Title: Feet of Clay

Author: TracyT

Rating: T

Category: Friendship, Romance, Angst

Summary: Post "Under the Gun," Kate tries to reconcile her feelings for Royce

Spoilers: Under the gun

Archive: Yes, Please!

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Disclaimer: Not mine, but I wish they were. No profit will be made on this. It is a labor of love.

Author's Note: Forgive me, Casketeers! I just had to do it. I don't know if Kate and Royce were actually lovers, but for the sake of this story, they were. Castle's in here, too, so don't throw things at me!


Kate tossed and turned fitfully in her bed. She could feel his breath on her skin; feel the weight of him pressing her into the mattress, his hands on her body. "Come on, baby."

She jerked awake, half rising off the bed. That husky voice had been so absolutely real she expected to see him beside her. The room was dark except for the faint light from the street light outside, and she was alone. She flopped back down with a sigh, her body in knots from the images she'd just conjured up.

'Baby.' He only called her 'baby' when they were intimate with each other. She only allowed him to call her that when they were in bed together. He was the only one that ever called her that. A shiver coursed through her at the memories that one word invoked. Any other time he called her 'kid.'

Mike Royce had entered her life as soon as she graduated from the academy. He took her under his wing and taught her things the academy never could She was the cop she was today thanks to him. The wounds from her mother's death were still so fresh at the time. She wore them like badges of honor. Royce noticed and gently coaxed the information from her. Up to that point she had never really discussed her mother's murder with anyone, but one night, over drinks, she told him and he listened. He was so understanding and supportive of her, and part of her reveled in it. She'd felt so alone after her mother had died, it was nice to have someone to lean on a little. Her father was fighting his own demons and she'd felt she lost him, too.

One day she got a call from her dad. He was drunk and it took her a few minutes to determine he'd fallen and hit his head. She'd told Royce what was going on and left to take care of her dad. When she got there, her father was sitting on the kitchen floor and there was blood everywhere. He'd fallen against the sharp point of the kitchen table and hit his forehead. The logical part of her brain told her that a head wound bled a lot, but the emotional part of her was freaking out. To make matters worse, her father was combative, fighting her when she tried to get him to stand up. He gave her a hard shove away from him—and that's when Royce showed up.

He was courteous and respectful of her father, calling him "Mr. Beckett," and he managed to get him up while Kate called 911. He was such a great help to her that day, but he never mentioned it again, and for that she was eternally grateful.

So, they worked together, she learned everything from him, she told him everything, and he listened, he really did, and they started flirting with each other. It could have, should have, been harmless, but by then she had fallen so hard for him she could barely see straight. She was the one to pursue him, not the other way around, thank goodness.

Looking back at her 21-year old self, she knew if he'd made the moves on her she would have run for the hills, but he was smarter than that. He let her come to him, and he didn't even laugh at her mostly inexperienced attempts to seduce him. He'd become her everything.

She wanted him and that was it.

It was wrong, unethical, for them to sleep together, but she didn't care. Royce filled up all the empty places in her and shone a light onto all her darkness. He was equal parts friend, mentor, teacher, parent, authority figure, hero and lover.

Eventually rumors started about them, and his retirement became just as much about saving her career and reputation as it was about getting out when he could.

And then he betrayed her.

Kate felt her eyes fill and she sniffled. All she wanted when this was over, after she'd turned him in, was to come home and cry until she just couldn't cry anymore. Until… Until Castle had suggested a 'treasure hunt.' So, instead of coming home to wallow and lick her wounds, she'd followed Castle out to the cemetery and started digging. And she had a really good time. They even found the treasure. She recalled the elation she felt as she pulled him into a hug.

Castle. Her own personal court jester. She could always count on him to do anything to make her smile when she was down. Why he felt that was his responsibility, she'd never know. She hadn't told him, but she loved him for that.

Kate grabbed her phone and scrolled until she found his number. She needed to talk to him, to hear his voice. She glanced over at the clock. Two-thirty six. She couldn't call him this late. Disappointed, she started to put her phone down, and paused. If he was sleeping he'd turn his phone off, right? Or at least set it to vibrate.

She'd let it ring three times and if he didn't answer, she'd hang up. She pressed the button to send the call and heard it ring. It rang once. It rang twice. In the middle of the third ring, he picked up.

A deep breath from his end. "Hey." His voice was low and sleepy. "I didn't keep any of the treasure, I promise."

"Hey." She smiled, despite herself. "Sorry to wake you."

"No… that's fine. Are you okay?" He made a sort of sniffling noise and Kate wondered if he'd just run a hand over his face. She could picture him stretching, trying to wake up.

"Yeah…no. Uhm…can we talk?" She wondered if she should let him just go back to sleep.

