Fear of Falling
Det Rick Rodgers was handsome, sexy, funny and unquestionably Kate Beckett's favorite among her coworkers. Their two year partnership led to her calling him a friend-more so, if he was interested, but that was the problem: he seemed to be interested in every available female-except her. For Castle Ficathon 2017
A/N: There are 10 chapters.
"Okay, okay—settle down everyone." Captain Montgomery cleared his throat and the twenty people surrounding him hushed their conversations in anticipation of his speech. "Don't worry, I'm not going to make this long or drawn out, but I would like everyone to join me and raise their glass in congratulations to Detective Rodgers and his team for their triple arrest today. The streets of New York are certainly safer tonight because of them."
The man of the hour stepped up beside his superior and gave a gracious nod. "Thank you, Captain, but I could not have done this without my colleagues Detectives Beckett, Ryan, and Esposito. They absolutely deserve…almost as much credit as I do." A smirk crossed his face and he watched as their captain chuckled. "I'm kidding; I'm kidding—of course every member of our team is important especially my lovely co-team leader." He nodded to the lone female of the group and she dipped her chin briefly in acknowledgement.
The captain raised his glass and scanned his eyes over the group from the Twelfth precinct who had made their way to McGill's that night to celebrate. "Hear, hear!"
Rick Rodgers took a sip out of his beer then reached out his hand to shake the captain's hand. Despite what his father accused him of, he truly did not do his job solely for the accolades and nights of free drinking at the bar. Sure, recognition was nice, particularly since they had made one hell of an arrest that morning, but he didn't get up every morning and pick up his badge and gun with the intent of being praised.
Then again, he thought as he caught a glimpse of a blonde woman towards the end of the bar giving him an ever-growing smile, maybe some praise and recognition was warranted. He had removed three drug-dealer-slash-murderers from the street and that deserved to be celebrated, didn't it? Plaques and badges he didn't need, but a night with a beautiful woman? Well, he'd never say no to that.
"Twenty says he walks out of the bar with that one in the next ten minutes."
"No way! It'll take him at least fifteen to close the deal."
"How do you figure that?"
"He'll want at least one more free drink from her before they leave."
Kate Beckett clicked her tongue with disapproval. She gazed across the high-top table at her colleagues with narrowed eyes and said, "You guys are almost as disgusting as he is."
Ryan and Esposito turned around to face her, clearly borderline offended. "We are not!"
She hummed into her beer bottle. "Yes, you are. You play into his delusion that leaving a bar alone is something shameful; you egg him on."
Esposito shrugged helplessly. "We're guys—it's what we do."
Kate sighed and finished off her drink before tapping her fingers along the edge of the bottle. Unfortunately, she had no basis for argument against Espo's point. She came face to face with the differences in behavior between men and women nearly every minute of every hour of her working career. Such was the curse of not only being a woman in a male dominated industry, but having her desk butted up against three of those said males; her teammates.
Really, most days it wasn't so bad. She could appreciate most of the sports talk and they kept the sexual innuendos pretty well in check while she was around them. Their highly sexualized tendencies only became bothersome when they went out after work, which was not all that often mostly because she didn't like to watch the show Rodgers put on while he was peacocking and hoping to score. Esposito was right—he probably wasn't behaving any worse than any ordinary male would. His act just happened to bother her…well, because of that little feeling inside her gut she desperately tried to forget was there: jealousy.
Rick Rodgers was handsome, sexy, funny, and one hell of a good cop. He was unquestionably her favorite among her three partners and the one she chose to share a car with without any hesitation. Their two year partnership had certainly had its rocky moments, but they'd made it through and she easily called him a friend—more than a friend, if he was interested, but that was actually the problem: Rick Rodgers seemed to be interested in any reasonably attractive single female in the city—except her.
And, okay, rationally she knew that sleeping with her partner was probably a really bad idea, because there were only a million ways for it to go horribly, horribly wrong, but it wasn't just sexual acts she was interested in; he didn't even flirt with her! And he flirted with everyone! Including men! (Well, not always men, but sometimes…) And, god, she hated how petty that was of her. She had never been the type to want a man to flirt with her to make her feel special, but something about Rick Rodgers made her want it even though it didn't make any sense at all.
"Yo Beckett, you want another?"
"Wha—ah, oh yeah." Kate stammered after being pulled from her own musings. She forced her gaze away from the man grinning at the blonde at the corner of the bar and turned towards Ryan. "Yeah, I'll take another; thanks."
