A/N: So yeah, I'm starting a new story. Fear not, I am not abandoning Someone Like You. I am just currently trying to find my muse for it again. While I do that, I decided to put this idea on paper. It's completely AU and I hope you'll give it a chance. The title is based on the song "Hiding my Heart" by Adele.
Disclaimer: Castle obviously isn't mine.
Hiding my Heart
Detective Kate Beckett reached out and slammed her hand on the nightstand, accidentally knocking her alarm clock to the ground. The insistent beeping sound had pulled her right out of the peaceful slumber she had finally succumbed to after tossing and turning in her bed for hours, praying that sleep would come. It had been a very stressful couple of weeks investigating the murder of young Charlie Parson, an 8-year-old who had been found dead in a dumpster with bruises on his neck.
It had been a really trying case – all cases involving children always were – but Charlie had been murdered by his mother's new boyfriend and proving that he was guilty had been the most complicated part. For days her team tried to break his alibi and only yesterday they finally managed to get a confession. The guy was behind bars and would stay there for a good, long time, but that didn't make her feel all that better. Little Charlie was still dead and his mother was completely broken without her child.
Kate always tried her best to compartmentalize the different areas of her life and never bring work home with her, but this case had gotten under her skin. Last night, when she crawled into bed in a heap of exhaustion, every time she closed her eyes she saw Kelly Parson breaking down. It was an image she was sure she wouldn't forget any time soon.
Shaking her head to try and dispel the horrible images of the boy's body from her mind, she sat up in bed and rubbed the sleep off her eyes groggily. Looking to her right, she found the alarm clock on the floor indicating that it was still 6:30 and there was no reason for her to be up yet. The Captain had given her team a day off and she had planned to sleep in as late as she liked. Of course she should've known that it wouldn't be that easy after such a difficult case.
With a sigh, she got up and stretched her still exhausted body. Her left shoulder still hurt from where she had taken the blow of a bullet the day before. She had had her bullet proof vest on, but the impact had still been painful. She was sure she probably had a bruise the size of China there now, but she didn't care. At least she was alive and that stupid son of a bitch was going to rot in jail for the rest of his sorry life for murdering an innocent child.
Half an hour later, she was throwing on yoga pants and a t-shirt before making her way to the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee. While it was brewing, she collected the newspaper sitting outside her door and sat down at the kitchen table to read it. It was so rare for her to have time to do something like this that she cherished this chance to just sit and do nothing for a change. Feeling slightly more energized after her breakfast, she got up and went to retrieve her NYU hoodie from her room, putting it on while looking for her cell phone. Finally finding it on the couch, she checked the new text message waiting for her, smiling at her sister's excitement. Her 21st birthday was this weekend and Emily was planning to party like a rockstar to celebrate her coming of age – or freedom, as she had so cleverly put the last time they had seen each other a few days before.
Pocketing her cell phone after texting her back, Kate grabbed her keys and closed the door behind her. Since she couldn't sleep, she was going to go for a run at Central Park to burn out this residue energy in her body. Maybe after that, she would finally be able to get a few decent hours of sleep. Hitting a rhythm as soon as she left her building, Kate let her mind wander. It pained her so much that her parents weren't here to see Emily turn 21. Just like they weren't here to see her when she graduated from college, then from the NYPD Academy. They weren't here to celebrate with her when she was named the youngest woman to ever make detective in the NYPD a couple years back. It hurt so much that they hadn't seen Emily grow up and become this amazing young woman.
In two months, it would be the 10th anniversary of their death, of that horrible summer day when she had gotten home with an 11-year-old Emily to find her parents dead in the kitchen. No matter how hard she tried, how many therapy sessions she went to, she would never be able to purge that image from her mind, the way their blood puddled around their bodies in the light colored floor.
Shaking her head again as she entered Central Park, she tried to think of something else. It would do her no good to go down that train of thought. Not today, when she was already exhausted and much more susceptible to nightmares when she finally managed to get some sleep. She should concentrate on choosing Emily's present. It had to be something special, but she still had no clue of what she could give her. She had already casually asked her what she would like for her birthday, but she had only shrugged and said that her presence was all she wanted. Kate didn't blame her. Ever since she had joined the NYPD, she had more than irregular work hours and it was a common occurrence to miss birthdays and special dates. She had promised this time, though. Whatever happened this weekend, she would make it to her sister's party. Now she just had to find the perfect present for her little sister and everything would be right in her world.
