So, remember how I said this chapter might be shorter? Yeah, that was a lie. Totally longer. Meh. It happens. Oh, also, this is the first time I have attempted to write any sort of romantic scene. Hopefully it worked out alright because it's the last chapter.
Disclaimer: Still don't own any of it.
Kate was cleaning her apartment. Had been for a good two hours. She wasn't sure if it was to help decide what to do about her mother's case, or to distract her from thinking about it. The upshot was that now her kitchen practically sparkled. Not that she'd made a decision of course. 'Oh the hell with it,' she thought to herself. She knew she was going to do it, wouldn't be able to live with herself if she didn't, even if she was terrified of losing her mind along the way. Well, she guessed she'd be playing the best friend card with Lanie more than usual in the next little while. She figured she'd be calling on Castle too, even if she felt a bit awkward doing it. But why should she? It was all his fault anyways! Poking his nose in when she'd asked him not too. He owed her. Besides, he'd told her he cared about her, and if that was true, well then… If that was true then he'd probably be there whether she asked him or not, watching her somewhat surreptitiously, just like he'd been doing the night before.
Actually that had been kind of sweet, even if it'd get annoying fast if he did it all the time. And what about Castle? Sure she'd told him he could come back to work and she wouldn't kill him, but could she forgive him? I mean, it had been a huge invasion of her privacy. She knew he'd had good reasons. After all, he had wanted to do something nice to her. Kate snorted. So of course in typical Castle fashion he'd been really subtle and understated. The idiot had actually decided to basically tackle the major mystery of her life. She shook her head as she tossed her cleaning supplies back in her closet. Of all the delusional, arrogant… She froze. Oh God. He'd been trying to solve the biggest problem of her life. She needed to sit. The couch was closest the remaining functional part of her brain told her.
Blindly Kate collapsed on her couch. The idiot had been trying to fix things. To give her some piece of mind. And when she'd screamed at him he'd said he'd do whatever she wanted. Told her that she mattered, that he cared. And all the evidence indicated that Castle was loyal to the people in his life who mattered, Alexis, Martha, heck, even his exes tended to be the ones who cheated in the relationships.
Kate put her head in her hands. Could she forgive him? She was pretty sure she already had. And somehow she knew that he'd keep his word, and be there for her if she ever wanted or needed him.
Oh dear. She'd forgiven Richard Castle enough that she was already counting on him to help keep her sane. When on earth had that happened?
Alexis Castle returned home in the early afternoon. Paige was feeling a bit better after watching three movies worth of cute boys run around in wizarding robes (not to mention Hermione showing them who's boss). Everything wasn't magically all better, but the three girls had decided her ex was a creep and that Paige was better off without him. Then they'd made cookies, so a pretty good night. Alexis figured she'd better find her dad and tell him she was okay so she headed towards his office. On her way there she was intercepted by her grandmother.
"Hey kiddo. I thought I heard you come in. How was the movie night?"
"Alright I guess. Paige is feeling a bit better." She told her grandmother, before asking, "Dad's in his office?"
"He is." Martha confirmed. "He's working."
Alexis smirked, "I'll just go tell him I'm here then. I doubt I'll be interrupting anything much."
"Actually, I heard the tapping of keys coming from the other side of the door the last time I walked by."
Alexis paused, before grinning, "Really?" Well that was interesting.
"Yes, really." Martha wandered over to the couch and sat down. "So before you check in with your father I think you should come over here and give me details about dinner last night."
Alexis was perfectly ready to comply with that request, recognizing an ally when she saw one. "What do you know?" she asked her grandmother.
"I know that when I walked in on in the pair of you in the office last night, Kate Beckett looked comfortable in this apartment again. And I know that when the three of you left for dinner you were all smiling. And I know that when your father got home last night he looked quite pleased with the outcome of his evening. Now I need details."
Alexis paused, "Well, when I walked in on them in Dad's office last night they were standing awfully close to each other, and they were both smiling. Like, happy smiling, not just smirking at each other. And Kate told me it was good to see me, like she was glad to be on good terms with Dad again."
"Kate?" Martha interrupted, one eyebrow raised.
Alexis shrugged, "She told me to call her that. Then you came and got us to listen to music. When we left to go to the restaurant Kate got a bit quiet and Dad got all concerned, you know how he gets."
"Ah yes, his Father Bear look." Martha said with a nod.
"Exactly." Alexis said. She'd seen that look many a time directed at her so she was quite familiar with it herself. "Anyways, I guess he thought she might not want to come to dinner after all. But when he talked to her she seemed to loosen up a bit. So we all got into the taxi. Then Dad bet her that Rajah's would be the best Indian food she'd ever had."
Martha's ears pricked up at the word 'bet', "What were the terms?" she asked her granddaughter.
"If he lost he had to do whatever she said for two weeks, but if he won she had to let him buy her dinner, and try and relax and have a good time, oh and get desert."
Martha smirked; her son was certainly not subtle.
