I will love you till the end of time
I would wait a million years
Promise you'll remember that you're mine
-Blue Jeans, Lana del Ray
He doesn't enjoy watching her flirt anymore.
Not that he ever really loved it, but there was always something hot about it, arousing, watching Kate Beckett come on to someone, to put herself out there, slinky and lazy with sex appeal. Suspects or informants or what-have-you.
Castle enjoyed it, liked watching her hips sway, her hair disheveled and pouring around her shoulders, her eyes telegraphing availability. Which might say something about his - no, no. He won't go there.
Suffice it to say. He doesn't enjoy watching her flirt anymore.
She's promised to him.
She knows it; she said it, for all intents and purposes; she said it that day on the swings, apology and explanation and promise all. She gets feisty and mean when women show interest in him and she makes little comments, smiles those little smiles. So. He's claimed her, hasn't he? He's got a say in it, sort of, and he's been patient, he's been waiting.
And now this?
He leaves before she can see him; slips back out the door he only barely walked through in the first place. His throat is tight, his chest burns. He knows there's always been a dangerous sense that this between them has a statute of limitations, but he never thought it would be so soon.
That it would only take less than a year for him to miss his chance.
He walks past a cloud of smoke outside; his eyes water. He heads down the sidewalk outside the jazz club, hands shoved into his pockets. Last year on Valentine's Day, she took him for a drink. Has it been a year since he unwittingly proved his boarding school friend a murderer?
Rick resolutely focuses on the sidewalk in front of him, the cracks, the ugly scars from weather and wear. His coat feels thin in the crackling, alive wind. It's supposed to snow at some point. It's supposed to be a cold that's worthwhile, that means something, that brings the promise of pure white fun.
He hunches his shoulders and tucks his elbows against his sides, can't get the image out of his head. Kate Beckett in a navy dress, short skirt, hair in tumbling waves, fingers trailing up some guy's chest, fluttering at the bastard's cheek.
Damn. Damn it. He hates-
Castle stops, taking a breath, tries to shake it off. No worries. He can do this. It's probably time anyway, right? Time to figure out how to get over her.
He should've seen this coming. A mile away. So many No Castles and put-offs and shakes of her head. So many rolled eyes. I don't remember anything.
(Well. The rolled eyes? Not lately. Or really, ever since that conversation on the swings. Not many disrespectful eye-rolls, not many sighs or shakes of her head. And each time she says she doesn't remember, she does it with less and less conviction. Until they've stopped talking about it altogether.)
He remembers a lot of smiles, actually. Those gorgeous, wide smiles with teeth, her tongue pressing against her canines, un-self-conscious in her smile, letting him see it all. The ridge of her teeth, beautiful mouth, the tender regard in her eyes.
A different picture entirely from what he saw inside.
Hands shoved into his coat pockets, Castle half-turns back to the jazz club where she asked him to meet her. She told him to show up here, and for what? To have him meet some new guy, some Josh-Demming wannabe?
He's done so much waiting this past year, been so passive, that he's outside on the pavement walking away rather than inside there fighting for her.
What the hell?
Not happening. She's promised to him.
When Castle gets back to the jazz club, Beckett is waiting for him just inside the front doors; her presence commands the attention of the entire space. She meets him halfway, slides a hand up his chest with a strange look, fingers fiddling with his collar.
"I didn't get it," she mutters. "Where've you been? I texted you like an hour ago."
"Didn't get it?" he asks, taking a step back as Beckett stands entirely too close to him.
She follows, quirking an eyebrow at him, fingers wrapping around the lapel of his jacket. "The table. Did you not check your messages, Castle? You haven't texted me back all day."
"Oh." The table? Castle pulls his phone back out and checks his messages, realizing that the two from her that he read - meet me at the jazz club. it's a date - and then the address a few seconds later, those two messages have pushed up all the other messages she sent him before that. "I didn't see these." Also. It's a date did somewhat mess with his head.
She huffs at him as he reads her updates, almost every thirty minutes, on the case he left her working on this morning. He had meetings with the agent about the movie rights for the second book, and when he got this text, he just. . .what else is he supposed to think when she texts him it's a date?
