Chapter 215: Everything is awesome
Beckett flicks a glance at O'Leary, then turns to Castle.
"Your mother asked to talk to me." Martha might have wanted to tell Castle herself, but Beckett's not going to lie to him on a direct question.
Castle spits beer out all over the table, and has to wipe it up. "She did what? And you went?"
"Asked to see me. And yes, I went. Right before I came here."
"My mother wanted to talk to you?" he says, dumbfounded. "She's terrified of you. Why'd she want to talk to you?"
"She hoped I'd tell her how to fix things," Beckett says baldly. Castle chokes on his beer and needs to be firmly patted on the back. He's still wheezing soggily a moment or two later.
"Fix things?" he struggles to emit.
"Fix things?" echoes O'Leary. "What's going on, Beckett? What've you done?"
"I didn't do anything!" Beckett says, indignantly.
Castle stops wheezing. "You did so," he contradicts. "You went after my mother and frightened her into fits. Twice."
"Huh?" O'Leary says. Castle explains. "Oh, I get it. You put on your best interrogation badass face. I'm surprised she can look at you. Most of the perps can't." Beckett growls. "C'mon, butterfly."
"Don't call me that."
"Butterfly," says O'Leary, mischievously. "Oof! That's not nice. Anyway, did I say as you were wrong?" He soothes the area of his midriff that Beckett had, none too gently, elbowed. "I guess you had a reason?"
"Mother didn't like moving out," Castle expands.
"Awww. That your protective side coming out again? You'll be so cute when you have kids."
Beckett spits her soda all over the table and O'Leary. "Kids?" she howls. After that she's stunned. Fortunately, this prevents her whipping out her Glock and putting two through O'Leary's head. Equally fortunately, she can't see Castle's suddenly thoughtful – and sappy – expression.
O'Leary dries himself off. "You're twenty-nine, Beckett," he says. "How come you can't drink without spitting it out? Don't most kids learn that by the time they get to kindergarten?"
She growls and mutters darkly.
"So you laid into Castle's mom, 'cause she hurt his feelings. Sounds pretty reasonable to me, from what the pair of you been tellin' me. Just don't shoot her, 'kay? I don't want my pal arrested."
Castle recovers his train of thought from small Becketts or small Ricks, with some considerable difficulty. "Why did you agree to see her?"
A fine line of colour graces Beckett's cheekbones. "I want it fixed," she says shortly, and clamps her lips together. Castle flicks an appraising glance over her, and determines that she is both viciously embarrassed and unwilling to admit why in front of O'Leary. He surmises that Beckett is not saying, very loudly to his ears, I don't like seeing Castle miserable so I'll do what I can to fix it. From O'Leary's knowing smile, he can hear it too.
"She wanted to know how to fix it. Then she asked how Dad did it. Then she asked if I thought she should go to therapy."
"What did you do?" It's O'Leary who asks.
"Told her how much she hurt you." Beckett's still talking to Castle, almost as if O'Leary hadn't been the one who spoke. "Told her that Dad just listened, and didn't argue. Told her that therapy was up to her."
"Oh," Castle says. Beckett casts him a worried look, which is met by an arm around her. "Maybe... She must be trying, to talk to you voluntarily." He smiles. "Actions speak louder than words. She's trying to show me that she means it." The smile broadens to light his whole face. "She couldn't have done anything bigger."
"Beckett, I keep telling you this. She's terrified of you. You've scared the crap out of her every time you've seen her since she was moving out. Talking to you is the last thing my mother would want to do if she didn't absolutely think that it was the only way. She couldn't have made a bigger statement if she'd announced it from the Broadway stage on opening night."
His joy is unconfined. "It's fixed," he says happily. "Sure, we'll have a few run-ins, but I really think it's fixed." He bends towards Beckett. "It's down to you, too," he murmurs, and hugs her, under O'Leary's amused eye.
"Guess you both got everythin' back on track?" O'Leary says. "'Bout time." He is the recipient of two irritated glares. "Don't look at me like that. I won't be comin' to the weddin' if you ain't nice to me."
Twin squawks assault his ears. "What?" O'Leary points out, aggrievedly. "The way you two look at each other an' that cute way you hold hands when no-one's lookin', 's obvious. Just get on with it. In fact, tell you what, we'll have a double weddin'. Me 'n Pete, an' you two."
