Sorry this has taken me so long. I had to take a bit longer to plot how I wanted the end of this story to go, as well as what I want to do in the sequel. And then...there was the writer's block to contend with. Or maybe I should call it idea block. But whatever. So, anyway, yes, there will be a sequel. I'm not entirely positive what the name of it will be yet, but it will be named something that 'goes' with this story. You'll know it when you see it.
Then as I was writing this and had a good idea of what to do, I had an inspiration and the chapter kind of clicked into place for me. And I almost don't want to say it, but it involves a song. So before you go further, look up Lady Antebellum's 'Just a Kiss'. Personally, I think this is about the best potential Caskett song there could possibly be. The lyrics are seriously great! (And their other songs aren't so bad either. For some reason, they just seem to have songs that are so applicable to our favorite couple.) So anyway, partway through the story, I'll have a bit of a different type of section break (x-x-x-x-x-x) than I normally use. That's your cue to listen to the song before you read the rest of the chapter, if you want to, because I tie it to the song. I'm not going to post lyrics, because this is getting long enough. But just do it...listen to the song. Then read the rest of the story. You'll get it. At least I hope you do.
Disclaimers: Yeah, the same old stuff. Don't own anyone, have no rights to anyone mentioned in this chapter. If I did, I probably wouldn't be sitting where I am right now.
Previously: Kate tried to blow off their new-found closeness as a vacation fling, but Castle wouldn't let her. So she agreed to a date with him, and then put her foot in her mouth because she said it was because she owed him because he was doing a lot for her. He was kind of hurt by that, so she explained herself more, and through her fumbling explanation, she admitted that she wasn't sure about the date with him because it all felt weird, but she also realized that they'd reached a point in their relationship where the date was the next logical step. And she also agreed that it was okay if Castle thought about them-in his own mind-as 'dating', and she said that was okay even though it still sounded, and felt, really strange to her. And they agreed to watch a movie and snuggle a bit...
They did watch that movie, and they did snuggle a little bit that first night back at the loft. But Castle, mindful of the big hurdle he had overcome in just getting Kate to agree to the date-and even moreso that she didn't freak out when he mentioned the somewhat more permanent-sounding dating-didn't try to push the envelope in terms of PDAs, even though they weren't technically anywhere public. He knew that she was in a strange environment, and was worried about how things might appear in front of his daughter or mother, faced with a new experience, so the whole thing probably felt very public to her. He knew she was out of her comfort zone, in more ways than one. He just wanted her to feel comfortable with him on this new level, and he knew if he pushed things too much, she'd shut down. Alone together in the Hamptons was one thing, but he knew that preserving the closeness they had gained there in this normal environment of their real lives was going to be conflicting for her.
So they sat on the plush couch with her ankle propped up, once again adorned with a bag of ice. Even though the sprain had happened a few days prior, there was still swelling so they figured it couldn't hurt. And with a twinkle in his eye, Rick had offered to go outside to a snowbank to get her a bag of snow, "for old times sake", but Kate just rolled her eyes and told him that the crushed ice from his ice maker would be fine. So the ice was on Kate's leg, which was propped on the low table in front of her. He'd sat down after her, and he sat down next to her, but yet at a respectable distance. Relatively speaking, he was so far away that he wouldn't have been able to even do the old teenage 'yawn and stretch' move. She had to respect that he he was giving her space, but at the same time, she flashed back to the memory of them sitting in front of the fire the night of the blizzard. They were cuddling on the couch then (and making out a little), and she was giving him grief, and he was obsessing about what his daughter was doing at her sleepover, and they were engaging in innuendo skirmishes. Except for the cuddling (and the making out), it had been pure, vintage 'them'.
And now, sitting next to him stiffly, she kind of missed that.
But right now, she wasn't going to do anything about that, mostly because she didn't really know exactly what to do about it. Even though she'd agreed to go on a date with him, she was still at a loss for how to make the transition. And now she was living with the man! Didn't a person usually date someone for a while before living with that someone? What was the protocol in a situation like this?
