Prompt (writing-prompt-s): You've been dating your partner for six months. Tonight they've invited you to a work event, and as you step onto the red carpet, you realize it for the first time: you're dating a celebrity.
Their six month anniversary is next Tuesday.
Six months, and Kate isn't sure how time passed so quickly, how she feels like she's known him forever after just a few short months.
It's not the longest relationship she's had since her mother passed away, but it's definitely the most serious. Every single one before that was fleeting, meaningless, never meant to last. A way to feel a connection, something. But they would always fail sooner or later. And she knew very well who was to blame for never letting it get further than it had.
They met in the streets of New York. She was heading to a crime scene, while he was just mindlessly strolling through the streets, daydreaming. One of his habits, she would later learn. He bumped into her with full force, causing her to topple over and spill her fresh coffee, which stained her favorite beige coat.
The man wouldn't stop apologizing. He immediately pulled out tissues to help her dry her clothes as best she could, offered to replace the garment, or take it to dry cleaning, anything he could to make her forgive him.
Her repeated - and increasingly annoyed - assurance that everything was fine went ignored. And nothing was fine, anyway. The coat was new and now practically ruined, and her favorite hot bevarage was the only thing that she'd been looking forward to that day.
But at this point, she would have said anything to get this guy off her back. Sure, she thought, he was just trying to be polite. But without caffeine in her system and her bed still calling to her, his continued apologies just got on her nerves.
Even after she waved him off and continued walking in her original direction, he wouldn't stop following her, catching up with her to say sorry one more time. She just stared straight ahead, hoping that he would go away if she ignored him long enough.
But he wouldn't, just shot her guilty glances and opened his mouth every once in a while before apparently decided that another apology wouldn't make anything better. After a while, she just stopped dead in her tracks in the middle of the street. Another stranger ran into her from the back, which would have definitely made her spill her coffee – if she still had one.
Unlike the other guy currently waiting besides her, however, this stranger just growled, passed her, and kept going his merry way. But not before he glared at her.
"Please," he draws her attention back in. "Just tell me what I can do to make this up to you."
She rolled her eyes. "For the last time, I said it's fine."
"I know what you said. Except your face tells me that it's anything but fine," he commented.
Kate turned to face him, forced her lips into a smile. "There. My face says that everything is fine."
"You're not a really good actor", he commented.
"All I really want is my coffee." And with that, she resumed her walk. And he was still next to her.
"I can get you a new one?" he offered, and she huffed.
At this point, she'd finally made it to the crime scene. She knew she should have parked closer to it. Might have saved her from this conversation. And she'd probably be sipping her latte by now. Uniforms had already blocked any pedestrians from the immediate area and urged them to move on, but curious passengers still gathered along the yellow tape to catch a glimpse of the body. When an officer spotted her, he lifted it for her, dropping it back as the stranger tried to cross through it as well.
He had no choice but to stop following her.
"Maybe next time," she said sarcastically as she turned to look at him one final time.
"I'll take your word for it," he called after her.
Ryan and Esposito approached her the second she made it to the scene. After they made their jokes about her starting a new fashion trend with the brown stain on the front of her coat, they briefed her on their new case.
Routine kicked in, and soon, she'd forgotten all about that random guy from earlier.
Until the next day.
She couldn't believe her eyes when he appeared on her homicide floor. For a moment, she thought she was hallucinating. He actually already sat by her desk, greeting her with the widest grin. Friendly? Smug? A little stupid, she decided and refused to listen to the voice inside her head that told her it was attractive.
"How did you find me?" she inquired as she sat down at her desk, side eying him. She didn't have a chance to get a good look at him before, she had been too occupied trying to look elsewhere so he'd leave. Not bad looking, now that she thought about it. Friendly, faint lines around his eyes, showing her he laughed lots. Kate noticed that he noticed her observing him. Her cheeks flushed, and she quickly fixed her gaze back on the computer in front of her.
The screen was black. There was no work to do, the case from yesterday one of the easiest solves in her entire career.
Appearing busy when she wasn't. Looking for a distraction when she was tempted to look at him again.
"Your cop friends," he replied after a long pause. Kate was grateful he had spoken, because it gave her the excuse she needed to turn towards him. She raised her eyebrows. "Already knew you were with the NYPD", he shrugged.
