Every Terrible, Wonderful Thing
Beckett slinked home.
Her chest hurt in a way that was entirely unattractive, but she supposed she had no one to blame other than herself. She'd known better; she'd held herself away for two years, keeping her distance, and yet somewhere in the middle of arm's length, she'd somehow done it anyway.
Fallen for him.
No, no, it was a crush. Just a crush. She could admit that; she had a crush on him, her writer-shadow. He was cute in his own way, and he had this habit of smiling at her that flipped her stomach, those blue eyes-
Beckett groaned and shoved the key into her lock, her forehead falling forward to knock against the door. Stupid. Stupid, Beckett. Stop thinking about him.
She wasn't looking forward to a summer alone, but she'd already burned her bridges with Demming.
Beckett sighed and closed the door after her, flipped the deadbolt. Her apartment was overly warm, a closed-up feeling to the place, and she moved towards the thermostat to adjust the temperature, tugging off her jacket.
Demming was a sweet guy, but not who she was - not what she was looking for. It was better that she was alone for this.
She still had that thrill in her chest at the thought of Castle and a weekend at the Hamptons, despite knowing he was going without her. With Gina without her. It was hard to let go of that feeling, hard to turn it off.
Well, she had a summer to figure that out, right? She'd figure it out.
Beckett flipped on her radio and scraped the hair off her neck, twisting it up and searching her place for a rubber band. She found one on the side table next to the couch and music filled up the space, lazy and quiet in the emptiness of her apartment.
She turned to survey the living room, ready to clean things out, get things in order again. She had all this time now; a whole summer to really get down to it.
Had she just done that? That pathetic little, see you in the fall? like she was begging him to come back to her?
Okay, okay, enough. She had to just - she'd give herself the weekend to dwell on it, all the things she should have said, how she shouldn't have been so oblique with him, how all of her friends had been watching her crash and burn, how he had turned to Gina and given his ex-wife that smile, that gorgeous, I could be in love with you smile that just ripped her apart.
Shit. It was going to be a night of crying, wasn't it?
The music swelled mournfully and washed over her, drowned out whatever awful and pathetic noise had been coming out of her mouth, and she reached out and turned up her stereo.
She rarely listened to the radio, but if it was going to be like this, she'd have to keep it on all weekend.
Beckett unbuttoned her white dress shirt and shrugged it off, heading for her bedroom and something comfortable to wear. Leggings and pajamas, just spend the weekend hiding out and trying not to think about how Castle was going to be spending his summer.
She groaned and threw the shirt into her closet, dragged on an oversized purple t-shirt. She stood in the middle of her room with her hands limp at her sides and she didn't know what to do next.
What was she supposed to do?
She needed a project, she needed... she'd drag out her mother's case file and look at it all over again. They had new evidence - she had new evidence now, and she had the time to devote to it. She would spend all of her free hours going back over it, looking at it in the light of the coroner's findings. If Castle was good for anything, it was that - looking at things outside the box. Making her see it differently. She hadn't been able to get into it last year; it would've taken her over, but she could do it now. She was stronger; the distraction would be good.
One song ended and another began, sounding equally as dreadful and depressing, but it was good. It fit her mood; if Lanie had told her one more time that maybe it was for the best, she would've screamed. This was better, she told herself; it was for the better.
Nothing goes as planned, everything will break.
Kate groaned and pressed the heels of her hands into her eyes, hard, making lights flash in the darkness.
But it was no use.
She was crying over him.
Richard Castle sat out on the sun-drenched deck of his Hamptons home and heard the music drifting out to him from the open sliding glass door. The laptop was too warm on his thighs but he didn't move it off; he was supposed to be writing.
Gina had gone back to the city for the week - other writers to cajole - and he was so grateful for the relative quiet, the silence, that he didn't stop to think about why.
Why he still felt restless these days. Why the summer hadn't brought that magical sense of rightness to him despite getting back together with his ex-wife.
He didn't want to have ex-wives. He wanted to have... have family. He wanted that sense of belonging and partnership and doing this together. Thus, reconnecting with Gina.
She already knew so much about him; it was easier the second time around. All those foibles and quirks could be accounted for and worked around. How Gina made that high-pitched little noise like a coo that always had him mocking her. How his procrastination magnified her anal-retentiveness.
They could avoid those pitfalls this time.
He wasn't doing such a hot job of avoiding them, actually.
He'd found himself in a mood whose soundtrack featured the hits of The Cure and The Nationals, rather than his usual Katrina and the Waves 'Walking on Sunshine' attitude. His iTunes program on the laptop had suggested similar albums to the playlist he'd created to match his funk, and he was listening to one he'd recently downloaded - he kept it on repeat play because for some reason it made him think of the 12th.
He had a family there, he supposed, and he missed the cases and being woken up for a body drop and getting her coffee and the smell of formaldehyde in the morgue. He missed Lanie's know-it-all sass and Esposito's brotherly disdain and Ryan's eager belief and Beckett's...
She was so snarky. It was invigorating, gave him a little zipping thrill every time she rolled her eyes at him.
Oh, you're in my veins. I cannot get you out.
Castle sighed and closed his laptop, shifted to stand on his feet.
He should enjoy his summer.
He should stop listening to sad music and stop staring off into the endless ocean and stop acting like something fundamental had shifted, like it would never be the same again.
He'd be back in the fall.
The music drifted and spun in eddies around them. Winter Formal, so tacky and sparkly, but she liked it. She was stupidly pleased to be dancing with him in a crowd of high school kids, his shoulder under her cheek.
She loved this song, but she was beginning to remember how it had all started. A summer alone, throwing herself at the wall of her mother's case again and again.
"I cried over you," she sighed.
