A/N: Sorry, this is an out-of-order addition to the story. This is the confrontation between Beckett and Alexis back at the loft that I skipped over to give you the ending of the story. Some of the readers expressed an interest in that part of the tale and since I had already written it, I thought it needed to be added.
Hope you enjoy it and thanks again for all the support for this little story.
Dolor In Veriate
Standing in front of him after what seemed an eternity apart, Kate Beckett was almost overcome with the emotions that were undulating inside of her. Her legs felt weak and she was sure the color had drained from her face … but there he was, a little stunned for the moment, but he was still looking at her and he hadn't slammed the door in her face.
Castle had muttered out her name, shocked that she was there and confused as to 'how' or 'why'. He couldn't deny his immediate response had been complete surprise but the longer they remained motionless and silent, a wave of uncertainty washed over him and he suddenly felt the world was once again shifting under his feet.
"Rick." His name on her tongue sounded like relief, like she couldn't believe that he was really there. When his hand remained fixed on the door's handle and his eyes remained dazed and unfocused, Beckett called out to him once more. "Castle."
Snapping out of his stupor, Castle eased his large frame further into the opening between the edge of the large door and the door frame, closing off the opening and Beckett felt a cold chill roll up her spine at the action. To her, it looked as if he was closing off the inside of his home and for a flicker of a moment, she wondered if he was alone or if he had company. She glanced over his shoulder but she couldn't see anything except the vaulted ceiling of the foyer and the man standing in front of her. To her shame, he caught her gaze and quickly deduced the meaning behind her curiosity.
"Don't worry … I'm alone." His voice carried very little warmth.
Beckett dropped her eyes to the tiles at their feet, ashamed of how easily he'd seen her action for what it was. "Look, Rick … I'm sorry, but I just wanted …"
"Why are you here?" Castle was barely keeping himself upright with the enormous amount of effort he was exuding to maintain his composure. With the messages he'd just listened too, the confessions that they contained, and the woman who left the messages right in front of him … he was amazed that his head hadn't exploded. He wasn't trying to be cold or abrasive, but how in the world was she now standing at his front door?
Kate had been planning this conversation for hours, if not days. Ever since she'd come back to the city, she'd yearned for an opportunity to see her partner and maybe even have a chance of making things right between them. She was pretty sure he wouldn't be coming into the precinct anytime soon, even for a dead body or case involving a sighting of the Abominable Snowman in Central Park. The first calls she made ended before the first ring, her thumb slamming into the 'END' button before he would have had a chance to answer. After wrestling with what to say and how to say it, her next attempts at placing a call ended just as his voice mail message started and she, once again, ended the call before anything was said. Finally, after arguing back and forth with herself, she'd managed to leave a message consisting of a long sigh and his name carried on a sob. For a woman who could make grown men cry with just a glare, she really needed to work on mastering the art of stringing a sentence together when it really mattered.
It had been hours later when she managed to find her courage and her words once more, but they had come out in a tangle of a trite greeting and teary apologies. A talk with Lanie had finally given her the strength to hold herself together long enough to spill her heart out onto the recording, saying all the things that she should have said on that rainy night when he'd answered the door and his face fell into cold appraisal at her appearance.
That had all led up to a trip to the loft in the vain hope that he would be there and that he would let her in. Instead, she'd been greeted by a turbulent Alexis, whose kind eyes had held a murderous intent the moment she'd opened the door to the detective. It was no small miracle that Castle's daughter hadn't slammed the door so hard she broke the hinges or caused a ruckus by throttling the older woman to death on the floor out in the hallway. Whatever lessons in civility Castle had taught his little red-head, Beckett was grateful that it had led to some reveled truths after the teenager had let the detective into their home.
"Thanks for letting me in, Alexis."
The storm raging inside the young woman was as obvious as her mane of red hair. "Don't thank me just yet … I still haven't decided if I want to hear what you have to say or if I should just start kicking your ass."
