Sammy & Ilna's comments on my first draft of this nearly brought me to tears.
Ladies, I respect and am in awe of your work to the point that you make me push to be a better writer.
Thank you, both.
Always.

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Bubblegum

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McGarret/Rollins Residence
11:00 p.m.

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After a grueling day, and even longer evening spent completing a tedious incident report with Danny, Steve McGarrett finally arrived home. The partners had called for takeout and eaten at work, so he was glad to finally be able to get home to a shower and some much needed sleep.

"Hey." Catherine said softly as she felt the mattress shift under his weight. "Long day."

"Sorry, didn't mean to wake you." Steve leaned in to kiss her and as soon as Catherine turned to face him, he chuckled. "Why do you smell like ..." he buried his nose in her hair with an exaggerated sniff, "bubblegum?" His grin made her laugh.

"Grace wanted me to try her new favorite shampoo."

Girls' night activity, huh?" He asked and Catherine nodded. Grace had gotten dropped off at HQ and she'd taken their niece home with her while Steve and Danny worked late. Danny had arrived about an hour before Steve to pick up his sleepy daughter.

"It does smell kind of sugary, huh? Is it that bad?" She took a section of hair and brought it to her nose. "Should I re-wash it?" She moved to get up.

Steve held her back, wrapping his arms around her and kissing her jaw. "No. Of course not. I just wondered for a second why you'd choose to smell like …" He chuckled. "Double Bubble."

She untangled herself from Steve's embrace and, reaching into her night table, took out a few small bottles. "That's not the only interesting scent Grace picked out. She also insisted I try these." Catherine laughed and read the labels on the travel-sized lotion bottles: "Cotton Candy; Candy Cane and, to match the shampoo, Bubblegum." Steve snatched a fourth bottle and opened it as she told him, "We went to Bath and Body Works at the mall. Grace acquiesced to me getting the jasmine. I figured I'd keep the rest for when she stays over."

"Jasmine," Steve held the bottle he'd sniffed up, before handing it back to her. "You've used this one before." He moved closer and breathed in again. "I noticed the Bubblegum because I didn't recognize it as anything I'd ever smelled on you."

She returned the bottles to the drawer and moved to lie down next to him. "I know you're trained to identify aromas, but are you claiming you remember every scent you've ever smelled on me?" Catherine was teasing, but when she looked at him, Steve's serious nod caused unexpected warmth to flood her chest. "Wait, really?"

He caught her eyes. "Really."

She tilted her head and blinked at him. "That's um …"

"You don't believe me?" Steve pushed up on his elbow and his hand fell to the curve of her waist. "You used citrus shampoo when we met. When we first got together, you used to use a lotion that smelled like honeysuckle."

Steve shifted back down and held his left arm out so Catherine could settle into his side, but she didn't move for a few long seconds. She was staring at him, her brown eyes catching the light filtering in through the gauzy curtains. He continued, "Your body wash is coconut and lime. You rarely wear perfume, but when you do, it's always the same one. It has a floral base and smells like jasmine."

Finally, Catherine moved. She leaned in and kissed Steve softly, while placing her hand over his heart. When she broke the kiss, he said, "And when we'd meet up while I was in between or on a break from a mission and heading back into the field, you never wore perfume or used anything …" his eyes grew wider with realization as his mind locked onto the memory "… scented."

Steve was suddenly deadly serious; Catherine had known he'd meant it about remembering as soon as he'd mentioned the citrus shampoo she hadn't used in, what? Ten years? But she could see the recognition dawn in his eyes; the realization he hadn't had years ago when they'd come together for hours or days when he could break from a mission. She moved her hand to his cheek and ran her thumb across his bottom lip. "I didn't want to…"

Steve caught her hand in his and kissed her palm. "… Jeopardize me." He finished for her in a hoarse whisper.

She swallowed hard, a little of the fear from those days seeping into her mind. She shrugged and nodded her head slowly, not trusting herself to speak.

"I never realized …" He murmured, almost to himself.

She placed another soft kiss on his lips. Any scent, even a transferred one, could mean potential detection by an enemy. Steve still used all unscented products, a throwback to his days as a SEAL.

Steve pulled her close for a second, his hand cradling her head, until he drew back and kissed her, almost with awe. "I … Cath … thank you." The intensity behind his simple words brought tears to her eyes.

She found her voice. "Had to make sure you came back to me, Commander."

He smiled down at the woman who knew him better than anyone ever had. Who'd cared for him when he'd felt no one else had. Who'd been trying to protect him all those years ago when he was out protecting the world. "Always, Catherine. Always."

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End. Thx for reading

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