I finally got a couple hours to myself this morning to edit this last part so here it is… the end of my little tale.
Thank you to all who read and replied.
I'm marking this as complete because technically it is. But I have a couple of ideas for a few little one-shots that would take place after the end of this – so I may from time to time come back and post a little something here.
I've enjoyed my first foray back into fanfiction writing so you probably haven't seen the last of me. You've been duly warned...lol
Hope everyone has a very happy and healthy New Year!
Disclaimer: I don't own any rights to the show or characters of Hawaii 5-0. I only borrowed them for a while. Hate to have to give them back but...
Summary: Catherine's past collides with her present. Is the love she and Steve share strong enough to survive it?
Secrets - Chapter 8
Steve paced the hospital waiting room like a caged animal. He'd left Chin and Kono to wrap things up at the bank and he traveled to the hospital, inside the ambulance, with Catherine, while Danny and Kelsey followed behind.
There had been so much blood; it was all Steve could see when he shut his eyes. The EMT's struggled to stop it and Catherine's blood pressure dropped dangerously low in the ambulance. It had now been three hours since they'd wheeled her into surgery and Steve was climbing the walls.
Danny sat on a chair in the corner whispering on his phone and Steve figured he was talking to Chin or Kono. Kelsey was sitting in the opposite corner on the phone with the Admiral. They were the only ones in the surgical waiting room now. Earlier there had been an elderly couple there, but Steve figured his frenetic pacing drove them out. He couldn't bring himself to care at this moment.
"No, dad, don't get back on a plane until we know something. She's still in surgery."
Steve walked over and motioned for Kelsey to give him the phone. She glared at him but he just motioned more urgently. "Steve wants to talk to you."
"Jason," Steve started but was interrupted. "Yes." Pause. "There was no stopping her." Another pause. "Yes, I am well aware I am her superior, but you know how stubborn she can be when she wants to."
Steve could see Danny watching him curiously as the Admiral handed Steve his ass over the phone.
"The EMT's said something about her spleen in the ambulance." Another pause. "Yes, he's dead. If he wasn't I'd kill him with my bare hands." Another pause, then Steve cringed slightly. "With all due respect, Sir," but Steve was interrupted again. "Understood." Steve sighed and shot a glance at Kelsey. "Yes, she's fine. I'll call you as soon as we know anything."
Steve hung up and handed the phone to Kelsey without a word.
"What if I wasn't done talking to him?" she asked peevishly.
Steve glared at her silently for a minute. He didn't want to blame Kelsey for what happened. It really wasn't her fault. Craig had clearly been after revenge against Catherine for more years than he could count on one hand, but Steve needed to be angry at someone and Craig was dead.
"You had to call him before we knew anything?" Steve barked.
"He's her family."
"And what exactly am I?" Steve shouted more harshly than either of them expected. It stunned them both into silence and Danny quickly strode over to them.
"Okay, time out, Rambo," he said. "You're gonna get us kicked out of here." He looked at Kelsey and pointed. "And you, troublemaker, go sit down and stop poking the irritated tiger."
Steve stomped over to the other side of the room and threw himself in to a chair much too small for his large frame. Kelsey sank down on the chair closest to her and took a shuddering breath.
For a brief moment, Steve felt bad that he'd yelled at her. She had to be as worried about Catherine as he was. But how dare she say he's not family. He was more family to Catherine in the last several years than any of them.
And what the hell was taking so long?
Danny walked up t him with a cup of water. "Here, drink this. You're frothing at the mouth."
Steve ignored his outstretched hand so Danny set the cup on the table beside him. "Chin and Kono have everything handled at the scene and Kono is personally overseeing CSU's sweep of the creep's hotel room. His buddy is singing like a canary though."
Steve nodded. "Thanks man." After a minute Steve spoke again. "Danny… about what you heard earlier. Please don't judge Catherine. There is a lot to the story you don't know."
"We're ohana, babe," Danny replied simply, waving his hand dismissively. "Nothing will ever change that."
"Thanks, bro," Steve said over the lump in his throat.
"I have to go pick up Grace from the airportl now though."
Steve sighed heavily. "Don't bring her back here. Not until we know something."
"I won't. I don't want her here right now. I don't want her in the middle of all this."
"What are you doing to say to her?"
Danny shook his head. "I don't know yet. I guess I'll just tell her Catherine got hurt at work today so we're postponing the party."
Steve gave him a look.
"What? Don't look at me like that. I know she's going to find out sooner or later that Catherine was shot, but she'll want to rush over here if she knows and Catherine needs time to get out of here and home and settled before we let Monkey at her."
Steve actually smiled, for two reasons. First, because Danny said so confidently that Catherine would get out of here and go home and that was exactly what Steve needed to hear right now. And second, Grace loved Catherine and of course she would want to rush over to be with her.
"Good luck keeping her away."
"Yeah," Danny said sarcastically. "A man can dream though right"
"Go, get out of here," Steve urged.
"Call me as soon as you know anything." Danny squeezed Steve's shoulder.
Danny left and Steve closed his eyes, willing away, to no avail, the throbbing headache splitting his skull. He and Kelsey continued their waiting room stand-off until, finally, a half hour later a female doctor in scrubs walked in.
