Melodies, Lyrics and Magic
"A melody is like seeing someone for the first time- the physical attraction, sex….But then, as you get to know the person, that's the lyrics- their story, who they are underneath. It's the combination of the two that makes it magical." –Music and Lyrics
The title of this collection was inspired by the quote above from the movie Music and Lyrics. The last part of the quote also provides a theme of sorts for this collection of stories because Castle and Beckett are each great on their own but the two of them together is magical.
This is the first installment of what will be a collection of independent stories all inspired in some way by the lyrics of songs found in my music library. That's the plan at least.
I don't own Castle and that's perfectly fine with me because the people who do own it are doing an amazing job.
We'll never be ready if we keep waiting for the perfect time to come.
"Never Be Ready" – Mat Kearney
The city was shrouded in dull gray clouds that afternoon. The warm, coffee scented air that enveloped her as she stepped into the café was a welcome respite from the unseasonable coolness and dampness that had swept in earlier that day, ahead of an oncoming storm. A bell jangled over the door, announcing her arrival and a quick sweep of the café showed that her father had once again beaten her there. He was waving at her from a table towards the back.
"Hey, Dad." She greeted him with a quick hug before sliding into the red vinyl seat across from him.
A waitress approached their table and placed two cups of coffee in front of them. "Two coffees- cream, no sugar. Let me know if I can get you guys anything else." She gave them a smile and headed off to another table, her long black ponytail, streaked with blue and purple, bouncing between her shoulders.
They both grabbed their coffee and took a sip, their eyes meeting across the rims of the mugs. They were both smiling when they lowered the drinks back to the table.
Long before she'd started associating it with her rather talkative shadow, coffee had been their thing, their shared ritual. Her years on the force had certainly cemented her caffeine addiction but she'd gotten her first taste for it years earlier in high school, when she'd started sharing a pot of coffee with her father every morning. Her mother had been a steadfast tea-drinker and preferred to start the day with a strong cup of English breakfast tea. Some of her favorite memories of the three of them together were those mornings, the quiet moments when they gathered in the kitchen for a quick breakfast before going their separate ways for work and school. Every morning her mother would look at the two of them sitting at the kitchen table with their coffee and shake her head lightly in amazement at the fact that her daughter, who was like her in so many ways, preferred coffee over her own beloved tea.
They both enjoyed their coffee in silence for a moment, seemingly lost in the same memories.
Her father was the one to break the silence. "So, how have you been," he asked.
The next several minutes were filled with small talk as they sipped their coffee and caught up. Her father told her about how he'd run into an old neighbor of theirs at the store the previous week and she told him the story of Ryan, Esposito and Castle's latest antics.
"How's Josh?" her father asked after a lull in the conversation.
She took a sip of her coffee to give herself a moment before she answered. She'd known the topic would come up eventually and while she hadn't necessarily been avoiding it, she had been hoping for a bit more time before it was brought up.
"He's fine… He's in Haiti, actually."
"Oh." Her father paused for a moment and a look of concern flashed across his face. "When did he leave?"
"About two weeks ago."
"And how long is he going to be gone?"
"I don't know," she replied with a shrug. "It doesn't concern me anymore."
He gave a small nod of understanding, reached across the table and laid his hand atop hers where it was lying next to her coffee mug, "I'm sorry, Katie."
"Well, there's really no need to be," she said and shrugged again. "Josh and I…it was good while it lasted, but it wasn't meant to last."
And that was the truth. Josh had been exactly what she needed when they met but, if she was honest with herself, she'd always known that he was never going to be her one. In the end, their spark had just fizzled out and they'd agreed it was better to let it go than to try to nurture whatever embers there might have been back to life.
"Before, when he decided not to go, I thought you two were working things out."
"I thought maybe we could," she said with a sigh, "but he wasn't happy staying here. Doctors Without Borders is the reason he became a doctor. It's what he's passionate about doing and the work he's doing there is important. I didn't want to be the reason he gave that up. He's helping a lot of people and they need him there."
"And what about what you need?" her father asked pointedly.
"I don't need a boyfriend to take care of me or to make me happy."
