“You’re not so tight as usual,” Catherine tells him, her hands on his back, pushing up at his shoulders. He’s laid out on the bed, still fully clothed, in the delicious stupor following an excessively large steak dinner.
He sprang for a nice meal this time, probably to make up for all the others he had to bail out on, and for the more than a few times he asked her to grant him outlandish favors. He didn’t really need to though, as she’s tried to explain to him.
She keeps him around, or rather keeps coming around herself, because he’s not complicated and he treats her well. And he makes the most adorable noises in bed.
He’s grunting now, little incessant bursts of air, muffled and made small by his closed mouth.
“That’s good, Cath,” he says and turns his face full-on into her pillow.
When he flopped there, in her hotel room, groaning loudly like a little boy who’d eaten too much ice cream, she’d kicked off her shoes and climbed right on top of him. He’d stiffened at her presumption in a way he never had before, but she dismissed it, because it had been longer than usual this time.
She hasn’t asked him if he’s with anyone. She trusts him to say if it’s important.
So, she pushes harder against him, feeling the muscles across his back and shoulders, thinking of the ink underneath the thin fabric of his dress shirt.
It was only a day after they met in the Giger museum that she took him to get his first ink.
He told her that he’d been thinking about it for a while and that he’d finally found what he wanted.
He’d bought a postcard of Illuminatus I in the museum gift shop and folded it into his wallet with a shy smile. With the very same smile he brought it out, presenting it to the artist, a punked out blonde with wide shoulders and big tits.
She gave him a face-splitting grin and said simply, “Giger. Badass.” Though Catherine knew from several nights out drinking, that Marta’s English was much more fluent.
McGarrett’s answering smile was reward enough for the broken English and the look on his face when the needle hit his skin wasn’t something Catherine would ever forget.
They had five more days of shared leave that first time and they spent most of it in bed.
“You’ve been laying out too much, Mr. Law Enforcement Officer. Way more downtime Stateside,” Catherine murmurs.
“If you’re trying to imply I’m going soft…” he mumbles into the pillow, his voice heavy from the food and her attentions, but with just a little barb of pride.
“I’m not implying anything. The lack of knots in your back is all the evidence I need, Commander.”
She hears him huff a laugh, then suppress it, and his fingers do that little twitchy thing they sometimes do when he’s thinking about something he doesn’t want to.
“Or is there another reason?” Catherine asks in a teasing voice.
He pushes up onto his elbows and she kind of slides to the side as he turns to her, a funny look in his eyes, almost guilty but not ashamed.
“You got someone else pulling those knots out of you, McGarrett? A little something on the side?” She’s smiling and she can’t imagine he would think she’d be mad.
Steve looks away then back at her quickly. “Depends on which side you think you’re on,” he answers and grins at her.
She pushes at his shoulder, turning him all the way over onto his back, and hikes up her dress to straddle him properly. Her hands automatically go for the buttons at his shirt collar, but she doesn’t make a move to undo them.
“I don’t mind being the smaller side of this triangle,” she says softly. “God knows we spend enough time apart, Steve, and I’ve been with others. I know you have, too. They’re important when they’re important and we’ll come back or we won’t.”
Steve’s face is serious. “I know.”
Catherine looks at him, at his hands holding hers still, right at that first button, and realizes he’s the one who hasn’t decided yet. “It’s all fine with me, baby,” she tells him. “And I know it must be fine for this third side, or we wouldn’t be sitting like we are right now. We can do this, or we don’t have to. It’s your choice now.”
“It’s Danny,” he says abruptly.
She blinks at him then laughs. “Really? ”
“You’re the first person who seemed surprised,” he says, looking at her like she’s either a marvel or a weirdo.
“Oh, I’m not surprised it’s Danny,” she clarifies. “I’m surprised you knuckleheads figured it out so fast.” She pauses and smiles softer, sobering. She leans down and presses her lips to his forehead. “Poor McGarrett. No wonder you’re still on the fence about this. You love him.”
He looks at her and frowns. “Jesus, Cath, why you gotta be so smart about everything?”
Catherine laughs again and leans closer, sliding her body down to tuck her head under his chin. His arms come up around her as she replies, “If I had any brains at all I would have made you marry me years ago, sailor. I’d have little mini commandos running around base, getting into everyone’s business. There’d be explosions once a week.”
