|Happily Ever After
Author: chezchuckles PM
SPOILERS for Once Upon a Crime - season four arc - post-ep oneshot. COMPLETE.Rated: Fiction T - English - Friendship/Romance - Rick C. & Kate B. - Words: 1,921 - Reviews: 93 - Favs: 99 - Follows: 20 - Published: 02-28-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7881828
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Happily Ever After
His fingers twitch, but he schools his face, looks straight ahead at his mother.
He hears nothing else for the remainder of her one-woman play, hears nothing at all but the blood pounding in his head.
Kate Beckett is holding his hand.
The way she does. The way that means something to them, just the two of them. The way she held his hand after Tyson and during a bank robbery. Comfort and empathy. Only this time it's a shared-
Comfort, but there's a hint of teasing in it. Isn't there? That his mother is so blatantly abandoning the truth and he has to suffer for it. Kate's holding his hand and sitting forward, beside him on the couch, and he's so caught up in it that he really almost doesn't even care that Alexis is giving off that I'm mysteriously unavailable vibe to his mother's playwright.
Almost. He shoots his daughter another look - she can't seriously be - but oh, Rick, remember the violin teacher? That was nothing. This could be nothing.
And Kate squeezes his hand again, gives him another one of those over the shoulder looks, sympathetic and pitying sure, but there's something else there. Something that illuminates her eyes, something that draws him in.
All he has hold of is her fingers, just his thumb over her fingers as she squeezes. And though he is mightily tired of it's enough, it actually is - strangely - enough. He's decided on a slow seduction, a courtship of epic proportions if that's what it takes. So holding her hand, her fingers, as she takes his hand, that's a step forward. Not that they haven't before, but before it's been compulsive, a dire need rather than a spontaneous want.
He wants. She wants.
That's a move in the right direction.
His mother accepts Kate's applause - Beckett even does that piercing police whistle thing that his mother absolutely beams at - and then Kate is busy talking to his mother and Alexis.
But here's the thing. She doesn't move. She isn't moving. She's sitting beside him on the couch, still eagerly pitched forward, elbows on her knees as she laughs with his mother, the long line of her spine, the subtle flare of her hips filling his vision.
And. And her hand still rests over his on his knee. They are still holding hands and the play has been over for minutes now.
When she finally turns back to him, he is trying to figure out a way to smoothly insert the phrase Kate, let me be your happy ending.
She startles at the knock on the door, but Castle sighs. He doesn't want to get up, but if he does, then there's good food on the other side, and then maybe he can keep Beckett here a little bit longer.
His mother is looking at him. "Richard?"
"I figured we could make this into dinner theatre, Mother. Celebrate your remarkable achievement."
She beams at him, clasps her hands together, either ignores his sarcasm or doesn't hear it. "Oh, that is a good idea."
He gets off the couch slowly, hating that he has to move at all, that his daughter hasn't been able to read his not-so-subtle jerks of the head to get her away from that boy-man-playwright and to the door.
Only Kate doesn't let go.
Castle jerks to a stop, glances back at her, surprised by the grip she has, and then she blinks up at him, releases his hand slowly, almost finger by finger, and he's left motionless in front of the couch, his mother regarding them both with a flair of dramatic intrigue.
The doorbell rings again, shoving him out of his stunned disbelief, and he fishes in his back pocket as he goes to answer it.
It's just Thai takeout, but he knows Beckett and Alexis both love it, so when he turns around, laden down with containers and bags of food, Alexis is already pouncing on him with a kiss to his cheek.
"Smart move, Dad. I'm starving." She unloads him a little, the playwright helps (oh so helpful that one), and then Kate's standing in front of him divvying up the last of it.
"Stay and eat?" he says stupidly, staring into those beautiful brown eyes. Is that-? Yes. There's a rim of green around her iris. Gorgeous. He's never seen it before.
"Of course. You can't order in Thai food and then kick me out, Castle."
"Never," he swears, a little too passionately maybe, but she only nudges him and heads for the dining room table.
She has an amazing smile. Does she smile like that when he's not around? He hopes so. He hopes she has reasons to smile like that all the time. Because she's just so beautiful when she-
He shrugs and shakes his head at her, looks back down at his glass of wine. At the other end of the table, Alexis and his mother are chatting with the playwright about the furniture, moving it again he assumes, but he and Kate are in their own little bubble down here.
"Nothing. Just." He shakes her off again, smiling. "How'd you like the play?
"I liked it. Despite your mother's - ah, embellishments?"
