Disclaimer: I do not own any rights to the TV series, Hawaii Five-0.
Here's something a little more lighthearted... I fully blame LuckyStar's devil side (her words) for this!
Made You Look
N. J. Borba
She made her way across the crowded beach.
White and turquoise chevron patterned bag slung across her chest, weighed down by a towel, sun screen, a book and extra clothes. The woven bag dug into her bare left shoulder, her black and silver polka dot bikini doing nothing to help pad the load on her arm. She couldn't adjust the bag, though, since both hands were carrying a tray of drinks across the uneven sandy ground. There were three glasses of red wine on the tray that she was desperately trying not to lose balance of as she headed toward her friends.
Her desperation turned into reality as she smacked into someone and the tray went flying.
"What the…" a male voice mumbled as he felt something cold and wet drip down his backside. "You should know when the beach is crowded like this you really need to watch where you're…" he stopped talking, feeling something rub against his butt. "Um, excuse me…"
Catherine didn't know what had just happened. One second she'd been walking and the next her eyes were glued to the man's behind.
She reacted quickly, feeling awful about the wine she'd just spilled all over him. She used her beach towel to try and dry his shorts until her hand froze in place resting against his right butt cheek. "Oh, my God!" she gasped, unable to make her hand go back to her side. "I just… and now I'm touching your… tushy," Catherine gulped, unable to keep her eyes from noticing what a very nice body he had - the way his sculpted, tan, bare back dove beneath the black and green striped nylon shorts.
He turned around and narrowed his eyes on her. "Did you just say tushy?"
She realized her hand was still outstretched hovering in the same place, now very close to another delicate piece of his anatomy. Catherine nodded numbly, "Uh… yes," she whispered as her hand finally lowered to her side. Her gaze lifted upward to find that his face nicely complimented his backside, at least what she could see of it around his sunglasses, "I'm so sorry about the wine," she managed to utter.
His sudden laugh caused a few people to turn their heads, but he noticed the way she frowned, "Sorry, I'm not laughing at you, honest," he tried to assure her, "It's just that I'm pretty sure babies are the only ones with tushies," he watched as her cheeks flushed a bright rosy pink, "Grown men have asses."
"Fine asses," she mumbled under her breath.
"What was that?"
She stood up straighter, wondering what the heck was wrong with her, "Nothing, I…" Catherine shook her head in an attempt to clear it, "Why don't you let me pay to have it cleaned, them cleaned… the… shorts, I meant your shorts. I'll clean them… have them cleaned."
"You're cute when you stammer." He pushed his aviator shades up so they rested atop his head. He eyed her again, allowing himself to notice how pretty she was, "But I get the feeling you're normally more confident than this."
"I am," she nodded while taking a deep breath. "I'm a lieutenant in the Navy," one hand was pressed against her chest in an attempt to stop her heart from pounding so rapidly. "I've worked in Intelligence for years. I'm a very serious and confident person," Catherine attested. Although to herself she couldn't help thinking, I'm also a woman easily turned to goo by your extremely good looking backside. She smiled up at him, doing her best to regain an inkling of that confidence. "Does it have a name?"
His brow furrowed, "It?"
"You," her head shook again, a mental kick sent to her own butt, "You, I meant you…" Catherine wished she could just sink head first into the sand, "Do you have a name?"
"Steve McGarrett," he grinned again, "And you? Or should I just call you, Navy Intel?"
She forced her eyes to focus on his face, the curve of his chin and his stormy blue eyes which caused her stomach to do somersaults. "Catherine Rollins," her response was given as she learned to admire the whole package – especially his smile.
"It's very nice to meet you, Catherine," he replied. "I bought the shorts off a discount rack and I doubt red wine stains black nylon," Steve glanced down, "Looks like your wine already beaded off and the shorts feel dry," he shrugged off the whole incident, "So… drinking red wine on the beach," Steve squatted to help her pick up the mess of plastic wine glasses and wooden tray, "That a common occurrence for you or is this a special occasion?"
They stood and she took the tray. "A couple of good friends are shipping out tomorrow," she directed a finger toward two woman about three feet in front of them who were lounging in beach chairs, a few wine glasses already drained between them. "I'm late joining them. And now I have to go back to get more wine."
He nodded, "And I need to finish my run before I meet a friend across town," Steve left things at that and resumed course. But he shot a glance over his shoulder a moment later and smiled at her again before he turned his jog into a quicker pace.
"You like him," a voice said from beside her.
Catherine spun around to see her friend Molly standing there. "What?" She was surprised by how quickly the woman had vacated her beach chair.
Molly smiled knowingly. "You never ogle guys, Catherine. Seriously, we work with how many guys in uniform and I've never seen you act like this. And mister hot-shorts was right about you - you're as confident as anyone I've ever known; more confident than half our superiors. So, you like him."
"You overheard all that?" Catherine felt the heat return to her cheeks and knew it wasn't just the sun. She shrugged, "What if I did like him? He's running down the beach to get away from me because I'm the crazy woman who spilled wine on his tus… his shorts. We'll never see each other again."
"Okay," her friend let it go as she took the tray from Catherine, "Why don't you join Dana and I'll get the wine this time."
Catherine was thankful of the offer and plopped herself next to her other friend, dropping her heavy bag.
Then she peered down the beach again, hoping to catch one last glimpse of his fine tushy.
She felt like there were eyes on her.
The briefing room was packed, standing room only. Technically all eyes were on her and Commander Harshaw.
But it was more than that. The room's occupants were there for an important new project briefing. They were dedicated officers, all excellent in their specific branches of Intel. That was the reason they'd been called together for the joint project. But the eyes she felt on her were not just a sea of eager officers waiting to sink their teeth into a new project. They were intense eyes, eyes that seemed to be able to look right through her. Yet she couldn't figure out where those eyes were originating from.
Then she spotted him in the back row, standing - the stormy-eyed guy from the beach.
Only this time his board shorts were gone in favor of a duty uniform. He was Navy. He was Intel. And she was in big trouble.
She heard her name being called and snapped out of her daze to see Commander Harshaw starring at her questioningly.
"The power point presentation, Lieutenant," her superior officer repeated what she hadn't heard earlier. "We're ready for you."
Catherine immediately refocused on work and went through the presentation. She explained in great detail exactly what their goals were and how they planned to go about achieving them. An hour later the room had cleared out. She collected her things, closed her laptop and balanced an old school clipboard on top of it. Two black pens were added atop the stack before she headed toward the door thinking she should really invest in a laptop case.
She felt his eyes on her again but kept walking.
He hustled forward, passing her to reach the door first. He leaned against it, fingers gripping the handle but not opening it. "Hi," he smiled.
Her gaze roamed his uniform and rank, "You ruined my concentration during that briefing, Lieutenant Commander."
His smiled faded, "Steve McGarrett. We met on the beach three days ago and you checked out my ass," he reminded her.
"I remember you, McGarrett," she nodded, trying to step around him, "Just didn't realize at the time you were so full of yourself."
"Ouch," he pulled on a feigned look of hurt, but didn't allow her to pass, "You were the one who towel dried it," Steve shrugged.