Both Steve and Kelsey stood up.
"Which one of you is here for Catherine Rollins?"
"I am," both Steve and Kelsey said at the same time.
"She's my sister," Kelsey said just as Steve added, "I'm Commander Steve McGarrett of 5-0. Catherine works with me and was shot during a hostage situation."
The doctor looked at both of them before addressing Steve. "I'm sorry, Commander, but I can only speak to the family at this point."
Steve was about to go off when unexpectedly Kelsey spoke up. "He's family too."
Steve whipped his head to the side and he looked at Kelsey in shock, then he nodded gratefully.
"Okay then. I'm Dr. Hale. Ms. Rollins is stable. We were able to stop the bleeding and we administered three blood transfusions. The bullet grazed the lower tip of her spleen. That's why there was so much blood loss. Spleen's love to bleed."
Steve sighed silently with relief; at least there was an explanation for all that blood.
"Ms. Rollins was hemorrhaging internally so we had to perform an open incision procedure rather than the laparoscopic. Once we contained the bleeding we were able to address the damage to her spleen."
"Did you have to remove it?" Steve asked.
"No, not entirely at the point. We did have to remove a section. We're trying to preserve the organ, but there is no guarantee our efforts will be successful. We'll just have to see how her body responds in the next twenty four to forty eight hours. If we have to go back in and remove the rest of it we will."
"Was there any other damage?"
"No, she's very lucky. The bullet entered and exited clean. The hemorrhaging was the most life threatening issue we were dealing with, which made her twice as lucky that you got her here when you did. Ten minutes more and there wouldn't have been anything we could have done to save her."
Steve felt his knees go weak.
"So she'll be alright now though?" Kelsey asked quietly.
"Barring any unexpected complications, there is no reason why she shouldn't be."
"When can we see her?" Steve asked.
"She's in recovery now. She'll be there for another hour or so then we'll move her to ICU."
"Wait? ICU? I thought you said she was going to be fine."
"Normal procedure," Dr. Hale assured. "There is a higher than normal risk of infection when dealing with the spleen so we want to monitor her closely until we are sure no infection is setting in."
"How long will she be in ICU?"
"Probably just overnight. We'll have to see. If she does well and has no sign of complications by morning we'll remove her from the ventilator and move her into a standard room."
"How long will she have to be hospitalized?" Steve asked.
"At least four or five days. Then she will have a four to eight week recovery period."
"That long?" Steve asked surprised.
"Ms. Rollins' body experienced extreme trauma from the gunshot wound alone, but the spleen is a tricky organ. A person can live a long healthy life without one, but trauma to or the removal of the organ wrecks quite a bit of havoc on the body, at least temporarily."
"Okay," Steve sighed, his brain a bit on overload at the moment. "Thank you."
"Uh huh," Dr. Hale smiled. "I'll have a nurse come and let you know once she's settled in ICU."
Steve stood watching the door for a minute, after Dr. Hales exited. He closed his eyes and just breathed for a minute, letting the relief flood him. He heard sniffling beside him. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Kelsey still standing in the exact spot she was in when the doctor left. Her head was down and her shoulders were shaking.
Clearly this was all too much for the young girl. He reached over and placed his hand gently on her shoulder, not wanting to scare her, but wanting to offer some kind of support because Catherine would want him to.
Abruptly she turned into him and buried her face in his chest as she cried.
Steve sat beside Catherine's bed, listening to the beeping of the monitor and the whooshing of the ventilator. Kelsey had left with Kono a few hours ago to give her statement at headquarters. Then she was going back to her hotel and she would be back in the morning.
She had called the Admiral after they spoke with Dr. Hale, but had quickly thrown the phone at him, throwing him to the proverbial wolves, to give Catherine's parents the latest update. Steve managed to convince them to remain in San Diego, at least for the time being.
Steve was, now, just settling more comfortably in the chair, intending to get a little shut eye, the day finally catching up with him. The nurses in ICU had been great, letting both he and Kelsey in to see Catherine long after official visiting hours were over. Chin had brought him some dinner from Rainbow a half hour ago, but he hadn't managed to eat much.
Catherine looked so pale and fragile in her hospital bed, connected to all those machines that monitored everything from her heart rate, to her blood pressure, to her oxygen level.
Damn, he freaking hated hospitals.
Steve thought back to Catherine's last foray in the hospital, the night Billy died. He'd been beside himself and she'd only been grazed in the arm by a bullet. Looking back now, that was a walk in the park.
He held Catherine's hand in his and his thumb gently caressed the back of her hand. Steve looked over as the door opened and the nurse walked in. They must have changed shifts because she was new. She was blonde and round and looked to be in her early fifties. She also had a very no nonsense air about her. Steve smiled as she approached Catherine's bedside.
"Visiting hours are over. You can return tomorrow after ten," she said as she checked Catherine's vitals on the monitor beside the bed.
"I'm not leaving," Steve said matter-of-factly.
She raised an eyebrow as she looked at him. "I'm afraid you're going to have to leave, Sir. We're very strict in ICU about visiting hours. The patients here need to be able to rest."
"I won't get in your way," Steve assured. "I'm just going to sit here and watch her sleep. You won't even know I'm here."