His startled, "What?" had him pushing back to look at her, but Kate tightened her arm around his neck and kept him close.
"Shh," she hushed, laughing softly. "It's fine."
"This was - oh, this was four years ago, Rick," she murmured. "Forget it. The song just brought me back."
"Kate," he grumbled, not pleased with her. She knew he liked to know, and it wasn't a big deal now, so she gave it up.
"That summer you went to the Hamptons without me."
"Without you?" he muttered, taking offense at her word choice no doubt. "You said no. I distinctly remember you saying no - at least twice, and probably also in terms more subtle than that. I did eventually get the hint."
"Well, at the end there, I wasn't saying no," she admitted.
"No," he gasped, jerking back against her grip to stare at her. "No. Kate."
"It's okay," she laughed, soothing him, her fingers stroking the back of his neck. "It's fine. Four years ago - old news."
"When? When did you - that's crazy. I would never - how did I not know? I went with Gina," he groaned. "I could've - are you serious?"
She laughed again and eased away from him, caught the petulance in his eyes and shook her head. "I thought you said you wouldn't change a thing?" she teased. "All of those choices you've made, all those terrible, wonderful things led to this-"
"I would go back and change that," he huffed. "Seriously. When did you say yes? You were saying no every time I turned around."
"Just at the end. But don't worry, you didn't outright reject me. Gina showed up and put a stop to it. You'll be pleased to know we did, at least, shake hands like colleagues."
Castle groaned and his head pitched forward to land on her shoulder. "No, no. After that case? You're - no. I was so proud of that moment."
"Proud?" she laughed, lightly. But there was still a part of her heart that fluttered at the memory, the strange combination of being in love with him but not being allowed to have him. A crush, she'd told herself. Who was she kidding? "What were you proud of?"
Castle's head lifted and he gave her a grim look. "Gina about killed me. All I talked about that whole drive to the Hamptons was how you'd told me you liked working with me. It was a major - it felt like this huge accomplishment, like I'd really earned your respect, and I was so - I was like a little girl, all sighing and giggly and gushing."
"You? Gushing?" she said. But that vulnerable place was thrilled, fluttering again at the way he looked at her. "Never."
"Okay, fine. Make fun of me. I deserve it. But come on, Beckett. Saying you liked working with me is not the same as telling me yes, you'll go the Hamptons with me."
"Good thing," she pointed out, narrowing her eyes at him. "And what would you have said? Oh, oops, I invited Gina as well?"
"I'd have ditched her. Told her the chapters were coming later. Told her..."
"No, no, it's like you said," she interrupted, leaning in to kiss him quickly. Claiming him. "We weren't ready for this - I wasn't ready for it; it wouldn't have worked and you know it. So keep your great moment, your pride over how much I liked working with you - that was real - because not being able to say yes to you then has led us here, to now, to saying yes to will you marry me? - And now is pretty damn good, Castle."
"Pretty great, actually," he said back, his smile slowly stretching his face. "A terrible, wonderful moment of its own."
He leaned in and kissed her softly, his hands cradling her cheeks so that the vulnerable and still-raw place inside her finally eased.
His thumbs rubbed across her lips and he looked down at her with love.
She didn't need anything other than this moment to erase an entire summer of moments.
"Will you dance with me?"
"I think I have to," she chuckled.
Rick Castle took his wife's hand and pulled her slowly out to the dance floor.
He didn't have to tug, really; she came easily, all on her own, walking beside him until they got to the middle of the parquet floor and faced each other.
Their song started, easing through the reception and touching soft fingers along the edges of the room. Kate came into his chest and slid her arm around his neck, her dress rustling around them. He stepped forward and she went back, and they were dancing, smoothly, perfectly, taking those first slow movements together.
He cupped the back of her head, his fingers tangling in her pulled-back hair, and he heard her breath catch, felt her leaning in closer.
This song gave them five minutes alone in the middle of the crowd of family and friends, five minutes to take this day as their own, to celebrate and to share it with no other, and she was hiding her face in his neck, breathing hard across his skin like she might cry.
Not fair; if she cried, he would too, and he knew Esposito had bet fifty bucks he would.
"I love you," he murmured anyway.
She gave a soft little laugh. "I know. I know."
He turned his head in to brush his lips across her temple. "You gonna make it?"
"Shut up," she laughed again. Her fingers tightened on his hip but she stood up straighter, like she was recovering, lifted her head from his shoulder to smile at him.
Castle grinned back at her and stroked his palm down her bare back, watching her gather herself.
"Thanks," she murmured, tilting her head at him. "Thanks for making me laugh." She leaned in and kissed him for it too, her mouth appealing over his, her touch generous and tender.
Their wedding guests applauded, making her startle, and Castle grinned, gave her a smacking kiss on her lips to play it up. She smiled that wide and wonderful smile, the one that let everyone in on her joy, and she loosened her arm from around his neck to let him swirl her around and dip her to the crowd.
She was laughing when she came back up, and even though the song had swelled to a kind of melancholy crescendo, he loved the way the sparkling lights shimmered in her eyes and echoed across the dress, loved having this moment with her alone.
Her hair was starting to fall down around her face, touching her chin and curling along her neck, and she cupped his cheek in one hand and kissed him again, a little more aggressive, rough; her happiness had a growl of satisfaction to it. A desire at last fulfilled.
The song came to a close and the floor began to fill up with other couples, but they had this curtain of privacy around them, a circle of magic, and he found himself wordless before her, amazed they were here.
She sighed and stepped into him, closer, her hand under his jacket and rubbing at his lower back. "I love you too," she said quietly, giving it back.
"I know," he croaked out, clearing his throat when it got stuck. "I know you do. Thanks for saying yes."