Title: Finding Her 'Perfect'
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em.
Summary: Kate questions her relationship with Josh. Castle answers her questions about his marriages. And somewhere in between, Kate realizes that sometimes you just have to look at what's in front of you.
Author's Note: So, I said this was a one-shot. I told a number of you that I may never continue with it. I had some good reasons (finals, my other stories, my novels, my life). And, since I always stand by my own reasonableness and fortitude in making good decisions, here's the second chapter.
This is a two-shot. As far as I know, there will not be another chapter. However, at some later date, there could be a sequel. But, for the aforementioned good reasons, that will have to wait. This chapter just wouldn't leave me alone, so here it is:
Kate unlocked her door and pushed it open slowly, her lip pulled between her teeth. Josh had his own key, so she was sure that he'd be there, and while she knew what choice she wanted to make, it didn't make the reality of the thing any easier.
"Josh?" she called as she closed the door and hung up her jacket.
"You're home," he smiled. "Finally!"
She gave him a tired smile that didn't reach her eyes. "It was a long case."
"Did you get the guy?"
"We did," she nodded as she passed him to grab a glass of water. "Paperwork was a beast. There were a couple confrontations."
"You'd think they'd let you go home and do the paperwork tomorrow."
"There'll be another murder tomorrow, and that will have paperwork; it's a vicious cycle."
"I'm sure. But Kate, really, it's nearly two."
"You get back later than this on shift nights," she replied.
"I'm a doctor," he told her, as if that made it obvious.
"I'm a cop. Same reasoning, Josh."
He shook his head. "But if the paperwork doesn't get done for your guy, well, he's already dead, right?"
Kate just stared at him. "So, just because my 'patient' isn't living, means that he deserves less respect?"
He sighed. "I'm not trying to pick a fight here."
"I'm sure you're not."
"It's just, Kate, I never see you. And tonight I was off and you had to go and pick up this 'break' Castle thought up. The man's not even a cop."
"That 'break' solved the case, Josh," she scowled. "And no, he's not a cop. But he's the best partner I've ever had."
He put up his hands. "I'm not trying to discredit him."
"Yeah, you are," Kate sighed and ran a hand through her hair. They were standing on opposite sides of the island in her kitchen. She was still in her heels. She was still in her work clothes. "We've had this argument before."
He nodded. "And we just keep running in circles."
"Castle's part of my life."
"I know he is," he muttered. "But I don't have to like him, do I?"
"I don't really understand why you don't like him. You've met him all of twice, and the second time was right after you pulled us out of the freezer."
"Is it wrong that I dislike him because he sees you more than I do?" he asked.
"He's my partner," she reiterated. "I work with him. Your colleagues see you more than I do, and you don't hear me complaining about them or begrudging them for it."
"They don't call me at 3am with crazy theories that have me springing out of bed and getting dressed," he countered.
"You're not a cop!" Kate folded her arms over her chest. "That's what partners do, Josh. We solve crimes, and if Castle solves them at three in the morning, so be it. But we catch them. That's what matters."
"What about me? Do I matter to you, Kate? Because lately I feel like you matter more to me than I do to you."
Kate just stared at him. Yes, she was planning on breaking up with him, and honestly this had gotten quite out of hand, but he was being unfair. "You're basing that on the fact that I leave you to go do my job?"
"You go to him. I saw how he looked at you, Kate. You're more than a partner to him," he said with conviction. "But I want to know if he's more than a partner to you. If he's so important that you'll drop everything with me, then I deserve to know."
She wanted to punch him. She wanted to scream. She just wanted him…she wanted to be able to say that Castle wasn't more than her partner; she couldn't. Josh was waiting for her answer, her assurance.
"He's more than a partner," she said quietly. Josh took a complete step backward. "Not like that," she continued, meeting his eyes. "I'm not cheating on you with Castle, Josh."
"Good to know," he replied.
She pursed her lips. "He's not just my partner. He's…Josh, we've worked together for three years. And this year we've faced death more than a few times. We're friends, and sometimes I'd go so far as to say that we're best friends. So yes, he's more than a partner to me." Josh stared at her. "What?"
"You have been cheating on me."
"Excuse me?" she exclaimed.
