December 26, 2010
Kate just barely dodged another crazy shopper as she and Lanie braved the Boxing Day crowds. They weren't shopping, but with the events of the previous couple of days, Kate had decided to call on her best friend for advice.
When it came down to it, Kate knew most of her doubts came from abject fear. Rick, Lanie and even Martha had out that she couldn't really deny there was something there. She'd tamped down on the signs for so long that it had become almost a habit. Even her handful of kisses with Rick hadn't done much to allay her fears. Attraction and relationships were two different beasts. It was tempting, but... Was she ready?
Because a relationship with Rick put more than just their hearts on the line. It was risking a solid partnership. It was risking a surprising friendship. It was risking one of the very few things that made her job easier. They risked Alexis being caught in the crossfire; Alexis and Kate had developed a strong and emotional bond over the course of Christmas. She risked her life falling apart around her ears and... It was utterly terrifying.
Finally, she and Lanie managed to make it to their favourite little coffee shop, just off the main streets of the city. They both breathed heavy sighs of relief as they stepped into the warmth. There was an empty table along the wall and they headed that way, shedding outerwear as they went. Lanie waited until they were settled in and had placed their orders before she eyed Kate.
"Do how was your Christmas with Writer-Boy?"
Kate felt her cheeks heating and cursed the blush. Her hand came up to her neck and the snowflake pendant she had yet to take off since Rick fastened it around her neck. "It was good," she admitted. "Really good."
"Oh?" Lanie asked, leaning forward with a twinkle in her eye. "So you and Castle are...?"
Kate chewed her lip. "We're thinking about it?"
"Thinking about it?" Lanie asked. "Where did you sleep?"
"Lanie! He has a guest room," Kate replied, then dropped her head into her hands. "We're not... I'm not... I just..."
The ME closed her eyes briefly before looking back to Kate. "Honey, what happened?"
"We made a deal," Kate answered. "He... We're going out. Kind of. He wanted three dates. I just..."
Had Lanie been anyone other than Kate's best friend, the stuttering would have been uncharacteristic. But the stuttering told Lanie that this really meant something to Kate. There was something else in there, something that made Kate unsure. It didn't take Lanie's high IQ to understand what it was. Kate knew that this was more. She knew that this was intense. She knew that everything between her and Rick would end up being more than just a passing fancy. There was a foundation there, a strong one, and one that she could build her forever on.
So Lanie reached out. "Kate."
The detective looked up, taking in the absolute seriousness on her best friend's face. Lanie rested her hand on Kate's arm.
"Listen to me," the ME requested. "I've spent years as your best friend watching you make choices to sabotage your relationships." She held up a hand when Kate opened her mouth. "I get the protective instinct, I do. But... Castle's different. And while I understand being scared and being careful, especially when it comes to what you've been through... But I won't stand aside this time. I won't let you sabotage such a good opportunity."
"What?" Kate asked in confusion.
"You're different with Castle," Lanie answered. "He's the one guy I've seen you with that makes you relax so completely. You've let him shoulder some of the thing you see, you let him make you laugh and you let him brighten your day."
"Lanie..." Kate began.
Lanie squeezed her best friend's hand. "I won't take excuses this time." She sighed. "He's not asking you for forever, Girl, he's just asking you for a chance. With what you guys have been through he deserves at least that."
"I said yes," Kate argued. "Doesn't that mean I'm giving him that chance?"
"Then why are we having this discussion?" Lanie pointed out. "Kate, you do both of you a disservice by making it impossible to win you. You want this, but you're scared. I get that. But at the end of the day, this is the one time you may not want to let your head over-power your heart."
Kate sighed. It felt so much more complicated than that. It was so much more dangerous.
"You trust him, you know you do," Lanie said, breaking into her thoughts and making Kate wonder if her best friend could read her mind.
"But do I trust him with this?"
Lanie sat back for a moment. "You trusted him with your mom."
Kate sighed. That was a key and interesting point. She needed to shift the topic. "Tell me about your Christmas."
Lanie sent her a look that implied she knew what the detective was up to, but launched into the first story of her one-year-old niece gumming her gifts to death, rather than unwrapping them. Kate listened with half an ear, unable to get the deal and Rick out of her head. Because when it came down to it, she wasn't sure Lanie was right. It wasn't impossible to Rick to win her heart. In fact, there was a traitorous part of her that was pretty sure he already had.
Rick, who'd spent his day writing while Kate hung out with Lanie, jumped when his phone rang. A smile blossomed over his face as he checked the caller ID.
"Why hello, Detective."
"Hey back," Kate's voice came through the phone. He hoped he wasn't imagining the warmth in her voice. She didn't know it yet, but he had a lot riding on this deal. He really wanted her to give a relationship with him an honest shot. He wanted her, and it was no longer about bedding her. It had stopped being about that a long time ago. There was a part of him that wanted to say it was about forever but...