Interrupting her ruminations was the feeling of fingers lightly tracing designs on the back of the hand that was laying closest to Castle. When she felt that, she almost felt...nervous? No, how could that be? She'd kissed the guy already, even slept in the same bed as him. Why should she be nervous when he was just rubbing her hand? Because it was here, she thought, in familiar surroundings-familiar Castle surroundings-and that certain word had been spoken out loud. Dating. And even though she'd told Castle that they were already there in terms of the dating aspect, somehow it just felt different now. It had been spoken aloud, and acknowledged in a positive, 'go-forth-and-date' sense. And that just made it different somehow. And it made her nervous, like it all of a sudden meant more now. Although, she had to admit that even that light touch from him on her hand still felt damn good.
She didn't look at their two hands, but kept her gaze intently on the movie. After a few minutes of that, she slowly turned her hand over and she lightly entwined their fingers. When she did that, she felt the small little squeeze of his own fingers before they relaxed with hers. And their hands stayed together from that point on. She almost laughed when a surprising part of the movie came on, and he squeezed her hand with a little squeak as he inhaled sharply. Then he realized what he did, and the look on his face was comical as he found her smirking at him. But their hands stayed together.
But midway through the movie, he let go of her hand abruptly. She glanced over at him as he started to shift his position on the couch, and he somewhat apologetically explained, "My butt's getting sore from sitting in the same position." Then he got up and started slapping himself on the rear. "And it's kind of going to sleep." He hit himself a few more times and then sat down again, once again trying to shift into a different position. She watched the whole spectacle with a strange kind of curiosity. He seemed really fidgety tonight, moreso than what she remembered from when they'd watched Stuart Little with Alexis.
As it appeared that he was finally finished shifting around, she told him blandly, "We can't have that, can we? Let me know if you want me to move."
He'd been turning toward her more, and he had one leg bent up on the couch now, with the arm that was next to her now resting on the back of the couch. But still, he made no move to put that arm around her, or to even move closer to her. And she had fully expected him to do that. Then she found herself in the unenviable position of being relieved that he wasn't trying to invade her personal space when his daughter could come downstairs at any moment, yet at the same time being a little miffed that he wasn't trying to get closer to her, esepcially after his apparent glee about the whole 'dating' thing. And to top it all off, she found that she was also a little bit disappointed that he'd severed even their very minimal contact when he'd taken his hand away to change positions.
How conflicting. And how annoying.
After he'd resettled himself, she unknowingly dropped her attention from the movie, because she was too busy being annoyed with herself for being disappointed with the loss of contact when that's what she was telling herself she wanted anyway. And she didn't like being annoyed with herself.
"What's wrong? Don't you like the movie anymore? Or is your ankle hurting?" Castle's voice interrupted her thoughts again, and she looked over to find him watching her. "Your brow was crinkled and you had your lips kind of pursed together, and you were kind of staring off into space or something," he explained. "It didn't look like you were enjoying the movie anymore."
"It's fine. And what were you doing watching me anyway? Why weren't you watching the movie?" she asked as she narrowed her eyes at him, turning the tables on him by firing the questions right back at him.
He gave her a look, followed by a sigh. Then he said, "Well, if you must know, I was watching you instead of the movie because you distracted me."
She gave him an 'oh, brother' type of look and asked, "Me? I wasn't doing anything. I haven't even moved. You're the one who's jumping all over the place trying to wake up his butt. As if I haven't heard enough problems about your butt this weekend. But anyway, after that, how could I possibly distract you?" She looked perplexed by his statement.
He sighed. "You, Detective, are always highly distracting. In a good way. You don't have to actually do anything. You're just...here. And I'm extremely glad that you are, but the fact remains that you just being here has a certain wonderful element of distractability associated with it."
She stared at him, trying to figure out the amusement that she could see was making his eyes twinkle and causing the corners of his mouth to turn up in the very beginnings of a smile, not to mention trying to figure out what the statement itself meant. "Oh...okaaaay." Her response was the epitome of generic, but she honestly couldn't think of what else to say.
"And," he continued, his voice lower now, as if he were sharing a secret, "if the truth be told, I was actually trying to figure out how I could get away with holding your hand again." He saw her eyes widen almost imperceptibly at his admission, and he could see her bland expression almost change before she let the mask slip back into place. "I didn't really want to let go of it before, but I..." he trailed off.
"You needed it so you could spank yourself, Ricky?" she threw back at him in a husky voice, which was so not what he was expecting.
After he let that comment sink in, his mouth formed a roguish grin. "I'd be happy to let you spank me," he replied after several seconds, causing her to raise one of her eyebrows at him.
"I'm sure you would. And as I recall, you made the same statement right after I met you."
