From Latte's to Love

Chapter One

She stares at the crowd gathered outside. Another day of fake smiles and polite attitudes. This wasn't how her life was supposed to be. She was bound for Stanford and pre-law, but a random gang member changed all of her dreams. Being the first female chief justice to the US Supreme Court didn't seem to matter anymore. It hadn't matter since the night they came home to Det. Ragland waiting on their doorstep. It hadn't matter the day they laid her mother in the ground. And it certainly hadn't matter the day her father had yelled at her when she tried to make him see that the booze only deepened the pain they were both feeling. She can still hear him saying he didn't want her anymore and that she reminds him of everything he's lost. Like it was her fault her mom was murdered. Like she was the one that had actually killed her and not some random gang member looking to prove himself to his posse of homeboys. Whatever it is that they call each other. She didn't know or care.

"Are you going to simply stand there all day?" Her manager snaps as he walks by.

Kate looks at him and wishes she had the guts to leave him there to handle all these customers alone. Sighing, she steps up to the counter and says. "Welcome, how can I assist you?"

It's another day of wondering the city. Rick spends most of his days wondering the streets of Manhattan looking for inspiration to seize his imagination. Derrick was currently in secret government facility recouping from the last mission that almost killed him. Clara had turned out to be a rogue spy sent to the US before the fall of the Berlin Wall. That revelation had left Derrick questioning everything he believed about the life he leads and his future. Just as his creator is doing with his own life.

Gina has indicated that she wants to make their business relationship a more personal one, but he isn't sure he wants to chance they're working relationship on a possible personal relationship. Yes he is a single father of the most beautiful and smart little girl. And maybe Alexis deserves having a steady woman in her life. But it's been just the two of them for several years now and they seem to be doing okay. And it isn't like Alexis doesn't have a female influence in her life, his mother dotes on her every chance she is able.

And although he is the parent Alexis keeps him grounded. But she isn't with him now. At the end of the school year Meredith demanded that he allow her to have Alexis for the summer. He was more than hesitant but he also doesn't want to deny his daughter the chance of knowing her mother in more than just a flight of fancy that Meredith seems to give anything that doesn't directly affect the view of her life. As a condition of Meredith keeping Alexis for the summer, his mother has given up a summer of Summer stock to spend her days in LA, watching over Alexis, and Meredith by extension, from a distance.

He's walking past a new coffee shop when the line outside catches his attention more than anything. With a Starbucks on just about every corner of downtown Manhattan, it's hard to imagine an independent shop being as busy as this one seems to be. Stopping he looks at the line and then his watch. His meetings at Black Pawn is pretty much wrapped up the day before. It was more of a formality that he agreed to come by today to finalize the book tour dates for later that summer as well as the tentative plans for the book launch of his new book.

He's looking in through the window, trying to decide if he wants to battle the line for a cup of coffee when the young women standing at the counter catches his attention. He prides himself on his ability to read people, and what he's reading now tells him that the young women is going through the motions. He can see the sadness in her eyes, even as she smiles at each customer, calling out their orders as she takes them. Standing in line, he watches her. She's efficient in her job but she has no enthusiasm for it. It's only a matter of minutes before it's his turn and as he steps up to the counter Kate looks up. She pauses for a moment before she asks. "May I help you?"

"Ummm, I'll have a mocha latte please." Rick replies softly.

"One mocha latte, May I have your name?"

"Rick." He replies as Kate nods before she turns and calls out his order.

Rick steps out of line, waiting for the coffee he didn't really need. While he's waiting, he continues to watch the young woman. He's struck by her strength, her ability to appear in control and his imagination begins to fire. Reaching into his pocket he pulls out a small note book and a pen.

Kate is trying to focus on her job but from the corner of her eye she can see Richard Castle staring at her. She catches him reaching into his coat pocket and pulling out a small note book and pen. One of her other co-workers steps up beside her. "I know what he's doing." She whispers to Kate. "He's giving you his number. You're the next Richard Castle conquest." She says, her tone full of envy. Kate looks at the girl before she calls out "Mocha latte for Rick."

Glancing up, Rick smiles before he tucks his notebook away and steps back up to the counter. Kate hands him the coffee as he smiles at her. She smiles back tentatively. Taking the coffee, he turns to go. "Guess I had that one wrong." Her co-worker says smugly. Kate ignores her.

Over the next week, Rick comes back to the shop. Sometimes Kate's there, sometimes she's not. On the days that she's not there, her co-worker tries to get Rick's attention and he's polite to her but it's clear he's there for another reason. During that week he also figures out the slowest parts of the day for the small shop.

