AN: I got this idea in my head yesterday. How many other people here love Beckett's little elephants? And if you have no idea what I'm talking about or think I'm insane, I will gladly send you photographical evidence. ;) So anyway, this started as a drabble, then became a silly oneshot, and then morphed into Caskett fluff. So, I guess it's got a little bit of something for everyone. And I hope you like it. Happy Castle day, everyone! Hope you all enjoy the new episode tonight.
Now here's a disclaimer just in case I were to need it: I don't own Castle. Maybe someday I'll buy a castle. But that's not the point. And I probably won't. That'd be pretty awesome, though.
Okay. Anyway, enjoy guys!
The box appeared on her desk late one night, unexpected. There was no accompanying note or card that she could see, nor was there anyone around to watch her as she picked up the small, white cardboard box. No one was around at all. It was only her, alone in the precinct, the clock's short hand approaching 11.
A disbelieving grin lit up her face as she cracked the lid of the box open. Inside was a tiny elephant figurine, trunk curled upward with a rolled up slip of paper wedged in the space between the trunk and the forehead.
She peered down at the four elephant statues at the corner of her desk, each decreasing in size, similar to Russian nesting dolls. The ivory elephant in the box was even more petite than the fourth elephant in her row, and its bold red and blue dots, the two small flowers on each of its sides, and the green trimmings curving around the back in a saddle-like formation matched the others exactly.
Her curiosity rose. Who had left the anonymous gift? She delicately took the roll of paper from the elephant's trunk and unfurled it.
Thought you might like this.
But how had he found an exact replica of her other four? How did he know? Certainly, that was no coincidence.
She had spent two weeks in Chile during her junior year of high school, and that was when she purchased the first two elephants from a street vendor. Fernando was his name, she recalled with a smile. He had goaded her into buying one, and when a similar, smaller one also caught her eye, she couldn't refuse the wild-eyed Hispanic man.
She had gone back two years later, entered an antique store and found Fernando standing behind the cash register, smiling ear to ear as he called out to his wife, "Isabella! Es Catalina! El policia de Nueva York! Ella nos conoció hace dos años. Recuerdas?"
That day, she spotted two more elephants and gladly paid the ten pesos they cost. Now, they made their home on the edge of her desk at the 12th precinct, and it appeared as though a new elephant friend was going to be joining them.
"Oh good! You found it," she heard a voice call out suddenly, jolting her from her reverie.
She knew the voice instantly. Castle.
He smiled brightly as he handed her a latte and then plunked himself in his chair beside her desk.
"What are you doing here?"
"Knew you'd be here for a late night. Thought I'd bring some fuel," he replied casually.
She placed the figurine in the palm of her hand and sat down behind her desk.
"Where did you find this?"
He took a lingering sip of his coffee and replied casually, "Antique store. Alexis and I were shopping."
She raised a questioning eyebrow.
"And you just happened to find the exact same elephant as the ones I have? And an even smaller one to add to my collection?"
He shrugged nonchalantly. "Yeah."
She leaned back and pursed her lips, staring him down with a dubious glare.
His hands flew in the air as he asked, "What? You don't believe me?"
She continued to watch him incredulously.
He was becoming defensive now.
"You never were a scout, Castle."
After a long pause, he let out an exaggerated sigh.
"Fiiine," he whined. "You caught me."
She leaned forward now, placing the elephant on the desk, right in front of him. She rested her chin in her palm and with an intrigued expression, demanded, "Explain."
He picked up the elephant, holding it between his forefinger and thumb.
"Alright. So I've always had this weird curiosity about the little trinkets on your desk, specifically the elephants."
Still, she eyed him warily.
"So, I know a guy who knows a guy… Jimmy. He's big into antiques and cultural momentos and whatnot."
"And?" she urged him on, rolling her eyes when he stopped for a dramatic pause.
"And I took some pictures of them while you weren't looking. I asked him where they were from and if he could get me one."
"You could have just asked, you know."
He grinned shamelessly.
"There's no fun in that."
She smirked and let a small laugh escape from her nostrils, grasping her pen in her hand and returning to her paperwork.
Her hand froze, and the pen hit the desk with a pittering sound. Her head jerked up, and her eyebrow arched.
He shot her an audacious grin.
"I thought we were stating facts."
This earned an eye roll.
"Anyway," he continued. "He made one for me. For you."
She was startled by the kind gesture. She looked fondly at the little elephant resting in between his fingers.
"Well, thank you, Castle."
"Always," he responded, still beaming.
A short silence followed before she asked, "So you know what I'm going to ask next, right?"
He cocked his head, intrigued.
"No, Detective. What is that?"
She scoffed and gave him a skeptical look.
"What's the occasion? It's not my birthday. April Fools' Day was weeks ago. Getting a leg up on Christmas? White elephant gift, perhaps?"
They both burst out laughing at her pun.
She shrugged her shoulders in mock vanity.
"I can be quite the comedian, too, Mr. Castle."
This earned an eye roll from the author, and she chuckled.
"Seriously, though, why the sudden gift?"
His eyes met hers, emerald locking onto his blue irises. A more genuine smile tugged on his lips.
"Symbolism, Beckett. Symbolism."