"Good work, Sherlock, what gave it away? The police tape and cop cars at the scene?" she remarked dryly, but she couldn't quite suppress the smile that claimed her face. She bit her lips.
He gasped dramatically, eliciting another eyeroll from her. "Consider me insulted." He didn't seem insulted at all. "Well, the dead body was my next sign. Oh, and your buddies told me."
She frowned. "My buddies?"
"Yeah," he nodded. "Your cop buddies. I offered one of them my donut, and then it was all like 'oh, that's Kate Beckett, she's with the 12th'," he imitated one of the uniforms.
She pursed her lips. She was going to have to talk to her colleagues about bribery. And privacy. And giving her information out to random civilians.
"So now you're here to…. What?" she prompted.
"Take you out for coffee, of course," he replied cheerfully. He looked so pleased with himself. So happy and proud he managed to find her and take her up on her suggestion. Judging by his look, he knew she had been kidding, but he looked absolutely serious in his proposition.
Smile unwavering, he got up and looked at her expectantly. "Unless you've got work to do?" he asked and flicks his gaze to the still-black screen.
All the confidence in his stance and voice couldn't quite hide the uncertainty in his eyes. Worry that he'd pushed way too far.
Kate huffed. What the hell, she decided, and went with him. What did she have to lose? These past months have been quiet. And she was tired of quiet. She wanted loud.
The stranger's name is Rick, he informed her. Rick Rodgers. In an endless babble, he let her know that his mother named him after the musical legend. He told her that she still calls him Richard, but that he'd prefer the nickname. Unless she liked Richard better, in which case, she could use that of course. Or not.
She was surprised by how much she actually liked him within just a few minutes of chatting to him. Their conversation was easy, comfortable, and she never regretted going with him.
They headed to a coffee shop not too far from the precinct; after all, this was only her lunch break. And as they sat and talked, she found herself laughing, the first genuine laugh she managed in a long time.
"So, you already know where I work," she started and looks at him expectantly.
"Indeed I do," he confirmed with a smirk. "And it's a fascinating job, really."
She quirked an eyebrow at him. "Really?" she asked doubtfully. "You find working with dead bodies fascinating."
He chuckled. "Not working with them. Finding out what led to the dead body, that's what's fascinating. The story why there is a dead body to begin with. I find your work…. Inspiring."
She gave him a blank stare. Gruesome, dark, depressing, gross… all words that she'd heard describing her job before. Fascinating and inspiring had never been amongst the mix. Then she shook her head and snapped out of it, remembering why the subject even came up.
"Anyway," she tried again, and he leaned in, giving her his full attention. "Since you already know where I work, I think it's only fair you share that bit of information about you with me."
His eyes glinted, some kind of mischievous sparkle she didn't quite know how to interpret. She tilted her head, prompting him to reply. If that wouldn't work, she'd start applying interrogation techniques. But he just chuckled again, and replied without her having to do anything else.
"I work in publishing," was his brief response.
"Publishing, huh?" He nodded, and still didn't elaborate. "What kind of stuff do you publish?"
Rick shrugged. "The company I work for publishes all sorts of things. Books, mostly." She didn't say anything, and he continued. "Actually, I have crime stories on my desk all the time. Never one quite like yours though."
The conversation quickly moved on to other topics, and time passed by quicker than she thought.
She found that her lunch break was too short.
So were two lunch breaks. And three.
It was a relief when he finally asked if she'd accept anything besides coffee. Which she did.
It took mere days for them to cover the basics, and so she let him delve into her history faster than anyone before.
She isn't sure how he did it, but he crushed the wall she built up over years in just a few weeks, uncovered her well-hidden secrets and fears within the first two months of knowing him.
She expected that he'd run away as soon as he realized how damaged she was, but he never resented her, never pulled away.
Instead, she found strength in Rick's presence, and some of his optimism slowly rubbed off on her. A world that was grey for years was suddenly infused with just a bit of color. And then some more. She can't wait for the day when it's vibrant again.
And slowly – no, who was she kidding, there was nothing slow about it – she fell in love with him. That giddiness she always feels when she sees him, the excitement she can feel in her entire body, is something she hasn't felt since she was a teenager experiencing butterflies in her stomach for the first time.