Staring down at his phone with a knitted brow, Rick felt his stomach flip with a mixture of irritation and disappointment. He should have known. It wasn't shocking—expected, actually—but yet somehow it blindsided him every time. Every single time.
How could a text message cut so deep? Leave it to Jackson Hunt to perfect that kind of skill.
The soft voice of his partner pulled Rick from his contemplation. He flipped the phone over so none of the display would show, forced a smile across his face, and turned to face her. Her cheeks were a bit rosy and her eyes far more brown than green in that particular moment, but they sparkled a bit nonetheless. He felt the tension in his shoulders melt away at her presence as it often did so he breathed out an easy, "Hey Kate; having a good evening?"
She shrugged. "'s fine. What about you? Thought you'd be long gone by now with what's-her-name."
"Oh." So she'd seen him with the blonde—Melody. Not that shocking since McGill's was a rather compact establishment.
She gave him a patronizing expression and folded her arms over her chest. "Couldn't get her to commit?"
He let out a breathy laugh. "Ah, no, no she invited me back to her place—right before she asked if I was allergic to cats. Apparently she has four." Kate cringed and he continued with. "Yeah, I wasn't really in the mood for that level of crazy."
She hummed. "I thought crazy people were a-may-zing in bed."
He gave her a side glance, knowing she was mocking something he had said once. Well, probably more than once. Not much in the mood for joking after his father's text, he merely gave a noncommittal, "Yeah, well…"
She tapped his arm with the back of her hand and said, "C'mon Rodgers; I'm just teasing you. What's the matter? Are you really that disappointed about Blondie?"
A bit too exhausted to come up with a better excuse, he merely flipped his phone over and nudged in her direction. The text message conversation was still displayed on the screen so she was easily able to read the last message and she chose to do so aloud.
"'Heard about your latest bust. Hope all your paperwork's in order; a screw up this big could end your career.'"
He sighed, held up his beer bottle, looked down the neck to see if any remained inside, and then tipped it over to let the last few drops fall on his tongue. "One time and you're branded for life, I guess."
The worst part was: the mistake that had been made wasn't even his. Yes, as the lead detective he was responsible for those beneath him, which was why he ultimately took responsibility for the paperwork screw up that led to a murderer going free. As far as mishaps went, it was a minor one: a few wrong data points on the warrant. Hell at least they had a warrant, but it wasn't enough; the killer still got off on the technicality and his perfect, never-screwed-up-a-day-in-his-life father never—never—let him live it down. Over two years had passed, but Rick imagined in two decades they'd still be having the same conversation points and he hated it.
Kate's gentle hand landed on his bicep as she placed the phone back in front of him. "I'm sorry."
Rick shrugged, picked up the phone, and slid it into his pants pocket. "Oh well you know—he wouldn't have the reputation of FBI's biggest badass if he took it easy on his own son." Successful FBI agent not to mention highly decorated NYPD detective before he was recruited—yes, Hunt was legendary for many things and being a kind, gentle soul was not among them.
"Well, uh, there's got to be some girl here in this bar who can take your troubles away, right?" Kate suggested, though the half-laugh she gave was a fake one, he could tell. "I know Ryan and Espo are gone but, uh, I could try and be your wingman."
He laughed and pushed himself away from the bar stool. "Well as much as I'd like to see that happen, I don't think so, Beckett. I'm just going to head out."
She nodded and began to follow him. "I, ah, I'd actually just come over to say goodbye; I'm calling it a night too."
"Then I'll walk you to your subway station."
They stepped out into the cool night air and walked to the next street corner in a comfortable silence. Before they could turn and go downtown, a loud group of typical New Yorkers with absolutely no concept of sidewalk courtesy began to shove their way by. Rick instinctively grabbed on to Kate's elbow and pulled her body closer to his as he pressed himself up against the window of a closed deli to wait for the group to pass. Once they had, she muttered out a thank you and they continued on their way.
"Can I, ah, as you something weird?"
"The weirder the better," he replied, hoping for a distraction from the uncomfortable feeling in his gut.
"Why have you never tried to sleep with me?"
Rick's feet came to a halt from the pure shock of the question. It wasn't until she turned and faced him with an expectant expression that he croaked out, "What?"
"You heard me."
"Wha—I, uh…why would you ask that?"
She shrugged and then kept walking at a pace that he had to scurry to keep up with. "I'm a little bit drunk and I'd like to know. Is it because I'm not blonde?"
"Obviously not." He replied quickly. Yes, he did favor blondes, but certainly not as a rule and had enjoyed the company of many brunettes and redheads in his bed.
"So then why?"
