Title: The Gravity of Always.

Characters: Katherine 'Kate' Beckett, Richard Castle and Johanna Beckett.

Rating: K+ for just some Beckett/Castle fluffy-heartfelt goodness.

Spoilers: Anything up to and including Season 3 episode 22 "To Love & Die in L.A." and hypothetical/theoretical spoilers for the rest of S3. Basically I have theories based on spoilers that I have delicately placed in here.

Summary: With the help of Dr. Seuss and Johanna Beckett, Kate finally realizes that she doesn't have to be alone anymore; that the gravity of 'Always' will lead her to straight to Castle. One-shot, contains potential S3 spoilers.

Disclaimer: I don't own, profit from, or claim any rights to the TV show Castle or it's characters. All rights belong to ABC and to the bloody brilliant Andrew Marlowe, who gave us the truest of gifts. I also do not own Dr. Seuss' literary masterpieces. Basically, I don't own anything, except a pony, but that is not really relevant here :)

Dedication: I wrote this as part of a Mother's Day present for my Mom and she thought I should post it here. So, Happy Early Mother's Day Mom...you ol' Castle-Beckett shipper you :D

A/N: Hello everyone! I haven't been on this site in a very long time. I've written fanfiction for many years now. I started out with Bones (this site), Smallville (another site), but this is my first time writing a Castle fic. Hopefully, I did the characters justice. If not, by all means let me know. And don't worry, the Kate & Castle goodness is predominately towards the middle and end :) ENJOY!


The Gravity of Always


"Isn't it a school night?"

The young girl looked up and shrugged towards the Nancy Drew book on the foot of her bed instead of answering.

"Devoured another one I see."

There was the faintest hint of a smile, but the young girl's face remained even.

"The mystery is over," Katie stated.

Johanna nodded, "That's usually what happens at the end of a book."

This time it was an eye roll followed by the twitching of her lips in an upward fashion. Katie leaned back against her pillows, staring, at the ceiling of her room, off into space. Johanna waited while her daughter orbited.

"Actually, I finished the book a while ago."

Johanna nodded, not moving from the doorway. Her daughter was getting exceptionally good at hiding her feelings. It drove Johanna crazy at times, this being one of them.

A few moments passed before Katie looked at her mother, "I...I wanted to wait for you. So you could...tuck me in."

Johanna raised her eyebrows, "Well, my little Katie-bug, you told me just last week that ten year olds are not tucked in by their mothers." It was a playful statement, not accusatory. Johanna was a master at that.

Katie's cheeks flushed, "Maybe...once in a while would be OK."

"Hmmm. Only if I get to read you a story of my choosing," Johanna added.

Green eyes met green eyes. Mimicked in stubbornness and love.

"Deal." Katie beamed. The first full smile of the evening. A rarity since her young daughter had her braces put on a month prior. She was always covering up her smile or not smiling to the fullest of her ability, denying any sort of dazzlement.

Johanna finally crossed the threshold into her daughter's room. She kicked off her heeled shoes, allowing her feet to sink into the carpet. Johanna already felt the stresses of the day slip away.

She made her way over to the book case. So many journeys played along Johanna's fingertips as she tickled the spines. All titles were faded from years of exploration. Johanna stopped at the very end, hovering over two thin books.

"Dr. Seuss?" Katie questioned, clearly offended that her mother would choose a child's book.

"A deal is a deal," Johanna cooed, "How about some Horton?"

Katie pursed her lips together. It was enough to render her verdict.

"You like Horton," her mother reminded her. "He is able to hear the faintest of cries, even from those who didn't even know they needed help."

Katie's eyes went wide and her eyebrows moved just enough for the little girls 'puppy dog' face to take full effect. Katie was going to break a lot of hearts one day, she already was by the message her husband had left for Johanna at work.

"All right, all right...but you're not allowed to use that look for a week."

Katie nodded triumphantly.

"So, which one of his other literary masterpieces would you like to dive into tonight?"

Katie bit her lip in contemplation, "I would like to go places with you."

Johanna turned so her daughter would not see her eyes cloud over with emotion. Every time she had read this book to her daughter there seemed to be a bittersweetness that would settle in Johanna's chest that only a mother could know.