Alexis noticed, "Yeah, I know right? But anyways, things seemed to go okay. I like Kate, and she seemed to be having a good time. I started telling her all about the embarrassing things Dad's done for his books. Which reminds me, I have to send her the llama pictures. And we told her about taco night, which she thought was sweet and so of course Dad invited her immediately."
Well that required some clarification, Martha thought. "Did she accept right away?"
"No," Alexis answered, "she was worried about intruding."
"Of course she was." Martha said in a resigned tone.
"But she sure didn't take much convincing."
Well that was a good sign at least. "Okay, then what happened?"
"Then I went to the washroom, and I got Taylor's text. And when I got back they were sort of faced off across the table from each other, like some sort of challenge had been issued, and neither of them were going to back down. It was cute actually. One of them had grabbed the other's hand and they were leaning in. But they backed away when they realized I was there. And then I had to go. I know Dad won the bet, but that's it. I left pretty much right after I got back to the table." Alexis said by way of a summary.
"Leaving them alone." Martha pointed out.
"Yeah, I didn't do it on purpose," Alexis confessed, "but I'm not exactly upset it happened either. I mean, if Paige's boyfriend had to break up with her at least some good came out of it." Then Alexis decided she needed a few more details of her own, "You said Dad looked happy when he got in?"
Martha nodded decisively. "Like the day he got back from telling the lovely Detective he'd be shadowing her indefinitely."
"And he's actually editing?" Alexis wanted to double-check.
"As far as I know."
"Huh." Alexis paused before tentatively adding, "I like her Grams."
"So do I kiddo. So do I." Martha said softly and half to herself. Suddenly she brightened, "Now go tell your father you're home so he doesn't worry."
Castle was in fact right in the middle of dealing with some editing demons when his daughter knocked on the door. "Come in!" he called.
"Hi Dad." Alexis said as she stuck her head in the door. "Sorry if I'm interrupting, I just wanted to let you know I was back."
"No problem honey. You're not interrupting." Castle told her, still staring at his computer screen. "Just let me finish one little thing..." and with a final flourish of key strokes he gave his daughter his full attention. "Hi."
"How was the movie night?" he asked.
"Good. Lots of feminine bonding against the evil men," Alexis said with a smirk.
"So you're saying I should take cover and if Owen calls maybe tell him to call back tomorrow?" Castle responded playfully.
Alexis pretended to consider the idea. "Nah, I might let you two off with a warning."
He smiled. "Consider me warned. But Paige was feeling better afterwards?"
"Yeah, I think so. A little."
"Well that's good I guess."
"So how was the rest of your evening?" Alexis couldn't help asking. "Did Detective Beckett like her desert?"
"Yup. She agrees that the rice pudding there is excellent by the way, and she took a takeout menu with her."
"And everything else went well?" she prodded her father.
"Yes Alexis, everything else went well." Really, he wasn't sure what she'd expected to happen. They hadn't started screaming at each other the second his daughter left them alone.
"So you're straightening things out?" Alexis double-checked. She wasn't taking anything for granted.
"Yes, we're straightening things out," Castle told her, somewhat amused by his daughter's obvious concern.
Alexis decided to go after what she wanted another way. "Grandma said you looked happy when you got home last night," she remarked innocently.
"I am happy," her father confirmed.
She smiled before continuing in the same innocent tone. "And I can't help but notice you're actually working again."
"Hey!" he objected. "I've been editing for practically the last two weeks."
Alexis gave her father a look.
"Sort of," he conceded.
"I like her Dad."
"So do I pumpkin."
"Grams likes her too."
"Yes," Castle agreed slowly. "I believe we all agree Detective Beckett's a likeable woman. What's this about Alexis?"
"Nothing Dad. I'm just pointing out that since Kate showed up at the apartment last night you've seemed happier, and you're writing again. You like her, Grams likes her, I like her."
"Which is why we invited her to dinner tonight," Castle said.
"Exactly. And she accepted, so I think she likes us too." Alexis told her father as she got up. "Speaking of which, I've got to finish my homework before Kate gets here."
"And I should get back to work," he said with a smile.
"Now that you're actually doing some you mean."
Castle decided to ignore that. "Bye pumpkin."
But Castle called her back before she could leave. "Alexis?"
"I'm happy she's back. Is that what you wanted to hear?"
Alexis just grinned as she left the office, "Me too."
Unsurprisingly she met her grandmother in the hall again. "So?" Martha asked her granddaughter.
"He's happy she's back." Alexis told the older woman dryly.
Martha shook her head, "No kidding."
Alexis headed to her room, shaking her head; much as she loved her father it was an inescapable fact that boys really could be so stupid sometimes.
Castle once again was left confused by a woman, this time his daughter.
Of course he was happy Beckett was back. For a start, it would make shadowing her for cases much easier, and much more enjoyable. Plus, he didn't like it when she was mad at him. Not just annoyed, when she was annoyed it could be pretty funny. But when she was really, really mad, well, that wasn't good. And he liked her, of course he liked her. Smart, funny, beautiful, really what's not to like?
