A/N: Thank you for all the patience and support. For that, I'm giving you a nice long chapter - the longest in a while. It continues on from the previous chapter and this story line will probably be resolved in two chapters.
Disclaimer: Don't own it and never will.
Chapter 62 - Dust to Dust
"Here we are," Jim Beckett said softly as they turned into the driveway.
The truck came to a stop, softly skidding along the rugged ground path, stones rippling under the tyres. The cabin was big, but modest and cosy with a wide porch right around the property. It was a beautiful stone and wood house with a big fireplace, kitchen and three bedrooms.
Jim Beckett came out here a lot, so it was kept clean and in good condition. The only sounds were the hum of the crickets and fireflies and the soothing melody of the nearby stream of water. It was peaceful and, more importantly, secluded.
No one would find them here.
Rick and his father in-law got out first – Jim going for the luggage, while the writer went to open the door for his wife and daughter. Kate had Lizzy nestled in her arms where the little girl fell asleep an hour ago. Rick helped her out, his hand wrapping around her bicep and despite the tension between them, she gave him a tired smile.
"Thanks," Kate said quietly.
He returned one briefly and pressed a kiss against her temple by instinct, his lips like a soft breeze against her skin. He could feel how she briefly stiffened and bit back a sigh.
This fight wasn't over.
He let her go and watched as she huddled their daughter closer to her chest, murmuring in the little girl's ear. Her steps were slow and measured, her shoulders slightly hunched. He knew that posture. She was beyond exhausted. Meaning she was also frustrated.
Rick rubbed the heels of his hands across his eyes, feeling the day's stress pushing down on his shoulders. He startled when he felt a large hand on his shoulder.
"Come on, son, grab a bag. Let's get you inside." Jim shot him a muted smile.
Rick nodded and picked up the bag. He paused for a moment. "Jim. . . thank you. You have no idea how much better I feel knowing you're going to be here to look after them."
The other man tilted his head, his grey eyes all too knowing. "No need to thank me, Rick. Especially when it comes to my daughter and granddaughter."
The writer bobbed his head and released a breath.
"Now, come on. I'll go make us some hot chocolate."
"That's the best suggestion I've heard all day," Castle muttered.
Kate startled when she heard the knock against the door. Her eyes flew open and she shot up, water sloshing around in the bathtub and cascading down her body.
Her heart thumped, the blood rushing loudly in her ears. She lifted a trembling hand to her chest, breathing out slowly.
It was Rick. Her husband. Not a Russian mobster trying to-
"You okay? You've been in there for more than an hour. I know you love baths, but, honey, this is a little excessive."
He tried to keep his tone light, but she could hear the undercurrent of worry still lingering. He had watched with that same concern while she ate, followed her to the bedroom like a shadow and probably would have sat with her in the bathroom if she hadn't put her foot down.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine," she called back after a moment, her heart rate slowing down. "Sorry, I must have nodded off."
She could hear his laugh, a low rumble reverberating straight into her limbs. "Not the first time that's happened." She grinned. It was quiet for a moment before he spoke again. "Uh, Kate, can I come in? Please."
His voice had a raw quality to it, his tone honest, baring his fragile heart. He mistook her silence for a negative answer and rambled on.
"Look, I know you said you needed to be alone, but I need to be near you."
Her breath caught, tears slowly pooling in her eyes. She bit her lip and stood up gingerly, stepping out of the tub.
"I need to see you," he continued softly, his voice thick with emotion. "Please."
She opened the door. He sucked in a breath, eyes widening, flicking over her body involuntarily. "I'm right here." She touched his arm, wrapping her cool fingers around his wrist and pulled him to her.
Rick immediately wrapped his arms around her, holding her tightly to him. He bit back a groan at the feel of the smooth, wet, naked skin and soft curves against his body. He wanted to put his mouth to that skin and wash away all of the darkness and filth and shadows of that world.
But she was shivering violently.
"Hey, you're cold," he murmured, his breath like a phantom over her skin.
He pulled the big, fluffy robe off the back of the door and wrapped her in it, rubbing his hands up and down her arms. He lifted her chin and brushed his mouth against hers in a chaste kiss, mindful of her split lip. His hand migrated from cradling her chin to enveloping her cheek, gently brushing the tip of his thumb along the edge of her swollen eye.