Johanna selected the book from the shelf and proceeded to sit next to her daughter on the bed. Katie pulled her favorite quilt up over the two of them and leaned into her mother's side, inhaling deeply. Seeking comfort from the scent of cherries.

As the story unfolded, as all the happenings and what-nots put forth by the word master himself came alive, Johanna went on a journey with her daughter. Katie would jump in from time to time, inquisitive as always, trying to figure out what Dr. Seuss really wanted her to know.

The book came to a close, as most stories did, with a sense of wonder and a sense of sadness that the end had been reached. They sat there silently enjoying the moment. Johanna played with the long tendrils of Katie's chocolate colored hair, gently humming, content to just be there with her. At the same time though, she wanted to get to know the person who was now seeing the world threw a whole new set of eyes.

"Where would you go Katie-bug? Where would you go if you had a... flying carpet?"

"Mu-um, magic carpets aren't real."

"If they were real, where would you go? To Neverland?"

"You'd need fairy dust to get there. If there was a there. Which there isn't, unless you are J.M. Barrie."

"Just imagine that magic carpets are real."

"But they're not. Just like Santa," Katie insisted.

Johanna sighed. Even though Johanna valued the truth, she wished that particular white lie had gone past the age of three. She wanted her daughter to have a sense of whimsy and dream. Dream big. To know the imaginations of others and cultivate her own. But her little girl resisted. Was stubborn. 'Stick a piece of lego up your nose to prove a point' stubborn.

Even when Katie's grandfather showed her magic tricks, it was never enough to be taken away by the magic, the young girl had to know how it was done. Du-diligent to get all the pieces of a puzzle to fit. It didn't stop Johanna from trying though. She wanted her little girl to know magic. True magic.

"OK, out of bed," she pulled her reluctant daughter up and situated them both on top of the quilt at the foot of the bed, "Now grab hold of the magic carpet."

Katie looked down at the quilt and then back at her mother. Johanna gave her best encouraging smile, the one that would allow silliness to prevail. Katie still hesitated. It was time to bring out the big guns.

"You would deny your own mother, after a long day of work...no, after spending hours in labor with you, you would deny me, after all that, a ride on a magic carpet with my only daughter? That's just cruel." Johanna teased and held her nose up in the air, peering out of the corner of her eye. She saw the smile. She had her.

Katie gave a giggle of excitement before she grabbed onto the edge of the quilt.

"Now close your eyes tight!"

Katie did as she was asked.

"Are you ready?"

"Yes," it was a breathless answer.

"O.K. Here we go!"

Johanna leaned back, pulling the quilt and then shifting all her weight to the right side. Katie fell towards her as the weight shifted. A gasp of excitement filled the room. They were flying.

"Now, where are we going?" Johanna asked.

"I...I don't know? Where do you want to go?" Katie asked her Mom.

"Oh no, 'you have brains in your head, and feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself any direction you choose'," Johanna quoted from the book they had just finished.

With her eyes still closed, Katie pursed her lips in thought and gripped the quilt tighter in her hands. Johanna watched in amazement as her daughter's face lit up a moment later.

Katie craned her neck out just enough and swayed her head back and forth like she was soaring through the wind.

"We're soaring over the ocean. Do you feel the cold air against your face?" Katie asked, shyly. Still a little unsure if this made-up world was for her.

"Oh, it's magical! Nothing but the night sky above and the deep sea below."

"We're coming closer now. Do...do you hear it?" Katie asked.

"Hear what?"

Katie's beautiful voice started out small, humming their favorite French lullaby. Then it grew strong and bounded around the room. Johanna allowed the sound to soothe her until Katie dared enough to make the sound akin to the ringing of the bells.

"Yes! I hear it!" Johanna stated.

"Guess where we are!"

Johanna smiled. On one of the few family trips they did take, Johanna had made sure to take Katie to hear the ringing of the bells at Notre Dame. Home to one of Johanna and Katie's favorite literary heroes.

"Is there a certain heroic man, misunderstood because he was born differently than most, ringing them?"

Katie smiled, eyes still closed, "Yes!" Katie went on to describe the wonders of the Gothic structure and the marvels they had seen on their trip.

