Notes from a Love Story
Summary: Richard Castle writes Kate Beckett bestselling novels. He also writes her notes. This is their story.
Spoilers: Part one, anything up to and including 'An Embarrassment of Bitches'. Part two, anything up to 'Pandora' and 'Linchpin' is fair game.
Disclaimer: Nothing I make reference to is mine. Song lyrics throughout are from 'I Won't Give Up' by Jason Mraz. I don't own them either.
Author's Note: so, I watched the lyric video for Jason Mraz's 'I Won't Give Up' a little while ago (please look for it on YouTube if you want to see the inspiration, or let me know and I'm more than happy to send you the link) and I do hold it solely responsible for what you're about to read. If you know or watch it, I'm sure you'll see why. I had a couple of days off work this week and wrote this almost entirely during that time. I'm pretty sure that was more productive than I would have been at work. This isn't complete yet, there will be more to come and it's already finished. But it was pretty long, and split fairly nicely. Stick with it – this first part takes a look over what we have seen so far. Next chapter, I'll be breaking away from canon a little, and there's good stuff to come. I do owe a thank you to Tammy for listening to me prattle on about post-it notes for ages with no real clue what I was talking about, and for reading this through and pointing out all the stupid things I'd done. So thank you.
That aside, enjoy and as always I'd love to hear what you think.
I see that you've come so far
To be right where you are.
He leaves her notes.
He is a writer. Sometimes she thinks that means she should be less surprised. That maybe her heart shouldn't skip a beat every time – words are his craft, after all. They make him who he is. But somehow, every sticky note and every little scrap of paper, every corner of a case file and every creative surface he finds makes her heart beat a little bit faster. Because Richard Castle might be writing bestseller after bestseller about her, but these little notes speak words that are for her ears alone.
She can't remember the first note he wrote her, but she keeps the first note that means something.
He writes it on a scrap of paper and secures it firmly under her keyboard, in the days before she allows him to keep a constant supply of sticky notes on his corner of her desk. The note is simple, to the point and completely uncharacteristic of the him that she knew back then.
If you need to talk.
Five words, and a small drawing of a cell phone. She remembers sitting at her desk, gripping the scrap of paper between her fingers and not knowing whether to laugh or smile or cry. That man, she remembers thinking. And even now, every time she thinks those two words to herself, she is taken right back to that moment.
They are working the kidnapping of two year old Angela Candela at the time and her heart has been racing for what felt like days. She hates cases with children. She hates Will Sorenson for being there, for coming back and for asking for her and for breaking the heart that she had never really fixed . She hates Montgomery for not putting his foot down, and she is trying her very hardest to hate Richard Castle through the entire thing, for being him and for being there and for poking his nose in where it isn't wanted.
The whole heady combination has put her in a spin, and it has been making her nauseous. She has lashed out at just about everyone she can think of, including him. I need you to go home. She didn't find the note until long after he had walked in on that kiss in the kitchen that had torn her heart apart a little bit more, and even though they were still in the middle of the case, somehow with five little words and a drawing she knows were designed to make her smile, he gives her a moment of calm.
She never thanks him. Never acknowledges the little scrap of paper and doesn't tell him how her finger hovers over the call button on her phone for longer than she considers acceptable.
It is the first note that she saves. She tucks it away at the back of her desk drawer, smoothing it down with her fingers before weighing it down with her stapler, shutting the door firmly and standing up with the determination to face this case.
The determination that she now acknowledges was down to him.
She doesn't save another note for a while, after that. That's not to say that he doesn't write them, but like the notes that have come before, most of them are trivial. Some are thoughts on cases that she starts to realise are more and more insightful. The rest are jokes, facts, things he thinks she will find funny and things he thinks will just plain annoy her. Innuendos, inappropriate questions and downright rude drawings grace her desk.
Some leave her hiding a smile, covering a laugh with a cough. Some leave her fighting a blush and glaring at him.
Every one brightens her day.
We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I've got, and what I'm not
He doesn't write her many notes after that first summer. Not for a while, anyway.
She has rubbed the edges of that scrap of paper hidden away in her drawer smooth during the summer, as her heart cracked open a little more with his betrayal. When she lets him back into the precinct, the personal side of their relationship is cautious and tentative. The first note she remembers from back then wasn't even words.
