Disclaimer: The only part of Castle that I own is the TV on which I watch the show.
A/N Because I am a sap and couldn't let them go after "No Exit."
It has been five weeks since Beckett moved into the loft. Castle knows that she needs some time alone, and he's happy to give it to her. She usually spends it reading in the secret lair, or NPR, as she invariably refers to it now, the Not-Panic Room. He likes to write in his office when she's doing that; it tickles him that she's just on the other side of a secret panel, right behind him. Sometimes—like right now, a cold, damp Saturday afternoon—he texts her while she's in there.
"Want some coffee?"
"You know I can make myself some in here."
"Coffeemaker out here is better."
"This an excuse to stop writing?"
"Partly. But also to see you."
"Okay. Yes, I'd like some."
A few minutes later he's walking into the room. "Mind if I stay a minute?"
"Of course not," she says, putting her book down and patting a hand on the space next to her. "Come join me."
He hands her a mug and puts his on a shelf, climbs onto the bed and sits next to her. "I've been meaning to ask you. Isn't the armchair a better place to read? It's incredibly comfortable and it has the little table next to it and the ottoman so you can put your feet up."
"Probably. But I like this bed better."
He's almost sure he knows why, but he wants to hear her say it, so he's going to ask. "Because?"
"Because it's where I read your love letters."
He tilts sideways and kisses her cheek. "Aww."
"Yeah," she says, still a little bashful almost eleven months after she had found them.
"You know what what makes me happy about you reading in here while I'm working in my office?"
"Mmm?" she says, looking at him.
"We're like Pyramus and Thisbe," he says cheerfully.
"Are you kidding?" She looks indignant. "They were doomed lovers. They died, Castle."
"I know, I know. It's not that part. It's that they were communicating with each other on opposite sides of the same wall, just like us. Don't you think that's cool? Besides, in the myth Pyramus was totally handsome and Thisbe was drop-dead gorgeous. Maybe I shouldn't have said 'drop-dead.' Anyway, she was gorgeous."
Now it's her turn to lean sideways, as she puts her head on his shoulder and takes hold of his hand. "That's another thing that I love about you, Castle. You're the only person I know who could think optimistically about Pyramus and Thisbe."
"You're probably right. And on that sunshiny note, I'll leave you to your book. What are you reading, by the way?"
She holds it up so he can see.
"Is that what I think it is? Anna Karenina, in Russian?"
"Oh, very cheery. I'm going back to my office to write, where I will not have Nikki Heat throw herself under a train."
"Good," she says, kissing his hand. "Don't forget your coffee. See you later."
Reinstalled at his desk, he's not throwing Nikki Heat under a train, but he's not doing much else, either. All he can think about is tomorrow. Alexis is on a class trip to Washington and won't be back until Tuesday night. He's been working on his plan all week, and Beckett doesn't suspect a thing. He's sure of it; he reads her really well now. Oh, he can't wait. He bounces in his chair.
The weather is vile on Sunday, and he can tell that she's feeling a little antsy. They go out for a late breakfast, and when she's almost bouncing on the banquette after drinking her third cup of excellent coffee, he says, "I know a great way to work off that excess energy of yours."
"I'm sure you do, Castle, but we're in a public place."
"You have a filthy mind, Beckett."
"Takes one to know one."
"Yeah, well, what's on my mind is skating indoors at Sky Rink. That'd be fun, right? You could teach me some fancy moves. Or really, any moves at all. I have none on ice, other than falling down on my butt pretty regularly."
"You're a good sport, Castle," she says with a grin. "I love your idea. Now finish that waffle so we can go do some bladework."
They're at the rink for a couple of hours, and he does indeed often land on his butt, but she always helps him up. More important, they do indeed have fun and she does indeed work off a lot of excess energy. They spend the rest of the day puttering around, and making a winter stew. They've just finished dinner when he smacks himself on the forehead. "Dammit," he says. "Dammit, dammit, dammit. I completely forgot."
"What?" she says, taking a final swipe at the counter with the sponge.
"When you say 'uh' like that, it's not good."
"Same thing when you say 'well' like that. So, what did you forget?"
"That I was supposed to send an outline for the next five chapters to Gina by the end of today."
"How could you forget that?"
"It's called repression. Something with which you're very familiar."
"Really?" she says, dropping the sponge into the sink. "Me? Very familiar?"
He walks over and hugs her from behind. "You repressed your feelings for me for a loooooong time," he says.
"You don't think I've made up for that?" she says, tilting her head back to glare at him, not convincingly.
"You can make up for it forever, Beckett. No such thing as too much making up." He steps away. "Regrettably, I now have to chain myself to my computer and write. You wouldn't want to read, would you? In the NPR?"
"You saying you want me to be Thisbe for a while? Is that it? Without actually dying, of course, since you have such a rosy take on that story."
He smiles in a way that gets in her the gut and always will. "Would you? I really do work better that way. There's something about knowing you're in there, on the other side. Mysterious but accessible. The paradox that is you."
