Previously: Martha outs Beckett's and Castle's relationship to the public when Beckett visits Castle during one of his book signings.
In which this tale of love and romance is concluded amidst some news that Castle isn't too happy with.
Alexis chose Stanford.
Beckett could barely make out the three words that came out from Castle's mouth before he barrelled into her apartment, collapsing in a heap on her couch, leaving Beckett by her door puzzled. She closed the door and made a beeline to him, crouching in front of him as he turned to smash his face against her cushions.
"She chose Stanford, Kate."
His voice was muffled against the cushion, but she could detect the sadness in them, heartbreak and pain lacing his words. She sat cross-legged on the ground, facing the couch and reached out to run he fingers through his hair.
"You knew that was a possibility," she said gently. "She told you she might."
He nodded imperceptibly, but still refused to face her. "She's going to leave me."
Beckett shut her eyes, surprised by how much his sadness was actually affecting her. She could feel pinpricks of tears pooling in her eyes and she blinked them away. She knew he would take it hard, but this? This was way worse that she'd expected. She dropped her hands from his hair and instead ran it down his arms, back and forth, back and forth in what she hoped was a comforting gesture.
"I just … I'm not the man in her life anymore. She's going away, she's going to grow up and get married and I'll be Granpa Rick who gets visits once every month … Kate, I don't think I can handle that," he whispered, finally sitting up and fixing her with a devastatingly miserable stare.
"Don't let your imagination run away from you. She hasn't left yet," she soothed him. "She loves you, Castle. She's always going to love you – you're her father, and possibly the best father in the world, there is no way she's just going to stop loving you, okay?"
"It's just so hard to see her making plans to leave me," he mumbled. Beckett got up from her position on the ground and sat next to him on his couch, taking his hand in hers and clasping them both together.
"She's not leaving you forever. She never will. And you know what, you've got me to help you with this. I know it's nothing compared to having Alexis around all the time, but … I don't know. You ... have me, and I'll do anything I can to make it better."
The sadness didn't go away, but a small smile graced his features, and she leaned in to kiss him. She didn't know how to comfort him – she'd never gone through what he was going through after all, but she knew this. Kissing him. Touching him, making him feel good, making love to him – all that, she had down pat.
"Shhh, let me do this, Castle. I don't know how I can make your pain go away, but I can try. I can ease your pain, I can share your pain. I can't make Alexis stay, but I can make her going away more bearable. I'll help. I'm not asking to take her place in your life, but I … I can give you me. All of me, as much as you'll have," she whispered, straddling him and briefly kissing his closed eyelids as her hands pulled his shirt up and over his head.
"Get off me."
Beckett's grumble fell on deaf ears, even as her subconscious struggled into wakefulness. She could feel the early morning sun, hot against the skin on her face and the uncomfortable heat was spreading down her entire body. Her hand slid down to push away whatever it was that was pressing heavily into her midsection, but the weight on her stomach wouldn't budge and she shifted again. The warmth was starting to be a bit too much and whatever was emitting it had to go. She moved her body, but –
Oh. Right. Castle.
Castle was draped over her, his head tucked neatly between her neck and her shoulder, his arm carelessly flung around her torso. Beckett lightly ran her fingers through his mussed hair, tugging the strands fondly. After a few minutes though, the stifling heat got the better of her and she jerked the covers up and over their bodies, letting it settle neatly at the foot of her bed.
The rush of cool air over her naked body was very welcome and she sighed in pleasure. Their exposed legs were inexplicably tangled with each other and she smiled at the feeling of being so cocooned in Castle. Beckett turned onto her side and slipped her other hand to curl around his neck, effectively cuddling his head. He was close enough that she could feel his lips caress her skin, his breath against her collar bone – easy, in and out, in and out.
Oh, wrong choice of words – she could feel a flush rising in her cheeks.
"I'm sleeping, Kate," he mumbled against her neck, finally noticing her constant fidgeting. He groaned sleepily, pulled back and dislodged himself from her hold. He stretched slowly, inching upwards so he was eye to eye with her and in one swift move, pulled her lazily over him.
"Lemme sleep, woman."
"If you'd get your hands off me for a second so I can move, you can go back to sleep in peace," she said trying to pry his hands off her. He was having none of it though, tightening his arm around her.
"S'too early to be awake," he whispered into her hair.
"Seven in the morning, Rick. I have to be at work soon," she said, "And you have to bring me my coffee in a few hours anyway. Precinct machine isn't quite enough anymore."
"But I don't wanna wake up."
