A/N Hi there! So, this one is another one of my old and nearly abandoned WIPs...Hopefully, it's turned out well.
It's her first day back since… the Fosse case, the better half already wasted on exhausting interviews with 1PP and an equally exhausting pile of paperwork, so she didn't really expect him to show up, bounce in every step, a giddy smile on his face -
No coffee in hand.
"Castle, what are you doing here? And where is my coffee? "
He does not respond, grabs her by the elbows instead, half-dragging, half-pushing her in the general direction of the interrogation rooms. She has no choice but to follow his lead, bumping into a couple of uniforms on the way and the whole situation somehow makes her giggle.
"Hey, what's even wrong with you today?"
"Don't worry, Beckett, I won't bite. Yet."
He gives her one more gentle push and -
Here they are. In the middle of a dimly lit, not-yet-remodelled interrogation room. He locks the door.
"Shh. Just give me a second, okay?"
He turns very serious all of a sudden, excitement giving way to determination, along with just a little bit of insecurity. And wow, she knows, she already knows what is going to happen, just as his right hand reaches for his left breast pocket.
He is completely and utterly lost. He is a writer, a rather good one, thank you very much. He has practiced this speech so many times, it now haunts him in his dreams. He has done it before and twice, for God's sake! And yet, he still doesn't know where to start.
Is it gonna be –"Hey, honey, I've just realized that life is too short (again) so let's not waste any more time and go get hitched?"
Instead, he decides to take a leaf out of Beckett's book and do some action.
Or at least give his big, clumsy hands something to do, until he gathers up his courage.
Normal. He should look normal. There is nothing scary in a proposal, anyway. Been there, done that.
Yeah, twice. Only it's different this time around.
He silently thanks his mother's genes and maybe a bit of his father's, too, for the ability to look much more confident than he actually feels.
Okay, here he goes.
"Now, give me your hand, Beckett."
Her heart makes a double somersault in her chest, fuzzy warmth spreading from the tips of her ears to the tips of her toes, her pulse fluttering somewhere under her stomach.
She raises an eyebrow, manages to sound almost casual, nonchalant even. Meanwhile, her inner self is doing her best to tamp down a squeal.
"Your left hand, to be more precise."
He gets bolder and more sure of himself with every word and if she could right now, she would honestly laugh, because what the hell has happened to them and their everlasting communication issues? Why is she suddenly not running away anymore?
It should scare her, how easy and right it all feels.
"Why, Castle? Whatever would you need it for?" She is light and teasing, lips pursed in giddy amusement.
She knows the reason, knows the question that is to follow. Hell, she knows her answer, with no doubts, whatsoever.
She even knows he knows.
Doesn't mean they can't prolong the pleasure a little bit.
He grins broadly, his eyes sparkling with mirth and barely suppressed glee.
"What if I said I wanted to marry you?"
This actually feels good - to say the magic words and not wonder if it's the right thing to do.
Because they are going to be great together.
Scars, and walls and all.
"Are you sure, Castle? I can be kind of frustrating, you know."
"Oh, trust me, I know."
"Pretty maddening, too."
"I think, I can handle that."
They have been doing it for years - this dance. All the steps and moves learnt by heart long ago, the music is the same, even the rhythm hasn't changed much. Okay the pace may have quickened, a bit. But that is not the point.
The point is - he doesn't want it to end.
He had spent three months, trying to figure out what they would be without it, after the music eventually stopped and they had to bow out.
Until today, 4:55 AM, to be precise, when he woke up to the feeling of her gentle lips on his cheek, her warm hands fixing his pillows, the smell of cherries and cinnamon and fresh coffee permeating the air.
He suddenly realized that they didn't have to be anything else.
Because the music won't ever stop, until they both want it to.
"Any other objections, Detective? Apart from your lunchtime grumpiness, that is."
She narrows her eyes in mock indignation, but before she can produce another smart retort -
"FOR GOD'S SAKE, DETECTIVE, WILL YOU JUST SAY "YES' ALREADY, SO WE ALL CAN GET BACK TO WORK?"
She is not even surprised.
But to be interrupted by Captain Gates, of all people, yelling at her from behind the one-way mirror?
Ordering her to "say 'yes' already"?
Her cheeks are so hot, she might need a fire-extinguisher.
And, judging by the look of Castle's ears, he could use one, too.
She giggles, again.
Because this adorable embarrassment is one of the reasons why she fell in love with him.
And the man has just proposed to her.
So, she actually has no other choice, but to give her hand to him.
He only smirks and takes it, no more words needed.
Then opens the square box still clutched in his sweaty palm, takes the ring out (delicate, tasteful, as if made exclusively for her) and slides it on its rightful place.
And then they kiss.
Because - what the hell - they deserve it.
Except that -
Wait a minute.
Does she actually hear -
Is the whole precinct cheering outside?!
She really needs to get a grip on herself.
Get this whole situation back in her hands and shepherd her people back to their duties.
Also, this stupid smile is totally inappropriate for a superior officer.
But really, isn't it great that these two idiots are finally engaged? Who would…
She startles, wrenched back into reality by Esposito's tentative voice.
She does her best to look irritated and absolutely not pleased with this mass celebration thing.
After all, she's had plenty of practice with this team, hasn't she?
Which, apparently, isn't enough for Esposito, who only grins and hands her a neatly folded manila envelope, along with a splotchy sheet of paper she vaguely recognizes from over a year ago.
"Your winnings, sir."
Her win - oh.
"You missed only by couple of days, sir", Esposito excitedly continues. "Practically hit the bullseye, compared to others."
She can't help but smirk in response., as she takes the envelope from him without further ado.
"I hope it stays anonymous, as promised, though. Because the last thing I want is for anyone to know that I-"
"YOU BET ON US?"
She will never live that down.
A/N A few "thank you"s have to be given out here. Firstly, I would like to thank Anja for her constant support and the most awesome cheerleading. And for making me actually post this story today. Secondly, Gorane, thank you - you might not remember it, but you gave this story a couple of good lines in the very beginning. And thirdly, to the author I know as WRTRD, whose unique writing style and impeccable sense of humor not only provided me with high-quality reading, but also inspired me to write something light and maybe even funny. And a special shoutout goes to Lou, seen as last year her impending birthday encouraged me to pick up this fic and bring it to its happy ending. So, (a veeeeery belated) happy birthday?
And, of course, thank you for reading, everyone.