Author: chezchuckles PM
co-authored by Sandiane Carter and chezchuckles. inspired by the Richard Castle Bucket List on richardcastle dot net; set after 47 Seconds/The Limey. Chapter 9b is Bucket List in Paris, posted separately, and to be read before Chapter 10.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Kate B. & Rick C. - Chapters: 10 - Words: 42,000 - Reviews: 613 - Favs: 364 - Follows: 569 - Updated: 10-23-12 - Published: 03-31-12 - id: 7975523
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
co-authored by Sandiane Carter and chezchuckles
inspired by the Richard Castle Bucket List on richardcastle(dot)net
set after 47 Seconds with concepts taken from the 'next time on Castle' previews for The Limey
3. Wreck a Ferrari
Beckett is severely annoyed by his absence.
And it festers.
He arrives to crime scenes in his Ferrari with a blonde, and she has to watch him laugh and act the playboy - and she doesn't even understand why.
Why he's just stopped waiting. She thought they had a deal.
She taps her pen against the edge of the desk, leaning back in her chair, realizing she's been staring at his chair for a good five minutes, working herself up again, righteous indignation and not a little bit of fear.
Because maybe today is the day he doesn't come back.
She expected to have a few more months at least, expected not to get into dramatics with him until the summer heat sizzled both their brains. It happens every year - but maybe she should blame global climate change? It's been uncharacteristically warm these last few weeks. Record highs. Spring fever.
She doesn't want him to have spring fever with someone else though.
Her phone rings and she flips it face up, sees Castle's picture, that raised eyebrow, and her heart trembles like a weak bird. Damn.
"Castle? Where the hell have you been all morning?"
There's a strange sound on the other end, a clicking that mounts into a higher-pitched whine and she jerks the phone away, glances at the caller ID as if it could be wrong.
A gravelly sound of a clearing throat. "Need - uh - to call in sick."
Ice slides its fingers through her ribs, seeking her heart. "Call in sick?"
"I've - I'm at New York Presbyterian-"
"You're what?" she says, blinking hard, half-standing in the busy bullpen. Esposito glances back at her.
"-Medical Center. I - I can't talk long. Can you call Alexis-"
"I'm on my way, okay? I'm on my way." She's already grabbing her keys, wallet, jacket - shoving her right foot back into her shoe where she'd slid it off to ease the ache in her arch. "Just - just - I'm coming."
"I'm okay. I had - well, I wrecked the Ferrari, Beckett."
"You don't sound okay," she shoots back, waving off Esposito and heading for the elevator.
"Just - ah - bruised. Seatbelt. Airbag."
"How did this - what happened?"
"They won't let me - I have to go. I can't talk. My daughter-"
The phone is disconnected even as she steps on the elevator.
She's certainly not calling Alexis Castle until she knows exactly what bruised means. And what the hell happened.
But the cab she's hailed gets stuck in traffic - it's the middle of the day, of course, which means there are all sorts of people going everywhere, getting in her way - and that leaves entirely too much time for her imagination to paint a bunch of scenarios that she could very well do without.
By the time they get to the hospital, she's thoroughly annoyed with herself (no, Kate, Castle is certainly not dying of a clot in his brain) and maybe she takes it out a little on the blonde-haired nurse at the desk.
"What do you mean, you don't know where he is? Check again. Richard Castle. He must have been brought here-" she checks her watch, "-about twenty-five minutes ago. A car accident."
The young woman - she looks not a day over eighteen - presses trembling lips together as she turns once again to her computer. "I'm sorry, I don't..."
"Car accident? With a Ferrari?" a voice interrupts.
Kate holds back a sigh of relief as she looks at the middle-aged woman who's now sliding behind the desk. A nurse, probably, with a short, no-nonsense haircut, sharp brown eyes and a pointed nose. The woman lays a protective hand on the blonde girl's shoulder, and Beckett feels a twinge of shame.
"Yeah," she says, her voice more conciliatory. "Can you tell me where he is?"
"Are you family?"
Oh. Well. Kate gets out her badge, holds it up. "He's my partner."
The woman's eyebrows raise. "I understand now why he made such a big deal of wrecking that Ferrari."
