AN: This started out as a two part ficlet prompt from tumblr, but I've been encouraged to expand upon it so here we are. If you've already read this on tumblr, give it a re-read because I've added to the original.
She's transferring her clothes from the washer to the dryer when she sees him walk into the laundry room of their apartment complex. At first, she's simply taken aback by how attractive he is. But the longer she stares at him, the more she realizes that she knows him, that she dated him in high school, and that this is the man who took her virginity.
"Oh my god," she mutters, suddenly wishing she had chosen to do her whites first since her bras and underwear are now sitting completely in the open in her laundry basket.
It's true. The man has seen her naked. But still. She digs around in the basket, trying to find a white T-shirt or something to lie over the top.
"No way," she hears him mutter.
Oh lovely, he's probably just made the same connection she has. She risks looking in his direction again, trying to remember why they broke up and how awkward this will be on a scale from 1 to 10.
But he isn't even looking at her. He's frantically pushing buttons on the change machine and nothing is happening. It probably ate his dollar. It does that a lot. She sighs and heads over to help him.
"You must be new," Kate muses, hitting the change machine in the weird pattern of spots she's discovered will actually return coins to you when it gets stuck.
Sure enough the quarters spill out into the dispenser and he turns to stare at her in awe. God, was he this hot in high school?
"That was awesome," he tells her, scooping up his coins. "Thank you."
"No problem," she says, turning back to start her dryer.
"Hang on a second," he calls after her. "You look really familiar to me."
He doesn't even remember her. And she's pretty sure she took his virginity too. Awkward scale: 10.
"I think we went to high school together," is all Kate offers, hoping he can fill in the rest for himself.
"If you are who I think you are, we did more than just that."
She can't help the small smile that threatens to spread across her lips. So maybe he does recognize her.
"Katie Beckett, hot as ever."
She laughs, scrubbing a hand through her hair. "Actually it's just Kate now. But you look good too, Rick. Really good."
"Well look at you, trying to sound all adult."
She rolls her eyes at him. "At least I didn't change my last name to Castle."
"Oh come on. Richard Rogers? Doesn't exactly scream best-seller, does it?"
"But it's an alliteration."
He laughs at that, selecting the machine next to hers. "Oh I've missed your brain."
"Dated a lot of ditzy girls since me?"
"I wouldn't call them ditzy," he shrugs. "But they weren't exactly straight A, Pre-Law material like yourself. Tell me Kate, prosecution or defense?"
She knows where he's going with this. The last time they talked, she was still Pre-Law at Stanford. He knew about her dreams of becoming the youngest female Chief Justice. Knew that she had plans to work in criminal law until she could work her way up the political ladder. Knew that back then, she was still on the fence for which side she wanted to fight for. He doesn't know that she abandoned all of that for another cause.
"Um, homicide?" Kate answers, making it sound like a question.
He stares at her for a moment, like he's trying to figure out what that means. Truthfully, homicide could represent either side of the law in lawyer terms.
"So prosecution then?" he asks, slowly.
She shakes her head, reaching for her laundry detergent to start her next load. "I'm a detective actually. Changed my career path a bit since graduation."
"Is that because of your mom?"
She freezes, her hand tightening around a T-shirt. She forgets that he knows things. That even though she hasn't spoken with him since high school, he's perfectly capable of picking up a newspaper or watching the news. And the name Johanna Beckett would mean something to him. Because he knew her.
"I'm sorry," Rick starts, noticing her hesitation. "People talk and I just…Johanna was a great woman. I liked her a lot."
She drops the shirt into the washer and turns to look at him. She can see the slightest hint of pain in his eyes, swirling with grief. He and her mother always did get along pretty well.
"You only say that because she approved of you," Kate smiles. "Said we made a cute couple."
"We did make a cute couple."
She smiles at him again, turning back to her laundry basket.
"No, but Kate, I am sorry. It really sucks."
She nods, tossing more clothes into the washer. She needs to talk about something else. Doesn't want to get dragged back down with the thoughts of her murder right now.
"Thank you," she says quietly. "But we can talk about something else maybe?"
"Right, sorry. We could talk about sex since you know…"
Kate quirks an eyebrow at him, amused by his sudden shyness at the subject.