"This is as good a place as any then," Johanna commented. She wanted her daughter to spread out over the imaginary plain all on her own.

Katie's eyes flew to her mother, "For what?"

"Time to let me down, so I can get some pastries and you can see the world! Just think of the places you'll go!"

Johanna waited, but an answer did not come. Katie's eyes dropped and she started picking at the loose thread on the quilt.

"What's wrong?" Johanna asked.

"I don't want to play the lonely games," Katie mumbled, referring to the part in Oh the Places You'll Go, "I'd rather wait with you."

"You can only visit The Waiting Room. Stop by from time to time, but you can't stay there, Katie-bug."

"Yes, I can. I don't want to be alone."

Johanna wrapped her arms around her daughter, "You won't be. Someone will always be there for you."

"Someone?" Katie questioned in such a way to indicate that 'someone' would never be as good as her mother.

"Someday you'll meet someone, a special someone so that no matter what happens in life you won't be alone."

Katie rolled her eyes, "You mean a boy? Like all those Fairy Tale books."

Johanna chuckled. Though her daughter enjoyed them, Katie constantly questioned those stories, "Yes, maybe."

That's not what her daughter wanted to hear. Johanna had an idea why, "You know, your Dad said he had to pick you up from school early today."

Katie went stiff against her mother's side. Johanna waited for Katie to open up. It was no use in pushing her daughter to do anything. It had to be on her own terms and when she was ready. Johanna gently rubbed her daughter's arm, pulling her closer. Katie orbited for a moment more before plummeting towards her mother's warmth once again.

"He... tried to kissed me," Katie mumbled.

"I see. The same boy who has been pulling your hair during class for the past couple of weeks and playing all those jokes on you?"

Katie orbited again.

Johanna waited.

"I kicked him."

Johanna fought the urge to smile. She had met this boy at school functions and Johanna once saw him pick-up a flower and try to bring it over to her daughter, only to throw it away out of fear. She knew more than anyone that violence was rarely the answer, but her daughter had wits, spunk and an inner strength that shone through more and more.

"In his... special place."

Johanna bit her lip.

"I talked to him, just like you said I should. I told him to stop playing jokes and pulling my hair. And you know what he did? He stood there, staring at me. Then he grabbed me and ...and...tried to kiss me. If I hadn't turned my head he would've captured my lips! I panicked so I kicked him. And...and..."

Katie took a deep breath before she continued, "He cried. A lot. I said I was sorry in the principal's office, and told him that if he stopped pulling my hair and trying to kiss me when I asked, then I wouldn't have kicked him," Katie rushed out. "Why would he do that? What's wrong with him?"

Katie looked up at her mother, confused, searching for the key to the puzzle.

"He likes you."

Katie rolled her eyes and scrunched up her face in disbelief and a little disgust.

"Tell me something... did he ever try to talk to you?"

"Yes, but he just mumbles and looks at his feet. I asked him to speak up and that's when he started pulling my hair."

"Sweetheart, I am glad you defended yourself. You always have a right to when you are in any situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, but you'll find that some people will have a hard time talking to you because you are smart, funny, driven and beautiful."

Katie blushed and brought her hand to her mouth, trying to cover her braces up. Johanna reached over and took her hand away, then lifted her daughter's chin with her finger, "so smart and so beautiful."

Katie thought for a few moments, "Will they always pull my hair?"

"Yes, but in a different sort of way. And you won't mind that so much if he is the right person for you."

"I will too!" Katie said, defiantly.

"You'll meet someone who will be there for you when your Dad and I can't be."

The young girl furrowed her brow.

"I don't need anyone but you and Dad," she looked up at her mother, eyes wide with expectancy, "always."

Johanna's breath hitched. Life had many twists and turns, and preparing her daughter for them seemed overwhelming and daunting, when all she really wanted to do is never let her daughter go.

"What I can tell you, Katie-bug, is the beauty of life is that it's a page-turner. A mystery, a journey and a romance all in one. I've already solved some of my own mysteries, been places and found my 'one and done'. So don't worry so much," Johanna said in a soothing tone, "because when you get older it will be your turn. You're just at the beginning of your story and I know, more than anything, that your journey will be extraordinary."