Just as she finished that thought and made a turn on the path surrounding the lake, a red headed blur racing in her direction almost made her lose her balance. She stopped abruptly when the kid bumped into her and held onto him so he wouldn't fall with the impact. Trying to catch her breath, she crouched down to the boy's level to check if he was okay.
"Hey, buddy. Are you okay? Did you get hurt?" She asked gently and the boy shook his head, his red hair flying into his eyes. He looked adorable, even if he was still a little stunned from the impact on her legs, and Kate smiled at him. "You gotta be careful, okay? Look where you're going so you won't get hurt." She stood up and he looked up at her, his freckles making a cute path on his nose and cheeks.
"Sorry, Miss. I didn't mean to." He looked down sheepishly and Kate had to hide a smile at his adorableness. He didn't look any older than six, maybe seven years old.
"No harm done, sweetie. Where are your parents? You shouldn't be running off by yourself." She asked and he turned around and pointed to the direction he had come from.
"My daddy and my sister are over there. I was just showing daddy how fast I could run. I won the race yesterday at school." He said proudly and Kate chuckled, nodding.
"Well, that's awesome, buddy." She said and started walking in the direction of where he said his father was. "Now, you should go back to-"
"Jamie!" A voice interrupted them and Kate looked up to see a tall, dark haired guy walking towards them holding a little girl's hand. "Jamie, where did you run off to? Don't do that again." He scolded the child when he reached them. Then his eyes widened when he noticed Kate. "Oh, hi."
"Daddy, I ran into this lady, but she was really nice to me and didn't let me fall." Jamie told his father with a smile and Kate noticed his two bottom front teeth were missing. Suddenly, she realized who she was standing in front of, her brain having just connected the two images. She turned back to him, stunned.
"Hi." She swallowed hard, looking at him with wide eyes.
"Thanks for taking care of him. He likes to run off sometimes." He shook his head at his son, who bit his lip and looked down. "I'm Rick Castle." He offered his hand to her and Kate shook it in a daze. Sweet Jesus, she was standing right in front of her favorite author, talking to him.
"Nice to meet you." She managed to say and congratulated herself for sounding so firm. " I'm Kate Beckett." He smiled at her and she felt her insides doing summersaults.
"Nice to meet you, Kate." He smiled with his eyes, she noticed, finally letting go of his hand. "The little wild creature here is Jamie and this is Alexis." He ran a hand through the shy little girl's hair and Kate smiled at her.
"Twins?" She asked curiously, surprised that she was able maintain a conversation with him without visibly freaking out.
"Yeah." He nodded with a sigh and looked down at his kids. "Don't let those angel faces fool you, though." He grinned at her and she found herself grinning back and it all felt so surreal. "We were just going to grab some hot chocolate when Jamie here decided to disappear. It got really cold really fast, huh?"
"Yeah." She agreed. Now that she had stopped running, she was starting to feel goosebumps spreading out on her skin as the cold sunk in. "Well, I won't keep you guys. It was really nice to meet you, Mr. Castle. And you guys too." She added, smiling at the kids.
"Hey, if you're not busy or anything, you're welcome to join us." He invited and Kate bit her lip. Jamie and Alexis looked at her expectantly.
"I wouldn't want to intrude…" She started, shoving her hands in her hoodie front pockets.
"You should come with us, Miss Beckett." Jamie encouraged and his freckled face broke out in a smile. "It's going to be fun."
"Daddy always lets us put marshmallows in our hot chocolate." Alexis chimed in shyly and Kate smiled at her, pondering her options. Just as she was trying to come up with an excuse, it started to snow.
"Oh, you've gotta be kidding me." She said quietly, looking up at the sky as small flakes of snow fell around them.
"I know, right? It's April, for God's sake." He agreed with her and then lifted his eyebrows. "Come on, it's snowing. You shouldn't be out here by yourself."
"Oh, don't worry about that. I'm a cop; I can take care of myself." She dismissed his concern with a wave of her hand.
"Wow, really? That's so cool. I never would've pegged you for the cop type. No offense." He added quickly when she looked up at him. "Come on, you can tell me all about your job while we get some coffee." He insisted and she rolled her eyes.
Was he flirting with her?
No. No way. That was just not possible.
"Alright, you win." She gave in and watched as the kids high fived him, a chuckle escaping her lips. "Where to, Mr. Castle?"