He held up a finger and walked to the other side of the room where he opened the blinds that made up her makeshift murder board. "Why didn't you tell me?"
The abrupt change in topic momentarily stunned her, before the defensiveness set in. "It's…it's personal, Josh."
"We've dated for nine months, Kate," he replied. "And you didn't feel like you could share this with me? You didn't think I was worth sharing with?"
He looked so hurt. She walked around the island and came to stand a few feet from him. "It wasn't about worth, Josh. You're more than worthy of trust. I know that."
"And yet, obviously, I wasn't worthy of this," he gestured to the board.
"You have to understand," she sighed, "that this…Josh, this…my mother was murdered. It's not like telling you that I used to be chubby as a kid, or that I did pot when I was a teenager; it's not some dirty secret."
"No. It's half of you. It's probably the biggest thing in your life. And, judging by the date of some of these notes, it's recent." His expression wasn't angry. He seemed almost sad.
Kate nodded. "Yeah. It is."
"It was when I was in Africa, wasn't it?" he asked gently.
"Yes. That's the second big break in two years."
"Why didn't you tell me?" he asked, turning back to look at her. "I would have come home, Kate."
She smiled and shook her head. "You have your work, Josh, and I have mine. I wasn't going to make you come home for something I hadn't even told you about."
His gentle smile fell. "Because you already had someone to help you deal with it, right?"
"See, you are cheating on me."
"Again: Excuse me?"
He sighed and pointed to the newest notes on the board. Castle had helped her add them a few nights after they'd arrested 'Lockwood.' They were penned in his distinctive sprawl and there were a few extra notes of funny things he'd said that she'd added later. It had seemed like a good idea at the time; having something that made her smile on that board made opening it just a little more bearable.
"You may not be physically cheating on me, Kate. But you're sure as hell having an emotional relationship with that man."
She just stared at him for a moment, trying to collect her thoughts. "Josh, I told you…"
"That he's your partner? That he's your best friend? That you'd rather go to him with your problems than even admit that you have them to me? That you showed him this before you showed it to me? That he knows everything about it? That he was there to help you when you opened the case this time?" he was yelling now. "Did he follow you everywhere and hound you for it, Kate? Or did you tell him, because he's just so much more reliable than I am
"He saved my life that night!" she yelled back. "He's been there when no one else has, and I'm sorry if you feel like I've cheated on you, but maybe that's better. I'm messed up, Josh! I carry this around with me every day. I think about it all the time. I'm fucking dark, Josh.
"And you, you want light. You want me to come home and hang up my gun at the door. You want me to not be a cop when I'm not on duty. But here it is: I can't! I look at the victims and their families, and I see my mom. And they deserve to know what happened, even if I never get that luxury. So that, that is why I get up in the middle of the night and why I stay late to do paperwork. I care, Josh. I care so much that it eats at me. But that's not what you wanted! You wanted a relationship without 'work' to get in the way!"
He just stared at her. "No, Kate," his voice was quiet now. "I wanted you to tell me that. If you'd just told me, God, I wouldn't…I wouldn't have gotten on your case about it. I would have…Kate, why didn't you just tell me? Why didn't you trust me?" He sounded broken and hurt and it forced the fight out of her.
She sighed and felt herself sag a bit. "Because…" And that was it, wasn't it? She hadn't trusted him enough. He hadn't been important enough, in the beginning, and then once things had gotten more serious, she could never find the courage to tell him—the courage to lay everything out and be vulnerable. And now she was staring at a wonderful, beautiful man that she'd never been fully honest with. He deserved much more than her.
"I'm so sorry," she said quietly.
He bit his lip and bobbed his head. "You're saying goodbye." She just gaped, wordlessly, with nothing to say to that. "You were planning to say goodbye when you walked in, and then I picked a fight." He ran a hand through his hair. "I picked a fight on the last night I'll ever spend with one of the most amazing women I've ever met. Wow. I'm…God, I'm an idiot."
"Josh," she found her voice. "No, you're not an idiot. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. This hasn't been fair to you. I just…like I said, I'm so messed up, Josh. And you, you deserve someone who can give you everything. You deserve your perfect woman, and I just…she's not me."
They looked at each other for a few minutes, still standing feet apart, their faces still flushed from their fight.