"I can't let you do that," she insisted. "I know the other nurses sometimes look the other way but it's against regulation. She's only going to be sleeping tonight. The doctor has her heavily sedated. Now you need to go and you can come back in the morning."
"I'm not leaving," Steve said firmly.
"I'm going to have to call security then," the nurse's eyes flashed with annoyance.
That was it.
Steve was at his breaking point and he was really glad Catherine was asleep and wasn't going to witness it. She'd never let him live it down. Of course, knowing her, she could probably hear him right now and would give him hell once she woke, but he'd gladly take her wrath if it meant she was awake and okay.
"Look, Nurse," Steve looked at her badge, "Janie. I'm Commander Steve McGarrett of 5-0." That was the second time today he'd thrown his position around in this hospital but he really didn't care. "I. Am. Not. Leaving. Catherine's. Side," Steve enunciated each word slowly. "You can call the doctor, you can call security, you can call any damn person you please, but all it will take is one phone call from me to the Governor and all of your phone calls will be nothing more than an annoyance to everyone involved."
"We'll see about that," she huffed and stormed out of the room.
Steve turned to look at Catherine as she slept sedated beside him. "Well that went well," he said softly before leaning down and kissing her forehead.
The first thing Catherine noticed was that it felt like something was stuck up her nose. Then it was the throbbing in her entire body. It felt like she'd been hit by a truck.
Catherine tried to lift her hand to her face, to pull whatever was in her nose out, but it was weighted down. Her eyes fluttered and she slowly became aware of her surroundings. She looked down to her right and saw Steve's head resting on her hand. He was snoring softly and she smiled, despite herself, at the sound.
Suddenly everything came crashing back. The memories of the bank….. Craig…... Kelsey….. Shit!
"Steve," she rasped and started to tug on her hand. Her throat felt like it was filled with razors.
Steve stirred and lifted his head, looking up at her. "Hey, beautiful," he said smiling sleepily at her. "Welcome back."
"Water," she said softly.
Steve grabbed a cup from the bedside table and lifted the straw to her mouth.
"Slowly," he said as she lifted her head slightly and took a small drink.
She let her head fall back on the pillow, the water soothing her raw throat. "Kelsey?" she asked.
"She's fine, Cath." Catherine's eyes closed and took a shuddering breath. She felt Steve's lips brush her temple softly. "Let me call the nurse."
She didn't know how long it was before she heard someone speaking beside her.
"Can you hear me, sweetie?" Catherine opened her eyes and looked up at the nurse standing next to her bed. "There you are," she smiled. "Can you understand what I'm saying to you?"
Catherine nodded her head gently. Everything ached and even that small movement was painful.
"I'm Janie. Glad to see you're awake. Let's just check your vitals, shall we?"
Catherine nodded gently again. Her eyes slid to her right and she could see Steve standing there watching. He looked a mess and her heart clenched with love for him. She reached out her hand.
He smiled and stepped closer, entwining his pinky finger with hers.
"Commander, I told you that you needed to step back so I can check her vitals. Are we going to have another problem?"
Catherine looked between Steve and Janie curiously. Clearly they did not get along. She could only imagine what had happened, but knowing Steve, it probably wasn't pretty. He'd never been good at first impressions.
"We're not having a problem," he replied as sweetly as Catherine knew Steve was able to when he didn't along with someone. "I'm just holding her hand. I'll move when you need me to."
Janie clucked her tongue and just continued checking Catherine over.
"I'm going to check your incision now," Janie said as she lowered the sheet. "Commander, please step outside."
"Commander, please don't argue with me. Catherine deserves some privacy."
"She doesn't need privacy from me," he said sullenly and Catherine wanted to laugh, but she didn't dare.
"Steve, it's okay," Catherine whispered her throat so raw it hurt to even swallow. "Just give us a couple minutes."
"Fine," he frowned but did as she asked. "I'll be right outside," he said to Janie.
"We've been sufficiently warned, Commander," Janie replied.
With a narrow-eyed glare at Janie and one last soft look at Catherine Steve walked out the door.
"Has he been giving you a hard time?" Catherine asked quietly, already knowing the answer.
"Nothing I can't handle," Janie chuckled as she proceeded to clean and redress Catherine's incision, "but you must be a bit of a saint if he's anything at home like he's been here. At one point last night we had the hospital administrator, head of security and the Governor here."
"Oh God," Catherine groaned quietly.
"There you go," Janie said as she tucked Catherine's hospital gown around her again.
"I don't know what to say," Catherine admitted sheepishly. She wasn't about to apologize for Steve because she knew that was just the way he was; and she loved him exactly the way he was, even though he embarrassed the hell out of her sometimes.
"No need to say anything, sweetie. He obviously loves you very much," she leaned down closer and whispered the next words. "It's not your fault he's a little crazy."
Catherine did laugh softly that time and then groaned again, this time more loudly. Steve immediately poked his head in the door.
"Everything okay in here?"
"You can come back in now, Commander. We're all done."
Steve walked back over to Catherine, his eyes questioning.
"I'm okay, Steve," Catherine said as he took her hand again. "Just a little achy, that's all."
"Let's give you a hit of the good stuff, shall we?" Janie said as she hit a button on the IV stand. "That should kick in pretty quick and ease that pain a bit."