"Your shorts, I towel dried your shorts. Let's not exaggerate the facts," Catherine tried her luck by turning around and heading toward the door across the room.
Steve walked beside her, his arm brushing against her shoulder, "So you didn't like what you saw?"
She sighed, stopping to face him again, making sure he saw her deliberate eye roll, "We're Navy officers," she pointed out needlessly. "We're working right now, working as part of the same intelligence team on a very important project. And what I like is really none of your concern. I don't even know you and you sure as heck don't know me. But I will tell you one thing, my career is important to me. I don't have time to ogle your…"
"Tushy?" he supplied.
"Technically, that's two things you just told me - important career and not having time to ogle me," Steve pointed out. He watched as she remained silent, her frown deepening to the point it caused a crease to form in her forehead, "You shouldn't do that," he reached out to smooth his thumb across her brow, "You'll get wrinkles. And you're much cuter when you smile, like you did on the beach when you were embarrassed."
"I was not embarrassed," she blatantly denied, even though she was disappointed when the warmth of his thumb left her forehead and his hand returned to his side. "Look, obviously you're an attractive man and I'd have to be a fool not to notice that, or maybe a lesbian or a nun. And since I'm none of those, yes, I find you attractive. But there are plenty of attractive men in this world, doesn't mean I'm looking to get involved with any of them."
"Okay, I'm sorry," he nodded, "I get it, I can take no for an answer if that's what you're trying to tell me?" Steve got nothing back but he noticed she was still standing there so he kept talking, "You're right, I've been completely inappropriate today with the staring. But I thought since we don't really know each other maybe we could get a drink together…" he chuckled, "Right, we already did the drink sharing thing. So how about dinner, say tomorrow night at 1900 hours?"
"Don't what?" he asked, hoping she'd say something more. "Don't eat meat? You're a vegetarian? That's cool. I know a good place that has plenty of options either way. I can even make a reservation," he offered.
"No," Catherine finally got another word out.
"Oh, okay…" his shoulder's sagged, "Well, I'm definitely disappointed, but…"
Her head shook, "No, I meant… no, I'm not a vegetarian," she clarified. "And," Catherine bit her lip, "Yes, I'll go to dinner with you."
Neither was sure which of them was more surprised by her response. "Can I borrow one of those pens?" Steve asked.
"Sure," she reached for a pen at the same time he reached for it and the pen ended up getting pushed off her clipboard by their combined efforts.
It rolled slowly across the floor.
Catherine watched as he bent down to retrieve it. She actually groaned as his duty uniform pants showed off his tight butt cheeks.
Steve stood up straight and caught her eye, noticing how she was trying to avert her gaze, "Made you look."
"What are you, twelve?" she rolled her eyes again.
"Little older than that," he chuckled, "So…" Steve gripped the pen, "Your phone number? You want to write it or should I?"
Catherine took the pen from him, pushed the end to expose the writing tip, and poised it over his eagerly outstretched hand. She considered giving him a fake number but realized she really was taken with him even though he was a bit cocky. The ten digits were written on his palm in her loopy handwriting and she looked up at him again. "If you accidently get that wet before calling me…" her head shook, "There'll be no second chance for you."
"I will take that under advisement, Lieutenant," Steve quipped. He studied the numbers for a few seconds and then tapped the side of his head, "Already memorized," he grinned.
She couldn't help smile as she slowly backed out of the room and escaped into the long hallway.
It was mid-morning, already bright and sunny, when he came up beside her and began to stretch.
His left foot, adorned by a black running shoe, rested against the log as he lunge-stretched his hamstrings and quads. He reached down to touch the toe of his shoe, the other arm stretched over top of his head. Steve switched to the other side, watching as she performed almost the same stretches. He began to repeat the process. This time he allowed his left hand to gently brush against her right. His arm pressed against her leg as he hunched over again to touch his toes.
Steve finally looked over at her and smiled.
"Don't do that," she gently warned.
"Don't do what?" he shrugged, "Smile? Or show that I care about a woman after having sex with her?"
Catherine stood up, pulling away from him. "What happened between us the other night, it's not going to happen again," she said.
"Huh, I think my pride has been wounded," he took a step back, turned and eyed her, "Here I thought you had a good time. Maybe you just pray to God in a very different manner than most people, because you sure did mention him a lot that night. And while you obviously didn't enjoy yourself, I'm not afraid to say that I very much did. I'm also going to tell you something that I may regret, but I haven't actually been with very many women. Shocking, I know."
She smiled despite trying not to get attached.
He grinned to see his mission to make her smile had succeeded. "What I'm trying to say is… you're different than most women I've known, in a good way," he clarified, "I really had a nice night with you and I'd feel neglectful if I failed to tell you how amazing you were, and I don't just mean the sex. Although that was…" Steve sighed, "Look, I'm not usually the one trying to make more of something, but I'd like us to be friends if that's possible."
Catherine tried to deny every beat in her heart that was screaming the words: relax and go for it! "Want to run this course together?" she offered.
His grin was as bright as she'd ever seen before. He nodded enthusiastically. "Care to make things interesting?" he added.
"How so?" her brows knitted together.
He shrugged, "How about… loser cooks the winner dinner."
"Oh, dinner, huh?" Catherine recalled the dinner reservations he'd made and how those had flown out the window along with most of their clothes, "Because that's likely to happen."
"I figure if we don't make reservations somewhere it's more likely," Steve hoped to curb her doubts.
She felt his hand rub against her thigh, once again disguised as a stretch, "You cook?"
"I make a mean beef stew," he puffed out his chest.
Her lips pursed for a second as she tried to read him, "MRE?"
Steve nodded guiltily, "MRE," he admitted. "But you look like someone who knows how to cook. Gorgeous dark hair," Steve allowed his fingers to twirl the very tip of a lock of her hair as it dangle down her back in a ponytail, "Big brown eyes… I'm guessing there's at least some bit of Italian in your background."
"Good guess," she confirmed.
"And I happen to love Italian food," he stretched his left leg again, holding his foot up against his butt, "So what do you say, we have a deal?"
Catherine was annoyed by the way her eyes kept noticing how his butt muscles flexed as he stretched, "Let me get this straight…" she stretched one arm behind her head, using the other to hold it steady as she focused on his eyes instead of his butt, "I win and you make me beef stew MRE, you win and I cook you an authentic Italian meal?" she asked, watching the second enthusiastic nod of his head. "Sounds like I'm getting the short end of the stick in this wager."
"You assume you'll win," Steve was quick to reply.
"You assume I'll lose?" she instantly took offense.
He shrugged. "If you can keep your eyes focused above my waist you might stand a chance."
"Oh, you're on, Commander," Catherine wasn't about to let him get a dig in like that without putting up a fight.
He dropped his leg and proffered his hand, "Gotta keep it honest."
She easily shook his hand, even kept hold of it as his thumb caressed hers. Catherine finally broke the hold and finished stretching.