"Gay marriage isn't legal in New York," Beckett points out. "You'll need to go to Connecticut." She remembers her argument. "And I'm not getting married just so you can do the white dress and orange blossom, O'Leary."
"Awww," he gurgles. "You have no romance." He droops pathetically, to Beckett's vocal derision.
Castle has completely dropped out of the conversation. He might have squawked, but that was more shock than disagreement, and anyway he's so pleased by his conclusions about his mother's actions that nothing else is really registering except that he should marry Beckett, upon which he'd already decided, quite some time ago, without needing O'Leary to suggest it.
Beckett is jabbing at O'Leary in order to conceal – from him – her extremely unexpected reaction to the thought of a wedding. It left a very cosy, warm feeling in her chest, but she's not telling O'Leary that. No way. Still, her hand sneaks into Castle's, where it twines into his, and holds on tightly. His fingers bend round hers in return. She's more than a little surprised, given that she's barely got her head round moving in with him (though that's a discussion she thinks they should have quite soon, if his mother is really dealt with), that she's so comfortable with the idea of marriage, but… if the wedding dress fits, wear it.
"Time I went home," O'Leary rumbles contentedly. "Pete'll be missin' me."
"Night," Castle and Beckett say in unison.
Beckett looks at the empty plate which had held nachos. "How did he do that?" she says crossly. "I didn't see him take a single bite and they're all gone." A lonely smudge of cheese and guacamole looks pathetically back at her.
Castle shrugs. "We can get more, or we can go somewhere else for dinner, or we can get takeout," he points out.
Beckett snuggles up to him, her hand still wrapped in his. Castle happily snuggles back. "Takeout," she decides. "Let's go."
"Okay," Castle agrees, more than slightly astounded, but very carefully not commenting.
Castle's loft is quiet. Alexis calls down a greeting, but admits to studying, and doesn't bounce downstairs. Nor does Castle suggest it. Takeout is ordered, delivered and eaten, and snuggling resumes on Castle's comfortable couch in his office.
"Did you mean it?" Beckett asks.
"That your mother's fixed it," she replies, somewhat ambiguously.
"Yes. You still don't get it, do you? Mother isn't keen on laying herself open to criticism, but she called you and asked to meet you, knowing you were likely to lay into her – which is just so hot, you know, when it's the bad guys – or say no. She must have really wanted to fix it." He cuddles her in. "Everything's fixed," he murmurs. "Everything."
"Yeah," Beckett agrees, wriggles round, and kisses him: first softly, and then much harder. Castle, not inclined to be passive, simply picks her up, kicks the door shut behind them on the way to his bed, and sets about proving that if everything's fixed they should simply enjoy each other.
Later, nestled against each other, nothing more needs to be said, for now.
A week or so later, after a rather impromptu late night visit to the loft, Beckett mutters darkly as she pulls her clothes back on, accompanied by a series of disgruntled complaints from Castle. Suddenly, he has an idea, and being Castle, doesn't pause for thought or breath before it moves from brain to exiting mouth.
"Um… do you think it would be easier if…um… maybe not now if you don't want to but…um… er… soon… maybe you kept some spare clothes here? Um… for spontaneous moments?"
"That what the cool kids call it? Spontaneous moments?" Beckett snarks, before what he actually said hits her brain. She stops, her shirt half buttoned, and stares at him. "You what now?"
Castle sits up in bed. "I think you should leave some spare clothes here so you don't have to get dressed and go home – er – if you don't want to, of course you can go home if you want to…"
Beckett continues to gape at him. After a prolonged silence, she closes her mouth, then opens it again. "Keep some clothes here?"
"Er… yeah? And maybe some wash products and makeup?" Castle swings his legs out of bed and aims for the closets. "See, we could make space here, and I could clear out this drawer and this shelf here" – he gestures enthusiastically, and talks faster – "and then you wouldn't be slipping out and having to wake up and get dressed and not have a proper amount of sleep." He runs down, having run out of breath.
"Okay," Beckett says. She's not that keen on having to get dressed and go, so keeping a change of clothes at the loft doesn't seem unreasonable. Just a single change, though. She's not moving in. That's… well, premature.
"But if you don't want to it's okay and – what?"
"Okay. Let's work it out at the weekend, though, rather than midnight when I have work tomorrow."
