More than Love
Summary: Tie-in and continuation oneshots to my story Love is not enough, prompted and original ones.
Pairings: Steve/Cath, minor Kono/Adam and Danny/Gabby
Slowly opening her eyes as pain invaded her system, she could not believe where she was. She was back in that godforsaken warehouse, hanging from the ceiling with rivets of blood making their way down her body and soaking her clothes. She could feel the burn marks tingling and her joints complaining every movement but also the absolute lack thereof. Her wrists were sore and bleeding; she could feel the shackles biting into her skin even further as she tried to relieve some of the ache, some of the pressure. She had no strength to pull herself up, could only hang limply from her constraints.
Her mind was foggy. Her world existed of nothing but pain. Looking down at herself, she realized that someone must have started playing with a knife around her. She was cut open in several places all across her body. The cuts weren't deep, but they had bled. Around some of them the skin was glowing in an angry red shade that made her think they were infected. How long had she been here? It must have been at least a few days for the injuries to become infected. They had been left untreated so there was no doubt that her captors intended for her to die here – by their torture or through infection, whichever happened first.
A look at her body also made her realize that she had been undressed of her uniform shirt and pants. Nothing but her underwear was covering her modesty, not that that was truly something which should occupy her mind at that moment. She had enough other problems without worrying about showing a little skin. Not that anyone would find anything remotely attractive about her skin anymore. Her underwear had been turned bright red as it had soaked up so much of her blood. She was covered in cuts, bruises and burn marks. Wo Fat had made good on his word to reduce her to a state that not even Steve would want her back.
The thought of the man she loved cleared her fuzzy mind somewhat. All that blood loss must have slowed down her thinking. Wo Fat had thrown her out of a moving car, and she'd woken up in hospital with Steve hovering close to her bed. He had hit and electrocuted her, but he hadn't cut her, and he hadn't stripped her down. So how come she was back here, and in the grips of new height of pain? She didn't understand what was going on. She turned to look to her side, and that movement provoked a searing pain in every muscle of her neck. She would have screamed in agony, but she could not find her voice
Somehow she managed, and she saw the petite hooded figure looking back at her. Wo Fat had killed Doris, but she seemed to be sitting right there, still witness to every horrible thing the arms dealer did to her. Catherine began shaking her head in disbelief. She paid no mind to the agonizing pain that raced through her every nerve; this couldn't be real. They had buried Doris McGarrett just a few days ago. She remembered that. She remembered staying awake with Steve the night before, comforting him during the ceremony, talking to their friends and her parents. She remembered holding onto his shaking form as grief finally took him. Doris McGarrett was dead; she could not be sitting there a few feet from her.
She simply could not.
"Catherine." That was her voice. "Catherine, I'm so sorry."
She just kept shaking her head, turning away fro the older woman, because this couldn't be real, and she was not in the habit of talking to ghosts. Doris McGarrett was dead and buried. Yet Catherine's mind quickly supplied her with the question of what she was to do if the woman was alive. What if it had all been a dream, a nice, wonderful little fantasy. Not perfect, Doris' death certainly proved that, but a happy ending nonetheless. What if she had never left that warehouse, if Wo Fat had not given her back to Steve? She had suffered severe blood loss. It was not in the realm of impossibility that she had passed out, and dreamt it all up. All of it. Her rescue, the time in the hospital, Steve's declaration of love. That truly seemed like something that might have sprung from her imagination, though he had actually said the words before. She had been so dumbfounded and so happy when he had said it all again in the hospital – when he had promised her no more doubts, no more running.
It would mean that there was still a chance to save Doris.
It would mean that she was still stuck hanging from a ceiling, and waiting to be tortured.
As selfish as it was, she didn't want to believe that it was all just a dream.
Footsteps informed her that someone was approaching her from behind. She tried to look around, but the pain could not longer be ignored, and she gave up. The man, Wo Fat no doubt, stopped directly behind her. She could feel his warmth seeping into her uncovered skin. His hands grasped her hips, and moved along her body as he slowly rounded on her. As his face came into view, Catherine choked out a strangled sob, and tears sprung to her eyes. The man before her wasn't Wo Fat or one of his goonies.
It was Ben.
She'd known deep down that he had betrayed her, but to com to this. She tried to shake her head again, because this couldn't be happening. Ben had not been present at her torture. He had not participated in it. A fact he was intent to amend, it seemed, as he slowly took a knife from where it was secured at his belt. The blade was covered in dried blood. He had not bothered to clean it after his initial torment of her.