"Thank you Janie," Catherine said as she managed a smile.
"I'll come back and check on you in a while. The doctor will be making her rounds soon too. Commander, let her rest," Janie pointed and warned as she turned to leave.
"What do you think I'm going to do to her?" Steve asked but Catherine squeezed his hand to distract him.
"Looks like you made a new friend," Catherine teased as Steve sat down in the chair beside the bed.
He smirked at her then his smile faded. She could see the weariness in his whole demeanor and she tugged gently on his hand, urging him to pull the chair closer. He did and then lifted her hand to his cheek, holding it there.
"Is Craig dead?" she asked and she saw his face darken.
"Yes," he replied shortly. Catherine frowned softly. "Hey, don't you even feel guilty, Cath. He got what was coming to him."
"He didn't deserve to die, Steve."
"I disagree. He almost killed you Catherine. The doctor said another ten minutes and you would have bled out. He got exactly what he deserved."
Catherine digested that a moment. She knew things were starting to become dire. That's why she decided to take the stand against Craig the way she did; but she hadn't realized she'd been that close to death. Still, killing someone stayed with you regardless of the circumstances. Her time in the Navy had taught her that. She'd have time to think more on it later. Her brain was starting to become fuzzy now. Janie was right, this was the good stuff.
"Where's Kelsey?" she asked as her eyes started to droop.
"She was here this morning. They expected you to wake up earlier but you decided to be a little lazy today," he teased and she smiled sleepily. "She said she'll be back later."
"I need to talk to her," Catherine slurred.
"Just rest Cath," Steve encouraged. She felt her eyes fluttering. "Get some sleep, I'll be right here," was the last thing Catherine heard before her eyes closed completely.
"I feel so stupid," Kelsey admitted softly and Catherine shook her head.
During her time in ICU, Catherine had been so sedated she missed Kelsey visiting twice. Now, almost two days later, she was out of ICU and in a private room. Steve had pulled some strings to get her a private room, rather than a shared one. She didn't know what he'd done but she was grateful.
"Kelsey, you couldn't have known." Catherine shifted uncomfortably in her hospital bed. She was feeling better, although still in quite a bit of pain. The doctor had said that was to be expected for the first week or two. Even just twisting slightly pulled at the stitches in her side and caused an ache deep underneath her ribs. "I'm sorry you found out the way you did."
"Just the way I did or that I found out at all?"
Catherine sighed. "I'm not going to lie to you Kel. I never planned to tell you. Not because I didn't want to but because I didn't think it would be fair to you. Mom and dad are the only parents you've ever known and they've loved you the same as they loved me and Ethan. You're no different to them. We're family, Kelsey, and what we call each other isn't what matters."
Kelsey frowned and Catherine could see her mind working overtime as she tried to digest everything Catherine had told her.
"I don't know how to feel about all of this."
Catherine smiled sadly. "Nothing has to change. We're sisters, regardless of whatever else we are biologically. None of this," Catherine gestured between them, "has to change that."
Kelsey was quiet for a moment then she asked very quietly, "Do you ever wonder what it would be like if you'd done things differently? I mean, if you had raised me and not mom and dad. Your life would probably be very different right now."
"Probably," Catherine admitted honestly. "I was still just a kid myself, Kel. Think of all the ways I could have screwed you up if I had tried to raise you myself."
Kelsey shrugged and rolled her eyes.
"I don't regret it," Catherine continued. "I don't regret any of it except that you got hurt. We all did what we thought was the best thing for you. Granted Mom is a little off her rocker sometimes, but she and dad have been damn great parents to all of us. You need to talk to them and hear them out."
Kelsey nodded reluctantly. "I'm sorry for the things I said to you. I didn't mean them."
"It's okay," Catherine smiled, trying to reassure her.
"No it's not. I said some pretty nasty things. Not all of them to your face," Kelsey admitted.
"I'm sure." Kelsey had always been the type to speak first and think later.
"Steve put me in my place though when I saw him on the beach."
"He didn't tell me everything, just that he saw you."
"I made some rude comments about your relationship, which I didn't really mean. Well I kinda did, but the way I said it was crude. Dad would have slapped me in the mouth if he'd heard."
"Kelsey," Catherine chided her gently.
"What? I still don't really get your relationship with him. You've been waiting around for him for seventeen years and by the way it looks, to everyone on the outside, he's still just stringing you along."
"I haven't been waiting for anything from him, Kelsey," Catherine said angrily. "You shouldn't speak about things you don't know."
"Is it because of what happened with… uh, Craig?" Kelsey asked curiously. It was still awkward for them both to speak about Craig being Kelsey's father.
"What happened with Craig has not influenced my whole life or my relationships with men. Everyone always seems to forget Steve and I were both in the Navy for most of the last seventeen years. We weren't together. We've only really been together, as a couple, for a few years, if even that."
"Plenty of people in the Navy have relationships," Kelsey pointed out.
"Yes, but what Steve and I had is what worked for us…. then… and now. I'm so tired of everyone thinking they know anything about us." Catherine pushed up on her hands, frustrated. Then she cringed at the movement.
