whogeek: Made by Shanachie_Quill (Alex O'Loughlin's hips :D)
[personal profile] whogeek
 Title: "Family Secrets"
Author[livejournal.com profile] whogeek 
Fandom: Hawaii Five-0
Characters/Pairings: Steve McGarrett/Danny Williams, Grace Williams, 2 OCs
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 7,124
Warnings: None
Genre: Pre-Slash/Slash, family
Summary: Prompt 5 from the After Holidays Prompt Fest: Paranormal - Steve really is a seal. A selkie to be exact. Danny is uncomfortable in water because there are stories about his great grandmother being a selkie - childhood fears about being taken away maybe? Perhaps Danny is part selkie.
Disclaimer: Hawaii Five-0 does not belong to me.  Steve, Danny and all other recognized characters belong to CBS.  Rebecca and Ella are mine though.  Also, I've never been to Maine, any inaccuracies there are completely my fault.
Author's Note: So this isn't exactly what the prompt asked for, but the muses were insistent.  I hope the prompter likes it anyways.  Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] shanachie_quill  for listening to me whine, ramble, flail and generally go nuts on her about this.  Also, for being a fantastic beta, especially when it comes to keeping to one tense and getting rid of all of the commas I didn't need.  I doubt I could have gotten this done without her support even especially when she really needed to tell me I was being a ridiculous idiot.

The first time Danny’s parents took him to the beach was when he was eight. When they were packing up to leave, Danny told them that he never wanted to leave the beach; he just wanted to swim and swim and swim forever. Eight-year-old Danny missed the worried looks his parents shared, and climbed into the back of the family’s car. His parents never took him to the beach again and conversations about the water were filled with stories of man-eating sharks, monstrous jellyfish, and terrible leviathans of the deep.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Danny was nineteen when he met his ‘eccentric great-aunt Rebecca’ for the first time. It was a family reunion and she had shown up, as she only sometimes did. Most of the family seemed to avoid her, but something about her pulled Danny in. Her stories about Selkies, those trapped by their human lovers, and those who took human lovers but always returned to the sea, and all other manner of sea-folk captivated him, but his parents had managed to ingrain the fear of the ocean into him. He brushed off the stories as the fancy of an old woman, even the story of his great-great-great grandfather’s Selkie wife. Before he left she whispered something to him, “The Sea is in your blood, Daniel, and you’d do well to remember your heritage; it has a way of following you.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Danny has been Steve’s partner for almost a year when he first finds the seal-skin. He’s been poking around some boxes in the attic, trying to find some party supplies when he stumbles across a plank in the floor that is just a little loose. Curiosity gets the better of him and he carefully pulls it up to find a veritable treasure trove of objects. There are matchbox cars, old broken toys, a deck of playing cards, oddly shaped rocks, and the general detritus of childhood. But tucked away at the back is a bit of soft fur. Danny grabs it and carefully pulls it out, jaw dropping in amazement when he realizes it was a seal-skin, still supple even after what must have been years of gathering dust. He runs his hands over it, down across the face, traces the empty eye-holes, smooths his palms down over the head and neck. Without even realizing what he is doing, he brings it up to his nose and sniffs deeply; under the smell of the wood and dust is the pervasive smell of the sea, and almost as prominent, a muskier version of the scent he associates with Steve.

“Danny! You found those boxes yet?” Steve’s voice shouting up the ladder brings Danny back to his senses and he pushes the skin back into its hiding place.

“Not yet. Your dad wasn’t very good with organizing stuff up here.” He carefully presses the loose board back into place.

Steve chuckles at that. “No, drove Mom up the wall that he never labeled things. It’s up there though. You want a marker to write what some of those boxes are?”

Danny makes his way over to the hole in the attic floor to look down at Steve. “Actually, that would be awesome.” Steve grins and holds up a Sharpie. “You just didn’t want to have to come up here and do this yourself.”

“I got too big to fit up there comfortably ages ago. Mary was always the one who had to go up there.” He steps up the ladder to hand over the marker, poking his head up into the space and looking around. “I should probably bring some of this stuff down and go through it.”

“Yeah, well, you can do that after the party. How are Chin and Kono doing with the tables?”

Steve grimaces. “Kono’s taken over. She can be damn scary, too.”

It’s Danny’s turn to laugh, and Steve pouts at him, actually pouts, causing Danny to just laugh harder. “Big bad SEAL, scared of little Kono? Come on; don’t tell me you don’t find that at all funny?”