Five minutes later a group of officers had gathered at the starting point, rumors of their race having spread quickly. A woman they both knew, Lieutenant Anderson, stood in front of them. She held a small orange towel that someone had offered up for the race. Anderson counted them down, "Five… four… three…" the towel was raised above her head, flapping in a very gentle breeze that blew across the training field. "Two… one!" she dropped the flag to signal the start.
The course began with a half mile run before any obstacles showed up. Catherine stayed right with him the whole time.
A low wall was their first obstacle. Steve launched himself up without exerting any effort and landed on the other side in seconds. Catherine lost slight ground, couple seconds behind him on the landing. They skipped across the stepping stones, alternating their strides as the stones spread out further and further from one another. Steve still had a few seconds lead as they approached the third obstacle, a vault and duck hurdle.
Catherine could already feel sweat dripping down her neck. She silently chastised herself for getting into a foot race with a SEAL.
They jumped over low walls and ducked under metal bars. Vault and duck, exactly as the name implied. Three times over and three times under before they headed into a quarter mile run through a wooded area. Then down on their bellies through the mud as barbed wire hovered inches above their heads, threatening to inflict damage. Steve was nearly two body lengths ahead of her as they exited the barbed tunnel. She got to her feet and full out sprinted toward the monkey bars.
She'd almost caught up to him but his long arm span meant he could skip two bars at a time where as she had to touch each one. That took her several seconds longer.
They dodged panels, climbed a rope, and then leapt over a series of large watery gaps.
Another quarter mile run through sand led them to a wooden building with various sized windows. They had to jump through the windows and duck below the ledges. It was a great simulation for battle, and Catherine was far better at the crouching movements than he was with his long legs. She made up a ton of ground on the obstacle and came out in the lead as they reached the log balance beams. She was at least an entire log ahead of him.
Steve glanced ahead and watched with open mouth as she performed a cartwheel off the edge of the last log beam.
"No points for showing off!" he shouted to her.
The rope ladder climb caused her to lose ground again, her left shoe's laces getting caught at one point, "Damn it," she swore under her breath as he reached the top first. She fought for each foot and handhold and hustled over the other side and down.
Only thing between them and the finish line now was another half mile straightaway.
Catherine pumped her arms and legs, stretching them to their limits. But he had more power in his long strides and managed to edge her out.
She watched as he slowly pulled further and further ahead, trying not to stare as his running shorts swished easily over his tight buttocks.
"Erggg," she growled, attempting to pull her eyes away from his running short covered tushy. They continued to disobey her, though, watching as he lifted his arms over his head in victory at the finish line and then as he bent over to catch his breath. His shorts ridding up just enough for her to spot the black boxer briefs he was wearing underneath. She rushed across the finish line a few seconds later and immediately closed her eyes to get them to behave. "Not fair, your legs are longer," she said.
Steve chuckled, standing up straight as he stretched his legs again to cool down. "Pretty sure you knew that going in," he watched her a moment, noticing the sweat stains at the front of her tank top, tendrils of damp hair stuck against her neck, and the way her lips were pursed in frustration, "You know, since they're connected to something else you like to stare at."
"Get over yourself," she stepped forward just so she could push against his chest, shoving him childishly.
"Can't keep your hands off me," Steve grinned.
Catherine turned and began to walk back to the locker rooms without another word to him.
"Wait up!" he jogged alongside her. "When do I get to collect on my win?"
"Forget it," she kept walking, glancing over to see he was keeping step with her, "You tease me, you forfeit."
"No, no, no," his head shook, "You're welching on an honest wager that we shook hands on?" Steve reached out and wrapped his fingers around her left forearm to halt her step. He gently turned her toward him, "I don't think you're the sort to do something like that, back out of a deal. I take you for the loyal type, honest, fair…" he stepped in closer, his lips hovering near her cheek, "And gorgeous when sweaty," he whispered in her ear.
Her stomach tightened as she looked him in the eye, "You do not play fair," she gave in, "My apartment at 1800 hours this Saturday."
He smiled, watching as she took off in a hurry, "I'll be there!" Steve affirmed.
Her apartment was a tiny loft studio situated on the top floor of a three-story building.
She ushered him inside, her bare feet pressed against the creamy tile floor. Catherine wore a simple gray skirt and navy blue tank top. Her eyes were instantly drawn to the khaki cargo pants he was wearing. She swore he was wearing them on purpose since they fit tight along the sinuous muscular curve of his backside. She tried to focus on the SEAL graphic t-shirt he was wearing as she closed the door with her hip. But her eyes only managed to follow the gentle rumple of tushy covered fabric as he walked into her kitchen.
Steve proudly presented a bottle of wine to her, "Hope red is okay?"
"I hope chicken alfredo and salad is okay?" she replied, taking the wine bottle in hand and glancing at the label. "Good taste," Catherine remarked, "But I think I'll hang on to this for later. I have a bottle of pinot grigio chilled in the fridge, goes better with the chicken and cream sauce."
"Sure," he wasn't offended, not having any inkling about what she'd planned to cook. "Smells delicious," Steve watched her throw in spices that she poured out and measured in the palm of her hand. "You really do know your way around a kitchen," he admired the way she smiled almost shyly, "Italian from your mom's side or your dad?"
"With the last name Rollins?" she didn't bother allowing him to guess, "Mom's side. Dad's mostly English and Irish with a pinch of French and he thinks maybe a bit of Italian. But that's mainly just because he loves mom's cooking so much," her smile turned amused, "How about you? McGarrett is either Irish or Scottish?"
"Scottish," he confirmed, "I grew up on Oahu, though."
Catherine slipped an oven mitt over her right hand, "We were stationed in Pearl Harbor for a year when I was twelve," she pulled open the oven door, "Then dad got express orders to Japan and we were off again," she pulled out a baking sheet with a loaf of bread.
"Navy brat?" he grabbed a couple potholders out of the open drawer near her stove and situated them on the counter so she'd have a place to set the bread, "I didn't know that."
"Amazing what happens when you keep all your clothes on," she was thankful of his help and shed her mitt, "You learn things about people," her light chuckle filled the tiny kitchen.
"Yes, you do," he agreed, leaning against the counter as he watched her tend the sauce again, "Like the fact that you're a smartass," Steve's comment earned him a not-so-menacing glare from her before her eyes returned to the alfredo, "At least you have two out of three," he shrugged.
That remark made her turn her full attention on him, "Two out of three what? Is this some sort of Steve McGarrett star rating?"
"No," his head shook, "I'm talking about the three S's… sexy, sensitive and smart."
"And my two?" she wasn't sure she wanted to know.
"Sexy and smart," Steve quickly responded.
Catherine frowned, "You don't think I'm sensitive?"
"Haven't really seen it yet," he shrugged.
She stood there for a long moment, not sure if she should be offended or not. Maybe he was right; maybe she hadn't given him any reason to believe she could be anything other than teasing and standoffish. Catherine set her spoon down and backed him further against the counter, her chest pressed against his torso, "If you stick around longer than it takes to have sex or beat me at a foot race maybe you'll see a few sides to me that you haven't before."
"That a challenge?" Steve wondered.