He draws a smiley face on a post-it and sticks it crookedly on the corner of her screen. She had told him to go home while she spoke to their latest victim's family. Speaking to the family leaves her battling tears stinging at the back of her eyes (she can't remember the case, now, but she remembers that).
Until she sits down at her desk and sees that damn smiley face, crooked and slightly off centre and entirely perfect. She moves it slightly before she goes home, just enough for him to notice, straightening it and pressing it down firmly with her thumb.
It's the first time that she acknowledges any of the notes he has written.
And that's like carte blanche. The notes had start up again in full force, and she remembers finding it harder and harder to fight back the smiles.
He doesn't write her a note after she shot Coonan. After every type of takeout under the sun and the fact that she has shot a man who might have given her answers to save Castle's life, after all the tears she has shed, a note would somehow have trivialised the moment that she starts to think differently about him.
She isn't in love with him, not by a long shot, but it's different. She likes having him around, pulling her pigtails, and that's something worth being honest about.
He leaves her a sweet, heart-warming little joke the next morning that she now knows came from Alexis, and things continue on as usual.
Except a little more. He was a little more, she was a little more.
He sneaks a birthday card in amidst the parade of notes. It has a picture of an elephant on the front rather than the inappropriate joke she expects, and it sits on her desk for a week before it makes its way into her desk drawer, squirreled away at the back.
She lets him keep a block of sticky notes on the corner of her desk as long as he keeps the dish on her desk stocked with her favourite candy in the form of rent. She regrets that particular decision when she is subjected to a particularly explicit series of drawings and questions after the bondage case and their visits to Lady Irena's House of Pain that made her blush and throw a series of hard objects at him. By this point she has twisted his ear more times than she can remember for using her phone as his own personal notepad, and when she checks her phone at brunch with her dad the next weekend and comes face to face with a note that he'd programmed to pop up on her phone when he wasn't there, she threatens to shoot him and refuses to tell her dad what she read.
The first time he spends the night in her apartment, in a protecting you from a serial killer way rather than that way (that will come later) he leaves her a shopping list on her fridge the next morning.
It got blown up the next day, but it's the thought that counts.
By the time the next summer rolls around, the summer that she thinks of as the one when he broke something she had barely acknowledged that she wanted, she has saved a few more notes, tucked them safely into the back of her desk drawer. She's wise enough now to know that she broke something for him that summer too in the weeks she spent with Tom Demming. The little notes she had already come to cherish all but stopped, and those that he did leave her were almost clinical in their relevance to their current cases, but when he left, she couldn't see past her own hurt, two summers in a row.
She throws away the pad of sticky notes that he left on the corner of her desk the week after he leaves for the Hamptons, but something makes her keep those notes in her drawer.
And that something is the fact that she has stopped denying that she is falling for him.
We've got a lot to learn
God knows we're worth it
When he comes back after that second summer, it takes a while for them to find their groove again. Betrayal stings, no matter how much she tries to pretend that he didn't break her heart, not at all. As he tries to find a way to apologise that doesn't involve getting himself arrested again, he opts for a small, sweet string of Nikki Heat quotes.
Once he's back in her good books, he writes out a paragraph of one of the steamier scenes and hides it between two sheets of her paperwork when she's getting coffee. She balls the piece of paper up and throws it at him when she finds it and tries not to feel guilty because it still sends a thrill through her even though she's with Josh and he's with Gina (and he didn't break her heart this summer).
He leaves her a few Grey's Anatomy quotes after they investigate a case at County Hospital that she's ashamed to say she recognises, and he blames them on Alexis when she calls him on it. He doesn't know it, but she'll only let him use that excuse once.
They go through a period after 3XK when he doesn't leave her any notes at all. She wants to write one for him, but he's given her a lot to live up to and by the time she manages to think of anything that she would consider writing for him, he's moved on to a small and anatomically inaccurate series of male stripper cartoons, and she's so happy to see that spark back in his eyes that she can't actually bring herself to berate him for them.
She is subjected to a never-ending string of doppelganger jokes during and after Natalie Rhodes' visit. The woman seriously freaked her out, and she clips him round the ear more times than she can remember.
Would the real Detective Beckett please stand up?
Are you the real Detective Beckett?
[ ] Yes [ ] No
She keeps them, and she doesn't know why. She also doesn't know how to explain to Josh why she finds it quite so funny when he flicks through the music channels one night and the offending Eminem song is playing. They have a quiet week after Natalie leaves, and she almost chases him out of the precinct when he goes all sixth sense on her one afternoon.
