A/N: This update is quite overdue but the holidays caught up with me so please accept my deepest apologies!
(I would never ask you to change.)
Another two days pass before Castle finally leaves his house, ending up at the one place he wishes he could avoid. Esposito, Ryan, and Kate aren't at their desks so he checks out the murder board and sits down in Kate's chair to catch up on the current case.
He actually jumps when she comes up behind him, saying loudly, "Get out of my chair, Castle."
"Jeez, Ka—Beckett. Don't sneak up on people like that."
She rolls her eyes at him. "I'm wearing three-inch heels, Castle. If you can't hear me coming, that's your problem."
He settles into his own chair, still holding the casefile. "Where did you guys come from?" he asks Esposito and Ryan as they move around some suspects on the murder board.
"Following up a lead," Ryan answers.
"Which turned out to be a bust," says Esposito. "This is our second weird case since you disappeared on us."
"Yeah, Castle, where did you go?" asks Ryan.
Kate chooses that moment to make a noise of irritation and shove her chair back violently before walking off.
Castle raises his eyebrows and Esposito and Ryan both nod.
"Yeah, she's been like that for a couple of days," says Esposito.
"We thought it was you but…"
"You haven't even been here, bro."
"We're thinking," Ryan starts conspiratorially, "Trouble in paradise."
"Yeah, motorcycle boy hasn't been around for weeks but Lanie hasn't been giving up any kind of info..." Esposito stops Castle when he stands up, looking to follow her. "Man, I wouldn't go after her."
Castle shrugs. "She doesn't even have her gun with her. What's the worst she could do?"
Esposito and Ryan look at each other knowingly as he walks off.
"She could probably still permanently incapacitate him."
He finds her in the basement, pacing the hallway in front of the morgue.
"You're a little tense," he says.
She doesn't respond, only the click clacking of her heels echo amid the silence.
"Do you want to talk about it?" He approaches her slowly like she's a stray animal and he's afraid to frighten her.
She takes four steps on the concrete before turning around to take four steps back, ending up where she had started. It is there that Castle places himself so that every time she returns, she actually brushes against him a little.
He waits a couple of minutes and when she still doesn't say anything, he decides to just broach the subject, knowing that she won't be able to stop herself from reacting. "So," he starts casually, "Is this about the no-sex between us thing?"
She's reached the point where she has to turn back towards him and he notices the slight pause she takes before spinning around. "I'm waiting for Lanie," she says.
"Uh huh." He's aware that she's slowed down her steps to delay having to stand close to him. "So, this whole attitude thing isn't because you haven't gotten any in, let's say, a month?"
She's standing in front of him now and she's almost eye-level in her heels. Her tone is steady and almost daring, "Who says it's been a month?"
She turns around again before she can see his mouth open and close without a comeback.
Finally, he grins. If she wants to play this game, then fine. He takes a big step forward and she almost crashes into him. He takes the opportunity to grab her shoulders and hold her still. "Well, it's definitely been one month for us. And if I were to bet, I'd say it's also been one month in general." His voice drops. "You're a little wound up, Kate."
His right hand moves up and his fingers lightly brush the side of her neck. She bites her bottom lip but her body betrays her anyway and she shivers under his touch. "I know," he says, placing a kiss on the exact spot his fingers had been, "because I'm a little wound up, too."
Castle can feel himself reacting to her proximity and he pulls her body closer to his, resting a hand on her back.
"Stop." Her voice is breathy. "We're in a public area."
"So," he says, his mouth against her ear, "We're surrounded by dead people."
She pulls away from him, the moment immediately broken. "Castle, that's creepy."
"Yeah, I heard myself after I said it but by then it was too late."
She extracts herself from his hold and leans against the concrete wall. She breathes out his name on a sigh, "Castle."
"Are we having this conversation?"
"We probably should."
She pauses, and then, "I can't be with you," she states more than says.
"You broke up with Josh." It's a half question because he's almost positive that she has. Her silence only confirms it.
"It doesn't matter," she says.
"Well, then why?"
"Because I don't know you," she blurts out, "And the things I do know about you in terms of relationships aren't so favourable. You're just not… reliable." Castle is about to protest but she holds up a hand to stop him. "I trust you. When you're shadowing me, when we're working together professionally… I would trust you with my life, Castle. It's not that part that I don't know… it's everything else."
"I'm not always that guy," he says and she knows he's referring to his playboy persona.
"Castle, we just believe in different things."
He knows she's referring to his multiple marriages compared to her "one-and-done".
Kate continues, "And we're completely different people: I follow protocol while you're just curious and reckless; you spin stories and I look for the facts; I'm a private person while you're, well, you."
"Don't you believe in opposites attracting?"
"Except we're not opposites, Castle. We just don't… match. You're not the type of guy I date and I'm not the type of girl you would choose."
He doesn't contradict her; they both know, based on past history, that what she's saying is true. "Maybe I could be that guy," he says, instead.
Kate smiles a little at that, "Castle, I would never want you to change. And," she adds as an afterthought, "I don't think I could change either, at least, not the fundamental things."
"Kate, you know who we are?" he sounds discouraged and hopeful all at the same time. "We are two people who don't belong together except that we belong together."
Her smile is bittersweet. "That sounds wonderful on paper."
Castle truly believes it could also be wonderful in real life. It's just that Kate isn't ready to see it as more than a fantasy. "So, that's it?" he asks her.
Kate shrugs. "I'm not kicking you out of my life, Castle. And, I don't plan on ditching Alexis, either."
"She really loves you, you know?" he says.
A smile tugs at the corners of her mouth. "I kind of love her, too."
They hear footsteps coming down the corridor.
"Can I still pull your pigtails?" Castle says, humour creeping back into his voice though it comes out a little strained.
Kate rolls her eyes at him. "I didn't know you stopped."
End of Volume (I).
A/N: Yeah. Seriously. This is where I decided to end it. Originally, my plan wasn't to end it here at all but when I actually wrote it out, this ending seemed to just feel more honest. However, the initial trajectory I had been planning is still sitting as a document on my computer so, here's where you guys come in: would you be interested in a Volume II?
Either way, let me know what you think! You guys have been really, really great – thank you so much for reading and indulging me in my first foray into this fandom! - Violet