"Since we took each other's virginity?" she finishes. "It's okay you can say it."
He laughs, starting his own load of laundry.
"I promise I've learned how to last longer than I did in high school," Rick says.
"Oh my god, you seriously need to stop apologizing for that," Kate laughs, pushing buttons on the washer to start it.
"It's an ego thing, all right? Humor me."
"Honestly, Rick, if I thought you were bad at sex in high school, I wouldn't have kept doing it with you. We were each other's firsts. We didn't know anything else."
"But still," he tells her. "I've gotten better."
She smirks at him. "Why is it so necessary for me to know that? You have big plans to get in my pants again?"
His cheeks flush red at that. "Oh no, I wasn't implying –"
Kate starts laughing. "Relax, Rick. You'd think you'd be able to pick up on my sarcasm by now."
"Well in my defense, it's been a while."
"That it has. But that doesn't excuse the eight years of practice you've had."
"Eight years?" he whistles. "Man, I always forget that we met in the 5th grade."
"You had it for me bad," she teases. "Ever since that very first day."
"I did not," Rick tries to protest.
"Please, you brought me that extra special Valentine on Valentine's Day."
Kate thinks she might even still have it. Everyone had to bring Valentines for the whole class, but she'd noticed the one from Rick was different than the ones he brought for everyone else. Hers was handmade, first of all, and covered in glitter.
"Okay, but that was in February. The very first day, as you put it, was in September."
"Yeah, but if you hadn't been crushing on me before February, you never would have made me that masterpiece."
He groans. "How bad was it? I only remember Mother suggesting that girls loved glitter so I practically dumped a whole bottle of it on to it."
She thinks back, really trying to remember if she kept that along with her other mementos from childhood. It seriously might be stuffed in a box in the back of her closet somewhere.
"Your earliest writer days," Kate tells him. "Complete with that chicken scratch you used to call your handwriting."
"Oh god, I tried to write you a poem, didn't I? All these years later and I still suck at poetry."
"Hey, you still managed to get the girl," she shrugs.
"Ah yes, our awkward middle school dating phase. Complete with parent chaperones."
Kate laughs at the memory of her dad sitting behind them on their trips to the movies, and not so subtly following them as they walked around the mall.
"What can I say? Only daughter and only child. My dad was a little over protective."
"Yeah, so much so that you went out and bought a Harley. Not to mention the naval ring and the tattoo. Do you still have all of those by the way?"
"The Harley? Yes. The tattoo? Yes. The naval ring? That came out when I turned 20."
"Is that around the time you started going by Kate instead of Katie?"
"Actually it is."
He smiles, finally turning back to his laundry. "Glad to hear that at least parts of Rebel Bex live on."
Kate bites her lower lip. "Now there's a name I haven't heard in a while."
"Yeah? Maybe I should hunt down your cop buddies and tell them to start calling you that."
"Do that and I will shoot you."
"Is that a threat, Detective?"
The playfulness in his tone is almost too much. It's like nothing has changed. Like they're back to being their teenage selves with their banter.
"I won't actually shoot you. But please, keep my past away from my colleagues."
He tosses her a mischievous grin, focusing again on the task at hand. She watches him measure out his detergent and then pause when he realizes he doesn't know where to put it. Front loading washers always seem to mess new tenants up. Kate laughs and moves to help him, taking the detergent from his hands and pouring it where it belongs. He shoots her a grateful smile and sheepishly hands her his bleach as well. She pours it for him too.
"Fabric softener?" she asks, placing her hands on her hips.
"I uh, no. The detergent says it's included in that. That's good enough, right? Because I've been buying it this way for a while now."
Kate laughs. "No, that's perfectly fine. I was just going to help you with that too, if you had it."
"Oh, yeah no. I've got it now, thanks."
She shakes her head, hoisting her laundry basket up on her hip. He pushes the buttons he needs on the machine and it whirs to life, starting to fill with water.
"My apartment is just a couple doors down if you wanted to hang out and catch up some more while we wait for our laundry," she offers.
He nods, finishing up preparing his load. "I'd like that."
Kate definitely hadn't expected this blast from the past when she woke up this morning. But as she leads her old high school flame back to her apartment, she finds that she's more than okay that it did.