Her brow knotted, silently asking him to explain.
"The elephant in the room," he said, as if the cliché was obvious.
The same confused look remained on her face.
Quieter now, and with a softer expression, "Josh."
Her spine went rigid; her entire body steeled.
"What about it?" she snapped.
His soft smile dissipated, the stamp of crow's feet in the corners of his eyes disappeared, but his eyes were still warm and kind.
"Because I want to make sure that you're alright," he murmured.
He set the elephant back down on the desk, carefully nudging it toward her.
"Little Dumbo," he mumbled. "…wants to know that you're alright."
Her eyebrows leapt once again.
"Don't tell me you don't name them."
"Well, then I'm naming this one."
"You are not."
"Yes. I am. And his name is Dumbo."
"How do you even know if it's-"
They both reached out for the tiny ceramic animal and inadvertently locked their fingers together.
He wouldn't let go.
"Come on, Castle," she implored. "This really isn't funny."
She met his eyes. They were serious, and an almost... affectionate expression crossed his face.
Noticing this sudden change, and become even more annoyed, she flared, "Castle, what?"
His grip on her hand- and the elephant- relaxed, and he pulled away from her. He rose from his seat, strode around to the other side of the desk, and faced her.
"How obvious do I have to make it for you?" he began. "I mean, honestly, do I have to write it in the sky or show it in neon lights on Broadway? Is that what this is going to take, Kate?"
Her breath caught in her throat when she spoke her first name, and her mind began to swirl at the implications. They rarely used each other's first names, and it was an unspoken rule of their relationship- the first name is only used in serious (or sometimes, mocking) situations.
But he was dead serious. With a more stern tone, he continued.
"I've knocked you out of the way of a bullet how many times? I've used all the resources I can to help in any possible way with your mother's case. I ride off to murder scenes in the middle of the night. I bring you coffee every morning, buy you gifts. We almost died twice in one day, and both times I was right there next to you, holding onto you. And I was there every time Josh wasn't. And if you can't see it by now, then maybe I do need to hire a pilot to spell it out for you in the sky. I don't know. But honestly, why do you think I keep coming back?"
She gripped the armrests of her chair, knuckles turning white from force of her grasp. Her heartbeat was so loud, so powerful, that it almost seemed to be causing her body to convulse. This was it. This was a moment three years in the making. Put up or shut up. And it all came to a head… over an elephant.
That was so perfectly… them, she thought.
Her breath was jagged and her voice raspy when she spoke.
"You tell me, Rick."
He stepped even closer to her now.
"I care about you, Kate."
In a hushed tone, she replied, "Castle, now's really not-"
"There's no one else around," he interrupted.
Their eyes locked on each other again and for a moment, they were both silent. Then, Castle reached out to her, extending his arm and hand, palm up. Inviting her.
Wordlessly, she took his hand, and he tugged her to her feet. His heart began to pound at their sudden closeness, the feel of her soft skin on his.
Gazing intently, with a genuine, affectionate voice, he said, barely above a whisper, "I'm not going to stand here try to show you anymore. I'm just going to say it. I want to be with you, Kate."
He let go of her hand and dropped his to his side, defeat beginning to cross his face. He was about to begin a farewell speech, for as they stood in silence, he realized that he was likely on the verge of being rejected. He could feel his stomach twisting and sinking with a dull ache.
But she grabbed him by the lapels of his coat as he began to turn away from her, and she pulled his chest flush against her. And in that fleeting moment before their lips met, he came to the conclusion that he was sorely mistaken.
Her breath mingled with his as she leaned in, and she gently touched her mouth to his. They both stiffened at the contact, like two awkward teenagers afraid of having their first kiss go incredibly awry. There had been such anticipation for that moment, created by them and by the not-so-secret betting pool formed by their colleagues. But no sort of girl talk with Lanie or nudges in the right direction from the boys could have prepared either of them for it.
Her arms encircled his neck, and she angled her head, leaning and relaxing against him. His fingers grazed down her shoulder blades, her waist, and rested protectively on her hips. His tongue parted her lips, and they met, languorously dueling, and then, caressing.
This time there was no pretense of being undercover drunk lovers. They were themselves- just Rick and Kate.
He was amazed that they weren't giving off actual sparks. The heat between them was simply electric- so much passion and unresolved tension was finally seeping to the surface.
He reluctantly broke away from her, and seeing that she was about to protest, he put his index finger to her lips, reached over her desk, and grabbed the elephant.
He turned the tiny figurine so that it was facing away from them, and she watched him do so, both amused and puzzled.
"What are you doing?" she finally asked when he removed his finger from her lips.
"Poor Dumbo doesn't need to see that. It's like watching his parents make out. He's barely two days old. He doesn't need to see that."
Her cheeks began to glow a pale pink when he referred to them as the elephant's parents, and then a laugh escaped her throat.
Her pressed her forehead against his, holding him even closer to her.
"And you're still extraordinary."
Another quick AN: I love you all for reading. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And a thank you in advance to those of you who are about to press the review button. Hell, thank you to the people who just skimmed it. You are all wonderful. And I appreciate that you read and review. :)
So, that said... lemme know what you think! Click and review, please?