It's week two of Rick coming into the shop, Kate hasn't been around for a couple days so when he looks through the glass and sees her standing behind the counter, he walks in a smile on his face. "Mocha latte." Kate says before he can give his order. Rick nods and Kate calls it back to the barista. Walking over to a table he sits down but instead of pulling out his notebook, he opens the backpack he has hanging off his shoulder. Pulling out a laptop, he opens it and boots it up as Kate steps up to his table with the latte. "Here you go." She says setting the cup down away from his keyboard.

"Thanks." He looks up and smiles. "I was wondering if you could maybe have coffee with me."

"I… My manager doesn't want us spending too much time sitting around."

"You do get a break, don't you?"

*Yes, one thirty minute break within a eight hour shift."

"Have you had a break yet?"

"No, but I have…"

"Then you have thirty minutes to sit with me and have coffee." Rick says smiling at her.

"I can't just take a break whenever I want and you're working Mr. Castle." Kate replies as she looks around. "And the manager doesn't like us interrupting the customers when they are clearly busy."

"I am working, but does he really care if you socialize with the customers while you're on your break, or are you trying to avoid me?"

"A little cocky there, aren't you Mr. Castle."

"No, I simply think you're hiding."

"You don't know me Mr. Castle." Kate says as she takes a step back.

Rick pauses for a moment before he replies. "Maybe I don't know all of the reasons you're hiding, but you are hiding."

"Beckett, get back to work." The manager snaps. She looks back over her shoulder, catching the glare directed her way.

"I've got to go back."

"I'll be here, Kate." He says. She looks at him, slightly shocked. "Your name tag."

Closing her eyes, she turns to go back to the counter.

Kate goes back to work while Rick settles in to write. Derrick is back and he's about to meet a woman that will change the course of his life. It's several hours later before Rick is drawn out of the haze of writing by someone stepping up to his table. After his initial order and conversation with Kate, at regular intervals a new latte would appear at the corner of his laptop. He hadn't really acknowledged those lattes which isn't really new for him. But most times he's at least able to nod when spoken to or if Alexis is around any noise is able to bring him back from that haze of concentration. Looking up, he's surprised to find Kate standing beside his table and when he looks out of the window he's even more surprised by the darkness outside. "What time is it?"

"A little after seven, Mr. Castle. We'll be closing in a few moments." Kate replies.

"We didn't get to have our coffee."

"You were busy, Mr. Castle."

"If you're closing, then maybe a drink." He pauses for a moment before continuing. "Are you even old enough to drink?"

"Yes, I'm old enough to drink, however I'm going to say no."

"Dinner then, I haven't eaten since this afternoon and you can't have had much more than me." He says, glancing at the pastries under the counter.

"No."

"Why not?"

"I need to get home." Kate replies, hoping he doesn't catch the catch that comes into her voice at the mention of home. He does.

"Still hiding Kate?" He asks.

Sighing she looks at him with a look of slight irritation in her expression. "I need to finish cleaning up. The manager will be locking the doors soon."

Nodding, he begins gathering up his stuff as Kate walks away. A few moments later, he leaves the café, Kate looks up when the bell over the door jingles as he opens the door and walks out.

It's no more than five minutes before she leaves the café. As she turns to walk the short distance to the subway. She jumps slight as Rick steps away from the building. "I guess it's a good thing I'm not a cop, Mr. Castle." She says as he falls I to step beside her. "You could've been tased or worse shot if I was."

"I'm sorry."

"Why are you hanging around? I thought you left."

"I wanted to apologize."

"Do you do that a lot?"

He doesn't reply at first. "I'm sorry I pushed. I get carried away sometimes." He looks away for a moment. "You drew me in." He sighs before he continues. "The first day I came in to the café I was drawn there by you."

"By me?" She asks, lifting an eyebrow

"Yes, by you. When I saw you through the window, I was drawn to you. You don't want to be there, but you are and I was drawn in to finding out why. You're alive but you're not really living." He pauses, watching her for a moment. "You're wounded but it wasn't because something was done to you specifically." He pauses again. "You've lost someone, someone close to you and you might've been able to live with that, but you don't know the reason why and that's eating you up inside." She steps around him and he reaches out to her. "Kate." He pleads.

She stops and looks him. "As I said Mr. Castle, you don't know me."

"You don't have to tell me what happened if you don't want to, but wouldn't it be a relief to have someone that doesn't remind you of whatever it is that's happened."