“Stop talking shit,” he tells her and his chest vibrates in a silent laugh, remembering. “You were the one who said no.”
It was Fleet Week, two years after they’d begun whatever it was they were doing.
McGarrett’s team was back from parts undisclosed and Catherine’s ship was docked in the Hudson. They met in a bar in Greenwich Village and spent all night pub crawling through Alphabet City.
They flirted with hispters and danced in shady basements where people were taking e and snorting all sorts of shit into their noses. They made out like horny teenagers with each other and anyone else nearby.
Sometime near dawn, Steve pulled her into an alley off a side street where someone was puking next to a dumpster not ten feet away. Catherine barely noticed, she was trashed as fuck and probably had a contact high. She’d just watched Steve lay the messiest goodbye-kiss she’d ever seen on the sweat-soaked, skinny-boy bassist whose band they’d followed from the underground club to the after hours bar they’d just been kicked out of. She smiled into his lips, thinking about how goddamn wet she was, how bad she wanted him.
Steve’s hands on her felt so good as he said, like he’d just had the best idea of all time, “Hey, hey, Cath, you know what we should do?”
“What?” she asked, grinning stupidly and reaching for his belt, which she’d already undone in several bathrooms that night.
“We should get fucking married,” he said and kissed her like she was water in the desert.
She kissed him back, not thinking at all for too long about what he’d actually said. She had her skirt rucked up around her thighs, which were half-way up his hips, when she pulled back and stared at him, frowning. He returned her gaze guilelessly.
“McGarrett,” she said. “That’s is the single, stupidest thing I have ever heard come out of your mouth. And you’re Steve fucking McGarrett. Don’t ever propose to me again, okay?”
He was so drunk, so high off whatever and off being back from whatever fresh hell the Navy had sent him into, that he just grinned at her again and replied, “Okay, Cath.”
It took them another hour to get their shit together enough to figure out the subway and get back to his hotel room.
Catherine laughs softly rolling her eyes up to the ceiling. Steve’s arms are still tight around her. “You know that’s never what I wanted,” she tells him.
“I know,” he says, but with a sigh that makes her sit up and take notice.
She looks at him plaintively, suddenly worried she’s misread everything, and perhaps has been for a while. “Steve, I thought we wanted the same things out of this and out of... out of life. If you don’t want that anymore, you have to tell me. I won’t be the thing that holds you back. I never wanted to do that. Never.”
“You’re not, Cath.” He’s looking away from her, towards the window, but the blinds are down. She knows he’s never been good about this stuff.
Her heart is hammering in her chest. She never thought saying something like this would be so difficult, but then again she’d never thought far enough ahead to make a plan for losing him.
“Do you want to stop?” She makes herself say it because she wonders if he’d have the strength to do it himself. She figures she can save him from it, she can give him that as a parting gift.
Now he turns to her, wide-eyed and terrified. “No,” he insists. “Do you?”
“Only if you don’t want to be here, baby.” She wants to keep them honest. She doesn’t want him if he’s only doing it for her.
His eyes are clear, as earnest as she’s ever seen them. His hands are on her arms, fingers wrapped around her wrists, to keep her from pulling away. “Catherine,” he says, “this thing with Danny. It’s just so new. I need...” he trails off and makes this face like his heart’s breaking. “I need to be with just him right now. But, that doesn’t mean I want to stop. Danny, he’s fine with it. He said to bring you around if I wanted, but I.. I just can’t... for a little while.”
All the tension in her disappears instantaneously and she sort of tips forward, pressing her forehead to his solar plexus. “That’s fine,” she breathes. “That’s totally fine, baby.” Then she looks up curiously at him. “You thought I’d... be mad?”
Steve shrugs sheepishly. “Well, your email was a little demanding this time.” She smiles, huffing a breath across the fabric of his shirt, making it warm against her cheeks. “You know how I hate to disappoint you.”
“I was having a bad day,” she says defensively. “It’s been so long since there’s been someone else around. I didn’t mean to make you think it wouldn’t be okay.”
He pulls her gently back up to fit under his chin, wrapping his arms around her tightly. She presses her face to his neck and just breathes him in as he says, “It’s fine, Cath. I’m just being weird about everything lately. It’s driving Danno up the wall. Or so he says.”
Catherine laughs. “Tell me about when you fell in love with him,” she says.