Author's Notes: Finally here is the last part, took me long enough. I am still not thrilled with the ending but it will have to do. Hope you enjoy.
I had tried my best to avoid the bouquet toss but my stubborn little friend Lanie decided that she was going to drag me to the middle of the dance floor. It got even worse when Alexis appeared out of nowhere and took a hold of my other arm. Martha just stood there and smiled.
"Alexis, you hold on to Kate's other arm, I'm afraid she is planning on bolting before the toss," Lanie said.
Luckily, with my hands being held to hinder my escape, it also meant that I wasn't able to even reach for the bouquet that came directly to me. Lanie caught it and I wished that I could see the look on Esposito's face right about now. The women cleared the space on the dance floor for the garter toss and I did get to see Esposito. I couldn't tell if he was terrified of his girlfriend catching the bouquet or not.
"So girlfriend, do you see who Writer Boy is talking to?" Lanie smirked.
I looked back towards our table to see Castle talking with my date and they seemed to actually be getting along rather well, but still. "Oh, crap."
"Excuse me I think I see a hit on my gray-dar. And walking over here with Richard even," Martha said as we watched the men gather around. "I don't see a ring."
"He's not married Martha," I said with a smile.
"How do you know, dear?"
"He's my date," I said.
"I didn't know you liked older guys, Kate," Martha commented clearly surprised.
"I like that one," I said, my smile getting a little bigger.
"Does Dad know that he's your date?" Alexis asked curious as we watched them talking when suddenly something changed in Castle posture. Even from here, I could see that something was wrong. I wanted to talk to him but I knew that it would have to wait until after the garter toss at least. I didn't think that he would come to the dance floor but Ryan spotted him and waved him over. Leave it to Castle, even if something was terribly bothering him, he would do what was expected of him as a friend and groomsman.
"I'm guessing yes," I said sadly.
"I wonder what your 'date' thinks of Writer Boy staring at you as he has for the past ten minutes."
"He hasn't been staring at me," I insisted. "Has he been staring at me?"
"Like a starving man at a buffet."
"Are you going to properly introduce them?"
"Yes, in a little bit," I said turning my attention to the garter toss. I wasn't terribly surprised to see the garter land in Esposito's hands. I was surprised to see Castle at the side of the group of men, obviously trying to avoid the action.
I didn't want to try to catch the garter, I just wanted to leave. I knew that Kate had a date and I told myself that I was okay with that. I just wasn't okay with her telling so much to her date about her family. I had thought that we were partners and while I never really enjoyed seeing her date other guys, I was even more hurt that she had kept this a secret. Other than mentioning him as a date to the wedding she had never mentioned this guy before. I tried to put on the Rick Castle playboy persona but it was hard.
I headed to the bar for a drink, even though I had planned on not having any tonight. I would call for a car to pick us up later, I didn't care. I picked up my scotch and headed back to the table, glad that it was empty. Unfortunately, it wasn't empty for long, Kate's date showed up.
"It's not a good idea to drink when you are upset."
"Seems like a good time to me," I mumbled.
"I used to think that. Before I became an alcoholic."
I sighed and put the drink down.
"You know, Kate cares about you, a lot. She talks about you often."
"Funny, she's never mentioned you," I said humorlessly. I didn't mean to be rude but I really wanted to be alone.
"You might be surprised, Rick. I'm sure she has. Here comes your daughter, sweet kid."
"Yep," I said as I turned to Alexis. "Hey, pumpkin."
"Hi, Dad. Gram is looking for you."
"Why?" I asked suspiciously.
"They are going to do a Mother/Son dance next, then after that a Father/Daughter dance. So you'll have to let me step on your toes."
I got up from the table and knowing that it would be terribly rude to just leave, I spoke. "Excuse us, Mother is demanding a dance. I need to go before she makes a scene."
"Sounds like Martha," he chuckled his eyes obviously searching for Kate.
Alexis took my arm and lead me to the dance floor.