"Take it however you like," she brazenly squeezed his butt before turning back to her sauce.
"Pretty sure you're still just after my tushy," he commented, trying to calm his thumping heart, "But I'll stick around for a while."
Catherine tossed chopped carrots into the salad bowl.
She was standing at a kitchen counter in her parent's house. The island counter faced an opening into the living room where she watched Steve and her dad starring at a picture on the wall. She knew exactly what the picture was of, a panorama of Pearl Harbor painted in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the attack on the base during the Second World War. Her father had acquired it from an old buddy of his whose father had been there that day.
It was obvious her dad and Steve were bonding over their Navy connection.
A smile crossed her face at the thought of her dad's approval of Steve. Not that she felt anything serious was going on between them. After their joint Intel project had concluded he'd been sent to Iraq and she'd done a second tour in Afghanistan. In two years' time they'd only met up on a half dozen different occasions. Either work related or personal, the latter of which usually meant just enough time for sex and not much else. In between they tried to keep in touch, but their schedules were very conflicting most of the time.
His profile, right side aimed at her, caused Catherine's belly to flip-flop irrationally. Her eyes easily and appreciatively roamed the gentle curve of his bottom, currently covered in his nicest pair of cargo pants. Nicest meaning no holes and clean. They were black, at least slightly classier than the khaki ones she liked better. He also wore a button down gray shirt, though the sleeves were casually rolled up to just below his elbows. She knew he'd made a special effort to look nice for dinner with her parents.
"Keeping an eye on the goods?"
Catherine's whole body tensed, "Mother," she instantly averted her eyes back to the salad. A second later she turned to see that her mom's gaze was aimed at the two men standing and chatting amiably in the living room.
"What?" Teresa Rollins shrugged, "I noticed you looking at his behind, there's nothing wrong with that."
"Yes, there is," Catherine sighed, lifting the salad bowl and walking it into the dining room where they couldn't be overheard.
Her mother followed with the bread, "You think because I'm fifty-two I don't still admire your father's butt?"
"Oh, God," Catherine shuddered, nearly dropping the salad all over the floor, "Please stop talking," she managed to safely set the bowl down.
Teresa chuckled softly at her daughter's discomfort, "How about you tell me what you like about Steve other than the obvious," she suggested.
Catherine walked over to the mahogany china cupboard and pulled out four white plates. She placed them on the table, arranging them with the silverware her mother had already set out. "He's…" she tried to block out Steve's backside from her mind, "He works hard. He's a SEAL, which means he's got a hell of a lot of determination. He has goals and principles and he… he makes me laugh," she smiled, "He's cocky sometimes but he… he has a good heart. He cares about his friends and family very deeply."
The older woman nodded along, "And he's a very good looking man. The two of you would have gorgeous babies."
"Geez, mom," Catherine shook her head, "Way to be subtle."
"What? I want grandchildren and since you are my only child – a child I went to the brink of death for – you owe me grandbabies."
She'd heard the story of her birth many times, how they'd both nearly died, which had resulted in her mother not being able to have more children. Catherine loved her mother dearly, but she got tired of the guilt trips. "I am very far from that point, mom. I have a career. I want more than kids running underfoot," she caught the look in her mother's eyes that was somewhat offended. "Not that having a kid is a bad thing," Catherine quickly amended. "I think I want that, too… maybe… someday in the very distant future."
"You're not getting any younger, dear," Teresa was quick to point out.
"I have time."
"Sure, just don't let Steve get away. He's a keeper."
Catherine made her way back to the kitchen and peered into the living room. She noticed her dad had on an old home video, "Oh, the two of you…" her head shook as she admonished her overly eager parents. She hustled across the room toward the large screen TV just in time to watch a thirteen-year-old version of herself to a double toe loop that quickly transitioned into a sit-spin, "Watcha watching, daddy?" she tried not to cringe as she noticed Steve's goofy grin while he watched the video.
"Just the best ones, princess, I promise," her father replied.
"Steve really doesn't want to watch these, daddy," she insisted, "He's just humoring you."
Joseph Rollins looked up from his recliner where he was seated at the very edge of the chair, remote in hand, back straight. "Don't be silly, princess; Steve here is the one who asked to see these after I mentioned you used to ice skate when you were younger."
Her glare turned to Steve, "Is that right?"
"How could I resist," he nodded, his grin even wider as he motioned to the TV, "You were adorable. Look at that little blue tutu thing."
She grabbed his hand and pulled him to his feet, "Lasagna is still twenty minutes from being done. Let's get some fresh air," Catherine insisted.
Steve excused himself properly from the Rear Admiral's presence before following Catherine out the French doors that led into the backyard. It was dark outside but light from the house was enough to illuminate their walk across the lawn. The warm October air permeated the spacious yard, which was well-manicured with an herb garden and seating area. They stopped beneath a huge oak tree whose canopy spanned half the yard. An old tire was strung from a sturdy branch by a length of bright yellow rope.
He gave the rope a yank to test it out then pressed one foot inside the tire and pushed off.
"You are twelve," Catherine laughed as he swung back and forth in front of her. She watched his tushy flex as he pushed off again to gain more speed.
His brief moment of levity ended as he jumped down and backed her against the tree, "So if I were to kiss you under this tree I wouldn't defile any childhood memories for you?"
"Nope," the word was a whisper as their lips met.
The union was much less heated than either of them would have liked as they remained keenly aware they were standing in her parent's backyard.
A sudden noise to their right caused them to break apart.
"Crap," Catherine immediately dashed across the lawn toward a small structure that Steve hadn't even noticed earlier. He raced behind her, watching as she threw open a sliding glass door. He stepped through the open door, glancing around the space, realizing it was an apartment - probably a converted garage. "Gran!" Catherine shouted fearfully as she turned a corner. Steve followed her and spotted a gray haired woman in a set of purple cotton pajamas. She was on her hands and knees on a kitchen floor, surrounded by broken glass.
"Whoa, hang on," he tried to stop Catherine as she knelt beside the woman. "There's a lot of glass and you could…" Steve realized she wasn't listening to him.
Catherine saw blood on the older woman's hand, "Gran, let's get you up off this floor," she helped the woman stand.
Steve spotted a broom in the far corner of the room and went for it, "You should clean her hand," he suggested, motioning toward the woman's injury. "I'll sweep this glass."
She nodded, grateful of his help. Catherine walked her grandmother into the bathroom and ran warm water over the woman's hand. "Gran, what happened?"
The woman looked at her granddaughter as if she'd just realized someone else was there, "Bina? What are you doing here? I didn't know you had a school break?" she smiled.
"I'm not on a break from school, Gran," Catherine shook her head, "I have a job now, remember? I'm in the Navy."
Her grandmother nodded absently, "That's right, dear. You married that nice man in the Navy… Joseph Rollins is a good boy."
Catherine just smiled; knowing her grandmother often got her and her mom confused these days.