I see dead people.
It's stuck to her screen with a crooked smiley face in the corner because he watched it with Alexis the night before and he says he's never realised just how appropriate it is. She doesn't know why that one joins the ever-growing pile in her desk drawer either, but his words ring in her ears every time she catches a glimpse of it.
After he buys the Old Haunt and they leave the precinct singing Billy Joel, his notes are inspired by a series of songs, and for weeks the search history on her phone shows line after line of lyrics as she searched for the more obscure ones. Her favourites are the ones that she's embarrassed not to have to search for, but he should be embarrassed too for knowing them in the first place so she doesn't feel too bad.
He's still doodling magic tricks around the time she gets the call from Detective Raglan. He gives her flowers instead of a note when Montgomery kicks them out of the precinct, and even through the tears and the pain she smiles.
She can't remember the last time that anyone bought her flowers.
When she gets back from her first visit to Sing Sing there is a small, cream coloured envelope lying on her doormat. There's nothing written on the front, and she knows even before she flips it open with her nail that it's from him. It crosses her mind that the first person to come to mind should really be her boyfriend, but Josh doesn't buy into sentimental things like love letters and flowers, and as she pulls out the small sheet of paper that contains only one word, she knows that this one word from Castle means more than anything Josh could ever write.
Because she hasn't had a partner in a really long time.
She keeps the small series of superhero drawings he sticks to her screen every day of the week after they save the city from a dirty bomb (and nearly die in the process). She takes them home when she has trouble sleeping, and finds herself flicking through them every time she can't get warm. She brings them back to the precinct though, because somehow they don't belong in the life she's living at home. She laughs so hard she almost cries at the ridiculously crude superman joke she thinks he probably stayed up all night finding, and it doesn't escape the rapid fluttering of her heart that she never laughs this hard with Josh.
The only thing resembling a note that she ever takes home permanently with her (and as a result, the only one that Josh ever sees) is the signed Temptation Lane photograph he gives her. It takes pride of place next to her DVD collection, and she still remembers the look on her dad's face the first time he sees it.
She doesn't tell Josh the significance. She lets him pass it off as Castle being Castle, in that slightly condescending way he has.
The day after Alex Conrad leaves the precinct, she finds a note that she doesn't actually think was meant for her. He has doodled in the corner of a page, like he does when he's thinking. She finds them fascinating and takes the chance to study them whenever he forgets to throw them out. This one has three words scrawled in the centre of the top line.
One writer girl.
She keeps it, even if it wasn't really meant for her.
When they get back from LA, her heart is swimming in the what if's of the door that she opened and the mystery that he will never solve, the scary, unknown feelings she has for her current partner battling the loss of her training officer and a horrible sinking feeling that comes every time she thinks of Josh.
He never asks her what was in Royce's letter, and he somehow knows to limit his notes to a series of beauty pageant jokes until she can breathe a little easier.
Not that it lasts for long.
I won't give up on us, God knows I'm tough enough (I am tough, I am loved)
We've got a lot to learn (we're alive, we are loved), God knows we're worth it
She doesn't have a single note from him with her over the summer. As she struggles to heal in the tiny cabin, it feels like her heart is physically breaking over and over again. Recovery takes absolutely everything she has to give, and even when her shattered muscles can hold her up for long enough, she finds herself too scared to step outside. She knows that if she can barely cope with the physical recovery there is no way she can have him there. Knows the things that she cannot deal with would shatter them both into pieces before they have even really begun. And so she doesn't find her finger hovering over the call button (even though he loves her).
She would give anything for the little stack of notes in the back of her desk drawer, though. That's what she misses so painfully that the loss tracks tears down her cheeks.
Tears that are from nothing but the type of heartbreak she knows only he can cause.
The first three cases that they work when she returns to work, she is painfully aware of the fact that he doesn't leave her a single note, unless you count the angrily scrawled signature on her copy of Heat Rises. She tries to blame it on the fact that he's doing everything he can not to piss off the new Captain, but as her scars burn painfully and her muscles threaten to turn in on themselves and stop supporting on her, it hurts.
One day, he cuts out his favourite frame from his new graphic novel and tapes it to her screen. She holds it so tightly that the paper crumples in her fingers, and then weighs it down at the back of her drawer with her stapler to undo the damage.
