Disclaimer: I do not own any rights to the TV series, Hawaii Five-0.
Okay, before anyone gets mad at me again because I'm posting another story before updating YOM... this is meant to just be a test. The site is not letting me manage/update stories, so I wanted to see if it would let me post one.
However, if this does post, please enjoy it. And please don't yell at me. Thank you.
N. J. Borba
"You asleep?" he whispered over her shoulder.
Their room was mostly dark, being nearly midnight. Both lamps had been extinguished an hour ago as they'd settled in for the night. A scant sliver of moonlight drifted through the open window behind them, keeping Steve awake. He knew that wasn't entirely true, though. His thoughts were the real culprit keeping sleep at bay. And as he lay with his chest pressed against her back, he could hear her slightly uneven breathing. Steve had slept beside her enough times to know she wasn't sleeping either.
She turned over slowly, her eyelids droopy but revealing that she was very much awake. "Asking someone if they're asleep is kind of silly," Catherine noted. "If I was asleep I wouldn't be answering you right now."
He smiled faintly, brushing a bit of hair behind her ear. "Why can't you sleep?"
A small shrug raised her shoulders. "Not sure. You?"
"Do you ever think about it?" Steve asked in return.
With her eyes coming open a little more, Catherine regarded him thoughtfully. "Could you be slightly less vague? I think about a lot of stuff when I'm not able to fall asleep," she noted.
"Why we broke up before I went to North Korea with Freddie," he narrowed it down considerably.
"Oh," she swallowed, not expecting their late night conversation to go there. "We weren't really broken up. I think in order to break up requires an actual declaration of being together. And you've always been good at avoiding that."
He could tell she was trying to evade the bigger topic, knowing they were both good at that game. "But you do think about it, don't you?"
"Yeah, of course," Catherine revealed. "I think about it more than I probably should."
She was a little startled when he took her by the arm and pulled her aside, managing to slip out the side door of the main operations center. Catherine shot him a scolding look with her eyes, hating to show any hint that they might be in a relationship while on duty. He dropped her arm once they were alone, which helped subdue her scowl a little. As they huddled in a corner of the dark conference room she tried not to make a sound when he brushed a finger tenderly along her jaw.
"Steve," her breath hitched. "You know it's not safe here, we…"
"I know you wanted to talk to me tonight about something," Steve said, noticing how her breath steadied when both hands went to his side. "But they're pulling me out. I'm headed back to Iraq. I leave tonight, about an hour," he revealed. "I have to go pack."
Her eyes immediately turned to the floor, unable to face him. That was a regular part of military life, knowing that either one of them could be sent away at any time. It was always a possibility lurking over their heads. "Then we really need to talk," Catherine insisted, still not looking up.
"That's why I brought you here," Steve shrugged, knowing it wasn't ideal. He lifted her chin, "To talk."
Catherine looked up at him again, eyes meeting his, their time together always seeming so fleeting. She knew if they were going to talk it would have to be now or possibly never. "I just need you to know… damn," she swore, "Lurking in a dark conference room is not exactly the way I wanted to tell you I'm pregnant," she tried to make a joke of it. But when his gray-blue eyes bore into her brown, Catherine swallowed the regretful lump that had formed in her throat.
He tried to think of something to say, but it came out all wrong. "I thought you were… I thought we had things covered?"
"You had things covered, yes," she was almost thankful for the clinical absurdity of his observation. "And I'm on birth control but sometimes…"
"Jeez, Cath," his breath released in a stunned groan. "We can't have a baby. That's not part of the plan."
"No kidding," Catherine scoffed. She always knew his plan was to keep things casual and simple, even though for over a year they both knew their relationship had been exclusive, and they'd fought for every spare second they could get alone. "You don't want this baby," she stated, not questioned, trying hard to steel her heart from the disappointment they'd set themselves up for.
"I didn't say that," Steve tried to backpedal.
"Yeah, you kinda did," Catherine stood up straighter and took a step away from him. But she looked him in the eye again. "I can handle this on my own," those words were swallowed with great difficulty. "You don't need to worry about any of it."
"Catherine…" he was hesitant to take her at her word, not sure if he wanted to comfort her or run away.
"You have to leave in an hour, less than that now," she edged closer to the door. "You don't need to worry about this problem. I'm sorry I even said anything," Catherine concluded, slipping out the door, noticing that he made no move to follow her.
His hands were practically shaking as he dialed. He stood just a few paces away from the Humvee where his prisoner was stashed, safely tied up and being watched over by a company of guards. Steve dared to take a moment to collect his self. He tried to shake off the fact that he'd left his best friend to die less than twenty-four hours ago. The mission had been a game changer for him. Freddie's live-for-the-moment attitude about marriage and babies had Steve wondering why he was unable to make the same commitment to Catherine.