“Yeah, yeah. Laugh it up. You want to deal with Kono being bossy?”

“No, I’m good. I’ll let you know when I find the right box.” Danny turns and goes back to shuffling through boxes and labeling them. He does eventually find the box with the party supplies and climbs down the ladder with it.

Shortly after that, Rachel drops Grace off, and she and Steve start putting decorations up; Grace perched happily on Steve’s shoulders as he passes things up to her. The next few hours are (to Danny’s surprise) actually fun and he finds himself relaxing and enjoying the company. Amy Hanamoa and her son even show up and Grace immediately latches onto the other kid and easily charms him into joining her.

As the evening sets in; Amy thanks Steve, hugs Danny, and gracefully bows out. Several instruments are brought out and a small spontaneous band forms on the lanai. When Grace curls up and starts drifting off with Steve on one side and Danny on the other, he carefully gathers her up and carries her in to Mary’s old room. She wakes up enough to change into her pajamas on her own, then opens the door so Danny can tuck her in for the night. She falls asleep quickly, with music and laughter drifting through the open window.

The party winds down fairly quickly after that; people calling it quits and heading out in small groups. Once the last guests have left, Steve grabs a couple trash bags and hands one to Danny and they set about cleaning up the worst of the mess from the party. They load the dishwasher and start it up, leaving the rest of the dishes to soak in the sink overnight. “Thanks for helping out,” Steve says as they finish up.

“Hey, you’re letting Grace use Mary’s room and I get to crash in the guest room. Least I could do.”

Steve gives him a smile for that. “It’s better than you having her at that rat-hole you call an apartment.” Steve checks the locks on the doors and sets the alarm system.

Danny runs one hand over his face. “That’s getting real old, McGarrett.”

“Doesn’t mean it’s not true.”

“If you’re so worried about Grace having to spend weekends at my apartment, why don’t I just move in with you?”

Steve goes still; the look on his face is inscrutable. Danny shakes his head and starts for the guest room. He’s almost out of earshot when he hears a quiet, “I wouldn’t mind.” But that’s something they don’t talk about, or act on, and he just opens the guest room door and closes it softly behind him.

It isn’t until much later that he thinks about the seal-skin again.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

It’s like finding the seal-skin flips a switch somewhere in Danny; he keeps finding his attention drawn inexplicably to the water. Even during cases he finds himself staring out at the waves. He’ll be sitting at his desk and someone will come in to talk and it isn’t until they say something that he notices that there’s another person in the room with him. The rest of the team start sending worried looks his way.

Memories of Rebecca’s stories have started working into his dreams and he can’t shake the memory of the last thing she had said to him at that reunion. Eventually he starts making calls to family, trying to track down her address and phone number.

It takes a while for him to get up the nerve to call her and when he does her voice is just as silky-strong as it was when he was nineteen. “Hello?”

“Aunt Rebecca? It’s Danny.”

“Daniel! It’s been so long, I thought I would never hear from you again. Why the sudden call?”

“I have some questions for you. You remember the Selkie stories you told me?”

“Of course I do. You’re wakening, aren’t you? I told you the sea was in your blood. No matter how your parents tried to scare it out of you. You must come visit. These aren’t the kinds of things I can tell you over the phone. And, you’ve got a daughter, yes? Bring her with you. I have a feeling about her. Let me know when you’ll be coming.” And with that she hung up.

It takes almost a month to finagle a week-long vacation with Grace out of Rachel. Steve is happy to give Danny the time off, telling him he needs to get his head straight again.