"I know that, but everybody needs somebody sometimes." He paused and gave a small sigh. "I worry about you, Katie. Doing what you do, it's tough. It'd be nice to know that you have someone who'll be there for you when you need them."
She didn't reply right away but stared down at the Formica tabletop in front of her without really seeing it. In her mind, she'd traveled back to that night weeks before, and was staring at the ice covered metal wall through a haze of ghostly blue light and her own rapidly condensing breath.
"Thank you, for being there."
Her memories of that night were disconnected and hazy, almost as if it had been a movie she'd been watching while dozing off, but she remembered that moment clearly. It had taken her last bit of strength to turn to him and force those words through her numb lips, but it had been important to her that he knew how much it all meant to her. His answer, the repeated promise, had, for a fleeting moment, sent a spark of warmth through her veins.
"I do have someone," she told her father softly.
"Castle." He said it so easily, so casually, so matter-of-factly, that she looked up at him surprised.
"I read his books, you know, the ones about you."
"Really?" She raised an eyebrow, a bit intrigued, a bit apprehensive. She'd told him about Castle and about the books but he'd never given any indication that he had read them.
"They're not really about me, you know." She thought of her father reading page 105 of Heat Wave and felt the blush spreading across her face. "Castle just based certain aspects of the characters on me and the guys to give authenticity to the police work. The rest is just the result of his imagination."
Her father just nodded and gave her an appraising look.
"That may be so, but it's still obvious he cares a lot about you."
She bit her lip and stared down into the remainder of her coffee for a moment, thinking.
She knew that he cared. He'd proven that to her over the years with his words and his actions. She'd even been told the same thing before, but somehow hearing her dad say it so matter-of-factly was different than hearing it from Agent Shaw and Kyra Blaine and even different than hearing it from Lanie or Esposito.
"I care about him, too," she admitted softly, looking back up at her father.
"But there's something holding you back."
She nodded and ran a hand through her hair, trying to organize her thoughts. The subject of why or why not she and Castle should be together was not a topic she usually allowed herself to contemplate. Any thoughts of them together were usually shoved to the back of her mind and locked in the box there with all the others, waiting to perhaps be examined at a later date, sometime when she might be ready to consider a relationship with Castle and the consequences it would bring. Yet, somehow, discussing that possibility with her father right now felt natural.
"I feel like there's something between us," she started off slowly, "the potential for something more, and we both know it's there." She paused for a moment and took a deep breath before continuing. "I think we both want it eventually, but it's like we keep waiting for the right time, the perfect moment, because it's important and we have to get it right. If we dive in too soon, and we're not ready and it doesn't work out, there's no going back."
Her father nodded slowly, thinking over what she'd just revealed to him. When he spoke his voice was quiet but earnest.
"Just don't wait too long for the perfect moment. There may never be a moment that seems perfect at the time, but you'll look back and find that there were plenty of moments that you could have made work- moments that you could have made into the perfect moment."
He paused but didn't seem to be waiting for a response from her. When he looked at her, she was sure that for a second she saw an echo of the haunted expression he had worn in the months following her mother's death pass across his face.
"You don't want to have regrets, Katie," he said, his voice was rough with emotion but there was an intensity in his eyes. "You and I both know all too well that life takes unexpected turns. If there's one lesson I've learned from it all, it's 'don't wait until it's too late to say I love you.'"
Her throat tightened unexpectedly at his words and she nodded, not trusting her voice at the moment and not sure what she would have said if she could speak.
They sat there quietly, surrounded by the murmurs of indistinct conversations, the rattle of plates and utensils and the ever-present hum of traffic from the street outside, each lost in their own thoughts.
Love. For such a little word there sure was a heck of a lot to it. Did she love Castle? Her brain (or maybe her heart) supplied the answer automatically. Yes, in a way. She loved him like she loved Ryan and Esposito, as a friend and a coworker, a partner. She loved him as an author too, for the way he could weave words together and tell stories she could turn to when she most needed an escape from reality. But there was more to it than that and the kind of love she knew her father was talking about was a different question entirely.
Truth be told, she was probably already in love with him, or at least a part of her was, and she knew that if she let herself take a chance on the possibility of a future with him, she would fall for him and fall hard.
But was she ready to take that chance and let herself love him completely and let him love her in return?