And Alexis and his mother liked her. Good, that was good. He wanted Alexis and Martha to like Beckett. Was happy that they were all spending time together, going to dinner, poker games, etc. It was fun. She was basically his partner; she should feel comfortable in his house. Besides, he'd like to think they were friends. Well, maybe not right at the moment, but they had been, and he was confident they would be again.
Besides, she'd be a somewhat sensible female role model for Alexis, not that he really wanted his daughter going into something as dangerous as law enforcement, but that wasn't the point. It was nice having Beckett around, watching the tightly wound woman loosen up, making sure she was okay. That's why he'd invited her to dinner obviously. He liked spending time outside of work with her and his family. It was nice.
But his daughter had been implying something else hadn't she? I mean, sure, he liked Kate. And he thought she was attractive; he certainly wasn't blind. But she'd just been through the ringer with Agent Sorenson and now her mother. What she needed now was a friend. And he could do that. He'd joked about a debriefing, and let's face it, if she ever offered... I mean, really, he would always hold out hope, even if he knew it might never happen. Besides, what was he going to do, just go and ask Detective Beckett out on a date?
Whoa. When had he made that leap? He wasn't dating Beckett, hadn't even thought about it, not really. They had a business arrangement. They worked together well. He got his muse, she solved her cases. Really, good group effort. They were friends of a sort. If he had been pining it's only because she was interesting, and he had fun in her company. And if he was inviting her around more now it was only to make sure she was okay. Anything else was just the result his female relatives' tendency to romanticize the situation. That was all.
Back to work. He was still behind, and he needed to distract himself from thinking about one detective Beckett. That was it; he'd put Kate and her complications out of his head and focus on... Nikki Heat.
Hmmmm. So there might be a bit of a flaw in the plan there.
She was nervous, standing on the other side of Castle's door. She almost always was actually. Well, no, not nervous, just a little unsure. I mean it was one thing if the whole team was coming over or something, but whenever it was just her, she couldn't help but feel like she was invading, invading into this relatively safe little world he'd created for himself outside of work. She wasn't naive, knew his family life wasn't perfect, but it was a heck of a lot better than most people got. And it didn't matter that he'd asked her specifically, that she knew she was wanted. Standing outside the door there was always a moment of uneasiness before she knocked, and then another as she waited for the door to open.
This time Alexis did the honours, her face breaking into a smile when she saw Kate on the other side. "Kate!" she said. "You're right on time. Come on in. Dad's just in the kitchen chopping. Grandma's giving him advice."
"Bet he loves that." Kate remarked.
Alexis giggled. "It's pretty entertaining actually."
"Is that Detective Beckett I hear?" Martha called from the kitchen as she wandered into the entryway. "Well, what are you two doing loitering around here? Come in! Have a drink. What would you like Detective?" Martha asked as she looped an arm through Kate's and drew her into the apartment.
Castle himself appeared seconds later with his own brand of welcoming smile, drying his hands on a towel. "Mother, let her get inside at least before you start plying the woman with alcohol," he said. "Good to see you again Detective."
"Castle." She said, softening her greeting with a smile. "I brought wine." She told him, handing him the bag.
"Are you incapable of following instructions Beckett?" He asked her playfully. "I told you that you didn't need to bring anything."
Kate shrugged, "Well that just felt rude."
"Well thank you Detective, even if it was unnecessary. As you can see, Mother's way ahead of you."
"Nothing wrong with a little wine with dinner." Martha remarked casually. "Well, now that you're inside Detective, would you like a glass?"
"I'd love one Martha, and please, call me Kate."
"Well then Kate, I hope you enjoy your wine."
Castle interrupted, "You know Detective, you told my entire family they could call you Kate, but not me."
She paused and pretended to consider his point, "Yeah, I guess I did, didn't I?"
Alexis giggled, and looped her arm through Kate's right arm, while Martha took the left. And as she let the two women lead her into the kitchen Kate had to admit that any awkwardness she felt on the other side of the front door evaporated pretty much as soon as she stepped inside.
Kate ended up seated at the island with Martha, watching Alexis and Castle prepare the fixings for tacos.
"Is everything ready to grate the cheese?"
"Aye aye Captain." Alexis said with a quick military salute. "Grater and bowl at the ready. Permission to proceed?"
"Permission granted Lieutenant. I'll ready the red peppers." Castle told her as he took out a knife.
"You know," Martha remarked to her companion, "I was hoping that with you around they might act more normally."
Kate smiled, "Castle? Normal?"
Martha sighed, "Yes, I guess that's true. It probably was a bit of a pipe dream. At least they're using navy ranks today and not something obscure from Star Wars or something. Half the time I'm not even sure what they're talking about."
"Yeah, but at least they're having fun." Kate said with an indulgent smile. "It's nice that they're that close," she added.
Martha was watching the other woman closely, "I guess you're right. Still, living in an apartment where it's not unheard of to walk in on a fencing match isn't exactly ordinary."
"Neither is walking in on the middle of a selection of Broadway's greatest hits," Kate couldn't help pointing out with a smile.
Martha grinned back, "Touché detective. And I suspect that it's also rare to walk into a police station and find a novelist helping out."
