Unicorns, Double Rainbows, and Soulmates Part 2/2
Author's Note: I bring you the second part-a teeth rotting, fluff fest. Enjoy! Many thanks again to EllipsesBandit and Smacky30 and Mingsmommy for their mad beta skills. They rock harder than Gene Simmons in a diamond mine.
"Now this is flavor country."
Taking a gulp of beer from the cold bottle, Javier Esposito took a deep breath of the salty, ocean air, enjoying the moment of relaxation.
After the ceremony and all the pictures had been taken, he'd followed the couple, along with Ryan, Alexis, and Lanie to the large tent that was set up behind the house. The children in attendance had already changed and were playing in the water. Of course, Castle being Castle had provided a huge box of water toys as well as colorful, plastic buckets to build sand castles.
What surprised Esposito was the almost casual atmosphere of the event. Given the rich neighborhood, he'd expected a gourmet meal where he wouldn't know half the foods, pieces of shiny silverware he'd never even seen before, let alone know how to use, and champagne that cost per glass more than his monthly salary. Instead, guests snacked on vegetables, crackers, and chips accompanied by various dips and cheeses as they waited for the meal to be served. Combined with the open bar, it seemed more like a casual party than a wedding reception.
"Hell yes," Ryan grinned from his position next to Esposito. They tapped their bottles together before each taking a sip. "A little toast to being the being the best, best men ever."
Esposito snorted. "Me more than you, bro. You lose points for crying during the vows."
Huffing, Ryan shook his head. "Dude, there was sand in my eye. And you're one to talk! I saw you wiping your eyes when they were putting the rings on."
"Whatever." Esposito brought the bottle to his lips again. "I was dealing with an eyelash."
A moment later Castle walked over to them, bearing two beer bottles while sporting a very large, happy smile. The man looked as if he were walking on clouds. I guess that's what you look like when you marry your soulmate, Esposito silently mused.
"Gentlemen," Castle greeted, handing them new refreshments. "You both looked like you were running low."
"Thanks, man," Ryan said. "Welcome back to the Married Club."
"Yeah," Esposito nodded. "A lifetime of begging for sex."
Castle gave them his signature cocky smile. "I never have to beg for sex."
Esposito laughed. "Sure, bro." Then his smile left his face. "But seriously. You better be ready for a lifetime with Beckett."
"My friend, that woman is crazy in love in me and worships the ground I walk on. How can I not want to spend my life with her?"
Taking a step closer, Esposito stood up straighter to tower over Castle. "Good, because if you hurt Beckett in any way shape or form, we will make you bleed."
Ryan stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Esposito. "Long and slow."
"We'll get away with it too because Lanie will perform the autopsy and she'll just rule your death an unfortunate, freak accident. And it won't end there."
"Nope," Ryan continued. "Because after you die you will burn in a very special level of hell."
Esposito's voice got very low. "A level they reserve for child molesters…and people who talk in the theatre."
During their speech, Castle's eyes grew comically large and he visibly swallowed. Taking a half a step back, he squeaked, "I…" he coughed, before going on in a more deep tone, "…won't. I will never hurt Kate."
"Good." Nodding, Esposito poked him in the chest. "Then we have nothing further to discuss."
"Right…okay, then, well, um…I'm-I'm just going to go back…" Castle gestured behind him. "…there."
With wide, almost evil grins, Esposito and Ryan watched him stumble backward. Castle turned back to the two men for a brief moment.
"The special hell," Esposito reminded him.
Staring at them for a second, Castle shuffled back to Beckett as fast as he could, making Esposito and Ryan nearly double over with laughter.
"Oh man," Esposito clapped Ryan on the back. "He is way too easy."
One of the caterers announced the meal was now being served, and the two men lined up with the other guests for the buffet line. There were bowls and platters of delicious summer food-pulled pork sandwiches and brisket with several choices of barbeque sauce; potato salads, macaroni salads, baked beans, and a few fruits salads.