"Hey, take it easy. Don't tear open your stitches," Kelsey tried to placate her. "You just deserve to be happy, Cath."
"I am happy, Kelsey," Catherine implored, trying to make Kelsey understand. "You have no idea the kind of man Steve is. No one does really. All you ever see is the SEAL because that's what he shows to almost everyone. But there is so much more to him. And he and I are so much more alike than people realize, we just show it to the world differently." She sighed. "Don't get me wrong. He's nowhere near perfect. No one is. But he's perfect for me," she finished honestly.
"Okay, I'll butt out," Kelsey conceded.
The door to Catherine's room opened and Steve walked in. He was freshly showered and was jeans and a t-shirt.
"Oh," he said as he saw Kelsey still there. He and Kelsey had called a truce but still weren't on the best of terms. Steve was doing his best to be nice, but he was still angry at her for the way she treated Catherine and for her unfortunate association with that bastard Craig. "I can come back," he offered.
Catherine smiled. "It's okay. We were just finishing."
Steve smiled back and moved closer to her as Kelsey stood up. She walked to the foot of the bed. "I'm gonna head back to the hotel. I need to pack. I have an early flight tomorrow."
"I wish you could stay longer," Catherine said, unable to hide her disappointment.
"Classes start back up in a few days and, you're right, I do need to talk to mom and dad before I go back. He left me a message this morning and said if I didn't return his call today he was going to have me court marshaled."
"You're not in the military, you can't be court marshaled," Steve said pointed out.
"Like that makes a difference to him," Kelsey replied in an obvious tone.
Steve barked out a short laugh. He wouldn't put it past the Admiral to get his non-military daughter tossed in the brig to suit his purposes. If anyone had the power to have it done, it was him.
Steve took a seat in the chair Kelsey.
"Not even a few days?" Catherine asked. "You don't have to stay in the hotel; you can stay at my place."
"You don't need me in your hair while you're recovering, Cath."
"You won't be in her hair," Steve said absently, not even really sure why he was participating in the conversation.
"You won't be going home to recover?" Kelsey asked confused.
Catherine looked over at Steve, wondering where he was going with this.
"She'll be coming home with me," he said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "She doesn't live at that house anymore."
Catherine shot him a questioning look and he shrugged. "Well, you don't."
"Maybe you can come back during Spring break," Catherine said hopefully, changing the subject.
"Let me see how the semester goes, huh," Kelsey replied with a shrug.
"Okay," Catherine nodded.
"I'll come see you in the morning before I head to the airport." Kelsey looked over at Steve now. "See you around, Steve."
"Kelsey," Steve acknowledged.
Kelsey walked out of the room and Steve waited until Catherine looked at him. "Seems like things went okay?"
"Yeah, I guess. She's not as easily forgiving as I am. I think she just needs time." Steve nodded and Catherine tilted her head as she asked, "So what was that all about a minute ago?"
"What was what?" he asked.
"That whole thing about my house?"
"What?" Steve looked at her again like it was the most obvious thing in the world. "You don't live there anymore, Cath. When was the last time you spent a night there?"
"I can't remember actually."
"Exactly," he said matter-of-factly. "I'm over jerking around about this. I know we've never talked about it but we live together Cath. We don't spend any nights apart. Well, except for now, but I just thought it was a given. The only things you haven't moved into my place are your furniture."
Catherine smiled at him. "So, is this your roundabout way of asking me to move in with you?"
"Nope," he replied adamantly and she shot him a surprised look. He smirked. "Asking you now implies that I don't believe that you already do."
"Steve," Catherine started but Steve interrupted her.
He leaned closer to her so he could look her in the eyes. "This is silly Cath. If anything about the last few days, hell the last few months, should tell us is that life is too short to dick around about things. So just deal with the fact that we live together."
Catherine tilted her head again and narrowed her eyes, but Steve was saved when there was another knock on the door. It opened and Danny walked in.
"How's our patient this afternoon?" he asked cheerfully.
"Hi Danny," Catherine smiled at the same time Steve said, "What are you doing here Danno?"
Not that Steve was upset that Danny was there. His timing was perfect. He'd just save Steve from Catherine's wrath.
"Thought I'd stop in on my way home from the office. It was dead in there. There is zero happening on this island today. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. How are you feeling, hun?"
"Ready to go home," Catherine replied and shot a look at Steve. He grinned.
Danny looked back and forth between them before shaking his head. "Do you know when they're going to spring you?"
"Not soon enough."
The door opened again and Nurse Janie walked into the room. Steve bit back a groan. He and Janie were still on tentative terms, but she was very good to Catherine so Steve did his best to behave. He'd been surprised to see her once Catherine was moved out of ICU, but he learned that nurses make rounds and Janie's turn in ICU was up on the same day Catherine was moved. Just his luck.
"Hiya sweetie," Janie greeted Catherine then shot an annoyed look at Steve. Clearly she was also still holding a grudge for the other night.
"Hi Janie," Catherine smiled.
"How's the pain this afternoon? Scale of one to ten."
"Two," Catherine said.
Janie just looked at her. "Okay, let's try this again and, this time, regardless of who is in the room with you," Janie shot a pointed look at Steve, "give me an honest answer. What's your pain level on a scale of one to ten?"