His second call goes much like the first; Rebecca telling him she’ll ask one of her neighbors to go and pick them up at the airport. She also offers to let him use her car while they’re visiting if he needs to go anywhere, as it’s just been sitting in the garage gathering dust since her husband died and her daughter didn’t want it.

~~~~~~~~~~~

The flight into Portland is fairly uneventful and Danny collects their luggage and heads out to meet the ‘helpful young lady’ that Rebecca sent to get them. Their ride is waiting right outside the baggage claim area, a small sign with “Daniel and Grace” on it in one hand, leaning against an old, beat-up looking van. She smiles and shakes his hand. “Welcome to Maine.” Danny startles a little, she doesn’t sound like she’s from Maine.

“Thanks. How far is it?” She grabs his bag and goes around to yank open the back hatch.

“’Bout an hour. Grace? You can put your bag back here.” Once she’s got the bags situated she closes the back and crouches down to be on level with Grace. “Hi. I’m Ella.” She sticks out her hand.

“I’m Grace.”

“Well, Miss Grace, how old are you?”

“Eight. How old are you?”

“I’m twenty. So, since you’re eight, you don’t have to use the booster seat. Come on; let’s get y’all to Mrs. Rebecca’s.”

As Ella leads Grace back to the side door and slides it open, Grace tilts her head. “What does ‘y’all’ mean?”

Ella lets out a snort of laughter. “’Y’all’ is Southern slang for you all. For when someone’s talking to or about more than one person. So, you and your dad are ‘y’all’ to me.”

“I didn’t think you sounded like you’re from here,” Danny comments from his spot by the passenger side.

Ella flashes a grin at him. “Nope. Spending the summer here with family.”

Danny checks to make sure Grace is all buckled in before closing the side door and climbing into the passenger seat. “Thanks for picking us up. You didn’t have to.”

“Are you kidding? It’s nearly impossible to say no to Mrs. Rebecca. Besides, it got me out for a couple of hours.”

“Ah, right.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Danny is kind of amazed at the size of Rebecca’s place and part of him is completely unsurprised that it backs onto the beach. Rebecca comes bustling out as Ella is closing the back of the van, amazingly spry for a woman well into her nineties. “Daniel, darling! My how you’ve grown. And you must be Miss Grace! Look at you! Come in! Ella, thank you, dear.”

“It was no problem, Mrs. Rebecca. Danny, if you need someone to watch Grace for a while, I’d be happy to.”

“Thanks.” Ella waves as she climbs back into the van and pulls out of the driveway.

“Come on, Daniel. You must be hungry. I’ve got dinner on the table. I hope you like lasagna.”

“We love lasagna,” Daniel answered. “Thank you for letting us come visit.”

“Piffle. You’re family and you asked for my help.” Rebecca smiled and reached up to clasp his face between her hands. “You’re always welcome here. Now come on, before dinner gets cold.” She turned and looked down at Grace. “Hello there, sweetheart. Why don’t you take your dad upstairs and decide which rooms you want? And make sure you wash up. Go on, the stairs are down the hall on the right.”

Once they make it up to the second floor, they look at each other. “Danno, I like her. She’s fun.”

“Yeah? I like her, too. Come on; let’s go check out these rooms.”

Grace laid claim to the bedroom done in soft purples and blues, before declaring that Danny would be sleeping in the room beside it, which was done in shades of blues and greens. Grace finds the bathroom first, and squeals over the conch shell sitting on the counter, babbling excitedly as she washes her hands. They made their way back downstairs, following the sound of Rebecca singing to the dining room.

“There you are, darlings. Come, come. Don’t want the food getting cold.” Rebecca chatters away through dinner, listens to Grace and encourages her, and Danny can feel a tight knot of worry deep in his gut relax. Rebecca is a wonderful hostess and when Grace starts nodding off, she commands Danny to take himself and Grace to bed.

Over the next several days, Rebecca has Danny and Grace helping out around the house, Ella shows up late in the morning every other day, cleaning things out and fixing things. The evenings are spent learning about what it means to have Selkie blood.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Selkie Mythology would have people believe that Selkies are flighty and will always return to the sea. This isn't quite true. Selkies are incredibly loyal and will stay with their chosen mate as long as they live. A Selkie's mate must understand though, that the sea is a part of who they are, and being away from it can kill a Selkie's spirit. Being able to don their seal-skin and swim away for a little while is essential,” is how Rebecca’s first lesson begins.

“Your Selkie great-great-great grandmother lived most of her life on land, but they were always close to the sea. Even when they moved to the US, they stayed near the sea. Unfortunately, over the generations, people who married in and found out about the Selkie heritage became fearful of losing their spouse because of the myths. The family stories held no weight above the myths and so accepting the Selkie heritage became a shame. Which is why I so rarely show up to family functions.”