And so they do. Castle provides a space, and Beckett moves in a small amount of stuff. Enough to cover spontaneous moments, she thinks, and life progresses quite happily thereafter.
Gradually everything settles into a comfortable routine. Beckett sees her father for dinner every Sunday, murders permitting, and Castle and his mother maintain initially slightly cautious, but amicable, relations. Beckett tends not to go to the loft when Martha's due to spend time there, but she doesn't deliberately avoid her, either. Castle tells her that Martha – though not he – is seeing a therapist. Not, emphatically not, Dr Burke. Slowly, matters are approaching normal. Everyone is, in fact, content.
"Good evening, Detective Beckett. Mr Castle." Dr Burke says, one evening in late July. He is mildly surprised that Mr Castle is attending, and hopes that there have been no further difficulties occasioned by Mrs Rodgers. Dr Burke had thought, courtesy of his previous discussions with Detective Beckett over the past month or so, that all issues with Mrs Rodgers had been satisfactorily resolved.
"Hey," both Detective Beckett and Mr Castle say, as distressingly informal as they had originally been. Dr Burke observes that Mr Castle is carrying a small envelope, but assumes it to be of no significance.
"We agreed last time," Detective Beckett says, "that I'd only need ad-hoc appointments from now on."
"Indeed," Dr Burke assents. "There is no longer any reason for you to attend upon a fixed schedule." He is, in fact, most relieved that the necessity for Detective Beckett's frequent attendance is resolved. It has been a most complex and difficult case, and his navigation of its manifold issues has caused him considerable stress. In fact, he intends, now that Detective Beckett's case is resolved, to book a vacation for his wife and himself, of a relaxing nature. They have both long wished to visit Angkor Wat, being a site of immense historical interest. Such a delightful vacation will be Dr Burke's reward for his success.
"So, this is the last official time I'll see you," Detective Beckett says, otiosely, and with a smile that indicates that she could wish for no better gift than not seeing Dr Burke. It would, of course, be entirely unprofessional to reciprocate such a sentiment. Dr Burke will be perfectly content to see Detective Beckett in the future, although his extremely strong preference would be that such a meeting would involve only civic affairs.
"We thought, since you'd done so much to help us," Mr Castle puts in, "that we should give you a gift, in token of all your efforts." How extraordinary. Dr Burke is quite astonished, and almost overcome. "I don't think that this should be a problem for your ethics, since you're not treating Beckett any more."
"Thank you," Dr Burke says. Mr Castle extends the envelope to him.
"Beckett noticed that you enjoyed my books," Mr Castle says. Dr Burke is left wordless, for the first time in many years, through sheer embarrassment. "So in this envelope is a letter to my publishers, where I've arranged for a complete set of all my books, signed, of course, to be held for you." Dr Burke simply stares at him. "You just need to tell them where you'd like them sent to." Mr Castle and Detective Beckett are sporting identically malicious expressions. "I have to say, I didn't expect that you would like them, but I'm delighted that you do."
"Thank you," Dr Burke says again, pulling on professional composure to cover his indignation, which is coupled with not a little disappointment that Detective Beckett and Mr Castle have been unable to overcome childish revenge. He had thought better of both of them. He is really most upset, and would rather not have had a gift at all. Having dropped their ungracious bombshell, Detective Beckett and Mr Castle begin to leave. At the door, however, they pause again. Dr Burke's heart sinks. What new embarrassment will they cause now?
"Also in the envelope," Detective Beckett says, with a very different smile, "is a cheque made out to NARSAD. We noticed that you were a supporter. We thought" – she pauses, and both of them appear a little embarrassed – "that that would be appropriate."
Dr Burke sits down very hard in his chair, completely astonished and unable to conceal it. He has been a supporter of NARSAD for many years. "I…" he begins, "I truly appreciate that. Thank you." Not petty revenge, after all: merely a small practical joke.
"You're welcome," Mr Castle says.
"Yes," Detective Beckett adds.
They leave. Dr Burke opens the envelope. On the top is a letter from Mr Castle to his publishers. Below it is a cheque for – Dr Burke hyperventilates. A cheque for how much? How extraordinarily generous. He must write a letter of gratitude immediately. He had not anticipated that at all. He can barely believe it, and examines the cheque extremely carefully to ensure that he has not failed to identify the decimal point. He has not. He is holding a cheque for half a million dollars.
