, too. Part of her ached for that loss. But because of her decisions, it wasn't meant to be and Rachel sighed into her tea-cup before turning back towards the sink.

In the privacy of her room, Grace sniffled a happy tear away before diving under the dust ruffle to pull out the thin box. Before touching it, she lay on her stomach and rested her chin on tented fingers. Only her legs stuck out from under the bed as she studied the gift. Grace almost cried again because she remembered how upset she had been when she had shoved it so far out of her sight. No one ever lied to her and on that terrible day, neither her mother nor Uncle Steve could promise that her father would be coming home safely. In fact, no one knew where he even was and Uncle Steve's face had been uncharacteristically severe and sad all at the same time. The frightened pang tightened her chest again and Grace couldn't help the short sob as she remembered that most scary thing of all.

But Danno was home now and Grace resolutely pushed her tears down as she pulled the box out into the middle of the room. She sat cross-legged there and smoothed out the somewhat flattened bow. What was inside had taken a long time for her to do and then on top of it, something else completely unexpected had happened to make it even more special. She wasn't afraid to be proud of it again ... now that Danno was home ... and she smiled to herself. It was still perfectly wrapped and she only needed to straighten a corner that had gotten slightly rumpled.

Inside, was a shadow box of two very special awards; one of which she had earned with the other Aloha Girl's and there were just too many things which made the gift so valuable to her. First, over a month earlier, the idea had been entirely hers and then all the girls had participated. Secondly, instead of asking Steve, she had asked Catherine for help. She had thought about asking Steve, but she'd been embarrassed and realized Catherine would be best. The secret had grown, then morphed to become a very big deal not only to her, but to her entire Aloha Girl's troop.

"Girl talk." Grace had ventured tentatively, the one extra day over a month ago she when had seen Catherine Rollins at Steve's for a barbecue. Talking to her had become the answer to her dilemma and Grace had quietly stolen her away for some girl talk. Catherine had listened avidly to the idea and then visited the Aloha Girl's meetings once or twice to help them all get started before another mandatory deployment. Her help had been priceless, she'd bonded with the girls, and she'd managed to bring in Duke Lukela and even Charlie Fong to complete their circle of experts as the Aloha Girl's excitedly focused on their special mission.

Lastly, what had happened afterwards was an amazing, exciting adventure. They had all earned one patch not only as a team, but then another individually. But to Grace, her personal award was more than a badge of honor and it had instantly been the ideal Father's Day gift.

Grace smoothed down the colorful wrapping paper again and then fixed the bow. The gift was still perfect and she couldn't wait to see Danno's face!

The first call that Steve made the very next day when Kono dropped him off at his house was to Rachel. It had to be and even Kono couldn't help grinning from ear to ear as she lounged casually against his kitchen counter top with a glass of cold water. Bad leg propped on a kitchen chair, Steve was on the phone with Rachel for a long time and the conversation was equal parts excitement, an odd confusion marked by long silences on his side, and then pure bitter-sweet melancholy.

"It's on then? Good ... we can manage the food." His face reflected his confusion and he blatantly ignored Kono's inquisitive gestures and loud annoyed sounds when he didn't answer her.

"You and Grace already have all of those other things worked out? Wait. She did what?" There was a long moment of silence as Steve listened to whatever Rachel was saying. Even with her very audible sigh about the unintelligible state of the one-sided conversation, Kono failed at getting his attention.

"Catherine? How did she get involved? What are you talking about?" Confusion eventually changed to shock and then to pride and his final exuberant smile matched Kono's as he nodded automatically into the phone. It was clear that she couldn't wait to hear the details of the exchange, but then Kono's face fell as she heard his parting remarks.

"Okay! No, I promise that I won't say a word about this; not to anyone. Thanks, Rachel." He didn't need to actually thank the mother of his partner's beautiful child but his relief knew no bounds as he ended the call.

"Well, you are going to at least tell me. Aren't you?" Kono demanded.

Rather than answering, Steve was almost talking out loud to himself. "Rachel's way ahead of us and Grace is beyond ecstatic. Ponch is releasing Danny tomorrow and Rachel will be waiting for him with Grace at his apartment as a surprise for the entire weekend. This is going to be better than Father's Day."

Steve meant every word of it. He had easily hatched his part of the plan with Chin and Kono. Now they would all work together to recapture, re-book and remedy much of Danny's original plans with Grace. From the sound of it, even Grace had her own special things in mind and Rachel was scheming and plotting with her to make her gift even more special.

"How do you know what he had planned? And what was all of that with Rachel ... and did you say Cath was involved? She's not even here." Kono asked as she rocked off the counter and pulled up a chair with her cell phone at the ready. The answer to her first question was simple because Danny had been so excited with Rachel's original last minute gesture, Steve had been privy to virtually every second of each planned activity. But he refused to offer any clues about the second half.