Steve found a slip of newspaper that he wrapped the broken glass in before throwing it in the trash so it wouldn't cut through the plastic sack. He went to the back bedroom and stood in the doorway as he watched Catherine settle the woman into bed. Her hand was bandaged and she glanced around as if looking for something. "Where's my water? I went to the kitchen for a glass of water. You know I like to keep a glass by the bed during the night, Teresa."
"I'll grab one," Steve said, not wanting Catherine to have to get up. He found a plastic cup in the cupboard and filled it.
Catherine took the cup from him with a grateful smile. She sat it on her grandmother's nightstand and then tucked a white quilt up around the woman's arms. "Night-night, Gran… I love you oodles of noodles," she kissed the old woman atop her head and flicked the lamp off.
He wrapped his arm about her waist and led her into the hallway. "She okay?" Steve asked.
Only a nod was given as they walked into the tiny kitchen. "She'll be ninety-five in March, if she makes it," Catherine checked to see if all the burners were off, made sure nothing was left out to spoil, "Gran didn't have my mom until late in life, forty-two…" she led him to the door, "When granddad passed away seven years ago she started to decline. Mom insisted that she live here with them, they've always had a really close relationship."
Steve closed the slider behind them as they exited.
"My dad adores Gran, too," Catherine smiled as they crossed the lawn, "His mother died when he was fourteen so Gran has been a mom to him since my parents married thirty-two years ago. He converted that old garage into a mother-in-law unit for her. She's gotten a lot worse the last few months. Mom watches her pretty closely, but… Gran is why we're eating so late tonight. Mom wanted to make sure she was settled for the night before we had our dinner."
He could tell she was still shaken by what had just happened. Steve tried to think of some way to distract her, "Oodles of noodles? Bina?" he asked curiously.
"Bina is short for bambina," she explained the pet name, smiling in remembrance, "While dad served his second tour of duty mom and I stayed in Virginia with Gran. Mom was working mornings at a pre-school as a teacher's assistant and going to school at night to earn her teaching degree. I was seven at the time and Gran took care of me a lot. Every night when she tucked me in she'd say to me: night-night, Bina. Gran loves you oodles of noodles," she recalled fondly, "Because I was a picky eater back then and would only eat noodles."
"I stand corrected," Steve kissed her cheek just before they reached her parent's back door.
Her brow bunched, "Explain."
"You definitely have a sensitive side," he replied, "A very sweet one."
The full moon in the sky illuminated the one on the beach that she couldn't tear her eyes away from.
His naked butt sauntered down the beach until he stopped at the water's edge. She'd given up on pretending not to ogle his perfect tushy years ago. After they'd weather the storms of being separated by continents, wars and even a brief break up. After they'd dealt with a mother returned from the dead, and a secret that had nearly broken them up again. After they'd endured her attempt to hide away in Afghanistan, thinking he'd be safer without her in his life.
She ogled relentlessly now. Admiring how the flesh of his tight buns was much paler than the rest of his Hawaii sun-kissed body.
Catherine liked to think that part of him belonged entirely to her, the pale swatch of flesh that only she ever laid eyes on.
He turned and caught her starring, "Is my butt the only thing you love about me?"
"Pretty much, yes," she teased, walking toward the water.
His hands rested against her hips, noticing she still had her bikini on, "And why am I the only one naked here?"
"You're sure there's no one else around?" Catherine looked down the beach to her left and then to the right. It was completely dark except for the moonlight. There were no visible houses or street lights, just a long stretch of tree-lined beach and behind them the looming silhouette of a massive volcano.
"Catherine, we hiked for nearly six hours to get to this beach," he reminded her, "The big island is far less populated than Oahu. I promise you there is no one else around for several miles. So start getting naked, woman," his hands moved up, caressing along her belly and around her back where he found the clasp of her bikini top.
She closed her eyes as he pulled the straps down one by one, kissing along each bare shoulder until he finally unclasped her top and tossed it aside. Catherine grabbed ahold of his fleshy butt, fondly remembering how he'd stripped for her just a few minutes ago, teasingly slow as he'd shimmied his shorts down his legs and kicked them off. She sucked in a sharp breath as he sunk to his knees now and tugged at the strings of her bikini bottom with his teeth.
"Shit," she moaned appreciatively as his tongue licked her bare flesh, "No…" Catherine tried to speak, "You... we agreed to swim," she tried to push away from him. "Naked swim only, skinny dip. I am not having sex on the beach. We'll end up with sand in very uncomfortable places."
Steve stood, hands at her hips again, "Naked swimming means we'll likely get sand in uncomfortable places."
"Not as many," she maintained as they walked into the water hand-in-hand.
The ocean was still warm even without sunlight to heat it. It lapped against their naked bodies as they waded out up to their waists. The water was calm in the small lagoon like area, no massive waves to bowl them over. There was just a gentle, hypnotic sway of up and down movement and the occasional small crash against the shore. She laughed as the water dipped below his waist then splashed gently against his torso. The motioned repeated and she chuckled again, "You're keen, aren't you?"
He glanced down, though he already knew what his body was up to. Steve shrugged, "What, I'm supposed to take your swimsuit off with my teeth and not get aroused?"
She noticed how he shifted, actually willing his body to stand down.
Her arms circled his neck and she took his lips for a ride more hypnotic than the ocean waves. "How about we take this party back to our tent," she whispered suggestively.
Steve grinned and immediately lifted her into his arms.
As his wet arms slid along her suddenly very needy body she silently willed him to walk faster.
The unexpected shout interrupted their solitude. They stopped about two feet shy of their tent as the frantic voice called out again.
"Please, someone help me!"
Steve put Catherine down and she hustled into their tent. Catherine tossed a towel at Steve as she quickly tried to dry off as much as possible – their romantic moment cut short. She pulled on clean shorts and a t-shirt without bothering to grab underwear or a bra. Steve did likewise, only wasting enough time to throw on board shorts and tie them. They each grabbed a flashlight and retreated from the tent. "Hello!" Steve shouted. "Who's out there?"
He and Catherine headed back down to the beach.
They turned left and jogged several yards down the sandy beach. "Say again!" Catherine called out.
"Over here!" They followed the sound to the edge of the trees and found a very young woman sitting on the sand, leaning against a tree. "Oh, thank God…" she looked up at them, a hand against her bulging stomach, "It's too soon, by about three weeks…" she winced, "But I don't think this baby wants to wait," the girl screamed again in pain.
"What are you doing out here, are you alone?" Steve dropped to his knees and tried to assess the situation.
"I'm…" the young woman panted, "I'm staying… somewhere around here. I went for a walk this morning and I got lost. I can't find the house. I've been walking for hours, I got turned around… I don't know, I'm so scared," she cried, "I didn't think anyone was around. I thought I was going to die out here."
"You're going to be fine," Catherine crouched beside her, seeing how worried she was. She'd brought her towel along, not even realizing it. She rolled it up and placed it behind the girl's head, "I'm Catherine, what's your name?"
"Jamie," the voice squeaked.
"Jamie, how old are you?" Steve wondered.
"Seventeen," she sniffed back tears.
Steve caught Catherine's eye and she shrugged. She decided to ask more questions, "So you were staying at a house out here? With your parents?"