Of course their little "talk" with Castle had been made mostly in jest, but Esposito would twist the writer into a pretzel if he did anything to Beckett. Esposito loved her like a sister, and would do anything to protect her. He knew Castle was desperately in love with Beckett. The man followed her around for hours under the pretense of "research." Still…it never hurt to make sure Castle knew who had the power here.
After about half an hour of talking and laughing over some of the best food Esposito had ever eaten, glasses of champagne started to be passed be around. A moment later, Beckett's father started to tap his silverware against his glass to call attention for toasts. Mr. Beckett began followed by Mrs. Rodgers. After she finished, Esposito felt a hand on his shoulder.
"Hey there." Craning his head, he found Alexis leaning down between him and Ryan. "You guys ready?"
Straightening his tie, Esposito stood up. "Let's do it, chica."
The three walked over to Mrs. Rodgers as she introduced the guests to the two best men and maid of honor. Beckett and Castle looked confused as to why the trio was making their speeches a group effort. It only served to make Esposito, Ryan, and Alexis smile conspiratorially at each other.
When the guests turned their attention to them, Esposito took a deep breath before he started to speak. "Good afternoon, everyone. Well, like Mrs. R. said, it's our turn to tell Castle and Beckett how we're glad they finally got together, how we hope they have a long, happy life together, and how we hope Castle doesn't screw things up." He handed the microphone to Alexis.
"And I'm supposed to talk about how much I love my dad, how thrilled I am that he got to marry his soulmate, how ecstatic I am to officially call Kate family." Her voice carried the same dry, humorous tone as Esposito's.
Now it was Ryan's turn. "So instead of all that mushy stuff, we decided to do something a little…different. We're going to play a game, and for that we need the bride and groom." He waved the puzzled couple over to them…well, he tried to wave them over. Castle smiled, but still seemed slightly taken aback. Beckett was completely taken aback, not moving from her chair, and staring warily at the threesome.
"C'mon!" Alexis called. "Don't you trust us?" When they still hesitated, she raised an eyebrow. "Don't make me send Javier over there!"
It was only when Esposito took a couple of steps that the pair stood up. "Okay, okay! We're coming!" Castle laughed, holding up his hands.
"Oh, don't be afraid." Ryan told them as everyone around them chuckled. "We would never embarrass you."
"Okay." Taking the microphone again, Esposito directed the couple. "First we need you to take off your shoes."
Castle and Beckett looked at each other before following the strange request. "We're not going to have to do anything kinky, are we?" Castle asked.
Beckett rolled her eyes. "You wish."
It was one of the few times Esposito had seen Beckett without her heels, and it still struck him as funny at how much shorter she was than the guys. Of course, that didn't mean she couldn't kick their asses around the precinct…his included.
"Second you need to trade one of your shoes so that you both have one of each of shoe." Beckett gave Castle one her dainty white sandals, and getting a large black loafer in return.
Now holding one of Castle's shoes and one of her own, Beckett chuckled. "Do you know what this is about?" she asked her husband.
"I swear on all of my best sellers, I have no idea what these guys are up to."
"And finally stand back-to-back." After they stood in position, Esposito explained the rules of the game. "This game is to show how much the new Mr. and Mrs. Castle really know about each other. We'll ask you a question and you raise the shoe of the person you think best represents the answer. So we'll start with a practice question: who has the most cash on them right now?"
Two black shoes immediately shot in the air eliciting laughter from the crowd.
"Okay, now the fun stuff," Esposito continued. "Who wears the pants in the family?" Poor Castle didn't put up a fight when he raised Beckett's shoe, joining her other one in the vote.
Esposito rattled off: Who has the wackiest family? Who spends the most time in front of the mirror? When he asked "Who is more likely to have dessert for breakfast?" both Castle and Beckett raised the two shoes they each held. "Yeah, that was a little too easy," Esposito chuckled. Both Castle and Beckett were notorious for having a serious sweet tooth.
Alexis followed with: Who is more likely to break Dad's remote control helicopter? Who is the better laser tag player? (Beckett shot up with her shoe right away as Castle did the same with his. Everyone laughed as they both tried to raise their respective shoes the highest). Who's more likely to use up all of the hot water?