The detective feels her mouth curving up in spite of herself. If Castle was in a good enough shape to complain about the car, he must really be doing okay.
"I'll show you to his room," the older nurse says briskly, picking up a file before she starts walking away. "They've taken him up for an MRI," she adds, "but I think it was just a precaution. The doctor seemed to think he'd be fine."
Kate sinks her teeth into her lip at the word MRI, but she doesn't say anything. She follows the woman down a corridor, stops at a door with the number 3142.
"There you are," the nurse says. "His...friend is in the next room."
"His friend," Beckett echoes, proud that her voice is so flat. No curiosity, no anger. Neutral.
Still, her companion gives her a long look. "The woman who was in the car with him. Blonde hair, pink dress. Got away with a sprained wrist, so they were both lucky, if you ask me."
She strides away at that, obviously having more important things to do than chatting up someone who's not even a patient's family, and Kate remains alone, hesitating at the threshold of his hospital room, trying to contain the quiet rage, the betrayal seething inside her.
She stands in front of the window with her arms crossed over her chest, waiting on him to be brought back from the MRI. She's moved from hurting betrayal to thoroughly pissed, the silence of the hospital room and the bleak day outside combining to exacerbate whatever it is between them lately.
She just doesn't get it. They had a deal. He understood.
This isn't how you go about knocking down a wall, Castle.
When the door clicks open behind her, she takes a moment to breathe, to focus, and spins around, feeling razor sharp, like a piece of broken glass, ready to cut.
But it shatters to nothing at the sight of him being wheeled back into the room, the left side of his face raw and swollen, skinned up, and an arm around his ribs.
"Castle," she breathes, and his head tilts to see her with his good eye.
"Why - what are you doing here?"
"What do you mean? Where else would I be?" She moves aside to let the male nurse ease Castle back into the bed, his knees sticking out from under the hospital gown, his calves as if carved from pale marble. His bare toes looking painfully vulnerable.
She spots another hematoma blooming at his collarbone, disappearing under the neckline of the gown.
"I'm fine," he says. "Just bruised."
"You said. I didn't believe you," she mutters, steps in beside his bed as the nurse leaves.
"Just - you know - airbag and seatbelt-related injuries. That big bag of air feels more like a brick wall."
"Your . . .passenger is a few doors down," Kate mentions, cutting her eyes to his, looking for a tell.
He doesn't smile that charming, playboy smile. At least there's that. But he does look pale. Paler than when she first saw him.
"She's - okay?"
"Sprained wrist," Kate offers, hating that she's the one with the information, hating that she's talking about the woman at all. Another deep-fried Twinkie. Honestly, Castle, can't he-
He tilts his head back on the bed and closes his eyes, and her frustration - once again - disappears. It's easier to look at him when his eyes aren't open, easier to look and get her fill and want-
Almost against her will, her hand comes up and her fingers feather away the hair flopped over his forehead.
Those now-dim blue eyes startle open; his fingers snatch her wrist and he winces at his own movement.
She stands, stunned, before him, not sure why she did that at all, not sure if she can take this.
"Why - why did you come?"
"You sounded - bad," she answers. Why wouldn't she? Why the sudden doubt?
"Did you call Alexis?" His brow wrinkles, but he doesn't let go of her hand; he stares at it, as if trying to, wanting to let go, but unable.
"I thought I should see you first. Assess the situation before I worried her needlessly by telling her."
"Ah. Yeah. That's your m.o. I've noticed."
She curls her hand into a fist, her chest tightening like a claw around her heart. "What?"
He winces and closes his eyes again. "Ignore me. They gave me something for the pain. I'm - I'm talking too much."
What's her m.o. - what's - what does he mean?
A half-smile slides up his face. "I wrecked my Ferrari."
"And you're happy about that?"
"It wasn't my fault," he whines, cracking open one eye to peg her with one of his usual looks, petulant and sexy, and her chest eases. "Driver hit me first."
"So you hit back?" she whispers, feels that urge to touch him again, let her fingers slide over his forehead. But he's trapped her hand under his, heavy and solid, her palm against the bedsheets.
"Knockout, out cold," he murmurs, not making sense, eyes closed again. "Oh. But that's one off my list."