Beckett knew with her training and experience, thwarting an attack from an impassioned teenager would be a small challenge, but the fire in Alexis' eyes gave her pause, wondering if there was more to the young woman than she was letting on. Even if she came out the victor, would winning a physical confrontation with Castle's daughter in any way help bridge the gap that now existed between the detective and the writer?
So while she waited for the ass-kicking that was brewing behind the girl's eyes, Kate hoped that it wouldn't come to that, realizing that if it did, her best course would to be to simply take it. They stood there for several moments, Beckett preparing for the first punch or kick, while Alexis remained stoic, her arms tensely folded across her chest.
Just when Kate decided to leave, that the ass-kicking wasn't coming nor was there going to be any headway made in the impasse, Alexis dropped her eyes to the floor.
"Go ahead … detective … explain." The way the girl said 'detective', it made Beckett flinch. Kate took a shuddering breath to begin but the girl cut her off. "Explain to me why you're even here? Why in the world I would want to hear a damn word you have to say? Tell me why is it, that whenever you're around, my father loses his ever-loving-mind going crazy over you while all you do is dance all over his heart? Is THAT what you want to explain?"
Dropping her head in shame, Beckett can do nothing but listen while the daughter of the man that means so much to her unloads. "You have the gall to show up here after what you've pulled? I've got to hand it to you detective … you got balls made out of solid brass."
Before Alexis can continue, Beckett manages to silence her with a tear-filled confession. "No, Alexis … I'm a coward … and a fool."
That caught the younger woman off-guard, bringing her stinging tirade to an abrupt end. "What … what do you mean?" The venom wasn't completely gone, but it had been toned down a little.
Kate let out a long frustrated sigh, her hands dropping to her sides as she shrugged her shoulders. "Just being honest, Alexis … I'm a coward who hurts the people she cares about … and I'm a fool for the way I've treated your father."
Alexis stance hadn't changed much, but she reinforced her stoic posture with a dismissive flip of her long hair. "I think you'll have to do a lot better than that … stating the obvious isn't winning you any points at the moment."
Now, Kate's own frustration began to bubble to the surface and she had to tamp down the urge to simply rail out her pain and anger, throwing it all at the woman standing only a few feet away. "What do you want me to say, Alexis? That I'm sorry!? That I screwed up … again!? Do you want to hear how I've hurt the most faithful and honorable man I have ever met in my life!? That despite everything that I've ever done to him … all the crap that I've put him through … all the times … all the times that I've lied or belittled … ignored … " She wasn't crying, this wasn't some emotional fueled plea, it was a confession from her heart and it would be delivered with all of the seriousness and power she could muster.
"I have hurt him so much … accused him of betraying me … told him that we're over … and yet, he still comes back … watching my back and protecting me when I didn't even know about it." Beckett advances on Alexis, but her movements are meant to display sincerity and not a threat. "I put everything before him and all he has ever done is love me."
That caught Alexis' attention. "He told you that?"
Kate nodded her head. "When I got shot … then again a few days ago." That was just in words, she knew that he'd said it so many times in so many different ways, that her mind couldn't even catalogue them all.
"And what have you done about it?"
That sucked the air right out of Beckett's lungs. "Nothing … absolutely nothing."
"Nothing … but hurt him." Alexis' earlier ass-kicking expression had returned.
Kate dropped her eyes to the floor at Alexis' feet, and nodded slowly. She heard a sad exhale then a simple question.
Kate almost choked on the shift from 'detective' to now 'Beckett'.
"Why would you do that?"
Lifting her green eyes to the ones looking right back at her, Kate took a shaky breath. "Because I'm a coward."
"You said that earlier … but why?"
Alexis was beginning to feel like she was speaking with a much younger version of the hardened detective in front of her. "What are you afraid of?"
Kate turned to the side to look out the large windows at the other end of the room. "Of getting hurt … of opening myself up and being vulnerable."