"Oh, we always go to this awesome little café, just outside the north entrance. And please call me Rick." He beamed at her and she felt herself blushing slightly. This was ridiculous. What the hell was she doing?
"Alright, lead the way."
"So, a cop, huh?" He said when they settled at a booth with their hot beverages. "How did that happen?" He asked curiously and Kate sighed. She always got that exact same question whenever she told anyone she was a cop.
"Detective, actually. And…" she took a deep breath, looking at the kids who were watching her interestedly. Jamie had sat next to her and seemed to be enamored with her, which she found completely and utterly adorable. "It's a long, complicated story, really and…" He reached out and touched her hand for a moment, making her thought process come to a halt when she felt his touch.
"Say no more. You don't have to tell us." He smiled at her understandingly and she nodded, gratefully.
"Do you catch bad guys, Ms. Beckett?" Jamie asked and sipped his hot chocolate carefully after blowing on it.
"I do, yes." She gave him a smile and he looked at her in awe.
"That's so cool." He marveled at her and she laughed, especially when she noticed he had a milk mustache. She shook her head, amused, and reached out to wipe it away. Realizing what she was doing, she stopped halfway and looked at Rick, who nodded with a hint of a smile.
"I'm glad you think so, Jamie." She did, wiping the mustache away gently.
"We always play cops and robbers at school, right, Lexi?" He turned to his sister, who nodded. "Lexi doesn't like it much, but she plays with us sometimes." He explained to a very interested Kate.
"Yeah? What do you like to do instead, Alexis?" she asked the girl softly.
"I like my books and my dolls and stuff. But Jamie doesn't like to play with them." She explained quietly and Kate nodded. "I play with my friend Paige sometimes."
"She is really shy." Rick explained quietly when the kids went to the counter to pick a dessert a few minutes later. "They are complete opposites, it's freaky sometimes."
"They're both really sweet." Kate offered, terrified of saying the wrong thing about his kids. "But Jamie seems to be a lot more outgoing."
"Oh, he is. He's the life and soul of everywhere he goes, really. And Lexi is just really quiet, you know? Loves her books." He smiled, turning to check on them.
"How old are they?"
"You know, I was a lot like her at that age. Lived in my own little world. My sister is my total opposite, though." She said, sipping her cappuccino.
"Younger or older?" he asked and she could tell that he was genuinely interested, which just made the butterflies in her stomach go slightly crazier.
"A lot younger. We're almost ten years apart in age. She's really great." She said proudly. She thanked god every day that Emily had turned out to be such an amazing young woman and she was incredibly proud of her sister.
"Wow, that's quite a gap." He commented and she nodded with a laugh.
"My parents used to say she was the best accident ever." She smiled fondly at the memory and took another sip.
"Used to?" He asked curiously and Kate felt her chest tighten as a wave of grief washed through her.
"They passed away a few years ago. It's just me and Emily now." She looked down at her almost empty cup and sighed, closing her eyes for a moment.
"Oh, Kate, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to…" He reached out and grabbed her hand, squeezing it comfortingly.
"No, don't worry about it. It was a long time ago." She offered him a small, sad smile and pulled her hand away after a few seconds. Normally she would never let someone she didn't know get in her personal space like that, but there was something different about him and she couldn't pinpoint what it was.
"Daddy, can we have a bear claw?" Alexis appeared on the side of the booth, brushing away her bangs.
"Sure, sweetie. Go ahead." He nodded and the cute red head ran back to her brother. Kate stared quietly out the window, her mind going back to happier times when her parents were still alive, and jumped, startled, when his voice interrupted her thoughts. "Looks like we're stuck here for a while." He commented and she looked at him, then back out the window. It was snowing harder and she sighed, resting her head on the glass window. "Do you have to get to work?" He asked and she shook her head.
"Day off." She turned to look at him again and found him watching her, which made her blush slightly. She still couldn't fathom the reason why he seemed to be so interested in her. "Don't they have to go to school?"
"Teacher's conference day or something like that." He explained and she nodded. "So tell me something about yourself, Detective Beckett." He grinned at her, his eyes sparkling.
"What do you want to know?" She asked with a small smile and rested her head on the window again.
When they left the café, a couple of hours later, Kate had his number and the strangest giddy feeling in the pit of her stomach.
A/N: What do you think? Should I continue?