Katie's brow furrowed even more, and her eyes wavered in worry as she tried to decipher what had just been given to her. Johanna would have none of that.

"Hey now...there's no frowning on magic carpet rides!" Johanna held her hands up in a claw like fashion, "There is only room for...The Tickler!" Johanna ran her fingers up and down her daughter's sides until the sounds of whimsical giggles filled the room.

Once exhausted from laughing, Katie looked up a her mom and started tapping the ring Johanna wore around her neck, watching it sway back and forth.

"Where do you want me to go?" Katie asked.

Johanna looked down at the young girl who meant the world to her, "Any where that will make you happy."

Katie paused and Johanna watched the wheels turn. Her little girl was already trying to figure out life's mystery, though Johanna knew better than anyone there was no right answer.

"What do you want me to be?" Katie asked.

"Anything you want to be."

"Could I be...like you? Fighting for what's right? For people who can't fight for themselves?" The adoration in her daughter's eyes brought tears to Johanna's.

Johanna hugged her daughter tight, "You can be you."

A few moments passed and Johanna heard her daughter's breathing become shallow. She pulled away from her sleepy daughter and tucked her in.

"Snug as a bug," Johanna whispered.

"A Katie-bug." the little girl stated, sleepily.

"My Katie-bug."

The little girl finally allowed the sleeping sand to dust her eyes. Her worries gone into space for the evening. Johanna leaned in and kissed her daughter on the forehead. Then, she stayed there brushing back her daughter's hair away from her face.

Content that Johanna had this memory cemented firmly in her mind, she finally left her sleeping daughter. She put the book back in its place, picked up her shoes she had flung about, and made her way to the door. Johanna lingered there a moment longer at the threshold of the room, as mothers often do, looking back at the sleeping form in the bed.

"There will be an 'always' waiting for you, because oh the places you'll go."


Late Summer, 2011


"Castle?"

He smiled, disarming her for a moment.

"It's late," she stated.

"Technically, it is just really-really early," he corrected.

Her eyes narrowed, "What are you doing here?"

He scrunched the paper bag he was holding and shifted uncomfortably for a moment before barging right past her into her apartment.

"Of course, I would love to come in."

She rolled her eyes, closed the door, and followed him into the kitchen. Kate pulled up a stool and watched him put a few groceries in the fringe and the rest on the counter. He started busying himself finding all the pots and utensils he would need. By now, he knew his way around.

"You aren't my personal shopper."

"You have a few dresses in that closet of yours that would beg to differ."

"Castle..." she warned.

"I'm not restocking your fridge. I'm here to...to make you dinner."

"Dinner?"

"Well, actually breakfast, but it will be a dinner-breakfast. Not to be confused with breakfast-dinner which would be entirely different," he rambled.

"I already ate."

"I was there at the fundraiser and it was more like you turning your food into a Picasso rendering."

"More like a Monet." She countered, hoping her stomach did not growl to prove his point.

"I knew you'd be hungry, so prepare your pallet for an onslaught of culinary delights beyond this world!"

"I'm not eating a S'morelette."

"I wish you and my mother would not talk so much."

"Actually, it was Alexis who told me."

It was brief, but at the mention of his daughter's name Castle stopped mid-action as he reached for the cutting board. He recovered quickly enough, "I am not cooking you a S'morelette. You aren't ready for that sort of nirvana. I'm cooking you...wait for it," he reached into the bag and pulled out a box, "SPAGHETTI!"

He shook the box back and forth, placing his smiling face beside it.

She pinched her lips together, trying to keep her expression even.

"That's it?" she asked.

"Au contraire...I'm also creating my top-secret-secret spaghetti sauce."

"Secret-Secret?"

"It's classified, and I'm afraid you don't have clearance yet, so..." he waved her off towards the living room.

"Are you ordering me to leave my own kitchen? After you barged in at this ungodly hour?" She raised her eyebrows at him, "Do I have to remind you that I own a-"

"-gun, yes, though I find it more sexy than threatening."

Kate crossed her arms.

"Fine, fine. You can be my assistant-"

"-Castle-"

"-Sous Chef or Partners..." he trailed off, giving her a sad sort of smile, "We can be partners again. Like old times." He dug into the bag and brought out a pair of goggles and gave them to her.