"He told me." Steve scrubbed his hair hard with one hand leaving spikes standing on end. The day back in June when Rachel had called to ask Danny about Father's Day would be stuck in his head forever. They had been in the Camaro and Danny's tone had entirely changed from the first and almost icy-cold "Hello, Rachel" to his final and much more congenial "count on it."

Steve smirked as he thought about Danny's genuine excitement to make everything perfect. It needed to be that way again. He nodded before softly repeating himself. "Yeah, he told me. But he can't physically do it all right now. However, we can get some things back on track for them."

The Friday morning he'd been abducted, Danny and Grace were going to have a simple movie night with take-out. However, Saturday was chock full of plans beginning with a kayak and walking tour of Flat Island and a bird sanctuary. In the mid afternoon, Danny had secured tickets to the Hawaii Theatre Centre and a popular children's musical. Evening plans included a father-daughter dinner at one of the best Italian restaurants in Honolulu.

While parts of the kayaking tour made that concept too problematic due to the land-based aspects of the morning event, Steve knew that he, Chin and Kono could resurrect the Theatre and dinner plans easily enough for the coming weekend. As Rachel had stressed too, Grace honestly didn't even seem to care all that much in the end. Her excitement over what she had planned for Sunday over-shadowed everything else. But for Steve, it meant too much to him ... and to Danny ... to not try to correct some of those things that his partner had wanted to do with his daughter.

"I'll call the Theatre. After that, think about getting comfortable on your sofa or in bed. I'm not going to explain what you do to Doc Ramirez after barely an hour of being home," Kono announced quickly as she got to work. It was too early for reservations at the restaurant, but Steve had plans to support Grace's special ideas. He would relate to Chin what he needed to go food shopping to stock Danny's refrigerator with everything that Grace might need for her orchestrated 'Sunday morning breakfast in bed' at the apartment.

Steve couldn't help grinning to himself though he refused to tell Kono exactly why. In fact, he hadn't known a thing until Rachel explained the complicated nature of Grace's gift and he snorted with quiet approving laughter much to Kono's ongoing annoyance. His eyes had widened in surprise when Catherine's name was mentioned and he listened dumb-struck as Rachel explained what she'd help to coordinate so many week's earlier with the Aloha Girl's troop. That feeling had only been compounded by the ending of the elaborate story.

Danny would be shocked. Stunned, really. And Steve almost wondered if his friend would be ready to hear the whole, exciting chain of events. Yet still, he remained utterly silent after ending the call.

"I can't tell you. I'm not even supposed to know!" Steve threw his hands up in the air and flinched when the move pulled on his sore lower back. He winced again when Kono flicked the kitchen towel in his direction. She softened a bit and then plunked the bottle of pain medication into his hands with her phone still cocked to her ear using her shoulder.

"You should tell at least me." Kono complained while pouring him a glass of water. He swallowed two of the pills and then grinned at her somewhat perturbed expression.

He denied her again though with another helpless gesture. "Hey! I promised ... and I just can't right now."

"Rude! I can't believe you are this rude." Kono complained while on endless hold with the Theatre. The dull music was on its fourth round and her frustration mounted between that and Steve's determination to remain quiet.

"It's not fair. Really, Boss."

For his part, Steve couldn't believe what Rachel had told him but he was sworn to secrecy. He was astounded that Charlie Fong and Duke Lukela had been involved with Grace's scheme from the very start as well. But what had happened next? Mulling it over in his head, Steve snorted out loud to bring down Kono's ire again.

She practically hissed at him and then paused as a series of clicks sounded on her phone. "What! If you aren't going to tell me, then stop it Steve!"

What he couldn't tell Kono was the secret of Grace's gift. The little girl had stumbled across a known but little earned patch in her Aloha Girl's handbook; and then earned another major award. She had presented the initial concept to her group leader and then the entire troop had excitedly gotten involved. It took a full month to achieve and Catherine, Duke and Charlie Fong had helped them all along the way.

Steve grinned to himself as he absently rubbed his thigh just above the knee brace. His partner would be astounded, shocked and no doubt very proud of his little girl. Each individual surprise would continually lift Danny's ever-improving spirits which had taken only a minor blow when Steve was released that day. In just twenty-four hours, the first would be the unexpected appearance of his daughter sitting in his own apartment to kick off a long-healing chain of events.

Even though he was housebound, Steve was happy and he huffed a satisfied breath which got Kono's attention once more.

"Boss?" Kono rolled her eyes skyward at his ambivalent shrug and private chuckle. Then she had to focus on her call since someone finally had picked up at the ticket counter. "Finally! Hello?"

Sighing happily, he relaxed in the chair while he listened to Kono re-book the Theatre tickets. Steve would never say a word though because it was Grace's special secret and that was all there was to it. However, there was no doubt that he would love to be a fly on the wall come Sunday.

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