Disclaimer: I don't own Castle.
Summary: Set in the near future after "Date Night". Midnight musings lead Castle to realize that he's known Beckett far longer than he thought.
Ten Minutes Ago-
Detective Kate Beckett woke to the cold night air hitting her back.
She groaned and pulled her blankets tighter around her slender frame, blindly reaching for the warmth of her boy friend. Her eyes blinked open slowly when her reach came up with nothing—earning her nothing but an equally cold, empty side of the bed. She sat up and peered through her dark room, looking for any signs of her companion.
She had not been alone when she had fallen asleep. There was no mistaking that. She grabbed her bed coverings and pulled them around herself; shielding off the midnight cold as she leaned forward, trying to see if her bathroom light was on. But no light shined back at her. She was alone in the dark of her room. She looked to her clock; the bright digital numbers of 12:15 blinded her.
She rubbed her temple, trying to think. She hadn't fallen asleep that long ago, forty-five minutes at the most; though they had been in bed far longer than that. Her stomach warmed at the thought and she smiled. And yet---here she was by herself, horribly alone in the cold winter night.
With a sigh, Kate threw her bed spread off and quickly jumped for her robe, wrapping it around her and hugging herself close. She slipped her feet into slippers and treaded out of her room; in search of Richard Castle.
Kate walked into her living area to see Castle sitting in, what she liked call, her reading nook.
It was the small, far corner of the larger living area where she had set a comfortable reading chair in front of her bookshelf. It was a place she had spent many a time reading the books that he himself had written.
He had the lamp next to the chair switched on, sitting hunched over; studying the contents of a book with a furrowed brow.
"Rick?" Kate asked, rubbing her eyes against the bright light, trying to get her bearings. "What're you doing?"
He looked up and smiled sheepishly. "I was snooping."
Kate slowly walked over to the chair, her mind still heavy with sleep. "Again?"
"You know I have before?" Castle asked, his eyes widening slightly at being caught.
"Did you think you were being sneaky?" Kate chuckled slightly and sat on the arm of the chair. "If you're going to snoop, you shouldn't rearrange things."
"I'll have to be sneakier this time."
Kate shook her head and smiled. "What were you going through now?"
Castle showed Kate the book he had been looking at and she immediately felt her heart race. Her mouth formed a silent "oh".
"Why that?" she asked, scratching the back of her neck and feeling her face heat with embarrassment.
"I've been wondering just how big a fan you are."
"So you decided to read one of your own works?" Kate asked, eyeing the book in his hand, but knowing that wasn't his reason for picking the book up.
"I was curious as to why you keep two copies separate from the rest."
Kate turned slightly, looking up at the top of the book shelf where she kept her more valuable books. A copy of Storm Fall stared back at her, the copy that Castle had signed to her as a gift the first time they had worked together. The spot that was usually occupied next to it, however, was empty.
She turned back to face Castle, her cheeks burning an even brighter red; her eyes landing on the copy of Storm Rising.
"How come you never told me?"
Kate shrugged and picked at the hem of the shirt at his shoulder. "I was hoping you wouldn't remember, actually."
"Why?" He asked, an amused smile lighting his features.
Kate felt her face flush even more under his dancing eyes and she suddenly wished it was colder in the room. She shrugged again, letting her embarrassment answer for her. "Do you?"
Castle looked back to the book, flipping open the cover again, scanning the contents of the first page. "Now that I see this---I do. But I hadn't made the connection before." Castle shook his head. "Which I don't understand because I definitely remember meeting you."
"You do?" Kate asked stunned, eyes widening as she looked down at him.
"Of course I do," he said, his charming smile spreading. "You were breathtaking."
She flicked his ear.
"I'm serious," Castle said defiantly, rubbing his sore ear. "I don't know how I never realized it before…"
His voice faded as they both stared at the inscription on the book and Kate's mind took her years into the past…
Detective Kate Beckett waited in line.