He dropped by the precinct sometimes. Occasionally he asked about cases, listened attentively to everything she told him, even asked for small details she deliberately left out so he wouldn't be bored. Sometimes, he offered helpful hints – or ridiculous theories that made her roll her eyes, but smile stupidly as soon as she was sure he couldn't see it.
When her schedule allowed for it, she visited him at his office at Black Pawn, the company he worked for. His door was usually open, all distractions welcome ("really anything that gives me an excuse not to work for a moment"). Sometimes she just stood there for a bit, watched him as he stared at his screen intently, so concentrated and focused.
It's the same focus he always had when his hands were flying across the keyboard – editing, or writing an e-mail to authors, co-workers, other companies she assumed. In those moments, it was hard to grab his attention, even when she stopped silently observing and entered his office, the sound of her heels loud on the hardwood floors. He jumped once she was right next to him, placing a kiss to his cheek.
And his eyes lit up every time.
One time, she saw him frowning at his computer, rubbing his forehead, typing for just a few seconds before hitting the delete button with force. He groaned and muttered curses under his breath, and she'd never seen him this frustrated.
"Did the writer make a lot of mistakes?" she tried to lighten the mood, and his head whipped up. "Or is a co-worker being difficult?"
He forced his lips to curve upward, but she could tell the smile was strained. "Nah, the writer is definitely the issue."
"Anything I can do to help?"
This time, his smile was genuine. "You've already helped. So much."
She looked puzzled, but with that dorky grin she loved so much, Kate really didn't care that she didn't understand what he meant.
It's not quite their anniversary yet, but he's invited her to a 'special event' that takes place the Friday before.
He promised to take her on a proper date when the day rolls around, and there are things she's got planned as well that do not include an audience.
But for now, he has work obligations. Though they're more fun this time, and he won't be sitting hunched over a laptop for hours. He asked her if she'd accompany him to a slightly more fancy event, a chance to catch a glimpse of a more glamorous lifestyle that includes cocktail dresses and suits in the work attire.
"What kind of event is it anyway?" she inquires while he's over at her place the day before. "I know you said fancy, but still. What am I wearing this to?" she asks and gestures at the blue cocktail dress he brought over for her.
Kate protested when he handed it to her, something about being able to pick out her own outfit, but after checking her own closet, she realized it had been a lie. She was grateful. He probably knew she didn't have anything for the occasion.
"Book release party," he replies and hands her an invite.
Master of the Macabre – Richard Castle presents his newest mystery novel.
"No way," she comments after the read the author's name.
His brow furrows. "You don't wanna come anymore?"
"Of course I do. Just pretty sure he," she emphasizes and waves the invite around, "doesn't."
Rick narrows his eyes at her. "What makes you so sure?"
She walks over to the couch where he's sitting, observing her with curiosity. She drops down next to him. "Because," she explains. "He's a private person."
"So he's never shown his face publicly. All the interviews he gives - not that there are many to begin with - none of them have pictures. There isn't even one in the booksleeves. None on his website."
His eyes widen at that. "And you know this how?"
"Well," she murmurs. And she points over to her shelves. Rick doesn't see what she is referring to. He's seen the books before, skimmed through a few of the titles to have an idea of what kind of stuff she enjoyed reading in her free time. He'd never gone through every single one.
She points to the bottom right hand corner. Rick doesn't know how he could have missed it. Every single Castle book, in order of appearance.
He actually laughs out loud. "Hey," she scolds him with a push against his arm. "Don't mock me."
"So you're a fan?" He winks, coaxing an eyeroll.
"Of the genre."
"Look," she begins, trying to divert she conversation away from her. "I'm just saying, this would be his first public appearance. And from what you've told me so far, there'll be press. And pictures. He won't be able escape that."
"And a red carpet," he adds.
"Exactly, a…," Kate stops. "Wait what?"
"Red carpet," he repeats. "It's a big party."
Her heartrate increases drastically. A red carpet. A spot where all attention is on whoever walks it. A place for celebrities. So not for them, certainly not for her. "There's another entrance, right?"
Rick shoots her an apologetic smile.
"Oh my god. Oh no, Rick, no," she hisses. "I can't."
"Hey," he hears his soothing voice as he pulls her into an embrace. "It'll be fine. You'll be great. You already look like a model, might as well be treated like one."
"If Richard Castle can do it, so can you," he jokes, and she giggles.