Some of Ryan's questions were a little more on the salacious side: Who will be the first to say "not tonight?" Who's the better kisser? There was another battle of differing opinions when Ryan asked, "Who will be the first to fall asleep tonight?" Since they'd been running themselves into ground, what with planning the wedding, honeymoon, and solving homicides, Esposito wondered if they would consummate the marriage at all (Perlmutter was in charge of that pool).
After a few more minutes of play, Esposito wrapped up the fun. "Okay, last question, and it's the most important one: Who are you most in love with in this whole world?"
A chorus of "awww" and chuckles went around as Beckett put up the black shoe while Castle pretended to hesitate. He started to raise his own shoe, causing everyone to cackle. Beckett protested with a loud, "Hey!" Raising the white shoe, Castle dropped his so his free hand could also lift Beckett's hand holding the other half to her pair. Amidst the rounds of clapping, they turned to each other and shared a sweet kiss.
Clearing his throat, Esposito stuffed one of his hands in his pockets. "Okay so now we can tell you how happy we are for you. Seriously, dude…" He looked directly at Castle. "I don't think I've seen Kate smile as much as she has with you in…well, ever!"
Standing next to him, Ryan steered Esposito's hand with the microphone to his mouth. "And we know that even though you drive her crazy all day, every day, you still make her very happy."
"Bro, just ask for the mic next time," Esposito whispered harshly right before it was Alexis' turn.
Alexis barely managed to hide her bark of laughter. "I think what these two are trying to say is congratulations." Then she blushed a little at her next words. "And I do really love you both and I'm happy you guys are together. Growing up, I'd always worried about my Dad being alone when I went off to college. But when you guys finally got together after four long years, I knew that he would be okay and that there wasn't anyone better for him. And I just want to welcome you, Kate, into our family, and be the first to say…" She gave a dramatic pause befitting of Mrs. Rodgers. "I'm really sorry."
Everyone burst into laughter as Esposito, Ryan, and Alexis lifted their glasses, calling, "To Rick and Kate!" After taking a sip, Beckett immediately wrapped Alexis in a hug with Castle surrounding them. Several moments later, they let go with Beckett wiping the corner of her eyes. She smiled softly at Esposito and Ryan, and they walked over to her. Though instead of individual hugs, both men sandwiched her between them.
"Guys!" She exclaimed. "I can't breathe!"
Neither listened to her as she continued to struggle. "Not so hard you big sissies; you're squeezing the tears out."
He didn't know why he was here. No that wasn't true; he knew exactly why he came here. What he didn't know was why he hadn't talked himself out of it earlier. He'd been going through the internal struggle for a long time now-the weeks after he read the wedding announcement in the Times; the previous Thursday when he passed up on taking an extra shift; hell, even on the ride out here before he parked his motorcycle a block away.
So, Josh Davidson stood in front of Rick Castle's huge Hamptons house.
He'd come up in the evening when he knew the ceremony would be long over. The talking, music, and laughter meant the reception was still in full swing.
There's still time to leave, Josh thought as he felt his feet carry him across the street. I can still go home, pick up a six pack, order a pizza, and catch SNL. "Right," he muttered, sneaking past the security men to the gap between the two houses. Hugging the shadows, Josh made it to the backyard.
Strings of white lights decorated the railing and the tent where everyone seemed to have congregated. Some people sat at the surrounding tables while others danced to the music. Surprised, Josh expected Castle to have a live band instead of the DJ sitting at a table. He knew better than to stay hidden in a place full of cops and detectives, so Josh hung back from the main crowd. With the new buzz cut, and having been introduced to only a handful of Kate's friends, he didn't figure he'd be recognized. He just didn't want to be labeled a suspicious character.
Leaning against a post, he watched the party go on around him. KC and the Sunshine Band's Boogie Shoes blared through the speakers. Ryan danced with his wife (he thought Kate might've mentioned her name once, but Josh couldn't remember) next to Kate's father and Castle's daughter. Esposito and Lanie moved together like they belonged on one of those reality dance competitions. In fact, a few people stopped to watch them. But then, like as scene out of a cheesy chick flick, a group of people parted, revealing Kate with Castle.
