A/N: look at me, not posting at 2 in the morning! lol :P. i definitely wasn't planning to continue this (as evidenced by the "FIN." at the bottom of part 1), but enough of you asked to see Castle & Beckett's dinner that it got me thinking. and you know how me & thinking works out... ;). it was reeeally slow going (damn you, defective muse!), but here we are! i unintentionally wrote this in the universe of Move You and my one-shot for the finale.
this is for all of you that asked for it!
disclaimer: i own Castle. i also own the Statue of Liberty, the Great Wall of China, and the moon.
"Ya know, when you asked me if I'm ready to catch murderers with you again, I wasn't expecting so much…"
Kate chuckled, and tossed her now dead pen into the trashcan below her desk. Indeed, it had been a very slow day. Hours of paperwork, dismantling the murder board, and ignoring the paper footballs that Ryan and Esposito were mindlessly flicking at the back of her head out of sheer boredom. Yep, aside from Rick Castle's return (and the fact that she had subsequently kissed him, of course), nothing remotely interesting had happened.
"Well, I'm sorry there aren't enough murders to keep you occupied," she said sardonically, fishing around the pencil cup on her desk for a new pen. Not finding one, she sighed and held out her hand.
Rick sighed dramatically, and stopped trying to balance the pen on his upper lip as a moustache. He grudgingly handed her his latest source of entertainment, and she uncapped it and resumed her work.
"Yeah, Castle," Esposito piped up from his desk. "Bummer nobody else has died today."
Ryan looked up from his work with a grin. "It's a shame, really."
Kate rolled her eyes in amusement. The boys had met Rick's return with an excessive amount of back-slapping, high fives, and 'feed the birds,' and had since been ribbing him incessantly. It was annoying in the best possible way. In times like these she felt obnoxiously female, but found she couldn't be happier to have her team whole and back to normal. Finally deciding to abandon her paperwork for a moment, she went to work folding a paper football.
Rick huffed indignantly. "Hey, all summer I looked forward to coming back here, and you mean to tell me that there are zero killers in business today?"
"That's the breaks, Castle," Kate said, still concentrating on her folding.
"And besides," Esposito said, a knowing smirk on his face, "I'm sure murder isn't the real reason you looked forward to coming back here, now, was it?"
Making her last fold, Kate spun her chair around to face away from her desk. Ryan, noticing what she was holding, held up his hands as a goalpost. She balanced the paper football on her knee and flicked it in his direction. It sailed between his upright pointer fingers and hit him squarely in the nose.
"Gooooal!" Esposito cried, imitating a soccer announcer.
"Nice one," Ryan said appreciatively, rubbing his nose.
Rick laughed. "Well, as absolutely riveting as this is," he said, standing up, "I have a date to get ready for, so I'm gonna head home."
"A date?" drawled Esposito as his eyebrows crept towards his hairline. Kate studiously avoided eye contact with everyone. Even the slightest of looks would've broken her, and she'd be giggling like a schoolgirl.
"Yep," Rick answered cheerfully, waving goodbye. "Be jealous, fellas. See ya."
"Hear that, Beckett?" Ryan asked as soon as Rick's footsteps had faded away. She raised her eyes to meet his gaze. "Castle's going on a date."
"Yep, I heard," she answered nonchalantly.
"And you're okay with it?" Esposito prodded.
She shrugged casually. "Absolutely."
"Uh huh…" Esposito said suspiciously, eyes narrowing.
"What?" she asked innocently. She enjoyed their unsure silence for a moment before she feigned an exasperated sigh and stood up. "Okay then." She grabbed her bag and slung it over her shoulder. "I'm gonna take off."
"Really?" Ryan asked, checking his watch; it was rather early for a Beckett departure, even on a slow day.
"Yeah, I have a date to get ready for," she said cheerfully over her shoulder as she started towards the elevator. She waved. "'Night guys."
Ryan and Esposito gaped at her retreating back.
"Did she just…?"
They looked at each other.
"The apocalypse is coming," Ryan whispered.