She looked at him, confused.

"Your gun isn't going to protect you from the villain known as...La Cebolla!"

"I'm not wearing those."

He dramatically placed his goggles on, striking a few poses for her, before looking at her once again. She bit her lip.

"What's the matter, Detective, afraid you might like it?"

She willed her cheeks not to betray her with color, but Rick's knowing grin seemed to indicate that he might be winning at whatever game she was trying to stay oblivious to.

Now she felt her lips turn upwards as he continued to stare. Kate knew she had shown too much of her hand. She was doing that more and more. He had been persistent and unwavering. He had said "Always" and he meant it, fervidly.

A few months ago she had said it to him as well and meant it. Castle hadn't even demanded it from her either. He never demanded anything from her. He gently pried. He endearingly tugged. He patiently waited. In the sweetest ways possible. That was the gravity of Castle.

"You know what you need?" Castle asked in an all-knowing voice.

"Peace and quiet?"

"Whimsy. Adventure. I know!" He snapped his fingers, "If you're good I will take you on a magic carpet ride afterwards."

She rolled her eyes, and yet something familiar washed over her, "A magic carpet ride?"

"Yeah, goggles are a must. Bugs, so many bugs."

He wiggled his eyebrows, which made his goggles move.

Damn. Rugged and armed with charm and now goggles. He wiggled his eyebrows again and smiled. Boyish? Impish? Wolfish? One of those. All of those. It didn't matter. A smile from Castle still resulted in her clamping her bottom lip between her teeth.

Castle leaned in, seemingly waiting for her to crack. Waiting to see her smile. It always amazed her how he seemed to be dazzled by it. For so long she tried to cover it; having braces honed that insecurity. Even now, she didn't consider it as perfect, but to him she could have sworn it was.

Kate needed to turn the tables a bit. Some all to familiar push to his pull, "And, uh," she cleared her throat and gave him the best smoldering look she could muster, "And what if I'm...bad?"

His smile fell and his hands gripped the counter, "Naked carpet ride."

She did laugh then. It echoed through the loft and clung onto the moment.

She shook her head and put on her goggles. She was met with a lop-sided grin and blue eyes glazed with intent.

"You like?" She tapped her goggles, making her way around the counter towards him.

He nodded, "I'm rethinking the onion and garlic content of this meal."

She reached up and ran her hand down his arm until her fingers caressed his hand. She leaned in.

"Good. Now, hand me the knife. I have a date with La Cebolla." She grabbed an onion with her spare hand.

"Tease."

"Yeah, well, you're easy."

"And you never take advantage of that!"

She shoved him in his side and pealed the outer layer of the onion to reveal the white underlay. Then she started dicing the onion as he started talking about his latest alien theories, only straying off topic briefly to explain to her his secret-secret recipe. Their hands brushed against each other every now and then and she allowed herself to enjoy the sensations. Enjoy the orbiting.

For that's what she had been doing for years: orbiting. From the moment she read his first book there had been this pull. It was faint at first. Then, when she met him in person and actually got to know the man behind the pen, the pull grew.

The only time she had ever felt a pull that intense was with her mother's case. That all consuming pull, but instead of feeling like she was falling into a black hole, she felt she was falling towards something different, something that happened instantaneously since she had met him, that transformed into something stellar, entirely magical.

Kate was brought out of her thoughts when a wooden spoon holding a deep red sauce appeared in her eye line. She looked up at Castle only to see his encouraging face.

"You have to taste it in stages to understand it's true depth."

Kate hesitated, then parted her lips. Her eyes never left his as her lips gently ran along the wooden spoon, and the tip of her tongue gently licked the sauce left over on her lips.

Rick gulped.

"Your secret-secret sauce is actually quite good."

"It's the secret-secret ingredient."

"Castle, you didn't put anything in-"

"-That you saw. I snuck one of them in when you weren't looking."

"Of course you did."

He was silent, only briefly, "Don't you want to know what it is?"

"No."

"Oh come on! I tell you one of my secrets and then you tell me one of yours."

"And ruin the mystery?"

