The Heart of the Matter

by LindaInDC

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction based on Castle, the ABC show, also owned by Andrew W. Marlowe and other cool, brilliant people. I do not own the characters, but have written this work with no intent to gain profit from it. It is for reading enjoyment only. The story, names and places are fictional, and any similarities to real persons, places and events are purely coincidental. Be warned now, that there are times when the good folks in the story get carried away and have a case of potty mouth, lol. Please sit back and enjoy the story. Feedback, follows and comments are welcomed. Attacks are not, thanks.

Summary: The road to love was never easy, especially for Kate Beckett and Richard Castle. Now, a completely unexpected development occurs. Will this give them the push they need, or end things once and for all, before they even have a chance to begin?

NOTE: First off, a big note of thanks to Sass, my second set of clinical eyes and a great person to bounce theories off of to get this story right. An enormous thank you to Deana, who over latte one chilly night in NYC, helped me work through challenges that lit the flame of inspiration once again. Secondly, Internal dialogue is in bold italics, for distinction between spoken dialogue. This is AU, a bit angsty and not a "happy all the time" tale. But know this: I AM A SHIPPER, and since I'm playing with this awesome couple, anyway, I thought I would disclose that for anyone that wants to bash me based on where a chapter or so leave off. Wait until the end, you might like where we end up. ;)

Chapter One

Satin. Pure pleasure…sensual in every way. Nothing feels quite like satin when warmed by human flesh beneath it.

Ever the writer, these words gently flowed through Rick Castle's mind, despite sleep still having a hold on his brain, with the help of fermented bliss from the night before. Slowly, the tendrils of this drunken sleep loosening, he began to drift upward, ever slowly toward wakefulness.

The blissfulness of sleep ended abruptly when faced with the harsh reality of a hangover. Everything hurts, even his eyelashes. Scanning his memory for answers as to the reason for this hangover, Rick recalled little, but a thought did flood through his mind.

God, so much booze. Who thought Tequila that went down that smoothly could be this rough on me now?

The thought left him quickly, and the pain was not so bad…yet. Although he suspected that opening his eyes would be a whole new adventure in pain. His thoughts once again directed to the feel of delicate satin running along his fingers, as he continued to slowly stoke up and down along the lines of this heavenly surface. Intrigued as to what he was stroking allowed his conscious mind to drift up slowly towards a more wakeful place. The thought permeated his booze soaked brain.

If only I could see what this is…without my head killing me.

The thought was a good start, but still his eyes remained closed, his fingers continuing to have a mind of their own, stroking along the seam in the satin, then dipping onto curves that he made out to be a waist. His fingers progressed onward to stroke evenly along and soon thereafter discovered the swell of a hip, then down to the silky skin that could only be a leg. He found the skin to be warm, tempting and it called to him, like a siren's song. The satin slipped away from the fingers of his left hand as he moved them, providing the information that this was in all likelihood, a satin sheet. He and his mysterious bed mate were, by the stroke of the satin and the feel of one another, quite naked, it seemed. Rick fought to swim closer towards being fully awake and able to open his eyes, but the after effects of the Tequila made him also want to stay right where he was.

But where exactly was that?

The thought flashed through his head, unbidden. Intrigued, he tried again to scan his memory for the source of this amazing sensual experience. Nothing. His brain supplied. No memory of who this could possibly be.

OK, Ricky…time to open the eyes and solve this little mystery…hopefully. That is, if I know her name. God, what if it's a total stranger? How long has it been since I've done that?

Rick allowed himself a moment of panic at that thought. However, he knew the answer. It had been a couple years or more. He didn't have that desire to live up to the page six persona any longer. Not since…Kate. His heart sank at the thought of doing anything that would jeopardize their…what ever it was that they had. His mind went back to the to the beautiful detective, Kate Beckett. Muse..friend…seeker of justice…and the owner of his heart.

If only she knew it. If only he knew she could remember it.

His mind flooded with images and emotions toward the beautiful woman, but another voice in his head reminded him of the dilemma he was currently facing. His inner dialogue was on a mission, and not letting up, it seemed.

OK, you can't put this off any longer. Time to own up to whatever you've done, Ricky.

Opening his eyes slowly, Richard Castle experienced the seventh level of Hell. Pain shot like lasers into his eye sockets, ripping into his brain and obliterating it straight away. It was intolerable, and he felt a sudden onset of nausea hit his stomach for just a moment before pulling back in intensity, much to his relief. The lights were too bright, he could make out only fuzzy shapes at that point, and even colors were blown out as white, initially. He paused for a couple seconds, squinting to allow his eyes time to adjust to the light and to get a grip on the searing pain that was coursing through his skull.

The bright sunshine blazing through the window facing him only added to the torture. He sought to cover his eyes with both hands, however, the sleeping body currently next to him had taken residence on his lower right arm. He raised his free hand, in order to get it out far enough to block as much of the sun as possible, giving him a moment to better focus and not have to stare directly into the sun.

Moving his hand, a glint of light startled him momentarily. "What the…" He said aloud, his first spoken words of the day. Holding his left arm out further away from his face and slightly over to the side, he once again caught a glimpse at a glint coming from his hand. Rick squinted his eyes, as if trying to reset his vision, allowing for a moment before opening them again. It was still there.

A simple platinum band.

"Holy…" He couldn't complete the sentence, his surprise getting the better of him. Rick's heart rate sped up considerably with panic. He was fully awake now, the hangover the least of his concerns at the moment. The only thoughts in his mind were What happened? Was this for real?

