More Than Love
Summary: Steve gets shot, again. How does his new fiancé react? And what about the others when they are told the good news?
Pairings: Steve/Cath, minor Kono/Adam, Chin/Malia
Warnings: shameless fluff (it will give you cavities)
Danny met her in the entrance hall. When he saw her hurry in, the detective immediately held his hands up to placate her. He recognized that frantic, worried look from when his partner had made a similar trip to the hospital to find Catherine's small form in a hospital bed. He grasped hold of Ramboette's upper arms, instinctively knowing that for all the friendship and affection between them she would march right passed him if he didn't focus her attention. Danny said her name a couple of times until he was sure she was actually seeing him instead of just looking right through him.
"Catherine, don't worry, he's okay-"
"He's not okay, Danny. Don't give me that shit. If he were okay, he wouldn't be here," the woman in question growled back with barely restrained impatience. Danny lifted an eyebrow wondering if she might actually be more difficult to handle in this situation than Steve had been. "What happened?"
"He was shot, but he's o- gonna be fine. It's a through and through. It's just the shoulder. They're keeping him to be safe. He's gonna be fine," Danny barked out, in a rush to get the information to her before she could dash off to find him and be even more worried when she finds him. Steve looks worse than his injury makes him feel. Swallowing, the detective continued on more quietly. "He's fine, Cath, honestly."
"He better be. He owes me a ring," she muttered with a shrewd grin on her face. The soft murmur threw Danny for a loop, but Catherine waved his confusion away when she saw his face. "Nevermind, it's a long story."
"Uh, well, he asked for you. Come on."
He led her to the elevator, but Catherine, full of nervous energy, passed it by and opted for the stairs instead. Though Danny was tired and sore from the day, he could understand her need for movement, her need to do something – anything – as she tried to put her mind to rest with his flimsy words of comfort. So he followed her through the door and up the stairs without so much as a grumble of protest. They made it to the third floor, where Steve's room was allocated. Danny informed her quietly that the rest of Five-0 and Duke Lukela were already there. Catherine nodded quietly. Something twisted in her at being the last to arrive at his bedside, but she knew rationally that it wasn't her fault it took so long to disentangle herself from her duties at Pearl. She had taken up work again, yet her ongoing recovery prevented the Navy from deploying her at sea again for the time being.
Catherine stopped short of the actual room for a moment and Danny waited patiently with her, thankfully not asking her any questions as she wondered. Since the defeat of Wo Fat, she and Steve had barely spent a free minute apart. As if they needed to make up for lost time and needed to assure themselves that they were still alive and together, they had clung to one another. Catherine shuddered now, thinking of how easily they could be ripped apart again. She was a sailor and, as soon as she had fully recovered physically and emotionally, she was likely to be send out again to wherever the Navy thought it needed her the most. She and Steve would be separated again, for months at a time. It had never been much of a problem before, but now she wasn't sure if she could handle it anymore, or if she even wanted to. The dark-haired woman swallowed and shook her head free of the bothersome thoughts. She could ponder the details later, she decided as she pushed the door to Steve's room open.
Duke and the team turned their heads in her direction as she came in with Danny in tow. There was no surprise on their faces, as they had known that Danny had gone down to wait for her, but a quiet aura of relief filtered through to her as they made space for her. Her first unobstructed view of Steve made her want to cry – with relief or frustration, she wasn't sure. His face was bruised and his arm was in a brace. He looked tired and worn, head resting heavily on the pillows and eyes half lidded as if he was about to drift off. They opened wider when he saw her and he tried to sit up straighter from the slouched position she had found him in, but the struggle proved futile and apparently painful if the hiss was anything to go by, so he gave up after a few seconds. Catherine cocked her head to the side with a soft smile at her tough sailor, trying so hard to look well for her and take her worry away. Without conscious thought, she had moved to the side of his bed. Bending down she gave him the gentlest kiss onto his temple. She heard him hum and grumble in response.