She sighed and looked around.
No, she was not waiting in line. She had told herself she would never wait in line. Because waiting in line was for foolish little fan girls and middle aged women And she was neither of those two things.
She had told herself she would not wait in line. And she wasn't.
But what did it matter that she just happened to be in the area? What did it matter that she was an hour early? It didn't. It was coincidence---really.
She crossed her arms, hugging her copy of Storm Rising to her chest; silently daring any passer by to defy her logic.
"Have you met him before?" The woman standing in front of her asked.
Kate blinked and turned her head towards the woman, surprised at even being spoken too. "Uh---no."
"He's devilishly charming," the woman's friend said and the two giggled.
The two women smiled knowingly and turned away, continuing the conversation amongst themselves.
Kate pulled her arms away from her slightly and looked at the back cover of the book. The picture of Richard Castle smiled back at her. He did seem charming, she mused, as she scanned the photograph; if there was one thing working on the force had taught her, it was how to judge a person's character. His half lipped smile was inviting yet not revealing. His eyes danced, despite the fact that this picture was merely a snap shot in time. Attractive even---in a quiet, charming way.
Kate pulled the book closer and looked around again, turning to see over her shoulder. The line wrapped around the sidewalk and disappeared behind the building, and even then she could still see people (women) arriving.
She turned back around and wondered if all mystery writers had a dominantly female following. There was something slightly unsettling at seeing so many grown women lining up just for an autograph. And then she realized that she was one of those women..
"There he is!" Someone from the front called and Kate felt the entire mass of the line (herself included) shift to try and spot a glimpse of the famous Richard Castle. She could barely seem him through the store window, just the tip of his head as he settled himself in his chair.
The line moved slowly, yet efficiently. The writer seemed to be spending a sufficient amount of time with each person who presented him with a book, but not too much time. At least he was courteous.
With every step she took Kate felt nerves settle in her stomach. She had been a fan of Richard Castle's work since his first novel. She eagerly anticipated each new arrival. Despite the fact the she worked murders everyday; she was intrigued by someone else's take on murder. How this man, who never worked a job like she, was able to capture and explain murder fascinated her. And he did it all within a tightly woven, seamless plot.
He was good and he had captured her attention during a time in her life that she rather liked to forget. He had never met her, and yet Richard Castle had been able to bridge a gap for her when it came to her mother's death. If she couldn't explain her mother's murder. If she couldn't understand why it had happened—at least she could go home and read a book where the murder was explained in full, no detail forgotten. At least she could be given promise in the pages of his books that no victim would go unjustified.
And the fact that she was able to figure out the murderer before the last page was a definite ego booster.
Richard Castle was good, but he wasn't that good.
The two women standing in front of Kate finally left, their faces filled with glee. They winked at Kate as they left, leaving her to step forward and meet the writer who had captured her so. Excitement whirled in her stomach—fueling her and she suddenly realized that his was actually happening.
"Hi," Richard Castle said as she stepped forward, welcoming her to approach with that same smile she had just examined before.
"Um—hi," Kate said, not knowing how one was supposed to act in such a situation. Was she supposed to pretend like she knew him? She shifted uncomfortably and looked away. She could see a small girl peering around the large back drop behind him; her fiery red hair bright under the store light.
"Are you new?" He asked, holding out his hand for her book copy, bringing Kate's attention back to him.
She handed over the item, tilting her head to the side. "To the city?"
He chuckled a deep laugh, opening the book cover; he paused. "A new reader," he explained.
"Why do you ask that?"
"I've never seen you at a signing before."
Kate's brow furrowed as she processed his words; wondering if he always made such assumptions of small-mindedness. "Perhaps not all of your fans like to be seen."
Richard Castle paused, his pen hovering just above the book. "Simply choosing to fund my mortgage while they pick up each new release?" he asked, amused and Kate got the feeling that he was rather enjoying himself.