"Six," Catherine admitted begrudgingly.
"That's more like it. Let me up the drip."
"Should she still be in that much pain?" Steve asked. "Cath why wouldn't you tell her honestly how much pain you're in?"
"Her level is normal for what we expect at this point."
"When will the doctor be back in to see me?" Catherine asked, conveniently ignoring Steve's question. "I'd really like to go home."
"She's making her rounds now, but you're not going home today, sweetie. Maybe tomorrow if you do well tonight."
"I just want to sleep in my own bed," Catherine replied trying not to sound irritable. "I'd be much more comfortable in my own bed."
"Cath, just listen to the doctor," Steve admonished.
"You're not going to actually lecture me on following doctor's orders are you?" Catherine shot back at him.
"She's got you there pal," Danny added.
"Shut it Danno. Cath, you're not coming home until the doctor says your one hundred percent ready."
"Is he always this bossy?" Jane asked as she handed Catherine a dose of her antibiotic.
"You have no idea," Catherine muttered, not caring if she sounded petulant now.
"Just because he's good looking doesn't mean you have to put up with him being a pain."
"He's right here," Steve said drolly as Danny snickered.
"I'll tell Dr. Hale that you're chomping at the bit to get out of here, okay, but don't get your hopes up, hun."
Catherine sighed. "Thanks for nothing, Janie."
Janie just patted Catherine on the hand and chuckled as she left the room.
It was two more days before Catherine was finally released. Steve had arrived a few minutes earlier to take her home. Janie was going over her paperwork while Steve stood behind her wheelchair ready to help her make a break for it.
"Okay, a few discharge instructions from the doctor," Janie said she Catherine signed form after form on a clipboard. "You are on limited activity for two weeks. No going back to work. You need to just relax." She narrowed her eyes at Steve. "Do you hear that Commander? She needs to rest."
"Aye, aye, Captain. Don't let her finish repainting the deck. Got it," Steve joked. He was in too good of a mood, happy to finally be taking Catherine home, to let Nurse Ratched spoil it.
"I really don't envy you."
"Steve," Catherine only had to say his name and Steve raised his arms in surrender.
"Don't lift anything over ten pounds. Keep your incision clean and dry and covered. You should take sponge baths but if you really need to take a shower, cover your incision completely with plastic. I've put some waterproof medical tape in your bag."
Clearly Janie didn't know who she was talking to. Both he and Catherine were trained in emergency medicine as well as EMT certified, and they both knew how to care for gunshot wounds.
"Avoid all strenuous activity. This includes heavy exercising, weightlifting, and other activities that make you breathe hard or strain." Janie gave another pointed look at Steve, daring him to make a comment, but he just grinned and bit his tongue. Catherine shook her head and pinched his thigh, knowing full well what was probably going through his head.
"I've also put an appointment card in your bag for you to come back in two weeks to have your stitches removed. The doctor will tell you at that point how long you will need to remain on restrictions, but you should plan on four to eight weeks minimum for full recovery."
"Looks like someone is going to be riding a desk for a while," Steve murmured to himself, louder than he intended. Catherine glared up at him and he could tell she wanted to do more than pinch him now, so he took a few steps away from her.
"I can have him tossed out of here if you want. Now that you're officially discharged I have that power back," Janie offered helpfully.
"Hmm," Catherine hummed. "That's tempting."
"Hey," Steve pouted quietly, but Catherine winked at him and he grinned again.
"Okay," Janie sighed. "But don't say I didn't offer."
Janie went through the rest of the discharge instructions. Finally Catherine was ready to go.
"Take care of yourself, sweetie," Janie leaned down and gave Catherine a light hug.
"Thank you, Janie, for everything," Catherine smiled and hugged her back.
"Now I don't want to see you back here anytime soon, you hear," Janie warned.
"You don't have to tell me twice."
Janie squeezed Catherine's hand then opened the door so Steve could wheel Catherine into the hallway. After she followed them through she looked at Steve.
"Can you get her to the car without any assistance, Commander?"
"I think I can manage."
Janie nodded briskly before turning and walking toward the nurses' station.
Catherine looked up at Steve, a knowing smile on her face, and she wrapped her fingers around the wheels of the chair, stopping him from pushing her any further.
He looked down at her and sighed. She wasn't going to move until he did it.
"Nurse Janie," Steve said her name quietly. Maybe she wouldn't hear him, but sure enough Janie turned around to look back at him.
"Thank you," he said sincerely and smiled. He really was truly grateful for the care Janie gave Catherine.
She looked at him for a long minute, her face impassive. Finally she spoke. "Your boyish smile won't work on me, Commander. Take your girl home."
She turned without saying another word but Steve saw the hint of a smile curling her lips.
"Looks like you won her over," Catherine said as she let go of the wheel.
Steve started pushing her down the hallway and he grinned cockily in return. "It's the McGarrett charm. What can I say?"
Catherine's chuckle could be heard all the way back to the nurses' station.
Steve pulled up to the house and turned off the truck.
"Home sweet home," he said with a smirk.
"Give it a rest, Steve," Catherine warned, but there was no malice in her voice.
He just ignored her and stepped out of the truck. Catherine eased out her side, but the seat was just a little too high. She grunted softly as her feet hit the ground. Steve walked up and put a hand under her elbow.