"For good reason," Kate retorted.
"Well, possibly," Martha acknowledged, before going back to her wine.
Kate was silent as well for a few minutes, observing the pair in front of her. "Are you two sure you don't need any help?" she asked.
"For the eighteenth time Detective," Castle told her, "my crew's got everything under control. We'll have this meal ship-shape and ready to go shortly. Would you relax? If that's at all possible of course."
"I was just trying to help," she said with a scowl.
"I know, and I appreciate it. But I've declined, several times in fact, so now you can sit there and do nothing with a clear conscience."
"Really Kate," Alexis added, "We've got everything under control."
"Alright. Oh, how's your friend doing?" Kate remembered to ask.
"Paige? She's good." Alexis told her. "Angry at anyone with a Y chromosome, but other than that good."
"Well, I'm glad she's getting through it. And look on the bright side," Kate told the younger girl, "angry's better than depressed and moping."
"Here here!" Martha agreed.
"I hadn't thought about it like that," Alexis said with a considering look.
"Yeah, well hope that you don't have enough experience with this sort of thing that you start." Kate told her.
"Is that likely given the mental faculties of high school boys?" Alexis couldn't help asking.
Kate grinned in response, "No, but you can always hope."
"Hey!" Castle interjected. "I know it's post-breakup and all, but I feel like I need to step in and defend the male sex."
"Were you particularly enlightened in high school Castle?" Kate asked him.
"Hah!" Martha scoffed. "Enlightened, he was still smack dab in the middle of the Dark Ages!"
"And were any of your friends particularly in touch with their emotions either?" Kate prodded.
"Well, no but, come on detective we were high school boys."
"My point exactly."
Okay, so he figured her point may be a valid one, but... give the men a break would ya? It was adolescence. "Still, I'm feeling a bit out-manned here. Literally."
"Oh come off it Dad," Alexis told him. "What if it was me we were talking about instead of Paige?"
"He'd be plotting the poor boy's painful demise." Martha told her.
"What? Has Owen done anything?" Castle asked his daughter suspiciously.
"No!" Alexis said forcefully. "It was hypothetical. Dad, I told you, Owen's sweet. My point was that sometimes boys are jerks."
But Castle still felt the need to clarify one very important fact even if it did end up making their point for them. "So Owen hasn't done anything to hurt you in any way?"
"No Dad. Geez, relax would you?" Alexis told him.
"I am relaxed, just a bit concerned."
"Yeah, just a bit." His daughter said sarcastically.
"Oh, I wouldn't worry too much Alexis, he only asked me to run a background check on him the one time." Kate pointed out.
"Dad!" Alexis cried.
"What?" Castle asked her. "I was being a good father. Wanted to make sure he was good enough."
"A background check?" his daughter asked scandalized.
"Well, it's not like Beckett'd do it anyways," Castle remarked petulantly.
"Thanks Kate." Alexis said quickly.
"No problem." Kate told her.
"I can't believe you tried to run a background check on my date. That's almost worse than the severed head." Alexis told her father.
"The severed head?" Kate asked.
"Fake obviously."Martha supplied. "His method of intimidation before the big dance. Luckily we caught him."
"Just." Alexis muttered darkly.
"Hey! It's a father's right to intimidate the crap out of his daughter's dates and I won't apologize for it. You two sucked most of the fun out of it anyways." Deciding a change in the subject was in order Castle said, "Okay Lieutenant, vegetable roll call. Peppers?"
"Chopped and ready."
"Present and accounted for."
"Crisping in the fridge."
"Not a vegetable, but I'm just finishing with the grating."
"Excellent," Castle said as he put the cutting board in the sink. "Then all that's left is to finish browning the beef."
"And get out the hot sauce, sour cream and salsa," his daughter reminded him.
"Lieutenant, you have your orders."
"Aye aye Captain." Alexis said as she opened the fridge.
Dinner was a fairly lively affair, but seemed to go smoothly. Kate had to admit she was having fun. The entire Castle family really was good company, and didn't make her feel like the outsider that she really was. She supposed it was because they were rather used to company. Alexis told her about the time that they had an extra twelve people over for tacos as part of an end of the school year celebration.
Castle was fairly pleased with everything. The tacos were good, as usual. Alexis was happy, mother was in fine form and Kate seemed to be handling everything well. She looked almost like herself again. And she didn't seem to be mad at him at all. He decided unless something unexpected happened the night could be placed firmly in the success category.
As dinner was winding down Martha stood, "Well, I guess that's my cue to start the clean-up."
"Do you need any help?" Kate asked her.
"Nonsense, you're our guest," Martha told her.
"I can give you a hand Grams!" Alexis offered immediately.
"Yes. Lovely." Martha accepted her granddaughter's offer as quickly as it was offered. "Why don't you two just go relax in the other room while we clean up in here?"
Alexis nodded vigorously in agreement. Castle felt like putting his head in his hands. Couldn't they have at least tried to be subtle?
If Kate thought anything was amiss she didn't show it. "Actually, there are a couple of things I wanted to talk to you about before tomorrow Castle."