"I did?" he asked automatically. Then he thought back, and he confirmed his own question with a smile and a nod. "Yes, I did!" But after that, his smile grew larger as he said, "But the more pertinent fact, Detective, is that you still remember that statement."
"How could I forget?" she asked dryly. "It's not every day that I get propositioned by a minor celebrity during a homicide interrogation."
His eyebrows raised. "Ahem. Minor? Did you just call me a minor celebrity?" he asked her in an affronted tone.
She looked him squarely in the eye. "Yes. I did." She reached her hand out and patted his cheek in a conciliatory gesture. "I'd hate to break it to you, Rick, but you're no Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp."
His hand reached out and grasped her wrist, not letting the hand escape away from his face. "Maybe not, but that's probably a good thing for you." After he finished talking, he moved his hand away from her wrist to grasp her hand that had been on his face. After bringing it to his lips for a light kiss, he lowered their joined hands down to rest on his leg.
She wasn't prepared for the sudden intimate gesture. She could still feel the lingering impression of his lips on her hand, and she asked softly, "How so?", while trying to maintain some semblance of detatchment.
"If I was one of those guys, then I probably wouldn't be here with you now. And I wouldn't be able to follow you around. And then you'd miss me."
She narrowed her eyes and smiled a knowing smile at him. "So I'd miss you?" she confirmed.
"Yes. Yes you would," he answered confidently. "Not to mention that your case closure rate would probably go down."
Pure Castle, that's what this conversation was. Good-natured, cocky confidence, with a side of humor thrown in as they jumped from topic to topic. And she could give it right back to him, with her own brand of cocky confidence, no matter how strange this situation was.
"I will have you know, Mr. Castle, that I solved many crimes before you came along, and my closure rate was pretty impressive."
"Oh, I don't doubt that, Detective," he told her, leaning closer. "But it's even more impressive now. And do you know what else is really, really good with me around?" he asked in that low, mesmerizing voice of his.
Staring into his blue eyes, with him leaning close with that seductive look on his face, she could only think in her mind, 'so many things'. But never, ever would she give him the satisfaction of admitting that. The man would be insufferable if she ever told him that. But before she could formulate any response, he told her his answer.
And then without waiting for a response from her, he squeezed her hand that he still held on his leg before releasing it. He missed her eye roll when he shifted yet again and moved a little closer to her. "So you said before that we could snuggle a bit. Ready yet?" he asked, lifting an arm up as an invitation for her to lean against him. "I mean, I could just keep trying to hold your hand like a teenager on his first date, but it's just not as satisfying as a real snuggle, and I think we're past that anyway."
"What about your butt?" she asked, remembering the cause of his fidgetiness earlier.
With another sly grin, he answered, "Well, Detective, you're welcome to find out anything that you want to about my posterior region, either by looking or feeling-"
"Castle...daughter..." she warned.
"Yes, well, as I said you're welcome to do your own research if you want, but I can assure you that should you snuggle with me, I'll be quite content to stay put. Very content," he said, then in a lower voice added, "Just like all of the other times that we've been in those types of positions. And I can assure you, no rules will be broken. So what do you say? I'm getting kind of tired of holding my arm up like this."
Shaking her head, she did indeed settle down against him with her head against his shoulder. He draped his arm over her shoulder and wasted no time in winding it around to her other shoulder, effectively hugging her against him. As they settled in together, he took his arm that was encircling her and rubbed his fingertips lightly up and down her opposite arm. "Much better," he commented absently.
"Mmm..." she murmured back, relaxing into him.
And as luck would have it, it was mere moments later that Alexis came down the stairs and into the room. He could feel Kate stiffen as she noticed her, but he held her in place with the arm that he had around her. They weren't doing anything inappropriate, and while it might be slightly out of the ordinary now, it would soon (if he had anything to say about it) be very ordinary. So they might as well get one of the potentially uncomfortable moments out of the way now.
"Hey, you guys," Alexis greeted as she plopped down in one of the chairs. "God, I needed a break. What are you watching?"
Kate looked over at the girl, who didn't seem the least bit fazed to see her cuddling with Rick. But then again, she remembered, the girl thought they were dating. But then she froze, because she realized that yes, they were indeed dating. And she, herself, had admitted that and had agreed to it. Yet they hadn't even had a real date yet. Man, this whole thing was messed up.