"Hey, take it slow." He grabbed her bag from the back seat and led her slowly up to the front door.
Catherine walked into the living room and over the stairs. She looked up at them and sighed.
"Want some help?" Steve asked as he stepped closer to her. "That's a lot of stairs."
"No," Catherine replied. "I just need a minute."
"Your body has been through a hell of a lot, Cath. There's nothing wrong with admitting you need help."
"And there is nothing wrong with my legs," she snapped then sighed. "I'm sorry."
Steve reached up and brushed her hair behind her ear, letting his hand linger on her cheek. "I'm not going to smother you, Cath. I know better than to even try." She sighed again and pressed her cheek into his palm. "Just tell me what you need."
"Honestly, right now I need a shower. I feel so gross."
"Okay," Steve replied amenably. "That requires going upstairs. Let's just take it one step at a time."
Catherine slowly made her way up the stairs with Steve close behind. He didn't make even one wise-ass remark about how slow she was moving and Catherine found she was actually a little disappointed. She chuckled to herself as she reached the landing at the top.
"What's so funny?" he asked.
Catherine just shook her head. "Nothing."
"You need to cover your stitches so you don't get any water on them," Steve said as they entered the bedroom and he set her bag on the floor next to the door.
"Yeah. Can you get me a plastic bag and that waterproof tape Janie gave me?"
Steve grabbed a plastic bag from under the sink while Catherine unbuttoned her shirt and slipped it slowly down her arms.
"You really shouldn't twist. Will you let me help you put this on?" he asked and she nodded.
Gently and meticulously Steve taped the plastic over the left side of her torso, covering her incision. She flinched slightly but the pain was no worse than when she'd cracked her ribs in Korea, when they were retrieving Freddie's body. She just had to be very careful for the first few weeks to avoid tearing the stitches, inside her body more so than the ones on the outside.
"Maybe you should wait until tomorrow to try to shower, Cath," Steve murmured.
"No, I feel gross. I haven't washed my hair for almost five days."
"Sometimes you are such a girl," he teased.
"Glad you notice Commander," she replied in a sultry voice and Steve raised an eyebrow in response.
"How are you going to reach up and wash your hair?"
"There, all set," he said softly. "If you want, I definitely don't mind helping you with that task."
She rolled her eyes and walked toward the bathroom. "I've been taking showers alone for over thirty years. I think I can handle it."
Steve just shrugged at her and smirked. She smirked right back then closed the door in his face.
Catherine stepped under the stream of warm water and hissed. It felt good and bad at the same time. Her skin seemed to be hyper-sensitive. Maybe she ached more than she thought.
She lifted her arms and bit back a soft groan. This wasn't going to work. Steve was right. She'd just have to rinse her hair and worry about washing it tomorrow.
Catherine let her head fall forward beneath the water and just let it flow over her. She didn't know how long she stood there, but she didn't hear the bathroom door open and only startled slightly when he said her name.
"Cath, I'm coming in."
She felt the cool air on her back as Steve opened the shower door and stepped inside. He reached over and grabbed her shampoo off the shelf in the corner. She lifted her head and looked at him. "What are you doing Steve?"
He reached up and slid his fingers into her hair. "What does it feel like I'm doing?"
She moaned softly as his fingers rubbed over her scalp in a circular motion as he worked the shampoo into a lather.
"I told you I'd be fine." Her eyes closed and he head fell forward again of its own volition.
"Yes, you did" he replied, "but we're going to run out of hot water soon so…," he trailed off and didn't say anything else.
For several minutes he just massaged her scalp and she moaned softly several times in response. She felt his arousal pressing against her and she instinctively pushed back against him.
"Ignore him," Steve said apologetically. "He can't be this close to you when you're naked and not react." She smiled at his rueful tone. "Turn around," he murmured.
Catherine straightened and turned to face Steve.
"Tilt your head back," Steve encouraged her.
Catherine did as she was told and Steve urged her under the water. She sighed softly as he rinsed her hair, his large fingers sliding through the soft strands as the shampoo washed away.
Feeling his erection poking her belly now, Catherine reached down and took him in her hand, squeezing gently, a seductive smile curling on her lips.
Steve groaned. "No, Cath."
She quirked an eyebrow at him as she stepped closer, tilted her face up and brushed her lips against his chin. She stroked him firmly the way she knew he liked.
Steve reached down to stop her, pulling her hand away. "No, Cath," he said again. "That's not what this is about."
Her eyes softened as she looked at him. "Clearly I'm not up for anything but I could always watch you. That would be kinda hot," she teased, trying to lighten the mood.
Steve just shook his head. "Any other time, I'd take you up on the offer in a heartbeat." Now his eyes softened. "But not tonight. Come on let's get you dried off and into bed."
Catherine kissed his chin once more. "Give me a minute."
Steve nodded and stepped out of the shower. Catherine washed her body as best as she could, keeping her movements minimal then shut the water off. When she opened the shower door, Steve was standing there with towel.
Steve helped her dry off as she brushed out her wet hair. A wise-ass comment rested on the tip of Catherine's tongue, but she held back, knowing he needed this, this reassurance that she was here and alright. She wanted desperately to hug him so she did just that, carefully reaching around him and pressing her naked body against his.
