Disclamier: I do not own any of the characters from Castle. Only the ones I have created myself.. so yes Autumn is mine.
A/N: Seeing as this is the end.. I would like to thank Monkeywand for betaing a few of these chapters... Jerryst316.. for being here for the beginning of this Journey.. and of course my lovely kimmiesjoy.. for being my sounding board and sticking with me for the end :D
In New York City, a man and a woman wake from a night of peaceful slumber. They lead universally interconnected lives, twined together by the same string of cosmic relief. And despite the complexities life has thrown at them in the past, the universe has a way of turning things around.
They are quite aware that their lives have intersected for a greater purpose, in a way they had never expected. It's because of their choices, the events in their lives, the paths they took, or were forced to travel; that led them straight here.
It may not have felt like a great triumph at the time.. for there was great suffering. It was hard to see the bigger picture, that those tough choices had fogged over. In the end, they have come to realize that it was their product of these choices, that was really just a new beginning to the journey that had brought them here and now.
Fate has a way of linking people together in ways we might never understand...But as the woman turns over in bed, into the warmth she'll never want to leave again, she smiles in the knowledge that everything has finally come together, and she wouldn't change one thing.
Not if it has led her here.
The light of the sun peeks in through the curtains, and she buries in, not ready for a new day.. it's deliciously warm where she lays, the body she shares her bed with gives her all the comfort, stability his arms will always hold her in... making it that much harder to slip out of bed and into the chilly air of their bedroom.
Her bare feet hit the floor with a soft thud, and she looks back at the bed, letting her hand rest on his foot peeking out from the sheets. Biting down on her lip, she reluctantly leaves the bedroom, the memories of last night sending pleasant shivers down her spine.
"Mmm, Kate," she hums as she lifts her shoulders on another shiver, dropping them down with a delicious sigh as she stares at herself in the mirror of her spacious bathroom.
Her green eyes stare back. Brilliant and bright, illuminating her flecks of brown with an irreplaceable spark. She feels euphoric as she smiles at the glow of her skin, the way her eyes smile back at her. Pure evidence of her restful nights and relaxation.
Among other things...
Her brown hair lays fizzy and knotted around her face, and she tucks it all behind her ears, feeling the soft texture. She makes a face in disgust when her fingers get caught, and leans closer to the mirror. Blinking a few times, she just stares at herself. This once unidentified woman. She knows exactly who she is. With everyday the past year becoming more vivid and real, Kate thinks she's finally found herself. She's more than sure now. And she's more than willing to fight for her, than she was before. For there is more hope now than there ever was.
A sound from her room startles her. She freezes, fingers still knotted in her hair, while her eyes snap to the door. She listens, hearing the bed springs and then a moan, a long drawn out hum, then nothing. She lets her hands drop to the sink with a sigh before shaking her head at herself over her jumpy heart, and then tip toes to open the door a crack.
She's back at the sink. Listening for more sounds, and then refocuses on her reflection. Her hands rest on the counter as she leans in until her nose touches the cold glass. Her eyes unfocused and refocus, but she still looks the same. The same well rested, satisfied Kate. And she won't ever change that. Her life is everything, and she hasn't come this far for nothing.
She certainly hasn't...
She sighs. Closing her eyes for the briefest of moments as if to remind herself, opening them, she knows she never will forget. Giving herself a little wink in the mirror she turns pulling a fresh green towel from her cabinet. Holding it to her face, she breathes in the smells of her everyday life. The mixtures of her and him that have seeped into the fabric, mingling together as one entity. It soothes her beyond belief, making her eyes close involuntarily.
It's the building heat in her belly and steam of the shower that wakes her. With another contented sigh, hopefully never the last one for the rest of her life, she places her towel on the rack next to his, running her hands along both before she climbs into the shower. As the hot water trickles down her sated body, Kate hopes that the relief of her life will stay itself beyond the forgotten wall. She lets her head fall back into the stream and smiles, realizing after a moment that it's more than likely.
He stirs, the cosmic pull of events still tightly wrapped around him as he wakes, and turns over blinking his eyes at the little bit of light peeking in from the window. It casts a soft glow across the bed, along the other side which lays empty. He pulls his arm from under his pillow, letting it slide until his hand rests in the dip of the vacant space, and he smiles at the fact that it's still warm. Although, he would rather be reaching for the warmth of the body once there, than the space now getting cold.
He stretches, moaning loudly into the room, and then turns into the space, breathing in her scent and humming as the flutter of her memory enters his chest. After a moment he lifts his head at the sound of the shower turning on, and no longer wishes to stay in bed all day. Feeling like it's not worth it. Not if she's not here with him.. and not if she's there in the shower.. alone.. And he does eventually move, and not at all reluctantly slips out from under the space only his warmth provides and out into the cold air of their bedroom.