Eyes narrowing, Josh's jaw tightened as Castle twirled Kate in a circle before pulling her back to him.
A year later, Josh still couldn't figure it out; what made the writer so damn great? While they dated, he knew Kate wasn't fully committed, that her mind wandered some place else on their dates. And deep down, Josh knew her thoughts were with Castle. Josh tried to do everything he could to show her he was a good guy, but it was too late. She'd always had one foot out the door.
It led Josh to the Hamptons, trying to figure out what Kate saw in Rick Castle. Why was it the writer and not Josh? Sure the other man was loaded, but Kate wasn't a shallow person. Even from his few interactions with her pseudo-partner, Josh deemed Castle immature, obnoxious, and annoying. Not to mention the fact Castle put Kate's life in danger by re-opening her mother's murder investigation.
After all of that, what was it about Castle that Kate loved? What made him so freaking special?
The song ended, and Castle ended the dance by dipping Kate. Pulling her back up, they almost crashed their heads together, causing Kate to laugh. Shaking his head, Josh sighed. What an idiot. Rick Castle has no idea what he's doing out there.
"Okay, ladies and gentlemen, I hope everyone has worked off the meal because it's cake time!" the DJ announced.
Castle's face lit up and he dragged Kate over to the table on the opposite side. Josh hung back until the majority of the crowd had gathered around the couple. Luckily the people Josh knew were closest to the table so he could stick to the back. He caught a glimpse of the cake: multi-layer, colorful monstrosity depicting the world of comic book superheroes. Around each layer, plastic superheroes stood battling villains. Spider-Man fought the Green Goblin; Superman took on Lex Luthor; and Green Lantern combated Hector Hammond. The top layer had Elektra and Batman standing back to back with, what Josh assumed, were Kirgi and the Joker lying at the heroes' feet. And the only reason Josh even knew about Elektra was from Kate sometimes reading the comic books before bed.
Seriously…seriously? The Batman and Elektra topper was one thing, but a whole wedding cake dedicated to comic book heroes was a bit much. Kate must have lost some massive bet to allow Castle to get away with that. Seriously, what was it about this guy?
"Some cake, huh?"
Josh hadn't even seen the blonde woman, who sidled up next to him. He didn't recognize her, so apparently she was one of Castle's friends. "My thoughts exactly."
The woman shook her head. "I thought Rick was nuts for even suggesting it, but it was even more crazy that Kate agreed." She sighed. "But I guess two peas in a pod think alike." Sticking out her hand, the woman grinned. "I'm Gina Griffin, Rick's editor."
"Josh Davidson," he returned. "I'm…a friend of Kate's. From college."
They both turned to watch Castle and Kate cut the cake together, Castle giving her the first piece followed by his. But instead of feeding each other, they each had knowing smiles on their faces.
When Castle moved toward the table, Kate jerked away.
"My, my a little skittish, Detective," he laughed. "I just wanted to get a fork so I may feed you this fabulous cake."
"Yeah, right." she shot back. But when she made a move to grab a piece of silverware, Castle took a step back, causing chuckles throughout the crowd.
"She actually agreed to that?" Josh waved to the front.
"Yeah." Gina nodded. "Actually Rick wanted a Simpsons themed cake at our wedding." At Josh's questioning stare, Gina clarified, "I'm ex-wife number two. I put the kibosh on that one. We ended up with a five tiered cake just covered in flowers."
Back at the showdown at the Castle Corral, the two newlyweds were still engaged in a battle of wills over who would feed the first piece to the other. When one of them would move forward the other would move back.
"Well, any woman who agrees to have a Batman/Elektra wedding cake as dessert to what was basically picnic food for the dinner is the right woman for Rick Castle."
Finally, Kate took a swift step forward, catching Castle off guard. "Oh, to hell with this," she said, taking the cake from her plate, smashing it all over Castle's face. The guests roared with laughter, but Castle immediately retaliated by just plain grabbing a huge handful from the top tier.