He gave her a disgruntled look and started stirring the sauce again, "Well, that backfired."

"Your half-baked schemes usually do."

He stopped stirring and looked at her, "Not all of them. I recall a certain...diversion a few months ago that seemed to work."

Kate gulped.

"We were lucky that guard was gullible."

She turned her face away. She didn't want him to see the faint blush on her cheeks twice in one night. That diversion had worked. Too well, since it wasn't just the guard who was knocked off his feet. Kate had to dig deep that day to keep from showing her cards. Hell, she had to dig deep to convince herself it was just a diversion. She was a master at that, convincing herself of things; keeping people at arms length.

Or use to be. Over the past few months since the Captain's death, her disciplinary hearings, Castle's daughter deciding to leave early for college, and their rather heated confrontation over their mutual recklessness, things had changed. She thought she had pushed him away for good when she allowed her mother's case to almost completely consume her. Because of that, and a new pecking order at the precinct via a new Captain, Castle was no longer her partner at the 12th. There were no more ride alongs. She thought that would be it; that she would never see him again.

That was until he showed up at her place one night, much like he did tonight. Then it turned into drinks with the guys and Lanie after work at the Old Haunt. Or she would go over to his place to watch movies with him, and on occasion his family. He still helped her with cases when he would stop by or surprise her and the boys with coffee and food. And she would phone him, to run ideas past him.

Tonight they had attended a fundraiser. Her mother's fundraiser. They had arrived together. Photographers took their picture and she never once felt the need to leave his side.

The fundraiser was a huge success. The scholarship fund was brimming and in no small part to the man standing behind her chattering on about aliens still.

The guest list was almost any elite person Rick knew and anyone who owed him a favor. Of course, Martha, Alexis, Ashley and most of the 12th were there as well. Everyone in attendance gave generously and Kate found herself letting the remarks like 'you have a great girl there Rick," and "so, are you two together?" slide the entire evening. It was easy to do since she wasn't attached to anyone anymore. That ship had sailed amicably, soon after her return from L.A. with Castle, months ago.

Rick had made sure the fundraiser went off without a hitch, and it was clear to anyone in attendance that, while Castle did it to honor Johanna's memory, it was mainly for Kate.

She looked down at the massive amount of onions she had cut thanks to her deep thinking. She quickly put them in the extra bowl, moving it off to the side, so Castle wouldn't notice right away. Kate put the knife down and looked through her goggles at the man behind her, animated as ever, using the stirring spoon to slice through the air in explanation.

"Are you still talking?" Kate asked as she moved close to him again.

"Hey, I'm telling you that if my theory is true-"

"-It's not-"

"-IF it is true, then the reason the alien conspiracies will never be proved because the CIA are in fact aliens themselves."

"That's right, Castle. It's a mass alien-CIA. conspiracy. Just think of all the probing they'll be able to do."

He moved towards her and placed a finger on her lips, "Shhhhhh...they could be listening," he pointed the wooden spoon to the roof.

His eyes fell to hers as his finger stayed against her lips. Her warm breath tickled his skin at a faster pace. Sounds of the sauce bubbling in the background slowed to dull pops. Her eyelids seemed to fall under the weight of her lashes, fluttering down, darkening the view. Kate didn't move away. She couldn't.

Castle moved his finger from her lips and briefly placed his hand on her cheek, as the other hand placed the spoon on the counter.

Then he took off his goggles and reached over, gingerly taking hers off as well. Kate dared to open her eyes. Now it was just skies of blue searching pools of green. He ran his hands gently down the side of her face, and then her neck, until they were on her upper arms.

"Castle," she whispered, not knowing if she was ready to plummet out of orbit completely just yet. "I..."

He gave her a warm smile, "Why don't I finish up here and then bring it to you? I still need to add one more ingredient and try to use some of the bountiful supply of chopped onions you have given me."

He was giving her an out. She was grateful.

She nodded and made her way into the living room. Kate could feel his eyes on her the entire way until she was seated on the couch. She looked about the room, trying to avoid looking at his rugged form moving about her kitchen in such a domestic fashion. As she acquiesced to the aroma of tomato sauce and sautéing onions and meat, she knew it was getting harder to keep him at bay. Any sort of reason as to why seemed to waver under everything he meant to her.