"There you are, Cathy," he taunted evenly. "The guys didn't think you'd make it this time, but I knew you would."
Oh God, she really had never left! He caressed her face with the blunt side of the knife.
"You are a fighter after all. You can take a little rough handling, can't you, Cathy?"
"She tried to spit at him, but she had no saliva left, and the movement only served to make the knife bite into her cheek.
"Still such fight in you, huh?", he asked, then slapped her across the face. "A woman after my own heart. Pity you went back to screwing McGarrett. We could have been so good together. You're wasted on him."
He moved to stabilize her face, then turned it around to get a good look at the cut. He leaned in, and his tongue came out to lick the trickle of blood away. Then he kissed her, forcing her mouth open so she could taste her own blood on his tongue. Before she could bite him, however, he had retreated again. She spit at him again, this time spraying him with the mixture of his own saliva and her blood that he had left in her mouth. He laughed at her for her effort.
"Oh Cathy, I wish I could keep you. I still might take... a souvenir. I wasn't your first, but maybe I could be your last. Can't let McGarrett have that, can I?" He approached her again, lifting her legs up to wrap them around his waist, earning himself a strangled cry from her at how much the sudden movement hurt. Not there was ever a breather from the pain. Her core came into alignment with his, and he held her to him. His knife was pressed flat against her back, and he was looking at her intently as if searching for a sign of fear in her dark eyes. Catherine set her jaw and steadied her gaze. She felt fear and revulsion at his touch, but she was loathe to let him know that. He would read nothing from her face. He grasped her face again, the knife splayed against her unhurt cheek. "Pity to destroy something so beautiful."
Then she watched with her heart in her throat as the knife moved over her face, and the blade descended into her flesh.
"And that's when I woke up," Catherine finished her account for Commander Klesko as the psychiatrist scribbled something onto her pad. A shiver ran through her at remembering the vividness of the dream. "He was never in my dreams of that day before. He wasn't there; he doesn't belong there.
"How does this change make you feel?", the older woman asked.
Catherine stood up from her chair in a huff, and paced around the office. She hated these questions. She was never sure what to say to them. She didn't know how anything of what had transpired with Ben and Wo Fat made her feel. Things were so complicated now. In that moment all she had was the instinct to survive, and that was all that mattered. Now, after all was said and done, there were other things to consider. She had found out early on that lying in a hammock was out of the question for the time being; the suspension gave her flashbacks and a panic attack. Same with having her arms held or restrained in any way. She was more skittish and jumpy now than she had been after Petty Officer Derryl had tried to kill her. She felt responsible for Doris' death. She knew it wasn't her fault, but the thought wouldn't leave her head that maybe if she had recognized Doris, they might have... Might have what? Nothing could have been done for Doris. Her death was a spontaneous decision on Wo Fat's part.
And Ben. He had been arrested in front of the hospital after making the call that led Five-0 to Wo Fat. Due to this the arms dealer had finally been caught, and killed in the execution of the police raid. Still, if only she'd realized sooner what he was; that he was planted, they might have been able to avoid so much. Or would they have?
"I should have guessed," she finally burst out, sitting down again. Commander Klesko raised an eyebrow, silently asking her to elaborate. "That Ben wasn't who he said he was. That it was all a set up."
"How could you have known?"
"It was too perfect. I realize that now. I just broke up with Steve, and a week later I meet this guy who's almost like the lighter, less emotionally stunted version of my SEAL? What are the odds? I should have known."
"It might have been a coincidence."
"Those take a lot of planning."
"That's an idiom I didn't know yet," Commander Klesko said with a smile.
"Chin... uh, a friend of Steve says it all the time. I'm inclined to agree."
"And that makes you feel guilty?"
"I don't feel guilty, exactly, more...like an idiot."
"Being Navy Intelligence does not make you a mind reader, LT. Nobody expects you to know everything, and neither should you." Commander Klesko decided to break protocol a little. She was not supposed to voice opinions or make statements. She was hear to ask questions, assess the trauma, and help her patients talk themselves out of the emotional repercussions and into a healed state.
"Easier said than done, Ma'am."
