|Hide and Seek
Author: ifonly13 PM
He hides. They seek. :: A 'Coffee Shop' companion which takes place before Chapter 48 of 'Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop.'Rated: Fiction K - English - Romance/Family - Kate B. & Rick C. - Words: 1,342 - Reviews: 16 - Favs: 33 - Follows: 6 - Published: 04-19-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8040490
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Hide and Seek
This takes place before Chapter 48 in 'Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop.' Just to give you a timeline location.
The door slams. Too loud for eight o'clock at night when Al is in bed. Even Kate winces when the sound echoes through the apartment. She wants to yell back at him about waking the girl up but her voice is gone. Completely and totally worn out.
Instead, Kate collapses onto the couch, head in her hands. She can feel the tears on her cheeks and she tries to wipe them off. Another failure – the tears keep falling.
It had been a stupid fight. He had warned her things like this might happen, that the media was bound to get around to them eventually. Knowing about the photos might pop up hadn't lessened the sting when she had been confronted with the single picture they had managed of the three of them in the park a few days back.
So of course she yelled at him as soon as he unlocked the front door, coming back from a business dinner with people from Black Pawn about extending the contract he had going. Thinking back, that probably wasn't the best choice of the night. He looked exhausted, his hair a mess from his hands dragging through it, his suit jacket looped over one arm. She should have waited, had dinner and broached the subject over wine and food after letting him relax. But she didn't.
And now he's gone.
She gets up, swiping at her face again and knowing she looks like a wreck. She needs to fix this. Kate turns toward the door, ready to grab a pair of shoes and a jacket and rush back out into the snow to find him. Al's asleep and she won't notice that –
Al's on the stairs, eyes wide awake as she stares. Even from the distance, Kate can see the trembling of the girl's lip, the hint of tears in her eyes. Penguin is grasped in one hand. Even the bird looks accusing.
"What're you doing up, kid?" she asks, knowing the answer.
There's a sniffle that breaks Kate's heart as she walks toward the stairs, twisting the hem of her shirt in her hands, wrapping it around her fingers. It's her fault, she thinks. She's the one at fault here.
Al takes a faltering step down the stairs, holding Penguin closer to her chest. A guard against the negativity that Kate must still be radiating. "Went to bathroom. Heard you. Rick's gone?"
Kate holds her arms out to Al, waiting for the sign that she can pick the girl up. Al nods and Kate scoops her daughter up onto her hip, walking down the last of the stairs. "Right now, yes, he's gone."
"Forever?" comes the mumbled question from her shoulder. "Gone forever?"
"Oh, Al," Kate sighs, heading back for the couch to sit on the arm. "I hope not."
"Where is he?"
Full of questions. Questions that Kate wishes she had actual answers for. "I don't know." She has to use her free hand to subtly wipe away another escaped tear. "I don't know."
"Can we find him?" Al asks, pulling her head back so that she can see Kate's face. Tiny fingers trace her eyes, smearing the already-ruined mascara across her cheeks.
"It's late, kid. We'll go searching tomorrow." Kate holds onto Al's hand, wetting her thumb to clean the make-up from the girl's fingers. "You need to go back to bed."
"No. I wanna go find Rick."
Kate studies her daughter's face and finds complete seriousness in the dim light. "Okay. Okay, we'll go find him."
They pull on snow boots and winter jackets, leaving Penguin on the couch to stand guard. Eduardo watches them hail a cab, silent. The man knows not to butt into arguments and Kate is sure that he saw Castle storm out not half an hour ago. She has no idea where to start looking for Castle. But she gives the address of the Old Haunt and prays that he's there.
The lights are off in the bar but Kate doesn't leave. She lifts Al up and ducks under the awning and out of the light snowfall. "He's got to be here," she mutters, more to herself than to her daughter. "Where else would he be?"
The door opens under her hand, letting them into the dark bar. There's no blurred form at the counter so he has to be downstairs in the secret office that she had listened to him rave about when he bought the place.
"You want to get down or…?" Kate trails off, walking toward the hidden doorway to the stairwell.
"Wanna stay here," Al murmurs against Kate's neck, nose a cold line against her skin. "Where's he?"
"Downstairs, kid." Kate presses the carved wood that opens the door, putting a hand on Al's head to make sure she doesn't hit the top of the doorway.
Lights are dimmed as they take the steps slowly. But she can hear the quiet clink of glass, the scuffle of shoes on hardwood floors. She hesitates halfway down the stairwell. What if he's done? What if he doesn't want to see them tonight or ever again?
"Rick?" Al breaks the silence, craning her head so she can see below the ceiling of the basement, searching for the man. "You here?"
There's a crash before he appears at the base of the stairs. "Kate? Al?" He rubs his hand over his face, blinking in surprise. "What're you doing here?"
"Looking for you," Al says, still sleepily drawling some of the words. "Where'd you go?"
"You leaving us?" Al whimpers, clutching Kate's jacket. "Why you leaving, Rick?"
Kate can't talk. Just seeing him makes her heart twist in her chest, her fingers tighten on Al's waist.
"I'm… I'm not, Al. I just wanted to get something from the office," he hedges, hands tucking into his pockets. "No need to worry."
She can feel his eyes on her but she focuses on Al's head, twining her fingers through her damp hair, wiping the snowflakes from the curls.
"You ladies come to give me a lift home?"
He's asking her. Trying to draw her voice out, as rough and torn and ragged as it is.
Fix it, she tells herself. So she swallows past the lump in her throat. "Yeah." Kate tries a smile, knows she fails miserably. Not a fantastic night for her. "Come to take you home." If you want.
"Home," Al whispers, reaching a hand out for Castle. "Rick, home."
Kate feels his fingers touch her wrist and suddenly, the tears are back. "I'm sorry," she manages, letting him drag her against him, a step above him on the stairs. "God, I'm sorry, Rick. It wasn't your fault and I'm so stupid and it was just one picture and God, just please tell me we're okay and that we can still get married in March and –"
They've got Al sandwiched between them as Kate buries her head into his shoulder on a sob, her free hand wrapping around his neck to keep him close.
"We're okay, Kate."
Al is patting Caste's head, unaware of the real problem between the adults. "Home, guys." Al rests her head on Castle's, pressing her cheek to his hair. "Go home?"
"Yes," Castle sighs. "Let's go home."
The girl has a firm grip on Castle's shirt as they walk back toward the exit. "You staying?" she babbles as he locks the door to the Old Haunt, pockets the keys.
"I'll always stay, Al." His eyes meet Kate's over Al's head. "No running."