More than Love
Summary: Tie-in and continuation oneshots to my story Love is not enough, prompted and original ones.
Pairings: Steve/Cath, minor Kono/Adam and Danny/Gabby
A/N: Okay, this is the first oneshot. It's not one I was prompted for, but I thought it would be a good place to start. I'm working on your requests. I've decided to try to put them in a sensible order because the way I'm mapping these oneshots in my mind, they're close-knit enough to become something between an actual sequel and snippets.
Chapter 1: To feel
The casket was open so that everyone may say one final goodbye to a woman who had swept into their lives like a hurricane, and then left them again just as quickly. He examined her quietly as he stood above her. Wo Fat had shot her in the chest, everything had been soaked in blood, but the funeral director and his staff had done an excellent job. She had been carefully cleaned, and dressed in a simple black gown that hid the entrance wound beneath its inky cloth. Her eyes were closed, her hands rested peacefully over her stomach, a single white rose pinned beneath them. She looked asleep rather than dead, and Steve almost expected her to open her eyes, and tell him off for continuing to stare at her, but he knew that would not happen.
He placed a hand on the side of her face before he bent down to kiss her forehead. He grasped her hands once, then turned around and walked back to where his extended family was waiting for him. He rejoined them, wrapping an arm around his sister just as he felt Catherine's fingers intertwine with his, and her hand squeezing his tightly. He felt her touch anchor him, trying to give him comfort they both knew he wasn't sure he needed. His mother had been ripped from him again, this time for good, and all he could feel was numbness. He was sorry for her death, but it hadn't left him crippled or weeping. He couldn't seem to mourn her the way a mother deserved to be mourned. His relationship with her since her return had been anything but close, and, of course, she had lied to him repeatedly, so that may account for some of his lack of grief. Nonetheless, her death left him numb, for which he felt guilt, not regret.
He didn't think he could mourn her as he had already done so twenty years ago. He felt like he had spent every tear, every heartache over her death already, and now there was only pliant acceptance left. He had buried her twenty years ago. When he'd found her again, he had barely been able to believe his own eyes. Now she was gone again, and it felt almost as if she had never been here in the first place. Standing there, at his mother's funeral, he felt more like sixteen again than thirty-six, only this time he could see her in her casket assuring himself that this was truly final. In Steve's eyes, his need to make sure she had truly died spoke volumes of his sickly relationship with his mother. He felt like a monster for not being able to grieve for her, yet this whole day seemed more like a wrap-up of something long overdue than an emotionally draining experience.
When he'd shared these thoughts with Catherine the previous night, she'd smiled sadly at him. She had suggested that he may be in shock or in denial about his mother's death, and he'd agreed that he half expected her to get up and walk away, or to find her in some dead end village on the other side of the world. Despite their explanations they both knew that wasn't all there was to it, and the guilt had been so overwhelming that he had known then that he wouldn't get any sleep that night. Catherine must have known to, because she pulled him to her, let him snuggle into her, and gently pulled her fingers through his hair in a way she knew he found comforting. She hadn't told him it would be alright, and perhaps that was what he was most grateful for. He didn't need any sweet, sentimental nothings to make his guilt even worse. She'd just stayed with him, stayed close to him, and let him glean what comfort he could from her presence.
He watched numbly as they closed the coffin, and lowered it into the ground. She would be buried right next to his and Mary's father, and not for the first time did he wonder whether she had really loved them at all, or if they had just been a cover story. He shot that thought down with a vengeance. It was a moot point pondering that now; he would never get answers anymore, and he rather preferred thinking that she did. He might have never had the courage to ask. She was still their mother, and, even if he questioned her methods, he would believe that she had honestly tried to protect them through her death.
The time it took to fill up the freshly dug grave and the subsequent drive home were a blur for him. He inattentively shook people's hands, and thanked them for their condolences, but he was barely paying attention. Later he wouldn't be sure if anything at all had had his attention in those long minutes. He felt like a sleep-walker or someone on autopilot. He went through all the motions of a grieving son who had just buried his mother, but he didn't feel any of them. His surroundings didn't register, and he barely even recognized the governor when he extended his most sincere condolences for his loss. As so often before, it was Danny who finally brought him back from his semi-consciousness.