God, he wanted to kill that bastard. Cut off his fingers – one by fucking one.
He took a slow breath, trying to dispel the homicidal impulses. He hooked an arm around her neck, burying his hand in her wet hair at the base of her skull, cradling her in the cove his body. He pressed a kiss against her forehead, lingering there for a moment, his eyes fluttering shut. He could feel her fingers digging into his shirt, gripping it, like she was holding herself together.
"Come on," he murmured after a while and shepherded her out the door. "Get dressed. I'll clean up in here." He jerked a thumb towards the bathroom. She didn't oppose him and silently walked into their bedroom, shoulders hunched.
He didn't like that. She looked fragile, carrying the weight of the world on her delicate shoulders.
She turned around, her brow furrowed. "Yeah?"
"What happened to-" He stopped, his mouth snapping shut and teeth grinding. She could see the jaw muscle jumping under the strain. "What happened to the bastard who did. . ." He gestured to her, his hand flailing around. "-this to you?"
She sucked in a breath. Her fisted her hands and released them slowly. "Ryan and Espo got him off me and arrested him," she answered eventually.
He nodded briskly, his eyes dark and thunderous. "Okay." It wasn't enough. He wanted the son of a bitch to pay-
"Don't worry, Castle, they roughed him up a bit," she said with an amused lilt to her voice, breaking into his murderous thoughts.
He blew out a breath and relaxed his posture. He rubbed a hand over his face and through his hair.
"Good. That's good. I owe them."
She watched him for a moment, watched the struggle play out over his face. Kate walked towards him and before he could say anything, she had her arms around his neck, her body hovering close to his – like the ebb and flow of the ocean.
She kissed his jaw, her hand migrating to his collarbone, fingers fluttering along his pulse point.
"You don't have to do anything, Rick."
He grunted, the desperation clawing at his throat. His hands flexed around her shoulder blades, his fingers digging into the taut muscle there.
"I wasn't there-"
She shook her head and covered his mouth with her hand, three fingers guarding his lips. "Stop it," Kate commanded softly. "All you need to do is be here – right now." She held his eyes, so blue, but burdened with shimmering tears. In that moment, Kate resolved to shield him from what really happened.
At least for a while.
"I'm okay," she lied, her mouth slanting into a heartbreaking smile, her whole face aching with it. "I'm okay."
"I'm going to put Lizzy in bed," Kate announced once they got inside the cabin. She barely glanced at her husband before taking the stairs up to the bedrooms. Rick watched her go and sighed heavily. He plopped the bags to the ground and sank into a nearby chair.
Jim's eyes flicked between his daughter's retreating form and her husband's slumped one. Yeah, it didn't take a rocket scientist to sense the tension that still lingered between the two of them. It was apparent the moment he met them at the loft. He had hoped that Katie's icy demeanour would thaw on the three hour drive up to the cabin. And that his son-in-law would stop looking like world was about to end.
He kept his eyes on the younger man and sat down across from him, the dining room table in between them.
"She'll get over it."
Rick's head snapped up, his features strained.
"Katie," Jim clarified. "Don't worry too much about it, son. She'll forgive you."
The writer let out a wry smile and rubbed a hand across his scruffy chin. He shot his eyes towards the staircase.
"Yeah, not so sure about that right now," he sighed, his eyes still fixed on the stairs. They were quiet for a few moments, the silence roaring all around them. Everything was enhanced here, every sensation sharper – the night was blacker, the stars brighter, the moon bigger against the night sky.
Time stood still here.
"When Katie was about nine years old we went ice-skating. Just her and me," Jim said, breaking the silence. His face softened into a smile. "I remember we went one Sunday morning. Her mother was sick and not very keen on the idea of our skinny, clumsy little kid going out on the ice, but she begged me to go and I relented."
Rick smiled at the image of a nine-year old Kate with pigtails hounding her dad with that raw Beckett determination to go ice-skating.
"We've done it once or twice before with no incident and I thought it'd be fine." He paused and chuckled, sitting forward and resting his forearms on the table, his hands clasped together. "Boy, was I wrong."
Rick was intrigued and scooted forward. "What happened?"
Jim flicked his eyes to his son-in-law with a wry smile. "Long story short – Katie stubbornly insisted on going solo on the ice and fell. She broke her arm and got a nasty blow to the cheek. Needless to say when we got home four hours later, Jo wasn't very happy with me for a week or two."