"Your list?" she says softly, thinking she can escape when he falls asleep. Go call his daughter and break the news.
"Bucket list." His eyes flash open, he jerks at the sudden movement, hisses and grips her hand tighter. "Wreck a Ferrari is on my bucket list."
"Well, good thing it wasn't the last thing to do on your list," she mutters. "And when did you make a bucket list?"
"Ooh, and here I thought you were a true fan. It's on my website, Detective. Fifty things. I've marked some off. Like buying property on the moon-"
She snorts and his eye opens, the good one, and she can't help but study the pattern of skinned cheek, bruised face that accompanies it.
"Now I can mark off another one."
With the Twinkie at his side. Damn, the anger is back, bitter and acrid. She swallows and tries to put that down. Away. No time, not the place.
"Here, gimme your phone. They took mine. I can bring it up-" His hand releases hers on the bed but fumbles in her jacket pocket, startling and intimate, his fingers questing for her iphone, brushing against her stomach, her hip through layer of material.
She swallows hard as he fishes it out, then he grins in triumph as he enters her passcode with ease (how does he know these things? she just changed it).
And then he shows her his bucket list.
"'s good, right?" he slurs, his head rolling towards her. He winces and she watches him raise his hand, work his fingers into his neck muscles. "Made a good list."
She glances back to the pdf he's put online, scans through the outrageous, the sweet, the silly list of things he wants to do before he dies.
"I don't see Twinkies on here," she mutters. Eyes Wide Shut party? She hopes he doesn't own a Venetian mask.
"Naw she's not on the list, but you are," he sighs, just as her eyes reach number fifty - Get married and make it last.
Her heart pounds so hard that the phone jumps in her suddenly trembling hands. "I - I am?"
"Hmm? Yow, my neck is kil-ling me."
Drugged. On pain pills. Keep it in mind, Beckett.
"You gotta live long enough to make some of these happen, Castle," she mutters, rubbing at her forehead with her thumb. "Gotta be more careful. Now that you've crossed off wrecking the Ferrari, how about we do things that are a little more life-friendly?"
Oh. Entirely too quick, too sharp for a drugged-up Castle. Too honest as well.
"You gonna help me go through my list?" He sounds stunned. Stunned silly. And he's looking at her in a way he hasn't all week, not since he started parading girls around in front of her like elephants. Slim, blonde, deep-fried elephants.
"Who's your partner here, Castle?" Not the Twinkie.
"Ah, you, you, you. Always."
Her heart flips, her eyes startle to his. He's looking at her with what would be intensity if he wasn't so drugged up, if there wasn't such a haze.
To keep them on an even keel, she flicks her eyes back to the list, breaking that connection, needing a chance to breathe. She latches onto the first thing she sees.
"Oh no way," she exclaims. "I call bullshit."
He laughs, the sound escaping him like a bird startled from the underbrush. "What?"
"Bullshit. There is no way you've been to every Ikea."
"I have too."
"Not possible. There are 17 in Sweden-"
"Went on a European tour after my fifth book went bestseller."
She's already googling it; it can't be true. "Castle. Wikipedia says there are Ikeas in Japan. You've never been to Japan."
"How do you know? And maybe I just meant every Ikea in North America."
She quickly scans the list. "That's 38 in the US and 11 in Canada. None in Mexico. You're telling me you've been to 49 Ikeas?"
"Maybe I just mean every Ikea in the US."
Kate stays silent, eyebrow lifted, until he opens his eye and looks at her.
"Okay, fine. It was the first thing I crossed off on my list and I cheated. I only went to all the Ikeas in New York. But I make a point to visit every Ikea in the cities I do book tours in."
She sighs, lips twitching. "So you're telling me it's okay if we cheat a little? Cause. . .outer space? - that ain't gonna happen."
He grins at her, winces as his mouth curls and stretches the raw place at his cheek. "Ow. I hurt, Beckett. Don't make me laugh." He lays his hand back over hers at his side, heavy, like a warning; she realizes suddenly that she's been stroking his hip with her finger this whole time.
"Un-huh," she murmurs, trying to gather herself back together. "Castle. I-"
He watches her, his drifting consciousness made evident by the way he keeps blinking rapidly, the way his hand squeezes loosely around hers as if trying to keep anchored to the here and now.