Kate held her phone away from her ear, wincing in pain. Like any good friend, she'd dutifully called Lanie as soon as she got home to let her know what was happening in her personal life. The words 'he's making me dinner' had barely left her mouth before Lanie let loose a blood-curdling shriek. Kate was pretty sure she'd ruptured an eardrum.
"Are you done?" she asked, tentatively placing the phone next to her ear again.
Lanie sighed happily. "Not even close!"
"Well, can you wait until someone else is on the other end of the phone? I really don't want to cancel tonight because of acute hearing loss."
"Alright, I'll hold it in."
"I appreciate it."
"But giiiiiirl!" Lanie squealed.
Kate grinned, and couldn't help but do some squealing herself. "I know!"
"I'm so happy for you!"
Lanie laughed. "You nervous?"
Kate thought for a second. "No, I wouldn't call it nervous. Anxious, maybe."
"To quote the lovely Natasha Richardson, anxious-nervous, like you're totally completely dreading it, or anxious-excited?"
"To quote the less than lovely Lindsay Lohan, anxious-excited, definitely."
"Mmm, who would've thought we'd be doing lines from The Parent Trap?"
Kate chuckled. "Who would've thought I'd be going on a date with Richard Castle?"
Lanie groaned. "Honey, it's been in my prayers for a year and a half."
"Fine. So, Ms. Anxious-Excited, you're really not nervous?"
Kate sighed. "Maybe a little bit. But I know I shouldn't be! I mean, it's Castle."
"But at the same time, it's Castle," Lanie finished.
"Exactly. I definitely don't want to screw this up, and I'm scared that I might. But I know him, and I know how we are together, and I know that I have nothing to worry about."
"That's my girl! You have a plan?"
"Yes. I'm gonna say what I need to say, and then wing it."
"Lanie? You there?"
"I'm sorry, I don't think I've ever heard you say you'll wing it."
"Yeah, well, if there's anything I've learned, it's that plans and Castle don't tend to work out so well."
Lanie chuckled. "Got that right."
It had been a number of months since Kate had made an appearance at the Castle household. Still, she was somewhat surprised to see a certain red-haired teenager exiting the building as she approached. She called her name before she'd even had time to process it, and wondered for a split second if she shouldn't have. Her doubts dissipated, however, when the girl's eyes lit up.
"Detective Beckett! Hi!"
She grinned. "Please, it's Kate when I'm without handcuffs."
Alexis giggled. "Right, sorry, it's been awhile."
"For which I blame you, Ms. Princeton!" Kate joked.
Alexis shrugged modestly. "When the Ivy League comes calling…"
"Oh, trust me, I know. So how was it?"
Kate smiled. "As it should be! Work hard, play hard?"
"Yep. Well," she added as an afterthought, "I don't play quite as hard as most people there do, but that doesn't mean I didn't have ridiculous amounts of fun."
"If only the rest of America's youth were as wise as you."
Alexis chuckled shyly. "Thanks."
Kate glanced at her watch. "Ooh, hate to run, but—"
"No, please run!" Alexis laughed. "As much as I like seeing you, I'm fairly certain my dad likes it that much more. I'd hate to deprive him."
Kate smiled. "Please tell me he didn't kick you out tonight!"
"Don't worry, I've had these plans tonight for ages. I'm in high demand now that I've been to 'college,'" Alexis said, making air quotes around the word and rolling her eyes to show just how ridiculous she thought her friends were being. "Everyone wants to know about the boys, the parties, blah blah blah."
"Well then, go educate the masses," Kate said with a laugh, starting towards the door. "See you soon?"
"Yeah, definitely!" Alexis agreed enthusiastically. "Oh, wait a second, Kate?"
She stepped closer. "I don't know what this dinner tonight means to you, but to my dad, it's…" She paused. "He kept all your letters, if that gives you an idea."
Kate felt her face grow warm. "He did?"
Alexis nodded. "They're in a shoebox in his office, which is a big deal in itself. He spends more time there than his bedroom." She took a deep breath. "I just don't want to see him get hurt again."
The concern in the clear blue eyes looking up at her tugged at Kate's heartstrings. "Neither do I," she said quietly. "I promise."
