As always, thank you Trish! Who not only supports me, but also encourages me to write more cuteness :)
"Well youcertainly will have a great weekend," Hannah Mills, a fellow midshipman, looks at Cath tellingly, her tone dancing with melodic innuendo. A smirk curves her lips as she tilts her head, motioning toward the figure approaching.
Catherine frowns slightly at the teasing words and glances over her shoulder to look at what Hanna is referring to.
Steve McGarrett, with a broad smile plastered on his handsome face and a duffel bag thrown over his shoulder, is drawing the attention of a few plebes nearby. His polite "Sorry, excuse me," especially, doesn't go unnoticed as he strides down the alley towards Cath, because older mids are rarely so polite to the first years.
Rolling her eyes, Catherine turns her head back to her friend, "See you on Monday, Hannah." She's not about to get into a conversation, or more likely another innuendo contest, where her and Steve's friendship is the centre of attention.
They have been nagged for it over the past year, as if there's something unusual and suspicious about a boy and a girl simply liking each other's company.
And they do like to just be around each other, it's so easy to tease Steve sometimes and he never gets his ego bruised, unlike many other midshipmen. They are both competitive, but Catherine really appreciates how he never slows down to "make it fair", but also doesn't throw it in her face when he wins - which is almost all the time, especially in the swimming pool.
Most of all, they are both no strangers to the feeling that they finally belong somewhere. At the Academy. With the perspective of future deployments being more stable, though thrown away across the globe, than their lives have ever been before.
Yet, all that people seem to 'understand' is that they want to have sex.
With laughter bubbling on her lips, Hannah leaves before McGarrett gets closer. Cath sighs, annoyed, but quickly pushes the irritation aside, turning fully toward Steve. Her fingers tighten their grip on the duffel bag as he gets closer, beaming up at him.
"Hey there, Rollins," his grin doesn't even tune down a bit and she chuckles at how goofy it makes him look, which reminds her of all the times some of the girls whisper how handsome Steve is, while she barely constrains her laughter, because just a few hours before she has seen his stupid face with his mouth covered in mustard.
Sometimes though, she must admit, a sudden thought disturbs her mind, whispering in a tiny, excited voice - what would it be like to kiss him? To feel that warm breath, and not just only on her cheek as they tumble down while laughing.
There are those moments, when his closeness seems to seep through her uniform and into her skin, lingering. Evoking a shade of sadness, when they don't see each other for a few days. And filling her with silly, bubbly happiness whenever she sees his goofy face.
Tilting her head to the side, she greets him in the same teasing tone, "McGarrett." Only a brief touch to his arm and a small peck on his cheek follow, as they are both still in uniform.
"So, your first weekend off, Rollins," Steve motions toward the gate they are about to pass, the mocking tone accompanied by a wink eliciting Catherine's laughter, as he asks, "You plan on getting drunk and wild with your girls?"
"You'd like that," she snorts, both grinning at each other. Glancing around as more and more people pass them by, Steve nudges her gently, fingers slipping around her elbow, and they start moving.
Readjusting the strap of the duffel bag on her arm, Cath admits somewhat sheepishly, "To be honest, I kind of want to get away from the crowd."
Steve looks at her, but there's no surprise or disbelief in his eyes, and his fingers still linger on her elbow, gently tugging her closer, so they won't bump into a group of loudly laughing midshipmen. Cath sends him a quick, small smile, before continuing, "A few drinks would be nice, but I prefer to enjoy some solitude and privacy." She knows most of the girls from the dorms are planning on having a wild weekend, to blow off some steam, maybe even hit not only bars, but also on a few local, eager men. But that's not something Cath feels like doing now. All those months with hundreds of other people breathing at her neck, now she really wants some peace and silence.
"I rented a room in a small pension, the owner is my dad's old friend," she informs him as they walk. Their pace is slow, but none of them stops to even ask which direction the other one is going.
Catherine smiles, knowing Steve well enough to realise that he will walk with her all the way, even if his own destination is on the other side of town.
Lifting her head higher and narrowing her eyes, as the sunlight flashes directly in their faces, she looks up at Steve and asks, "What about you?"
"Same," he shrugs, for a moment not meeting her eyes. They're passing by a small family reunion, one of the mids being greeted by his parents, who have probably driven into town just to see him that weekend. Cath notices the sudden tension in Steve's body, so well known from all the times they stumbled upon the family topic.
