|Close Encounters 1
Author: chezchuckles PM
an AU from Cartographical's list: What if Richard Castle was a spy? with special thanks to mjsofter for the cover artRated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Romance - Rick C. & Kate B. - Chapters: 12 - Words: 36,352 - Reviews: 525 - Favs: 237 - Follows: 262 - Updated: 11-20-12 - Published: 11-01-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8662847
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
When he woke, the dreary day was attempting to slink in through his blackout curtains. He winced and rolled over, came face to face with Kate Beckett.
She was gorgeous.
He blinked and felt the hard stutter of his heart, tried to breathe through it. She was curled tightly under the sheets and blanket, her shoulders up around her ears, one fist around the pillow. Her hair was at her neck, brushing into her eyes, and he couldn't stop from reaching out and taking the end of one strand, brushing it over his thumb.
So soft. And a scent that made his eyes close, his hand twisting in her hair. He slid in a little closer so he could rest near her, traced the edges of her mouth with his eyes.
And then he touched her lips with two fingers, because she was there, because he couldn't resist. Because her lips were slightly chapped and yet still so silky and he wanted to kiss her again. Kiss her awake.
He used this apartment so little because he wasn't often in New York. It was bare and depressing now that he saw it as a backdrop to this woman in his bed. Her apartment was cozy and fun and clever, a mirror to the deepest, most inviolate part of her personality. He'd rather have woken up there with her, but already, just having her in here was remaking his room, casting everything in a different light.
"The staring is creepy, Castle."
He lifted his eyes and saw hers were open, smiled at her. "Morning."
She rolled over and he missed the warmth, the sight of her, but she was just picking up her phone from the floor - he didn't even have bedside tables. Who didn't have bedside tables? She had those cute painted ones and an alarm clock, and he was practically on a mattress on the floor-
"It's five a.m.," she groaned and rolled back over into him.
He sucked in a breath, startled at her nearness, felt her burrow into him. He slid his hand to her back and eased her closer; she came.
He didn't want to, but- "We need to go to the Science Center."
"Opens at 8:30. We got time. Lemme sleep."
He was used to cycles of two hours' sleep at a time; he was awake. But she was right. For the first time in months, he had the opportunity to sleep like a normal person, wake up around seven or eight, eat breakfast, get dressed.
And of course he had no real food, no milk for cereal, but he had coffee. And he had her.
She was sprawled over his arm and shoulder, and she was already drifting back into sleep, her mouth parting as she breathed. He drew his hand up to the back of her neck, sifted his fingers through her hair until he touched warm skin.
He closed his eyes. Even if he couldn't fall back asleep, it would be wonderful to just lie here with her for a few hours more.
Like he was a normal person.
Like he could actually have her, keep her, build a real life with her.
Something he'd never had.
Agent Castle Super Spy had absolutely nothing in his bathroom. Two rolls of toilet paper, one toothbrush, a bottle of men's shampoo. That was it. No towels, no soap. Beckett showered with his shampoo, used the disposable razor she'd found under the sink, and dried off with his bedsheet.
Obviously he hadn't brought any guests here before her.
He came back into the bedroom just as she was wrapping the sheet around her breasts and he jerked to a halt, staring at her.
"You're naked," he blurted out.
She laughed. "Castle. I'm wearing a sheet. You have no towels."
"I have no. . .oh. I should - that's right. There was a minor. . .explosion last time I was here and I had to use-"
"You had an explosion?"
He was shuffling back towards the door, that suave and sophisticated secret agent reduced to this blushing, goofy man. She tucked her arm over her chest to keep the sheet in place, and then lifted the edge that trailed on the floor, came after him.
He backed up into the door frame, stumbled, and she watched him try to regain his balance. "Yes. An international incident that culminated in-"
"An international incident?" she scoffed, stepping closer. "You said this place was off the grid."
"If I told you, I've had to kill you. But let's just say. . .bomb in my oven."
"Oh really?" She lifted an eyebrow as she eased her body into his space. He was putting out waves of heat.
His lips twitched and he sighed. "I was making a bomb. It - uh - went off prematurely."
She hummed in amusement and laid her fingertips against his chest. "Premature. . .explosion?"
He blushed. She had actually made him blush.
"You smell like my shampoo," he said suddenly.
"All you had."
She felt her lips smirking upwards, tried to control it. Too late. She was already smiling and he was easing a little, smiling back, and his hand came up to her hip, the touch heavy and alluring through the thin sheet.
"You're not here all that much, are you?" she said.
"No. Not - mostly at the office."
He had an office? "That dungeon-like safe location? You telling me I gotta be drugged every time I come in to work with you, Castle?"