He looked up concerned. Maybe putting the evening in the success category so quickly had been a bad idea. He hoped he hadn't jinxed it. "Oh? Well, sure. Why don't we go into my office then?"
"Alright. As long as you two are sure you don't need any help."
"No, no..." Alexis told her politely.
Martha was much more direct. "Go!" she practically shouted.
Kate grinned. "Alright, come on Castle."
Castle led his partner into his office and tried to wait patiently for her to tell him what was on her mind. Maybe she thought this was an ideal time to try and enforce new rules for him at the office since he was still trying to win his way back into her favour? Had she come up with conditions for their partnership? Or worst of all, was she reconsidering it altogether? He didn't think so, but... Oh, screw patience. It was overrated anyways. He'd just try and keep the tone light.
"So Detective, have you brought me in here to inform me of the new rules I'm to follow?"
Kate looked mildly confused, "Hm? Rules? That implies there's a slight chance you'd actually follow them. I gave up on that a while ago."
"You know me well." Castle said with a grin. Okay, he thought, so not rules. Well that could be good. But what then?
"Hey, if you want to ignore my advice and get yourself killed, who am I to stop you?" Kate told him in response. Then she took a breath and decided to just get right to the point. "It's about my mother's case."
Oh. Okay, well he hadn't really been expecting that. He'd thought that when she said she needed more time she'd meant more than twenty-four hours, but he guessed given how quickly her mind worked he shouldn't be surprised. "Right, of course. What about it?"
Kate couldn't help noticing that the second she'd mentioned her mother any hint of a smile dropped off of Castle's face. Really he'd be much easier to stay mad at if he weren't so considerate. Not that she really wanted to be mad at him anymore, but you know, in the future that might change.
"I want in." She told him.
Well that was hardly surprising. He'd always assumed that when she'd come to terms with things that'd be her decision, he'd just expected it to take a bit longer. Still, he didn't want her to feel pressured into it, especially if it would send her off the deep end. "You sure?" he asked.
"No. Well, yes." She was sure, she just wished she wasn't.
"I'm not trying to pressure you Detective." He told her slowly. "This is totally your decision."
"Yes, I'm sure." She told him more forcefully. "I don't really want to, and I'm still a bit worried, but I know that I won't be able to live with myself if I don't. Besides, knowing that she was deliberately murdered and then not doing anything will probably make me crazier than getting involved again. At least this way I'll be doing something."
"And you won't be alone this time," he couldn't help pointing out.
"No." She met his eyes solidly then, and he was shocked by the determination he saw in them, but he held her gaze evenly. He'd meant it when he said he wouldn't abandon her. And if she was starting to believe it then that was all the better.
Still, he wasn't sure exactly what she wanted. "Do you want me to get the file now? Or..."
"No. Not now." Kate said, running a hand through her hair. "I'm not sure I'm actually ready to start today. Maybe Monday or Tuesday, if we're not in the middle of another case. I think I still need another day to psych myself up."
"Of course. Like I said, no pressure."
She didn't look like she was going to say anything else so he continued. "Still, it's great that you're on board. I mean, not great, but you know, with you helping I figure we've got a better chance of getting somewhere..."
"Castle, stop babbling," she told him. She'd never noticed how endearing that could be. He only did it when he was nervous or unsure of what was going on or what to do. She guessed in this situation it was the latter.
"Right. It's just, it's a good thing that there's the new information, but still, I wish you didn't have to go through this again. I wish you didn't have to make the choice." And he didn't even if he'd been the one to give it to her.
"Yeah, about that..." she started to tell him.
Oh here we go. This was it, she was about to tear him a new one for interfering in her mother's case again. He knew the evening was going too well. He braced himself for the onslaught.
She didn't disappoint. "You had no right to pry into my private life without my permission. It was an unbelievable invasion of my privacy, and like you said last night, unbelievably arrogant on your part. Sometimes I'm not sure exactly how your brain works Castle. Honestly. You get a copy of my mother's file somehow, do some amateur sleuthing in hopes of catching her killer, in the process poking your nose in the biggest disaster of my life. Do you have any idea how betrayed I felt? Really, it's absolutely unbelievable."
He thought about interrupting her then to defend himself, but one look at her face convinced him against it. He watched as she took another breath and prepared himself for the worst. He was surprised when the tone of her voice changed abruptly. "It might also be the sweetest thing anyone's ever done for me in my life."
"What?" he asked in shock.
"Castle, you poke your nose where it's not wanted, and you spend your day trying to irritate me as much as possible at my job and most of the time I think you're five-year-old in an adult's body. But I don't think that you're cruel. And..." she shrugged, searching for the words, "I mean, no one else has even offered to look into... So even if the way you did it made me want to shoot you... You had good intentions. And you might have found something. Last night you said you just wanted to give me something. Something important. So thank you for that Castle. I..." She shrugged her shoulders. "It was oddly sweet is all."