There was palpable relief in the smile that greeted her confession. "Good. Sorry, I'm making you late, I'll leave now."
Kate chuckled. "Have fun tonight!"
Alexis grinned mischievously. "You too!"
With a final wink, Kate turned and nodded hello to the doorman as she entered the building. So, she thought happily, making her way through the lobby and entering a conveniently waiting elevator, he kept my letters. She'd hoped he would, and from the way he reacted when she told him she'd kept his, felt rather optimistic about it. But still, having it confirmed was enough to have her stomach feel like it was dissolving. It scared the crap out of her how easily he turned her to mush, how he seemed to know exactly what to do to give her those infuriatingly pleasant butterflies in her stomach. And yes, her first instinct was to back away. But she'd spent enough time away from him to realize that she'd rather be scared and with him than self-preserved and without him. Which, of course, was a scary thought in itself.
"Overdramatic much?" she muttered to herself. "It's just freaking dinner."
She was a bundle of nerves, excitement, and adrenaline as she approached his door, but didn't hesitate to knock. She only had to wait a few seconds before Rick opened the door.
She couldn't help but grin. "Hey."
He grinned as well and stepped aside, beckoning her in. Once she was inside, he closed the door behind her and, before she had the chance to react, quickly kissed her.
When he pulled away, he smiled and answered the question he saw in her eyes. "It was my turn."
She chuckled. "Something tells me we'll both enjoy that more when we both know it's coming."
"Oh, I'm quite sure of that," he said, a devious twinkle in his eyes. "But first I think I should feed you, because I know for a fact that you haven't eaten since noon." He took her hand and began leading her inside, surprising her when they bypassed the kitchen and headed instead for the living room. "Now, I did something kind of off the beaten track here. If you hate it, tell me, and we can figure something else out."
Her mouth dropped open when she saw what was laid out on the coffee table. "Fondue?"
Indeed, on the table sat a silver fondue pot filled with a delicious looking cheese sauce, several forks, and a large platter covered in an assortment of breads, cold cuts, and vegetables.
He looked at her apprehensively. "Yes, no, maybe?"
She laughed. "I love it! Who could say no to a pot of melted cheese?"
He grinned, relieved, as they sat down on the couch. "Is that the secret? Cheese is the way to a woman's heart?"
"No," she chuckled, "Creativity is. And you, sir, are three for three."
She could've sworn she saw him blush a little bit as his brow furrowed. "Three?"
"How many times have I ever gotten a birthday card for an occasion other than my birthday? Number one." She reached over to the table and selected the red-tipped fork for herself. "Most other people in my life call or text instead of writing letters. Number two." She picked up the purple-tipped fork and handed it to Rick, smiling knowingly. "And fondue for dinner is number three."
He accepted the fork from her, pausing thoughtfully for a moment before he spoke. "Damn, I'm good!"
Kate laughed and poked his arm lightly with her fork. "Don't get cocky. I now have very high expectations."
He grinned. "Don't worry, I've still got a few tricks up my sleeve." He paused for a moment, and changed tracks. "Is something wrong?"
"What makes you say that?"
He gestured towards her hands, which were nervously fidgeting with her fork.
She chuckled. "Ah." Taking a deep breath, she turned to face him. "Nothing's wrong, but can I ask you something?"
"Shoot. Words, not bullets."
She rolled her eyes, but continued. "You and Gina. Are you two…?"
"And this summer…?"
"You can tell me if you did."
"We didn't, I swear. She was always out with her snooty country club friends, and I was either writing or," he gestured to Kate, "writing." He smiled softly. "Trust me, there's nothing there. Hasn't been for a really long time."
She ignored the pleasant lurch of her heart and the urge to grin, determined to have the situation completely straight. "So when she said you two were on the phone for hours…?"
"I needed someone to listen, and she was the unfortunate soul on the other end of the phone." He chuckled. "You know how good I am at word-vomiting."
"You know, if you needed someone to talk to you could've come to me."
"Umm," he hedged nervously, "Not that time."
"Wha—? Ohhh." It suddenly dawned on her, and she felt horribly guilty. "It was about me, wasn't it?"