"You looked like you needed a beer," his friend told him as he came to stand beside him. They were standing on the lanai in front of his house where they had decided to hold a small wake for Doris McGarrett. Danny handed a blinking Steve a Longboard he had brought over with him, and the two men took a couple of swigs in companionable silence until Danny spoke up again. "I'd say I'm sorry for your loss, but I have a feeling it would not be entirely appreciated."
Steve let that prompt stand between them for another few seconds.
"You have talked to Catherine, I take it."
"No, but you apparently have. Normally I'd be making a jibe at how you're finally learning, but that, too, would probably not be appreciated right now. What's wrong?"
"Nothing," Steve groaned out in frustration, letting the comment about his former inadequacy as a boyfriend slide. "That's just it. I feel nothing... well, no, that's not true. I feel... numb. Like I'm incapable of grieving. It's almost like I'm expecting her to show up her, and celebrate her own wake with us."
Danny studied him for a moment. Steve looked truly frustrated with himself and with the situation. He obviously didn't know what to make of his complete lack of response to his mother's death. When they'd rescued him from Wo Fat, Danny had thought that Steve's apparent lack of emotion was equally due to his SEAL training and the near-death experience he had just gone through, but it seemed to have persisted. Perhaps he shouldn't be surprised at this turn of events. He had no doubt that Steve had spent the better part of his life trying to move on from his mother's supposed death, and all the catastrophic ramifications for his family that followed it.
"Maybe you just need more time;" Danny suggested. "She faked her death once; it's understandable if you were in denial about the situation. And let's not forget that you're a highly trained whatsit, and you were probably taught to compartmentalized everything."
Steve couldn't help but give an undignified chortle. His mother's wake was definitely not the best place to be so callous even if only his closest friends were here. The only people here who weren't part of his ohana were Catherine's parents, and they had already made up their mind about him no matter what he said or did, but he should be more considerate for Mary. His sister was grieving, and he didn't need to flaunt his inability to; it would only hurt her.
"Danny, she is not coming back. I know that."
"Yeah, you know that here," Danny answered without missing a beat, lightly knowing on the side of his head. Steve threw him a glance, and Danny went on to poke him in the chest. "What about here?"
Steve wanted to roll his eyes, he really did, but when he turned to look at Danny, the detective brought his finger up to snub him under his chin. Childish as it was, it did help to lighten Steve's mood. They grinned at each other for a moment, and when Danny told him it would be alright, he decided to believe him. He hadn't been ready to hear it last night, but maybe it was time to give in, and let someone else take the reins on this one. A little reassurance had never hurt anybody, and being made fun of, then being reassured by his best friend made him feel less like a monster and more like himself. It would be sad day indeed if Danny ever, for one moment agreed with him on anything.
"Look around you, Steven," Danny prompted him, and his use of Steve's full name meant he was serious. "What do you see?"
He saw a private beach full of people he cared about, and who cared for him in return. Kono was talking to Jack, no doubt exchanging some pointers for the better handling of rifles. Gabby was watching as his SEAL brother entertained Grace. Mick was doing little magic tricks that made the little girl's eyes light up, and pester him with questions because she wanted to learn them all. Chin was coming up to join them, leaving Catherine to talk to her parents. He could see her throw a look in his direction, something between a warning and a cry for help. He couldn't see Mary until he spotted her standing to one side with Carlos, and frowned. He knew Carlos would never try anything without talking to him first, but he also knew that the silver-tongued man had enough dirt on him to give his sister blackmail material for the rest of his life. He contemplated going over there, and breaking their little chat up, but Mary was at least somewhat smiling again, and the relief of seeing that felt to good to ruin it.
"I see.. ohana," Danny answered his own question, "and by the look on your face, so do you. We're here for you, babe."
"I know. I just... I wish there was something left in me to mourn her with."
"There is, and you'll find it," his partner informed him with absolute confidence. "You just need someone to poke you in the right spot, and burst this bubble of indifference."
