Summary: “If you can’t love him the way he should be loved, set him free”. Catherine sets Steve free because she thinks he’s happy. How are they coping? Does it work out for them?

Chap 8:

“Excuse me? Catherine had a partner?”

“Yes, a work partner. Just like you and Danny. He was just here. He just left to get me some coffee.”

“So… they’ve been working together, huh?”

“Yeah, working”, Doris emphasised that on purpose. “He started as Catherine’s CO and they’ve been working together since her first CIA assignment. He might have a thing for her, but you know, Catherine is Catherine, stubborn and all”, Doris didn’t need to finish her sentence, she knew Steve would be able to read between the lines. She carefully looked at her son, trying to read through him. She saw nothing but a lost boy in an almost 40-year-old man sitting next to her.

Speaking of the devil.

Simon came back into the waiting room with two cups of coffee. Just the smell of the coffee awakened him. Simon had been with Doris and Joe for the past 48 hours. Ever since this whole thing started, when Catherine’s assignment went sideways and she was captured. None of them could get any sleep, all suffering from complete exhaustion.

Simon came to a halt when he saw Doris sitting with another man.

Of course, he instantly knew who that man was.

The man he had lost to without giving a fight.

The man who had taken Catherine’s heart.

Steve McGarrett.

Doris looked up and saw Simon approaching slowly. She gave a pointed look in Simon’s direction, whispered to Steve: “There he is. Behave yourself!” and smiled at Simon gratefully.

Simon gave Doris the hot cup of coffee and then turned to Steve to politely address him.

“You must be Steve McGarrett.”

“He know my name. Cath must’ve told him about me”, Steve thought to himself and reached out his hand, preparing for a handshake: “Yes, I am. And you are?”

“Simon Hill. Cath and I work together. I’m so sorry about Cath. It’s all my fault. I should’ve never let her do this assignment alone.”

Steve noticed the way Simon called Catherine by her nickname, the nickname he had given her. His heart clenched a little hearing this man use it. It took a lot of restrain for Steve to not say anything stupid. Steve really wanted to give Catherine’s partner aka C.O a piece of his mind, but Simon looked genuinely upset and devastated, which Steve could totally relate. He couldn’t find any reason to hate this man. He knew his jealousy came from the fact that this man was in Catherine’s life when he wasn’t, and because Doris told him about this guy having “a thing” for Catherine.

The three of them sat in silence for several minutes. Feeling the rising tension in the air, Simon turned back to Doris: “Doris, your son is here. We can take over from here. You haven’t left Cath’s side for one second. Take a rest!”. Simon only knew Doris because of his work relationship with Catherine. Doris was a legend in CIA. She had earned the trust of the top brass of the CIA before he had even joined the service. He paid her the utmost respect, especially after seeing her in action – he had to admit she was quite impressive for a woman of her age.

“Okay. Keep me posted. Let me know if she wakes up”, Doris took the cue and left to give the two men some space. Maybe a proper talk was needed.

“So… have we met? I notice that you knew my name?”

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“Yeah. I saw you before, but you didn’t know me. I didn’t know your name until it came up a couple of times when I heard Cath talking to someone on the phone, she mentioned your name”, seeing the discomfort on Steve’s face when he used her nickname, Simon stuttered, “I-I mean… Catherine… She never mentioned you to me directly.”

“Okay”, Steve let out a sign, nodding sadly. He didn’t know what else to say.

Fair enough. While he was trying so hard to move on, Catherine was probably doing the same thing. After she had left the second time, saying the name “Cath” or “Catherine” became taboo for his team. He knew sometimes they talked about her, but they never mentioned her name in front of him. The moment he stepped inside the office, no “Catherine” was allowed. Steve figured his team was overprotective of him, and truthfully, his bruised ego blamed Catherine too, so he secretly allowed the team to do that.

Maybe Catherine struggled the same way.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean it that way. Catherine always keeps things professional between us. I don’t know how she was before, but when we worked together, she had always kept her personal life personal. At least that’s how it was in the beginning, until we got a little bit closer.”

Steve wasn’t sure to what extent he should open up to this man, or trust him. After all, he just met the guy, and he knew deep down inside, he still had a lot of trust issues, so Steve kept silent for now.

“Do you know why the CIA assigned Catherine this assignment?”

“About that, Doris kind of brought me up the speed.”

“She wouldn’t have been in that room now if it hadn’t been for you. When she learnt about Doris being captured, she reached out to every source and planned a rescue op on her own. It was stupid, she wasn’t using her rational side, it was exactly the opposite of her. But no one was talking, so Cath couldn’t get much information.”

“That’s why she came back to Hawaii to find me”, Steve nodded his head, acknowledging Simon.

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“Yeah, but that was after when I refused to help her rescue Doris. I didn’t want to go against the CIA directly. Being a CIA officer is what I’ve been doing for most of my life, you know…”

Taking a deep breath, Simon continued, “You were her last resort. Catherine didn’t want to come back to bother you, even when it was about YOUR mother. I didn’t understand why it was so important to her. She was on another mission with me at that time, yet she abandoned that mission to go find you.”