He lifts an eyebrow. "Come on. Tell me the truth. I can keep a secret."
Her eyes lock with his, that same strange, burning awareness falling over him. Secrets. She knows. She knows-
what? What does she know?
"Castle," she says softly, and her voice sounds suddenly hesitant, no longer happy. And he did that.
He wants to make it better, to make her understand. "It's okay. Secrets are - they can - sometimes they're necessary, Beckett."
She bites her lower lip and looks away; her fingers play with the stem of her wine glass. "Even terrible ones?"
It is terrible, isn't it? What he's doing. How he's doing it. Telling her to back off while he wades right in. It's just that he's so selfish about her. He can't lose her. And he needs to - he loves her, he wants so badly for her to love him back, and if the only way she can do that is by solving her mom's case, but she can't because her life is at stake, then he'll do it. He'll do it. He has to.
"Sometimes-" He pauses, tries to collect himself, tries not to put too much weight behind his next words, just in case. "Sometimes even the terrible ones are necessary to - to protect the other person. To keep them - safe."
Her eyes lift, and instead of the recriminations he expected, she looks hopeful.
"Yeah? Yeah," she says, nodding her head. Relief floods her eyes. "If it protects someone. It's okay. It's - good even."
Wait. She - she agrees with him? That it's okay he's doing this behind her back-?
"I think that kind of - doesn't that make it better?" he asks, taking a quick glance at her face. "When the secret blows up, I think it lessens the impact. Makes it easier to bear, right? Knowing that it was done to protect the other person."
She nods again, her eyes luminous in the dim light of his dining room. Her hand on the table twitches like she wants to take his again. Feeling brave, feeling already forgiven, he does it for her, takes her hand, curling his fingers on top of hers.
Kate gives him such a hopeful look, such a beautiful relief-filled look that it hits him - what's going on here - he gets it now.
She has a secret.
She doesn't know about his - she has no idea about his investigation splayed out on the murder board in his office. She thinks he's figured out her secret and she's asking for forgiveness.
She squeezes his hand, suddenly flips her wrist so that their palms are touching, warmth to warmth, her fingers lacing through his.
His heart pounds.
She watches him, light in her eyes, her smile sliding back on her face, wide and amazing and it's Kate. It's Kate, and so what if she's been lying about what she remembers that day? He suspected as much.
She's doing it to protect him.
She's keeping it back because she guards his heart, because she wants that wall down first. She told him as much, that afternoon on the swings. So Castle squeezes back, fingers interlocked with hers, and then brings their joined hands to his chest, leans down to kiss her knuckles.
She takes it, doesn't avert her eyes, only lets her own fill. Filled up. Everything in that look.
He only hopes - can only pray - that she remembers this moment when she steps on the landmine of his own secret and it goes off in their faces.
Remember, Kate. This is what it feels like.
This is how it feels to be forgiven.
Everyone else has drifted away, disappeared; it's just the two of them in his study, going over old books on his shelves, her fingers trailing the spines, her head tilted.
"I love Graham Greene," she says, tugging on a slim volume, then pushing it back in.
"I'll be honest, his action is a little lacking-"
"No!" she laughs, turning her head to look at him.
"Yes," he insists, smirking at her. "But I still like him."
"Well, then I'll admit that I don't love Sherlock Holmes. I can never get past the first few pages."
He gapes at her, then shakes his head with an exaggerated sigh. "I guess I can forgive you for that."
Her eyes cut to his, quickly, but it takes him a minute. And then he realizes.
She know he loves her.
Oh wow. Oh - damn. He kind of - sort of skipped right over that at dinner, didn't he? He got it, but he didn't get it. She knows he loves her.
And yet here she is.
His hand drifts up to her cheek, entirely of its own volition, and then strokes the hair away from her face, behind her ear. She turns her head into his touch, stays there for a moment, just breathing against his skin. No kiss, no hint of lip movement really, just the warmth of her mouth at his wrist.
She knows. And he does. He does. He just loves her. It's moved from crazy lust to hopeless romantic to quiet desperation and now to this - whatever this is - just love. Just wanting her to be - for once - happy where she's at, content, smiling like she did at dinner.
Castle steps in and slides his arm around her neck, her upper back, tugs her against his chest for an embrace. His cheek settles on top of her head, his eyes close.
With everything still waiting for them - secrets and snipers and conspiracies - this - this right here - holding her in this moment, good and forgiven and breathing - this might be the closest they ever get to happily ever after.
And he's beginning to accept that.