Rick had named the movie for his daughter while Kate was contemplating her situation, and Kate was still aware of enough of the conversation to give Rick a little verbal jab. "We were watching it, Alexis, but then your dad had to try to extoll his virtues and tell me how amazing he is. So we lost track of the movie for a while when I had to try to let him down gently that he wasn't in the league of Brad Pitt."
"Yeah, that does get to be a problem from time to time. I mean, he's pretty cool, as far as dads go, most of the time anyway, but you're right, he's no Brad Pitt," Alexis replied dryly. "Hey! Do you want some popcorn? I was thinking about just making a microwave bag to take up to my room, and I can make you guys one too."
"That sounds good, pumpkin, but why don't you join us instead? Take a break for a while?" Rick suggested.
"Thanks, Dad. But I'm trying to work ahead a little bit and I'm making some good progress, so I don't want to stop now." And she hopped up to go into the kitchen.
Somehow, the movie was still playing, as it had been throughout their entire discussion. And he realized that he had no idea what was going on anymore, and he suspected that Kate wouldn't fare much better in describing the plot or the current action sequence. He reached over to the remote and hit the pause button.
"Why did you stop the movie?" Kate asked.
"Can you honestly tell me that you have any idea of what's going on?"
"Well, no, but won't it look strange when Alexis comes back with popcorn and we're sitting here staring at a frozen screen? Castle, this..." she made a wild gesture to the two of them, "is weird enough. So can we just let the movie run so your kid thinks we're at least somewhat normal?"
"She already knows I'm not normal," he said matter-of-factly.
"Castle..." she warned.
"Fine," he said and pressed the button on the remote to resume the movie. They both watched, and though Kate enjoyed the feeling of leaning against him, she was still on edge because she knew that Alexis was going to come back soon and she was still feeling strange about the PDAs in front of the girl, even though Alexis had already seen them doing more than sitting on a couch together.
His fingers had resumed rubbing her arm absently, and they didn't stop even when Alexis brought back the popcorn and other items on a tray. "I got you guys a couple of sodas out of the fridge. Hope they're okay...Kate, I wasn't really sure what kind you drink."
She was touched by the girl's thoughtfulness, and she told her so. "Thanks, Alexis. That was sweet of you. And your choice was just perfect. Are you sure you don't want to stay down here and watch the movie with us? Sometimes a little break works wonders at relaxing your mind. Then everything just sinks in a little better after that." Kate was definitely more on edge with Alexis around, at least when she was sitting like this with the girl's father, but she certainly didn't want to make her feel uncomfortable in her own house.
"No, but thanks anyway. This has been enough of a break for me. But does it work like that for you too? You know, with your cases? I mean, do you know how many times I've been talking to dad over the years, and he stops right in the middle of something, and then he gets a gleam in his eye like he's figured something out, and then he's just outta here like he's Batman running to the batpole?"
Castle pointed at his daughter as he gave her a wink. "Ooo, Batman, I like it," he told her.
Kate ignored him. "Well, sometimes it does. I've always been taught to sift through the evidence and plot out the clues. But, yeah, sometimes inspiration does strike when you let your mind relax a little bit. It's just a good idea to have a balance between the two."
Alexis looked thoughtful, and then nodded. "Well, here's the popcorn. Dad, no trying to throw it up and catch it in your mouth, okay?" She turned to Kate. "The last time he did that, I was finding popcorn under the couch and down in the cushions. But I'll see you tomorrow. Have a good night."
After the girl left for her room, Rick could feel some of the tension drain out of Kate's body. The relaxation that he felt was palpable. "Better?" he asked.
She shifted to turn to look at him. And when she did, she found that their faces were impossibly close. "What...do you mean?" she asked, trying not to look at his lips.
"With no audience. I could feel you relax as soon as Alexis went back to her room."
"I..." She didn't know what to say. She was, of course, more comfortable when it was just the two of them, not because of anything Alexis had said or done, but just because of her own need to get used to her new normal. Their new normal. Dating. Oh, my.
"I mean," he continued, "I've never thought of my daughter as being all that scary, where just her mere presence would be cause for high levels of tension and worry." His words had a certain amount of jest in the tone, but she took it a step further.
"No," she protested, "there's nothing wrong with her. I'm just...God, was I that obvious? Do you think she noticed something? I'm sorry. I..."
"Kate, come on, I'm joking. And you were fine; I'm sure she didn't notice anything. I just happened to be holding you and I could feel the tension practically leaking out of you when she left."