"Come on, Cath, what's with the peck? I'm not gonna break if you kiss me," he told her with a pout, then he raised his good arm to reach behind her head and pull her lips down to his. The kiss was chaste but strong. She wondered what he had to prove. When he let her up again, she could feel her own confusion and worry mar her features and saw the answering depth in Steve's gaze, though she could not give it a name. "Now that's a 'glad you survived' kiss."
Her frown deepened.
"Not that there was ever any chance that I wouldn't," he amended with an embarrassed chuckle, scratching the back of his head awkwardly. He cast a glance around the room looking for support, but his friends were decidedly disinterested in helping him out of this mess. "Uhm, I'm fine, Cath, honestly. The guy was a crap shot-"
"And what if he hadn't been?", she questioned quietly. Steve didn't really have an answer for that. If he hadn't been, they wouldn't be having this conversation right now.
"You're right, but I'm careful, Cath." There was a snort from Danny and Steve glared at him. "I am," he emphasized with an honest look at his girlfriend – actually, fiancé. "You know me. I'd never take a risk unless I thought it was necessary and I always fight to come home to you."
She sniffled a little. He did have a point there. Her hand reached out to grasp his own and she was grateful when she felt that his grip was strong. He began to stroke his thumb over the back of her hand in soft, slow circles that soothed her more than any of his assurances ever could. She leaned her forehead against his, sharing a smile with him.
"We could tell them now," she whispered, then bit her lip. "I kinda already blew it anyway. I told Danny that you owe me a ring, though I don't think he understood the comment."
Steve grinned. Maybe he should feel insulted that his best friend hadn't come to the obvious conclusion, apparently not thinking him capable of settling down, but all he could think of was how that meant he'd still get to see Danny's face when they told everyone. They'd kept their New Year's celebration a secret, wanting to share their new relationship with none but each other for a while. They had reveled in the novelty of it, yet found peace in how right and familiar it felt, too. Changing a label, they had changed their whole world and yet merely set things right. Steve kissed Catherine again with a passion.
"Okay, I think that's our cue," Kono said with a laugh. "If you're gonna be like that, it's better if we leave the room."
"Wait," Steve called them back when they made to leave the room. He cleared his throat as he squeezed Catherine's hand. "Before you all go, we have an announcement to make."
They took in their friends confusion and curiosity with a certain satisfaction. The couple shared a smile and Steve might have laughed when he saw Danny mouth open and close like a fish's as he seemed to come to the obvious conclusion after all. He and Catherine chuckled as they watched his gob-smacked expression glancing from one to the other.
"You're getting married," the detective blurted to everyone's surprise. All heads now turned between him and the happy couple, who couldn't have wiped the huge grins off their faces if they'd tried. Steve and Catherine both chuckled lowly.
"Yeah, there you go, blurt it out," Steve told him, laughing.
"Yeah, but... you... that's why you said 'ring'... and... you," Danny finished with a hiss and withering glare at his partner. "How long have you been keeping this from me -us, from us, your friends?! You're getting married!"
"Since New Year's," the SEAL chuckled at the outraged look on his partner's face as everyone else silently watched their verbal sparring match in awe. Getting Danny to be at a loss for words was a sight to behold.
"Aww, don't be mad at him, Danny. I wanted to keep it between us for a bit, you know, just enjoying the newness of it all," Catherine came to his defense with a pout.
"And see if he'd back out? Cause, I tell you, this guy has commitment issues."
"Danny," Steve grumbled.
"Not even for a second." Catherine confidence made her fiancé stop short of whatever he had meant to say next. He looked back at her, struck by her faith in him after everything they'd gone through. In her determined defense of him, she had sat down on the bed at his side, leaning closer as if to shield him with her body. "He may have never called me his girlfriend until recently, or told me he loved me, but I never doubted his feelings for a second. Not even when he left me, twice."