"Yeah," he said, looking as guilty as she felt.
She blew out a breath. "For putting you in that situation. And for being assumptive and utterly wrong."
"Hey," he said reassuringly, "Water under the bridge. Now eat."
She chuckled, and turned to contemplate the selection of food before her. "Um, are those baby pickles?"
He laughed. "Yeah."
"And they're for dipping? In cheese?"
"Why are you looking at me like I'm crazy? Here," he said, spearing a pickle on his fork and dipping it into the fondue. "You'd never think to put the two together, but it's actually quite good." He held it out towards her. "I know it's no hand margarita, but…"
She laughed and, after only a slight hesitation, bit the pickle neatly off of the end of the fork. He watched her for a moment as she chewed thoughtfully.
"Well," she said after swallowing, "it's a little unconventional, but not entirely unpleasant."
"Are you talking about us or the food?" She laughed, and he couldn't remember enjoying someone's smile more. But there were still lingering questions that he'd let go unasked, and he knew he had to speak now or forever hold his peace. He tossed his fork back onto the table. "Can I ask you something?"
"I do owe you a question, don't I?" she mused jokingly.
He took a deep breath. "How long have you and Demming been … not together?"
"Since, um," she cleared her throat awkwardly, "Since the day you left."
His eyes widened. "Really?"
"Yep. You were driving Alexis to Princeton, I was breaking things off with Tom."
He gaped at her. "What? Why didn't you tell me?"
She smiled sadly. "I tried."
She chuckled softly, and looked down at her hands. "You didn't really think I pulled you out of your going away party to tell you to have a good summer, did you?"
Rick suddenly felt as if he'd been hit over the head with a frying pan. "Oh god," he said in a strangled voice. "Please tell me you're kidding."
"If I did I'd be lying."
"Nooo," he groaned miserably, putting his face in his hands. "I am so sorry. I hate myself. I'm a terrible person. I deserve to be put on an island where I can't contaminate the rest of society."
She laughed, appreciating the sentiment. "No you don't."
"Wait," he said, looking at her curiously. "Why don't you hate me?"
"Oh don't worry, I did."
"I thought about it," she answered honestly. "There's no way you could've known. If anything, it's my fault for taking so long." She paused, noticing he still looked rather miserable. "Seriously, please don't blame yourself. I don't."
He sighed heavily. "Alright, I'll try not to. But…" He groaned, and rubbed his hands down his face. "Three months. We could've had three months."
She took his hand, squeezing it gently. "We have right now."
It was as if he'd drunk a mug of hot chocolate on the coldest of days; the warmth that he felt spread through him at those words was indescribable. "Yeah," he said softly, leaning closer to her and gently brushing a few strands of hair behind her ear with his free hand. "Yeah, we do."
His world now consisted of nothing but her, her and the feel of her lips against his and the way she was kissing him, slow and sweet. His free hand found her hip and he heard her fork clatter to the floor as her hand found his shoulder, slowly tracing upwards to cup his cheek, holding him to her. He felt her lips open to him and responded in kind, deepening the kiss, trying to convey his myriad of emotions into actions, telling her silently just how glad he was to have her there with him.
They sat there for several moments, kissing, holding each other, hands entwined, until Rick summoned all of his willpower and pulled away. He rested his forehead against hers and simply looked at her for a moment, their breath intermingling between them. Feeling a dopey smile beginning to show itself on his face, he reached up and traced his thumb along her jaw line.
"You taste like a pickle."
She let out a breathy laugh. "Your fault."
He grinned and kissed her again, speaking against her mouth. "Not complaining."
Rick rubbed his eyes groggily and seriously contemplated hurling his phone across the room and going back to sleep. He'd been having an all too pleasant dream, involving a hot tub, a certain homicide detective, and a distinct lack of clothing. But, considering the fact that it's always the best dreams that you can never just fall back into, and that it was probably the detective in question on the line anyway, he dismissed that thought fairly quickly. Rolling over, he took a second to scowl at the glowing display of his clock, which read 2:47, before accepting the call.
Kate chuckled. "Morning, sunshine."