"Rick? Did you zone out on me?"
And that was something he adored about Kate. She understood that sometimes, he lost himself in his thoughts. "Would I do such a thing?" He smiled when she chuckled. "What can I do for you? You have my full attention."
He thought he heard her suck in a breath. "I'm calling to see when you want to start cashing in on your dates."
"Oh," Rick replied, unable to stop himself from hoping that he was indeed hearing the nerves in her voice. He liked the idea of making Kate nervous. "How about tomorrow?"
"Just to put my plans to woo you into action."
There was silence for a moment. "You've been planning this?"
"You sound surprised," he said amicably. "I didn't think I'd made it a secret that I want you."
"There's a distinct difference between wanting me and wooing me, Rick."
Now, it was his turn to pause. "I'm glad you know there's a difference."
This time, he definitely heard a sharp intake of breath.
He barreled on. "How about tomorrow?" he repeated. "Any plans?"
"Beyond going into the precinct? No." she admitted.
"You're going back to work tomorrow?" Sometimes, despite how much he admired what she did, he forgot that she couldn't choose her schedule.
"Probably just paperwork, so don't bother coming in. I'll call you if anything good comes up."
"Then why don't I pick you up tomorrow night? About 7?"
"Barring murder it should work," Kate answered. "Um... Did you have something specific in mind?"
He didn't; not yet. But Kate didn't need to know that. "I do."
"Does it have a dress code?"
"I'm sure whatever you wear will be beautiful."
"Castle." There was a warning note to her voice that made him smile.
"That's all you're getting from me, Miss Beckett." He lowered his voice. "I'll see you tomorrow."
She responded with her own low sexy chuckle, and he knew what was coming next. "Until tomorrow, Rick."
He pressed the end button on his phone, then sat there for a minute, just staring at it.
"That's not the face of a man who kissed his dream detective on Christmas day."
Rick looked up as his whirlwind of a mother let the loft door slam behind her. "Good evening, mother. How was tea?"
His mother groaned. "Dotty Parson's daughter - you remember her, the accident -
"What?" She waved a hand impatiently at Rick's reproachful look. "Darling, Krista is nothing like Alexis. You were young. Dotty was almost past child-bearing age."
He almost groaned as he dropped his head in his hands.
"Anyway, Krista is getting married. We spent tea listening to Dotty go on and on about wedding details I have no interest in!" She dropped her things to a nearby chair, then plopped down on the couch across from it. "Even when Patty started talking about her trip to the Caribbean with her husband, all Dotty could talk about was how Krista and her beau were thinking of the Caribbean for their honeymoon."
"I'm sure you're not-so-secretly happy for them," Rick replied.
Martha leaned against the counter and eyed her son. "What is going on with Detective Beckett?"
"I'm sure she told you to call her Kate, Mother."
Martha's eyes darkened at his insistence. "Indeed she has," she murmured. "and it's important to you."
"Of course it is," he replied.
"Because she's important to you."
Rick pressed his lips into something resembling a smile. Really it was more of a straight line. "I've made no secret of that."
"To us. But what about to her."
"I don't know," he said, unable to stop a sigh from escaping.
"Well, Darling, the first thing you have to think about is what you want," Martha offered.
"I want her to be able to believe in us," he said, dropping his head in his hands. "Because Christmas showed me that 'us' is a very plausible idea."
Martha paused for a moment, gathering exactly what she wanted to say before she reached out to place a hand on her son's arm. "You know Detective Beckett quite well, yes?"
"It's Kate, Mother," he reminded her again, this time with a small smile. "And, I'd say so, yes."
"So then the question becomes this: does she know you?" She held up a hand when he immediately opened his mouth to respond. "I'm not talking about who you are to everyone else. I mean who you are to me, to Alexis, to the people that matter. Does she understand that maybe your antics are really just a stupid way of getting her attention?"
She watched her son's expressions change.
"Does she know why your marriages failed?" Martha asked quietly. "Does she understand why you want her? You've made it crystal clear you do, but for some women… we need to understand the why before we can accept the who."
"No," he said after a moment. "No, she doesn't know me."
She smiled and squeezed his arm. "That might be a good place to start."
I hadn't forgotten or un-planned this story!
But I did make a decision. This will be the main thing I work on, but, as I'm sure you can all tell, I've decided to do it on my time as opposed to in the few days between Christmas and New Years. I wanted a chance to spend time with my family and take a bit of a break before diving back into all of this.
So I do hope you're still with me, and that you'll be even more awesome (other than reviewing, of course, which makes you awesome by default) and be patient with me.
Loves in advance!