"Well, that sounds...icky."
"If you think hearing it is icky, then you should just feel how tense you were when Alexis was in the room." His gaze flitted down to her lips and then back to her eyes. "But I know how we could maybe relax you a bit more now..."
She knew where he was going. And damn, she was playing right along with him, almost feeling like she had butterflies in her stomach at the prospect of him kissing her. What was she, fourteen?
He leaned in and touched his lips to hers, and when he did, she brought her hand up to his face to touch it like she had been earlier. He nipped her bottom lip, and she changed the kiss and suckled at his lips. Her hand on his face caressed the stubble of his jaw, and she found a certain sexiness in feeling it. One set of lips worked over the other set, one tongue teased the other. And eventually, Kate dropped her head back to his shoulder while heaving a big unsteady breath, which matched.
"I think I'm relaxed now."
And he just laughed and pulled her closer as they settled in to try to watch the movie and eat the popcorn that Alexis had given them.
The next battle came when, in a repeat of the first night of the blizzard, Rick helped her into his room and informed her that she'd be staying there instead of in the guest room. "Castle, are you high or something? Look outside...there's no blizzard now. I do not have to use your bedroom."
"Kate, mine is the only bedroom on the first floor. You came here in the first place because you can't handle a lot of stairs with your ankle like that, so it would be pretty rude of me to make you climb stairs just to get to the guest bedroom when there's a perfectly good bedroom on the first floor."
"But it's yours, Castle."
"Obviously. That's why all of my clothes are hanging in the closet. Oh," he said, snapping his fingers, "Let me go make some room in my closet for your clothes." And he moved quickly over to his closet, obviously on a mission, as she was left standing there, staring after him, wondering what the hell had just happened. He'd just made it sound like she was moving in with him! But, she realized with a jolt, she was moving in with him. Just not...like that. It was temporary. Yet he was, at this moment, across the room and clearing space in his own closet for her clothes.
"Castle!" she all but shouted at him.
"What?" he asked as he poked his head out of the closet. Then he continued right away, not really waiting for her response. "Hey, do you have a preference for what side of the closet you like? Some people are particular like that. You know they always have to have the right side, or the left si-"
"Castle," she shouted again. "Will you shut up for a minute?"
"What?" he asked again, this time somewhat bewildered at her outburst.
She hopped over to the nearest chair and sat down. After running her hands through her hair, she told him, "I'm staying with you for a while because I can't handle all of the stairs yet at my place. That does not mean that I am living with you. I am not living with you, Castle. Therefore I do not need room in your closet."
"But...don't you want to hang your clothes up? So you won't have to iron them? You know, suitcase wrinkles?"
"Uh..." Wrinkles? He made it sound so simple.
"Beckett, it's not like I'm clearing out half of my closet and commissioning the construction of custom storage units so you can have room for your high heels, like you're the new lady of the manor. But we know you'll probably be here for several days, at least, so it just makes sense that you have a small area to hang up your clothes in my closet so you don't have to live out of your suitcase. Right?"
He made it sound so innocent, so practical. Eliminating wrinkled clothes. Sheesh.
"Okay, Castle. You win. But clear space in the closet in the guest bedroom, Castle, not in your closet.
"No can do, Kemosabe."
"Castle..." she started, ignoring the Lone Ranger reference for now.
He held up a hand. "Kate, hear me out. You're staying in here. It's been decided. Don't worry, I'll stay in the guest room."
"I am not kicking you out of your own bedroom to stay in your guest room."
"No, you're not," he agreed, although she knew it way too fast for him to acquiesce. He rarely agreed to anything that quickly.
"Good. Then it's settled. Now, do you think you could grab my suitcase and put it in the guest room?"
"No can do, Kemosabe," he said again.
"Castle, come on. We need to get some sleep, and I'd like to get settled in. So, Tonto, can you just help me out here, please? Go get my suitcase and put it where it needs to go? Huh? You know, Hi-yo Silver, Away?" Inwardly, she was surprised at the little flashes of Lone Ranger-isms that popped back into her head.
"Kate, take a look." He raised an eyebrow and nudged his head to the side. She followed his eyes and saw her bag already sitting on a chair.
"What's it doing in here?"
"You're staying in here."
"I am not, Castle! We already covered this. I am not kicking you out of your room!"
