So, after my last one-shot I decided I wanted to write more Castle fic. For fun. I also wanted to see if I could write something short for this pairing (which for me means under 3000 words. According to word, I *just* made it. If you exclude this author's note.) Anyway, this is the idea came to me. It's a post-ep of sorts to 3.14, though it doesn't take place directly after it. The fic is set at the fundraiser for the scholarship in Beckett's mother's name that Castle organized. I know it's been done before, but I thought I'd give it a go anyway.
Hope you enjoy.
Approaching Nearer and Dearer
"So, what did you do with that first million?" a voice in his ear asked.
Richard Castle did everything he could to hide his surprise, but the right side of her mouth that was busy quirking upwards told him she'd noticed him jump.
He wasn't too annoyed at her though. He couldn't be. Not when she was wearing that dress. Red (God she should always wear read), cocktail length (why weren't shorts or skirts appropriate attire at the precinct again?), v-necked, sleeves just over her shoulders, and oh hell... The details didn't really matter one way or the other.
Detective Kate Beckett just looked gorgeous.
He smiled at her, and finally remembered her question. "What first million?" he asked lightly.
Beckett rolled her eyes. "Your first million Cadbury cream eggs, Castle," she said sarcastically, before clarifying. "Your first million dollars."
"Ah," he replied with a grin.
"So?" Beckett prompted after a moment.
"Why do you ask, Detective?" he asked, unsure if he was genuinely stalling for time or just drawing out the pleasure of a conversation with her.
"Oh, I don't know Castle," Beckett said dryly. "We're standing here, at the fundraiser you organized to set up a scholarship fund in my mother's memory, because you figured out that's what I'd do if I ever actually won a million dollars, and because you're surprisingly sweet sometimes. Besides, you asked everyone else what they'd do with a million dollars months ago, maybe I'm just wondering what you did when you actually got yours."
He nodded. Right, that made sense. He wished he had something unique to tell her. Something impressive, something not completely frivolous. Or at the very least something that would make a good story. He didn't. He'd been so very typical with that first million. "I guess you can't ask the usual question with me," he said instead.
"Nope," she agreed.
No one could, he thought. Because getting a million dollars wasn't hypothetical with him, unlike most people. She was right; he had polled almost everyone at the 12th about what they'd would you do if they won the lottery after the case of the murdered millionaire. The answers interested him; it said a lot about a person, knowing what they'd buy if money wasn't an issue. None of the answers had been all that surprising He'd heard about Ryan's vineyard, Esposito's Ferrari, Captain Montgomery's boat, and he'd guessed at Kate's legacy for her mother. But Castle hadn't been able to contribute anything himself. He was already a millionaire, several times over. No one could ask him about his financial dreams. He'd basically achieved them already. He certainly wasn't among the nation's wealthiest, but he had more than enough money to ensure that (barring unexpected catastrophe) his personal finances would never be an issue.
Which was pretty awesome obviously. But it did set him apart from the rest of his friends and colleagues at the twelfth. Just like the fact that he wasn't technically even qualified to be there, even if he did forget from time to time that he wasn't actually a cop (and he never would be).
Although no one mentioned it anymore (much), sometimes he felt that distance.
But now, here was Beckett asking him a question that might help close it.
Castle wondered if it was deliberate.
After all, he always desperately wanted to know anything about her that she was willing to tell. Could it be possible that she...
Was Kate actually becoming curious about his secrets?
Over the past few weeks he had been wondering if she'd been acting different around him. Maybe...
Or maybe not.
Which was why he needed to resist the urge to take her hand.
Oblivious to his mental debate, Kate nudged him in the shoulder. "So?"
"Hm?" Castle asked. Oddly enough he'd been distracted so much by their conversation that he was hindered from actually participating in it.
"That first million?" she prompted with a smile.
He shrugged. "I wish I could tell you something spectacular" he told her with a self-deprecating smile. "But that would be a lie; I spent the money on exactly what you'd expect me to. Bought a brand new apartment, ten times the size of my old one. New car, not quite a Ferrari, my first book didn't sell that well, but it was flashy enough. Red," he added as an afterthought, looking over her matching dress a second time. "I also spent a lot of time going to the most exclusive clubs, buying ridiculously expensive dinners at ridiculously expensive restaurants. Then there were the toys..."
"The toys?" Kate repeated, obviously fishing for more details.
"Top of the line laptop, ten times more power, more memory, more anything than I actually needed. I justified that, arguing that since I was a writer I should have the best. Plus there were presents; I was in a relationship at the time, if you'll recall. Kyra eventually had to tell me to stop," Castle smiled softly to himself, pleased that memories of Kyra Blaine were no longer painful.
He didn't notice Beckett stiffen beside him.
"And here I was thinking you were the type to buy a trampoline," she said, going with a joke.