"No," Jamie shook her head. "It's a vacation house. It belongs to my boyfriend's cousin, but no one knows I'm here. They think I ran away. I kind of did after my parents threw me out when they found out about the baby. Michael, my boyfriend, he brought me here so I could have a place to stay. He can only come visit me on weekends, though, brings me food and magazines to keep me from getting bored. He's really sweet. We love each other but no one understands."
Catherine smiled, "Okay, well one of us needs to call for help," she eyed Steve.
"I'll do it," he stood, "Phone's back at the tent. I could carry her there. Or do you think you can walk?" Steve asked the girl.
Jamie shook her head. "Oh, God… this hurts so much," she groaned.
"All right, Jamie," Steve bent down and caught her under the arms and legs as he'd carried Catherine earlier. Not nearly as much fun, though. Catherine grabbed her towel and walked with them. They settled the girl into the tent and Steve fished the cell phone out of his pack. He checked the reception bars and winced as Jamie screamed out in pain again. "Damn," he swore, shaking his head when Catherine eyed him. "Remember how I said I knew a place that was so remote no one would bother us?"
"Yeah," she realized what he was about to say. "You were right, huh? Nothing?"
"Nope, not a single bar," he confirmed. "I can start hiking back toward the road, or maybe along the beach, see if I can get any kind of reception further out."
Her head shook, "I'd rather you stay here with us. I can't do this by myself," Catherine was nervous as she eyed the girl and then Steve again, "Do you have any gloves in your pack?"
"Why would I have gloves with me? I was expecting to enjoy a romantic week away with my…" he trailed off as he felt something odd in one pocket, "Huh, look at that," Steve pulled a pair of blue rubber gloves out of his pack, "Guess I do."
"Good, put them on and check to see how far along she is," Catherine instructed.
"Me?" he grimaced, "Why me? I provided the gloves."
Catherine glared at him, "You have way more extensive field medic qualifications than I do," she reminded him.
"Sure, but I never had to deliver a baby on the battlefield, Cath," he shook his head, "Personally, I think you're way more qualified for this job." Steve held the gloves out to her.
"What part of Intel work prepared me for birthing babies?" Catherine pushed the gloves back over to him.
"I meant you being a woman," he explained, "Granted I have spent some time in that region of the female anatomy, but I think you'd know better what to… look for… or… feel for?"
Jamie cried out again as they bickered.
Catherine pulled one glove onto her left hand, "You big baby," she remarked to him as she pulled on the right glove, "Jamie, sweetie… I'm going to need you to take your underwear off for me so I can check you. If that's okay? I know this is weird and all, but…"
"Fine," Jamie wearily agreed, "I don't care."
Steve watched as Catherine draped his beach towel over the girl's propped legs. He thought it was sweet how she tried to keep things as modest as possible for the teenager. Catherine really wasn't sure what to expect as she reached down, but her eyes slowly went wide. "Huh…" she sat back a little. Jamie had her eyes closed, doing her best to concentrate on breathing. Catherine whispered to Steve, "Um, I think something might be wrong."
"What?" he could see the worry etched across her brow.
"Well, I'm clearly no expert on these things, but…" she bit her bottom lip nervously and kept her voice low, not wanting to alarm the teenager, "Unless this baby's head has a really large split down the middle of it, I think it might be coming out backward."
Steve was surprised, "You mean tushy first?"
A small laugh escaped her lips before nodding seriously, "Yes, tushy first."
Knowing they couldn't keep it from her, they quickly explained the situation to Jamie who started crying. "I haven't seen a doctor in months, we couldn't afford it," she revealed.
Steve looked to Catherine for guidance and she took a moment to think it over as Jamie screamed out in pain again, "Okay, okay… I need your knife," she said to Steve, knowing someone needed to take charge of the situation. "And if you have any kind of alcohol wipes you can use to sterilize it?"
He nodded, "I think there are some in the first aid kit, why?" Steve asked even as he did what she asked. "What are you going to do, C-section?"
"No," her head shook, "God, no," Catherine didn't even want to entertain the possibility and hoped it wouldn't come to that, "Episiotomy."
"What the heck is that?" he looked blankly at her, having never heard that word before.
"I don't think it's done much anymore, but it would require me to…" she mimed a scissors motion with her fingers, "Cut her."
It took him a moment to realize what she meant, "Down there?" He watched her nod. "Geez, are you kidding?"
"Maybe I won't have to. I want to see how she does pushing first," Catherine explained, "My friend, Molly, had a breech baby. They were able to turn him a week before birth, but we don't have that luxury. And coming out backward can be dangerous. Molly went over all the possible outcomes with me, cord around the neck, head getting stuck because apparently it's harder to push out when breech," she shrugged.
Steve shuddered and made a move to cover his goods, "So glad I'm not a woman."
"I'm also glad you're not a woman," Catherine grinned, "Men are wimps."
He took no offense to her comment in this instance.
They once again explained the situation to Jamie. "Do it… just get it out, please… please…" she begged.
"First I want to see how you do pushing," Catherine coaxed the girl. "Steve, help her stay focused," she instructed, "Hold her hand, breathe with her."
"I can do that," Steve gave Jamie his hand and was amazed by the strength of the slight teenager as she squeezed his fingers.
Jamie tried to push for nearly a half hour but she could only scream out in pain.
"This isn't working," Catherine sighed. "The baby is right there but it's not budging." She turned to Steve, "Help her try to think about something else." She could see the slightly bewildered look on his face, "Talk to her, tell her a story… tell her everything is going to be okay. Just keep her mind preoccupied right now because I don't have drugs for her and this is going to hurt like hell," she warned.
Catherine listened as he launched off into the story about how he'd gone to Afghanistan to get her to come back home with him. She smiled, following along for a short time before she realized she really needed to get the baby out before it became more distressed. Without too much more hesitation she went for it. The cut was made and Jamie took it like a champ. Thankfully that was all she required to finally push her baby into the world. Although it still took a great deal of pushing.
"It's a girl," Catherine had tears in her eyes, baby crying loudly as she cradled her in one arm and made sure she was okay to the best of her knowledge.
"A girl?" Jamie asked, looking over her legs to catch a glimpse of the baby, "Are you sure? We decided on Michael Jr. for a name."
"How about Michaela," Steve suggested as he kept hold of Jamie's hand while Catherine handled the baby.
"I like that," Jamie agreed, letting go of his hand as she took the baby Catherine handed her. Jamie looked down at the girl against her chest and smiled, a tear running down her cheek. "Michaela Catherine," she bestowed the name upon her tiny newborn.
Steve grinned as he turned his focus back on the baby's middle namesake, "How you doing?"
"I'm all right," Catherine assured him as she took a slow, cleansing breath. She gently placed one of Steve's clean t-shirts over the naked baby and tucked it around her. "I think they should both be fine," Catherine reaffirmed the decision she'd made earlier.
He leaned forward and kissed her, a brief and reassuring touch of lips.
"We make a good team, especially when you do most of the work," Steve admired, pretty much in awe of what she'd just done.