"So, you'd just rather screw things up from the get-go rather than take a chance on someone breaking your heart?" When the woman looked up at her, Alexis could have sworn she looked much younger.
"Is that selfish of me? Wanting to protect my heart?"
Alexis shook her head. "Your heart looks pretty busted up from where I'm standing … is that about right?"
Beckett didn't even bother to answer, it was written clearly on her face.
"If you want to protect your heart, that's fine … " It sounded like Alexis was trying to placate her, but when Beckett looked up, she was again met with cold hostility. " … but I will not stand by and watch as you break my father's … no way, no how."
"But … Alexis … I … "
"You 'what'? Come on Beckett, you don't take a crap without a plan." Alexis was moving now, closing the distance between them and the heat from her body was palpable. "Why … are … you … HERE?!"
" … I … I … "
"WHAT? Just say it!"
It exploded out, like it was some living thing straining to be free.
"I LOVE HIM!"
The room went silent, the only sound was the faint creak of the windows as the wind blew against them outside the building. They remained motionless but Kate's chest thumped with her confession and the energy its release had cost her.
When the younger Castle spoke, cold resignation vibrated through her words. "If that's how you treat people you love … then you're a mess."
It was like the girl had slapped her. Kate's head shot up, her eyes burning with intensity and pain. "Don't you think that I know that?! I get shot after your dad tried to push me out of the way … he tells me he loves me … he spends this year protecting me from the ones who want me dead … and I shit all over him and he still won't stop!"
"That's because he loves you Kate … I'm pretty sure that he always has."
The ups and downs of the girl's moods were making Beckett feel like she was on a roller coaster at the amusement park. "And that's why I'm here, Alexis … he loves me and I've ruined it. I've got nowhere else to go … I've got nothing left to hide behind … I'm out of excuses and I'm so tired of running from the one thing that makes everything else make sense."
Alexis let out a long, shuddering breath and Beckett wondered what was swirling around in the girl's mind. When she took a moment to look her over, she noted the sad expression on her face and the circles under her eyes … the poor thing looked exhausted.
"I'm sorry Alexis … I should leave … you look worn out." Beckett took a tentative step back, giving the other woman a chance to respond, but hoping that she would let her stay.
"No, Beckett, wait … it's okay." Alexis gave her an imploring look, stopping her movement toward the door. "I just haven't been sleeping well since dad left."
"He's not here?"
Alexis shook her head. "No, he's out of town."
Beckett felt her heart tumble to her feet. She'd hoped that if she could remain in the loft long enough, Castle would arrive and she could possibly have the conversation that would help mend the rift between them. Talking to his daughter wasn't something she'd planned on and the exertion had worn her out already, and to find out he wasn't even in the city made her chest ache.
"When's he coming back?"
Alexis played it close. "Can't say."
"Do you know where he went?"
That almost made the younger woman chuckle. "Really, Beckett? You expect me to tell you that?"
In that moment, Beckett knew that she had underestimated Castle's daughter and her willingness to protect her dad against all challengers. The girl's protective nature rivaled the detective's stubborn streak and they were getting close to an impasse that would only make things worse.
"No … no, you're right … I shouldn't have asked." Kate didn't bother to hide her disappointment, but wasn't about to fault the girl either. "I know you must hate me … and I wish there was some way to make up for all the horrible things I've done to your father. I can tell you I'm sorry until I'm blue in the face and I doubt you would ever believe me … and for that, I am truly ashamed."
Alexis shifted on her feet, her movements conveying a slight crack in her angry defenses.
Beckett took a step closer, appearing both contrite and sincere. "And I won't ask you to forgive me … it's too soon for that … but what I'm asking for … what I'm begging you for … is a chance to apologize to your father … face to face."
"I … I don't know Beckett … you've hurt him … so much."
"I know, sweetie … I know." Kate wiped at a stray tear that had worked its way free. "I get it … I would do the same thing if I were in your shoes … but at least give me a chance to make up for just a small amount of pain I have caused him."