"Tough luck, mister. You've got a lady who gets really, really grumpy when she doesn't get her double dose of caffeine in the morning."
"I think," he yawned widely. "I think she'd understand. I've just had a really, really hot, amazing, but exhausting night."
Beckett rolled her eyes at his candour, but nonetheless acknowledged that hearing him say the words was strangely satisfying. She'd been mildly afraid that their initial passion would die down after their first few weeks, but here they were, almost three months in – and they were still finding it easy to be completely wiped out after a night together, even with the intensity of his emotions the night before.
"If you'd woken up earlier, we could have made this a really hot, amazing morning too," she muttered, finally pushing herself away from him as the alarm on her phone went off. "Time to get up, Ricky."
Castle finally popped open a bleary eye and quirked an eyebrow at her. "We could have? Kate, you could have told me sooner, you tease."
"And ruin the surprise? Nah. I've got to keep you on your toes somehow, Castle."
She pulled herself upright, blinking away the last remnants of sleep from her eyes. She swung her feet over the edge of her bed, but his hand stopped her from moving further.
Beckett turned back to look down at him, his head comfortably nestled on her pillow. "Yeah?"
"Thank you. For last night."
He smiled at her, knowing that she understood what he was thanking her for. Listening, comforting, saying the right things at the right time. Beckett did understand, and she half turned back to him.
"Anytime, lover boy."
His eyes were fixated on her bare form and a jolt of arousal shot through her. Oh, how she really wished she had woken him up earlier. But it was only seven … She pulled her feet back up and turned to face him once more.
"You're not so bad yourself, Rick," She climbed over him and settled on his thighs. She leaned forwards, her hair tickling his chin and kissed him slowly, letting their lips press together sweetly. Her hands slid up his chest, coming to rest on his shoulders and she sighed. His tongue prodded her lips gently, and she parted them, meeting him halfway as he ventured deeper. His teeth grazed her lower lip and she arched wantonly against him, pressing herself into him.
Her moan was almost imperceptible, but he felt it vibrating through her body and he pulled back as something clicked in his brain.
"You called me Rick! Twice!"
Beckett rolled her eyes. "It's your name."
"But you hardly ever use it, Katherine, dear."
There was a twinkle in his eye as he spoke and she knew she'd been caught out. He never made a big deal, but she knew he preferred it when she used his 'Rick'. It didn't mean anything to her, of course. Calling him 'Castle' was a force of habit – he had been 'Castle' to her far longer than he had been 'Rick'. She didn't know if she would ever tell him, but she secretly thought that calling him 'Castle' made her special. No one else (that he'd slept with, anyway) had ever called him that, and sometimes in a bout of petty silliness, she found it oddly comforting that she had something that was uniquely theirs – calling each other by their last names.
Still, she was trying to make a conscious effort and she figured that she had nothing to lose by giving him that much. After the emotionally draining night they'd just had, she figured she'd it was the least she could do for him. And to top it all off, it was sexy.
"Will you shut up if I said that you were right and that it just sounds really good?"
He leered unabashedly at her, fingers creeping up her thighs to her waist, coming to rest at the bottom of her ribcage.
"Three months. It's taken you three months to decide to call me by my first name?"
"First name? I don't call you by your first name. 'Richard' is your first name, and I don't see myself calling you that anytime soon. Can you imagine? Oh god, Richard, faster, Richard!" She rolled her 'R's for additional effect and cringed.
She caught the horrified look on his face and laughed.
"Mmm, yeah. I don't like Richard. Go back to Rick."
"Rick," she indulged him. She brought her palms down to his chest and stroked his pectorals. "Oh, Rick."
"When you say my name like that, it makes Little Rick very excited, just putting it out there," Castle said, trying hard to hide a yawn. Beckett laughed again and flexed her thigh muscles teasingly. He groaned in response and tightened his hold on her hips, forcing her to be still.
"'Little' is very misleading," she murmured, momentarily getting lost in the haze of memories of the night before. Her cell phone blared again, a reminder that at some point that morning, she'd have to actually get out of bed.
She sighed regretfully as she stretched, gently pulling his hands off her. Castle only managed a small pout before he was interrupted by another yawn. She took pity on him and climbed off, missing the solid form under her legs immediately. Not bothering with a robe, she slid out of bed and gathered the blanket she'd thrown haphazardly away before. She flipped it once, twice and allowed it to land neatly over Castle's sleeping figure and a small smile graced her features.