“Selkies tend to be drawn to each other; seals are social animals, so are humans, so Selkies are as well. Many descendants of Selkies tend to be drawn to water as well and are exceptional swimmers, even if they don't have a seal-skin. Some get more of the Selkie blood than others and they tend to have more of the physical manifestations of their inheritance. Larger lung capacity, specialized membranes under their eyelids that let them see underwater, an internal compass that always tells them which direction is up, and where they are in relation to the shore. And when Selkies find their mate, they can always find each other.”

Rebecca tells them a lot more, Selkie stories instead of the human myths, how to read the water. It’s on the third evening of their visit when Rebecca tells Danny he has to actually go out in the ocean to truly understand. “I don’t like swimming.”

“You can deny it all you want, but the Sea is part of who you are. I can teach you no more if you refuse to accept who you are and swim.” And with that Rebecca disappears into her bedroom, the door snapping shut sounding loud in the sudden quiet.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Danny takes the old Chevy Corvette that Rebecca had shown him out the next morning, headed for the closest Target or whatever. He knows on some level that he will have to make himself get over his reluctance to swim, or Rebecca won’t teach him anything else, that Grace won’t learn everything she needs to.

There’s no doubt in his mind; he’ll just have to suck it up and go out in the ocean. If they’re going to go swimming, they’ll need swimsuits. It only takes a moment to find a pair of plain blue trunks for himself, but picking out something that Grace will like and will fit her could prove a little harder. He’s in luck though; a pink one-piece with a dolphin across the front catches his eyes and a quick check of the size tells him it will fit quite well. A bottle of the spray-on sunscreen joins the two swimsuits and Danny heads back to the house.

It’s after lunch when he gets there and he can hear Rebecca and Grace talking in the kitchen as he heads up the stairs, laying out the swimsuit for Grace on her bed. The bag with his new trunks ends up on his bed and he heads back downstairs to join the girls in the kitchen.

“Hey, Grace, can I talk to Rebecca for a bit?”

“Ok. Can I watch TV?”

“Yeah, go ahead.” Danny watches as she races for the living room and waits for the sound of the TV coming on before he turns to Rebecca. “You’re right. You’re completely right, but I’ve spent my whole life being told that the ocean is dangerous, you can’t expect me to simply toss that aside in a few days.”

Rebecca smiles softly at him and reaches up to pat his cheek. “Daniel, I’m not asking you to disregard what your parents told you; the ocean can be a very dangerous place, but we have an advantage that most people don’t. I’m asking you to trust yourself, trust the Selkie blood to keep you safe. If, by chance, you find you are still uncomfortable swimming in the ocean, I will stop pushing you.”

“I don’t know if I can do that. I’ve only just learned what comes with the Selkie blood. I don’t know how to trust something I never believed in before now.”

“But you will swim, yes?”

Danny heaves a sigh. “Yes. I’ll swim.”

“Good.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Barely thirty minutes later Danny finds himself standing in his new trunks, holding Grace’s hand where she stands in her new swimsuit, watching Rebecca as she cuts easily through the water. “Come on, Danno. We’ll be fine. Aunt Rebecca said we would.”

“I know, Grace.”

“Then what are we waiting for?”

“I’m not sure.” And with that Danny steps forward into the waves coming in. The water is cool but not cold against his skin and he wiggles his toes against the sand grains shifting under his feet. He takes a deep breath and starts walking out into the water, pausing to brace against each wave as it crests and breaks against his body, Grace holding tight so she doesn’t get knocked over. Soon the water is deep enough that Grace is swimming beside him, diving through each new wave and popping up on the other side. She really is a remarkably strong swimmer, easily keeping her head up above the water.

He has to pause again when the waves reach his chest and Grace treads water and looks at him with big solemn eyes. Rebecca is watching from further out, waiting for them. He takes a deep breath, closes his eyes, and dives forward into the next wave. Part of him expects some kind of explosion of new input, but it doesn’t happen that way. He can sense Grace beside him, kicking hard and fast to keep up with him, Rebecca easily treading water ahead, little flickers in the water from fish, the feel of the current, the rolling movement of the waves. But he’s been feeling those things since he first stepped into the water, the sense of them just increasing as he moved further out. The sense of the surface, just over his head is the only thing new.

Grace breaks the surface first and Danny follows her up, finding his lungs aren’t burning with the need to gulp in oxygen. “Danno, I can feel the fish!”