Steve felt like someone stabbed a sharp knife through his heart. He was struggling to keep his emotions in check. It was quite a lot to take in. While Catherine was sacrificing everything for him, for the mother he didn’t even want to reconcile with, he was enjoying his life, getting laid, flirting with random girls in town or even on a short flight, spending time with his booty call, trying to erase everything about Catherine, including her phone number. Steve silently told himself off for acting like a total jerk, especially when she showed up in front of his house that day. It was heart-wrenching to realize how much he must have hurt her that night, to let her see the romantic dinner he set up for Lynn, which was, after all, just an excuse to reconcile with his sex toy. He wished he could see things from Catherine’s point of view. Steve huffed, disgusted with himself, shaking his head in sorrow. He suddenly felt unworthy of her unconditional love.

“The day she left, I asked her why she had to do all of that”, Simon set his coffee on the chair left vacant by Doris.

“What did she tell you?”

‘Catherine said she was just keeping a promise: that she would take care of Doris as if she was her own mother. I put two and two together and of course, I knew that was her promise to you. And she said it would be worth it if it turned out well.”

Noticing the forlorn look on Steve’s face, Simon knew better and decided to step back.

At this point, Steve didn’t bother to wipe away the tears that were cutting a path down his face, he didn’t care that Simon was sitting next to him. He thought about the day when he introduced Catherine to Doris, the day he found out his mother was not only still alive, but also a decorated CIA officer. He needed to talk to Catherine, and he was thrilled that Catherine agreed to come and watch after Doris.

Even though Steve convinced himself that he didn’t care about Doris, he was actually over the moon to know his mother liked Catherine and approved of their relationship. It was the first time he ever brought a girl back home when Doris was there, so the experience was new, terrifying, nerve-racking yet unbelievably meaningful and happy. Steve was amazed by how quick and easily Doris picked up the deep feelings he and Catherine had for each other.

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He remembered every moment of that day – the feeling of Cath’s hands on his chest, calming him down in the way no one else could. Steve closed his eyes for a moment, he could still hear the echo of her soft voice in his head: “Don’t worry! I’m gonna take care of her as if she’s my own mother“. He could see Catherine instantly regretted saying that and felt a bit shy afterwards. She probably had no idea how happy she had made him by saying that. The idea of Catherine considering his family as her own started penetrating his mind, Steve couldn’t stop thinking about building a real family with Catherine one day.

That simple yet thoughtful moment was imprinted on his mind, but for some reason, after everything that had happened with Doris, Steve never thought Catherine was still keeping that promise.

He forgot about all the times he confided to Catherine in the past decade about how much he missed Doris, how much he wished she was alive – even just for one second, just so he could hug her tightly and tell his mother he loved her. He underestimated how much Cath took what she said to heart. She was completely convinced that he loved Doris, so she risked everything to make sure that Doris stayed alive. Of course, Cath knew him better than anyone, even better than him knowing himself. She was right, even after all the lies, Doris was still his mother and he was still her son. That invisible bond would never be changed. He still loved her. Steve recalled how worried he was when they got captured in Morocco, all he could think of was what they would possibly do to Doris, even when they put him on the chair first. Steve tiredly leaned into the chair and the white, cold walls behind him, his thoughts drifting back to Catherine, to everything she had done for him and for his mother.

***

Later that night, after experiencing such a gruesome day, they made love and everything felt different, or at least it was different to Steve. The sex was gentle and meaningful; it had never felt better. Steve really wanted to take their relationship to the next level, but the fact that Wo Fat was still out there and that Catherine could get involved in this whole mess made him hold back.

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All the events that happened during the day finally started catching up and took its toll on Steve. There was a real possibility that he could lose both Doris – the mother he just got back after 20 long years, and Catherine – the only woman he has ever loved, on the same day. That thought crossed his mind more than once. It was terrifying. They lost 2 HPD officers that day because of Wo Fat. If he hadn’t made it in time, Catherine could have been killed as well. Steve was fully aware of how capable and independent Catherine was, but it didn’t mean that he was not worried.

Catherine scooped closer to Steve, her arms squeezing him a bit tighter. It made her smile to feel how his body relaxed at her touch. She knew it was a tough day for him. She realized that their sex that night was different, too. It almost felt like Steve was trying to convey something else, but she tried not to read between the lines too much.

Steve, I’m here if you wanna talk.”

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His breath hitched with emotion, “I almost lost her, Catherine, again. Today reminds me of what it felt like when my dad told me she was “gone” all those years ago. I never want to feel that again. I was so close to lose her. I was scared”, he didn’t bother to hide the tears that he had struggled to keep at bay.