"Yes, I know we covered it. You are not kicking me out. I am."
"Castle..." she said in a warning tone.
"Hey, what happened to 'Rick'?" At her glare, he said, "What? Not now? Well, fine then. But please know that at least until you can bear some weight on your bad leg, you're using my room. I'll use my guest room. And if you don't want to use my room, well, then...I suppose you could join me in the guest room," he told her, waggling his eyebrows. "But then, well, Alexis may see us. She's on the same floor, you know."
She looked at him, not saying anything but pursing her lips and shaking her head as she continued to glare at him. She was resigning herself to the fact that she wasn't going to win this, and she certainly wasn't in a position to duke it out with him. So finally, she rolled her eyes and got up to hop over to where her suitcase was sitting. Opening it, she took out a few shirts and one or two other things that might wrinkle. She threw them at Castle, saying "Can you hang these up? I need to go to the bathroom and get ready for bed. See you in the morning."
And without another word or glance at him, she grabbed a small bag out of her suitcase, as well as some sleep clothes and made her way into his bathroom. Shutting the door with more force than what was probably necessary, she felt a little bit petty but it was still somewhat satisfying after dealing with his stubbornness. The nerve of that man! Shouldn't she be the one to decide where she's going to sleep? Even if it was upstairs and stairs are difficult for her.
She found some towels and washed her face, and then sat down on a little stool in the opulent bathroom and began to change into the pajamas she'd brought with her. She didn't hurry; she used the time to think of the past several days in the company of the Castle clan, and then of what the next several days (or longer?) might hold for them.
French lessons (aka: snowy kisses with cold noses and wet bottoms).
Cookie dough fights in the kitchen.
Warm breakfasts with good company.
Chairs in bathrooms.
Napping and snuggling.
Being taken care of.
Subtext-filled conversations with a wise, dramatic redhead.
Hot kisses interrupted by embarrassed teenagers.
More kisses? (Yeah, she hoped so.)
Shared cab rides to the precinct?
Being taken care of?
Snuggling? And, oh, man...more than just snuggling?
Staring into those blue eyes and just letting herself get lost in them.
And as she thought, and remembered everything, and thought about what could come, she felt some of her anger and frustration begin to wane. It was just a bed for a night or two, after all. And she hated to admit it but she did have a point about the stairs. He'd probably have his phone with him; she'd text him when she was settled into his bed-ugh, 'his bed', that sounded so...tawdry-and she'd apologize for being stubborn when he was just trying to be practical and generous. After she brushed her teeth and done everything else she needed to do to get ready for bed, she put her hand on the doorknob, all set to open it. But then she paused.
She was about to spend the night in Richard Castle's bed. His real bed. And he wasn't even there. She shook her head as if to clear it. Yeah. Strange. But on some level, after the past few days, she knew she had enough to get used to without adding another element-sex-into the mix quite yet...no matter how much she might have been tempted a few times.
Now, she just had to try to shut her mind off from thinking about the changes in her life that had taken place over the last few days so she could actually get some sleep. She shut the light off in the bathroom and turned the knob to open the door, taking care to do it softly as sort of an apology to the universe for the way she almost slammed the door when she went into the bathroom.
But she wasn't prepared for the sight that awaited her when she hopped back into the bedroom. Her jaw dropped a little bit, but then she smiled, because bestselling author Richard Castle had apparently sat down on his bed to wait for her, and it appeared he had very promptly fallen asleep. And now he was reclining against the headboard, snoring lightly, with his arms clasped over his stomach.
Oh, hell, what did she do now?
So much for sleeping. She laid there an hour later, on her side, just looking at him sleep next to her. He'd slid down from where he was leaning against the headboard, so now he was laying on the pillows in a more normal position. He'd turned on his side, but he hadn't woken up. When she crawled into his bed on the other side-she finally gave in and admitted that no, she really didn't want to climb upstairs, and the bed looked so inviting-she took care to not move too much, and apparently she'd been successful because he was still sleeping.
Even thought she wasn't. By all rights, it was a crime, to not be able to fall asleep in that bed. It was wonderful. It was so heavenly, and the sheets felt so smooth and plush. But she laid there and just looked at him. He had a lock of hair that was falling over his forehead, and she wanted to run her fingers through it but she stopped herself because she didn't want to risk waking him up. He looked cute. But she was grateful for the chance to study him now, to just be with him while her mind was churning and she was getting used to the change in their relationship. In her feelings toward him.