Maybe he's right. After all, it'd probably just be a quick walk down a red piece of fabric. No one cares about her. And although she knows how hard he works, probably few actually care about the editor or publisher. Would there even be that much attention on them? Won't they all be there for the star of the night? Maybe there would be one picture, just to make sure they won't miss out on photographing anyone important. A picture that will be on file and never used anywhere. So really, no need to make a big deal out of it.
"Alright," she mutters her agreement into his shoulder. He squeezes her tighter.
"Thank you," he whispers into her hair.
She feels giddy with excitement, like she's about to be picked up for her first prom by that senior she's had a crush on for forever.
Except she's an adult now, but that doesn't quell the nerves – oh god, she's actually nervous. She is an adult, a homicide detective, and here she is, chewing her lip and checking her reflection at every chance she gets.
Rick is supposed to pick her up any minute now. Right before she begins to impatiently tap her foot, she hears his knock on the door.
She practically runs over and yanks the door open.
"Hey." She sounds breathy.
"Hey." His voice cracks as looks her up and down. "Wow."
Her eyes take a sudden interest in the floor as she tries to control the blood flooding her cheeks. Get it together, Kate.
"Ready?" he asks and holds out an arm to her.
She doesn't respond, just nods and laces her arm through his, leaning into his side.
They ride the elevator down, talking in their usual comfortable manner. Rick holds the door open for her as they step out into the street.
Then she freezes.
"What's wrong?" he questions, already walking to the car and turning around to look at her.
No, not a car. A limousine. It's shiny and black, it's catches every bit of light even in the darkness, reflects it back and makes it sparkle.
There is a driver, but when he jumped out to open the door, Rick shewed him back to the driver's side.
She is gaping. "What is that?"
"A limousine," he answers with confidence, but then he kind of deflates. "Is it… is it too much?"
Kate is still too stunned. She knows he is well off, the loft and his expensive gadgets are indication enough, but she didn't expect this. Then again, she also didn't expect to be walking a red carpet. She reckons it might just be appropriate for the party.
She takes a moment to gather herself, to regain the composure she so easily lost. He's still watching her carefully, unsure of whether to approach or give her a minute. And she still hasn't said anything.
"Wow," she finally gets out.
His relieved laughter fills the air, echoes from the surrounding buildings.
She takes three more steps and climbs inside, Rick following shortly after and slamming the door shut.
She feels very out of place as the vehicle glides through the streets, and she's back to chewing her lips.
He seems to sense her growing unease and gently brushes his thumb across the back of her hand in calming circles.
"You'll be fine," he whispers into her ear, and his breath brushing her skin makes her tingly.
"I know, I'm with you," she murmurs without thinking. She didn't intend for the words to carry so much weight, but she realizes she means it. He's already seen her broken, and he always helped her mend. With him around, she knows that everything will turn out okay.
In his presence, she feels safe, protected – which is ironic, considering she is the one with a gun.
Kate closes her eyes and just enjoys being with him right now. She almost dozes off with her head against his shoulder. It almost escapes her notice, but then she feels that the hand he placed on her arm is clammy. Her right ear is pressed into his shoulder, and she can hear his heart racing. Quicker and stronger than normal. His breathing quickens.
"Hey." She raises her head and turns towards him, catching his eye. "You okay?"
"I'm with you," Rick tries to echo her words from earlier, but she just gently shakes her head. When he realizes she will wait for him to explain, his head drops back against the headrest with a sigh. "I might have bit off more than I can chew," he admits.
"What do you mean?"
The limousine slows. "We're here," the driver announces. "Let me get the door." He jumps out. The tinted windows protect them from sight, but she can already see the flashing lights outside. More than one photo, then.
"Look," she says, turning to him. "You'll be fine. We'll both be fine. We're doing this together."
Rick shoots her a tentative smile. "Like partners?"
"Partners," she confirms.
And then the door is opened.
She wasn't prepared. Not in the slightest. But one look at him tells her that he wasn't either.
Kate is stunned. The screams from photographers, and interviewers, all so loud that it sounds as though they're standing next to a roaring engine. The never-ending flashes disorient her.
She tries to make out individual voices, hoping to make sense of the situation she finds herself in, to ground herself back in reality.