He felt like he'd been hit in the head with one of those cartoon mallets. He needed to be closer to her. Why was she all the way on the other side of the room? He took a few steps towards her, hardly knowing what he was doing, and trying to formulate some sort of appropriate response. "Kate, I..."
She smiled at his inarticulacy, "The great Rick Castle at a loss for words? Well that makes this even better."
"It's just... I really never meant..."
"I know," she told him softly.
"You're sure about this?" He couldn't help asking.
"I'm sure, but I have conditions."
"You have to promise me you won't let me go crazy." Because she really was worried about that.
"Goes without saying." He'd spend his evenings holding her hand if he had to, but it'd get done.
"If any of this, and I mean any of it, ends up in one of your books..."
"Not a chance." He said forcefully.
"You say that now..."
He took another step towards her and looked her right in the eye, "Detective, I give you my word. None of this ends up in a novel."
She nodded and seemed to accept that, "Good because if it does I'm taking Ryan and Esposito up on their offer to kill you and hide the body so it's never found."
"Fair enough." He told her. "Anything else?"
"Yeah, I reserve the right to change my mind."
"Never knew a woman who didn't."
"And you have to give me as many hugs as I want until we catch the bastard."
"Sure thiii… What?" Well that was unexpected.
"Hugs Castle. You know, those things where you put your arms around another person and maybe squeeze? You seemed pretty familiar with the concept yesterday."
Okay, well, he wasn't sure how to react, so he decided to go with a suggestive comment to try and bring things back to normal. "Detective are you trying to find ways to get close to me? Because all you had to do was ask."
"I believe that's what I just did," Kate pointed out logically.
"Right." He grinned, "Beckett should you require any form of physical comfort of any kind, my services are always at your disposal."
She smirked, "Is that the case?"
"Oh, absolutely," he told her as he took yet another step towards her without realizing it.
"How're you at massages?"
"Back, neck, shoulder, foot or full body? My hands are at your disposal. Clothing optional."
She snickered. "How very noble of you."
He sobered a little then, "Seriously though Beckett, whatever you need. Even if it's just a place to escape for a few hours. You're always welcome here. And I promise I'll be there with you every step of the way.
"I know," She told him with a soft smile. "And that's why I forgive you."
He stopped dead in his slow move towards her. "Really?" He asked, his face breaking out into an enormous grin.
She couldn't help but smiling too when she saw it. He really could be very charming. "Really."
"Kate," he whispered as he started moving again, his nobler intentions beginning to disappear.
"Castle." She responded, with a small smirk, tilting her head towards him. She hadn't noticed how close he'd gotten over the course of the conversation. They'd started on opposite sides of the room, but he'd been steadily moving towards her, and now she was practically against the door.
The same thought was occurring to Castle as he ran a hand down her arm and took her hand in his. "I was expecting you to get me in here alone, only to really let me have it for a second night in a row," he confessed.
"Well, I did yell at you a little bit. If you wanted me to yell some more I'm sure I could always think of..." Kate trailed off when he used his other hand to brush the hair out of her face.
"No, that's okay." Castle told her. "Plenty of time for that later."
Well, she was no longer almost backed up against the door. Huh. Nice and solid. She wondered what would happen if she just turned the handle. She really should. But, then they wouldn't get to finish their conversation. And it was important. Yes. Very important. He really was sinfully handsome. She needed to say something. It was her turn. "True, knowing you I'll probably be ready to kill you again tomorrow."
"Hmmm. Probably." Castle told her absently, choosing to focus instead on her mouth smirking up at him. "Kate, I know this is probably the world's most inappropriate time for this but..." He trailed off, his brain deciding speech was becoming far too much of a nuisance.
So he kissed her.
He kissed her in his office, against the door, while his mother and daughter were in the other room cleaning. After he'd invited her over to have tacos of all things. So not really the most romantic of situations really, but he didn't much care. He was kissing Kate Beckett. And she'd been right. He'd had absolutely no idea how much fun it would be.
It wasn't a long kiss. After all, he was still trying to maintain some semblance of his nice guy status, and even if she was kissing him back, she had just found out her mother was deliberately murdered. Still, when he pulled back he went just far enough to check her facial expression, unwilling to completely lose the feel of her body heat. She opened her eyes and looked at him, the edges of her mouth quirked up in the slightest of smiles.
"You still smell like citrus." He told her. Not the most brilliant of responses he admitted, but under the circumstances... (The circumstances being him standing within a foot of Kate Beckett)
She smiled. "It's my shampoo." She told him as she leaned against the door. He'd boxed her in, she noticed idly. When he'd been kissing her he'd let go of her hand to rest his palm against the door while the hand that he'd abandoned had somehow found its way up to his shoulder. She wondered what his sweater was made of. It was really unbelievably soft. So that meant that unfortunately the material was probably out of her price range, not to mention dry clean only.
"And the aloe's what, your body wash?" Castle couldn't help asking.
"Yes actually," she confirmed, oddly pleased that he'd noticed.
"Hm. You smell really good."
She let out a soft laugh. "Thanks. You're cologne's not so bad either." This should have been more awkward than it was she thought to herself, but somehow it wasn't, it was just her and Castle. It was nice. Still, his daughter was only a room away. "We should get back in there." She told him.