Well, no, that wasn't entirely true. It was more like she was just starting to recognize her feelings toward him. She, herself, had initiated several of the romantic encounters that they'd had, the touches, the kisses. She'd held back for so long, and he had too. And then, once they'd breached that barrier of that first kiss in the snow, it seemed that they were both circling around each other, just looking for an excuse to try it again. And they'd found many excuses.
But even though she'd finally agreed to go on a date, to be classified with him as dating, she was still unsure. What it all boiled down to was that she was scared. There was this person side of her, and unorthodox as it may be, he was one of her best friends, if not her absolute best friend. She needed him in her life; she knew that now, especially after having spent time apart. Yet they always found each other again, and they were better for it. He could see through her, and she realized the peace she sometimes felt knowing that, even though it scared the hell out of her at its most basic level. And right now they were good friends. They were there for each other when it counted, and they worked well together.
But what if that changed? Could she risk losing the friend she had in him?
And what if... She took a deep breath, not even wanting to think the thought that was trying to jump out and run around in her brain. She'd been trying not to think about it, or to acknowledge it for a while. But she was nowhere near sleep, so...
What if he was the one? What if he was that one person that she'd been waiting for her whole life, the one who made it all make sense, the one who was the missing half of her? He'd been there for years, and he started out as an annoyance, but she was just realizing that...what if he might be it? Her one and done?
At the thought, her breath caught in her lungs and she inhaled sharply just to get some air back into them. But her inhalation sounded so loud in the quiet room, and right afterwards, she found herself staring at two blue eyes, eyes that were now awake and were staring back at her.
"Hey," she said softly.
"Hey," he replied, and then yawned. When he looked back at her, he smiled.
"What?" she asked.
"You look..." he trailed off, and then reached over and trailed a fingertip down her cheek. "You're laying here with me, and the moonlight is hitting your face just right, and...I really like it." And then he moved over and gave her a tender little kiss, before moving his head back to where it had been on the pillow. That he 'liked it' wasn't what he really wanted to say, but anything else, anything more would have been pushing her, and he knew she didn't respond well to that.
The kiss that he gave her was so sweet that it almost brought tears to her eyes, especially given what she'd spent the last hour thinking about. "Rick..." she started, not even realizing that she didn't even have to think about calling him by his first name. It just came out naturally. But then nothing else would come out; she couldn't seem to form the right words.
He ran his finger down her cheek again. "Hmm? Just say it. You can tell me." He obviously saw that she was thinking about something, that she was conflicted about something.
She brought wary eyes to his again after closing them for a long blink, trying to get her nerve up. "What if..." She took another fortifying breath. "I don't want to mess this up, Rick," she whispered to him.
He looked at her and he could see the turmoil in her eyes. And because of what he saw, he knew they were talking about more than just the 'dating' that they had been talking about earlier. He felt it. "Hey. We won't." He tried to give her a little smile.
"You don't know that. I'm not...I don't open up to people very well. And I don't want to ruin what we already have. Our friendship. Our partnership."
"You won't ruin anything. We'll still be friends, partners, and now we'll just be...more. There's that chance, Kate. There's that shot that we could be something...really great together, on a different level. More."
"But what if we couldn't?"
"But what if we could? Kate, I..." He tried to choose his words carefully. "I feel something special with you. And you...I'm thinking...no, I'm hoping that you feel it too because otherwise I don't think you'd be this worried."
She looked at him with big, serious eyes, and gave the slightest of nods. He did know her so well.
"So take a chance with me."
She just continued to look at him with those serious eyes. "I need...space."
His face fell. "Space? But we only just-"
"No," she shook her head into the pillow, "not space like that. Space, like, don't hover. Don't start planning...stuff. You know, trying to take over. Just give me space to be me.".
He visibly relaxed at her words. "Space. Okay, that kind of space I can do, as long as we can still give this a shot. And 'you' are the only person I want you to be. I wouldn't want anyone else. So I won't push. Well, I won't push you too much," he finished softly, but with one of his disarming smiles.
But instead of his smile making her smile, she just looked worried again. "I really don't want to mess this up," she said again.
"You won't. I won't let you, because I want this. We'll just go slowly, okay?"
"Slowly?" How could he talk about slowly when their relationship had already moved light years ahead in just four days?