"Do you really believe you've met all of your readers?" Kate asked, crossing her arms and shifting her weight to one foot. She looked at him, unsure of what to make of the man before her. He was—different. Not at all like she had imagined. He seemed so---sure, but of what, Kate could not say.
He leaned forward slightly. "I'd bet a paycheck that I've met most."
Confident, the word came to Kate. And yet…
"That's an awfully mighty thing to say for yourself, Mr. Castle."
"You can call me Rick," he said, his smile forming into a roughish smirk as his eyes danced.
Devilishly charming rang through Kate's mind.
"And your name?" His question broke through her thoughts again.
"Why?" Kate asked, hating how she sounded panicked. Why did he want to know that?
He chuckled again. "So I can personalize your autograph," he explained, his smirk widening.
"Kate," she said, feeling her face flush with embarrassment.
"Pure," Richard Castle said, running the meaning of her name over his tongue—as if trying out the sound. "I rather like the sound of that; I think I should give a character your name.. What do you think?"
"I'd be flattered?"
"I'd hope so."
He paused then and scribbled in her book, finishing the somewhat long inscription with a flick of the wrist as he signed his name. He closed the book and handed it back. Resting his elbow on the table he smiled.
"There you go."
Kate took her book back, staring at the cover, but she didn't open the book to read what he had written. His name on the cover captured her attention and Kate suddenly realized where she actually was; his quick wisps of conversation having sidetracked her line of thought briefly. She was standing before the man whose writings took her out of reality. Whose writings gave her something to hold on to when she wasn't sure she could hold on any longer. Whose writings brought her sanity when sanity was seemed lost.
Yes, until this point he had never met her, and yet Richard Castle had been able to bridge a gap for her when it came to her mother's death.
And she was actually standing before him, meeting him.
She tore her eyes from the cover, looking up to see him staring back at her—that same smile winking at her.
"Thank you," she said her voice suddenly serious; a quick cut from the conversation they had just been having---Thanking him for so much more than a simple autograph.
His smile slowly faded as he continued to look at her. "You're…welcome," he said, his voice laced with confusion. Even he was uncertain what he was being thanked for.
"It was nice meeting you, Mr. Castle," Kate said, tucking her book under her arm.
She turned and walked away, feeling Richard Castle's stunned gaze follow her until she disappeared from sight.
Thank you for funding my mortgage, new or not. May your future readings continue to entertain.
"Your hair was longer then," Castle said, as he closed the book—breaking Kate from her memories.
Kate's hand self-consciously went to her hair; she could almost feel the weight of her hair falling just past her shoulders. "Too long," Kate said.
They became silent once more, Kate resting her weight into Castle's side, as they continued to look at the book he held.
"What did you thank me for?" Castle finally asked, turning slightly to look up at her.
Kate sighed, running her hands along the spine of the book. Despite their formed relationship, her inner demons concerning her mother were still something that Kate had a problem talking about, ones she still didn't quite know how to handle. And explaining how her boyfriend connected to that---It was something she was not quite sure she wanted to explain. If she even knew how to explain it.
"The autograph," Kate said, shifting slightly trying to stand.
"That's a lie," Castle accused, turning carefully, snatching her hand. "Why?"
"A story for another time," Kate said before he could restrain her any further she grabbed the book and turned—placing it on the top shelf, back where it belonged.
"That's not fair," Castle said, standing. "I'll have you know I lost sleep over that."
Kate rolled her eyes. "You did not."
"I did! Ask Alexis."
"Good. And I hope you feel guilty when you realize it's true."
Kate smiled slightly and shook her head. She clicked off the lamp and walked back towards her room, leaving Castle standing in the dark.
"Where are you going?" He asked after her, clearly confused at being left mid-conversation.
"Back to bed," Kate called over her shoulder. She paused just at the bedroom door and turned slightly, "You coming?"
Castle needed no further encouragement as he followed Kate back to her room.