She leans closer, not really touching him, but her hip brushes along his, her side gently pressed into his. Somehow - she noticed this a few months ago - that slight closeness eases his tension a bit, makes him relax.
It works instantly, a small, barely audible sigh of relief escapes his lips and his smile is back in its place, lighting up his face.
"Same?" Cath switches back to the teasing tone, "So you're not hitting the town with your mates?" Her smirk makes Steve burst in chuckles.
"Nah, I need some solitude too," he winks at her, finally letting go of her arm as they cross the street and head down one of the alleys. But their arms still brush against with each move, yet neither of them moves aside. Steve suddenly winces in mild disgust, "Especially with Kelly, Freddie's girlfriend, being in town. I'm not thrilled to see how far his tongue can go down her throat."
"Nice, Steve," Catherine's snort evokes a big, goofy grin on his face, his laughter igniting mischievous sparks in his green-blue irises.
They walk for a few minutes in silence, which surprisingly never is awkward for them. Many times they just sit beside each other, each engaged in their own thoughts or work, and their presence is enough, no words needed. Cath quickly figured out that Steve is the kind of person who prefers less talking. And what always makes her chuckle is that despite this, he's the one who always breaks the silence first.
And she presses her lips together, to stop the giggle falling from her lips, as he clears his throat. "Umm," there's a hint of nervousness in his voice, something that's not so unusual for him, but still catches Catherine's attention. "Cath, uh," Steve scratches the back of his neck, "If you don't mind, maybe we could eat lunch together?"
"Sure," she replies right away, fingers grasping his hand for a second, squeezing gently, "You probably know some good places here." It's her first weekend off, but he has two years on her, so she's pretty sure he knows every tiny corner in town.
With a smile back on his lips, he asks, still somewhat sheepishly, "What do you say for to a French bistro?"
"French bistro? Seriously?" This actually surprises her, almost stopping her dead in her tracks. She has known him long enough to know how he likes a good seafood platter, or simple barbecued ribs, which she would love to devour herself. "Never took you for that type of a guy," she snickers playfully, nudging him with her elbow.
"I'm not any type, I just like their crepes," Steve shrugs and for a second Cath feels like he's saddened, or feels hurt.
Biting her lip, she looks at him, trying to figure out why her teasing has suddenly hit a soft spot, but she can't remember any of his personal stories that are connected to French cuisine. Something else is at stake and she can't figure out what it is.
But Steve changes his tone really quickly, back to the boyish attitude, "I'm telling you, best crepes ever!" He makes a grand gesture, almost hitting a man who's passing by.
"Sounds good," Cath smiles back.
The warm, fluttery feeling spreading through his veins, reaching even to his toes, has not much to do with the sip of hot coffee he has just taken.
It's the sight of Catherine's face, glowing, a faint blush on her round cheeks, her laughter so melodic and soft. Her blue sneaker playfully tapping on his foot under the table, the pattern of tiny golden-brown freckles peeking out from underneath the sleeve of her red T-shirt. A strand of dark hair that has fallen loose from her messy bun, stubbornly sticking to her neck. And it's her eyes, a deep, amber brown speckled with golden flecks, glistening joyfully.
He can't help the painful pang that pierces through the blissful happiness, a little scared voice, which had begun whispering to him a few weeks earlier. Or maybe it's even been months already, he can't decide for himself.
"I am going to eat here all the time! Those crepes were sooo good," Cath announces, almost purring, her eyes drifting to the empty plate longingly, a small sigh eliciting a chuckle from Steve.
His gaze lingers on her lips. There is a tiny droplet of orange sauce still glistening in the corner of her mouth, and the tip of her tongue quickly darts out to lick it. Steve notices the movement, but his eyes are more focused on her rosy, and now probably orange-flavoured lips.
They've been on his mind so often recently. Curved in a smirk, parted, pressed tightly as she's focused, spluttering a quiet curse.
It drives him crazy, this sudden, growing tendency to think of her. He catches himself peeking at her when they are together, wondering how it would feel like if he embraced her. They've hugged before, but now it has become almost an urge to touch her all the time. Not to get any physical turn on, but simply to feel her silky skin under his fingertips, to brush away the strands of hair mischievously falling across her face, to watch the goosebumps on her skin as he traces his fingers down her arm.
Steve struggles hard, trying to suppress that hopeful spark which helplessly ignites each time she smiles at him. Trying to reason with his heart, that it shouldn't clench every time she says his name.