He has to grin at her enthusiasm and the sheer euphoria starting to bubble up inside of him. “Me too, Monkey. Race you to Rebecca! Ready, GO!” And with that they’re off, sometimes swimming along the surface, but also diving down under the water instead.

Grace reaches Rebecca first and is cheering as Danny breaks the surface, grabbing her up so she shrieks and giggles. “See, it’s not scary at all,” she tells him happily.

Rebecca splashes them and smiles. “Welcome home.”

And yeah, it does feel a bit like home, treading water with the two of them, only a slight tightening in his chest that says he’s missing something. But this, swimming and diving and playing in the water was something he hadn’t even realized he missed. “Yeah. I guess it kinda is.”

“Have you opened your eyes underwater or are you still unsure of that?”

“No, I haven’t.”

“Danno, you should! It’s beautiful! And there’s so much to look at!” And Danny can’t say no to Grace, so he pulls in a breath and dives down, keeping track of how far the surface is and feeling Grace dive down as well as he comes to a stop. When he opens his eyes Grace is watching him, face shining joyfully even in the dark water. He has to blink a couple of times, getting used to the feeling of the membranes that cover his eyes at the moment.

When they burst back up above the surface Grace throws her arms around his neck and Danny has to laugh. “You’re right. It is beautiful.”

They spend hours out in the water with Rebecca teaching them how to understand the way the water reacts to everything. Grace wears herself out chasing a small school of fish around, diving through the mass, twisting around and chasing the group. Danny can’t help but compare the fish to city pigeons being chased by kids in a city park.

When she finally swims over to him, exhausted but happy, he lets her wrap her arms around his neck for a piggyback ride and swims back to shore with her draped over him. She has enough energy to walk back through the breakers and up the beach to go rinse off the salt and sand in the shower. Dinner is, for a change, quiet and Danny carries Grace up to bed immediately afterwards.

The next few days are spent in similar fashion; the mornings devoted to helping Rebecca around the house and the afternoons filled with swimming and the occasional quick lesson.

Rebecca doesn’t always swim as long as they do; sometimes preferring to simply watch from the back deck as they enjoy the water.

Grace smiles up at him as he tucks her into bed on the last night of their stay. “Can we come visit Aunt Rebecca again?”

“I certainly hope so. But tomorrow, we head back to Hawaii. You ready for that?”

“Yeah. Maybe next time Aunt Rebecca can come visit us. I think she’d like Hawai’i.”

“I think so, too. Now, go to sleep. And hey. Danno loves you.”

“Night, Danno. Love you too.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ella drives them back to the airport the next morning to catch their flight. She’s sleepy and looks like she just rolled out of bed and Danny says as much. He gets an amused snort and a muttered, “I’m a college student. What’d you expect?” She is awake though, so Danny isn’t too worried about her driving tired, but it’s a quiet ride except for the radio. At the airport, she pulls something from a bag in the back and crouches down in front of Grace with it behind her back.

Danny remembers the days when Ella had been over to help out around the house, roping Grace into being her assistant and giving her little jobs to do as Grace thanks Ella.

“Well, I have something for you, Grace. As a thank you for all your help this week.” The object appears from behind Ella’s back and Grace gasps in delight over the stuffed animal baby harbor seal that Ella is holding out for her.

“Thank you!” Grace throws her arms around Ella, who barely manages to keep her balance. She takes the little stuffed animal almost reverently, giving it a quick squeeze. “I’ll take good care of her.”

“I’m sure you will, little pup.” Both of them look at Ella in surprise at that and she stands and winks at them. “Honestly, you didn’t think your family was the only one?”

Danny chuckles and shakes her hand. “Well, if you ever find yourself in Oahu…”

“I’ll be sure to look y’all up.” And with that she tosses them a two-fingered salute and climbs back into her van and drives away.

Danny takes Grace’s hand, grabs their bags and heads for the check-in desk.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It’s not actually that late when Danny finally gets to his apartment, but he’s been on a plane for hours doing nothing but thinking and he just dropped Grace and the newly dubbed Jason off with Rachel. He really doesn’t think he should be this tired when all he’s been doing is sitting and thinking about how he’s going to confront Steve about the whole Selkie thing. Because when Rebecca had mentioned that a Selkie can always find its mate he had immediately thought of how he’s always known, if not where Steve was, at least that he was close by.

But for now, Danny makes sure all the blinds are closed, peels out of his clothes, and crawls into bed. He’ll talk to Steve tomorrow.