"Paintball guns," he corrected absently. "Also justified as research since I used them in my second novel... but you already know that don't you?" He said affectionately. He continued listing his purchases before she could reply. "Then I hired a personal trainer; that didn't last long though."
"You're in decent shape," she murmured.
"Why Detective I didn't realize you'd noticed," he winked, puffing up slightly at the compliment.
"Yeah, well, I still kick your ass anytime we need to chase a suspect," Kate shot back.
Castle smirked. "It is technically your job to do the actual chasing of the scumbags. And I'm more responsible about exercise now. In my early twenties, well..."
She chuckled. "Just another part of your lifestyle of excesses?"
"To be honest," he admitted. "I don't even remember how I spent all of it. It went so quickly." Which was a little mortifying; to know how little any of what he'd bought had actually meant. Castle considered the woman across from him, wondering what she was thinking, particularly since they both knew what a million dollars was several times her yearly salary. And what she'd have done with the money had it been hers.
But apparently Beckett's opinions about his early purchases weren't quite so negative as his own. "I can see you now," Kate said with a smile. "The newly wealthy Richard Castle, buying rounds of drinks at the bar buying presents for his friends and family, always right in the centre of whatever was going on."
"I like to think I learned to be responsible with the later millions," he murmured self-consciously.
"Or Alexis taught you," Beckett teased. "After all, you said yourself; money doesn't change you, it just magnifies what's already there. And you definitely like to have your fun."
"True," he acknowledged. Though he'd been learning a bit of responsibility even before Alexis came along; Meredith and her flightiness had something to do with that. He may have gone through money quickly, but she'd been worse. He hadn't been kidding when he'd told Kate he was the responsible one in the relationship. Actually, he'd started being more careful not too long after that first book, when he'd realized if he didn't get things under control he was going to lose his brand new apartment.
He may not have been the most responsible man on the planet, and yeah, he liked to have a good time. But he also didn't really want her to think that he was incapable of being sensible, when the situation required it at least.
The light in Beckett's eyes dimmed too as she realized she'd touched a nerve that she hadn't intended. Brushed her fingers across his hand, she got his attention. "I didn't mean that in a bad way," she explained, an apology of sorts in her eyes.
Beckett shrugged, as she searched for the words to explain. "You're a bit of a social butterfly sometimes Castle, always in the middle of something. Sometimes it seems like every other week you're throwing a party or buying a bar or..."
"Yeah, this is really making me sound a lot better," he interjected dryly.
"No..." Beckett said with a shake of her head. She sighed in frustration. "It's... it's nice. You're... you like to give people things, show them a good time."
His eyes narrowed. Well, that sounded like a genuine complement. And he could count on one hand the number of times she'd given him one of those. Also, he found it rather telling that Beckett was staring determinedly to the side, and not at him. He did rest a hand on her arm then. "Kate..."
"Castle, what would you do if I walked up to you, told you that since my apartment blew up I've been having financial problems and I needed new furniture?" she asked suddenly.
"Buy you whatever you needed," he told her without hesitation. "Why?" he asked, suddenly concerned. "Do you need anything? I saw your apartment; it looked fine..."
"It is fine," she confirmed.
He raised an eyebrow.
"It was hypothetical, to prove my point" she told him. "You like to give things to people. I mean, yeah, I'm sure part of you likes to show off a bit too, maybe especially when you were twenty. But I'll bet a large chunk of that first million bought things for other people."
He stared at her. "How..."
Beckett shook her head indulgently, "Let's just look at what you've given me,"
"Oh, it hasn't been that much," Castle insisted. "Besides, you deserve it."
She ignored him. "You're helping me solve my mother's case," she started.
"Which you told me not too..." he murmured.
"Yeah," she agreed. "But that didn't stop you, which I appreciate, now" she added when he opened his mouth to defend his actions.
"Castle," she reminded him firmly. "I would have never found out so much about my mother's killer if it wasn't for you. I was furious with you at the time, but..." she trailed off, shaking her head, obviously frustrated.
He squeezed her arm. "Hey, it's okay... Of course I..."
"That's just it," she told him. "It's not of course. It means a lot to me, Castle."
"It means a lot," she repeated.
"I know," he assured her, trying to think of something else to say to convince her.
But she was already shaking the seriousness of their conversation off of her, "You also bought me that fabulous dress for the fundraiser a few years ago..."
"Maybe I just wanted to see you in it," he couldn't help pointing out. That had been a big part of it. Going to a fundraiser to catch a killer with Kate Beckett on his arm? It'd been worth every penny he'd spent on the dress and the tickets, even taking the impromptu bachelor auction into account.
Beckett rolled her eyes. "Then you basically offered to buy me an apartment," she reminded him, continuing on with her list.
He stared at her. "Yours was blown up! You needed a place to live." The solution had seemed obvious to him.
"Speaking of which, you took the time to get my father's watch fixed after my apartment exploded," she added softly.
