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Oblivious - Brokering: A Double Case of Weird
Big City Diner
"So that's the charbroiled, ninety percent lean, beef burger with bacon and avocado. Sweet potato fries instead of regular for you, and the monster meatloaf over sautéed spinach with marsala mushroom sauce for the Lieutenant. Is that all, Commander?" the waitress said with a smile.
Steve nodded ."That's all." He was starving and was sure Catherine was as well. He hadn't eaten since 5:30 a.m. He'd been going nonstop all day, and when Catherine suggested stopping for dinner he'd had Danny drop him off on his way to pick up Grace at Linda's. Catherine chose the diner so Danny didn't have to drive out of the way, and told Steve to order the meatloaf if he got there first.
Five minutes after the food arrived, he watched as Catherine made her way to the curved booth and grinned as she scooted close to kiss him hello as soon as she sat down.
"Who was that?" His jaw tilted slightly towards the guy who'd she'd shut down when he approached her on her way in.
"That was Rob." She couldn't hide her smirk.
"Do I need to hate Rob? 'Cause I'm thinkin' I need to hate Rob." He lost his battle to suppress a grin.
Catherine tucked her hair behind her ear and reached over to grab a fry from his plate. "Let's say you're definitely not inviting him over for a barbecue."
Steve shot a look in Rob's direction. "I just -wait, wait, who's that?" He said as an attractive woman in her early thirties sidled up and kissed Rob in a familiar way. "That's not an 'I-just-met-you-in-a-bar or we're-on-a-date kiss. They're a couple." Incredulity tinged his voice. "He was hitting on you while his girlfriend was in the bathroom?"
"It gets better." She shook her head, dislodging a lock of hair which Steve absently reached to tuck back in place.
"Better than being a cheating creep?" He took a bite of his burger.
"Better in that that's not his girlfriend, it's his wife."
Steve's eyes narrowed.
"Who has a crush on …" She couldn't hold back a chuckle. "You."
"No, she doesn't."
"Oh yes, she does." Her nose crinkled with mirth. "And he offered to swap."
His hand stopped with fries halfway to his mouth. "And he thought I'd … that we'd … what the hell is wrong with him?"
She held up five fingers in the 'honest' gesture. "He also said his wife wouldn't mind if he hooked up with me, because she would love a crack at you, Commander." She tapped his chest.
"See, now I may have to hit him …"
She placed a hand on his arm, though he made no move to get up. "The McGarrett fanclub is apparently starting to broker through me now. Maybe you should actually hang that little 'Taken' sign around your neck like Grace suggested."
He grinned at the mention of Grace. "He just said that 'cause he was after you."
"Nope. Not buying it." She popped another of his fries in her mouth, and he pushed the dish closer to her. "There're a lot of women here he could have hit on. They recognized me and knew we were a couple. The wife having McGarrettitis is why he chose me."
Steve snatched the fry from her fingers before it reached her lips and ate it with a triumphant little smile. "You being the most beautiful woman in this place is why he chose you." He kissed her cheek. "And why are we still talking about a freak who not only cheats on his wife but doesn't care if she cheats, too?"
"Some guys would call that a perfect arrangement."
"Some guys shouldn't have wives. Or girlfriends," Steve said, matter-of-factly. " 'Cause that's not a relationship … that's not … anything."
"Look at you, Commander, setting the bar again." She leaned in and kissed him briefly.
"Like I've said, it's all you. I'm just smart enough to know how lucky I am." He smiled at her and she squeezed his bicep in return.
"Just as lucky as me."
"Not even close. Just ask Danny," he grinned, but she knew he was absolutely serious, and she smiled.
She felt absolutely lucky to have him. In all their years together, Steve never, ever gave her reason to feel jealous. In spite of the fact that he never realized it, he usually made other women jealous of her.
"I love you, McGarrett. Now, don't do anything that's gonna knock over this table, 'cause I'm really hungry," she teased as she looked across the room.
"Ah, crap." Steve tensed and followed her eyes.
"Yep," she gestured. "They're coming this way."
The overdressed woman and her too casually attired husband got closer and Steve stood, arms crossed, before they reached the booth. His glare had them exchanging a glance, and Rob continued to walk past them as she stopped.
"Rob told you it's nothing weird, right?" She addressed Catherine but her eyes devoured Steve. "And no group stuff or anything. You're sure …"
"No," Catherine said with clear intent. "And I didn't appreciate the offer, for either of us."
The woman glanced at Steve. "Too bad …"
Steve didn't let her finish, and Catherine could see he was simmering. "He's lucky Catherine didn't knock his teeth in for suggesting … what the - never mind." He shook his head. "Just keep walking."
With a disappointed shrug, she did just that.
Steve retook his seat and wrapped an arm around Catherine.
"Okay, that one was icky," she said.
"I'm sorry. And did you just say icky?" A smile threatened.
"I'm channeling Grace. And don't apologize, it's not your fault. Never is."
"But they really piss me off when they disrespect you, Cath, I …" He stopped when she placed a hand on his cheek.
"That was a double case of weird. But …we handled it. No problem. Like you said, why are we talking about a creep? Here." She cut a third of the meatloaf and added it to his dish. "It's too much, help me eat some."
With a smile he grabbed her fingers and kissed them. "Thanks. Now about that sign …"
"The Taken one?" She grinned.
He nodded. "That's kinda a giant neon one on your finger and I'm sure guys are still gonna ignore it." He nodded towards her ring, and his hand danced over her shoulder.
"Yeah, well," she pointed to his plate, said "Gimme a bite?" and tasted the burger. "Still not tattooing your name there." She gestured to her shoulder, leaning into his touch. "Or anywhere else."
Steve's laugher triggered hers, and their eyes shone with mirth at the origins of her words. His smile lit his face, and as they continued to eat contentedly, he repeated a phrase from long ago. "Understood."
Oblivious will return. Thanks for reading.
The last few lines in today's story refer to Steve and Catherine's exchange in Ilna's magnificent MORNING AFTER.
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