"CASTLE" is the chant she can make out the most. "CASTLE, OVER HERE," another reporter yells over the masses. "RICHARD CASTLE!" She carefully turns around, seeing only a woman in front of them entering the building they're headed towards, no one behind them.
There is no one but them, nobody else they could be calling out to.
Her eyes shoot up at him. His jaw has unclenched slightly, and he tries for a smile, looking around the crowd lining the carpet.
"Castle!" another voice calls, and Rick turns towards it.
"It's him!" "What made you decide to go public?" "What can be expect from the new Derrick Storm?" "Are you working on anything else?" "Who is your friend?" Her head is spinning.
But he no longer looks over to the reporters yelling the questions. Instead, his eyes find hers. He smiles apologetically.
She narrows her eyes at him. She isn't mad, she's just… confused, still not sure if she understands correctly. But she must be, because the cameras don't stop flashing, and the reporters don't stop shouting.
"Inside," he says as if he's reading her mind. "I'll actually have a chance to hear you there."
"Rick!" a blonde woman calls. She strides towards them.
"Sorry, it's not every day a bestselling author finally reveals his face. I tried to keep press to a minimum, but you know…"
"Yeah," he says. "I figured."
"I know you're probably a bit uncomfortable, but just pose for a couple of pictures, and I'll get you inside."
He gives the woman a curt nod and moves further down the carpet, automatically pulling her with him with the hand he clings on so tightly. Rick looks at her, lips pressed together.
"Look, I'm sure Gina can already get you inside. You don't have to do this," he assures her, and loosens his grip.
"No." She holds on. "I said we're doing this together."
Because she might feel out of place, but he looks so lost, so insecure, and she is not planning on leaving him to fend for himself.
He mirrors the smile that has creeped onto her face. After a moment, he straightens up a bit. After a minute, that sparkle she loves so much returns to his eyes. After two, he pulls her in, drapes his arm around her waist, making the photographers go wild. After three, Gina is back with them, ushering them towards the entrance.
"Well done," Gina applauds with a pat on his back. Once they're inside, the deafening roar is nothing more than a soft mumble in the background.
Kate looks up at him only to find him already staring at her.
"I'm sorry," he apologizes before she can even get a word out. "I should have warned you."
"Yeah," she puffs.
"Are you mad?" he asks and turns so he can look at her properly. His forehead wrinkles, his eyes are filled with worry.
Her expression softens. "No, Rick, I'm not mad. Just confused." She tucks a strand of hair behind her ear that has fallen in front of her face. "I wish you would have warned me."
"I could have," he admits.
"Why didn't you?" she shoots back.
"I was worried."
"Worried about what?"
Rick sighs. "Didn't wanna scare you off," he mumbles. "I don't do these things," he says and gestures towards the entrance. "Never have. Never planned to."
"What changed your mind?"
He shrugs. "I guess I just thought it was time. I was tired of hiding behind a pen name. Tired of hiding from you."
She laughs. "You know you could have told me without throwing me or yourself in front of the press."
He smirks, tension slowly disappearing from his face. "Where's the fun in that?"
Kate playfully smack his side and he bursts into gleeful laughter. He tugs her with him, properly entering the venue. Almost immediately, they're surrounded by work colleagues asking all about the book she hasn't read yet, expressing their frustration with him for killing off Derrick Storm.
Her hand lets go of his, fingers flying up to her ears as if that could make her un-hear that bit of information.
Of course he notices. As does everyone else around them.
"Spoiler alert?" he tries.
"Oh, so she's a fan?" Gina inquires.
"Of the genre," he replies jokingly. She gives up and drops her hands.
"I'm not sure I can forgive you for not warning me this time," she hisses. "Why'd you kill him?!"
His lips curve upward. "I'll explain later."
The rest of the evening is pleasant, fun even. Since he officially revealed himself to the world, every few minutes a colleague comes over to congratulate him. Or one of the few reporters with VIP access, who Gina sends to the other side of the room as soon as she spots them, holding them off with the promise of a brief Q&A later on.
"Can't believe you think my job is fascinating when you've got this," she jokes and motions around the room, filled with people sneaking a glance at him at every chance they get. She's on her third glass of wine, and the alcohol calms her nerves, distracts her from the fact that more or less everyone's eyes are on him the entire evening. And since he refuses to leave her side, they're on her too.