Drifting. Fading to black.
She knows how that feels.
But this - his list? - she can use this. She can win him back, win him over, have him at her side with this. Partners.
Get married and make it last.
"Third time's the charm, Castle."
It takes pretty much all afternoon for the drugs to clear out of his system, but by the time the doctor comes back with the results of his MRI, Castle is lucid enough to thank the guy warmly and ask to be discharged.
His mother presses her lips in disapprobation, but the man said there was very little risk, and Rick has no intention of spending the night in this tiny, uncomfortable bed.
Apparently, Beckett doesn't want him to stay either.
She keeps texting him and offering him a ride, even though he's said before that he could very well take a cab; in fact, she's so insistent that he's starting to get vaguely suspicious.
Oh, and then there's the fact that he showed her the list and she said they could do it together.
He's not too sure what to make of that.
Not absolutely certain his drugged mind didn't make it all up, if he's honest.
In a moment of sheer madness, he texts her back that yes, he'll take her up on that offer. She can drive him back. And then he'll know, right? He'll see if he hallucinated or not. After all, she did rush to the hospital when he called her, did look worried when he got back to the room-
Ok, he's not doing this. He's gone down that path before.
Don't get your hopes up, Castle.
His mother is hovering - she never hovers - and he sends her home with Alexis, arguing that he only needs to sign some papers before Kate picks him up, and so they might as well head back to the loft and start planning dinner for everyone.
The look in Martha's eyes when he says everyone (meaning Kate, too, and she knows it, and he knows she knows it) doesn't bode well, but he decides to ignore it.
For some reason - maybe it's the lingering effects of the car crash, maybe it's the last of the drugs - he's much calmer, cooler-headed now than he's been at any time this past week.
He's willing to admit that he can't go from a blind faith in Kate to a complete lack of trust. Willing to admit that maybe she should get a chance to explain before he makes his ruling and sentences them to death.
Maybe his first reaction is right - maybe she doesn't feel the same way.
But even so, he should hear it from her.
He deserves that, at least.
He's signing the last of the discharge papers when Kate shows up at his door, a little breathless, like she ran here. He looks at her, wishing, not for the first time, that she were transparent.
"Hey," she says, leaning back against the wall to let the nurse out.
"Hey." Ah, shit, he forgot to ask- "Wait," he says to the woman (was her name Jodie?), sitting up and thrusting a leg out of bed. "Wait, please-"
The nurse turns back just as Kate catches her, and throws them both a weary look. "What?"
"The, ah, the woman who came in with me." He won't look at Beckett. He's sorry that she has to hear it - he should have remembered before - but he still needs to ask. "Will she be alright?"
The nurse - Jodie, he's fairly certain her name is Jodie - looks at him blankly.
"Cyndi. Cartwright," he says regretfully. "Blonde, pink dress-"
"Oh. Yeah. She left a couple hours ago," Jodie says. "Nothing wrong with her but her wrist. At least physically speaking. She was with you?"
Interesting question. He darts a tentative glance in Kate's direction, finds her watching him, her face unreadable.
"I guess not - not really," he admits softly.
The nurse is already losing interest, turning away, and when he shifts to get off the bed, making sure his legs can support his weight, Kate is there, her fingers light and cool against his elbow.
"I gotta change," he says, pointing at the clothes his daughter brought for him, left in a neat pile on the nearest chair.
Kate retrieves them for him, then takes a step away and puts her back to him.
"Tell me if you need help," she says, but he can tell by the cracks in her voice that she'd rather he didn't.
A smile flirts with his lips, a genuine one that feels entirely too good after a week of scolding. And parading. Oh, man. How old is he, seriously?
He sighs and quickly pulls on his underwear, his jeans, before he reaches for the tie that holds the hospital gown into place. Fire shoots up his arm and he gives a startled, strangled cry, drops his hands.
Kate is at his side in a flash, concern in the line of her mouth, worry in her dark eyes. So he didn't dream it.
"What? What, Castle?"
"Nothing," he says, his old reflexes kicking up, the need to reassure her, lighten her burden. "I guess my shoulder is bruised from the airbag. It's nothing, Kate."