"Hey, be careful of your stitches," he warned softly.
She buried her face in her chest and sighed. He gently wrapped his arms around her and bent his head to bury his face in her neck. Neither of them spoke. No words were necessary.
After a few minutes she shivered.
"Let's get a new bandage on you and get you dressed before you get a chill."
Steve re-bandaged her incision and Catherine smiled at how gentle he was, just like he'd been when she was shot last fall.
"There, all set," he murmured.
When he was done, Catherine sat on the edge of the bed and Steve kneeled down. He grabbed her panties off the bed and lifted one foot at a time to slide them up her legs.
"You know, as much as I appreciate this, I have to say I much prefer when you take my clothes off."
He grinned. "Me too."
She reached down when his hands reached her knees. "Steve, really I've got this. Can you get me some water so I can take my antibiotics?"
He nodded. "How about a cup of Sleepytime tea?" he asked. "Will that interfere with your meds?"
"No, that should be fine and it sounds great. Thanks."
Catherine watched him as he left the room. She sat for a moment looking around the room, grateful she was even here.
Steve looked out the kitchen window as he waited for the water to boil. He felt like he could breathe deep for the first time in over a week. Catherine's shooting had taken more of a toll on him than he admitted to anyone. Sure, over the years, especially when she was stationed overseas, there had been several times she'd been shot or injured, but nothing like this.
He had almost lost her, had come too damn close, and it was still wrecking havoc on his entire psyche. All the things he'd left undone, all the things he'd left unsaid, all of it had consumed him during the long hours before she'd woken up in the hospital. He'd done a good job of hiding it, especially from Catherine, but now that she was home and he could finally breathe again, the exhaustion and relief hit him full force.
She was everything to him. Deep down he'd known it all along, but would never let it rise to the surface. Vulnerability was not Steve McGarrett's strong suit and the way he felt about Catherine made him feel vulnerable. So he locked it away and did his best to keep things as casual between them as he could, for a long time, even if he was only fooling himself. Being stationed on opposite sides of the world most of the time made it easier, but when she got stationed at Pearl, he couldn't hide from it anymore.
Of course, even then, he still wouldn't admit how he felt. Wouldn't admit she was his girlfriend, even though that was exactly who she was. No wonder everyone questioned their relationship. No wonder everyone wondered what the hell she was doing with him, when he couldn't even tell her he loved her, never mind admitting it to anyone else.
No wonder everybody thought he was a dickhead who was afraid of commitment. He was a dickhead. But his commitment to Catherine, that's something he was no longer afraid of.
The kettle whistled and Steve poured the hot water into mug with a teabag. He let it steep for a minute then he carried the mug upstairs.
Catherine was sitting on her side of the bed, dressed in only her panties and a tank top when Steve came into the room. She was reading over the paperwork from the hospital and didn't notice him until he was standing right next to her.
"Here," he said handing her the cup.
Steve sat on the mattress beside her. Catherine took a pill out of the bottle and then swallowed it down with some tea.
"I can't take another pain med for two hours but I have a feeling I'm going to be long asleep before that anyway." Steve just nodded absently. "Are you okay?" she asked curiously.
"Why is it people just assume we're not committed to each other?"
"What?" she looked at him quizzically.
"Why do people assume our relationship isn't serious?"
"Where is this coming from, Steve?"
He shrugged. "It just seems like everyone assumes our relationship is casual because we're not married with two point five kids or something?"
Catherine reached for his hand. "It doesn't matter what anyone thinks, Steve. Is this because of Kelsey? She told me what she said to you-"
"Do you think our relationship is casual?" he asked, not letting her finish.
"No," she replied honestly, after a beat.
"Do you question how I feel about you? I mean, I know I'm not the best at-" he shifted a little to look at her. "I know I should-," he struggled over the words again. "I just assumed you knew. I mean…Catherine, the way I feel about you, it's-"
She took pity on him. "It's okay, Steve. I know."
"No, Cath, it's not okay. You deserve better than to just know. You deserve to hear the words."
"Steve, people say things they don't mean all the time."
"I don't," he said seriously.
"No, you don't," she agreed.
"But just because I don't say something doesn't mean I don't feel it. Every second of every day.
Catherine's breath hitched softly as she realized what was coming.
Steve tilted his head down and looked into her eyes. "I love you, Cath," Steve said with no hesitation.
Catherine reached up and cupped his face in her hands. She leaned forward, even though her body screamed at the movement. She brushed her nose gently against his and watched his eyes flutter with pleasure.
"God, I love you," he murmured again and she could tell it was a relief for him to finally say the words. "I've loved you for so long."
"I know," she smiled and whispered against his lips. His eyes popped open and he pulled his head back so he could look at her.
"That's all you're going to say to me? After a heartfelt declaration like that? All I get is an 'I know?'"
Catherine could hear the hurt and insecurity in his voice and she smiled beautifully at him, her heart bursting with more love than she ever thought it was possible for one person to feel.
He eyed her uncertainly. She grabbed his face gently again, pulling his lips a whisper's breath away from hers.
"I love you too, Steve," she breathed into his mouth as she kissed him.
The End…. for now