~~~~~~~~~~~

The only problem with Danny’s plan is that it doesn’t account for the spike in Five-0 cases that lasts the next two weeks. So when Saturday rolls around and Steve has been ordered by the Governor to have the team stand down for the next two days Danny takes his opportunity and rolls with it.

He shows up to Steve’s house when he know his partner will be out doing his usual morning swim, makes his way up into the attic and retrieves the seal-skin from its hiding place. He spends the time waiting running his hands over every inch of soft fur.

When Steve walks in and sees what Danny has he goes completely white, all the blood draining from his face. Before Danny has time to figure out what Steve is going to do he crosses the room, snatches up the skin and races back out into the water. Which, okay, definitely not the reaction Danny was predicting or hoping for.

Danny heads out to the lanai and is relieved to see a dark head bobbing out in the water, so he settles in to wait. When lunchtime comes and goes with Steve still just a dark shape out in the water Danny gets fed up with waiting. He heads up to Steve’s room and searches out a pair of trunks that will fit him. Armed with his ire, he starts swimming out to the point where Steve’s head breaks the surface.

Steve starts making noise at Danny when he breaks the surface next to him and gets a face-full of water for his trouble.

"See, remember I told you I swim like a fish? Well, apparently I was a little off base on that and I actually swim like a Selkie. Now can we go back and talk about things like normal people? Because I may be a fantastic swimmer, but if you really wanted to get away from me you could and I really don't feel like proving that I can actually swim by trying to chase after you."

Steve twists around and swims back towards his house and Danny follows him back. When Danny gets back to shore Steve is coming out of the house with two beers, his seal-skin draped carefully over the railing.

"Well. Now what?" Steve is defensive as he drops down into one of the chairs out by the beach and proffers one of the beers to Danny. "Are those my shorts?"

"Yes. You think I planned on having to swim out after your stubborn ass? What did you think I was going to do? Kill you? Make fun of you? Out you to the world that you're not actually human?" The way Steve flinches tells Danny everything he needs to know about what ran through Steve's head when he saw Danny holding the seal-skin. "Jesus. You honestly thought… you thought I would do that to you?"

"I didn't know! My mom and dad drilled it into us that no one should ever find our skins. And it wasn't like Dad let me get it and take it with me when he shipped me off to the mainland. Mary always kept hers closer and she managed to pack hers when she got shipped away."

Danny finally drops down in the other chair, gesturing with his beer at the seal-skin. "How long has it been since you've put it on and gone for a swim?"

Steve rolls his bottle between his hands. "Since the week before Mom died."

They fall silent for a bit, sipping at their beers. "I do hope you realize how stupid that was? Thinking I would turn on you for being just a little weirder than I thought?"

Steve's mouth quirks into a small, tired looking smile. "Yeah." There's a beat of silence before Steve turns to him. "What did you mean you swim like a Selkie?"

"You remember that party you had a while back? When you sent me up in the attic to find some party supplies?" Steve nods. "I found your seal-skin then."

"You've know that long?"

"Yes. Can I finish? Please?" Steve gestures for Danny to continue. "Thank you. So I kept getting distracted, couldn't focus, right? Right. I call up my family and start trying to find my Great-Aunt Rebecca, who told me stories about Selkies and other sea-folk at a family reunion when I was younger. So I went to visit her and she explained some things to me. Including that my Great-great-great-Grandmother was a Selkie. So, somehow, I ended up getting a pretty large dose of the Selkie genes, just because of genetics. Apparently, my parents were always terrified that we would swim away and never come back, and they made sure we would be, if not afraid of the water, at least very wary of it. And honestly, now that I've know, I've been able to see how they made sure we would keep away from the sea."

He has to pause a moment to figure out how to explain things to someone whose grown up knowing what he is. "I haven't always been so recalcitrant about swimming, especially in the ocean. I guess my mom and dad figured I would like it too much or something. And it wasn't like I felt like I was missing something or anything. And then I moved here and I couldn't figure out why I kept wanting to just dive into the water and swim, or why you and I just worked and it didn't take the time it normally does for partners to fall into the easy" he waves one hand in a wild circle for a moment "thing we had from almost the start. And then your party and I found that" he jabs his beer at the seal-skin "and it was like, I couldn't stop getting distracted by the water and it scared the hell out of me."

Silence falls for a moment and they sip their beers and stare out at the water. "So. You requested a week off and went to visit your Great-Aunt?"