His bare feet hit the floor beneath, and he nearly trips over himself, the sheets holding him hostage around his calf. He disentangles himself looking to the door cracked open for him as he makes his way to his bathroom. Rubbing a hand over his face, and into his messy brown hair, he watches the silhouette in the shower before he turns to his reflection in the mirror. Smiling, he leans in a little closer.
"Morning, Rick," he hears behind him, and the sweet sound awakens him further.
His blue eyes shine brighter, darkening at her voice, making them more piercing, condoning the fun loving man she's made him realize he's always been. When did this happen? He shakes his head, his hair falling in a mess over his forehead, and if possible his grin widens. As a feeling of contentment that washes over him and he rubs at his growing stubble, the one she finds sexy.
Rick wonders if it will ever change, if he will ever lose that man he's finally found. But Rick knows more than anything that he will never get lost in all the jumbled expectations again.
He hears a sound from upstairs, and he pauses, his hand still on his scruff, while his eyes look towards the door. He listens, hearing a slow tired thump of feet descending the stairs, but nothing else over the rush of the shower. He lets his hand drop to the counter, with a sigh, and a glance back at the frosted glass behind him he pads to the door, closing it, and then pressing the lock, before he turns back to the mirror.
Rick stays still for another moment, and when there is no knock at either door, he relaxes. He looks curiously at himself, waiting for... something. But nothing happens. He still looks like the same emotionally and physically exuberant Rick. And some of that if not every ounce, will manifest. For he has a family that is dear to him, that depends on him a great deal.
He sighs, closing his eyes for a small moment, as if to hold it close, not wanting to let it go. But he really doesn't have to, for when he opens them and turns around, Rick realizes that it's not going anywhere.
Watching the form behind the frosted glass, he picks up a soft blue towel from the rack next to hers, holding it to his face. It feels nice against his skin, perfectly satisfied and relaxed. It soothes his entire being even further as he breathes it in.
It smells like them.
He hums, placing it back, and running his fingers along the green one before stepping into the steam of the shower already fogging up the mirrors. He hopes as he finds his place in there with her, that everyday will continue on with this bliss. And as she turns around to face him, he finds that more than likely.
Wiping the fog from the mirror, Kate secures the towel around herself, somewhat, if not teasingly avoiding his gaze as her hair drips, the heat of the bathroom pushing the droplets along her skin, and drawing his eye.
She stands beside him at the sink, and smiles at him in the mirror as they reach for their toothbrushes at the same time. He turns on the faucet, and she grabs their toothpaste. Sticking his out, she squirts the paste onto his, and then hers, and they both pop them into their mouths in sync, and begin brushing their teeth.
It's a morning ritual. Gooey eyes through the mirror, the occasional light shove, and her famous glare when he accidentally spits on her toothbrush...There is no small talk, no banter as they get ready for their day together. Just the silent talk through the mirror. All with their eyes and lightness of touch.
With a wink, and a hand trailing along his shoulders, she gives him a wicked smile before dropping her towel, and sauntering into their bedroom to get dressed. She knows he will follow, after he picks his toothbrush off the floor, his mouth agape as it slides from his mouth and bounces of the sink.
She pulls back the curtains when she walks out of the bathroom, feeling as the last droplets dry on her skin. The bed is all rumpled with the covers drawn back, some having slipped off the bed, and she grins.. Smiling further when she hears someone banging around in the kitchen, and goes about her morning ritual.
The smell of cherries fills the space around her as she stands at her dresser. Pulling out a few articles of clothing, she throws them onto the bed already shimmying into her jeans and heading back to the dresser when he stumbles into the bedroom.
"Kaaaaate." He whines, stepping up behind her and lets his bare chest rest against her back.
She lets her hands rest lightly on the top of the dresser with a shake of her head. She just can't help it. He's just too adorable for his own good.
Kate wipes a hand over her eyes, needing coffee before she starts to get a headache, and lifts the lid of her small jewelry box. She delicately lets her fingers dance across her mother's ring, the cold metal glimmers in the sunlight as she lifts it, sending a shiver through her body, as if she can feel her mother's presence. Kate feels Rick wrap his arms around her middle and she stares at the ring before letting it rest back in it's proper place. Taking in a deep breath she then drops her eyes back to the box. Her father's watch. She leaves that too, instead, reaching in and taking out her wedding ring.
"Rick." She replies teasingly, turning and slipping her ring onto her finger, before poking him in the chest with it. "You know we cannot keep her waiting much longer."
