A/N: You guys know how I'm all about externalizing my feelings and emotions through writing. Someone really close to me is going through this exact same situation Kate is in this story and I wish so bad I could help her. It's killing me that I can't do anything about it, but support her and be there for her. So this is my way of giving her a happy ending. This story will most likely be 10-12 chapters long and I hope you guys like it.
Disclaimer: Castle is not mine.
At the End of the Tunnel
"Kate, come back here. I'm not done with you."
His voice now made her skin crawl. She shook him off when he grabbed her arm to prevent her from walking towards the door. It was too much. She couldn't take this anymore. It had become entirely too hard to live under the same roof with this man and just being in close proximity made it hard for her to breathe. It hurt. It hurt so badly now that she knew everything he had done behind her back and only had the guts to tell her when she pressured him to come clean. In a way, she wished she hadn't.
They were right; ignorance was bliss.
It was sadly funny that this was someone she had loved so much once, the father of her two beautiful children. They were her strength now and she had only had the energy to fight for this marriage for as long as she had because of them. If she hadn't become a mother, she would have walked out the door long ago. Jake grabbed her arm again, pulled her back to him and she struggled to break free.
"Let go of me." She pushed him away and grabbed her keys and duffel bag from the closet near the door. "I'm done here." She said quietly, a knot forming in her throat, making it hard to breathe. She would not cry here. Refused to cry in front of him; refused to give him the satisfaction of seeing how much she was hurting.
She had married Jake Caldwell nine years ago. They had been so blissfully happy then, so in love. When she found out she was pregnant with Olivia, he had promptly made an honest woman out of her and their wedding had been small, intimate, but beautiful. When her baby girl was born, she thought she would get a chance of having a happy ending, after all, even if her mom wasn't around anymore to see it.
She thought she was finally starting to heal.
How innocent and gullible she had been back then, she mused with a shake of her head as she made her way down the stairs, two steps at a time. She needed to put some distance between herself and him, their apartment, their life together that for so long she had thought was perfect. Youngest woman to make Detective in the NYPD and the hot shot district attorney. They made such a beautiful couple, such a beautiful family with their children. It had all been an act, though. All for show.
Stupid. She had been so incredibly stupid all these years, working herself into the ground, trying to be a mom and super detective at the same time and still be a good, dutiful wife. God, she felt pathetic. She would always be grateful for her children, they were the light of her life, but she could have done without all this heartache.
Opening the door of her building, she hit the sidewalk and started running at a steady pace towards Central Park. Checking her watch, she made a mental note that she had to pick up her kids from school in about an hour and a half. An hour and a half to run this swirl of emotion out of her system so she could look presentable to her babies. She didn't think Alex would notice anything, but Olivia would. She had been quieter and withdrawn these past few weeks and Kate saw her watching her and Jake have at it one night, hiding in the corridor that led to the bedrooms in their apartment. It hurt her even worse that her little girl was obviously being affected by this and she knew it would most likely get worse before it got better. But the only solution right now was to end this godforsaken relationship once and for all so they could all move on with their lives.
Kate crossed the east entrance to Central Park and allowed the somewhat fresh air fill her lungs. It was late March and the freezing temperatures that had plagued New York during the winter had finally relented, giving way to a sunny spring that made the trees around her a lot more colorful. It was a Wednesday and she was thankfully just on call. She thought maybe she could take the kids to get ice cream after school today, cheer them up. Alex would love it, she thought with a smile, a memory of her lively 4-year old boy's happy face, completely smeared with ice cream the last time they had done this a week before. He looked so much like her it was impossible to say he was not her son. He was almost like her little clone, her friend Lanie always said. Olivia was a mix of her and Jake with her long light brown hair and those impossibly gorgeous blue eyes that were always smiling and eager to tell a story.
They were so sad and concerned these days, Kate thought with a sigh. Her teacher had called her for a meeting and said that Olivia was unusually distracted during class and lashing out at her classmates sometimes. Kate tried to keep everything as normal as she could, distract her as much as possible, but she knew this would have an impact on her daughter.
It broke her heart that her kids wouldn't grow up with a loving family around them like she had. She had always dreamed of having the kind of love her parents had found in each other and, for a while, she thought Jake was it, but not anymore. Her vision blurred and she wiped away the tears that escaped her eyes unbidden angrily. She would not cry. He did not deserve any tears being shed over this. Another fresh wave fell freely down her cheeks and she had to stop and sit down to try and get her stupid emotions under control.