She relaxes visibly, pushes her hair back in something like embarrassment. "Okay," she breathes.
The softness in her voice, her downcast eyes - it reminds him of something. Earlier. In the haze of drugs, he heard-
"Third time's the charm," he repeats, curious, unable to tell if it was his imagination.
Her face jerks up, knowingness at the back of her gaze, and she says, "What?"
"You said that. Before."
She averts her eyes, might be blushing a little. Could be.
"At Ryan and Jenny's wedding."
He shakes his head. "Today."
And then her eyes cut back to him, confident, determined, if a little embarrassed. "Yes."
After reading his list.
"We need to talk," he says, feels the truth of that down to his bones.
"Yes," she answers, and if he's not mistaken, she sounds only relieved.
His heart, that he's been forcing to keep still, aloof, gives an unmistakeable little flutter.
"In the meantime." He turns, offers his back to her. "Help me get naked?"
He watches her for a moment, then turns his head and lets the landscape outside the passenger window slide past him, dizzying and hypnotic.
"Do you know how a radio works?" Kate asks suddenly.
He jerks his head back to her, bewildered. "Uh. Well. In theory. Yes."
"Radio waves, right?"
"Are you asking me?"
"I'm asking if you understand the concept of radio waves."
"Um. I think so?" What in the hell is she talking about? "Am I still stoned?"
She huffs a laugh and her lips quirk; when she slides a glance over at him, her eyes are leonine in the city lights.
"You're not stoned. I don't think?"
"I could've sworn we were just having a bizarre conversation about radio waves."
"We are. So you know what it is, right?"
"Radio? Yeah, Kate, I think I know what radio is."
"So imagine you have a city, and within that city are radio towers laid out in a pattern. Usually like a beehive - hexagonal."
"A beehive." He has no idea what she's getting at. "Is this for a case?"
"No. So in each cell of the beehive, the radio tower transmits as a base station - sending out and picking up radio waves."
His mouth drops open.
"The cool thing about these cell towers is that they can each transmit about thirteen hundred different frequencies."
No way. No way is she explaining cell towers to him. She is so freaking hot.
"And the radio tower in cell one - it can't have the same frequencies as the bordering cells. But cell six, on the other side? It can reuse those frequencies. Thereby giving the network almost limitless carrying potential."
He startles to awareness as he realizes she's stopped the car. She's parked the car, actually, and quite expertly into a parallel space only a few buildings down from his own. "Kate."
"Don't interrupt, Castle." She shoots him a sidelong glance and then opens the driver's side door. "The more cells you have, the bigger the capacity."
Castle watches her in stunned silence as she slides around the hood of her Crown Vic. He comes to himself, fumbles at the door to push it open, manages to get wincingly get out of the car, face raw and feeling the bite of a late spring breeze.
Kate wraps her fingers over his forearm, lifts both eyebrows as if asking him if she should continue.
He gives her a smile that he knows is more hopeful than it should be. "So. Bigger capacity?"
She seems to get the entendre; her lips purse but she slides her arm through his, helps keep him steady. He winces away, his ribs stinging.
"Sorry," she murmurs, even as he shakes his head.
"I'm good. Good. All good, Kate."
She hovers for a moment, then continues on at his side, navigating him down the sidewalk. Which is good too, because he is starting to feel a little shaky.
"So that's a simple cell tower relay. Voice calls and texts are usually handled by core circuit - which just means that they can switch calls from tower to tower as the phone moves."
"You are seriously blowing my mind."
She nods to his doorman and puts her fingers at his back as he shuffles inside.
"Overlaid on that is an architecture of packet-switched data service - which gives us our smart phones."
"How in the world do you know this?" he interrupts, letting her push the call button for the elevator.
She gives him a mysterious look. "It sounds complicated with all the technical names, I know. But if you get radio waves, then you get how it works."
In the elevator, she stays close, which is good, because he feels distinctly uneven as it rises. "Yeah," he murmurs, blinking slowly.
"Do you get how it works?"