Soon, Castle gallantly made an entrance into the living room, carrying two steaming plates of spaghetti. They ate in silence with their feet resting on the coffee table. There was plenty of room on the couch but he had sat right next to her, shifting the weight of the cushions just enough so she was flushed at his side.

Kate chuckled as Castle slurped some of his noodles. He managed to get sauce all over his face, which resulted in Kate wiping it off, much to his delight. When they were finished Kate noticed he had that lost look. The same one he seemed to give Alexis every now and then throughout the fundraiser.

"You know, you raised one hell of a kid, Castle." He looked at her and was about to change the subject, but she wouldn't let him, "She's allowed to make mistakes, but only time will tell if this is one of them."

He nodded and she gently bumped his arm with her shoulder to get him to look at her again, "She'll be back. Alexis is just testing the waters so that when the right person come along she'll know. You don't know if Ashley is 'the one' and I'm fairly certain Alexis doesn't know either."

'"Is that supposed to make me feel better?" He asked, not wanting his daughter to find 'the one' just yet.

Kate shrugged, "If you let it."

He was quiet for a moment and then he bumped her arm with his, "Good thing you're tall, or else I wouldn't hang around you."

She rolled her eyes as she went to pick up the dishes. Castle tried to stop her, "Oh no, you cooked and now I clean."

"But..."

She raised an eyebrow.

"Fine," he huffed.

Kate made her way to the kitchen. As she cleaned she could see him move towards her mother's murder board, which was still open. He stared at it while she washed and put away the dishes, but soon she heard him sigh. She leaned over and saw him run his hand through his hair. He seemed to nod to Johanna's picture before closing the shutters. Kate guessed that he wanted her to himself tonight and no matter how much Kate wanted an ending to her mother's murder, to the mystery that had monopolized her daily thoughts; she understood that need to 'close the shutters.' But as much as she wanted to not make Castle an 'if only', she didn't want to make her mother into one. Life wanted her to take a risk, to turn the page; her hand seemed hesitant to do so.

Kate was drying her hands when she heard him 'oooh' and 'aaah' and mumble to himself over her humble selection of literature, history and anthropology books on her shelving. It wasn't vast, but it was intimate. Personal. Each book had meaning to her, especially the ones Kate had kept from her childhood.

He was almost at the very end when he pulled out a thin book. She recognized it immediately. Curiosity had gotten the better of him. Her speech at the fundraiser had done that.

He turned and looked at her, "Do you mind?"

She shrugged, "Since when do you ask?"

His lips twitched and he ran his fingers over the worn and tinged cover.

"I have to say that your speech was the best. Not a dry eye or a full wallet after it."

"I've hung around you long enough to know that it is not hard to string a few words together," she chided as she made her way into the living room.

He put his hand over his heart, feigning pain before adding, "Your mother had great taste." He tapped the cover of the book.

"Dr. Seuss fan?"

"Are you kidding? He is one of the greats!"

He made his way over to her and plopped down beside her, "But this book," he pointed to the one in his hand, "This one is his best works."

"I can't argue with you there," she stated.

He pouted, "Will you anyway? It's kind of our thing."

She elbowed him in his side, and was just about to rib him some more when he started reading. The story came alive. Memories stirred and started to tumble. His voice was animated, but there was a soothing quality that could not be denied. She leaned into him a bit more.

Kate never uttered a word as he read. Never stopped him. She just listened, trying to keep her emotions in check as the sensation of his arm coming around her mixed with the rhyming words.

Soon he was finished and the story floated around them for a while all on its own. And he waited. Waited for her to move, to say something sarcastic, but none of that came. All she did was lean deeper into his side.

"It was our favorite. Well, mine. I always knew Horton was hers."

He tilted his head, "Horton huh? I can see that. Very likable and heroic. Not only hatching that egg, but saving an entire civilization! And not bad looking for an elephant and..."

As Castle trailed off, Kate froze. Her breath became a captive within her lungs. Each heart beat pounded the memory to the forefront.

"He can hear the faintest of cries..."

Her mother's voice echoed in her mind as the image of their impromptu carpet ride came thundering back. The smell of cherries. Her mother's laugh. The feel of her favorite quilt beneath her finger tips. The way the ring dangled.