"I'll have you know," he said, yawning widely, "that you're the only person that isn't related to me that I answer the phone for at this hour of the night."
"Morning," she corrected.
"Shut up," he yawned.
She laughed. "Well, if you feel up to getting out of bed, we've got a body."
"Oooh," he said, perking up instantly. "Yes please!"
"You can sleep if you want to, I can fill you in later," she offered.
"No, I'll be there," he said, shaking the cobwebs of sleep from his mind and heading to his closet. "Seeing you for real is better than seeing you in a dream."
Crap. Though it was the truth, he hadn't meant to be that honest. Not mere hours after their first date, at least. He winced, bracing for a snarky retort.
"You dream about me?"
He was surprised to hear her sound surprised, almost shy. "Well," he said suggestively, "after the evening we had, how could I not?"
She laughed. "And here I was, thinking that by calling this early I was going to catch you off your game."
"Hey, that was only half game," he said, rifling through his shirts.
"What was the other half?"
"Good." He heard her smile in her words. "'Cause I'd have to agree."
He laughed. "Does that mean I was in your dreams too?"
"Oh come on, I can't give all my secrets away this early!"
"Okay, okay, I'll pick my battles," he chuckled. "So where are we headed on this fine morning?"
"42nd and 6th."
"Alright, I'll see you there. Wait," he said suddenly, "What are we going to tell them?"
The body of a grungy-looking man hung in Bryant Park, tangled in the chains of a swing. His eyes stared vacantly and a trail of blood dripped from his mouth, leaving a small puddle on the dirt below. Amidst the caution tape and the flashing of CSU cameras, the shadowy figures of Lanie Parish, Javier Esposito, and Kevin Ryan stood huddled together against the cool early morning breeze.
"No way," Lanie said.
"Yeah," Ryan agreed. "There's no way."
"Come on, it's a possibility!" Esposito insisted.
Ryan shook his head as Lanie spoke.
"My girl does not put out on a first date, let alone sleep over."
"But this isn't just any first date! It's Castle!"
"But it's also Beckett," Ryan said, eyebrows raised in amusement.
"I'm just sayin', things have been building for so long, once they get started I don't think they'll be able to stop."
"Hey!" Lanie exclaimed indignantly. "Your boy may not, but Kate does have self control."
"I bet you twenty bucks that they show up together."
Lanie's eyes narrowed. "You're on. Ryan, you want in?"
Ryan grinned. "Twenty bucks that they don't even acknowledge it."
"Ha!" Lanie scoffed. "They're going to act like they've been dating forever, like them being a couple is completely normal."
As if on cue, a car pulled up. The three looked towards it, shielding their eyes against its headlights, waiting with bated breath to see who emerged. After several seconds, Kate Beckett stepped out of the drivers' side door and began making her way over to the crime scene, alone.
Lanie cackled quietly at Esposito. "Sucka."
He made a face at her, but wisely kept quiet.
"Hey," Kate said as she approached the group. They murmured their hellos. "What've we got?"
"John Doe, I estimate in his early thirties," Lanie rattled off from her notes.
"No wallet, no ID, no valuables," Ryan added.
"Not that he looks like he owns any valuables," Esposito said with a sideways look at his partner.
"Ooooh, now this is what I was talkin' about!"
The four turned to see Rick Castle jogging over to them, his eyes alight with excitement. "Let me guess … John Doe?"
"Yeah," Kate answered. "Good job getting here fast, by the way," she added sarcastically.
"Sorry, I received a very distracting phone call."
Lanie smirked. There was no way Ryan and Esposito caught the significant look those two were giving each other.
But the moment passed, and just as quickly as he'd arrived, Rick was looking eagerly at the body. "May I?" he asked.
Kate shrugged, and waved him forward. She turned to Ryan and Esposito. "Go get the uniforms to canvass the area for potential witnesses. It's early, but we might get lucky." They nodded and complied, leaving Kate alone with Lanie.
"So," Lanie said in a low voice.
"Hmm?" Kate hummed innocently.
"Oh, don't give me that!" Lanie said exasperatedly. "How'd it go last night? Not well enough to spend the night, I see."