She had added that last bit for Steve, who had the decency to flush in embarrassment at being reminded of how her ill-fated dalliance with Billy Harrington had come about. He ducked his head and murmured an apology he wasn't sure even Catherine herself had heard. He scrunched up his nose in distaste at how he had handled his budding feelings for Catherine when they had first presented themselves, then again when Wo Fat had come into his life and Catherine had first settled on O'ahu.
"Well," Chin spoke up as he came forward to pat Steve on the uninjured shoulder, then proceeded to hug Catherine tightly, "I think congratulations are in order to both of you."
"Yeah, congratulations, boss, sista," Kono added with a big grin on her face as she nearly hugged the life out of Catherine. Duke shook her hand, smiling a little awkwardly when McGarrett's lady friend drew him into a soft embrace. They shared another smile before he followed the others out of the room. Danny was the last to leave, hand rubbing over the back of his neck. He finally gave the two a grin and his murmured heartfelt wishes.
"You're good for him, you know, Catherine. He'd be lost without you," he told Catherine quietly as he held her. She rubbed her cheek over his shoulder in acknowledgement and squeezed him a bit more tightly. "As you would be without him, I guess. All the best, you two."
The couple's eyes followed their friends out the door. Steve chuckled lightly as he observed his ohana. There was nothing normal about their little family, yet it was perfect in their eyes. As annoying as he had found Danny at first, he knew he couldn't imagine life without him or the others anymore. He looked up at the dark-haired beauty next to him. It had been a while since he'd last dared to think of life without her. He had been honest with her when he said that he could live without her, but that he really, really didn't want to. He didn't want to wake up alone, didn't want to go a day without seeing her smile at him ever again. It had taken him almost a decade to admit to this, though he had known how he felt before he ever dumped her in a panic. Recalling how much time they had wasted apart, dating other people over the eighteen months after he had let go of her, made him shudder. He grasped her hand tightly and squeezed it. The look in her eyes when they fell on him again was so soft, like a caress across his skin. Oftentimes they were all passion, heated touches and bruising kisses, but then there were times when their love making was sweet and slow. She always touched him with such care and attention then, as if he were the most precious thing in the world. Her barely-there-touches, the soft pressure of her finger tips across his skin set a slow burning fire alight in him. He felt safe, protected and, more than anything, cherished.
"Kiss me again," he murmured. "Like when you came in."
She cocked her head to the side in confusion, but did as he asked. He felt the tentative press of her lips against his temple. He could only compare it to a butterfly, landing briefly on his skin to take a rest before fluttering off, and it evoked an entirely different set of butterflies in his stomach. The tickling that spread through his insides made him sigh contentedly.
"I love it when you do that – treat me like I'm precious and... fragile."
"But," she piped up, surprised. She knew he enjoyed their leisurely love making as much as her, but he had never given her any indication that he appreciated it outside their bedroom. Hadn't he just scolded her for treating him as if he would break mere minute ago? "You said-"
"I lied," he admitted sheepishly, then clarified. "For the team. I'm their leader. I have to be strong for them, invincible. They have to know that I'll always come back, but with you... Catherine, we're getting married. I want to share everything with you and this is part of it... I love that I can be vulnerable with you."
She smiled the sweetest smile, a small tear sparkling in the corner of her eye. To be trusted so by the man she loved, a man she knew had trust issues – it was almost more than she could bear. She leaned down again to kiss his lips as softly as she had kissed his temple.
They shared another smile, but the moment was broken by the rumbling of Catherine's stomach.
"Someone's hungry," Steve teased.
"Ugh, sorry. It took ages to get away from work and I was so worried, I guess I forgot the time. Do you mind if I grab something from the vending machine real quick?"
"Vending machine?", he asked, incredulous. "Cath, you need to eat more than a cereal bar. Go to the cafeteria."
She looked unsure, even as her stomach rumbled in agreement.