All he really knew as he listened to the line ring was that Freddie had laid down his life for him and the mission.
He relaxed almost instantly upon hearing her voice.
"Catherine," Steve held the bulky satellite phone to his ear and squinted against the brutal sun shining in his eyes. "Cath, I've been doing a lot of thinking the last few days, this mission has made me… well, you know I can't really tell you what's been happening but, I think we can make it work. You and me and this baby, Catherine… I think…
"Steve," she stopped him, her voice cracking with emotion. "There's no more baby," Catherine whispered.
Due to the sketchy phone connection he wasn't sure if he'd heard her correctly. "What do you mean? What does that mean?"
Her voice faltered and he wasn't sure his would fare much better if he tried to speak, fear and anger beginning to coil in his belly. "I know you said you'd handle it, but I guess I didn't think you would," Steve wasn't sure what to think. "We should've talked before… Cath, you didn't?"
"No," her voice was barely a whisper to his ear and he felt horrible for even implying that she might have done anything without further discussion. "Nature made that decision for us," the words caused his heart to ache in a manner he hadn't expected. "I stayed at the clinic last night as a precaution, make sure everything was… I can still have kids someday if I want," Steve heard the relief in her voice, and the sorrow. "Apparently a lot of first pregnancies end in miscarriage."
"Catherine, I should've…"
"Steve, I know you're not in Iraq right now. I shouldn't know that, but I can't help keeping tabs on you. You still have a mission to complete," he listened to her tone change, the sorrow replaced almost instantly by duty. "I shouldn't have even told you before you left. You never should've called. You need to concentrate on the mission, Steve; nothing else. Promise me," he heard the years of responsibility to job and country reflected in her voice, just one of the many things he admired about her. "Promise you'll focus on making it home."
"I promise," Steve said just before the line went dead. The second promise he'd made that day. He stared at the phone for a moment before he followed through on the second one.
Ten minutes later, as the convoy was well on its way to deliver their prisoner, Steve's phone rang.
His breath caught in his throat, worried it might be Catherine. But when he glanced at the screen, Steve noticed it was his dad.
"It's hard not to think about how different things would be now if…" Catherine hated the fact she'd considered it often.
"We never talked about it again," Steve pointed out the obvious.
"Nope," she agreed. "Instead I had a fling with Billy in Amsterdam, which only made things worse because he was so sweet to me and I felt like I was using him because I wasn't over you. And after your dad died you took the job with Five-0's task force. A few months later you called me out of the blue asking for a favor. I was so happy you called that day, happy to just be able to put it all behind us. I guess we're both pretty good at burying our emotions."
He caressed her cheek with one finger, still recalling that day so clearly. Hearing her say those words, I'm pregnant. The fear and disappointment he'd seen in her eyes at that moment, and his inability to do anything but think of the mission ahead. "I don't want to be good at that anymore, I want us to talk," Steve insisted. "How old would it… how old would our baby be now?"
"Almost four," she whispered, surprised by the ease with which they spoke of it. "About the same age as Freddie's little girl."
"That's right," Steve realized. "We sent her that birthday card just last week. Maybe that's what brought all this back around," he sighed, noticing how quiet Catherine was again. "Did you ever think about… boy or girl?"
"Boy," she replied.
The way she spoke with such conviction left him to wonder. "How pregnant were you? Did you know if it was a boy or…"
Her head shook, "Just figured your macho SEAL sperm would only produce a boy."
Steve actually laughed at that, but his mood swiftly shifted to somber again. "Did you mourn?" he wondered.
Even as the words left his lips she felt tears prick her eyes. "Not really," she whispered, suddenly finding it difficult to speak about the loss. "Buried it, remember?"
He nodded and swiped away her tears, wishing it could be as simple to wipe away four years of pain. "I'm so sorry," Steve pressed a feather-light kiss against her forehead before he pulled back and looked her in the eye. "I don't know how I can…" he struggled with his words. "How I can possibly ever tell you how much I love you, knowing that I wasn't there for you when you needed me most," Steve revealed his greatest fear and biggest regret.
Catherine was shocked that she'd never realized that had been the thing holding him back from those three words. "We can't go backwards, Steve. I don't want to go back. Forward march only, soldier," she smiled softly. "And if you want to tell me… you know, what you just said… all you have to do is say the words."
"I love you, Catherine," he was surprised by how uncomplicated she'd made it for him. Steve didn't think he could ever thank her enough for that. "This… what we have right now," he made a small gesture between them with his hand. "I'd like to officially declare this a relationship." He smiled, "Just so we're clear the next time we ever…"
Catherine pressed a finger against his lips, "I love you, too," she whispered, securing her words with a tender kiss.