Sitting at a bench, she took a deep, shaky breath and brushed her stubborn tears away. She needed to pull herself together if she was going to face Alex and Olivia soon. She also needed to start thinking about looking for an apartment so they could move out. They lived in Jake's apartment and he absolutely refused to be the one to leave. Said that she was the one who wanted to get divorced so she was the one leaving; he would not move a finger.
Another lone tear made its way down her cheek and she once again brushed it away angrily. Crying by herself in the middle of Central Park was not going to solve her problems.
"Hey, you okay?" She heard someone ask and involuntarily looked up. Bright blue eyes were looking down at her with concern and she felt herself blush.
"Yeah, it's…" She ran her hand through her hair, brushed the back of it against her eyes again. "I'm fine. Thanks." Kate looked away and let out a sigh when the man sat down next to her.
"You don't look fine." He said softly and she looked up at him again, met his eyes and something finally clicked in her mind. God, she knew he looked familiar. "I don't mean to intrude and you can tell me to mind my own business. I just… I couldn't just walk by when you were crying all by yourself here."
"Just going through a tough time, that's all." She tried to smile at him, but it probably came out like a grimace. Out of millions of people in New York, she had to run into him. Jake had never understood why she loved his books so much. Called her immature when she stood in line for hours just to get his autograph a couple of years back.
"Can I help with anything?" He leaned back and she mimicked his action, letting out a humorless laugh.
"I don't think so, but thanks." She sighed and checked her watch. Alex and Olivia wouldn't be out for another forty minutes.
"You sure?" He cocked his head to the side, his concerned eyes meeting hers.
"Just… going through a bad divorce process." She found herself spilling out and almost wanted to pick up her words and put them back in. He smiled sympathetically at her and nodded.
"I know how those go. Been there twice already." He showed her two fingers and she bit her lip, nodding. "Not a fun experience."
"You can say that again." She chuckled quietly and he nodded. They were silent for a moment.
"You got kids?" He asked curiously and she nodded, the cop in her screaming at herself to stop giving out information about her life. But this was her favorite author sitting next to her, concerned that she was crying over the end of her marriage. It didn't even feel real.
"A boy and a girl." She smiled when he did. Talking about her children always made her feel better, happier. They really were the center of her universe.
"I only have a girl. Teenager. Making me age before my time." He joked and she let a laugh escape. She knew all of that, of course. She was a fan. "No, I'm kidding. She's a great kid, my Alexis. So not like me or her mother when we were at that age."
"I still have a few years to go before I have to worry about that." She offered and he looked back at her, his eyes sparkling with his smile.
"Yeah? How old are they?"
"Olivia is eight and Alex is four years old." She told him and shook her head. "It's going by so fast." She mused and he nodded.
"Before you know it, you'll have two teenagers in your hands." He grinned at her and she closed her eyes.
"God, don't remind me. They are already a handful right now. Especially Alex. You'd think he was running on sugar the entire time, the amount of energy that kid has." She laughed and looked at him again, a soft smile playing on her lips. "Thanks." She said after a moment.
"Taking my mind off of things for a little while." She explained. "I needed that."
"Hey, it's no problem. I've been where you are now. I know how hard this is…" He gave her a small smile and looked at her sheepishly. "I didn't catch your name."
"Kate." She grinned slightly and offered a hand to him. "Kate Beckett." She said when he shook her hand firmly.
"Rick Castle." He told her and she nodded, biting her lip again, deciding not to go into how she absolutely adored his books. "Nice to meet you, Kate. Can I call you Kate?" He added quickly and she nodded.
"Nice to meet you too, Mr. Castle." She offered him a shy smile, just a corner of her lips tugging up.
"Rick, please." He corrected her and she nodded, checking the time again. Still thirty minutes until she had to go pick up the kids. "Do you have to go?"
"I have to go get my kids in a few minutes." She explained and he nodded, standing up. She sighed, thinking she would probably never see him again and this had just been a cosmic fluke. "But it was great talking to you, Rick."
"You still have a few minutes, right?" He asked and she nodded, standing up as well, surprised to see that she was almost as tall as he was. "Can I buy you a cup of coffee? And I promise my intentions are pure." He grinned at her and she rolled her eyes, chuckling. "I still have a few minutes to kill before picking up Alexis from school. We're going shopping for mother's birthday present."
"Sure." She smiled at him and he touched her elbow to indicate the direction they were going. Kate felt a tingling sensation starting at their point of contact and spreading throughout her arm, but attributed it to being a little start struck.
He was her favorite author, after all. It was only normal.