The Birthday Boy
OK, this requires an explanation… Go to mostlyfive0 dot wordpress dot com (smush it all together) and check out the photo that accompanies this story. Sym64 found this BBQ apron and sent me the ad, saying that Steve really needed one of these. I replied that Danny would definitely buy it, and that was all it took before that weird gene in my brain decided that Danny really did need to buy it!
Thanks to Sym64 for posting the nice photo of Steve that Danny took with his iPhone. Also, thanks to both Sockie1000 and Sym64 for their prompt beta jobs.
"About time you show up," Steve 'complained' as Danny, Gabby and Grace walked through the house to the kitchen. The island and the cabinets were covered with food containers where the guests had added plenty to what Steve and Cath had already prepared.
Gabby set down a huge salad onto the island and Steve snatched a platter of cookies out of Grace's hands.
"Uncle Steve!" she shrieked, trying to reach for the plate that he held above her head.
He smelled the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and grinned at her. "Thanks, Grace. Hope you brought more for the rest of the guests."
"You'd better share," she warned.
"I'll think about it," he replied, setting the cookies on the counter and picking up his Longboard. "Everyone else is outside," he told them while heading toward the lanai. "And the grill is almost ready." He waited until both Gabby and Grace had exited the door and then noticed the gift bag Danny was carrying. "What's in the bag?" he asked.
"Patience, Steven, patience."
Steve made a face at Danny's secret but chose to ignore his partner and went to sit on the arm rest of Catherine's Adirondack chair. The girls found seats and Danny grabbed a beer from the cooler on the porch before turning to speak to Chin and Leilani, then to Max and Charlie. Noticeably absent was Kono who had hopped a freighter to who-knows-where with Adam and Doris. But today wasn't the day to dwell on the ones who weren't there.
"OK, listen up, people. I have an announcement," Danny began.
"What's he up to now?" Steve whispered to Catherine, who had moved to allow him to sit in the chair, with her perched in his lap.
She grinned at him and spoke in a low voice. "No telling. You said he almost begged you to have a cook out today. I guess this is the reason."
Danny cleared his throat. Loudly. "I believe I have the floor," he said, glaring at Steve and Cath.
"Please forgive us," Steve shot back. "Carry on."
Danny reached for the brown bag adorned with sheets of camo colored tissue paper. "First, I would like to thank my beautiful daughter, Gracie for wrapping this gift." He turned and handed the bag to Steve. "Here you go, partner."
"What's this?" Steve asked, a half-quizzical – half-frightened look on his face.
"Let's say it is a birthday gift," Danny replied while Catherine stood up so that Steve could open his 'birthday' bag.
Steve held it, looking up at his partner in confusion. "My birthday was in March, and I'm pretty sure you gave me a gift. I don't-"
"Just open it already. I found something and it just screamed your name."
Steve reached for the first of many pieces of tissue paper. "Thank you, Grace for a beautiful wrap job." He pulled out another piece of paper and tossed it to the ground.
"You're welcome. I hope you like it," she said with a grin.
Another piece of paper hit the ground. "Why do I feel like something's going to bite my hand?"
Catherine reached down and grabbed the rest of the tissue away from him. "Just let us see what's inside."
Steve pulled out a black canvas looking piece of material with metal clips on it. He looked from the 'gift' to Danny and then back again before standing and unfolding the material. He found what looked suspiciously like a mock up of their new flack vests emblazoned with the word "Chef" where the police badge would usually go. Beneath the "Chef", the name 'Steve' was embroidered in white.
The crew all began to laugh as Steve turned it around, checking out the back of the creation. In addition to the metal hooks, there were pockets and pouches attached to the belt. Steve held up the tactical apron and finally smiled.
"I wanted to keep you safe when you crank up the fire for our dinner," Danny explained, smiling at the surprised look on Steve's face.
Steve couldn't contain his grin as he slipped it over his head and settled it on his shoulders. Catherine helped him snap the side snaps so that it remained secure while Danny reached for the wood-handled meat fork on the grill and attached it to a hook on the right side of the belt. Standing back, he reached for his iPhone to take a photo of his tactical chef.
Steve reached for the tongs and clipped them to another hook, then placed a spatula in one of the pockets. He then turned so that they could see. "This is ingenious, Danny. I love it."
"That's good," Danny replied. "Cause that fire looks about ready for the meat. And I'm starved."
Steve nodded, then handed off his spatula to Danny. "Then here you go. The meat is on a platter in the fridge."
"Huh?" Danny asked, staring at the spatula in his hand. "I'm not cooking."
"Well, you can't expect me to," Steve said. "I wouldn't want to get my new vest dirty. Besides…"
"Besides, what?" Danny asked, waving the spatula in the air.
"Besides, apparently, it's my birthday." With a grin, he settled back down in his chair and reached for Catherine. "Which means it's your turn to cook."