"God, what a line," she says. "You're lucky that I'm in a particularly good spot in Karenina, so sure, I'll read in there instead of out here." She picks up her book from the coffee table, and the two of them head for his office. "Good luck," she says, as she steps through the panel.
"Won't need it with you there," he says, and she rolls her eyes for only the second time that day.
When she realizes that she has read more than fifty pages and worked up a thirst for coffee, she gets up from the Murphy bed to make some, only to discover that the bag is all but empty. Huh. She could have sworn it was at least half full. She'll just go out to the kitchen and make it. Besides, Castle's probably ready for some, too; he has a long night ahead of him.
She gets her phone from her pocket and enters the code that activates the panel. Nothing happens. That's odd. She tries again. No dice. One more time. Nada. She texts Castle.
"Can't get out, Castle. Can you open the door for me, please?"
No reply. Ten minutes, no response. Maybe he didn't hear the chirp. She calls, but he doesn't pick up, so she leaves a voicemail. Ten more minutes and she's getting ticked off, so she tries the landline, which he never mutes. But he also doesn't answer. Now she's beginning to worry, and anxiety starts dueling with annoyment. She texts again, and uses the urgent setting.
"CASTLE. IF YOU DON'T RESPOND RIGHT NOW I'M GETTING TWENTY GUYS OVER HERE IN RIOT GEAR."
That does it. "You can't open the door?"
"No. Let me out of here, please. There's no coffee in here."
"Lightning strikes twice, huh?"
"Open the damn door."
She's going to kill him. He's up to something. Wait, son of a bitch!
"You changed the password, didn't you?"
"I'm sure you'll figure it out."
"If you don't tell me I will wear flannel pajamas, buttoned to the neck, for the rest of my life. And granny panties."
Her phone rings.
"Okay. Here's the thing. I made you a little treasure hunt. With clues and everything."
"Yes, because you're the best detective I know. And the only one I love."
And now she's not pissed off any more, just happy. "That's what love does to me," she mumbles to herself. "Okay," she says, aloud. "Where will I find these clues?"
"First one's in the top desk drawer. I'm going to hang up now. Call me when you're ready."
She opens the drawer, which has nothing in it but a manila file folder. Inside are pictures of three people: Will Rogers, Will Smith and Will Ferrell. That's it. Huh? She calls him.
"Got it, Castle."
"The pictures. Will, Will and Will."
"You just need one."
"One? One Will?"
"Right. Wanted to make sure you got it."
"I got it."
"Good. Go find your second clue."
"On the book shelf." He hangs up.
It takes her a few minutes to discover it, because she assumes it's inside one of the books. But the little object catches her eye, and she knows that she's never see it before. It's a tiny silver sheep, in exquisite detail. It's about the size of her fingernail, but the fleece is clearly etched, and the hooves. She calls him again.
"A sheep, Castle? It's gorgeous."
"Not just a sheep."
"I may not have grown up on a farm, but it looks like a sheep to me."
"It's a female sheep."
"Oh." Oh. Right. "A ewe?"
"You have another clue for me?"
"Think tee shirts. Bye."
Tee shirts? Tee shirts. He used to have a bunch of tee shirts in here. He'd found her in one of them, that night. There's a little buzz in her brain. She mentally shoos it away. It comes back, a little louder. She tries ignoring it; the decibels are higher and she feels a little light-headed.
Could it be that? No.
Check the time. Eleven fifty-four. In six minutes it will be midnight. In six minutes it will also be Valentine's Day. She'd thought that his writing excuse was the tiniest bit contrived, but she'd dismissed it. Maybe she shouldn't have. Okay, okay, so it's almost Valentine's Day. But the clues. The buzzing, the buzzing.
She walks tentatively to the cabinet and slowly opens the fourth drawer. There's a tee shirt inside, one new tee shirt, and nothing else. It's a beautiful striped, long-sleeved one in the softest cotton, just the kind she likes to wear in late spring and early fall. She recognizes the pattern, the ribbing on the cuffs and the neckline. Unmistakable. There's a tiny card pinned to it: "Forget the kko."
Marimekko. It's a Marimekko tee shirt. She knew it. Her knees are shaking so hard that she falls to her knees, on the floor. She checks her phone. One minute to go. She doesn't trust her voice, so she texts.
There's no reply, but she watches the panel and in a few seconds it opens. There he is.
That's what he says, "Hey." It's how they've always greeted each other, almost from the beginning. It's the perfect thing for him to say. Hey. She'll never understand why, but she's crying. He's turned her into a crier, a happy crier. "Will ewe marime? Will you marry me? Will I marry you?"
"I think I'm the one who's supposed to be on my knees, Beckett," he says. He drops down on one knee, right in front of her, and holds out a ring.
She hugs him with such force that she knocks them both over. "Yes, I will, Castle. Yes. Yes." And she kisses him and whispers, "Hey."