She’s okay now, Steve”, she emphasised his name to draw his attention, to make him focus into her eyes, convincing him, “We’re gonna protect her, no matter what it costs. I’m not letting anyone to take her away from you, not again”, Catherine’s affirmative voice made it sound like a guarantee.

You know what’s even worse, I could have lost you, too”, Steve felt relieved that he didn’t need to keep his guard up anymore. He got emotional again, “I can’t even imagine…what if…” He felt safe with Catherine, especially after their intimate moments. “I don’t know how to say this, I’m not a man who is good with words, but I want you to know that you mean a lot to me” . He pulled her in for a deep kiss, not wanting to let her go.

I know, I know. You will not lose me. I’m not going anywhere, unless you want me to”, Catherine looked right into Steve’s blue, gorgeous eyes. That moment, she made a promise to herself, she would take care of Doris, even if Steve doesn’t ask her to. It was crystal clear that Steve still cared and loved his mother, he just didn’t want to admit it to anyone, not even to himself. Catherine saw right through him. Steve had spent the last 20 years thinking life was unfair to take his loving, perfect mother away from him, blaming his mother for leaving their family so soon. And now that perfect mother appeared again in his life, revealing her real identity along with all the twist and turns – the dark secrets, everything. All of a sudden, things weren’t black and white. The life he thought his family had wasn’t real. It was a harsh reality for Steve, and Catherine’s heart ached for him.

“20 years… It’s fucking 20 years, Catherine. I almost forgot what this feels like. Everything is so fresh, I mean… the last day I saw her, she pulled me in for a tight hug – in front of my whole school”, Steve embraced Cath, seeking a bit more comfort from the touch of her skin, “I was embarrassed, and I was so mad at myself for being embarrassed after I heard the news about her accident. I felt like it was my fault, maybe she was upset because I acted embarrassed because of the hug, and she got distracted on the way home and was killed in that car accident. I blamed myself and I wished I could just hug her again… just one more time.”

I am so sorry. I wish I could do something to ease your pain”, Catherine caressed the wrinkles in his forehead, leaning in to kiss all the tears on his eyes and his cheeks away. Even after all those years, she still felt honoured to be able to be present in these rare moments of Steve, that he trusted her enough to confide in her, and didn’t hide his true emotions from her.

It turns out I still have a mother. Gosh, it felt really good. I hugged her today, Cath. I’m so mad at her, I hate her, I was so confused, but… I still have a mother. Mary still has a mother, too. And she’s so beautiful. She’s even more beautiful than what I remember”, Steve was basically trembling right now, he struggled to utter every word. The tears in his eyes finally broke free, no matter how much Cath kissed them away.

Yes, the man she loved the most deserved to have his mother in his life. Catherine would do everything in her power to make sure of that. He’s not going to lose his mother. Ever again.

Cath, thank you for being here! I don’t know how miserable my life would be without you.”

Let’s hope you will never have to find out. I’m right here. You’re not gonna do this alone”, Catherine left another sweet kiss on Steve’s lips.

Steve felt like he was the luckiest man in the world, he couldn’t hide the big grin on his face. What Catherine just told him was a promise of facing the future together, he liked the idea very much.

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Tell me, what did you and Doris talk about earlier today?”, Steve wanted to lighten the conversation, he probably let his emotions out a little too much. Maybe a teasing was much needed.

Truth to be told, it was a very embarrassing and awkward conversation, one that Catherine didn’t really want to share with Steve at that moment. She tried to change the subject by distracting him. Seducing him.

That’s not something I really want to discuss right now. There’s something else I would like to do, Commander”, her hands went south and travelled to slap his backside naughtily. She knew from experience that would turn Steve on instantly: the sound of the word “Commander” and the movement of her naughty hands. Catherine hoped that she would always be the only one who knew this intimate secret about Steve.

You know me too well. Just my type of girl, Lieutenant.”

“It doesn’t seem like it’s worth it for her though. It’s hard to listen to the audio we got from when those bastards tortured her”. Simon’s voice brought Steve back to the reality. “I hope you will start treating her right. Catherine deserves better.”

Steve turned to Simon and looked at him, nodded.

“Did you get them good when you guys rescued her?”

“We tried to get out of there immediately once we got her, but me and Joe knocked some guys over pretty good. And you should be very proud of Catherine. Even in her condition, she still managed to break the nose of the guy who hold her hostage. Such a tough girl!”

“That sounds like Catherine”, Steve never doubted Catherine’s ability. “How bad is it?”

“There is no easy way to say this. You should prepare yourself if we get to see her right after the operation”, Simon let out a heavy sign, “And don’t touch her hands!”

The door of the operating room opened, catching both men by surprise, and prevented Steve from asking for further information about Catherine’s hands. The doctors were still wearing their surgical masks, so Steve wasn’t able to read their facial expressions. He was terrified of hearing the worst scenario. He couldn’t even breathe, his world was spinning out of control.


Enjoy the chapter! I hope you like it and like the video as well! See you next time!

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