A/N: This is my very first attempt at writing Castle fanfic. I had sworn to myself I wouldn't get into writing fanfiction again because I know how addicting it is. But after 3XK, I just couldn't NOT write. The story kept bugging me until I sat down and wrote it.
Hope you like it. Please let me know what you think.
Disclaimer: I do not own Castle. Unfortunately.
Her heart is still pounding painfully in her chest. Even as she watches him sitting by the pool looking lost, her poor heart still can't calm down. She has to remind herself that he is okay. He is alive. She had allowed herself a brief moment of panic when she realized something had happened to Castle and Ryan before her cop mode set in.
God, now her legs feel like jelly and her heart is racing because she realizes she could have lost him. He could have died tonight. She couldn't even bear the thought of that happening. What would she do without him?
He's okay. A voice in her head kept telling her, like a mantra. He is fine and he is sitting right there and his coffee is getting cold. Taking a deep breath, she finally finds the strength to make her legs move toward him. When she reaches him, she sits down on the bench – a little closer than usual, but she needs to reassure herself that he is really there in one piece – and hands him the cup of coffee. He thanks her and they stay silent for a beat.
She finally speaks what has been eating her alive since she had found him alive and well. Not that she isn't grateful and incredibly relieved and happy that he survived, but why had Jerry let him live?
Castle answers her; he always has an answer to everything, after all. This time, though, he is not joking around like she is used to. No, this time his voice breaks her heart because he finally knows what she feels like every time she fails; every time she thinks about her mother's murderer and how she could have done things differently. He knows and she wishes with all her heart that he didn't have to.
This hollow feeling of failure. He is a bestselling novelist; he is not supposed to know what it feels like to let a criminal slip right through his fingers. But he knows and she inevitably blames herself. She is the detective, she should have known better. She should have suspected something was wrong.
But she didn't. Now she can only offer him her solidarity and comfort and let him know he is not alone in this and that it was not his fault. He has to know it wasn't his fault. So she reaches out and touches his knee gently to let him know she is there for him and he can cling onto her for dear life. She knows the feeling all too well and it's good to have someone to hang onto. He surprises her when his hand covers hers and he acknowledges her feeble attempt at comfort.
They are not used to this. This intimacy, touching, invading each other's personal space. This is all new. At least when it comes from her; he has always done it, but she always got the feeling it was just to get a rise out of her. Now things are different. It feels like they are finally on the same page and yet not on the same page at all.
A few minutes go by silently before she realizes he is still holding her hand and she finds that she is surprisingly comfortable with that. With a sigh, she leans into his side and feels his eyes on her. She can almost feel his smile when she rests her head on his shoulder. She feels so tired all of a sudden.
His hand moves and she thinks he is finally letting her hand go. For the brief moment he lets go of her, she feels the cold seep in and she doesn't like it. But it only lasts a second because he envelops her hand properly in his and laces his fingers through hers. She is surprised, but doesn't say anything, doesn't dare to move her hand for fear he will think she is uncomfortable.
Feeling his lips gently touch the top of her head, she smiles to herself. Ryan and Esposito are just a few feet away behind them and she can hear Ryan insisting that he is fine and that he doesn't need to go to the hospital. Esposito tells him to shut up and get in the ambulance. He calls out to her and she sighs, annoyed that she has to move from her comfortable position. He tells her that he is going to the hospital with Kevin and that she and Castle should go home. She nods and watches the ambulance drive away.
When they are gone, she returns to her previous position on Castle's side and is glad to notice that he is still holding her hand captive, slowly tracing his thumb over it. She feels him take a deep breath before he speaks.
"You want to go get something to eat? Maybe a drink or two?" he asks and she can hear the insecurity in his voice. That's something new. Castle is always confident.
"After a day like today, I think we definitely deserve a drink. Or twenty." She says without moving her head from his shoulder. She feels his chuckle shaking his shoulders slightly and can tell that he is nodding.
"Good. Come on, my treat." He says and tugs on her hand, making her get up with him.
She gets up reluctantly and turns to look at him for the first time since she first touched him. The awkwardness she was expecting doesn't set in and she finds herself smiling somewhat timidly at him. His eyes sparkle with excitement and he finally looks like the Castle she knows. She tugs at his hand and again thinks he is going to let go of her, but his grip is strong. Instead, he gives her hand a light squeeze and smiles at her.
She has no idea what they are doing and she knows it is not right, but she can't find it in herself to break their connection. What happened tonight made her realize she doesn't want to live in a world without him and the mere thought of that terrifies her.
They make it to her car and now the separation is inevitable. He squeezes her hand once more and she squeezes back before finally letting her go. She realizes immediately she doesn't like the feeling. Again, she expects the little voice in her head telling her this is bad and this is wrong and she should think about Josh. But it never comes. The text from Josh from a few minutes ago – before she sat with Castle by the pool – remains unanswered. She feels bad about that, but he knows she works crazy hours. He will understand.
She settles behind the wheel and he sits on the seat next to her, putting on his seatbelt. When he is settled in and she starts the car, a comfortable silence falls around them. She listens to his breathing and is yet again relieved he walked away from tonight unharmed. A few minutes later, she parks in front of a small pub and they get out of the car silently. When she meets him at the entrance, he holds her hand again as if it's something they do every day. Something normal.
She doesn't complain. She realizes she likes the warm feeling it gives her and the butterflies in her stomach feel like they're trying to make a run for it. They sit at a table for two and engage in light conversation. She knows he is trying to take her mind off of tonight and she is trying to do the same for him.
Hours later, they realize they are the only ones left and the waiter is glaring at them, wishing them to leave probably. They laugh, more than a little tipsy and he pays the bill. Again, he holds her hand as they walk into the chilly October night. He suggests they should go grab a cup of coffee so she can drive afterwards. They find a 24 hours café and she leans into his side while he orders. She is tired and a little drunk and her filter of what is right and wrong when it comes to Richard Castle has been slightly off kilter all night.
They drink their coffee in a comfortable silence and walk toward her car. Once again, she settles behind the wheel and he puts on his seatbelt. As she drives in the direction of his loft, she feels his hand gently touching the back of her neck, which gives all the right kinds of warm feelings and butterflies. She smiles, but doesn't say anything.
When she parks in front of his building, his hand leaves her neck for a moment and she feels him touching her chin, making her look at him. She does and is surprised when she finds him so close. He is smiling and she can't help but smile back.
He leans in and gives a feather light kiss on the corner of her mouth. When she pulls away, he is looking at her intently.
"Thank you, Kate." He says and places another kiss on the exact same spot.
She nods and a small smile graces her lips.