"Castle, no!" she squealed when he caught her around the waist. "I swear, you'll be sleeping on the couch."
"It'll be worth it!" he told her just before giving Kate a piece of what she gave him. She ended up with cake in her hair, eyelashes, and even-
"Up my nose you jack ass!" Kate exclaimed, wiping her face. "I have frosting up my nose."
Throwing his head back, Castle laughed at his wife. He ignored the mess on his own face while Kate tried cleaning herself up. Taking her wrist, he kissed her with lighthearted abandon.
Even through all of the anger he held toward the writer, Josh couldn't ignore the fact that Kate looked…she looked happy. Kate Beckett was genuinely happy. A wide smile lit her face, going from ear-to-ear. Her green eyes sparkled under the white lights. Her laugh rang out, sweet and melodious, when Castle thumbed some frosting from her cheek.
Not only had he never made Kate smile like that, but Josh had never even seen Kate smile like that.
That was why Rick Castle was so special.
"How in the world can you still be hungry?"
"What? It's just a…" Rick glanced at the clock, "Two am snack."
"Yeah." Sitting up in the bed, Kate's hair tumbled down her shoulders. "But you had two full helpings of food at the reception, you snarfed down three pieces of cake, and now you've got milk and chocolate chip cookies."
Okay. That was true…but he couldn't help it. The food had tasted so good! And really, how could he not eat, drink, and be merry on this day? So a couple…four, five cookies wouldn't hurt.
Turning up his puppy dog eyes, Rick put on his most charming smile. It only took a few moments, but Kate melted at his stare, shaking her head in amusement. "Oh, I really did just marry a man-child, didn't I?"
"Well, my love, who's more foolish: the man-child or the woman who marries the man-child?" He deadpanned, walking closer so she could see him standing there in just his Marvel superhero lounge pants.
"I plead the fifth."
Rick chuckled before taking a moment to enjoy the sight of his wife, his wife, all adorably disheveled in their bed. The party had ended a few of hours ago. Most of their guests had left around ten, with only their family and other closest friends remaining. They ended up sitting in the living room, just chatting until close to midnight, which had worked to Rick's advantage. While Kate had been involved in a lively conversation about baseball with Ryan, Esposito, and Jim, he escaped upstairs to decorate the room in candles, Rose petals, and made sure his iPod was set to play soft jazz. Kate teased him about watching too many chick flicks, but she still thanked him with the love in her emerald eyes and the way her lips melded to his. A couple of blissful hours later, he found he couldn't sleep. He wanted to take everything in, remember every part of the day: the way Kate smiled when he slid on the ring; her sitting on his lap, feeding him cake when she somehow found herself without a chair at their table; and the immense feeling of knowing forever when her bare skin surrounded him. When Rick discovered his wife awake as well, he'd suggested they sit outside.
But first he needed a snack.
He jerked his head to the balcony. "I'm all set now."
"I'm sure you are." When Kate rose from the bed, gloriously naked, he nearly dropped the small plate and glass of milk. She snatched his white button up shirt that had been unceremoniously dropped on the floor earlier. Opening the door, Rick went out into the cool night air. He shivered a little at the slight nip in the breeze, a sign fall was right around the corner. But then he went back to more matters like how incredibly beautiful Kate looked, swimming in his shirt and the way her legs went on forever. Settling in the lounge chair, he placed the milk and cookies on the side table before opening his arms to Kate. She cuddled into his side, tangling their legs together.
He took a giant bite of a cookie. He'd made them a few days earlier, and damn it if he wasn't a great baker. As he chewed though, Kate's raised her eyebrows at him expectantly.
"What?" he asked, some crumbs flying out of his mouth.
She huffed. "Aren't you going to give me a cookie?"
Handing her one from his plate, he said defensively, "I thought you weren't hungry."
"I didn't say that," she replied, tearing the cookie he'd given her in half.
