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 7:

It has been exactly 5 days since the last time Steve got a hold of Catherine. Given the dangerous essence of black ops, it was too hard not to feel worried about her. Even Kono called him out for getting a little distracted on the field, he knew his team member was just looking out for him and he was grateful for that. Steve finally decided to tell Kono about the phone call between him and Cath.

To his surprise, Kono gave him the biggest grin and pulled him into a tight hug: “Boss, I’m proud of you. I know it’s not my business but I always knew it was wrong – about Lynn, I just didn’t want to interrupt. You, all of people, deserve to be happy. I’m glad that you and Catherine are at least fighting for your relationship. It’s really something, don’t let it go away. I really hope it works out for both of you. If there is anything that I can do to help, please let me know.”

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“I’m worried about her, you know. She was supposed to come home soon, but I haven’t heard from her recently. Do me a favour, please! Can you keep track of all incidents happening regarding active CIA agents in the past week?”

“Sure thing, boss.”

“Thank you.”

“And Steve?”

“Yeah?”

“Thank you for telling me!”, Kono gave out a small smile after giving Steve another hug.

With that, Kono left Steve’s office to start digging into CIA current cases.

Another day has gone by awfully slow. It was killing Steve every minute, it was getting harder and harder to sit still and wait.


1AM

McGarrett Residence…

Steve was sitting on the lanai behind his house, taking in the darkness of the night, listening to the familiar sound of the waves. He couldn’t sleep. Even the sound of the ocean couldn’t help calm him down. He closed his eyes for a moment, recalling the relationship between him and Catherine from the beginning, since the day they met. He admitted to himself that, right now, he missed her more than ever. He wished he could figure out a way to get hold of her, to hear her voice, one way or another.

“Ring… ring… ring…”

The sound of his phone snapped him out of his reverie. Steve’s heart jumped out of his chest when he saw it was from an unknown number. Without a hesitation, he picked up the phone, assuming it was Catherine, and he greeted the person from the other end: “Took you long enough.”

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“Steve.”

It wasn’t the voice that he had longed for. It wasn’t the voice he was waiting for, even though it was also familiar. He just didn’t expect to hear from this woman this soon. The urgent time in her voice alerted Steve. Something bad must have happened.

It was Doris McGarrett.

“Steve, you need to get here right now. We are at the hospital. Catherine is badly wounded.”

“Doris, what’s wrong? Where are you? What happened?”

“I will explain everything once you get here. We are at the Canadian Forces Health Services Center in Ottawa. Steve, please get here as fast as you can! I don’t know how much time she has.”

Steve’s heart ached hearing those words from Doris, feeling completely lost. He blinked back the tears, trying not to think the worst.

Doris took the complete silence on the other side of the line the wrong way. She thought Steve was reluctant to hop on a plane for Catherine. She raised her voice, although it almost sounded like she was begging: “Steve, that girl loves you. She never wanted to hurt you. You are clearly still in love with her, Steve. If you don’t come here now, you’re gonna regret it.”

“Of course I’m coming, what are you thinking?”, Steve didn’t like that Doris mistook his silence as hesitation, although he really appreciated her calling to inform him. “Please stay with her until I get there. Doris, please, take care of her.”

“I’m not going anywhere.”

Steve ended the call and within several minutes, he started arranging the trip to Canada. After calling for several favours, he got lucky and got one spot on a military transform from Hawaii to Canada, which was departing in almost one hour. He grabbed several things that he would need and left the house after sending a short text to his whole team.

Sitting in the cab, all Steve could think about was getting to Catherine as fast as possible. He hated feeling so helpless. He should have tried harder to reach her, maybe even checked with the head of CIA, even though the logical side of him knew it was an absurd idea. He and Catherine were so close to starting everything all over, yet once again destiny gave them another challenge. His tears were flowing freely, he didn’t even care about revealing his true emotions in front of the taxi driving sitting right in front of him. He had never believed in God, but in that very moment, all he could do was to pray for her to be strong.


8 hours later.

The Canadian Forces Health Services Center, Ottawa…

It felt like the longest 8 hours of Steve’s life. He couldn’t rest on the plane, his mind kept wandering and he couldn’t get the worst scenario out of his head. The minutes ticked by while his irritation, fear and helplessness grew from intense to severe. It was overwhelming and Steve felt like he was going to explode. He couldn’t help but feeling a little bit relieved when he saw Doris sitting right outside of the operating room. She looked miserable, genuinely worried, clutching her head in pain.

“Mom, how is Catherine? Is she okay? What the hell happened?”

Doris was taken aback by his angry, yet worried, voice. Her head jerked in the direction of her son’s voice. She stood up immediately and went to wrap Steve up in a tight hug.

“Thank God you make it. You’re here now. She’s still inside. We haven’t heard from the doctors. It was a really long operation. I wanted to transfer her to Tripler, but the doctors here insisted that her condition wasn’t good enough for the transfer to Hawaii.”

Doris was rambling and crying, which wasn’t like her at all, and Steve had never seen Doris act like this before. As far as he could remember, his mom always seemed calm and controlled. There were rare occasions when she showed her vulnerable side if his dad was injured in the job. Steve suddenly realized how much Doris truly cared about Catherine, which also meant that she still cared about him. That realisation brought out a gentle smile on his face, even in that situation.

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“Mom, I’m here now. Please tell me what happened”, Steve helped Doris sit down and looked his mother in the eye. Judging by the redness around her eyes, Doris must have been crying for hours.