Rick smiled, but soon grew sombre again after a few moments. "This is not just a broken arm, Jim. It's their lives. Our family is being threatened by this." He paused, wetting his lips, his brow furrowed. "And it's my fault."
The older man watched him quietly before answering. "Rick, I completely understand what you feel – that urge to protect them and to keep them safe. Hell, I even understand why you would want to keep all of this from Katie. But that part about it being your fault is just, well. . . bullshit, son."
Rick shook his head, swallowing thickly. "That's just how I feel about this. If it wasn't for me-"
"-Kate would never have understood how wonderful her life could be," Jim interrupted. "She would have drowned in her mother's death. You were the best thing that happened to her. To our family." Jim Beckett sat forward, his grey eyes pinning Rick with their intensity."Rick, do you have any idea how much my daughter loves you?"
The writer didn't have a response to that, the air was sucked out of his lungs.
Jim continued without giving Rick the chance to respond. "She'd do anything for you. You know her. You know how deeply she loves. Yes, she is hurt now. Yes, she is licking her wounds and shutting you out. Yes, she will be angry for a while and she will resent you, but eventually that will fade." He gave Rick an uplift of his mouth.
"Talk to her, Rick. In my experience, women respond to that kind of thing." He winked at the younger man before getting up. "Now how about that cup of hot chocolate I promised?"
He wasn't checking up on her. He wasn't. He was just a sweet husband bringing his wife her coffee and pastry dish.
And maybe gauge how she was faring.
They had a tough few days after the. . . incident (as he referred to it in his mind). Her injuries were much better, but Kate wasn't sleeping or eating well. And for some reason, every time he would try to touch her, she would flinch and avoid him.
"Yo, Castle, what brings you here?" Esposito called out in greeting as he and Ryan emerged out of the conference room.
"Yeah, you here to avoid writing again?" Ryan ribbed with a large grin.
Rick offered them a sheepish smile. "No. I thought I'd dropped by and bring my wife a belated breakfast."
"Oh, so nothing for us?" Esposito questioned with a smirk.
"Sorry guys. Beckett is my only ball and chain," he shot back with a wink and clever grin. The other two detectives chuckled.
Rick glanced around, confused for a moment. "Speaking of which – where is my wife?"
The other two men's smiles slowly faded. Ryan rubbed the back of his neck, avoiding the writer's eyes. Esposito crossed his arms and sat down on the nearby desk.
"It's ten, Castle. She's probably at her therapy session," Ryan said quietly, his features strained; something weighty in his gaze.
"Therapy session?" Rick asked confused. "I – why?" The moment he said that, Esposito tensed, his face becoming stony.
"What do you mean 'why'?"
Ryan also stared at the writer, his forehead sliced into a frown. Rick glanced between the two men, utterly confused and at the same time terrified at what this new information may mean.
"She got into a fight with a suspect – it has happened before. She didn't need therapy then. Why now?"
"Because it wasn't just a fight, man," Esposito growled, his face contorting in anger.
Rick's frown deepened, his heart thrashing wildly. "What are you talking about? What's going on?" He swiveled his head between the two men. "Kate told me that the guy got the drop on her and that they got into a fight. Nothing more. So what the hell am I missing here?"
The two detectives briefly glanced at each other. "Let's go in there," Esposito suggested, ushering Rick towards the conference room. Ryan closed the door and fell back against it, his eyes not meeting Rick's.
The writer dropped the coffee and pastry onto the table, immediately forgotten. He was in full-blown panic mode by now.
"Guys, please. Just tell me."
The two detectives shared a look. Finally, Ryan pushed off the door and lifted his head to look at the writer. He clenched his jaw and took a breath before answering.
"The assault was sexual in nature." The Irish detective let out a trembling breath. "It was attempted rape, Castle."
The writer felt his knees give out and he staggered into the conference table. His hands trembled, his mind reeling from the new information.
"No, no." He shook his head in disbelief. "I- I don't-" He covered his face with both hands, his stomach plummeting. He couldn't stop the visions swamping his mind - how the son of a bitch had his hands all over her, how he hurt her, how he tried to force himself on her.
