Kate sat at her desk in the precinct, looking at the little box in front of her. She'd found it on the bedside table when she'd woken up, the giver nowhere in sight. But there was a note with it, a note that sat beside it on her blotter.
I love you.
I want you.
It was unconventional, to say the least, but admittedly, none of the steps of their relationship had every been conventional. Their first kiss had come months before their first date. They'd planned their first night together, only to be interrupted by a case and it had ended up being quick and needy rather than the slow burn she knew they'd both anticipated. Her 'I love you' had been blurted out in an epiphany moment three weeks before he told her for the first time. So it made sense that his proposal wouldn't be a meticulously planned diamond commercial.
But what she loved most was that he'd given her space.
She was notoriously independent, even in their relationship, sometimes to the point of bullheadedness. He stuck by her, every step of the way, there for her when the Detective Beckett shell crumbled and she became just Kate again. Every time she fell, Rick was there to pick her up and though, to most, she seemed like the strong one, what was important was that she knew better. He held her up. She just tried to return the favour every once in a while.
So it was apparent that he'd known, even in this, he needed to give her room. She'd told him once that she didn't think he went for 'real', but both of them knew she was about as real as it got. She bordered on pessimism sometimes, but it meant that his optimism didn't run wild and her pessimism never consumed her. At least, not to the extent it had when she was without a steady and supportive relationship.
She flipped open the box, taking in the tasteful marquis cut center diamond, and the two smaller ones flanking it. It was a perfect ring, beautiful, stunning, but simple and much smaller than she knew most people would expect from him. Simpler than they probably did expect.
Because as she was fond of telling him, he had been married. Twice. Had being the relevant term.
She couldn't say she was totally surprised by the ring. Surprised, definitely, because she was pretty sure that things between them were good enough that she wasn't necessarily looking to change them, but not floored. Not completely and utterly taken aback by the proposal. This kind of understated quietness wasn't his way, but it was hers. Plus, really, after his disastrous marriages, she really hadn't thought he was the marrying kind.
And yet again, he'd gone and surprised her.
"Oh my God, Kate."
She jumped, snapping the lid of the box shut and quickly stuffing it and the note into her pocket. She'd let her thoughts get away from her and that was the only reason Lanie had been able to sneak up on her. "Hi Lanie."
"What the hell was that?" the ME hissed. "Was it what I think it was?"
"You and me. Coffee. Now."
Kate knew better than to argue with that particular tone of voice and immediately went for her coat, slipping it on and following Lanie out of the twelfth. They made their way through the bitter cold New York winter to their favourite coffee shop, a little boutique place most people from the precinct didn't bother with. Lanie waited until they were seated in a little back corner table with their coffees before holding out her hand. With a heavy sigh, Kate withdrew the ring box and put it in Lanie's outstretched hand.
The deceptively diminutive woman inspected the ring carefully. "The man has taste. I expected something…. Flashier. Bigger. This fits you."
"I don't know that." The defensive tone came out automatically and Lanie arched an eyebrow.
"You haven't tried it on?"
Kate huffed out a sigh. "I haven't even tried it on," she admitted.
"Why?" Lanie asked in genuine confusion. "You love him, Kate. True, genuine, everything every hopeless romantic wants."
Kate played with the handle of her mug. "I'm… I'm not sure I want to be his third wife."
"You're scared? Now? Two and a half years into a relationship?"
"No," Kate argued. "Cautious. The relationship… It's a fantastic thing, Lanie. And it's working. Marrying…"
"It's still fear if you're holding back," Lanie replied, snapping the box closed after withdrawing the ring. "You don't think he's the marrying kind."
"And you do?" Kate pointed out. "Two divorces isn't a really great track record, and it's not like we don't have a great relationship now. Why do we have to get married?"
"Katie," the ME began with a quick click of her tongue. "Did he ever tell you why he got divorced?"
"Of course he did," Kate replied. They'd done the full disclosure over time, each of them breaking down some rather strong barriers and ripping scabs off still healing wounds. Kate wasn't sure there was a skeleton in his closet that she didn't know about and she was pretty positive she'd emptied hers.
"Then you know why they fell apart. Are either of those reasons factors or issues in your relationship?"
Kate's brow wrinkled. Meredith had run of with her lover, flighty and childish and not ready for the responsibilities of a family. Kate… she really wasn't sure there was anyone else for her. Gina had been controlling, focused on his money and his fame rather than him. Kate wasn't after his money and regardless of their relationship fought him when he tried to use too much of it at one time. She adored Alexis like her own, regardless of the rough patches their relationship had gone through as all three of them worked out the growing pains of his shifting attention. "No."
"Then maybe your notion of him not being the marrying kind isn't that true," Lanie said, voice matter-of-fact. "Maybe he is the marrying kind and he's just not marrying the right kind."
"You sure you don't write for Hallmark in your spare time?" Kate asked her best friend wryly. "Or a soap opera?"
"Please, as if it doesn't fit with you two," Lanie shot back. "My cavities have cavities from watching how sweet the two of you can be." She paused a moment. "You have so much faith in him, Girl. It shows, every day, every time you look at him, and he puts his world and his heart in your hands. I'd kill for something like that."
It brought tears to Kate's eyes as took the ring from Lanie's outstretched hands.
She unlocked the door to the loft after her shift, surprised that she'd actually made it home on time. The loft was quiet, but the soft strains of classical music and the flurry of typing signaled his presence. She moved, pushing open the door to Rick's study and finding him pouring over his computer. Usually, she left him like this because she knew better than to interrupt in the middle of inspiration, but this was too important to wait for his muse to putter away.
He looked up at the sound of the opening door, smiling despite the fear in his eyes as she stepped in. "Hey you."
"Hey yourself," she replied, stopping in front of his desk. She reached in her pocket and pulls out the box, flipping it around in her right hand. "I found this on my bedside table this morning."
He closed the laptop and she could visibly see him swallow. "Is that a fact."
"Mmhmm." She put the box on the blotter and slid it his way. "You know, I didn't think you were really the marrying kind."
He looked crestfallen as he took in the box but Kate was banking on his natural curiosity. Sure enough, he reached for it, flipping it open and pausing. She watched him carefully as he pulled out the little slip of paper she'd folded neatly inside.
Ask me for real.
He snorted and she knew it was a little bit of relief and a little bit of thankfulness for lightening the moment. Then his eyes met hers, serious, sincere as he stood and made his way around the desk. They were eye to eye, since she was still wearing her power heels from work, but he knelt to one knee.
Simple, straight, to-the-point, and so much her that she couldn't stop herself from chuckling a little. Then she moved, kneeling before him, her hands coming to his cheeks. She knew he could feel the cool metal of the ring she'd already put on her left hand against the skin of his cheek, and his eyes lit up, already aware of her answer. Still, she leaned forward, brushing her mouth against his as she confirmed it.
First off, this doesn't take place in any universe that exists. It doesn't follow Gambler or anything like that, it's a happy little stand alone piece. And the reason I say that is because I was re-reading Gambler (as I'm actually surprisingly apt to do, re-reading my own stuff) and it hit me about intent and being invested... Well, I guess the inspiration doesn't necessarily matter to you, so I'll shut up before I get rambly!
Though I wouldn't mind rambling reviews...