"I'll be fine Catherine. The pain meds are making me tired anyway. I'll take a little nap while you take your time eating properly, then you come back and wake me and we can find something to entertain ourselves." He gave her a suggestive look and she laughed.
"Oh, you're terrible."
"And you're hungry," he responded indicating her stomach as it growled again.
"Okay, okay, I'm going," she admitted defeat as she got up. She squeezed his hand one more time and was out the door. Closing the door with a grin on her face, she turned around to find Danny, grinning like an idiot as he looked back at her. She stopped like a deer caught in the headlight. Upon coming outside into the hall, she had noticed that the door hadn't been completely closed before. If he had been out here the entire time, he must have gotten an earful, but then, Catherine couldn't imagine why he would eavesdrop. Cautiously, she faced him more fully. "Danny? Did you forget something?"
"Uhm, yeah, that is, no," he fumbled for words. Taking a calming breath, he went on. "I just... my reaction wasn't exactly stellar in there, so I thought I'd come back and apologize and give you proper congratulations, but when I got here you seemed to be in the middle of a meaningful conversation-" Here his grin spread across his entire face. "-and I didn't want to intrude."
"So, you heard... all of that?"
"The most important bits, certainly. I must say, I never thought he could be such a romantic. I mean I imagined he was different when it was just the two of you, otherwise it would have been a true miracle that you've stuck around so long, but I never imagined – this is huge."
"This doesn't leave this hospital, Danny, ever," Catherine said matter-of-factly.
"Not even a little bit?", he asked, taken somewhat aback by her serious demeanor. Typically, she had no problem ganging up on Steve with him, teasing him mercilessly because they both knew he needed a little teasing and fun in his life. "Only for special occasions, like when he got us shot at particularly often?"
"You were not meant to hear that, Danny, so you'll act as if you hadn't. You will not share this with anyone – Steve, the team or even with Grace. I mean it," she growled back at him. The expression on her face was a no-nonsense one, too, and Danny figured that she had a point.
"You're right," he sighed. "That was meant for you and you alone. It's just, you know, surprising that he can be like that. Only with you, Catherine. If he can drop his invincible SuperSEAL persona for you to take care of him even in such a small way... You two really were made for each other and I hope you're always happy. Congratulations."
He held his arms out to her and Catherine slid into them easily. Gone was the tough-as-nails officer who had just scolded him and back was his partner's affectionate fiancé who loved all of their ohana and got up to all kinds of mischief with Danny. He couldn't help but wonder how she could just switch it around so easily. She was so protective of his partner one moment, looking about ready to tear Danny a new one, and then she accepted his apology, retracted her claws and went back to just being Catherine. He could see why Steve had once referred to her as his lioness (1). She could be scary when provoked and her tone of voice had sure resembled an angry growl.
"Thanks, Danny," she told him, then indicated down the hall. "I was just about to get something to eat in the cafeteria. Would you like to join me? Steve needs some time to rest and I would like the company. Today's been-" She hesitated, not sure how to describe the worry and anxiety that had filled her with nervous energy ever since she had gotten his call about Steve's injury. "- it's been a long day and I haven't eaten."
He didn't need to be told twice and he didn't need her to explain. He understood perfectly how she had felt while trying to get away from base because despite being with Steve the entire time (apart from surgery), he had felt the exact same way she had. Her lover and his brother had been shot, again, and he suddenly realized that the two of them shared that connection as well. It had always been there, he'd just never consciously acknowledged it before. All their team was his ohana, but Steve was the first brother he had found on the island. Steve, Chin and Kono had made this island worthwhile for him, so he'd loved it for more than Grace living there. Now he would get a sister-in-law, too, and she was asking him to have a late lunch with her. Though he wasn't really hungry, there could only be one answer to that. He smiled.
"Lead the way."
A/N: I needed something sweet. I hope your teeth are all okay.
(1) This is not my idea. I read it in a fanfic before, somewhere on this site. I honestly can't remember which one, but the credit for this term belongs to the author of said fic.