"Told you," he grins, feeling so proud of himself for taking her to that small, French bistro. It's not fancy, but still more special than eating at the mess hall.
Cath nods her head, looking up at him. And she can't help the smile that splays on her face upon seeing Steve's boyish expression. There's something about his behaviour today, like there's something on his mind, bringing him extra happiness.
"Tomorrow I'm trying the onion soup," she says decidedly, her fingers tapping rhythmically on the small, round table, index finger poking Steve's hand, "No matter how my breath is going to stink afterwards. So deal with it."
"You want to come back here tomorrow?" Steve asks, once again fighting hard to keep the excitement away from his voice, stopping himself from continuing that question, With me?
Tilting her head to the side, she frowns slightly, "Of course. Don't you?" He grins broadly at her in response, nodding. That simple fact, the thought of meeting her again the next day, tugs at his heart again, but this time Steve doesn't suppress it, just enjoys it.
As they leave the bistro, heading down the sun-soaked alley, their fingers brush again, a surge of tingling waves travelling upwards. Steve stiffens slightly, expecting Cath to move away, but she doesn't even flinch, only looks up and smiles at him. When she asks if they can go for ice cream, Steve's eyes widen and his teasing question, if she's really able to stuff herself with ice cream after two portions of crepes suzette, makes Catherine blush with slight embarrassement.
Yet they end up in front of a small ice cream parlour, Cath's hand resting on Steve's arm as she takes her time deciding on the flavour. The almost electrical sensation of her closeness sends a shiver down his spine.
Before he can process what he's even doing, before any coherent rational thought can stop him, Steve gently touches her cheek with his hand, until she looks up at him.
Leaning forward he presses his lips to hers. A soft, shy contact, making Steve's heart stop, before bursting in a rapid beat. Cath's little gasp melts on his lips, the taste of orange and honey filling his mouth.
It's so hard to pull away, but as he finally opens his eyes the sight seems even more breathtaking. Catherine still leans into his touch, her eyes closed, sweet lips parting slowly as she lets out another gasp.
"Oh," Steve suddenly realizes what he has just done, nervousness creeping in under his skin, reddening the tips of his ears. "Sorry, Catherine, I, uh," he stutters, trying to explain, "I'm sorry. I should've asked you-"
"Yeah," Cath interrupts him, her eyes opening and gazing directly into his, but her voice is soft, "You should..."
Steve freezes as her hands slide over his chest, one moving upwards to ever so gently touch his cheek. His breath hitches as she tiptoes and her orange-flavoured lips brush against his again.
The softness of that kiss lasts only a few seconds. Steve's hand grips tighter at her waist, pulling her closer, his own heart pounding so loudly that Cath can feel it thumping underneath her fingers resting on his chest.
When they finally pull away, foreheads touching, breath still shaky, Steve can't force his eyes to open again. He hadn't planned for it to happen, he certainly had not invited her to hope for it, but he has dreamt - God how long has he dreamt aboutit. Catherine's thumb draws slow circles on his cheek, before she slips her hand into his hair, playing with the slightly dishevelled strands above his nape.
They share a shy smile, which turns into a series of different shades of happiness and amusement, Cath beaming up at Steve's boyish grin. Without a word they move towards the small window at the ice cream parlour, his hand on the small of her back.
Steve is the first one to break the smile-only filled silence, his voice barely above a whisper as he looks intently at her, "Cath?"
"Hmm?" she hums, taking a bite of her vanilla-cherry soft serve ice cream.
For a moment he hesitates, opening his lips, then choosing to simply close them over his coconut ice cream. "Umm, I," his gaze drops down, focusing on the tiny yellow, paper napkin wrapped around his cone. Picking on it for a few seconds, he finally looks back at her and blurts out, "I would like to kiss you tomorrow too."
Catherine tilts her head to the side, the corners of her mouth twitching in amusement as she watches the blush spreading on his cheeks, "With my onion breath?"
"Yeah," Steve chuckles, taking another bite of his ice cream. His smile falters a bit as he holds her gaze and confesses, "I... I want to kiss you all the time."
Something flashes in her eyes, a shimmering shade, which he can't quite recognise. But as she tiptoes to kiss him softly, again, the warmth dissolves any fear and uncertainty.
"I'd like that," she admits, with her eyes half-closed, eyelashes fluttering against her reddened cheeks. And when she opens them back fully, his grin is the happiest she has ever seen on his face.