"Sure. Oh!" he let out an exaggerated gasp. "Detective, is this a booty call?"

"Oh, stop it. Just…never mind."

She started to hang up, when he said, "No, wait, wait, wait. I was just kidding." She could hear the smile in his voice.

From zero to wisecracks in 6.8 seconds, she thought. He woke up fast.

"You don't have to come over or anything," she said softly. "We can just talk on the phone."

"Ooh, phone sex. That's cool. What are you wearing?"

"I'm hanging up now."

"No, sorry, I'll be good, I promise." He was quiet for a moment, then, " tell me what's wrong." The humor was replaced with concern.

From goofy to serious in 2.4 seconds, she thought.

"I…just, I," Suddenly to her very great chagrin, she couldn't speak past the lump in her throat. When she tried, her voice broke so badly she couldn't continue.

She fought furiously to keep her tears at bay, but it was a losing battle. She breathed heavily into the phone.

She could hear a rustling noise from his end, presumably he was getting up and moving around his room.

"Kate, listen to me. I'm coming over. I'll be there in twenty minutes, okay? Just hang on, I'll be right there."

"No, no, you don't need to come over, really…"

He made staticky noises into the phone. "Sorry, you're breaking up. Can't hear a thing. See you in twenty." His end went dead.


Twenty five minutes later there was a tap at her door. She opened it to find Castle standing there wearing an old MOMA T-shirt and jeans. His hair was a mess, he had a five o'clock shadow and he was holding a shopping bag.

"Hi," he took in her red eyes and nose.

"Hi. Come in." She stood back to let him enter. As he passed by she asked, "What's that?" Pointing at the bag.

"Just my laundry, you know." He grinned. "Supplies to help cheer you up." He went to the kitchen island and started to remove things. First was a fairly large thermos. "Hot chocolate—with marshmallows." He pulled the bag out and put it on the counter. Then a bottle. "Peppermint schnapps in case you want your hot chocolate a bit stronger." Then another bottle, this one green. "Chateau Neuf du Pape, because, well, why not?" Kate grinned slightly at that. Only Richard Castle.

He pulled a couple bags out. "Peanut M & M's, and Double Stuff Oreos." Another bag. "And last but not least, Butter Blaster Microwave Popcorn." He held up the bag for her to see.

Kate raised an eyebrow. "Chateau Neuf du Pape and Oreos?"

"But they're Double Stuff," he said as if that explained everything.

"You chose an interesting assortment of snacks." Kate fingered the M & M bag.

"Well, I had to do it on short notice. If I'd had more time I could have planned better."

"Yes, well, the next time I'm going to have a melt-down, I'll let you know in advance."

The smile faded from his face, as if he had just been reminded why he was there. "Yeah, we need to talk." He reached up and took down two cups from her cabinet and filled them with hot chocolate from the thermos. He picked up the schnapps bottle and held it out to her questioningly. She shook her head 'no.'

He grabbed the bag of marshmallows and led her to the couch, where they settled down next to each other. The marshmallows were the large size, so he plopped two into each of their cups. He took a sip of his, and then put it down on the coffee table. He took her hand and looked into her eyes. 'Talk to me," he said, and she did.

She told him everything. When she admitted she and Royce had been lovers, something interesting danced across his face, but it was gone before she could question it.

When she was done, she found her head lying on his shoulder and his arm around her, their feet up on the coffee table next to each other. "I loved him," she said in a small voice. "I really did."

"You had a good case of hero worship," Castle corrected, his voice very close to her ear. "He was there when you needed him, and I'm glad for that, but he's just human and he proved that by doing a rather spectacular cannon ball off his pedestal today. I'm sorry he let you down."

Kate sniffled and dabbed at her eyes with a tissue. "I just feel like there aren't that many people in my life I can count on, you know? He was always someone I thought I could rely on."

"And then he turned out to have feet of clay." Castle hugged her to him for a few moments. "I'm sorry, Kate."

Kate shook her head. "You have nothing to be sorry for. Who else would come to my house at 2:30 in the morning and bring me wine and Oreos just to cheer me up?"

"Double Stuff Oreos," he corrected.

Kate sniffed a laugh and put her hand across his stomach to cuddle closer. "Yes, Double Stuff Oreos." She was quiet for a while, feeling drowsy. "Thank you for coming over tonight," she said.

"Anytime." He lay his head on hers, they dozed for a bit, and then he said softly, "Kate?"

"Hmm?" She couldn't even open her eyes.

"Are you sure this isn't a booty call?"

She punched him gently in the stomach without ever opening her eyes. He made an exaggerated groan, but softly.

She grinned and then settled back against him to sleep, secure in the knowledge that he was one of the few people she could always count on.