A normal day for her has changed over the years. Probably faster than she's bothered to notice.
Before, a normal day for her was seeing how much she could grit her teeth against. Lately, though, it's been how many times she has to roll her eyes before her partner stops with the off-handed and often inappropriate quips. It's nearly every day and she's gotten more used to it than she would ever admit to anyone, least of all him. It might make his ego inflate to bursting, more so than it already is. A normal day for her now is seeing how much she gets distracted from her duties and responsibilities at work, and how much she can really blame on him at the end of the day.
But today wasn't a normal day. There have been days that haven't been normal, such as today. But today, for a reason she can't really put her finger on just yet, was more out of the ordinary that out of the ordinary days usually are for her. The precinct was oddly quiet, but that could be considered normal for some days, with phones only ringing when it was related to bureaucratic malfunction rather than them having duties to perform. It could have been considered a normal paperwork day, a typical nine to five desk day.
But today wasn't a normal day because her partner was absent. Remarkably absent.
Days when he's busy with his writing usually consist of him texting her, begging her to make a body drop just so he'll have an out and be able to leave Gina and her incessant droning. But her phone sat in the corner of her paperwork filled desk all day, serving no other purpose for her today than a paperweight. She hadn't heard from him all day. Those days are out of the ordinary when he doesn't at least bother her once to test the waters of her moods. And it would have been normal enough had it not been for the coffee machine being broken. Everyone else had no problem going back to the old stuff before they got the upgrade.
But her normal days have become accustomed to his white cardboard cups and brown paper sleeves, filled with her favorite dose of vanilla flavored caffeine for the day. Downgrading to that much of a degree would have made her already abnormal day worse.
But she's home now, walking down the hall with her bag, checking her phone one last time for the night, and feeling her stomach growl when she catches a whiff of something her neighbors are cooking. Her mouth salivates, making it oddly dry at the same time, thinking back to this morning when she could just convince her partner to pay for something for the two of them. But since he never showed, she had to settle for going all day without eating.
She pulls out her keys and opens her door, startled to see her lights are already on. Her hand instinctively rests on the grip of her Glock under her jacket. She takes a few cautious steps forward into her living room, but feels herself come down quickly when she realizes who had let themselves in. Her hand falls off her sidearm and she drops her bag from her shoulder, letting it plop down onto the hardwood with a clatter.
"Hey, you." Josh says in a rested voice. It makes her somewhat jealous that she did practically nothing all day and yet is still coming home exhausted.
"Hey," Kate greets him simply, standing in place while he stands up from her couch and leans in. She dodges his lips quickly and kisses his cheek, hoping he'll get the message that she's not in the mood tonight.
Thankfully, it either goes over his head or he decides not to press, and lets his hands fall off her sides. "You're finally home. What kept you so late?" He asks her as she takes off her coat and goes into the closet to hang it up.
"I was at the prison. It's Tuesday."
"Oh, you're uh..." Josh starts, following her into her bedroom where she begins to take off her holster and other effects, "you're still talking to that sniper guy?"
"Yep, every week until he breaks. How'd you get in here, by the way?" She asks, going about changing out of her beige turtleneck and slacks into clothes more suitable for unwinding.
He tucks his hands into the pockets of his jeans and leans against the door jam. "You showed me where you keep your spare key, remember?"
She goes to her dresser and pulls out a loose fitting 'NYPD' t-shirt and a pair of black yoga pants, feeling Josh's wanting eyes on her the entire time. She remembers showing him the cut out she had made above her door for her spare key, and it's then that she remembers they had arranged a night in together. "Oh, yeah." She says in response, reaching for a hair tie to put her hair back in a ponytail.
Josh is silent as she squeezes passed him and into the living room, where she heads for the counter, turning to face him again.
"So, you hungry? We could order in. I'm starving." She says, flipping through her takeout menus.
"Actually, I already ate." He says, coming to lean against the island adjacent from her. She looks up, feeling a mixture of let down, frustration, and annoyance. "I didn't expect you to be home so late, so I started picking at the rest of that lasagna from the other night."
