A/N: This was originally written, prompted by the great Tiff098765, for the multi-author fic, 'Shotgun – Conversations in the Car', which began life on the ABC Castle boards. It started out as a one shot, but people suggested I write the conversation between R and K. Then it got out of control and I also included a scene that is not in a car! So I am posting the extended version here, as requested by some. Thank you to those people for their encouragement and kind words, and, of course, to Tiff, who encourages us all to be better writers.
So, if you have read the story as part of 'Shotgun', the 'missing scene' is in Chapters 3,4 and 5.
It may seem angsty at first - but I promise you that I am a Caskett supporter to the core, and I would never end a story with a sad Richard Castle. I just couldn't do it!
I am posting in fairly short chunks as I have been told my chapters can be too long!
Any reviews would absolutely make my day, as they are oxygen to novice writers who are not sure if they have a clue about this writing lark! :)
Disclaimer: The characters are all AM's, not mine. Not in this universe, anyway.
The rain was beating against the windows of the limousine in a mind-numbing staccato. Inside, all the two passengers could see was the spray of water thrown up from the road, meeting the heavy drops pelting down. It was a melancholy, grey, dreary day, which suited the mood inside the car. The atmosphere was thick with tension and the unsaid words pouring silently out of them made both feel that they were suffocating. Yet neither spoke; each was clueless about how to start.
The man shifted in his seat for the hundredth time and cleared his throat. "Honey." Then he stopped, unsure what should come next. What he had to say was so huge, so life-changing, that he was terrified of the result of actually putting the words out there. He had tried to broach the subject so many times in the last few weeks. But he was a coward. That is what he had told himself so many times.
There had never seemed to be a right time, and when he had tried to say something in a less direct way, she had not understood. Sometimes he had felt that she had deliberately misread him because she did not want to talk about it. Or maybe he was completely wrong and she was doing the right thing. But the little voice in his head would not stop whispering, 'Don't do this, Katie; don't do this.' However, it was too late to stop it, wasn't it?
The woman was fiddling with the ring on her finger, twisting it round and round. It was a huge solitaire diamond that, even in the dull light inside the car, sparkled enticingly. Her head felt burdened with the weight of her thick, auburn hair wound into an elaborate bun and the two other items of headgear she was wearing on top of it. It was a conscious effort to lift her chin up as her neck felt too weak to support her head. Her dress was so tight and heavy that she felt like she was in a straitjacket.
It was cool in the limo, but she could feel a little, icy, trickle of sweat running down her back. She bit her lip, but then remembered the hours it had taken to do her face, including a bright red lipstick that she was not so sure about, but which the make-up girl had assured her was the height of fashion. She was exhausted from having all these people fussing over her for so long.
She would have liked to get ready by herself, but he had insisted that they 'do it properly', make a big splash. He had said 'We owe it to our positions in society to have a suitably upscale occasion.' She had wanted something much quieter and more intimate. Something more like her mother would have liked. However, he had been so excited that she had not had the heart to deny him his big day, the day he wanted for her. She had gone along with the flow, letting the mad rush of planning and organising go ahead. Letting it all wash over her because it was a great distraction from memories of 'before'.
How she hated that her life was now clearly divided into 'before' and 'after' she had been shot. She had always been someone who was in charge of every aspect of her life. Now, 'after', it often seemed easier to let others take control. She was too tired to do it all alone anymore.
She felt like a huge weight was pressing down on her. There were so many thoughts that she wanted not to be in her head. So many things that she did not dare to think about. So many words she wanted to say; but it was too late now, wasn't it? Wasn't it?
Hearing her name, she turned towards the man beside her. "What?" When he stayed silent, she twisted so that she could see his face. "You look like we're going to a funeral! What is it?"
"I..." Still he could not continue.
"You've been weird for days. You've hardly said two words to me for weeks. What's going on? This is supposed to be a happy day! But you have been so miserable! What is it?"
"Nothing, honey. This is your day. I just feel sad that your mother isn't here to see it."
"No, that's not it. I mean, I get that. I wish she were here, too. This should be her day as well. But that's not what's put that tragic expression on your face. That's not what drove you to visit a bar last week."
"I didn't drink anything! And how the heck did you find out?"
"Your sponsor called me. He thought I should know."
Father and daughter looked at each other for a long moment. Kate Beckett thought he looked dapper in his tuxedo, though uncomfortable and not really like himself. The groom had insisted on the most formal clothes for everyone and she had had no energy to argue. Jim Beckett's face did not reflect the happiness a man is supposed to feel on his daughter's wedding day. He looked tired and sad; the lines on his face were etched more deeply than they had been a few months before.
First there had been the strain of the shooting and the investigation into the Dragon. Kate had constantly been in danger until a few weeks ago when they had finally been able to bring him to justice. That had taken its toll. But her shock announcement not long after the case was closed should have delighted him. She had chosen a handsome, wealthy, successful man who treated her like a princess.
So the news should have smoothed some of those lines away. Instead, the whole situation had just added to them and brought him closer to having a drink than he had been since the week Kate was shot. Luckily, Rick Castle had been there to stop him that time. This time, he had had the sense to call his sponsor before he took that fatal step.
Jim Beckett knew that his Katie looked a vision designed to take any man's breath away. The complicated hairstyle, showing off her shining waves of hair. The expensive, snowy white, antique, lace veil. The glittering diamond tiara, borrowed for the occasion. The very full, highly structured, white satin dress from one of New York's finest designers hugging the curves of her long, elegant body.
He had been surprised at her choice as it seemed far too fancy for his Katie, but he knew that the groom's mother had been deeply involved in all aspects of the wedding planning, including the dress, which she had insisted on buying, as it was way out of Jim Beckett's price range. Jim had the feeling that Kate had allowed most of the wedding decisions to be made by others, as if she did not care one way or the other.
He shifted his gaze to the seat opposite where she had placed the wedding bouquet. It was a strongly, almost cloyingly, scented mix of scarlet roses and various other red and white flowers. Kate and her mother had never been that fond of red flowers, but Jim supposed that the wedding planner and her future mother-in-law must have chosen them.
He turned back to his daughter and looked closely at her face, which had far more make-up on it than normal. Underneath the flawless foundation, she was pale. And, though she was trying to smile, it did not reach her eyes. If you looked into those bright green depths, you could see the strain she was under. She did not seem like a woman on the happiest day of her life.
However, she was trying to play the part, and she took her father's hand, saying with what he could tell was false jollity, "Come on, Dad. You know what they say. You're not losing a daughter; you're gaining a son."
That desperate attempt to appear cheerful broke her father's heart. Enough was enough.
He pressed the intercom button and asked the driver to pull over. Kate tried to ask him what he was doing but he lifted a hand as if to silence her. He sat upright, took a deep breath and said what he knew to be true but had not had the courage to voice before.
"He's not the husband I would have chosen for you, Katie, because I don't think you love him."
Kate Beckett gasped and she pulled her hand away from his as if his touch burned her.
"What... What the hell are you talking about?" Her face was rigid with anger, and the blusher and lipstick looked like spots of red paint on a doll as the colour drained away from her skin.