Always (An Episode Tag for the Season Premiere)
In the season premiere Catherine is kidnapped by the NLM terrorist group and Steve has to release some high value prisoners to save her. This is the tag I came up with for when the episode ended. As always this is for entertainment purposes only, I own nothing and no copyright infringement is intended.
They were all heading toward the parking lot when Chin’s phone buzzed. “Hello?” He stopped walking and Steve, Catherine and Danny stopped with him. “Okay, I’ll be right there.” Chin looked over at them apologetically. “I’ll need a rain check on that drink.”
“What’s going on?” Steve asked, his arm automatically tightening around Catherine.
“Nothing to worry about. I need to get back to HQ. While I’m there I’ll make a few calls and see if we can’t reconstruct the hard drive and see what the NLM was after.” When Steve was about to protest, Chin nodded toward one of the officers. “Don’t worry, I’ll catch a ride.” Chin gave them a wave as he zig-zagged in and out of the maze of emergency vehicles and officers.
“We’ll all need to catch a ride,” Danny pointed out. “Since my car is a burned out shell.” His eyes cut over to Steve and he raised his brows with “the look.”
“Lt. Lukela,” Steve said, greeting the man approaching them and ignoring Danny. “Could we borrow a car?”
“Only if you’re heading to the hospital. From the looks of you, a doctor needs to check you out.” Lukela jabbed his thumb at the car behind him. “You can take that one.”
Steve didn’t give him an answer on his suggestion of the hospital, he just thanked him and opened the passenger side door for Catherine. She got in carefully, as if she were in pain and suddenly he wanted to get her home, to make sure she really was all right. Maybe a quick drink would be okay, though, since that’s what she seemed to need and want right now. He went around the driver’s side, but Danny wasn’t getting in. “You coming?”
Danny glanced at Catherine and then met Steve’s eyes. “No. I’ll take a rain check, too. You need to take care of her and I need to get back to Gabby.”
Steve nodded. Sometimes it was scary that Danny could read him so well, but at the moment he was grateful. “See you later then, man. Good luck with Gabby.”
“Yeah.” Danny shoved his hands in his pockets and headed in the same direction Chin had gone. Steve slid behind the wheel.
“Where’d Danny go?” Catherine said, craning her neck to see where he was.
“He’s going to meet up with Gabby.” Steve started the car and looked over at her. “We need to get cleaned up anyway.”
Catherine leaned back against the head rest. “I think your shirt is ruined.”
He looked down at the bloody shirt he still wore. “Yeah, definitely.” He watched her out of the corner of his eye. The bruise on her cheek was darkening, making the rage curl in his gut again. He took her hand, unable to describe the relief he felt at having her next to him, but the fear and anger still licked at the edges of his emotional control. That had been too close. He could have lost her today.
She squeezed his hand and looked over at him, as if she knew the direction of his thoughts. “I’m okay.”
He smiled and tucked her hair behind her ear, letting his hand caress her face for a moment. “I know. I just want to get you home, that’s all.”
She closed her eyes again and he knew the adrenaline was wearing off. With everything that had happened, she had to be exhausted. He pressed harder on the gas and in no time was pulling up in front of his house. He parked and looked over at her. She was so still, as if just taking everything in. Maybe starting to process what she’d been through. He leaned toward her, wanting to be close, to let her know he was there. Always. “We’re home.”
Catherine ran her palm over the stubble on his jaw. Her touch was gentle, contemplative. “I’ve never been so glad in my life.”
“Are you sure you’re okay?” He rested his forehead against hers. She was so small and yet so brave. He admired that, but on days like today, it scared him. He couldn’t lose her and he almost had. Pushing that thought away, he pulled back. “Cath?”
“I’m okay.” She smiled and gave him a quick kiss.
He wanted to believe her, but knew she was hiding something from him. “Let’s get you taken care of,” he said, opening his door and coming around to open hers. He was tempted to carry her into the house, but she looked determined to show him she was okay, so he didn’t try.
Once they were inside, Steve grabbed his first aid kit and took Catherine’s hand to lead her into the bathroom. “Let’s see what we’ve got here,” he said as he flicked on the lights.
With a practiced pop, he opened the first aid box and got out the gauze and other supplies he would need. He pushed her hair back and started cleaning the cut on her head, trying to do it as quickly as he could, knowing it would sting. She leaned back against the sink and sucked in a breath. “Sorry,” he murmured. She didn’t reply, just closed her eyes.“If it helps any, I don’t think you’ll need stitches.”
“That’s good.” She didn’t open her eyes.
Steve touched her cheek, gently turning her face toward the light. The bruises on her cheekbone and jaw were deep, but they would heal with time and the help of an ice pack and an Advil. “Does it hurt anywhere else?”
She looked to the side, but the pain on her face was obvious. “Catherine?” His chest felt tight. What wasn’t she telling him?
“My arm,” she admitted. “But it’s nothing.”
His hand slid down her shoulder slowly. “Let me see.”
She pulled her sleeve up until her upper arm was visible. Dark ugly finger bruises in the shape of a man’s hand were all over her arm. “Catherine,” he breathed, anger filling him again.
“I know there’s nothing we can do for bruises.”
Steve grit his teeth together, abruptly turning toward the tub. He flipped on the faucets. “You need to soak, relax a bit, and I’ll go get us some wine.”
She put her hand on his arm. “Steve, I’m fine.”
“I know. I just need a minute.” He kissed her forehead. “I’ll be right back.” He went downstairs to the kitchen and got a bottle of wine out of the refrigerator. Fury was pulsing through him at what Catherine had gone through today. What if he hadn’t gotten to her soon enough?
He heard the water turn off and took a deep breath. She was here. She was okay. That’s what he had to remember.
Going back upstairs, he knocked and then went in. She was completely submerged in the water, bubbles everywhere, her hair up. “I hope you don’t mind. Mary must have left bubbles in the cabinet.”
“Not at all.” He handed her the wine glass and sat down on the floor next to the tub, facing her. Reaching out to tuck her hair behind her ear, he leaned closer. “Catherine, what happened?”
She took a sip of her drink. “I don’t want to talk about it Steve.”
His gut clenched. “I need to hear it.”
“Why? It’s over.”
“Because I feel like it’s my fault,” he finally said, letting the feelings to the surface. He dipped his head and then faced her. “If you weren’t connected to me, none of this would have happened.”
She moved closer, sloshing a bit of water over the edge. “Steve, none of this is your fault. None. And even at my very worst moment today, I knew you’d come for me.” Reaching out, she grabbed the front of his shirt to draw him closer and kissed him. Her mouth moved over his, full of need and healing. All of the feelings he had for her surged in him and he could barely suppress a groan. His hands slipped around her head, undoing the clip so her hair fell free just how he liked it.
“I’ll always come for you,” he murmured before pressing his lips against hers once more, no longer gentle.
Catherine pulled away, her breath coming in short gasps. “Let’s get you cleaned up, too,” she said with a wicked grin, reaching for the buttons on his shirt.