Steve and Frank awoke to the smell of eggs frying on the burner. They turned to look at each other.
"You don't trust them, do you?" Frank whispered to Steve.
"No I don't. My mother worked for the CIA and she's a manipulator. Joe has been lying to me, my whole life." Steve glanced towards the bunk where Catherine slept. "But they somehow saved Catherine's life"
Frank turned his head towards Catherine "For that I am grateful". He stood and rubbing his face with hands, he walked towards the makeshift kitchen.
"Coffee?" Doris handed him a cup.
"How on earth do you have coffee and eggs?" Frank raised the cup to his lips and savored every sip.
"Courtesy of Uncle Sam, I assume" Steve responded with malcontent.
"Good morning to you too, son" Doris replied sarcastically.
Frank and Joe exchanged a look.
"What the Hell is going on here? How did you find Catherine, why were you looking for her?" Steve snapped.
"We weren't looking for her. We stumbled across her, actually Joe did. Oh and by the way… you are welcome." Doris snipped as she poured herself another cup of coffee.
"Steve settle down, have some eggs." Joe placed a dish with two scrambled eggs and a piece of bread on the table.
"Oh my God, that smells so good" Catherine took in a deep breath.
Steve spun around at the sound of her voice and without wasting a single second, grabbed her in his arms and hugged her tightly.
"Well, hello there sailor" she kissed him.
"It's nice to see you awake" Frank stood and gave her a hug as Steve stepped back given them some space.
Joe and Doris glanced at each other from across the table and smiled.
"What are you two doing here?" Catherine asked
"We are here to bring you home" Frank responded with a smile
Catherine smiled and just as she was about to reply, Steve pulled one of the chairs out and guided Catherine to sit. He slid the plate in front of her and smiled. "Here, these are yours".
"eggs?" She couldn't help but devour the food before her as everyone watched in amazement.
"She always did have a good appetite" Frank smiled.
With a smile on his face, Joe politely excused himself from the table and exited to his truck. He returned a few minutes later, with a tattered soccer ball in his hand. He tossed it to Catherine. "Amir expresses his eternal gratitude".
Catherine jumped to her feet "You found Najib?"
"I did and several others. They are all home safe. Now that I kept up my end of the deal; it's your turn. Go home Catherine" Joe placed his arms on his hips to emphasize his point.
Catherine stared at the ball in her hands and began to pace. After a few moments of silence she turned to her father and then to Steve.
"Thank you Joe, but I'm sorry, I can't go home. There are other children that need help. I'm staying" she announced
Steve was startled by her response and suddenly lost his patience "NO! You are coming home Cath, you have to stop this. You have to stop running away!" He was shouting at her.
Frank placed his hand on Steve's shoulder in an effort to calm him. "If you won't go to Hawaii then come home to Virginia. You can stay with your mother and I until you come to your senses" Frank could not believe she was refusing to go home.
"Come to my senses? You just don't get it. Listen to me, I am not going back! Virginia is not my home. I won't go back to Hawaii. I am staying here" Catherine rubbed her forehead with her fingers. "Why won't you accept this? Why can't you both just listen to me? You promised not to come after me" She was screaming at them.
"Because we love you!" Both men responded simultaneously
Taking a stand between Steve and Catherine, Joe grabbed Steve's arm "You need to go for a walk and Frank, go with him. Give me a minute to talk to her" He insisted
"Fine" Steve wrestled his arm out of Joe's grip. He walked outside, slamming the door behind him. He stopped and leaned against the wall; sliding to the ground, he sat on the dirt. Seconds later, Frank followed and sat beside him.
"I don't get it. Why would she do this? Frank, I just don't understand" Steve was trying not to cry, but the accumulations of events were taking their toll on him and the tears were escaping.
"I don't know Steven. She's very stubborn, just like her mother. Once she sets her mind on something, there is no changing it, but I think you already know that" Frank placed his hand on Steve's shoulder.
"I love her and I want her to be happy, but I can't…I won't leave her here again. I need her. I know this is my fault. I shut her out all these years and now it's too late" Steve could no longer suppress his emotions.
Frank pulled him closer and held him in a firm embrace. "Sometimes life deals us a hand of cards we don't like, but we just have to play them out and see what happens. I don't like this either, but it's what she wants and I'm afraid we can't do anything about it"
Steve pulled away from Frank's embrace and wiped his tears with the back of his hand. "I guess you're right." He stood up and wiped the dirt from his cargos. He stretched his hand to assist Frank and both men returned inside.
Catherine was sitting on the edge of her bunk, with Doris and Joe kneeling beside her. Frank and Steve listened undetected.
"This is about Harrington, isn't it?" Joe was convinced this was a classic case of survivor's guilt. "That was not your fault"
"It was my fault. I failed at backing him up. Steve was tortured because he followed me here. Don't you see, it's because of me that the people I love get hurt. I cant go back to Five-0. What if I fail at backing up Steve or anyone else on the team? What if he gets killed because I wasn't good enough to have his back? If anything happened to him because of me, I would never be able to forgive myself" She pleaded for them to understand
Steve darted forward, but was held back by Frank. "Let her continue. She needs to get it out" he whispered. Their presence remained undetected.