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Mary had gone to bed early, even before everyone had left. Steve didn't particularly feel like doing the dishes, and despite his neat freak qualities enhanced by the Navy, he only put away the left-over food, and placed the dirty dishes in the sink. He would do them tomorrow. He could hear quiet voiced coming from the other room where Catherine was talking to her parents. They were the last to leave. After everything they didn't really want to leave their daughter out of their sight at all, and he didn't blame them. Wanting to give them the space they needed and deserved, Steve briefly checked on his sister. He found Mary curled up on her bed, still in her simple black dress. The only item of clothing she had taken off had been her shoes, and her legs were still half-hanging off the bed. He moved her more fully onto the mattress, grabbed a blanket, and covered her with it gently. He kissed her goodnight, and went to the living room. He was greeted by Admiral Thomas Rollins who extended a hand toward him.
"I'm sorry for your loss, Commander McGarrett." Steve studied the older man in front of him. While he had used the standard formula, the SEAL could tell that the other man was sincere in what it expressed. Even as he took the Admiral's hand, though, his gaze wandered over the man's shoulder to an apologetic looking Catherine.
"Thank you, sir, but I don't think that is all you have to say to me."
"It can wait until another time, son."
"Respectfully, sir – no, it can not. The last time we discussed about this, Cath was very upset, and if that's what is going to happen, I want it over with, and I want you out of my house, sir." He felt a sting of irritation rising in himself, and after days of numbness, he welcomed it. It was good to feel something other than guilt and indifference again even if the feeling was by no means positive, and he held no illusions about the outcome of this conversation either. He wanted to get this out of the way, though he couldn't honestly say he gave a damn about Admiral Rollins' opinion. Sure, he wanted the man to respect him, but he could live and build something with Catherine just fine without it. He refused to let go of her again, no matter the reason. He's stupidly done so once, and it had nearly cost him such a large part of himself that he'd been utterly lost. It had made him realize how deeply Catherine had been woven into the fabric of his existence. He would never willingly go through that again.
"Commander!", Mrs Rollins gasped.
"Ma'am," Steve acknowledged, then turned back to Cath's father. "Admiral or not, I do not have to let you into my house."
The Admiral raised an eyebrow at him, but said nothing, merely motioned for him to lead the way to the kitchen. They left the two women alone in the living room; Steve could see Catherine make a move to follow them, but her mother caught her arm, and shook her head. She threw him one last glance from her worried dark eyes, asking if it was alright to stay with her mother. He gave her a reassuring nod as he stopped to let his superior into the kitchen first. Steve carefully closed the door, and turned to face the Admiral again, only to find himself face to face with an expression of intrigued scrutiny.
There were a few moments of silence as the two men sized each other up. They were both wearing their dress blues, and Steve realized that he wanted the Admiral's respect if possible, but didn't care about his opinion on his love life with Catherine. Admiral Rollins was a highly decorated officer, a former SEAL himself, and he still handled SEAL deployment which had further complicated Steve's relationship with Catherine due to her father's disapproval. Nonetheless, here they were, and it was time to get this over with.
"Commander, what do you think I think of you?", the Admiral surprisingly asked.
"I honestly don't know, sir, but if our last conversation on my relationship with Catherine is any indication, I would say you're not overly fond of me."
"Commander, you're getting ahead of yourself, and calling what you and my daughter had back then a relationship is a bit of a stretch, don't you think?"
"Respectfully, sir, you were the one who pointed out to me that I was falling without even knowing it."
"Yes, I did. Commander, you're an excellent SEAL, and my division has felt your absence since you went to the reserves. I never doubted that you were a good man, I just didn't approve of what your acquaintance with Catherine entailed. I also can't say I was too impressed by your complete disregard for my telling you to stay away from her, despite telling me that you had understood."
"I didn't lie," Steve admitted freely. "I had understood, and I told Catherine about it. She wanted to comply with your... request. I didn't. In hindsight I think that's when I realized that she did mean something more to me, but I remember thinking that I would not let you dictate my life just because you didn't like my association with your daughter. It's almost ironic how it was your disapproval that made me want to know her better."
"Behind my back?", the Admiral asked in a tone that was almost amused. Steve didn't know where this was going anymore; he had expected the Admiral to repeat his warning of staying away from his daughter, especially after she was kidnapped and tortured because of him. The older man didn't seem so disapproving anymore, and Steve couldn't reconcile this new docile Admiral with the man who had told him in no uncertain terms that he wanted him to break it off with Catherine four years ago.