He laughed, his eyes crinkling up and both his hands on her waist now, pulling her into him. Like this was their morning after.
"You coming into work with me, Kate?"
She half-shrugged. "We are working this case together, are we not?"
"We are. Truth is, my office can be pretty mobile."
"So you won't take me to your office, is that what you're saying?"
Suddenly she was being pressed into the vee of his legs, her hips settled against his, and he grinned down at her. She could tell he was watching her mouth, so she pushed her tongue against her teeth and felt him shiver.
"You wanna come with me to the office, I'll take you." He dipped his head close, his mouth trailing the side of her jaw until he was at her ear, breath hot and moist. "But I gotta blindfold you, Beckett. You game?"
At the Aubrey Science Center, they picked up another shadow. He'd expected it, but he didn't like it.
"Seven o'clock," he muttered.
She nodded and opened the door, pushed through into the lobby. "You think they'll come for us?"
"No. Not in broad daylight." But he pulled out his phone and sent a message in asking for eyes.
As they shifted through the pages of task requests, he kept checking the alerts on his phone. Nothing from his support staff, so he messaged them again about their tail, tapping his fingers on his knee.
His father could be interfering; that'd happened a few times since he'd uncovered Sofia Turner's betrayal. Castle was the one who figured it out, but now it was like his father thought he needed to be checked up on, monitored, interfered with in case things got too-
Shit. His father was going to screw him over if he kept messing with Castle's case missions.
He fired off a message to his father, frustrated, demanding support, and then felt Beckett's fingers close over his.
"Am I keeping you?" she said.
He withdrew his phone from her grip and slipped it into his pocket. "Sorry. Trying to get back-up in place just in case those Chinese want us. What've you got?"
"Marie signed every single one of these task requests to our coordinates."
He took the sheaf of papers from her, but resisted when she tried to point it out to him. "Let me look at it with fresh eyes," he said, turning away to go over the pages.
She came up at his shoulder; he could feel her heat at his back. It made it hard to focus, but he narrowed his eyes at the sheets and-
"Hey," she murmured.
He'd seen it too. "Different signatures. These are - look at the way she signed her A."
Beckett was reaching over his shoulder to grab them. "This means it's someone who has these same request forms and could sign her name instead without anyone noticing."
She was flipping through the rest of the stack now, pushing them into his chest when she didn't find what she was looking for. He grabbed them to keep the pages from falling, and she moved to another pile at the work station.
"Ha," she muttered, grabbing the first on the stack. "Look. Look at who else makes their A's like this."
He glanced down at the one she was holding out to him. "Dr. Charles Vaughn."
She narrowed her eyes at the request form. "He forged her signature to make it look as though Marie was the one intercepting the satellite transmissions."
"So maybe Marie saw a request with her fake signature and she got curious," Castle started.
"So she put in a request of her own to have the telescope scan that part of the sky, see what was so important." She stepped closer, pulling her bottom lip between her teeth.
He grinned at her nearness and slipped a hand to her waist. "So that's when she intercepted the weird signals - our coded data stream. She didn't know what she was hearing; it'd sound - foreign - to a layman. Perhaps even extra-terrestrial."
"After that she lost time," Beckett murmured, her fingers landing on a button on his dress shirt, her eyes on him. "She was abducted, but-"
"Not like Benny Stryker thought, not alien abduction." He slid his fingers into the waistband at her pants, but she was stiffening.
"What do you know about Stryker?"
He flashed her a charming smile, pressed her hips into his. "I told you I'd been following you around for four days."
She narrowed her eyes at him but he dipped his head to brush his lips along her jaw, pause at her ear. "So it was Vaughn who abducted her, drugged her to find out how much she knew, see if she'd blown his cover."
Beckett shivered. "When he realized how close she was, that she had the data stream, he got rid of her."
"And he led you to the altitude chamber because he wanted you to believe it was the ex-boyfriend," he murmured, let his lips ghost her cheek.
She curled her hands into fists in his shirt, pushed him back.
"I have to arrest Vaughn," she breathed, and he could see her steeling herself against him.
"I got my own cuffs," he said, wriggling his eyebrows.
"No," he admitted. "But I don't mind using yours."
She arrested Vaughn with a couple of members of her team for back-up; one of the guys, Esposito, was giving Castle the stink eye, while the other one, Ryan, looked spooked. All nervous and twitchy once the arrest had gone down at the man's home.
Vaughn looked like he'd been about to flee - bag packed, airline ticket printed out.
"We still don't have the information," he murmured in her ear, drawing close as Ryan led Vaughn away in handcuffs. "She found something and I need to secure it."
Beckett turned to him, her eyes hard and dark. "I know, Castle. We'll get it."