For several moments, Alexis appeared to be touched by Kate's plea but she had to make one thing clear. "If you hurt him again … "
Kate chuckled humorlessly. "Yeah, I know … you'll kick my ass."
"You think it's funny?" Alexis' tone ended her attempt to lighten the mood.
"Alexis … I'm sorry … I …"
"You listen to me … if you hurt him … again … be confident that there is no power on this earth that will protect you from me." The cold steel in the girl's eyes left no room for any argument.
"You're right … I … "
"I know you slapped him … "
"One call to 1PP and then one to Gina … a decorated NYPD detective assaulting a world famous author in his own home … just the initial brouhaha stirred up by the press would surely end your career, whether there were any formal charges filed or not … don't you think, detective?"
Yes, she had vastly underestimated the young woman, leaving her humbled and slightly startled.
"Alexis … "
The red-head cut her off. "I may regret this, but he's in the Hamptons … I'll text you the address."
"I … I don't know what to say … " Beckett wanted to reach out and shake the girl's hand or even give her a hug, but she still looked dangerous. " … I promise, I'll not let you down."
Alexis waved her hand, dismissing Kate's words. "Just promise me one thing."
"Anything, Alexis … anything."
The young woman suddenly looked very old and very tired. "If he sends you away … if he tells you that it's over … that there's nothing left of this 'thing' between you two … promise me that you will leave him alone and never look back."
"Alexis … "
"No! You promise me or, so help me Kate, I will become your worst enemy."
Knowing it wasn't a battle she would win if she had ten thousand years to fight it, Kate let out a long sigh and nodded her head. "I promise, Alexis … if it's over … really over … I'll go and never come back."
The encounter was over and Alexis moved back to the door, pulling it open as Beckett stepped up to leave. Just as the detective passed the threshold, the younger woman called out once more. "Beckett?"
Kate spun in place just outside the door and she didn't even blink when Alexis' hand slapped her hard across her left cheek.
"That's to help you remember your promise and maybe even help you keep it."
Beckett raised a hand to rub away the sting, looking up just in time to see the door close without another word from Castle's daughter.
Kate snapped back to the present when he called her name and it surprised her how much it stung when he used just her last name. "This was so much easier when I thought it out in my head."
Castle realized that he was being short with her, but the ache in his chest thrummed with every breath he took. "Yeah, I'll bet it was."
Dismissing his sarcastic tone and thankful that the door was still open, Kate bit her lip to stop a smart retort. Instead, she looked up into his stormy blue eyes and with her will alone, begged him to at least hear her out. When she saw him waver ever so slightly, she asked the question that would probably seal the fate of the evening.
"I'll leave, if that's what you want Rick … and I'll never bother you again … but I have some things I want to say to you in person and if you have any feelings left for me whatsoever … I'm asking for just one more chance to make this right between us before I go."
It seemed like Castle was about to send her back down the sidewalk, but he suddenly relaxed his posture and gave her a gentle nod of his head. "You're right … I … I'm sorry Beckett … I'm being rude." Then he stepped back, letting the door swing open fully and even though she was immediately struck by how beautiful that place was, it was his simple gesture of letting her in that made her heart ache in her chest. "Come on in … do you need something to drink? It's a long drive."
She laughed lightly to cover the quiver in her lips. "Yeah … that would be great."
Castle nodded as he closed and locked the door. "Do you have anything … uhmm … "
For a second or two, Kate didn't know what he meant, but then it dawned on her what he was asking. "I've got a rental and an overnight bag in the trunk."
He made not inappropriate comment about her assumption that she would be staying with him in the house … or which bed she would be in … and she knew that lack of levity indicated that the evening was still on shaky ground. It was going to be along night, at least she hoped it would be more than her apology and him kicking her out on her ass.
When Kate caught the quick twinkle in his eye, she found a small ray of hope.