In a panic, he looked around the room for more clues, as he began blinking wildly to accept the offending light into his vision. Shifting his gaze to the room, he did not recognize the furniture. Must be a hotel, then. A nice one, at least. He internally deduced, judging from the fancier, yet institutionalized decor he encountered in the room. Glancing over to the bedside table on his side, he spotted a stiff white page leaned up against the lamp. He could not make out the smaller print at this angle, but the large bold script printed near the top of the document further set his heart rate into overdrive.

~Certificate of Marriage~

This time, his brain had no trouble coming up with words. "Holy shit! I'm married? How? Who?"

His ran his left hand through his hair, trying to help reset his thoughts. He began to play what he could recall from earlier the night before back in his head. Things got pretty cloudy after meeting up with Kate and the guys, as they decided to celebrate closing a high profile case in an uptown hotel bar. He could remember the guys leaving, Ryan in a hurry to see Jenny, and Esposito off to meet up with Lanie, although he would never admit it to anyone. He could recall that Kate was still in the mood to celebrate, and she had asked him if he was willing to try out a new Tequila that she had recently been introduced to at a party. She told him it was like velvet. It really was.

So what happened to Kate? Was she at the wedding?

His heart lurched, as well as his stomach at the thought of hurting her, once the alcohol had worn off, and he would have to face the consequences that he may have just killed any chances of a future with his muse, once and for all. He began to mentally kick himself at his lack of self control and self respect.

Leaning more closely over to the woman's side of the bed, he reached down, grabbing her left hand by the wrist, lifting it up into the air, in an attempt to get it into his line of vision. His actions were interrupted by a slow groan of his bed mate, as his "bride" slowly made her ascent towards wakefulness, thanks to the tugging of her arm. Grasping the delicate wrist, he lifted the hand into the air, stopping when the ring finger reached his plane of vision.

He spied a delicate platinum band and a sizable diamond resting just above it, nestled onto the left ring finger of his bed mate-cum-wife's left hand. Almost in shock, Rick let the delicate hand slip from his grasp, back onto the bed beneath it, the arm slapping the mattress with a thud. This observation proved to him that this was indeed his bride, despite his hopes of this all being some sick, cruel joke.

His return to self-flagellation was cut short immediately at what he heard at that moment.

"Castle? What happened, where are we?" The groggy, yet seemingly familiar voice called to him, as lost as he was upon wakefulness.

In a near frenzied state, he turned his attention back to his somehow still-drowsy bed mate. His arm pulled out from under the previously sleeping woman, and the rush of blood caused his arm to surge momentarily with pain and the tingly nerve sensation caused by lack of blood flow. Ignoring it, he reached over and turned the mysterious woman to face him, the sheets doing little to cover her nakedness, as they slid to her waist. As if in slow motion, she pawed at the cover, but Rick put his arm over hers to get a better look at her face.

It was none other than Kate Beckett.

"Holy Shit!" Came his exclamation once again.

"Castle, why do you keep saying that?" Kate asked, her mind going through the same painful experience that her bed mate had just encountered only moments before.

Rick then noticed her sheet and looked away, ever the gentleman. "Kate, the sheet."

Kate took an extra moment, then realized he was trying to let her know she was exposed. Pulling the sheet up and tucking it under her arms, she said, "Thanks." Pausing to try and gather her words, she continued, "Castle, what are we doing here?"

Rick was flummoxed. The only thing he could think of to put into words at that moment, was "Look." He added to the command by pointing to his left ring finger and then pointing to her left hand. It took a second before she realized that he was indicating that she should look at her own hand. Lifting up her left hand, she too, was met with her own set of wedding rings. Her mouth dropped open in what Rick assumed to be shock.

"Holy Shit!" Kate said roughly, her own thoughts now in perfect alignment with the writer's.

Rick's shocked face looked at her in agreement. "Right?"

Kate tried to rapidly collect her thoughts. After a moment, she opened her mouth, moving her lips a couple of times, as if loosening them to work.

"When did this…" She asked, surprise filling her voice.

"I don't know."

"How did we…"

"Not sure of that either."

"But this can't be…"

"I don't know, but I think it is."

"But there is no way that we…" Kate tried to plod along in this half-formed discussion, until Rick once again supplied supporting information. "Kate…I think you need to see this. Here." He then reached over to the bedside table, grabbed the marriage license, and offered it to her.

Kate took the proffered document in hand carefully and read it as intently as one could when their eyes felt like they were full of broken glass. All the names were right, the date was right and they even signed it, along with an officiant of some sort. In all appearances, it seemed to be legal and valid.

Rick took in her look of shock, and as he assumed that it likely had matched his own, said, "Kate, for all intents and purposes, at least as it looks right now, we are legally married."

Kate said nothing right away, but glanced down at her lack of clothing, and then further down to her wedding rings once again. As if looking at it over again would change the outcome, she looked once again over to his ring, noting that they were a matching set. It was true. They really were married, or so it seemed. The well-used words coming forth from her mouth were the only ones that she or he could apparently muster at this development.

"Holy Shit!"

To be continued….

Thanks for taking the time to read this start of my story. I'm rating it as a "T", but that is mainly due to the small amount of language. Let me know as we go along, if you think that rating is too high. I figured I would err on the side of caution. The story is already finished, and I hope to update at least once a week, sooner, if the opportunity arises. As I said before, feedback, follows, favorites and comments are welcomed. Attacks are not. Thank you in advance for letting me know how you like this story.