With her composure slipping, she clutched the ring around her neck, pushed away from him and made her way across the room. She opened the shutters and stood before her mother's murder board, hoping some distance would stop the plummeting of her heart into his gravity.

That's why he showed up at the door tonight. She had been staring at her mother's murder board since she arrived back at home. Thinking. Mulling. Trying to solve the black hole that always pulled her back, that could consume her. But he had heard her. That need she never voiced. That comfort she never sought, even when she was with Josh. That gravity that he was more than willing to embrace more so than she.

Until now.

Castle soon followed, standing next to her so their shoulders were touching.

"She warned me, Castle."

He waited.

She orbited.

"She told me that you could only ever visit The Waiting Room. That I couldn't stay there. But I didn't listen and from the moment I saw Detective Raglan at our door I've been there, because she is there, waiting. For answers. For the truth. I'm making her stay there, with me, until I can solve her murder. I can't let it go. I can't let her go. I can't leave and now I'm dragging you down with me."

"Kate, that's not true."

"You're waiting too. You've been waiting for a long time."

"It's my choice to."

She looked at him then, "Is it?"

"I have brains in my head, feet in my shoes, I can steer myself in any direction I choose. And I choose to wait, with you, here. As long as you need...always."

He opened his arms, gesturing first to the shutters, but then kept them open. Waiting.

She fell out of orbit then, finally allowing gravity to prevail. Rick's arms enveloped her as she rested her head against his chest.

He gently stroked her hair and then made circular, soothing motions on her back. Kate had known for a while, but now she was done convincing herself of the contrary. She wasn't alone anymore. She didn't have to play the 'lonely games' any longer.

A few moments passed. A few gentle kisses were provided on the top of her head. A few heart beats were allowed in tandem, before his soft, deep voice filled the silence.

"She knew," he stated.

"Knew what?" She asked, the words hitting his chest.

"That you would go places. A parent always knows. Alexis is bound for far greater things than I could ever accomplish."

"Yes, because your accomplishments are so lowly, Castle," she stated, trying to lighten the mood. He wouldn't let her.

"Your mother knew you would be beautiful, smart, stubborn, strong and above all else..." he placed a finger underneath her chin and waited for her to open her eyes and look at him. When she did, nothing but sun-kissed warmth and unconditional compassion awaited her, "She knew you would be extraordinary."

She reached up and laid her hand on his cheek, "Oh, the words you weave, Horton."

A glint of childlike happiness streaked across his eyes before settling again behind a wall of passion.

"How about another story?" He asked.

Kate could tell he wasn't sure of the next step he should take. She was.

"I think our story started along time ago and it is far from being over," she paused before allowing herself some long overdue whimsy, "besides, you owe me a magic carpet ride."

His eyes clouded as her hands settled on his chest. The familiar positioning to push, but instead she ran her hands up his chest and around his neck, entwining her fingers within his hair.

"I-is this a 'clothing optional' trip?" His hands finally made it to her hips, applying just the right amount of pressure.

She leaned up, her lips hovering over his. Their eyes locked. Mimicked in desire and love.

"Oh, the places we'll go, Castle. Oh, the places we'll go."


The End


There really is no end in sight for the love I have for Castle. It is truly a fantastic show, from the writing and production to the acting. Such a great cast, stories and dynamic characters to mesmerize us on a weekly basis.

I hope all of you enjoyed this one-shot. I tried to integrate as many aspects of the Beckett & Castle world into it in order to provide some authenticity. Hell, even the fact that she was chopping an onion was planned. Johanna was interesting to write since so little is known about her. I wasn't thrilled about the timing of the Fundraiser, since a scholarship should be given before the fall; however, it fit the purpose of this story. If I've made a mistake(s) then feel free to politely correct me. Contrary to belief, I am human, so fallible.

If you're willing and able, please find the time to leave a review. I always enjoy reading your thoughts, whether good, gushing, or constructive. I will always respond in kind and sincerity. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read my work. Now, I'm off to watch some Castle (yes, I am addicted, and I don't see that stopping anytime soon) :D

Cheers,

Rini :)