He crossed his arms over his chest, but she was walking away from him, heading for the police cruiser and Ryan. He snagged her by the elbow. "Beckett. Now."
"I've got to process the arrest and do paperwork."
"In case you've forgotten, the Chinese-"
"I haven't forgotten. I'll be fine at the 12th. And while I'm getting this settled, maybe something will strike me. A new place to look. Maybe Marie hid it."
He gritted his teeth and glanced past her to the two detectives posturing in front of their cars. Vaughn was in the backseat of the cruiser and Beckett was already heading over to her team.
"I'm coming with you," he said finally, growling at her.
She jerked back on a pivot, glared at him. "No. You are not."
"If you say it'd help - then let's go. Do your paperwork and I'll go over your case notes. Marie did something with that information."
"No. You're not going."
"No, Castle. How am I supposed to explain your presence in my precinct?"
"I don't care what you say. I'm coming with you." He started forward only to be held up by the finger she poked in his chest, her narrowed eyes.
"Tell them I'm FBI. I don't care. I need that information, Kate. Thousands of lives depend on me retrieving it safely and keeping it out of the hands of the Chinese."
She was still glaring, but he could already see her relenting - the lines around her eyes were softening, her finger not jabbing him so sharply.
He kept silent, but reached between them to hook his finger in her belt loop. Not so anyone could see, just so she could feel his claim.
Her eyes flashed, but she didn't break.
"Kate," he said softly. "This is my job."
She closed her eyes. "Okay," she ground out. "Fine. You can come with me to the 12th."
"Just look at the timeline," she said with a growl. "Look at what she did the last week of her life, Castle. Jeez. Be a detective and not a bully for once."
"A bully?" he gasped, jerking his eyes to hers in a play of melodrama that had her rolling her eyes and trying not to laugh. "I'm a bully now? Well thanks, Kate Beckett, thank you very much. I stand on a wall for you-"
"Don't think quoting lines from A Few Good Men is gonna get you off the hook."
He sighed, all smirking and clever. "It won't?"
"Just - here. Sit down," she muttered and nudged him into the metal frame chair he'd dragged from the corner. He'd pulled it up right against her desk and had gone through her case notes as she'd composed her report.
"What are we doing?" he asked, hands filled with the case.
"The white board gets erased at the end of the day, so make it count," she said, shoving on his chair to orient him towards the murder board for Marie Subbarao.
"In the interests of national security, they can leave it up."
"No," she said. "I have two more murders to tackle, and I need the space. So take a picture or memorize it, whatever spies do."
"Shh," he growled. "Keep your voice down."
"Castle. They all know. They're detectives. Jeez, the moment I introduced you, Esposito was running a background check."
"Oh." He looked disappointed and she rolled her eyes.
"Look at the timeline. Figure it out. If Marie had the information, she'd have done something with it, told someone, taken action that was out of the norm. Find the odd sock."
"Odd sock?" he muttered, his eyes drifting back to hers.
"Just - a term for the thing that doesn't fit, doesn't match. You know - every once in a while, your laundry comes out of the dryer and you've got one sock. No match."
"No match. The odd sock," he grinned. "I like it. Very good."
"Jeez, Castle. How in the world did you do this without me?"
His eyes were suddenly hot and hard on hers, intense. "I don't know, Kate. I have no idea."
He came back to her desk and sat on the edge, shoving aside a file folder to get her attention. Beckett looked up at him with dark, dangerous eyes and he felt that tightening awareness at the base of his spine.
"I'm stumped," he said, giving her a grin. His father had messaged him back, finally, to say he was on top of the situation. Just like his father to not use specifics even over a secure line. "Help me out here, Beckett. You're the detective, remember? I'm just a bully."
"You're stumped, so you're penalizing me?" Beckett muttered.
"Yes. Help me think. She had to have hidden it somewhere. She was taken up to the great mothership, but she didn't have it then."
"You mean the great mothership called Vaughn," she started, then stopped suddenly as her phone vibrated.
Beckett pulled it closer, read her text. Her face clouded and she lifted glittering eyes to him.
"Ryan and Esposito are still taking down the confession, but they're saying a spook is in the room with them, Castle. He's demanding they release Vaughn."
"Ah, crap." Castle grimaced and rubbed a hand down his face. "My father, most likely."
"Your father," she said stonily.
"I was hoping he'd deal with the Chinese for us. Apparently he had other ideas-"
"No. Not-uh. You and I had a deal. I am not letting Vaughn go; he gets tried for murder first." She jerked to her feet and pushed past him, toppling him off her desk as she headed for the interrogation room.
"Beckett. Wait. My father won't let you-"
"Oh yeah?" she hissed. "Watch me."