The commander paused for a brief moment. Lieutenant Rollins seemed to be truly upset with herself over her inability to see through Ben Foster's charade. More importantly, Commander Klesko thought that she might feel guiltier still over her repeated nightmares. The older woman was relatively certain that the young officer was mostly frustrated because she didn't feel like she was making any progress. She saw that a lot and in all kinds of patients. People didn't like to come to her, because the automatic societal connotation was that there must be something seriously wrong with them, some mental disease or other, just because they needed help, needed to talk about their problems. Well, at least for Lieutenant Rollins she could alleviate some fears today.
"If it helps, you're making good progress."
Catherine Rollins looked at her in complete disbelief.
"How am I making progress?!", she asked with an undignified snort. "After six weeks of therapy I'm still incredibly jumpy. I have nightmares every other night, and now my psychopath of an ex-boyfriend turns up in dreams of things for which he was not even present. He wasn't there when I was tortured. Short of knocking me out the night I was kidnapped, he never lay a hand on me, yet there he is in my dreams, cutting me up like pork loin. How is this progress?"
"First of all, I disagree with you being incredibly jumpy. You are, in fact, a lot calmer than you were when you first came to me. You have also opened up, telling me freely about what bothers you while I basically had to drag it from you during our first couple of sessions. Ah, at least you have the decency to look ashamed of yourself. Good. That was bloody hard work, let me tell you."
That brought a smile to Catherine's lips.
"You can joke about this, not to mention the 'pork loin' comment; those are very good signs indeed, and I apologize for what I said just now. That was very unprofessional of me, but I wanted to make a point."
Catherine rolled her eyes, though she had to admit that she was rather nonchalant when talking about it. When she had first woken up, though... It didn't feel like progress then.
"Most importantly, tell me, what is the first thing you become aware of when you wake up, and how long does it take you?"
"Steve's voice," she said without thinking about it. "I instantly recognize Steve's voice, and then his arms around me. It's like I home in on him. He anchors me."
She woke with a start, almost sitting upright in bed. Steve's voice was murmuring softly to her. She couldn't make out what he was saying, but he had sat up with her, and his lips were moving against her hair. There was a weight on her side. She reached down instinctively, and his hand wrapped around hers when she reached it. His arm pulled her closer to him until her back was firmly pressed against his chest. Even in their semi-upright position, she could feel the strong plains of his body. He was holding her to him, guiding her back down onto the mattress. His nose was softly brushed against her ear. Tears were beginning to stream down her face as her heart rate slowed to a normal level. He always woke up before her when she had a nightmare, almost like he could tell she was in distress even in his sleep. He woke up, and would gently bring her back to the waking world as well, and she loved him for it, but she hated doing this to him. She hated that she woke him up every other night when he had to get up early anyway.
Sensing her distress again, he turned her around to face him, and brushed her tears away. His eyes were wide awake to take her in as she mumbled her usual apologies. As every other night he waved them away, and held her tighter instead. Now their chests were squashed together, and she could feel his heart hammering against her chest. Her nightmare had caused him almost as much agitation as herself. Fresh tears pricked at her eyes, and she really needed to get control over that; she hated being a crybaby. He nestled her head against one arm, and snaked the other one more fully around her. His hand on her back was like a furnace, spreading warmth through her chilled body. Whereas Ben's touch in the dream had been burning, revolting to her very core, Steve's gentle, soothing caress along her back made her genuinely happy. She gave him a kiss to which he lazily responded, then she snuggled closer into him, and drifted back off to sleep.
"And how does that make you feel?", Commander Klesko asked, bemused as she had noticed the Lieutenant's mind wandering off. Catherine threw her a glance. The woman knew what she thought of those kinds of questions.
"Safe. I've always felt safe in Steve's arms. Like nothing can hurt me," she answered wistfully. "It took him seven years to tell me he loved me, but I always knew, because there would be those moments. I could tell from the very first time. He would look at me like there was nothing but me in his entire world. And the world would fall away."
Commander Klesko smiled. Her patient had just answered her own question. The jumpiness would not go away over night. Neither would the nightmares, but Lieutenant Rollins was string. She had set herself firmly on the path towards healing, and she was dealing with it. Lieutenant Commander McGarrett's presence was certainly helping her along a lot. She just needed to make sure not to become too dependent. From what she knew of the couple they relied on each other equally, and the Lieutenant did not strike her like the kind of woman who would give up her independence for a man.
"I guess our hour is up," the psychiatrist commented. "You have an appointment scheduled for next week?"