She pulled back a little, looking him in the eye, "Some honeymoon, huh?"
"Certainly memorable," he grinned, taking hold of her left hand and rubbing his thumb over the simple diamond ring that resided there, "And as soon as I hike up to the road, get a cell signal, flag down some help for Jamie and little Michaela, and hike all the way back here…" he took a breath, "Then I promise it'll get even better," Steve kissed her again.
"I'll hold you to that promise," Catherine smiled.
She closed the front door and leaned against it for a moment, glad to be home.
The day had been long - an armed robbery case that turned into a homicide. And they'd been down two members of the team since she and Steve rarely worked on the same cases any more, and Kono and Adam were still on their honeymoon in Maui. Catherine had spent most of the afternoon at headquarters in order to help Chin, Danny and Grover uncover the murderer in record time. She'd even been by Chin's side as they'd taken the man down.
Now she hoped to spend a relaxing evening at home.
"Just wish I wasn't so tired," she lamented, kicking off her shoes before climbing the stairs.
Catherine wondered again if she should've stuck to her plan to become a teacher after returning from Afghanistan.
The taskforce had lured her back, though, and she loved working with the best friends she'd ever had.
She pushed their bedroom door open and kept an ear out. The room looked pretty empty but she heard water running in the shower, and the sound of him humming. Catherine smiled to hear his silly tune. She striped down, crept into the bathroom and quietly approached the shower. Catherine did her best to slowly and silently pull the teal plastic curtain back. She was happily rewarded with the fantastic sight of his bare backside.
Her tiredness subsided a little as she leaned against the wall and just admired the view for a moment.
Steve suddenly stopped humming, "Mommy thinks she's very stealthy," he spoke softly, "But we heard her walking up the stairs, didn't we?"
Catherine's eyes widened as he turned around carefully, making sure their baby boy was held securely against his slippery bare chest, one arm beneath his little bottom and a hand pressed against his back. "Steve," she felt her cheeks flush, "You should've warned me you had the baby with you in the shower."
"Why?" he grinned, rubbing a hand over the top of the little guy's wet head of hair. Steve kissed the boy's soft cheek.
The sight of the two of them melted her heart, "Because I almost did something inappropriate to your tushy that our son shouldn't ever see," she admitted.
His brow arched, "Will you do it later?" Steve hoped as his eyes roamed her naked body, "Looks like you're ready to join us."
She stepped beneath the warm spray of the shower, knowing he had the temperature turned down because of the baby. Catherine moved toward them and reached out as she took the boy's left foot in hand. She lowered her mouth to it, pretending to eat his tiny toes, watching with delight as the baby grinned – looking so much like his daddy. "Lucas, mommy misses you so much when she has to go to work all day," she took the baby from Steve and held the seven-month-old against her right hip.
"We missed you, too," Steve kissed her tenderly.
"Do you think we might scar him by showering naked with him?" she wondered.
Steve grabbed the shampoo bottle and squeezed a small amount into the palm of his right hand. "I doubt it," he turned her around and began to gently massage the shampoo into her wet hair, "I think we should probably stop when he's two or so, though," he chuckled, taking a second to kiss her neck before he continued to lather her hair.
Her eyes closed, keeping the baby tight against her side, "Have I told you recently you're the best husband?"
"Nope, it's been a while," he teased.
After he rinsed her hair Catherine handed the baby back to him and went about washing the rest of her fatigued body.
"How come you brought him in here with you, no afternoon nap?" she wondered.
He nodded. They both knew a warm bath or shower with daddy or mommy helped the little boy relax when he was cranky, "He always goes down so easily for the morning nap but fights the afternoon one," Steve realized, "Today I think he was missing you, which caused more fussiness. Plus he had a major diaper blowout. I mainly brought him in here to clean the tushy," he aimed a lopsided grin at her, "Because he's a baby, and babies have tushies. Grown men have asses," he reminded her, recalling the first time they'd met.
"Yeah, smartasses," she shot back.
"Takes one to know one," he blew her a kiss with his free hand.
She pushed the hair off her shoulders and used the back brush to scrub, "What are you, twelve?"
Steve leaned in and kissed his wife again, mindful of the slippery baby between them, "I haven't had a chance to wash yet. So if you get him dressed and fed and put down for the night," he whispered in her ear, "We can have a little alone time. And I'll prove to you that I am not in any way twelve."
"Really?" she finished rinsing off and took the baby, kissing the side of his head as he slumped sleepily against her shoulder. "So I get him into PJs, nurse him, rock him to sleep… and you get sex as a reward?" Catherine frowned, "For some reason I'm not seeing how this is fair."
"You get sex, too," Steve shrugged, reaching for the shampoo again.
"Wow, that's really big of you," she said while stepping out of the shower.
He winked, "I love when you talk dirty like that."
"Oh, God…" she groaned, pulling the curtain closed on him. Catherine chuckled softly as she wrapped a large fluffy white towel around her and the baby. She smiled at the sleepy boy as he gnawed contentedly on his left fist, "Lucas, did you know your daddy's ego is actually bigger than the size of his…"
"Hey!" Steve called out. "Watch it! I can still hear you!"
Catherine laughed again as she walked the baby down the hall to his nursery and laid him out on the changing table, "Your daddy also has good hearing, Lucas," she toweled him off and secured a diaper before he could try to pee on the changing pad. She kissed his bare belly and grabbed his favorite blue and white striped footy pajamas. "I hope you know daddy and I only tease each other so much because we're very much in love."
He let out a small pitiful cry as she lifted him to her chest, "Hang on there, big guy. Mommy needs to dry off a little more before mealtime."
She walked back to her room and laid the baby on her bed as she toweled off then reached for the clean t-shirt Steve had obviously set out for himself. Catherine nabbed some panties from the top drawer, slipped both articles on and scooped the baby up. She walked him through the open double doors that led onto the second floor deck off their bedroom. They settled on a comfy over-sized lounge chair and she lifted her t-shirt for the baby who quickly latched onto her right breast.
"You're the most patient baby, you know that?" she whispered as they boy suckled, "Guess you knew you'd have to be patient with me as a mom. I didn't really think I'd ever be very good at this, but you know what changed that don't you? Your daddy and his charming tushy. Okay, and his unwavering belief in me, and bravery putting up with me," she smiled as the baby closed his eyes, already given in to sleep although he kept eating. "I wouldn't trade having either of you, not for anything," she caressed his cheek.
Steve found them out there a half hour later, Catherine with her eyes closed, baby asleep in her arms.
"He looks like he's down for the count," Steve whispered, knowing she wasn't asleep, "I'll put him to bed for you."
"Thank you," she didn't even bother opening her eyes as he took the baby from her. A few minutes later she felt the space beside her on the lounge chair depress. Felt his arm slide across her belly. Her eyes opened and she smiled to see him wearing navy blue boxer briefs and a black t-shirt he must have settled on after finding his white one missing.