She nods, letting her head fall forward and the menus fall back into the drawer where she got them. She makes no effort to hide her frustrated sigh. It seems that all the things that could have happened today to annoy her that didn't involve her partner's antics, happened.
"I'm sorry, Katie. I should have waited for you." Josh says after clearly reading the signs.
"No, no, it's alright." She says, hoping to keep the air between them at the very least level. "I'll find something." She says, and goes around him, deciding to make up for her distance by placing a hand on his shoulder as she passes him. He seems to accept it and moves out of her kitchen and back to his place sitting in the corner of her couch. After finding herself a salad with as little frills as possible, she grabs a fork and makes her way into her living room, where he's already watching Sports Center and is relaxing comfortably. She puts herself down in the corner of her couch opposite of her boyfriend and starts quickly digging into her salad.
"D'you have a rough day?" Josh asks after a few silent minutes.
She cracks another thick piece of lettuce in half in her mouth before answering, shoving all her food to one side of her mouth. "No, just long. My partner didn't show up today." She explains, eyes still down on her salad.
"They assigned you a partner? I thought you didn't have a partner." He says.
She feels mildly insulted, but she quickly remembers she keeps things as compartmentalized as she can manage. It's not entirely his fault. "No, Castle. He didn't show up this morning, so I didn't get my coffee."
She can see Josh nod out of the corner of her eye and turn back to stare at the TV, leaning against his fist. "Is there something wrong with the coffee pot we bought you, Katie?" He asks, his voice sounding tightly wound, as if not trying to sound hurtful.
She shakes her head as she pushes another piece of salad around her bowl to sweep up some dressing, "No, Castle just knows what I like. That's all. And he's the only one who knows how to fix that stupid espresso machine he bought the precinct, so I didn't get any coffee today. It threw my whole day off."
Josh nods again, trying to be as agreeable as he can be. And it's starting to bug her. If he has something on his mind, he should just tell her. She doesn't have the energy to do this dance with him. "So, you still didn't get anything from that Lockwork guy?"
"Lockwood, Josh," She corrects him, "and no, I didn't. But I will one day. Why?" She asks, putting another few pieces of vegetable in her mouth.
"No, nothing, I'm just saying," he says and turns to look back at the TV, "you've been visiting him every week for a few months now and haven't gotten anything. Maybe it's time to-"
"Drop it? Is that what you're saying you want me to do, Josh?" She asks, quickly accusing him by turning her head to face him and send him an angry stare.
He's quick to lift his hand with the remote still in it. "That's not what I'm saying, Katie. Calm down. I was gonna say maybe you should think of trying a different approach."
She lets out a breath, turning somewhat shamefully down to her almost empty bowl. She jumped the gun in accusing him, of snapping at him. Her moods are somewhat to blame, the fault of her partner not showing up because god only knows why. "Like what?"
"Well, I don't know. But, I mean, these people sound dangerous. Maybe you could just be a little more careful with the way you go about it."
"Josh, I really don't want to talk about this tonight, okay? Castle and I have gotten this far, and I'm not stopping until my mother's killer is behind bars." She tells him sternly, which drains more of her emotional energy than anticipated and stands up, going back into the kitchen to dispose of her dishes.
She can hear the couch cushions shift as he stands to follow her. "Castle's helping you with this?"
"Yeah, I only got this far because of him, why?" She asks and turns on the faucet to rinse out her bowl.
"Nothing," Josh says and shrugs his shoulders while meandering toward her. "I just didn't know you considered Castle to be your actual 'partner'." He says with a set of air quotes. She looks over her shoulder with a pinched, curious brow. "I mean, you've always said he was just the guy shadowing you for his mystery novels. I didn't think he actually helped with anything."