Joe grabbed her hand to draw her attention "That's ridiculous, Catherine. You can't predict these things. They just happen. None of that was your fault."
"I can't go back there. I won't go back there, besides there is nothing there for me anymore. I don't have the Navy, and now that Kono is back safe, Five-0 doesn't need me. Everyone knows he gave me that job to keep me busy. There is nothing there for me. Here I can make a real difference. These people, these children need help. I can finally use my training to do something good" Catherine insisted.
Doris commented "So you are just going to turn your back on Steve and your family? You are just going to leave them behind because you feel guilty? "
"I can't go back there. They'll have to understand" Catherine fiddled with the ring on her hand.
Doris finally lost her patience and she stood to get her point across "You are running away and its time you grew up! Do not repeat what I did. I ran away from the people I loved. I thought I was protecting them but instead I destroyed their lives. I had a man who loved me, children who needed me and I just left. Is that what you want? Huh? Have you thought about the people who depend on you at home? What about Steven? You cannot tell me that you don't love him, because I know that you do. Why are you insisting on breaking his heart? Huh? You need to stop acting like a spoiled brat!"
"Doris, that's enough" Steve shouted as he made his presence known "I decided to stay with her"
"Steven, no you can't" Frank replied
"No Steve, I wont let you do that" Catherine pleaded
"I'm staying with you" he sat next to Catherine on the edge of the bunk. He turned to face her "I love you and I am never leaving your side. I'm so sorry I left you here alone and I promise you I will never ever leave you. I promise" He kissed her and held her in a long embrace.
Her face was soaked in tears as her eyes met his "What about Five-0 and Mary? You've made a life for yourself, I don't want to be the reason you give it all up. I'm not worth it" Catherine shook her head.
"You are my life Cath. Danny will do a great job taking over Five-0 and Mary has never needed me. She'll be fine. I'm not leaving you Cath." He insisted as he held her hands in his.
Joe parted his lips, preparing to protest when Doris grabbed his arm and interrupted "stop". She looked at Joe and Frank "As long as they are together that is all that matters"
Two hours later
"We are all packed up" Joe, Doris and Frank stood at the doorway. "The safe house is yours for as long as you need it, but don't stay in one place too long"
"Thank you, Mom" Steve hugged her
"I love you dear, I'm not sure how I'm going to explain this to your mother, but we want you to be happy. Please be careful" Frank tried to be strong as he embraced his daughter
"I love you too, daddy" Catherine hugged him tightly.
"Thank you so much Joe" She hugged him and placed a peck on his cheek.
Moving to Doris, she held her tight "Thank you, Doris. I don't know what to say. Thank you for understanding"
Doris squeezed her tighter "Please take care of my son and be happy together. The love you have for each other only comes once. Where you are doesn't matter, so long as you are together. Just promise me you will keep in contact and eventually go home"
"We will." Catherine wiped the tears from her face.
Frank embraced Steve "Take good care of my little girl"
"I promise. And sir… Thank you for always being there for me" He hugged him again
Joe, Doris and Frank tossed their gear into the bed of the truck. Taking one last glance of the couple they were leaving behind, they took their seats and drove off into the afternoon sun as Steve and Catherine looked on.
"It's not too late to go with them" Catherine turned to make eye contact with Steve
"You are never getting rid of me again. Face it, you're stuck with me Rollins. Besides, I owe you; Its time I paid you back." He grabbed her as he wrapped his arms around her waist.
Her tone grew serious despite his playful demeanor "I'm sorry Steve, I can't believe you're giving up everything for me. I hope you understand why I need to do this. " she nodded as she chewed the bottom of her lip
"I'm sorry it took me this long to show you how much you really mean to me." He pulled her closer
Smiling through her tear stained face, she tightened her grip "You know… there's a perfectly good, sort of comfortable bunk in there" she wiggled her eyebrows and nodded her head towards the door.
"Oh really?" Steve swept her up; holding her in his arms, she nestled her head against his chest as she wrapping her arms around his neck. "I love you, you know" she proclaimed as her eyes looked up to meet his.
"I love you too" he responded as he carried her inside.
Together, they lived happily ever after, rescuing children throughout the Middle East and beyond.
Note to readers:
I feel as if Catherine sacrificed her career to be with Steve and unfortunately things went sideways for her. I felt as if she was lost and may be suffering from PTSD herself. The opportunity to do something as righteous as rescuing an innocent boy has given her a purpose. I do believe that Steve would give up everything to be with her. She has always stood by him and now it's his turn to stand by her. I also believe that he is a victim of "You don't know what you have until it's gone" McRoll needs their happy ending, whether in Hawaii or the Afghan desert, so long as they are together.
Thank you so much for allowing me to indulge in this fantasy and for all your continued support.