"Lieutenant, you know you're always welcome to see me about anything, and I would like to keep our weekly appointments for now to monitor your progress, but I don't think it is me you need to talk to," she informed the younger woman calmly as she walked her to the door. Lieutenant Rollins froze for a second.
"I don't think I can..." She looked at Commander Klesko desperately.
"You'll find the strength within yourself, Catherine. I know it's there. You just have be brave enough to go looking for it."
With these parting words she opened the door to reveal Lieutenant Commander McGarrett pacing anxiously outside her office in wait for his girlfriend. Commander Klesko raised an eyebrow. She was positive the man had not been there when their session began. If she were a betting woman, she would have good money on the theory that the Commander was overcompensating for past oversights. She looked at the other Navy officer beside her, and mentally patted herself on the back for coming to the right conclusion. Catherine Rollins seemed to realize it, too.
"Steve, what are you doing here?"
"I had Danny drop me off-"
"You mean you dropped yourself off in his car, and then finally let him drive it," Catherine asked mischievously.
"You know me too well." The Commander grinned at her while she shook her head.
"You didn't have to come."
"I wanted to." The answer came promptly, but not hastily, and both women could tell that he was telling the truth. The handsome flush on his face made that clear enough by showing them how embarrassed he was. Doting on his girlfriend was obviously not something he was used to doing, nor Catherine Rollins to be at the receiving end of it as she flushed prettily as well. Commander Klesko shook her head. She'd never admit it, but Captain Coulston was right; these two deserved each other. "And it's not like I have a lot to do at the moment. I'm really just pushing pencils at the office."
Catherine nodded. In the fight against Wo Fat, Steve had gotten a few scrapes and bruises. Worst of all, though, was the fissure in his arm. While it hadn't required a cast, the doctor made it absolutely clear that Steve was to rest that arm for the next four to six weeks or a cast would be put on to do the job for him. Her man had been going crazy with nothing to do but filling out paperwork. He wasn't even allowed to train or practice his shooting or go surfing. Swimming and running were also out of the question. Curling up with her on the couch and watching a movie hadn't been too bad, but after a week in a row even Catherine had been going nuts. He had been completely banned from anything that he would consider work or fun. Never mind any other... activities he might find interesting. They had found some ways around that. Catherine flushed a little brighter at that thought.
"There's a bathroom just down the floor, LT Rollins. Why don't you take a moment?", Commander Klesko suggested, though she was loathe to interrupt their moment. As amusing as this was, she had the feeling that there was a little more to the Commander's visit than what he was willing to admit in front of his girlfriend. The younger woman nodded, and disappeared down the hall. The psychiatrist turned to Lieutenant Commander McGarrett. "Is there something you wanted to tell me, Commander?"
"I know you can't talk about it, Commander. I... I'm just worried. This whole situation is my fault, and now she's hurting, and she feels guilty because her nightmares wake me up, and I can't do anything. I'm useless to her." The man's face was sombre.
"You're right, I can't talk about anything, but I can give you some advice," she suggested, and continued when the SEAL nodded at her. "Be yourself. Support her when she needs it, give her space when she needs it, let her handle things herself until she tells you about them. Be there for her, but not overbearing. There is no need to hover in front of my office; in the long run it will just make her feel helpless, and we don't want that. Also, respect her decisions. She needs to find her own path out of this. You and everyone else are only along for the ride."
"Pick her up when she stumbles, but let her choose her own course and pace. Got it," he nodded.
"Good. Tell her she is welcome to come to me before our scheduled appointment if she feels like she needs to this week."
Steve looked after her as the psychiatrist went back into her office. Her parting words puzzled him. He wondered if Catherine's condition had worsened. They met several times a week for the first two weeks of her treatment, and were now down to weekly meetings. Had something happened that he wasn't aware of? Then again, the Commander's words would indicate that something was still going to happen that would require Catherine to come back here sooner. He pondered what that could be, but couldn't come up with anything.
He felt a slender hand on his arm, and looked down to find a very serious Catherine looking back up at him. His glance flitted to Commander Klesko's closed door as he realized that this may well be what the older woman had been talking about. Quickly he redirected his questioning expression to Catherine. He saw her swallow, and lick her lips nervously before finally opening her mouth to speak.
"I have to talk to Ben."
A/N: FicreaderT requested a oneshot about trauma management, and here it is. We will see a bit more of Catherine's trauma throughout some of the other oneshots as healing takes time.