"It was your father's watch," Castle protested weakly. Of course he'd fixed it. It meant something to her. It hadn't even occurred to him not to fix it.
She ignored his interruption. "You're always bringing me coffee, donuts, bear claws..."
"You forget to eat. And you're less cranky when you're not hungry," he explained. He didn't care how strong she was, sometimes everyone needed someone to look out for them a little from time to time.
"You bought the cappuccino machine for the precinct," Beckett continued..
"Now that was half-selfish," Castle insisted. "The regular precinct coffee is terrible."
"So you've said, many times. You let me drive your Ferrari."
"For a case. And like seeing you driving a Ferrari was really a hardship." God that had been sexy. And she'd been in that dress...
Beckett grinned, pleased by the compliment, "You follow me around, show up whenever I call, even if it's dangerous. You're there." This time she had no trouble finding his eyes.
Castle swallowed nervously when he saw the expression on her face. She wasn't joking. She wasn't joking at all. "I was under the impression that that's what partners do," he said softly. "And since I apparently can't be the plucky sidekick..."
"What about this then?" Beckett asked.
"What about what?" he asked, feeling a bit lost by the entire conversation.
"This fundraiser," she said, waving her arm in the air vaguely. "You set this whole thing up so that I would be able to do what I always wanted, my million dollar dream to honour my mother."
"I don't see that many people doing this for their partners," she told him.
No, Castle supposed that was true. Mostly because he imagined most cop's partners didn't have the financial wherewithal or the connections to organize a fundraiser, but somehow that seemed beside the point. He stared at her as she continued talking, arguing her point, that this is what he did. He gave people things. She really looked fabulous, his Kate. She always did. She was spectacular. But sometimes he wondered if she just didn't get it. She was special. He wouldn't have done half of what he'd done for her for anyone else, even if he was as generous as she claimed.
She was wrong about that part of it.
"It isn't just generosity, not when it comes to you at least."
When Beckett stopped speaking abruptly, Castle realized he'd actually said that last bit out loud.
He froze, terrified of her response, figuring that she was probably going to pretend he hadn't said anything (things would be easier that way) and that she was about to get the hell out of the conversation as quickly as she possibly could.
But she didn't.
Beckett didn't run, didn't even take so much as a single step backwards. He did hear her sharp intake of breath and watched her eyes widen with... something he wasn't sure he could give a name to. She was definitely staring at him with those gorgeous eyes of hers, the ones he'd noticed the very first day he'd met her.
And he wondered if maybe she didn't want him to shut up. Maybe she wanted him to keep talking.
He'd always shied away from making any kind of firm declaration with her. If he offered and she said no, it might just break him. She mattered too much to risk that. Far better to flirt around the edges, and keep the possibility there, in the distance until he was sure. Because he couldn't lose her.
Except that was the way to miss opportunities.
This was an opportunity.
At least he thought it was.
Maybe he needed to take it.
Especially since he'd already pretty decided she was the one he really wanted.
And now there were no excuses. Gina was long gone, Josh had exited the picture weeks ago (Beckett had been vague on the details, but he couldn't help noticing that the subtle differences in the way she acted around him had started a few weeks afterwards.)
Maybe it was time.
He took a breath.
"I give you things because I want to do things for you," he explained, taking a half a step forward, and her hand.
"Rick..." she whispered.
His heart stopped. Not Castle, Rick. Right now he was Rick. He really wanted to stay Rick. "You look absolutely stunning tonight Kate. You're the belle of the ball, the golden girl, just as you should be. It's your night, yours and your mother's."
"None of which would have happened if it weren't for you. Thank you," she said softly.
He wondered if he was imagining the blush on her cheeks as she looked up at him, her eyes bright, maybe even hopeful. (Actually, he wondered if he'd been imagining the whole damn conversation.)
"Would you like to dance?" he asked. "With me?" He wasn't sure what he was really asking. He wondered if she knew.
Kate smiled slowly. That smile he loved so much. "I thought you'd never ask," she admitted.
He forgave her the cliché the second he saw her bite her lip.
After all, an innocent dance between friends was no reason for anyone to get excited (or nervous).
But he was.
Probably because this wasn't just an innocent dance.
Wordlessly he took her hand and led her out onto the dance floor, spinning her into his arms.
It took a few seconds for them to find a rhythm as they settled into a vague approximation of something or other, maybe a waltz. Whatever it was, the elderly woman who'd given him dancing lessons all those years ago would have been appalled. But Castle didn't care.
In fact, screw proper form altogether.
He pulled his partner closer, drawing her in, his beautiful Kate.
Just as she'd drawn him in with her original question.
They'd been getting closer since the day they'd met.
He tightened his hold around her waist only to feel her lean her head against his chin.
He couldn't help smiling into her hair.
Because he knew now (at least he was fairly certain) that they'd just keep getting closer until they ended up exactly where they both wanted.