Castle's jaw clenched, his heart jerking inside his chest. After a few moments, he inhaled deeply and dropped his hands. His face was white, eyes dark.
"What happened?" He asked very quietly.
Ryan shrugged, looking concerned. "We're not sure. Probably like she said, they got into a fight. But the guy obviously thought she was a. . . a prostitute."
Esposito sighed, his features softening. "We got there in time, Castle. Before he could-" The detective couldn't finish the sentence, his eyes dropping to the floor.
"I'm sorry, man. We thought you knew," Ryan added softly.
Rick dragged a few fingers across his forehead, his head resting in his hand. Eventually he lifted his head and stood up slowly from the table.
"Don't tell Kate I was here," he rasped, not glancing at the two men.
Without another word he walked out the door.
"Lizzy asleep?" He stood just inside the threshold and watched her, holding two cups of hot chocolate. Kate glanced at him and simply nodded as she continued to get their bed ready.
"Your dad made us some hot chocolate."
She didn't look up at him. "Thanks," she said quietly as she arranged the blankets.
He stepped inside and sat her cup onto the wooden dresser, smiling faintly at the the carved out heart and 'KB' inside it on top of the dresser. He traced it with his finger and turned around, leaning against the solid wood. Kate was putting on fresh pillow cases, her brow pinched and mouth stretched into a thin line. He continued to watch her silence, sipping his hot chocolate.
After a few quiet moments she finished and looked up, brushing a hand through her hair.
"I'm gonna take shower."
Okay, enough silent treatment. He got about four hours of that so far. When she passed him to into the bathroom, he intercepted her and caught her hand. She shot him a look, a fire coming alive in her eyes.
"Kate, we need to talk." He looked at her, serious, eyes intent.
She sighed and looked away. "I don't want to-"
"Well, too bad, because we're going to."
She tugged her hand free from his. He didn't try to take it back. "So, I guess I have no say now in the decision-making concerning this family?"
He dropped his head, wrapping a hand at the back of his neck. He looked at her again. Kate clenched her jaw and wrapped her arms across her chest.
"Look, I messed up by not telling you and I'm sorry for that." He stepped closer, his face taut. "But I'm not going to apologize for trying to keep my family safe."
Anger flashed across her features. "Yeah and look how that turned out, Rick." She threw her arms in the air. "God, it just made things worse."
"You don't think I know that?" he growled, his voice like a blunt, hard, unforgiving rock. "You don't think I know all of this is my fault?" He was breathing hard, his pulse jumping erratically, his whole body rigid with tension.
She was about to respond when something he said made her stop. Kate's mouth fell open in question and she cocked her head, a frown taking shape on the landscape of her forehead. She lowered her arms and took a step closer.
"What do you mean that all of this is your fault?"
His posture relaxed slightly, but his face remained a stone mask. "If it wasn't for me, there wouldn't be a psycho stalker threatening our family," he said evenly, matter-of-factly.
Her features slowly thawed into a blend of sympathy and pity. She took another step towards him, reaching out a hand and wrapping it around his broad wrist, her thumb brushing along skin and the crest of bone there.
"Oh, Castle." She could feel her eyes welling, her chest constricting. She saw it clearly now, how burdened he was with the guilt and responsibility. He dropped his head and swallowed thickly.
"You big idiot," she whispered around a choked laugh. He shot her a confused look, faint traces of hurt lingering on his face. But she just shook her head and squeezed his hand, her eyes misty.
"If it wasn't for you, we wouldn't be a family."
She still hasn't told him.
It had been two weeks since he found out from the boys what truly had happened. She had been continuing as if nothing had changed, like everything was normal. He had been watching her very closely, waiting for her to confide in him. In moments spent just quietly lounging on the sofa or those few minutes in bed before they fell asleep, but he got nothing.
Not a word.
He would be lying if it didn't hurt. It sliced him open, splitting him apart to know that she went through something like that and didn't trust him enough to share that burden.
Yeah, it hurt like a motherfucker.
"Castle? Did you hear me?"
He snapped his eyes to her. She gave him a bemused smile, arching her brow and shaking her head at him. He couldn't help but stare. She was adorable in her pink sleep shorts and his old, plaid buttoned shirt. Her hair was taking up in a messy bun on top of her head, strands of hair dangling off the cliff of her jaw. Her lip was completely healed and her other bruises were much better by now, her black eye had faded considerably.