"Yeah. She's probably the only person I know who could help. She explained the, ah, perks of having Selkie blood. Expanded lung capacity, membranes that allow me to see underwater and what amounts to an internal compass that tells me what's up, down, and where shore is. I, ah. Went swimming. Testing this stuff out. Kinda reminded me how much I loved the beach the one time my parents took us."

"Your parents only took you to the beach once?"

"Unlike you, Mr. Selkie, I didn't grow up knowing this stuff. Rebecca told me that most of the family has either forgotten or they're too scared of what it could mean for them."

"So, what? Now you know, what are you gonna do?"

"Well, I was thinking the next weekend I have Grace I could bring her over. We could, ah, go swimming."

"Is Grace…."

Danny huffs out a laugh. "Yeah. Yeah, she got a good hunk of Selkie genes from me. It's probably part of why she liked you so much from the get-go."

Steve smiles. "I'd like that. You and Grace are welcome to come swimming anytime."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It's a while before Danny has Grace for a weekend, he'd had to trade some of the next few in to be able to take Grace to Maine, but when a weekend with Grace comes up Steve is almost as happy about it as Danny is. They'd managed to close their case that morning, so once Danny is finished he crosses the hall and pokes his head into Steve's office. "I'm heading out."

"Alright. Hey, Danny. When you pick Grace up, bring her over to my place. We'll cookout and well, Mary's room and my old room are empty."

Danny can't help but grin at the way Steve's hands are restlessly playing with the pen he's holding. "Yeah. Ok. Hamburgers?"

"Yeah. I've got some hamburger meat." Steve grins widely. "Grace can help make the burgers."

"Sure and you get to make sure she doesn't stick her fingers in her mouth while she's playing with raw meat. I'll see you later."

"Six?"

"Six it is. You big goof." The last is muttered almost too quiet to hear as Danny backs out of the doorway, but Steve catches it.

"I heard that!"

Danny just waves his hand over his shoulder as he strolls out through HQ.

By the time Danny and Grace show up at Steve's house he's managed to clean up both rooms and put fresh sheets on the beds. The lanai is all set up for dinner and the grill is heating up. Grace drops her bags at the door and bolts over to where Steve is standing in the kitchen, latching onto his leg. "STEVE!!! Danno said we're gonna go swimming tomorrow and I get to help make the hamburgers and if I ask nicely you might show me what you look like when you put your seal-skin on."

He looks up at Danny, clearly uncertain. "You told her?"

"Yes, I told her. She'll keep it secret. Just like Uncle Andy and Sam, right Monkey?"

"Yep. I can only tell people if you say it's ok to tell them."

"That's my girl." Danny claps his hands and rubs them together. "Alright, so. How can we help?"

"Grace, go sit at the table. Danny, could you start making up some mac & cheese?"

"Sure thing." Danny smiles as Grace hops up to kneel on one of the kitchen chairs, looking inquisitively at the wax paper laid out. Steve grabs a bowl out of the fridge and there's a glimpse of red meat in it before he's plopping it down on the table by Grace, who starts chattering to Steve about her week. She's watching raptly as Steve shows her how to form the meat into patties and when she tries, tongue peeking out of her mouth, Steve watches her with a soft smile and Danny has to turn away as he feels something tighten in his chest.

The rest of the evening goes well, Grace carrying her stuff up to Mary's room so she can brush her teeth and get into pajamas before they settle on the couch to watch "Lilo & Stitch" for the umpteenth time. When Grace falls asleep to the right against Steve's side instead of on Danny's arm to the left he goes very still. The arm he had slung along the back of the couch comes down ever so carefully to brush a strand of hair off her face.

Danny picks up the remote and stops the movie, the screen freezing on Stitch and Jumba tossing a gun stoppered with a carrot back and forth. "I'll take her up to bed. It's been a long day and she'll want to get going early tomorrow morning." He stands and scoops up Grace, who makes a face and snuggles against his chest. "Good night, Steve."

"Night, Danny." Steve stands as Danny climbs the stairs to start clearing away the cups and popcorn bowls from the coffee table.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Something tickling his nose wakes Danny up the next morning and he cracks one eye open to see Grace leaning over him so her hair will trail across his face. "Come on, Danno!! I wanna go swimming with Steve!!"

"Is Steve awake and is there coffee and breakfast?"

"Steve is very much awake and yes, there is coffee. Come on, Danny. Grace has been up for an hour already."

"And I'm sure you've already had your morning swim, you great big weirdo."