"Yes. Slowly. Nothing fast. We'll keep it simple. And we can go slowly, because we already know each other. We don't have to do that whole getting-to-know-you thing; you know, where you feel like you have to spend all of this time together right away to get to know someone better? There's no rush; we can just enjoy the new 'us'. Slowly."
She thought for a moment, and he was wondering where her mind was going when she didn't say anything right away. It was one of those times when he just couldn't read her. "Slowly sounds good," she finally said.
Relieved, he let out the breath he didn't know he was holding. He'd never before had any sort of relationship where the prospect of going slowly was so appealing. But then again, he'd never been in a relationship with Kate Beckett before. And if going slowly, not pushing her and giving her space was what was needed to maintain that relationship, then that was what he would do. And he was sure that he was going to love every minute of it.
She looked at him, and though tired, he looked almost happy. Giddy or something. What a strange man he was sometimes. But, strange or not, he was her man now, wasn't he? And that thought made her smile at him just a little bit in return.
And they laid there in his bed, smiling at each other in the early part of the nighttime hours. Well, she was in his bed, although he was still on top of the bed.
"Can I have a goodnight kiss?" she asked him, biting her lip in that sexy way that she had mastered.
"You can have as many goodnight kisses as you want."
"Just one is fine. We're going slowly, remember?"
He winked at her. But then they leaned toward each other and, meeting in the middle, touched lips. It was a short kiss, as promised, but they both pulled back with slight smiles on their faces. Then, cupping her cheek, Rick whispered, "Good night," once more before he sat up. When he did that, she reached in back of her to the bedside table and grabbed her phone.
"What are you doing?" he asked her, somewhat puzzled as she fiddled with her phone.
"I'm setting my alarm, since you obviously can't be trusted to set yours properly. Four a.m., so you'll have plenty of time before Alexis gets up. Now get under the covers."
"In here?" he asked, surprised.
"Yes, in here. Before I change my mind."
He didn't need a second invitation. He pulled up the covers and settled in by her. When he stopped moving around, she asked him, "Are you in?"
Somehow, the way she said the words indicated that she was talking about more than him just being under the blankets. So he gave the only truthful answer that he could, and he nodded before he asked, "You?"
"Yeah, Rick, I'm in."
And she reached out for his hand and upon finding it, clasped it with her own. And shortly after that, they both drifted off to sleep, knowing that what they agreed to might not be easy all the time, but it would most certainly be worth all of the effort they put into it. They both could make 'more' work if they both wanted it badly enough. And as it was, both of them did want that. Very much. And that was more than enough for now.
There it is, ladies and gentleman, the end of Blizzard.
It has been a truly wonderful ride, and I've appreciated all of your awesome comments that I've gotten and still continue to get as new people find this story. Thank you all for sticking with me this long, especially through the hiatus this past summer. I appreciate it so much!
I just loved writing this story so much...I can't even tell you. This is a story that was only supposed to be two chapters originally. Then I liked it so much that I kept adding more onto it. But we find our dynamic duo back at home now, so this seemed to be a good place to end it. They bridged a gap in their relationship and became 'more than friends' during the course of the story, acknowledged that, and were looking forward to the future, even though they're maybe still a bit unsure of it. But rest assured, like I said above, there will be a sequel to this. I'll try to have the first chapter up soon.
It was kind of hard to write an ending to a story when you know there's more to come, and when you even have some of it written already. But it was an ending for this particular story, so I had to try to get a little bit of some kind of satisfied closure in there. I hope I achieved that. (And I hope the song references toward the end weren't too cheesy.)
One thing that I like (about this story) is that I tried to keep it 'clean'. I have some smut in my other stories, but I didn't want that for this one, and I'm kind of proud of that fact. And realistically, I didn't think it would be feasible for them to hop into bed together in the 4 day stretch during which this story takes place. There's too much other baggage to deal with first, and we had a lot of fun anyway (can anyone say cookie dough fights?), right?
(Now, if anyone wants to read something else of mine-something short-I cranked out a couple of one-shots while I was working on this last chapter. 'Hidden Meanings' is based off of the promo pics for 4x07, and 'Not a Stitch' is now an alternate ending for 4x05, although it was written before 4x05 aired. Check them out if you want to.)
So I'd love to hear what you think of the chapter. Over 600 alerts on this thing, so I know people are reading it, and again, I thank you all VERY much. :)