He groaned and grumbled while trying to think of an appropriate answer. Truthfully, no one had ever asked him that question before and he struggled with a reasonable response. Why hadn't he tried to sleep with her? He found her attractive, certainly, but there was just something about her that screamed "off limits" in his mind—and had since the day they met. "Well, for starters, we're coworkers and that's never a good idea."
"You slept with Hastings."
He—oh. Right. He had done that. "That's different—she's not on our team," he said as his only defense. Sleeping with Hastings had turned out okay since apparently all she was interested in was one roll in the hay to get him out of her system—which she had literally said to him as she was redressing—but he hadn't done it with any of the other females in the homicide division for his original reasoning.
"I don't sleep with teammates, which is why I've never propositioned you…or Ryan or Esposito," he added in an attempt to deflect the conversation away from the curiosity now stirring inside him.
Why had he never tried to sleep with Beckett? Further to the point—why did Beckett care? Did she—oh, dear—did she want to sleep with him?!
"Why—why are you so curious all of a sudden? Are you interested?" he challenged, half expecting her to laugh and immediately refuse him, but instead he saw her cheeks flush a red hue, even with only dim streetlights illuminating their path.
"Of course not."
"Oh my god." He laughed, forgetting his father's text for the first time since its arrival. "You do! You want to know what I'm like in bed—to see if all the rumors are true, I imagine. Spoiler alert: they are."
She gave him a not-so-gentle shove with her left hand. "Get a grip, Rodgers."
But he couldn't! Not when she'd opened this can of worms. "But you are interested, aren't you?"
"No, not really."
"Hmm let's examine that response, shall we?" He mused aloud, now having far more fun than he ever anticipated.
"Oh god, stop—just forget it."
He watched her fold her arms over her chest but ignored the action and continued down his path of entertainment. "Can't forget it—it's out there now. So you say that you're 'not really' interested in knowing what I'm like in bed, but you didn't say you were completely uninterested, which means I can only conclude that you are, in fact, a little bit interested—and that's interesting."
She grunted and threw her hands up in the air. "Fine—okay; you got me. Maybe I was one percent interested in knowing, but now I'm not because you've just reminded me once again what an annoying pain in the ass you are!"
He grinned over at her. "Mm no, you definitely had to be more than one percent interested."
"Yeah? Why's that?"
"Because you never pursue something you're one percent interested in. For instance: I'm one percent interested in knowing what it would be like to walk on the moon. However, as I have severe motion sickness issues, I really don't want to vomit my way into outer space so I haven't pursued it."
She stopped walking and gaped at him. "Did you just compare sleeping with you to walking on the moon?"
He barked out a laugh. "Not intentionally, but it would be an out of this world experience, so let's go with it."
He continued to chuckle to himself as they walked the next half block to her subway station. As she slowed her pace and glanced back over her shoulder at him, the realization hit him: she had asked him a ridiculous question on purpose—to distract him from his father's text. She wasn't actually interested in sleeping with him or curious as to why he wasn't interested in sleeping with her. Of course! That made much more sense!
"Well, uh, oh!"
He heard Kate gasp when his arms closed around her shoulders, but that didn't stop him from hugging her, particularly not when her hands came to rest gently at his waist. He gave her a several second long squeeze and then pulled back, grinning. "Thanks for that distraction—I really, really needed it."
She let out a nervous sounding laugh. "Oh, well, sure; of course. What are partners for, right?"
"Speaking of—I have to thank you again for all your help these past two weeks; I really couldn't have made the arrest without your help." Yes, he had pieced together the final clue that led to the arrest, but before that Ryan, Esposito, and Kate in particular had been instrumental to finding and pulling together everything needed for him to make that final leap.
She nodded. "Of course—we were all just doing our jobs, though."
"Still, I appreciate it. I know this co-team-leader thing hasn't always been the easiest," he said, referring to their position which was barely six months old. When he'd first joined the team at the Twelfth, Kate had technically been his superior since his level of detective had been downgraded after the warrant incident and his subsequent precinct transfer, but after over a year he'd worked his way up again and rather than split up their team and risk destroying their impressive closure rate, their captain had thankfully agreed to the co-leader arrangement.
She offered a small smile. "Well, I think we've found our rhythm now."
He bobbed his head. "I agree. Goodnight, Beckett."
"Hey." She stopped him just as he turned away and so he looked back, curious until she said, "You're a really good detective, Rodgers."
He merely gave her a smile. "'night Beckett."
"'night." She echoed before turning and disappearing down into the subway.
A/N: Thanks for reading - hope you guys will join me for this 10 chapter ride