His fingers played with the edge of the white t-shirt she wore, which hit her mid-thigh. "This is super sexy," he said of the shirt. "You too tired?" Steve asked. He was happy to see her head shake, though slowly. "You know I only suggested you get Lucas settled because I know you miss him a ton on the days you work," he pointed out, "And you like to do the nighttime routine stuff with him, especially since you're weaning him now and only nursing at night." Steve laid his head against her belly, hugging her waist, "Am I right?"
"You know me well," she allowed her fingers to rake through his damp hair.
"I hope so," he grinned, "Since it is our ten year anniversary today."
"We got married two years and three months ago," she glanced down at him quizzically.
Steve extracted himself from her side but kept his smile aimed at her, "Hang on for a sec," he took off, disappearing inside for a few minutes. He returned carrying two glasses of red wine and sunk back down on the lounge chair beside her. He handed one glass to her, "You can have a little sip while you're still breast feeding, can't you?"
Catherine took the glass from him as he sat back and leaned against her shoulder, "Some claim there's no harm consuming minimal alcohol while nursing, and others get seriously preachy about it. But I doubt one sip will hurt," she shrugged, "And apparently it's our anniversary?"
"Here's to two years of marriage," he held his class aloft, "And to you still checking out my tushy."
"I think it was in my wedding vows that I'd never stop checking out your tushy."
"Was it? I must've missed that part."
She chuckled, "It was implied in the whole 'long as we both shall live' part."
"Ah," he nodded slowly, "So you'll still be checking out my backside when I'm ninety-two?"
"Absolutely," she agreed.
Steve held his glass up again, "To my gorgeous wife, who I'm so glad spilled wine on my shorts ten years ago today," he watched realization spread across her face, "A woman who clearly wasn't looking for a relationship at the time, but who eventually became my very best friend. A woman who's a proud daughter, loving granddaughter, loyal friend, amazingly adoring mommy, and the wife I never could've imagined having," he concluded the toast, "I love you, Cath, and your dirty-minded wandering eyes."
Catherine smiled as they clinked glasses and sipped.
She took his glass and set them both on a nearby table. Catherine stood and walked toward the door that led back to their bedroom. With her shoulder resting against the doorframe she looked over at her husband and grinned. "I'm not as tired as I was earlier," she let him know. "And I'd like to thank you for that lovely toast."
He shot to his feet, "Is that right?" Steve followed her into the bedroom.
After a brief glance at the video baby monitor to make sure her son was still fast asleep, Catherine turned the object toward the wall.
Laughter echoed in her left ear as his arms snaked around her waist from behind, "You do realize he can't see us through that monitor," Steve said before his lips descended upon her shoulder then worked their way along her neck until they eventually nipped at her ear.
"It makes me feel better," she twisted around to face him, smiling as his lips expertly stayed pressed against her flesh. "Hey, I think I'm supposed to be thanking you," Catherine giggled as his fingers ticked her thigh, "Steve, I wanted to…" she sucked in a breath as his fingers climbed higher beneath the t-shirt. "Steve…" she panted, "I'm serious, I wanted to make this special for you," Catherine insisted.
Steve allowed an inch of space to separate them, "Yeah?"
She nodded, reaching for the bottom hem of his black t-shirt. Catherine pulled it up and over his head as he raised his arms to help. Her palms slowly smoothed along his chest as she lifted. The shirt soon fell to the floor before she pushed him onto the bed. He smiled up at her, but she kept a serious look on her face that intrigued him. "Roll over," Catherine made a swirling motion with her right index finger as she commanded.
"Am I a dog now?" he cocked his head to one side in question.
"Just flip," she said, crawling onto the bed.
He did as she asked, laying belly down against the comforter. Steve let out a whoosh of surprised breath as she sat down on his butt. "Cath?"
Catherine leaned forward and whispered in his ear, "Stay."
"Woof!" he immediately returned.
She chuckled at his playfulness and shifted to her right to grab a bottle of lotion off her nightstand. "All I have handy is baby lotion," Catherine laughed again as she sat back against his behind, realizing how baby saturated their home had become, "Which is fine," she shrugged, squirting a goodly amount across his tan back. "You'll smell like Lucas and I always want to eat his little feet because they smell so good."
Steve glanced over his shoulder, "I'm not sure mentioning our baby while engaging in foreplay is appropriate."
"This isn't foreplay," she responded, "This is a massage," Catherine began to gently rub the tight muscles in his back. "It's a thank you for the toast and for our ten years together. And a special thank you for spending the day with Lucas. I know he's becoming quite a handful now that he's crawling and getting into stuff."
"Cath, you don't ever need to thank me for spending time with my son," Steve insisted, "I love hanging out with him."
"I know, but since I decided to go back to work and we agreed to do this co-parenting thing…" she allowed her fingers to wander a little lower down his back, "You took on a lot more than you bargained for. Even part-time daddy diaper duty is more than a lot of fathers are willing to give," Catherine acknowledged, "And I love you for it."
He turned over beneath her so that she was straddling his hips. "With all this thankfulness going on I think you need a special thank you for loving me so much."
She nodded, a big cheeky grin spread across her face, "I do, don't I?"
"You've put up with a lot over the years," he agreed, reaching for her t-shirt.
"Ten years spent loving you was hard work," Catherine kept up the game, "But I mustered through."
Steve sat up. She stayed on his lap, hands clasped behind his neck, legs wrapped about his waist, "Do you think you can muster through another ten or more years with me?" he kissed gently above her left eyebrow and then the right, "Because I'm pretty sure I could love you for the rest of my life."
Catherine smiled, "I think that was covered in the wedding vows, too," she pressed her lips against his, sucking the bottom one as she parted them with her tongue.
The baby monitor crackled with a static-y cry. Then there was silence again.
Her head dipped, forehead resting against his shoulder. "He was really, really tired," Catherine whispered, "That was probably just a dreaming cry."
He nodded, "Probably, but I think I'll go make sure," Steve reluctantly removed her arms from around his neck and lifted her off his lap. He sat her back against the bed, "I want to be sure we have uninterrupted time," his brow arched, "Sit and stay," he waged a finger at her.
"Woof!" she returned his earlier sentiment.
Steve chuckled softly as he left their room.
Catherine crawled across the bed after he'd gone. She grabbed the baby monitor and watched as Steve rested his forearms against the crib to check on their son.
"All right, here's the sitrep, son," Steve's words carried over the monitor and she smiled to hear him use a whispered version of his military authority voice, "Mommy and I need some alone time. It's been a while… quite a long stretch. Okay, so there have been small moments here and there since you were born, but this is an important night for us. It's our anniversary, and without this day in history you wouldn't be here."
It was quiet for a moment as she watched Steve watching the baby. The boy didn't make a peep, seeming to be asleep for good. Catherine smiled when Steve kissed one finger and pressed it gently atop the baby's head, caressing the little boy's downy-soft dark hair.
"Night-night, Lucas," Steve whispered to the baby, "Mommy and I love you oodles of noodles."
She had tears in her eyes as he reentered their bedroom. Catherine sat forward on her knees and swiped the tears.
"Get your fine tushy back over here so I can finish thanking you properly," she lovingly ordered.
"Yes, ma'am," he eagerly agreed.