“It’s all my fault. She went against the CIA when she rescued me. Of course, the bosses weren’t happy about it, so they assigned her this assignment with no extraction plan. The op did require her talents and skills, but this assignment was more like the CIA’s punishment for Catherine. She was all on her own. You know how it works, don’t you? And Catherine is such an honourable soldier, she would never turn down a direct order, no matter how much she hated it.”

steve-26“When did she receive that order?”, Steve inhaled with difficulty, he already had conflicts with the CIA in the past – with the whole Doris/Shelbourne thing, and now, he couldn’t help but let his hatred for the CIA grow inside. Remembering the conversation with Cath before she got on board, he turned to Doris.

“After the top brass of the CIA found out that you guys rescued me and Yao Fat. They probably gave her the order right before she talked to you. I noticed her taking some phone call when you were checking out the plane. Later on, I figured out about the op, and knowing the extreme danger of that op, I told her I would come back for her after making arrangements for Yao Fat. But it was too late”, Doris ended with a sob in her throat.

“She said she was happy doing what she was doing”, Steve whispered. Catherine’s answer that day bombarded his mind, he couldn’t believe Catherine would give him such an answer after knowing about the order.

“That poor little girl…” Doris smiled in tears, looking right into her son’s eyes, “She told you she was happy because she thought you were happy with that new girl. Lynn, was it? I know I’m in no position to tell you which girl you should pick, but I don’t believe for a second any other girl can love you more than Catherine. She felt bad lying to you when you asked.”

“She told you?”

“Yeah. She was so ready to let you go, even after everything she had done for you, which wasn’t my place to tell you. Cath didn’t want you to feel guilty. She was ready to set you free. She wanted you to be happy. She made a choice, Steve, and even though it wasn’t perfect, she thought she was doing the right thing. I know it sounds like I am trying to make excuses for both of us, but believe me, I’m not. Steve, you can’t blame her.”

“I’m not blaming her, mom. I understand. I’m just mad at myself for being fooled by Cath. How could she…? How could I not see through that?”, he stood up, walking back and forth in front of Doris. His heart constricted after hearing what Doris just said.

“We talked on the phone. She was supposed to tell the CIA it would be her last assignment and she was planning to come home to me. She never mentioned how dangerous this op was”, Steve finally sat down again, taking a deep breath, trying to take everything in. He wished Catherine could be a little less selfless by telling him a bit about her assignment, even though he was fully aware that Catherine had to keep details confidential. If she had told him, he would have flown all the way to Canada to help her, which was the last thing they needed, considering their history with the CIA.

“Yeah, I heard.”

“What, you and Cath are like… besties now?”, Steve snorted.

“Yeah, kind of. I called to check in with her, and she sounded happy, so I asked her about it. Plus we bonded, we talked, a lot, recently.”

“Wow, I’m not sure if I like the idea of my CIA mother and CIA girlfriend being so close”, Steve shook his head.

“Wow, that’s huge. You admit she’s your girlfriend now? What about that other girl?”

“The other girl is out of the picture now. You’re right. Everyone is right. My head wasn’t on the game. My heart belongs to Catherine. I’ve never admitted she’s my girlfriend because she’s so much more. It has always been that way. And I’m still in love with her. My ego was just too bruised for me to admit it. Mom, I genuinely don’t know how to stop loving Cath. I don’t know what will happen if I lose her for good this time. Mom, what should I do now?”, tears streaming down freely on Steve’s handsome face, it almost felt like he stumbled forward. His head dropped and tears fell into his lap.

“Catherine is such a good girl, she’s tough and strong, she will go through this, she has to”, truthfully, Doris didn’t know what else she could say to comfort Steve at this moment. She was just happy that at least her son talked to her, confided his feelings to her, like a normal son to a normal mother. She had never ever had this experience, it felt nice. She sniffed, silently hugged Steve to offer him her support. She patted him on the back gently.

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“What exactly happened to her, mom? How bad was it?”

“It was her last day. She almost got all of the information we needed. There was only one piece of a document we needed and then the case would be wrapped. I told her that we didn’t really need that one, the evidence we obtained was quite enough, but Catherine was very, very stubborn and insisted on getting it.”

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“That’s how she is. She’s a perfectionist when it comes to an op and she’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done.”

“I don’t know what happened exactly, but her cover was almost blown. I tried to warn her, but couldn’t reach her by phone because it was too risky. All I know was they found out and captured her, kept her in the basement and tortured her. We had a recording device inside the wall and heard how they tortured her. It was very difficult to listen to that. I would have given anything to put myself in her place.”

“Why didn’t you call me right away?”, Steve’s eyes opened wider, he felt sick to his stomach. He could have been a part of Catherine’s rescue operation. “And who are “we” here?”

“I didn’t know if I could wait for you to get here, it would’ve taken you at least 7 hears and that’s if you left immediately, Steve. I needed to make a split-second decision to save as much time as I could. Timing was everything, I just couldn’t afford to call you and risk losing her. I was with Joe anyway, he wasn’t CIA and didn’t have the clearance to know about this op but he volunteered. And then I contacted Catherine’s partner.”

“Excuse me? Catherine had a partner?”, Steve was surprised, he didn’t see that coming. If he was completely honest with himself, he’s gotta admit that he was indeed sick at heart. He hadn’t felt this way in ages. A faint hint of jealousy made him feel rather uneasy.

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