"Are you okay, Dad?"
"I'll be fine," I smiled at her but I knew that she realized it was just an act.
"I love you, Dad."
"I know pumpkin. I love you too," I smiled down at her, a real smile this time.
"Ready for our dance, kiddo?" Mother asked.
"As ready as I'll ever be." We headed out to the dance floor and I knew that just because Alexis had dropped the subject, Mother wasn't going to.
"What's wrong, kiddo? And don't tell me it's nothing."
"Kate's date," I said.
"You knew she had a date, why is her date a problem?"
"She's never talked about him."
"She told him about her mother, but she never mentioned him to me. She doesn't tell many people about her mother. But she trusts this guy enough to tell him but she doesn't trust me enough to tell me about him."
"She doesn't love him, Richard. Not like you are thinking at least."
"Mother," I tried to stop her.
"Trust me, Richard," she said as the dance ended.
I turned and saw Kate and her date talking to Lanie and Esposito on the side of the dance floor. With the steamy looks that the two of them were putting off, I felt that there was going to another wedding soon. I led Mother back to the edge of the dance floor and held my arm out to my daughter.
"May I have this dance, my dear?"
"Dad," she rolled her eyes at me, making me think of Kate. We settled into our dance before I spoke again.
"You know, it probably won't be too long before we are having a Dad and Daughter dance at your wedding," I said with a touch of sadness.
"Dad, you know I'll always be your little girl though, right?"
"I know. Wanna stand on my toes?" I stopped for a moment as she lightly stepped on my feet. We danced for a few moments without speaking when I noticed a sudden smile cross my daughter's face.
"What is it?" I asked her.
"Oh, you'll see," she said.
"Okay, Dads," the lead singer of the band interrupted. "Time for you to give up your daughters. If you haven't done it already, it's time to get used to the idea."
I wasn't going to give up my daughter any sooner than I needed to so I headed back to the table before I was stopped. And by the one person I really didn't want to see anymore of tonight, Jim. The only reason that I even considered letting Alexis go was because Kate was with him and I needed to talk to her. I knew that the sooner the better and then I could make some excuses to Ryan and Jenny and leave. I nearly reconsidered when I saw Jim lean over and give Kate a kiss on the cheek and whisper in her ear. She smiled at him and softly said that she loved him too. I know that she didn't realize how much her voice carried; I am sure I was meant to hear her declaration.
"Castle," she asked as she held her arms up for us to continue the dance. "Rick?"
I would have been okay if she just called me Castle but calling me Rick. She rarely ever called me Rick and I paid attention when she did. I just looked at her, suddenly realizing that I had been avoiding her eyes.
"Let's get some air," she suggested. As with Alexis and Mother, I let her lead the way outside.
"What's wrong, Castle?" she asked once we were on the balcony.
"Nothing," I stubbornly insisted.
"Yeah right. I know you too well to believe that."
"Yes, you do, but I guess I don't know you as well as I thought."
"What do you mean?" she wrapped her arms around herself, it was chillier outside than we thought it would be.
"I thought you trusted me," I said softly as I removed my jacket and swung it around her shoulders.
"Thank you. And I do trust you," she insisted.
"Then why did you never tell me about Jim," I said as I crossed my arms in front of me.
"I told you I had a date for today. In fact, you two seemed to be getting along just fine until after the bouquet toss. Then all of a sudden, you looked like you got kicked in the gut."
"A little lower actually," I admitted.
"What did he say?"
"He told me he was your date. And yes I knew you had a date but I just thought it was some random guy. I didn't know it was someone you trusted enough for you to tell him about your mom. I know you don't tell many people about that. I was hurt Kate," I said softly. "You obviously trusted him enough to tell him about your past but you didn't trust me to even tell me you were dating, that hurt."
"I never mean to hurt you Rick," she lightly placed her hands on my arms.
"I know, Kate," I said as I took her hand into mine and just held it for a while. I knew that I shouldn't be holding her hand with the man she loved just inside but I couldn't help it.
