He felt like he had been punched in the stomach. A million thoughts were running through his head, but he couldn't seem to put any of them into words.
This is not how things were supposed to work out. She was supposed to stay in my bed. She was supposed to wake up to find me watching her sleep. She was supposed to know that I wanted her to be there. She was supposed to know that I have always wanted her there, and that I couldn't imagine ever not wanting her there. She should know how over the moon mother and Alexis would be if it all worked out the way it should.
She was not supposed to have tiptoed out of my apartment crying. She was not supposed to spend the next two days ignoring my calls. She was not supposed to think I had my fun and was moving on. She was not supposed to just give up.
He hit the emergency stop button on the elevator before the doors could open. He couldn't let her walk out, and keep pretending what happened didn't mean anything.
She stopped with her back to him, and thought about whether she was angry or relieved that he stopped her. "What are you doing?" The tone of her voice said angry. She knew it was best to stick with her original plan of getting away while she still had the willpower to do so, but she knew that deep down, she was relieved. She wanted him to make her believe it could work.
"What I should have done two days ago. What I should have done before I let things get so messed up and confused. We are going to sit down and talk about this, about us."
She looked nervously at the elevator door, and then turned and looked at Castle. He sat down on the floor, his back leaning against the wall. He held his hand out to her, not sure what he would do if she refused him. She didn't. She hesitated long enough to make him worry, but eventually she put her hand in his. He held on to it a moment before he tugged on it for her to sit next to him. She waited for him to let go, but he held on tightly.
"You don't trust me. That's a big problem."
She was sitting beside him, her back against the wall, her eyes on the far corner of the elevator. She could feel his eyes boring into her, but she couldn't look at him. "I really want to. You've made it difficult." She had to say some difficult things, and if she looked into his eyes, she didn't know if she could do it.
"You thought the other night was just about sex."
"I have to admit, a part of me felt that way." She looked down at their hands, his fingers linked through hers.
"It wasn't. It was about being with you. You didn't think I would want you to be there in the morning. There is nothing I wanted more."
"It was a very loud part of me that felt that way. It keeps getting louder." His thumb was drawing warm lines up and down the side of her hand.
"I don't want to hurt you. If I didn't think I was ready for this, I would not have let it happen. You've known all along how much I care about you. If you didn't, you never would have let it happen. Maybe I should have made my intentions clear before things went so far, but I thought we would have had all day yesterday to talk and work out the details. What about the other part? What was the other part of you feeling?"
"It was a very quiet part, but it was telling me to stay and find out. It was telling me that maybe I should trust my instincts, maybe I should trust you."
He squeezed her hand, and brought it up to his lips. "You really should, and you can. You will see." He kissed each of her knuckles. "Please look at me." Her eyes were filled with tears, but she complied with his request, and risked looking into his eyes. "Can I ask you three questions? Same rules apply, only truthful answers?"
She laughed, and shook her head. "You want to play Truth or bullshit again? Now?" One thing she could always depend on with Castle, was his unpredictability. She brushed at a tear with the back of her free hand, and cursed herself for not being able to say no to him. She rolled her eyes.
"Yes. I do. Since the elevator is not working, we have plenty of time, right?"
"Sure, Castle. Why not?" He was holding her hand in both of his. She knew she had a decision to make. Was she just prolonging the inevitable choice that had to be made? It would hurt, a lot, to cut herself off from him. She would miss him. She would miss this. His charm, his devotion, his brutal honesty, his childlike innocence. These were all qualities that she normally wouldn't associate with someone who is not to be trusted. The more she thought about it, the more confused she became. It had been this way all weekend. She would come close to making a decision, then she would consider the alternative reality.
"Did you feel safe?"
She smiled at his odd question. "I guess, considering we were not doing it while sky diving, or while we were driving, and I guess I have to give you bonus points for having a condom laying around during your, um, dry spell."
"Sorry. . . defense mechanism." She tried to cover up her grin by looking down at their hands again.
"But I can take it as a yes?"
"Yes, I felt safe." She sighed to herself. He made her feel safe. She couldn't deny it. She may be the one with the training and the weapon, but when she was with him, she felt like nothing could hurt her. She sighed again. Except him. She had given him the ultimate power to hurt her. She felt the grin slip away, as she was reminded of the situation again. She looked up at him again, waiting for the next question.
"Was I respectful?"
The tears were suddenly blurring her vision again. She thought about her dad, and her answer to Castle's question that night, and was touched that he remembered. She looked away quickly, with a quiet yes as her answer. She felt him watching her, waiting for her to turn her attention back to him. When she did, she could tell that he was anxious about the next question, and she knew what it was going to be. It was time for her to come clean with her feelings, or deny them and move on.
"Do you think that you could ever fall in love with me?"
Kate suddenly recognized a very different Richard Castle. For once, he made a proposition, and he was not confident about the outcome. He was not just waiting for a confirmation of his desirability to the opposite sex. He was truly scared that he was not enough. He was terrified of being turned away. This brought about a new vulnerability that she never would have associated with her self assured, overly self confident friend.
"I think I already have, whether or not it is in my best interest."
"You already have . . . what?" His eyebrows went up, and he pointed to himself.
She only smiled, and nodded in agreement.
"Really?" He felt himself smiling for the first time in the last 48 hours, and thinking that maybe things were not as bleak as he feared. She was giving him a chance, and he knew that he could show her how much of a difference she had made in his life. He would prove to her that he was ready to get it right.
The End --
Thank you everyone for your many reviews and alerts. Alerts and Favorites may not make me grin uncontrollably like reviews do, but they are all good.