They settled into a comfortable silence as they enjoyed the quiet early morning hour. The full moon cast a silvery glow on the black water. Stars dotted the night sky as far as the eye could see, a view impossible from his SoHo loft. The sound of the gentle waves was almost hypnotic, relaxing Rick even more. Turning to Kate, he realized he was a lucky man. Here he lay with this beautiful, wonderful woman he loved, and loved him back, and they'd gotten married-
His thoughts were interrupted when Kate snorted at him. "Oh, just say it."
His brow furrowed. "Say what?"
"Say whatever goofy analogy is on your mind. Wax poetic about how I'm like the moon or how my eyes sparkle like the stars."
"Just for your information, I wasn't thinking anything like that," he said smugly, taking another bite.
"Please." Kate rolled her eyes. "Let's get this over with. Just hurry up and swallow."
Eyes widening, Rick shook his excited fists as he tried to chew faster. Oh, he could not pass this one up. Phrases like these were only rarely served on a silver platter.
Cocking her head, she huffed again. "Really Rick, really?"
"What?" he exclaimed. "This is such a wonderful moment to share between husband and wife!"
"You might as well go ahead and say it." Kate leaned across him to grab the glass of milk. "That way I can collect my winnings from Lanie."
At his questioning stare, she explained, "She bet you wouldn't make any crude jokes or innuendos in the first twenty-fours of our marriage, but I knew better." She considered him for a moment. "Although you did hold out longer than I'd originally thought. I thought you'd make some crack during our first dance. But either way, it's been only twelve hours and I still get a Batman cookie jar."
He really couldn't help himself. Rick leaned toward her, taking Kate's mouth in deep, consuming kiss. She tasted of chocolate and sugar, and melded into him like no one else ever had. After a few long minutes (or hours; he couldn't tell), she started to pull back, but he pulled her closer. Laughing against his mouth, she struggled for a minute longer before she finally escaped his grasp.
She took a deep, apparently much needed breath. "Happy much?"
"I am sitting here on beautiful night, with a gorgeous woman, my wife, who just won a Batman cookie jar." His body quivered with excitement. "I have always wanted one of those."
She giggled (yes, he happily discovered that Kate Beckett actually giggled). "If you like that, you should see my Elektra costume," she whispered seductively against his ear.
He stared at her in amazement. Seriously, Kate was the best wife ever. "Please don't tease me."
"You never know what I might bring on our honeymoon."
Circling his arms around her waist, Rick smacked a few loud kisses against her neck. "Are you happy?"
She brought her hands to his chest, sighing. "Well, let's see: I just married a man who has enough comic books to open his own store and can find a quote from Star Wars for any occasion." Kate nuzzled her nose against his for a long Eskimo kiss. "I am very happy."
His heart melted at the sincerity in her voice. For the first time since Alexis was born, Rick Castle felt so happy, he was ready spew rainbows and sunshine to the darkest corners of the world.
With Kate plastered to his side, he sighed contently, enjoying peace that settled over him. The stress of planning the wedding, the anxiety before the ceremony, and the exhaustion from the dancing finally caught up to him. He felt his eyelids start to droop as his head lolled forward.
Kate laughed, soft and sweet. "It looks like I was right; you are so going to fall asleep first."
"No way," he protested. "I'm just getting more comfortable, so you can have a nice place to sleep."
But try as he might, Rick was slowly losing to the Sandman. His eyes stayed closed for longer periods of time before he could force them open again. And the cherry scent of Kate's hair was not helping. He always liked to bury his nose in her brown locks when he fell asleep. Surely she would be out by now…
Looking down, he found her eyes closed and breathing deeply and evenly. He won! He won! And he'd celebrate…first thing in the morning.
"I win," he murmured, finally giving himself over to much needed sleep.
What Rick didn't see was Kate carefully pulling out her cell phone from his pants pocket. She smirked, knowing he'd have tried to take a picture of her…had he not fallen asleep. She snapped a few pictures of him, softly snoring away. Tucking the cell phone back to its original place, she curled herself into his side, tangling their legs together.
"No, I win," she whispered back.