"It wasn't supposed to happen like this," she said finally.
"How was it supposed to happen?"
"My date was supposed to show up on time and I would have properly introduced you at the wedding."
"Why don't you call him Jim? Why do you have to keep calling him your date?" I know I was being childish but if she just stopped calling him that, I might feel a little better.
"Because I never call him Jim."
"You don't strike me as the cute nickname type," I said.
"I'm not. I usually just call him Dad," she said looking closely at my reaction.
"Dad?" I asked confused.
"Yeah, Dad. When we were dancing, he said he introduced himself as Jim, not Jim Beckett. I'm really sorry," she said again as she squeezed my hand and stepped a bit closer.
"Why didn't you just tell me you were bringing your dad?"
"Josh and I had just broken up a couple of days before I got the invitation. I wasn't ready to tell anyone about it. So I marked that I was bringing someone. Once you found out about the break-up, I knew that everyone would pick on me that I didn't have a date so I asked Dad if he would come with me."
"Why did you break up with Josh? I thought things were going better for you."
"They were, for a while. Then he got an offer to go to New Zealand this time to help after the earthquake there. He went. I felt bad about ending it but like I said before, I need someone to be here for me when I need him, not half way around the world."
"I've always got your back, Kate. I'll do whatever you need."
"I know. You punch out killers for me, keep me from panicking after radiation exposure, keep me from freezing to death, and then defuse a bomb to save the city."
"Most of that in one weekend too. No wonder the mayor gave us medals," I said with a smile.
"And you always pull my pigtails, Rick."
"We can't forget that." I just stood there, one hand holding hers tightly in mine, the other reached up to tug at one of the tendrils that had fallen from her fancy hair style, my thumb lightly touching her cheek.
"You seem to be feeling better," she commented with a smile.
"I am. I feel like I haven't lost my chance," I said seriously.
"Your chance?" she asked.
"Do you know how hard it was for me to walk away from you that night, Kate? After the bomb? When Josh showed up?"
"Actually, yes I do." I looked at her confused. "I had to do the same thing last summer."
"Yeah when Gina showed up."
"Oh Kate," I said as I dropped her hand and lightly rested mine on her waist, pulling her closer. "I never meant to hurt you."
"I know. We seem to just keep missing each other."
"We don't have to now," I stepped a bit closer. Even though I could tell she wanted something more between us, I could also tell that she was scared. I didn't blame her, I was a bit scared myself. "Kate, I can't promise I'll never hurt you; that we'll never have fights but I can promise you, that we can work out anything if we just try. I think we have something special and I don't want to lose it."
"Neither do I, Rick."
I released the breath that I didn't know I was holding, then lowering my head toward her I pulled her into a kiss. I felt her hand slip around my neck holding me close. If I was shocked at the feeling from that kiss during her mom's case, I was flabbergasted at this one. We finally pulled back, both looking surprised.
"We probably should get back inside before they send a search party," I said not really wanting to go inside though.
"I think they know where we are, our parents keep looking over here."
"Great. Why do I feel like a teenager who just got caught necking with his girlfriend?"
I knew what I said next would make a difference in our relationship, as if that kiss wasn't enough.
"Maybe because you did just get caught necking with your girlfriend," I laughed.
"So you're my girlfriend now?" he asked in a humorous tone but I could see the seriousness in his eyes
"Yes, if that's what you want."
"Duh," he said causing us both to laugh. "Let's go and maybe you can properly introduce me to your date."
Rick held the door open for me, his hand lightly against the small of my back. I paused a moment and slipped off his jacket as he shut the door behind us. He put his jacket back on then took my hand in his and we slipped through the crowd to go back to our table.
I walked up behind my father and gave my dad a quick kiss on the cheek, "Thanks Dad. Castle, I would like to properly introduce you to my father. Rick Castle, Jim Beckett. Dad, Rick Castle, my boyfriend."