"Mmm?" He hummed before taking a sip of his coffee.
She gestured to his half-empty plate. "You done?"
"Oh, yeah. Thanks."
She frowned as she took it, giving his half-eaten plate a confused look. "Was something wrong with the cheese grillers?"
"No, no," he quickly answered. "It was great. Thanks, honey." He shot her a smile. Obviously he didn't want to tell her how he was constantly plagued with worst case scenarios about her attack. And it didn't help that she wasn't talking to him about it.
She walked towards where he was sitting, coming to stand in between his legs. She draped her arms around his shoulders and gave him an upward curl of her mouth. He smiled back, waiting on her. He kept his hands modestly on her waist. He had been careful to keep his touches light and without suggestion. It didn't keep him from wanting to slide them underneath her shirt to caress the warm, soft skin spanned across the protruding hipbones.
Kate leaned forward and gave him a delicate kiss, a tender brush of her lips against his. She moved her hand to his collarbone, tripping her fingers over his skin. Her eyes followed the movement, lip suddenly caught shyly between her teeth. Rick watched her curiously.
Finally, she flicked her eyes up to him, shooting him a bashful look. Entirely too cute.
"I'm gonna go take a shower," she said softly, her eyes sparkling. "You wanna join me, Castle?"
His whole body was screaming yes, but his mind was reeling. They haven't. . . not since. . . and she still hasn't told him about what really happened. His fingers twitched around her waist, his heart clattering against his rib cage.
He cleared his throat. "Uh, why don't you go ahead, I'll clean up here," he said casually, giving her a lopsided smile. Confusion flickered across her face, her brow furrowing for a moment. She gave her head a shake, her mouth curving slightly, slowly revealing her teeth.
Kate stepped closer, her body drifting close to his, her chest bumping into his.
"Maybe you misunderstood me, Castle." She put her mouth next to his ear and Rick had to close his eyes to the sensation of her breath skimming along his skin.
"I want you."
Her voice was like a siren's call, ripping his insides to shreds, his self-control teetering on the edge of destruction. Before he could say anything, her mouth was on his. The kiss was anything but soft and harmless; it was ferocious. She pried his lips open with her tongue and took his mouth hostage. It was an unrelenting barrage, a ruthless siege that he happily surrendered to. His hands slipped down from her waist to her hips, sneaking beneath her shirt, his fingers flirting with her skin.
He wanted her too. So, so badly.
She was panting and moaning into him, her passion seeping into his skin. Kate clawed at him and tried to pull the shirt over his head. He scraped all of the little self-control he had left and put both his hands on her face, gentling the kiss before pulling away completely. He didn't want to risk hurting her or doing something that would upset her.
"Kate," he breathed.
She tried to pull him along with her, her hand wrapped around his fingers.
He didn't move, flicking knowing eyes to her, his jaw clenching. Finally, after she shot him a confused look, he simply just shook his head. She dropped his hand and crossed her arms, hurt flickering to life behind her eyes.
"What's wrong?" She questioned softly, a vulnerability shadowing her tone.
He took a few moments, sighing, and brushed a hand through his hair. "Tell me what really happened."
She frowned. "What are you talking about?"
"The night you were beaten up. What really happened?" He slowly rose to his feet now, his mouth stretched into a thin, downward line.
Kate visibly paled and dropped her arms. "You know," she exhaled, her voice like a turbulent wind.
"Yeah." He nodded, just a quick, furious bob of his head. "I had to hear it by accident from the boys." The undercurrent of resentment sprung to the surface.
She lowered her head, her lip arrested between her teeth. "I'm sorry."
"They knew, Kate, but for some reason you didn't tell me that that son of a bitch tried to rape you. Why is that?" His voice was loud and harsh now, anger mixing into his words.
Her eyelids quivered, slowly sliding down to cover her increasingly misty eyes.
"Because of this. . . reaction," she sighed, the words breaking apart outside the cave of her mouth.
He gritted his teeth, his brow tweaked. He slowly shook his head from side to side.
"Kate, we've been married for almost two years now. We've known each for almost eight. How can you not trust-?"
"This is isn't about trust, Rick," she cried.
"Then what is this about?" He threw his arms up, pinning her with a look.