At that, they both hear a crash from the kitchen.
Kate quirks her eyebrow, biting down on her lip as if to prove a point.
Rick sighs, letting his forehead fall to her shoulder. "I know.. she's probably going crazy..." He says taking in a breath. "But..." He kisses her shoulder. "You smell..." and then her neck. "Delicious."
She closes her eyes, tilting her head and letting out a soft whimper. "Later.. I promise." She says, weaving her hand into his hair and lightly pulling him away.
"That's what you said last night..." He pouts stepping away in search of his jeans.
"Mm... I did, and what would you call that?" She asks, nudging her head towards the shower.
He looks at her, a mischievous crinkle in his eyes as he jumps a bit into the air as he pulls on his jeans, and then does his belt. "Part one?" He asks with an adorable shrug.
"Oh.. that's cute." She rolls her eyes, pinching his cheek before gathering her shirt and pulling it on over her head.
"Hey, a man can dream." He replies sheepishly as he pulls her in by the waist, planting a kiss on her cheek.
She smiles, kissing him properly and pulling back, a hands cupping his ears, "And so can a little girl." She then says, tugging one ear before opening the bedroom door.
She stands in the middle of the kitchen, hand on one hip, lip worried between her teeth as she looks at what she's done. It's a disaster zone, despite the perfect looking breakfast plates set neatly on the dining room table.
Wiping her hands on her jeans, she hums into the space around her, ears pricking when she hears a door open, and then mumbles in another room. Where to start.. where to start.. It's one thing to make the mess and quite another to clean it up, especially given the fact that she hasn't much time to do so before she's busted.
Okay.. maybe the flour.. which is... all over the counter, sprinkled on the floor, her jeans.. a bit in her hair.. oh man she is soo busted...Pushing her hand into her hair, she finally moves, ushering the flower into a pile, and then dumping it into the sink, which she then rinses away.. getting rid of the evidence...hmmm okay soo maybe she freaked out.. this is not so bad. Now just.. fill up the sink and put the dirty dishes in...and..
Her eyes scrunch as she cringes at the sound, looking back to make sure no one is coming out to investigate as she hurriedly finshes up. Standing back, she looks at her handy work and then frowns..maybe it's too clean... they will suspect. She could always just-
She spins around, loose hair from her ponytail slipping into her face, which she blows away with the corner of her mouth, "uh, hey guys..." She replies sheepishly, seeing her mother standing in the doorway to the study, one hand on her hip, her father right behind her with a goofy grin on his face.
"Made a mess didn't you?" Her mother asks, stepping into the kitchen.
"Oh but look!" Her father exclaims, rushing over to the dining room table. "She made breakfast!" Then his face falls when he sees the smiley face made out of whipped cream, blueberries for eyes.. and an umbrella in the orange juice glasses.
He turns his head slightly, eyes wide and curious, "what do you want?"
"Nothing!" She protests, looking between the two of them. "I swear!" She then adds when neither budge nor seem to believe her.
"Autumn." Her mother says taking her by the elbow and leading her to the table, and sitting her down. "You don't have to make a mess, and an elaborate breakfast when you want to ask us something."
"I didn't make a me-"
Her mother wipes flour off her cheek, showing her with a little smirk before kissing her forehead. "Umm." Autumn said shrugging her shoulders.. "I love you?"
"No harm done, Kate." They hear behind them, both looking to see he has a mouthful of smiley face waffles. "These are good!"
Both laugh, "we love you too, now." Kate kisses Autumn on the cheek before pulling out a chair beside her. And yet, nobody speaks, as Kate digs into her happy food, all the while Autumn is looking between them, seeing the grin and sparkle of their eyes mirrored on both her parents faces.
"Rick." Kate shoves him lightly and nudges her head towards their anxious daughter.
He reluctantly puts down his fork, licking the whipped cream off his top lip, and leans with both arms on the table. "I have been thinking." He starts.
"We.. WE have been thinking."
"Well first off." Autumn cuts them off, wiggling in her chair. "Can I just say.. I want to go see Bell today? But it's not because of the other thing.. and it's not like... my way in like.. hinting it's the other thi-."
"Slow down, my little detective." Kate says with a laugh.
"It's about Bell." Rick then adds.
"It is?" Autumn straightens in her chair, eyes alight, more green than brown. "Wait a minute." She then says, voice falling flat and she starts to narrow her eyes at them. "You already decided this.. like.. a while ago didn't you?" She accuses.
Rick and Kate look at each other and then back at Autumn. Both nod.
"That's just cruel." Autumn gets up from the table, pouting all the while.