He disagreed. "Or, we could just stay here."
"Probably not a great idea."
"No, but we could do it anyways. Live on the edge Detective," Castle said with a smile.
"Oh you have no idea." Kate returned quickly.
"You say that, but I have yet to see a single instance of really crazy behaviour."
"I kissed you, what does that tell you?" She couldn't help asking.
"Technically I kissed you." He corrected.
"Shut up Castle."
"You know Detective, you say that a lot, but you never do anything to try and enforce the order." He had her there, he thought to himself.
She shrugged, "You're right, I'll have to work on that." Before he could react she wrapped both arms around his neck and solidly kissed him. She felt one arm wrap around her waist and the other hand move up to her hair as he eased her back against the door. She let out a small sound of pleasure and let herself slide into him. Well, she admitted to herself, he could certainly back up the sinful promise she'd heard in his voice with his mouth. Pulling away from him and enjoying the somewhat stunned look on his face, she grinned and slipped from his arms. "Come on Castle, they'll be waiting for us, not to mention wondering what's taking so long."
"Assuming they're not standing on the other side of this door." He pointed out, though he sincerely hoped that wasn't the case.
"True. Does your family often spy on you then?"
"Only when they think something exciting's going to happen," he told her.
"Well then perhaps we should go back before they get really suspicious and come looking for us." She said as she reached for the door knob.
But Castle got there before she did, "Kate."
"What happens now?"
"Well, I was assuming we'd go out there and you'd offer me coffee or tea," she told him lightly.
He smiled, "Well that works for the immediate future, but I was wondering about after that. I'd really like to kiss you again."
She smiled then. Really smiled. He couldn't help smiling back. If they kept up with the whole kissing thing it really was inevitable that she found out about the effect it had on him. Ah well. "You'd like to kiss me again?" she asked, her voice taking on a teasing quality.
"Umm, yeah." He'd figured that was definitely obvious.
"Well, you know Castle," she told him, "I'm not sure this is an altogether appropriate conversation to be having with your daughter in the next room." He nearly growled in frustration, and tried to reach for her again, but she put him off with a hand very firmly planted on his chest. "On the other hand, I think that we should probably continue this later," and this time it was her smile that turned sinful, "at a more convenient time and place." And with that she slipped from his arms and out the door.
When his Beckett-fogged mind had cleared enough to register what she'd said he grinned, and quickly followed her into the other room, unwilling to let her out of his sight until absolutely necessary.
Kate found Martha and Alexis just putting away the last of the dishes. "Well that was good timing," she said as she walked up.
"Yes it was," Martha agreed. "Did you two get everything sorted out for tomorrow?" she asked as she tried to analyze the other woman as subtly as possible.
"Yup, everything's taken care of." Kate said.
"Who wants coffee?" Castle asked as he walked up.
"None for me Dad," Alexis told him. "I'll never be able to sleep and it's a school night."
"I'll have a cup or two." Martha told him.
"Me too." Kate accepted.
"Alright, then why don't I make a pot," Castle told them. "It'll hold us for the immediate future," he said with a wink towards his partner.
Kate grinned, while Martha and Alexis exchanged confused glances.
"You okay Dad?" Alexis asked him.
"Never better honey. Why?"
"No reason, you're acting kind of strange." Alexis couldn't help pointing out.
"More so than usual?" he asked her.
"Well, maybe not," his daughter conceded.
For her part Martha was only half paying attention to the conversation between father and daughter. She was too busy watching her son and his lovely Detective. She seemed to be acting fairly normally, but he couldn't seem to keep his eyes off of her for more than twenty seconds. Now it might be nothing, he might just be trying to make sure she was okay, or...
Before Martha could think of anything to say to test her suspicions, Kate's phone rang. She winced. "I should have known the chances I get through two whole weekends in the same month without being called in were slim. Sorry, I have to take this."
"Of course." Martha said smoothly, glancing swiftly at her son, who'd gone completely still.
"Beckett." Kate said into her phone. She listened for a minute before sighing softly. "And I had such high hopes that no one would be murdered in a particularly deranged way this weekend. Where is it? Okay, I'll be there in twenty minutes." Kate hung up her phone and glanced at the three generations of Castles apologetically. "I'm afraid coffee's going to have to wait. I just got called in."
"Well, we'll just have to do this another time then." Martha told her.
"Yeah, maybe next month." Alexis added.
"I'd like that." Kate said with a smile. "Thank you for having me for taco night."
"Oh it was our pleasure." Martha told her.
"Yeah. It was great." Alexis added.
"Like I said," Castle told her. "You're always welcome."
"Thanks," she told him as she reached for her purse. Turning back she added, "So you coming or what?"
His face split into the most ridiculous grin. She almost laughed. "Just let me get my coat! He told her. I'll be right back."
"He really does need to work on looking less pleased whenever there's a particularly grisly murder," she remarked casually.
"No kidding." Alexis said.
After Beckett and Castle had left Alexis turned to her grandmother, "So, what do you think?"