She scraped a trembling hand through her hair. "I don't want you to look at me differently."
He frowned at that. "What do you mean?"
She was quiet for a few moments, the seconds stretching by. Tears were slowly and almost reluctantly descending the precipice of her cheek.
"Look at me like I was tainted," she murmured, barely audible. "That I was less. Treating me like a victim and not your wife." She let out a timid, joyless laugh. "Which is exactly what you are doing."
It was like a punch in the gut. He stood there, gaping at her in silence. She thought that he would think less of her? That she was somehow 'damaged goods'? He got his feet unstuck and quickly strode towards his wife. He wrapped his arms around her without saying anything and crushed her to his body, absorbing the sobs wracking her frame.
Castle rubbed a hand up and down her back, his fingers drawing soothing circles against the tense muscles between her shoulder blades. His lips floated across her skin in a tremulous kiss. He docked his mouth next to her hear, lifting a hand to her neck, harbouring his palm against her fluttering pulse.
"Kate, I love you," he whispered, his voice low. "I could never look at you like you were anything less than extraordinary." He lifted her chin, skimming her cheek with a light kiss. She blinked rapidly, her dark lashes adorned with tiny drops as they swept against her skin.
"Look at me," he commanded softly, gripping her chin gently between his fingers, brushing his thumb across the peak of bone there. She redirected her eyes back to him; a hue of green and brown with a hint of gold.
"Do you believe me?"
She bit her lip, her mouth quivering. "I'm sorry."
He shook his head. "Don't apologize anymore, Kate." He put both his hands around her face, his thumbs brushing underneath her eyes, catching the moisture clinging to her skin. "Do you believe me when I say that you are extraordinary? That I could never think less of you?"
She nodded meekly. He kissed her, only a graze of his mouth against hers. He migrated his lips from her mouth to her jaw and traveled them up to her cheek, leaving a trail of kisses.
"Do you really believe me?"
His arm was wrapped around her waist as she rested against his chest. She let out a guttural moan, her head falling to the crook of his neck, her hands fisted in his shirt.
"Because I love you so, so much it aches." He had to swallow, his throat burning. "When you hurt, love, I hurt. It devastates me to see you like this," he said, his voice faltering, breaking apart. He pillowed his forehead against hers, his blue eyes teeming with tears.
"Don't shut me out. Please."
"I'm still mad at you," she murmured, breaking the silence. They were sitting side by side on the bed, staring at the stars painted across the black night sky.
"I know," he sighed.
There were another few moments of quietness before Kate spoke again, her voice delicate.
"I though it was me."
He turned towards her, confusion drawing a line in between his eyes.
"What do you mean?"
She licked her lips, fumbling with her fingers. "When I saw the photos, I thought it was because of me." She glanced at him, her eyes dark and opaque. "I though it was my fault. Because of one of my cases." His mouth dropped open and he pivoted his body completely towards hers. But before he could say something, her next words took the winds out of his sails.
"I thought, for a moment, that it was because of my mom's case."
The air rushed out of his lungs, his mouth going slack. He stared at her. Idiot. He's been such an idiot. After a few moments, he launched himself to her, enclosing her to his body.
"God. Kate, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
She shook her head and pulled back. She offered him a unsteady smile. "It's okay. To tell you the truth, I was half-relieved when you told us about the stalker."
Kate worked her jaw for a moment before continuing. "But we're a team, Rick. I need to be your partner in this. So, please, please don't shut me out again," she whispered, a ferocity coating her tone. Her eyes were bright, glimmering with moisture.
"I won't, I promise," he said softly.
She offered him another muted tilt of her mouth and stuck out her hand. "Partners?"
For the first time in hours, Rick truly smiled. He took her hand in his and pulled her to him. They sealed the agreement with a kiss.
All your actin'
Your thin disguise
All your perfectly delivered lies
They don't fool me
You've been lonely, too long
Let me in the wall, you've built around
And we can light a match and burn it down
A/N: I hope it was enjoyable. It was a challenge to put all of it together. Just want to say that the end of this doesn't mean that Kate has completely forgiven and is fine with everything. Of course, they are going to struggle with the consequences of this.
Apologies for any grammar/spelling mistakes.
Title - from the Civil Wars' song, 'Dust to Dust'
Lyrics - from the Civil Wars' song, 'Dust to Dust'