Dr Burke sits in his soothing office, pulls open his desk drawer, and ingests three chocolate cookies in quick succession. The letter of gratitude will be written first thing in the morning. He regards the cheque with utter astonishment, until he leaves for home, the cheque locked in his little-used office safe.
Another month later, half of Beckett's wardrobe has mysteriously migrated to Castle's loft, which she only discovers when she can't find her favourite summer sandals in her own apartment. She is not pleased with herself. Some moments of self-berating later, she reviews her closets and shelves and stares, astonished, at the large gaps. How did that happen without her noticing? More to the point, how come there is almost nothing of Castle's here? Shouldn't there have been a swap? This looks more like an invasion of his loft. Not that he's complaining, of course. The more time she spends there, the happier he gets; and she's not exactly finding it a hardship, either. Which is probably why her clothing has migrated.
She makes herself a soothing cup of coffee, sits on her bed and ponders the paucity of her possessions. She'd thought, weeks ago, that she wanted to move in with him, when she was ready. It looks like her clothes are already ready. She ponders a bit more. Then she adds up how many times she's stayed at the loft in the last month. Then she works out that she'd started with a night or two, but this last week, it's been four out of five so far. Her subconscious is clearly also already ready. Alexis is perfectly happy with her being there, too, and her father visits frequently.
She gulps in air, and flicks on her phone; taps Castle's speed dial.
"Beckett? I thought you were coming over later? Is everything okay?"
"Yes, yes," she says, distractedly. "Um, Castle, could you come over? We need to talk."
Beckett realises what she's said. "No, no, not like that. Nothing like that. And can you bring my red sandals? I left them at yours."
"The ones with the sexy little ankle strap?"
"Mmmmm. Are you going to wear them?"
"No. I'm going to feed them to my pet white mice, Castle. Of course I'm going to wear them."
Rather less than half an hour later, Castle arrives with the red sandals dangling seductively from one finger. He's nervous, but that dissipates as soon as he enters and Beckett stretches up and kisses him enthusiastically. Oddly, she seems a little nervous, too: slipping her hand into his and twining her fingers tightly through his. She tows him to the couch, but rather than talking, she takes her time fastening the sandals, and then examining them.
"Why'd you want me to come over, Beckett? You were already coming for dinner tonight. I guess it's understandable, though. You couldn't wait to see my handsome face and muscular body, could you?"
Beckett makes a derisive noise, but no words emerge.
"Kate, is there a problem?"
Finally she manages to release words from the prison of her throat.
"I was looking at my closets and most of my stuff is at yours and I was thinking that maybe if you wanted we could talk about me moving in because all my favourite shoes are there anyway and" –
"Move in?" –
"or I could just bring everything back here if it's too much or too soon or" –
"Absolutely not," Castle says very quickly and very firmly. "You want to move in together?"
"Yes," Beckett says, staring at her toes in their red sandals.
Suddenly she is not staring at her toes. Suddenly she has been dragged into Castle's arms and is being kissed hard. After a minute he lifts off. "I thought I'd have to ask you," he bounces. "I was going to ask you tonight." He kisses her again, in default of any more words. "I thought I'd have to kidnap the rest of your shoe collection."
"You keep your hands off my shoe collection," Beckett raps.
Castle smirks. "See, it would have worked. Now, how are we going to do this…?"
Beckett shuts him up by kissing him, after which there is no more talking, only them.
What's in a name, she thinks. She's been, and is, her father's Katie, and to herself, Kate; Castle's Kat, and the bullpen's Beckett. Everything she is, is bound up in her various names: her past, and her present, and her future.
Katie, Kate, Kat and Beckett.
And in a few moments, as she looks at her father beside her with the pride and the love shining from his face, looks down to see all her friends, their families, Castle's family: now hers too, and then at the end of the aisle Castle waiting for her, she'll add another name to all of them: Castle.
What's in a name?
Their whole life.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are finally finished. Thank you to all readers, followers, those who favourite and especially those who review, both guest and logged in. Special thanks to Hawkie, Stefi and RogueOne, all guests. It's been a long journey, and I deeply appreciate all of you who have stuck with it over a year and a half. I think I can safely promise that I will not be writing anything this long ever again.
I will continue to write for this fandom. I have some additions to the Cats universe, and I am some way into the next story: No Flag On The Play. I won't promise when that will arrive, but the Cats will be appearing over the next weeks or so. I hope to see you all there.