"You're not messed up Kate. You deserve someone you trust," he said finally. "I wish it could be me, but obviously, it's not."
He held up a gentle hand. "No, Kate, it's okay. I get it. I'm sorry that I'm not that guy, but I'm glad you told me, or I found out…or, whatever," he gave a tired laugh. "I can't blame you for this."
He moved toward the door and she followed him. "You're an amazing man, Josh," she said quietly, while he put on his shoes.
"And you're an amazing woman. I'm glad to have known you, Kate."
"Me too," she said as he came over and cupped her cheek before he laid a soft kiss of farewell against her lips.
He stepped back and they looked at each other. "He's a lucky man."
Kate felt a tear slip down her cheek. This was unfair on so many levels. "I'm…"
"Don't be sorry, Kate. Just let him love you. You deserve it, much more than I think you realize."
"You deserve it too," she murmured.
He smiled. "See you around, Katie. Keep in touch."
And then he was gone. She stared at the closed door for a long time. Had she come home planning to do this? If she hadn't been planning to break up with him tonight, would it still have ended like this?
She found herself on the couch a few minutes later, still in her jacket and heels, just sitting there, staring into space. When had they fallen apart like that? She had known that it wasn't working, but…God, that had been much worse than she'd expected it to be.
Her eyes were drawn to the murder board, which was still open. She stood and walked over to it, staring at the various notes and pictures. He was right. This was part of her. How had she gone so long? How had she let a relationship last for so long with a man that she didn't trust with everything about her?
She gently closed the blinds and stared around her apartment. Was she that damaged, that broken, that she couldn't have an open relationship with someone? She glanced at the door and her cell phone caught her eye. It was blinking. She went to the doorway and stepped out of her heels. She grabbed her phone and brought it through to the bedroom, where she shucked tiredly out of her jacket and work slacks. She donned an NYPD hoodie and a pair of leggings and then opened her messages.
He'd sent it about five minutes after they'd parted ways. She smiled, then frowned. She couldn't seriously be considering going over to Castle's place to have a drink, could she? Wasn't that wrong, on some level, to go from breaking up with her long-term boyfriend, to having drinks with her…with her…Castle?
She'd called him her best friend. When Josh had asked her if Castle was more than her partner, she'd called him her best friend. And that's what he was. Castle was her best friend. Yes, technically Lanie still held that spot, but right now…she just wanted…she just wanted Castle.
When the hell had Castle become her go to person?
You still up?
She stared at the message for a long time before her treacherous thumb hit the send button. She shrugged and wandered into the kitchen to drink the glass of water she'd neglected during their fight.
Yeah. What's up? Something wrong?
She smiled. She tended to over-complicate her relationship with Castle. But at the core, they were friends. And he was a good friend.
Nothing wrong. One less man in my life.
She'd have to remember to box up the few things Josh had left around the apartment.
She wasn't. Josh had been great. But Josh wasn't what she needed. And he'd realized it before she had. And now that he was gone, she felt lighter in some ways.
Do you need anything?
Did she? Was she really considering going over there to drink with him at close to 3am? She didn't have to be at the Precinct until 1pm since she wasn't on call tonight or tomorrow morning.
That offer for a drink still good?
She looked herself over after she sent the text. Did she need to change?
She didn't need to change. Castle didn't care how she looked. Castle didn't care that she walked around with her dead mother's ring around her neck. Castle didn't care that darkness and death followed her everywhere. Castle didn't care about any of it. To Castle, she was extraordinary. And maybe someday she could be his perfect. Maybe he was already hers, and she'd never realized it.
She grabbed her purse and slipped on some flats, found her keys and left, closing the door on her apartment and the entire evening behind her.
On my way.
Author's note 2:
I'd love to hear what you have to say about the conclusion to this story. The fight between Josh and Kate is very different from anything I've written before, and it definitely takes a harsher look at their relationship. Given what we've seen on the show recently, I think their relationship at this point is far from flowers and sunshine. However, I'm really interested in knowing what you thought of my take on them in this story.
Anyway. I love you guys so much. Thank you for being amazing. The response to this story, and the comments in particular, has been incredible, and has been a big part of how I'm getting through the hell of finals and projects.