"I'd have nothing to write about without your job," he states. "Or without you," she hears, but before she can come back to that, Gina drags him over to a small stage that has been set up. Kate sticks to the back of the group, watching him as he stands there like a statue with a mic he grips so firmly his knuckles turn white.
"Richard Castle will now be taking your questions for the next thirty minutes", the blonde woman informs the crowd. At first, everybody shouts out their question simultaneously, causing him to whip his head from right to left, unsure of whose to listen to first. Thankfully, Gina takes charge, picking out individuals and handing them her mic.
He masters the questions fired at him surprisingly well. And, as time goes on, he becomes more confident, slowly turns more into the man she knows. He looks particularly pleased when he makes one of his stupid jokes, and the audience rewards him with cheers and laughter.
"Final question!" It takes a moment for the blonde to choose the lucky interviewer. When he is handed the microphone, silence falls across the room.
"What now? Any new projects in mind?"
Rick's eyes scan the crowd, until they land on her. He smiles. "Yes, actually. I'm pleased to announce Black Pawn has already approved my proposal of a new series with an entirely new character. But I won't give too much away just yet. For tonight, let's focus on honoring Derrick Storm one last time."
He steps down from the podium to thundering applause. Immediately, he makes his way over to her.
"How did I do?"
"You were great," she smiles and hands him a glass of champagne.
"Thanks," he breathes and swiftly downs more than half of the content in one go. "I needed that."
Kate chuckles. "Ready to face your audience again?" she teases, and points to a group of people approaching him, remaining some distance away from him so as not to disturb, but close enough to show they are waiting to talk to him.
He drinks the rest of the champagne before turning around, whispering "get me another" before he goes over to greet his guests.
He, Rick Rodgers, or Richard Castle, or whatever everyone wants to call him now, was the center of attention all night. And since she was within close proximity the entire time, she was too.
Their faces ached from smiling so much, their hands were sticky from shaking everybody else's. And she's pretty sure half her makeup disappeared from one of her cheeks where he kept placing chaste kisses. That part she didn't mind so much.
They go back to her place, giving her the feeling of normalcy again. They fall into bed straight away. She curls into his side, tracing lazy circles over his torso and he hums. She can't hold back a ridiculous giggle, too loud in the dark room.
"Are you okay?" He looks at her with concern.
Maybe it's the wine. Or the champagne. Or the combination of both. Maybe it's the red carpet, or having to smile for hours on end, or because this entire evening still feels surreal to her.
"I'm dating a celebrity," she manages to get out before breaking into another fit of giggles.
Rick grunts. "Don't call me that. I just write."
"Rick, please. After everything that happened today, you can't deny you're quite famous. You're a constant bestseller." He doesn't say anything. "So," she singsongs, trying to change topics slightly. "Who's the new character?"
He laughs. "What makes you think I'm going to tell you before anyone else?" he teases. He lays back and crosses his arms behind his head, pretending to not pay any more attention to her.
Kate grins. Challenge accepted. She leans over, kisses his cheek. "Well, maybe…" She gently brushes her lips to the side of his neck. "I could," she whispers, sealing her lips to his, "convince you?" Her voice is sultry, luring him.
"Not fair," he protests, his voice hoarse, before fusing their mouths again. She presses her body closer to his. "Fine," he relents. "I'm writing about a homicide detective."
Even in the barely-lit bedroom, she can see the love pouring out his gaze as he continues speaking. "She's gonna be really smart. Kinda savvy. Really good at her job. Haunting good looks." She can't help it, she kisses him again. "You're my inspiration."
"I'm flattered," she says honestly, slowly climbing on top of him. All exhaustion has left her suddenly. She just wants to spend the rest of the night showing him how much she loves him, how lucky she is to have him in her life.
"I'm gonna have to do character research," he breathes out.
She rolls her hips. "That can be arranged. What are you gonna call her?"
He snickers. "No kiss and tell." She looks disappointed. "But I'll give you a hint," he offers as he moves beneath her. "You're really living up to her name right now."
She can't really suppress the moan that escapes her.
"You better not give her a stripper name," she groans, but she forgets everything about it when he flips her over and pins her beneath him.
When she sees his first draft and spots the name, she nearly slaps him. When the cover art is released, she snaps at him.
And when they make up at night, she has to admit the name is kind of growing on her.