Despite his earlier enthusiasm, it seemed like Castle was already half sleeping, gravitating to the centre of the bed, tugging the covers over his still naked form. She studied him for a moment, revelling in the fact that she was actually here, in that particular moment in time, watching Rick Castle sleep in her bed, and she was happy. So very happy.
Even though she already knew it implicitly, it only further cemented the fact that she'd been ready for this – the idea of 'them' – for a long time. Beckett was no longer running from the inevitable, she was embracing it with open arms. His (God forbid) love was addictive and even if he hadn't said the words out loud, she saw it belied in the way he looked at her, the way he always knew when she needed a hug or space away from people.
Shooting one last longing look at his sleeping form, she moved to her bathroom to start getting ready for another day of work.
She heard a bullet connecting loudly against the piece of wall next to her head and she ducked automatically, cursing at the lack of room to move around. Another crack rang out through the abandoned warehouse, a cloud of dust burst over her head and she realised that she needed to get out of there, and fast. She'd lost track of Esposito and Ryan's position after the first flurry of bullets and she could only hope that they managed to find cover just as she did.
She poked her head out from under the overturned table, crouching low and making sure she was still hidden in the shadows. She could barely see anything and hoped that the same applied to the people shooting at her.
"We've got you surrounded – just show yourself and this will all be over!"
Esposito's voice was steady and clear, coming from several feet to her left. Mentally drawing a blueprint of the warehouse, she could just about estimate his general position relative to where she was.
"You think we're stupid, man? As if we're just gonna – HEY THERE!"
Another hail of bullets burst around her, sending her reeling back to her hiding spot – her heart thumping wildly beneath her chest.
"Sorry, Beckett – I think one of them spotted me," Ryan's voice whispered in her ear and she felt a wave of relief wash over her. Her team – all accounted for and very much alive, although still in danger. "We better move, they're gonna come looking."
She nodded and peered around the corner before inching her way out, silently padding along the wall and to where she thought Esposito's voice had come from. Her eyes had adjusted to the dim light and she could just make out his form, gazing steadily to where she supposed the shooters were.
"I got eyes on two, and the third one's walking around some place and unless they've got a stash of ammo somewhere, they don't have much left in their guns."
Beckett nodded and took her place next to him, Ryan swiftly bringing up her rear. "Third one is about five paces behind us, around the corner. Shoot to incapacitate only, boys. I need them alive today."
She crept up, fixing her gaze on the two silhouettes lurking in the distance. "I've got the one on the right," she muttered to Esposito. "Cocky bastard is all mine." He nodded beside her and took his position.
"Target acquired – ready whenever you are, boss," was his reply.
"Set then, let's do this. Three, two, one!"
The three of them sprang from their position, guns trained at their respective targets and bullets went flying. The thack-thack-thack of their bullets rained upon their unfortunate opponents and a barrage of yells and screams rang out around them.
"TAKE THAT, YOU SNEAKY BASTARD!" Esposito screamed, advancing with her to the two in front of them. Their guns were still in their hands, bullets spraying out occasionally as if to drill in their point into their opponents.
Beckett grinned at him in satisfaction and approached their fallen targets.
"You look cute in pink, Castle," she said as she took in her boyfriend, splattered with pink and yellow paint on his overalls and lying stunned on the ground.
"It hurts," he mumbled, poking his paint smeared clothing dejectedly. "And you weren't supposed to be there. You – you used your cop super powers against me!"
Beckett threw her head back in laughter, but held her hand out anyway, helping him to his feet. Two feet away, Esposito was doing the same thing for Alexis, pulling the girl up from the floor and wiping residue of paint off her face.
"It was your idea to play paintball, hot stuff. I don't even know why you decided you'd go against three cops," she said. "What were you thinking?"
She let her gun dangle from the strap across her shoulder and she raised her hand to rub off a smear of pink from his jaw. Castle sniffled in exaggeration and his arms came to wrap around her waist.
"I was thinking maybe you'd allow your handsome boyfriend a chance to show off his manliness, instead of taking it away like you just did. You know they're all never going to let me live it down, ever."
She chuckled softly. No, they probably weren't, but only because it really had been his idea to play paintball with the three detectives, her, Ryan and Esposito against what he called the 'mere mortals' – him, Alexis and Lanie. He had pestered them for weeks, demanding they all find a common day off in their busy schedules to participate and eventually they all caved and took a Saturday to take up his challenge.
"I nearly got you that one time," he said as he released his grip on her waist and they both turned to walk towards the others, already gathered at the exit of the arena. "When you were getting under that table? I was too slow though."