"It's not like we were sneaking around, sir, and I never lied to her about what I wanted out of our... acquaintance, as you call it, back then. I didn't encourage any expectations that I wasn't planning to meet, and, quite frankly, she hadn't exactly been looking for anything herself, sir," Steve defended himself, but amended slightly as he saw the Admiral's face harden. "I will admit that I also wasn't completely honest with her in regards to my intentions. It took me too long to accept that you were right, and then again to do something about it, but I'm there now, and I have no intention of backing down."
"Oh, I realize that. I'm pretty sure I knew it was serious before either of you understood."
"Sir, I don't follow."
"Haven't you ever wondered why I never came after you again even when I realized that you'd ignored my warning?", the Admiral asked, tiredly. "Catherine's letters. She had started writing home about you. She didn't use your name, and they were just side notes, really, but the fact that she mentioned you at all was more than she has done for half of her boyfriends in high school. My main concern had been that being with a Navy man, she might have to give up her own career and move around all the time. The fact that you are a SEAL didn't help either. She'd never know where you are, and whether or nor you'd make it back. I'll admit to being relieved when I she wrote home that you'd settled here, and would be joining the reserves."
Steve was too stunned to say anything. His gaze flickered between the door and the man, half-contemplating to go out there, and ask her if it were true. He had never written letter home himself – at least not the kind the Admiral was talking about. His letters never really extended beyond good mission, team is doing fine or mission went wrong, some casualties, I'm in hospital. They were written proof of the disharmony in his relationship with his father, and how they had never managed to work it out. He had seen her mull over a few of her letters home when he had been with her during leave, and he had been glad for her that, despite her problems with her parents, she could still communicate with them, but he'd never pried into what she was writing about, and the thought that he might be a part of it had never crossed his mind. To be fair, though, he had been rather distracted by other... parts, and she had easily giving in to his distractions as well.
"After everything that's happened, I can see that your life has gotten no less dangerous, but my daughter says she loves you, and she is not giving you up... I saw you at the hospital. You love her, too, and that's good enough for me. Just don't hurt her, and do look after her, or else..."
With one last, slightly mischievous smile, the Admiral left him alone in the kitchen.
I really need to take her to dinner, Steve thought absentmindedly.
Without further ado the Admiral walked back to his wife, and they said their goodbyes. Steve didn't bother walking them to the door, and when he moved from the spot where he'd stood stunned into the living room, he found Catherine waiting for him with worried eyes. She looked at him apologetically. He glanced from her, to the door through which his last guests had left, then toward Mary's room, and back to his girlfriend again. Without warning the weight of the entire day came crashing down on him. From not sleeping the night before to his mother's funeral to the numbness and guilt he felt and the nervous anxiety mixed with irritation at the discussion with Catherine's parents had loomed over him.
The Admiral had been right that this was neither the place nor the time, but he had been intent on getting it over with. He had been sure of disapproval and rejection, and the unexpected acceptance of his girlfriend's father had taken him so completely aback that it had shaken him. Danny had been right all along; it was inside of him. He had just needed something to shake it loose, and now he'd found it. He felt like he'd been sleep-walking through the whole day, and was now finally awakened, ripped from this peaceful dream-like state that had encompassed him since this morning.
He continued to look at Catherine as he began shaking like a leaf. His vision began to swim with unshed tears, and he felt about ready to crumble to the floor in pieces. Catherine was with him in an instant, a hand on his cheek as she guided him back to the couch. She tried to make him sit down, but he instead knelt next to where she sat on the ground, his back bent to lay his head onto her thigh. Her hand went into his hair, stroking gently, and he could feel her bending over him as she tried to get even closer to comfort him. No sound came from him, but his body was shaken by silent sobs, tears slowly making their way down his face and onto her leg because his mother was not going to miraculously appear in a small Japanese village this time. He had buried her today, her casket open so they could say goodbye, and regret suddenly filled him at not having taken the chance.
He knew he would not get any sleep tonight either.
A/N: I thought it might be difficult for Steve to mourn his mother, partially because of his training, and partially because, for all intents and purposes, she died on him twenty years ago. He clearly couldn't trust her after he found her again, and their relationship wasn't very close from what I've seen on the show. I haven't actually seen anything since 3x11, though, so I might have missed something. I just think he'd need a push to grieve for her the way someone naturally grieves for their mother.