Rick laughs..."You are my mother.. sit down.."
"So dramatic.. I think she gets that from you." Kate pipes in.
"That may be.. but she definitely got that glare from you." He says, pointing at Autumn who stands with her arms crossed. "And that cute crease between the eyes.. just not when they are both aimed at me."
Both brunettes roll their eyes at him. "Can we get to the point?" Autumn asks, flopping back into her chair, pushing her own smiley face so it has a crooked mouth.
"Yes! the Point!" Rick says with one finger in the air. "Is that We, as in.. all of us." He gestures between all three of them. "Are Going to see Bell today... to.. well...You'll know when we get there."
Autumns mouth hangs open, her heart starting to flutter excitedly in her chest. But then her mouth closes and she schools herself. "Good." She nods. "because I told Robin I would go see her...that I would come back for her..." She then mumbles.
Rick and Kate share another look. "Finish your breakfast, and then we will go." Kate says.
Autumn stares at them.. not quite sure exactly what they are getting at.. but they are acting suspicious... After another moment, her father going back to his food, and her mother tipping her glass to her lips while avoiding her glares, Autumn starts eating her breakfast.
Cars rush by in a blur, the city changing as they move along through it. Buildings turning to houses, neighborhoods parks and trees.
The car ride is quiet.. at least in the back seat as Kate drives.. Rick complaining all the way that she never lets him, followed by a constant, yet comforting bicker that somewhat keeps Autumn less anxious.
She's used to it by now...having gotten to see their relationship blossom as they all began to share a life together around the same time...She heard, somewhat how they met, both recounting how it was the universe that had brought them together.. all of them.
Autumn really didn't need to be told. She already knew.. Her entire life was wrapped around the dreams of the one she is finally living... And it's lived up to her expectations and more... Her mom is everything she dreamed she would be and more, they are more alike than she thought.
He's funny, and childish, not that she hadn't already known. She had known him before she realized...
All three of them are able to hold a bickering match for hours. Although, Autumn usually always takes her mothers side, only because it's more fun to see her father's reaction, that pout he gets on his face, and the way her mother soothes it away.
They have a relationship Autumn dreams for herself. It's magical.. and .. transcendent. The way they have come together after all this time.. Acting as though they had never been apart.
It's truly extraordinary.
But on this particular car ride, all she can think about is the look on her little raven's face when she left Bell's for good... Climbing into the back of Kate's crown vic with all her things...Bell on the front porch, tears in her eyes as she waved her off.. and Robin.. face pushed to the upstairs window.
Autumn had carried a mixture of emotions that day.
She had gotten attached to the little raven after a while.. even after Autumn had finally found her parents...gone through all the necessary details before she was allowed to go home with them...The last thing she said to her, was that she was going to come back for her...
That was months ago... And Autumn knew that Robin didn't believe her... it's been too long.. and even at the wedding, Robin had refused to look at her.. as if she had left her behind...Forgotten her.
But she didn't. Never.
Aside from getting to know her parents, adjusting to life in the loft.. all the attention from the paparazzi... Autumn never stopped thinking about her. For.. she had grown on her... Autumn realized.. that the little raven was just as lost as she had once been. They were looking for the same things. And Yes.. Robin had Bell...Just like she herself once did. But there was something in her eyes, those dark brown reassuring eyes, that told her she needed her.
"Autumn?" Kate snaps her back to attention, her body turned so she could looks into the backseat.
"Hmm?" She asks, looking around her. Realizing that they were in the driveway of her old home of thirteen years.
"We're here.. but we wanted to ask you something before we went in." Rick says, also turned around.
She frowns, confused but nods, "okay?"
"Are you sure?" They both say at the same time.
"About the Little Raven." Rick says.
So this is why they are here.. not just for a visit.. but to bring her home with them...
Tears spring to Autumn's eyes as she nods her head vigorously and starts to unbuckle her seatbelt. "Does she know?" She asks, as she fights with the buckle. Fingers desperate and frantic..
"She does." Kate says just as Autumn breaks free, launching herself out of the car.
"Robin!" She shrieks, slamming the door behind her and running to the porch.
The door swings open, revealing Bell, holding her latest foster kid, a small baby boy. Robin, pokes her head around Bells legs, looking at the three standing in the doorway. She then looks up at Bell, who nods her head, a smile on her face.
The little Raven flings herself down the porch and into Autumn's waiting arms. "I knew you would come back for me!" She whispers into her hair.
Autumn wraps her arms around her tightly, smoothing her hand down the back of her head. "Always." She whispers. "Always."
Thank you all who have read/reviewed for coming along this journey with me :D