With one small thing we do,
a decision we make,
we can unknowingly alter the future;
now, we just need a way
to change the past as well.
Kate Beckett sat staring at the makeshift murder board in her cabinet. It hadn't changed in weeks. Her partner, writer Richard Castle, had told her to give it up for a while, to let it rest until they got some new evidence, but she just couldn't. Without her mother's murder case, she didn't know who she was. The case was the reason for so many things in her life. She was scared that without it, she wouldn't have anything to drive her. She was scared she wouldn't be a good detective anymore.
Beckett spent at least a few hours a day studying the board, desperately searching for even a hint of anything she possibly could have missed. She had added in Montgomery as the third cop, and everything else they had discovered that week, including her own shooting. It was as if she believed if she stared at the board long enough, maybe new evidence would simply jump out at her and say "Look at me!"
She had been looking at her mother's picture so long, her eyes were beginning to unfocus. Her mind wandered onto completely unrelated topics.
All of a sudden her phone rang, startling her out of her reverie. She blinked a few times and answered. "Beckett." Her standard greeting-fast, clipped, and to the point. None of that "hello" stuff.
In her startled haste, she had forgotten to check the caller ID, and half of her hoped it was someone from the 12th calling to say there was a new murder case. The other half argued with the first.
"Hey Beckett," Castle's voice said happily. Beckett's expression morphed into one of mild annoyance.
"What is it Castle?" Her voice sounded tired and she cleared her throat. Her tone said she didn't really feel like talking.
Still Castle pressed on. "Well, I was just wondering what you were doing tonight. When I left the precinct it didn't sound like you had any plans."
"I'm with Lanie," she lied.
"She's with Esposito." Damn. He had seen that coming.
"So I was thinking you come over here for dinner," Castle continued. "Alexis is making lasagna." When Beckett was silent for a moment, considering, he prompted, "C'mon, Kate. You've gotta stop staring at your mom's murder board."
Beckett froze and her eyes widened. "Castle h-how did you know that?"
"Guess I just know you too well. So, are you coming?"
Beckett sighed. "I'll be there in twenty minutes," she conceded, and flipped her phone shut.
"I'll get it!" Martha Rodgers announced, her hand reaching for the doorknob. "This must be Beckett."
Sure enough, she opened the door to reveal the detective, who offered a little half-smile. "Hi Martha."
"Oh, hello dear! Come in, come in!" She put a hand on Beckett's shoulder and ushered her through the doorway.
"Detective Beckett!" Alexis squealed when Beckett entered the kitchen. She stripped the oven mitts off her hands and flung her arms around the older woman who had become almost like a mother to her. Beckett smiled and returned the greeting.
After a moment a beep was heard from the kitchen and Beckett was released. "Ooh, the rolls are ready." Re-donning the gloves, Alexis carefully pulled the tray of bread out and placed it on top of the stove, then transferred the rolls to a plate.
Now it was Castle's turn to join the little party. He entered the kitchen and, upon seeing Beckett, stopped short. He almost hadn't thought she'd come. He opened his mouth to speak and found he couldn't, but he managed to get out a small "Hey" and a smile, and then the two simply stared at each other a moment.
"Um, guys?" Alexis interrupted, breaking the silence. "Sit down. Food's ready."
"Filthy, rotten, no-good liar!"
"You got that right," Martha agreed with her son, collecting her chips gleefully.
It had been Beckett's idea to play poker—Castle insisted they use Monopoly money since Alexis was a minor. Beckett was having a lot of fun at the Castles', more fun than she ever thought she could have for a long time, and she wasn't ready to go home quite yet.
In the end, the game came down to her and Castle.
She stared at her cards, making him believe she had nothing. "Anytime now, Detective," he said cockily. It really was amusing to her, watching him think he was going to win. She loved it when suspects thought they were too.
She kept eye contact a moment longer, then finally shoved her chips and bright orange $500 bills in the table.
Castle gleefully set down his cards. "Four of a kind."
Beckett tapped her fingers on the table. "That's pretty good, Castle," she said. He raised his eyebrows in agreement. "Not much can beat four of a kind.
"Except maybe…" she said, gathering her cards, "a royal flush." She slapped the cards on the table and collected her board-game winnings.
Castle narrowed his eyes at her. "Katherine Beckett, you slippery snake."
Beckett leaned back in her chair and stretched her arms out behind her, ignoring his comment. "Alright, I've had enough poker for tonight." Everyone agreed. The table was cleared off, the poker chips and cards packed up, and Castle's poker visor stashed away until the next game.
Castle checked his watch. "Twelve-thirty," he said, mostly to himself.
Beckett's head whipped around to look at him. "Is it really? I gotta get going then." She stood and grabbed her coat off the back of the chair.
Castle stood too. "Beckett, wait."
Martha and Alexis took this as their cue to leave and silently tiptoed backwards out of the room.
Beckett turned around. "Yeah, Castle?"
"I…" For a moment, he looked as if he were toying with saying something; Beckett waited, half-expecting him to confess his love again. "I'm…really glad you came," he said finally, but it was obvious it wasn't what he'd wanted to say. He knew it, and she knew it.
A smile spread across Beckett's face. "Me too," she said. "See you on Monday, Castle." For one fleeting second, she considered giving him a kiss on the cheek, but decided it was probably better not to. She exited the apartment, with one small wave just before she closed the door. He lifted his hand and swiped it in a rainbow motion, returning the gesture.
Someday, she thought, someday she would be ready to let herself love him like she wanted to. It wasn't just herself she was afraid of hurting; it was him too. Her mother's case was all-consuming to her, and she never knew where it would lead—it might end up with her death, even. It would be hard enough for him if nothing changed, let alone if they were together.
Unless time machines were invented in the near future and she could go back to that night and somehow stop the murder, she knew that until the case was closed, she would never be able to.
And that hurt her more than anyone would ever know.
I wrote this a few weeks ago during math class and forgot about it till now. Am I the only one who doesn't like the last two paragraphs?