"I'm not sure." Martha admitted slowly. "They've certainly worked out their personal and professional differences, but whether anything else is going on... I think it's too early to say. If she'd stayed longer I might have been able to tell you more"
"It's a shame she had to leave so quickly," Alexis said.
"Yes, because the way the two of them are something might never happen."
"Unless she happened to be around him a lot more outside of work." Alexis pointed out.
"That's true, but what are you suggesting, that we start inviting her over any time anything remotely out of the ordinary is going on?" Martha asked semi-sarcastically. The two Castle women looked at each other.
"I'll go get my calendar." Alexis said.
"I'll check the theatre schedules to see if there are any performances that we absolutely cannot miss."
"Meet back here in ten minutes?"
"You got it."
Detectives Ryan and Esposito were loitering nervously near the crime scene.
"I don't know man. I mean, he's supposed to come back tomorrow. Think we should call him?" Esposito asked.
"Do we know for sure he's coming back?" Ryan pointed out. "Because if he is, yeah he should probably be here I guess, but if he's not..."
"No point in calling him, and irritating Beckett." Esposito finished for his partner. He certainly didn't want to be the one to tell her that they'd called the consultant she seemed to want to forget existed. After all, like most people, Esposito enjoyed it when he could use his limbs without pain.
"Exactly!" Ryan agreed cheerfully. It would make things easier if they didn't have to call. "On the other hand the chief did say Castle was coming back Monday..."
"Yeah." Esposito said despondently. "Still..."
"Guys!" Lanie interrupted from her place beside the body. "If you're that afraid of her, why don't you just wait until she gets here and let her make the decision? That way she won't kill you and Montgomery won't be made either because it'll be her call."
Ryan and Esposito glanced at each other. "She does make a good point." Ryan told his partner.
"She certainly does." Esposito agreed, glad that the decision had just been taken out of their hands.
At that moment Beckett herself walked in. "Hi guys! Whaddya we got?"
"Multiple gunshot wounds to the torso, body's over there under the bridge. Victim appears to be dressed up as some kind of human teddy bear." Ryan told her.
"Lovely." Kate remarked. "I'll go see if Lanie's got anything."
She walked over to her friend. "You have anything else?" she asked.
"Not really. Cause of death is multiple stab wounds to the chest. Happened between six and eight hours ago, but other than that you'll have to wait till I get him back to the morgue." Lanie paused, "How you been," she asked her friend carefully.
"I'm fine Lanie." Kate told her firmly. And Lanie couldn't help agreeing with that statement. Beckett certainly looked better than she had in a while. She wondered if anything was going on.
"Umm, Beckett?" Ryan asked nervously.
"Yeah?" Beckett said absently.
"Ah, we were wondering," he said gesturing between him and Esposito, "What about Castle?"
Becket straightened and kept her face as impartial as possible. "What about him?"
Esposito came to his partner's aid, "Well we were thinking of calling him, since he's, you know, supposed to be back soon, but then we thought..."
"Way to just abandon me out there Beckett! Geez, I thought that woman was going to smother me!" the man in question said as he walked over to the crime scene.
Esposito and Ryan looked surprised, while Lanie just raised her eyebrows and watched in interest.
"Well, you know what they say Castle, anything for a fan." Beckett said with a grin. "Besides, she seemed lovely."
"She was wearing what appeared to be an outfit entirely composed of pink feathers and wanted to give me her entire life story, including her many medical problems," he retorted. He'd had the scare of his life when she'd started going on about the concussion she'd received falling off of a scooter when she was twelve.
"Look on the bright side llama-boy, no scrapbook," Kate told him cheerfully. "Now, are you going to keep complaining or do you want to come over here and look at this?" she asked him.
"I'm coming, I'm coming." Castle muttered under his breath. "Hey guys." He said to Ryan and Esposito.
"Hey man." Esposito said still in shock.
"Llama boy?" Ryan mouthed to his partner. Esposito just shrugged and continued to stare at the pair who'd just arrived.
"You so owe me details girl." Lanie said quietly to her friend as they waited for the consultant to join them.
Kate turned to the other woman, her face transforming into a mischievous smile, as she nodded. "Later."
Lanie's eyes widened, but before she could say anything else she was interrupted by Castle's approach. "What do we have here Doctor Parish? Whoa! Well there's one teddy bear no child wants to play with. You know, I was thinking once of buying..."
Beckett sighed, "The case Castle."
Back on the other side of the crime scene Esposito and Ryan were still watching the scene in front of them.
"I keep expecting someone to jump out and yell April Fools!" Esposito said to his partner.
"Guess we don't have to worry about who has to call him anymore." Ryan remarked.
"That's true." Esposito agreed. As he watched the new arrivals something else seemed to strike him, "Hey bro, you think this means we can go back to drinking the good coffee?"
Ryan watched as Beckett smacked Castle upside the head, and started chastising him for some reason or other. The writer pretended looked contrite, before grinning inanely the second the detective's back was turned. "Oh, definitely," Ryan answered with a grin of his own.