"I get it." He steps off the elevator with her, walks slowly down the hall. His face feels strange; he saw it in the mirror, saw the reaction on Alexis's face when she came into his hospital room. He'll have two black eyes and the rug burn from the airbag's deployment won't be going away any time soon. "Radio waves."
Kate takes his keys from his hand and unlocks the door into his apartment, steps back to let him go first.
Immediately, he's swarmed by his mother and Alexis, each claiming a side to help him through the door, chattering and worried, as Kate lingers. He throws a look over his shoulder, anxious, but she follows.
"Oh, Richard, we've made some pasta - just something light - and you should rest," his mother says, urging him into the living room.
Kate still follows. Alexis shoots her a look, but Castle squeezes his daughter's shoulder, uses the two women as leverage. As he sinks gingerly into the couch, his mother and Alexis shuffle back, watching him. But Kate comes forward and sits on the coffee table, regarding him.
"When's dinner?" he asks, glancing back at his mother, silently asking for a little space.
She gives him a hard look, but takes Alexis by the hand, patting it. "Come on. Let's check on the bread. Then we'll serve everything."
Castle turns back to Kate, sitting patiently on his coffee table, her knees brushing one of his.
He waits for it.
She says, finally, "Now that I've explained cell phones, does it sound like magic, Castle?"
It sounds like technical jargon and geek-love and a promise. It sounds like a promise he never expected. "Well, when you explain it like that, you kinda take the magic right out of it-"
"Good. Now we can cross that off your bucket list."
He grins so wide at her that his face cracks and stings, but he doesn't even care. Not one bit. "It's on notebook paper in my top desk drawer. You wanna get it?"
She smirks and gets up from the coffee table, heads for his study. He watches her as he leans back slowly into the couch cushions, tries to tamp down some of the wild hope that struggles in his chest like a beast in a bear trap. The sounds of plates and glasses come from the kitchen, the hushed tones of his mother and Alexis - probably discussing this. Discussing Kate.
It takes her some time, but she comes back to him with his bucket list and a pencil, a smile toying with her mouth, her lips pressed together. She looks like she is steadfastly ignoring the two women in the kitchen, focusing on him. She's trying, he realizes.
"Here it is."
She hands it to him with a strange ceremonial flourish, and he appreciates the flair, smiles at her as he takes it. He flips his list over to the back, puts the paper on the coffee table as she stands over him. Castle tries to lean forward but finds that his chest flames in agony.
He grunts, straightens up, his eyes closed as the aching wave begins to recede.
He opens his eyes, holds out the pencil. "You cross it off. Can't quite bend over. Which reminds me, let's not forget the Ferrari. That's number three. Went to a lot of trouble for that one."
A darkness shadows her face, but it's gone in the next moment; she crouches down beside him, her left hand over his knee as if to keep herself steady as she balances on her toes.
She has to flip the paper back over, crosses through it. (Why does it thrill him to feel her balanced against him and see over her shoulder that he's accomplished the first three things on his list?)
On the back side once more, Kate braces the paper with her forearm and strikes through number thirty-seven:
Convince self cell phones don't use magic.
Looks like she meant it.
They're doing this together.
He can't help but let his eyes travel to the last item on the list-
"You wanna attempt to convince your mother while we eat?" Do you want me to stay for dinner, she seems to ask.
He jerks his gaze back up to her, knows it's all in his face, everything. "Yeah." Stay for dinner.
Her fingers on his knee squeeze ever so slightly.
He lifts his eyes from her hand to the suddenly serious look on her face. "Yeah?" He is not breathless, no; he's just winded from the bruising across his chest.
She gives him a stern look. "I'll swim in dolphin- and shark-infested waters with you. But if you punch a shark, you're on your own."
He bursts into laughter, wheezes with the force of it, feels the tears pool in his eyes as he tries to control it. Ah, it hurts. Hurts so good.
"Note - noted," he gasps, curls his hand around hers, feeling like he needs the anchor.
"Time to eat," his mother calls.
He struggles up, feels Kate's hands at his elbows, helping.
Kate is debunking cell phones, and smiling at him so beautiful, and stroking the back of his elbows with her fingers, and promising sharks and-
third time's the charm.
36. Convince Mother cell phones don't use magic.
37. Convince self cell phones don't use magic.