He can almost hear Steve's grin from the doorway. "I did bring coffee."

"And he made pancakes!"

"All right, you two, I'm up. Two morning people. What did I do to deserve this?" A giggle and a chuckle answer him.

"Come on, Danny, coffee." Steve has come into the room and sure enough, he's holding a steaming mug in one hand, which he passes over with a smirk when Danny sits up. "The faster we eat breakfast, the sooner we can get in the water."

"Nuh-uh. We will be waiting an hour after eating before any of us go swimming. And that includes surfing. We will set a timer and find something else to do until then."

"Daaannooo!!"

"No whining, Monkey. I don't want you getting sick because you didn't wait."

Grace's little shoulders heave up and down as she sighs in resignation. "Oh-Kay."

"Come on. I believe someone mentioned pancakes."

Grace lets out a cheer and takes off out into the hall, her footsteps pounding down the stairs. Steve lifts one eyebrow and follows Grace out. Breakfast is just as comfortable as dinner had been the night before and once they've cleaned up Steve sets a timer and they sit down to play go fish for a while. When the timer goes off Grace jumps up to go change into her swim-suit. "Are you ok showing Grace? I know you might not feel comfortable with it, but she really won't tell anyone except whomever you or I say she can. And she really does want to swim with you."

"Yeah. I'm ok with it. And are you swimming with us too? Do you need to borrow a pair of my trunks again?"

"I do have my own swim trunks, thank you. Now, we should go get ready, because no way am I letting Grace out there without either of us." With that Danny turns and stalks up the stairs. When he gets back downstairs Grace was sitting on the lanai with a bottle of spray-on sunscreen in her hand.

"Can you do my back, Danno?"

"Of course, Monkey. Are you going to get my back?"

"OK!" Danny had to admit that the spray- sunscreen was definitely better than the time-consuming process of rubbing in lotion and soon the both of them were ready to head out into the water.

"All right, Grace. You want a ride? Let's go see what Steve's getting up to." Danny held still as Grace wrapped her arms and legs around him, bringing his hands up to support her as he stood and moved down off the lanai. He waded out into the water, deep enough that it reached his hips and looked around for his partner.

"Steve! Where'd you go!?" Grace's voice rang out over the cove.

Danny started gearing himself up for a rant about his partner when a sleek dark head bobbed up less than a foot from them. "There you are. I was beginning to think you'd decided to swim off somewhere."

Steve swirls around Danny’s legs, much more active than he was last time Danny saw him in his seal-skin. “Ok, ok. I said we would swim, you want to swim.”

“Don’t worry, Steve, we’re really good swimmers.” Steve nudges at Grace’s foot and gets a giggle out of her. “Steve, that tickles!” Steve proceeds to get Grace squirming as Danny heads out past where the breakers are rolling in.

“All right, she can’t swim if she’s being tickled.” The speed at which Steve backs off startles Danny until he notices the way Steve tilts his head, peering worriedly at them. Grace slides off and immediately gets as wet as she possibly can, ducking down under the water so she can explore the waters of Hawaii. Steve dives down after her, but comes up quickly when he realizes that she really can swim. “Relax, babe. If she gets tired she’ll tell us. Now come on, you big goof. Let’s swim.” They take off, heading towards deeper water, Grace following right behind them.

They swim out so that Steve’s house is small and anyone who might see them would just think they are three people. And this is even better than it was in Maine, because every time they dive down Steve is right there, twisting around them and chasing fish with Grace. Steve even gets Grace to hold on and tows her around for a while. Grace loves it, the grin on her face proof enough of that every time she breaks the surface to take a breath.

And Danny gets to touch the soft fur again, warm this time because it’s on Steve. Steve keeps coming back to him, nudging him so he’ll follow and Steve can show him different things. So maybe it’s not Jersey and maybe they aren’t talking about things, but this feels like home with Steve and Grace swimming around him. When they finally head in for lunch and Steve squeezes out of the seal-skin; the smile he gives Danny is blinding and Danny wants that smile aimed at him as much as possible. So maybe they’ll figure out how to talk about things, but not today. Today is for fun and laughter; for swimming and chasing fish, because Steve has never looked happier or more relaxed than this and Danny wants to have this all the time. They’ll figure that out tomorrow after Grace goes back to her mom and they can talk, however stilted and awkward the conversation will be.
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