She'd been willing to before. She'd broken things off with Demming so that she could go to the Hamptons with Castle only to be blindsided and a bit crushed when he'd shown up with Gina. While he'd been gone she had rebuilt and reinforced the walls he had managed to break through and then she had found Josh. And now, after everything she and Castle had been through since he returned, she felt like she had more to lose than ever if things didn't work out between them.
After several minutes of silence between them her father rubbed a hand across his face and sighed. "I'm sorry, Katie."
His voice pulled her out of the web of thoughts in her head and her brow furrowed as she looked at him, not understanding what had prompted his apology.
"For turning this into such a heavy conversation," he clarified.
"No, it's alright," she smiled at him and shrugged. "Maybe it's what I needed to hear."
They paid for their coffee and gathered their things, preparing to leave. It had started to rain during the time they had been in the café. The sky had darkened to the color of slate and the pedestrians left outside were hurrying along, shoulders hunched against the onslaught of the wind and rain. She hugged her father and promised to call him sometime next week, before they headed out into the storm and turned to go their separate ways.
She pulled the collar of her jacket tighter around her throat as she dodged the rapidly forming puddles and hurried to the car. When she reached it, she turned and caught sight of her father just as he headed down the stairs into the subway. Smiling softly to herself, she climbed into the car and shook a few strands of wet hair out of her face. Every time she had coffee with her father she left the café with the same feeling of gratefulness. For years after her mother's death she had wondered if ultimately it would turn out that she had lost both her parents that January night. But her father had gotten through it and she'd gotten through it with him and she was grateful for the relationship they now had.
As she pulled out into the traffic, she thought about what her father has said about waiting for the perfect moment.
He was right, of course. If she and Castle kept waiting for a perfect moment to come, they would never be ready to take that next step in their relationship. Waiting for it was just a stalling tactic. They were letting their fear and doubt anchor them in place, unable to move forward.
Their fear was valid, though. If things didn't work out, they had a lot to lose- their friendship and partnership and the trust and loyalty and understanding they'd developed over the past few years.
But she knew that there was also the possibility that they had even more to lose by not giving them a chance. They would miss out on the opportunity to have a future together that could be full of love and laughter, happiness and companionship. As her father had said, life takes unexpected turns and she knew better than most people that no one is promised a tomorrow. She and Castle had been lucky so far to have made it through so many dangerous situations, but how long could their luck hold out for? She knew that she would deeply regret it if something happened to her or to Castle before she was able to tell him how she actually felt or before they had a chance to see what they could be together.
However, not waiting for the perfect moment to arise was different than making do with just any moment and rushing into something so important. The fear of losing what they already had was holding her back but she wasn't going to let her fear of losing what they might become goad her into acting rashly. If they were going to dive in, the decision of when they were going to jump was one they would have to make together. It would be an important decision and they would have to make sure they were on the same page and prepared to deal with whatever the outcome might be.
So, as much as her father had advised against it, she knew that a little more waiting was necessary. She had just gotten out of a relationship and Castle was still unaware that the relationship had ended and that Josh had gone.
Right now, what she needed, what they both needed, was a little more time.
But as she drove through the rainy streets of New York that afternoon, she made a promise to herself that she was going to make sure they didn't spend forever waiting around for the perfect moment.
Someday they were going to take that chance, chose their moment, and dive in. And maybe they'd be diving in over their heads, and maybe they'd never be completely ready or sure about what they were doing, but they would be diving in together. They would be there for each other and they would have each other's back, always.
Credit where credit is due:
-"Don't wait until it's too late to say I love you." This actually came from the TV Guide article about Castle with NF and SK on the cover. I think it was actually something SK said or wrote. I only got to read the article once and my memory is a bit fuzzy on the details.
- The song is "Never Be Ready" by Mat Kearney and I don't own that either.
I wrote this before "To Love and Die in LA" aired so I was kinda happy when Royce's advice was similar to what I'd written for Beckett's Dad.
This is the first thing I've ever gotten the nerve to post so if you have a moment let me know what you think and any advice or constructive criticism is welcome. However, please note that spoilers are not welcome here. The end of the season always has me on edge so even a hint of what's to come sends me into an anxiety fit.
Thanks for reading!