"Nice look, Castle. You should wear pink more often!"
Castle glared at Lanie and glanced down. Indeed, his entire front was covered in pink, splattered with an occasional yellow spot from Esposito's gun. The Medical Examiner laughed.
"Kate went a little crazy I think," he muttered, glaring accusingly at his girlfriend, who just shrugged nonchalantly. "Shot at me even when I was on the ground. Crazy woman."
They all turned in their equipment and handed their overalls off to the attendant who was grinning in amusement at them. Granted, it wasn't everyday some famous celebrity requested the arena be booked just for him – it also certainly wasn't every day that three cops (complete with badges and guns) came in to actually play good naturedly with said celebrity.
Beckett settled herself into Castle's side as they walked back to their respective cars, his arm casually draped around her shoulders. Their subtle displays of affection were no longer strange to their co-workers and Beckett was relieved to finally see the end of the endless ribbing and joking. Alexis was huddled in close to Castle's other side and she could almost feel the smile that Castle was wearing, knowing that he took the most pleasure in having them both around him like that.
They got to her car and Alexis got in the back first, quickly leaning against the window and letting her eyes drift shut. Beckett stepped around to move to the driver's side of the car, but suddenly Castle's hand gripped her wrists and she stopped, turning back to him. She raised her eyebrows at him in question.
"Thanks for doing this today, Kate."
"Cas- Rick, you don't have to thank me," she said softly. "It was fun."
"I – I just mean that … spending time with me and Alexis before she goes to college. It … it means a lot to me, to have you two here and … enjoying yourselves together."
The look on his face was one of bittersweet melancholy and Beckett wanted nothing more than to erase it from his features. She knew that the sudden interest in paintball had been more than a passing interest, and while she didn't think much of it before, she finally got it. Alexis was leaving for Stanford and he was trying to do all he can to maximise his time and enjoyment with her.
"You know I love to spend time with Alexis, you really don't – "
"I know … I just … you watch all my stupid movies just to make sure you can gang up with her against me when she argues about them. You discuss boring Russian literature with her, which makes her so happy, you spend your one day off to play paintball – I want you to know that I really, really appreciate it, Kate."
His forehead touched hers, eyes clenched shut against the intensity of the emotion that had threatened to spill over moments before and she raised her hands to grasp both his shoulders, pushing him back.
"I'm so in love with you, Castle."
The words slipped easily from her mouth, as if confessing her love was something she did on a regular basis. It wasn't though, and somewhere in her mind, there was a woman running around in sheer panic at her confession. Now though, as she watched his blinking eyes go from 'what the hell' to 'oh my god she just-no way!' she knew it had been the right time to tell him.
She'd known for a while anyway, known that Richard Castle was possibly her 'one and done' and it was only a matter of time before she found the courage to tell him. As he stared at her in pure, unadulterated wonder, she knew that she couldn't have chosen a better time to do so. Alexis was leaving, Martha was soon going to be involved full time with her acting school. At least now, now he knew for a fact that he had her, irrevocably and unconditionally.
"I'm in love with you, Castle," she repeated when he failed to say a thing after a good few minutes. "I love you, and your daughter and your mother – and all your stupid movies, and games, how you hog the blankets at night, how you know just the right thing to say to me, how you make sure I'm eating properly, I love you. Everything. Anything. So don't thank me for spending time with your kid, Rick. Because honestly, I cannot think of many more things that I would rather do with my time."
She sucked in a deep breath and then slowly exhaled, her eyes scrutinising him for a reaction. He was still staring at her with the same bewildered, awed look on his face and she sighed, leaning into him, enveloping him in a tight hug.
"Kate," he whispered hoarsely. "Kate."
"One day, I'm going to ask you to marry me."
She stiffened at his confession, but then relaxed as she realise that the crazy panicked response she was expecting never came. Oh, how much she'd changed. She pulled him tighter against him, aware that they'd been standing outside her car for quite some time with Alexis sound asleep in the back seat. Her hands moved up to cradle his face as she pulled back to look him in the eyes.
He needed to see her when she said it.
"One day, Rick, I'm going to say yes."
And so we've come to an end folks. I'm not sure if this is a great ending for the story, but … Rick Castle has been successfully 'courted' and that – my friends, is all that the story was really about. I hope all of you have enjoyed this journey, and that you will consider coming along on my future forays into the Castle fandom. Every review and alert has been really appreciated and I'm so happy that I have been able to share this with you.
So, review? One last time for this story?