Kate breathes a hollow chuckle, and turns back to the sink. Josh seems to stop the conversation there as she quickly rinses out her dishes and sets them in the rack to dry, then goes to the cupboard to grab a goblet and then over to her wine rack. She roves slowly over her small selection until she finds a bottle, second to last, left over from their night out watching Forbidden Planet. She smiles to herself as the memory of that fun night floats into her mind. She grabs the bottle and quickly pours a glass half full.
"I just didn't know you two were that close." Josh says when she turns back to head into the living room again.
Kate rolls her eyes as she starts toward him. "We're just partners at work, Josh. Okay?" She says, deciding to end the conversation by stopping by his side and leaning up to press a chaste kiss on his jaw, downing the first sip of wine when she leans back down.
She can hear him let out a long sigh before turning to follow her. She puts herself back down on the couch, grabbing her phone once again as she takes another long sip of her wine, to check for any notifications she may have received while she was away in the kitchen. But the anticipation that crawled up her spine melts away into another wave of disappointment when she sees her phone blank except for the time. She sighs to herself and takes another long sip from her goblet.
"Something wrong, hun?" She feels her shoulders shiver at his use of a pet name, but swallows it as she sets her phone back down to the side table.
"No, nothing. Just tired." She explains to him, looking at the TV, which is still on Sports Center. She wants to watch something else, but doesn't really care for the TV to be on at all. She would like to just go to bed, but doesn't want to leave her boyfriend up alone.
"Well, I'm sorry you had a bad day." He says in an honest voice, trying his best to be sweet.
She smiles over to him for his platitude, "Are we still on for tomorrow? I should be off call as long as we don't catch a case."
"Actually, I got booked at the hospital for a double shift. I won't be off until eleven." He says, pushing himself out of his corner and scooching himself closer to her with a grin. "That's why I was hoping we'd get a chance to make up for it tonight."
But she manages to stop him once he's only halfway over the couch. "I'm sorry, Josh, but I'm exhausted. With Castle being MIA all day, it was just... I'm just not in the mood tonight." She downs the rest of her wine quickly in one long swing before standing up and going back into the kitchen. She can hear Josh's disappointed sigh all the way from the sink. She's looking forward to crawling underneath her covers for the night, but a part of her is dreading having to deal with Josh wandering over to her side of the bed sometime before the nights over. He has a tendency of trying again if she shoots him down once.
But luckily, after going through her nightly routine and shutting off the lights, she crawls under her covers, with Josh laying on his side, facing away from her. But before she reaches up to turn off the bedside lamp, she reaches over to her nightstand and grabs her phone, giving him one last shot for contact. But when all she's met with is the time, reading 10:45, she lets out a breath of disappointing resolve, sets her phone back down to the nightstand, clicks off the lamp, and rests her tired head down on the pillow.
And within a few minutes, she can feel herself drift off into a heavy sleep.
By the time she's being woken up, all she can tell is that she hasn't slept nearly long enough. And by the sound of her phone waking her up instead of her alarm clock, it's going to be another long day. Her aching eyes squint through the darkness and she reaches up with a tired arm, grabbing her phone and putting it to her ear, not bothering to check the ID. Only the precinct would call her at this time, whatever that time may be. "Beckett."
"Is this Kate Beckett?" A female voice, other than the usual one from dispatch says on the other end.
Her spine tingles a bit at the unfamiliar voice. She pushes herself upright, pulling the covers off her shoulders. "Yes. Who is this?"
"Ms. Beckett, I'm calling from Brattleboro Memorial Hospital concerning-"
"Wait, Brattleboro?" She asks the lady, cutting her off. "Like... Brattleboro, Vermont?"
"Yes, ma'am. I'm calling because you're listed as the emergency contact for a Richard Castle. I'm afraid we have some bad news."
A/N: Story is loosely based off a song by Buckethead, titled Reaching. Go listen to it. :)
I deleted Honest Liar. As I continued to write it and map it all out, it didn't turn out the way I wanted or had planned it, and I didn't feel it was really worth the effort. So instead, I'm going to try this one. Hope you guys like it. Let me know in the reviews.