"So I told the unhelpful host over there-"
"You know, the guy who seats people? Jeez, Castle, keep up."
He glances to where she's nodding her head, sees the man he recognizes from before, the one she had her hands all over-
"He wouldn't give me a table anywhere near the front. And I need to get close enough to Molasky to speak with him-"
"Wait. What?" Castle scrolls back up his messages and tries to scan quickly enough to follow her.
"I need to talk to Molasky. To do that, Castle, I have to get close enough. The tables all around his are completely empty, but I tried everything and couldn't get the guy to seat us there."
She tried everything. Oh. Oh. That's what was going on when he'd come in before.
Castle runs a hand down his face on a sigh. Of course that's what she was doing. He should have known better. He should have-
"Castle. Focus. I told the unhelpful host that my boyfriend would be really upset if I couldn't get us a good table, and so I need you to throw your weight around, bully him into getting us a seat up-"
His brain is seriously having trouble catching up to this conversation. Beckett rolls her eyes and steps even closer, her body pressing him against the corner of the cramped foyer where people are waiting. It's dark, and he can hear the jazz horn riffing, and Kate Beckett is telling him to go be her boyfriend?
"Look pissed off and go get us a table near Molasky. I told you already, Castle; read your messages next time."
Molasky. Isn't he a councilman or something? A possible witness. Beckett, when he left this morning, was getting the runaround from the man's handlers, if he remembers correctly.
"Okay. Uh." He glances to the host behind the podium; the man is talking to a group, writing their names down, something. "Wait. You tried everything? Someone actually told you no?"
Kate grunts at him, shoving on his chest with the hand still wrapped around his lapel. "Thanks. Stop looking so pleased, and start looking angry, Castle. I need to get close to this guy."
And really, that's all it takes. I need to get close to this guy. He doesn't want her close to any guys, except himself, and that picture of her is burned into his mind's eye, Kate sliding her hands up that guy's chest, her fingers at that guy's cheek-
and not Castle's.
"There you go," she murmurs with a pleased, albeit surprised voice. "Whatever that is, use that. Channel your Martha Rodgers." Her face a mixture of pride and satisfaction; she pushes on him again, as if to get him going.
Castle grabs her by the shoulders and puts her off of him, pushing her to the side as he stalks towards the host. He hears her intake of breath, but ignores her.
Kate Beckett had her hands all over this guy. You bet he's going to throw his weight around.
He smirks when they're led straight to a table at the front, only feet from Molasky. He's so pleased with himself that he forgets he's supposed to act like her boyfriend, at least until Beckett plasters herself against him, giving the guy who seated them these evil looks while cooing at Castle.
Cooing. Yes. Entirely disconcerting. Throws him off so badly that he has trouble even appreciating those tight curves pressed against him.
Trouble, but it's not impossible. He even manages, at the last second, to cop a feel. Yes, he did. She was asking for it.
She also doesn't mention it when they sit, sliding into a rounded booth, and she even comes closer to sit at his side, arms touching.
"When do you want to approach Molasky?"
"Once the place gets a little busier. See those guys? They're his protective detail. They'll stop me before I even get a chance," she mutters, sipping at the water in front of them.
Oh great, he gets to play boyfriend for a few more minutes then.
Except he doesn't want to play at boyfriend. He wants to be the boyfriend. Lover. Eh, that sounds strange. Maybe. . .well, really, partner. They're partners. That's what he needs.
He's tired of undercover. Under *the* covers would be much better.
Didn't he promise himself to fight for her? Well, this is the perfect opportunity, isn't it? He's going to fight for her all right; fight dirty.
Castle feels the first real smile of the evening stretch across his face. His hand drops from the table to her thigh, as if by instinct, heat-seeking, and he feels her subtle shift, her attention moving from Molasky's bodyguards to Castle.
He sits back, ignoring her look, and brushes his thumb across the skin of her leg, incredibly satisfied by the goose bumps he feels rising under his fingers.
Kate Beckett, this is war.