Kate rolled her eyes. "Geez, can I get to the second date before I'm expected to sleep over?"
Lanie chuckled. "Trust me, I'm not the one that needs to be convinced of that. But seriously, how'd it go?"
Kate smiled. "You really want to know?"
"Is the sky blue?"
Chuckling, Kate turned to the swing set. "Castle!" she called. "Can you come here for a second?"
A ways away, Ryan and Esposito looked up from their notepads at the sound of Kate's voice. Lanie looked at her dubiously as Rick jogged over.
"Yeah?" he asked.
Kate grabbed him by the lapels and kissed him soundly.
Lanie couldn't help it; her mouth fell open. In stunned silence, she glanced over at the boys, whose eyes were as wide as saucers. She could see the beginnings of a grin on Ryan's face, and Esposito quickly gathered himself and catcalled.
Kate pulled away and, wiping her bottom lip, turned to Lanie. "Does that answer your question?"
"Yeah," Lanie said, mock thoughtfully. "That about does it."
"Mmm, good," Kate said, nodding seriously. "And did that prevent everyone from winning any money?" she asked, shooting a pointed look towards her team. "Because, judging by the looks on your faces, nobody expected that."
"Uh, yeah," Ryan answered hesitantly.
"She was in on it too," Esposito said, pointing at Lanie.
"I know," Kate said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "Do you think I'd make out with Castle in front of a dead body if I thought that less than everyone would be betting against it?" She held in a grin at the looks on their faces. "Now, can we get back to work please?" She watched them as they turned grudgingly back to their notepads and the two uniforms standing awkwardly behind them.
"That," Rick said, "was the most kick-ass thing we've ever done."
Kate rolled her eyes in amusement. "Lanie, what else do we have?" she asked, nodding in the direction of the victim.
Somewhat taken aback by the quick changed in subject, Lanie raised her eyebrows. "Right. Come with me."
She headed towards the swing set, and Rick made to follow. Kate grabbed his arm and, when he turned to face her, kissed him, lingering a moment longer than she'd planned.
"That was pretty fun," she murmured in his ear.
Stepping away, she briskly followed Lanie. "Time of death?"
Kate tapped her pointer finger against her lips as she surveyed the sparsely covered murder board from her perch on her desk. She narrowed her eyes and attempted to tear her thoughts away from the night before and focus on the case at hand. Hugh Brigman, 35 years old, killed between 12 and 2 this morning, fingerprints in the system for possession with intent to distribute. Ryan and Esposito were out (thankfully) tracking down his next of kin, but other than that, that's all there was.
She sighed, and swallowed hard as Rick sat down beside her. His thigh rubbing against hers would not be helping things.
"Got anything?" he asked.
She shook her head. "Nope. Until we can get a witness or his next of kin, there's nothing to go on."
He sighed. "Well, that's unfortunate."
"I know. I was looking forward to spinning theories with you again."
"Yeah." Smiling, she met his eyes. "I missed you this summer," she said softly.
Rick was surprised he was still solid, and not a melted puddle of mush on the floor. He smiled. "I missed you too." He leaned in, and—
"Hey now," interrupted Ryan's voice, "Let's keep things PG, shall we?"
"Castle and Beckett, sitting in a tree," Esposito sang, smirking so hard that Kate thought his face was going to fall off, "K-I-S-S-I-N-G."
"Wow!" Kate exclaimed sarcastically. "Esposito, I didn't know you could spell words that long!"
"Yeah, you miss a lot when you're sucking face," he joked.
Her eyes narrowed. "Not that you would know from personal experience."
"Uhh," Ryan interjected before any blood could be shed, "the vic's sister is in the interview room."
Rick hopped off the desk and offered Kate his arm. "Shall we?"
Smiling indulgently, she touched his shoulder instead. "Save the chivalry for when we don't have a grieving relative to talk to."
At his smile, she made herself turn away and headed to do her job. Despite herself, she grinned. It was all so wonderfully, frightfully new, but at the same time, so deliciously familiar. For the first time in a long time, even though there was death around every corner, even though grief was thick in the air, Kate Beckett was happy.
A/N: penny for your thoughts? :]