For a long time, that's the note that means the most to her. Eventually, with the help of her therapist, she will learn that it speaks of love and forgiveness in a way that only he can.
The weeks and months go on. She prints him out some details of colleges to suggest to Alexis, because she wants to help and it hurts something deep inside of her that she's probably his daughter's least favourite person at the moment. He writes her a hilariously accurate review of his newly acquired piece of artwork, and she laughs out loud at a series of Ghostbuster quotes that seem like they'll never end. She keeps one of them.
I ain't afraid of no ghosts.
They cycle through a series of his favourite films after that (Forbidden Planet is her favourite), and he's just getting started on King Kong when they catch a case that has some disturbing links to a group of consenting adults who like to dress up as furry animals.
The boys don't understand why neither of them can keep a straight face.
She tells him to stop trying to encourage the Beckett flavoured cases when they close that one, and then has to tell him very soon after to stop trying to encourage trouble full stop. She draws a small coupon the day after the bank robbery and leaves it on his side of the desk.
I owe Kate Beckett: Paperwork.
It disappears, and she hopes that he keeps it.
Even the boys get involved when they start a face-off of Elvis lyrics. She wins and puts the three of them to shame, because what they don't know is that her father practically raised her on that sort of music. She's not quite sure how they managed to avoid Gates with that particular note exchange. If she's honest she's not entirely sure how they have managed to continue their little ritual full stop without Gates using it as an excuse to remove her writer from the precinct, but she crosses her fingers with every note that it continues.
As they segue out of Elvis lyrics and back into their normal note exchanges, she finds herself starting to think about what the notes really mean, and where they go next. Where she wants them to be already, in a world where nothing is holding her back.
And then the sniper hits and she stumbles off the ledge she's been so precariously balanced on.
Esposito's words are ringing through her ears when she sits in Dr Burke's office a couple of days after they close the case. You think it's a weakness? Make it a strength. And she's not thinking about the bullet wound.
This is her third session since they closed the case. Dr Burke cleared his seven o'clock slot for her for the whole week when she showed him the harsh white bandage on her arm, and she feels slightly less off-kilter with that safety net beneath her. Tonight especially she feels a little bit more balanced despite the pull at her chest and the lingering burn in her muscles from the exertion of the case and she thinks it must show, because he wants to talk about Castle.
When she doesn't know how to answer his questions, she tells him about the notes.
He asks her to bring one with her to her next session, and she reaches into her desk drawer at six thirty the next evening and only hesitates for a moment before swiping the top note off the pile and sliding it into her pocket. As she hands it over, she can feel the blush spreading over her cheeks. This man has written three bestsellers that some people think are love letters to her, but these notes are so much more to her than the books will ever be. There are only two words written on this one.
The speech bubble drawn around them points to the mouth of a small, cartoon parrot. He left it on her desk the morning after they closed the case.
Somehow, he had known just how to give her the laughter she hadn't realised she needed.
When, in the spirit of trying to be more, she can't give him a good reason not to start chipping away at the wall that separates them (and after she's struggled to explain just why the note had such a profound effect on her with anything other than it's Castle), Dr Burke suggests that she uses the notes as her hammer and starts chipping away at the wall. She thinks about it on her way home, and finds that she walks into her apartment with a smile on her face and Castle's note tucked safely in her pocket. Because she realised something while she listened to her therapist speaking.
She wants this to be the way their relationship starts.
She's petrified, cautious and completely turned upside down, but it's the first night in a week that she sleeps with only thoughts of what her life could be like. What their life could be like.
It becomes one of Dr Burke's standard questions once their appointments go back to weekly rather than daily. Once she can stand tall again without her muscles buckling under the physical and emotional trauma. Tell me about the notes this week. Dr Burke encourages her to acknowledge them. Talk about them. Smile at her writer some more.
And she does.
She even sticks one of his remarkably inappropriate notes to his forehead one very slow afternoon, and laughs properly for what feels like the first time in weeks at the wide, happy smile that crosses his face.
If this is what chipping away at the wall feels like, she wants to use every hammer he gives her.
The remarkably accurate drawing of a tiger stays tacked to the corner of her screen for almost a month. He sticks most of the notes he leaves her on top of it, but she doesn't take it down until he covers it with a little cartoon dog and she starts to get questions about the variety of animal species on her desk.
Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use
The tools and gifts we got yeah, we got a lot at stake
tbc (you didn't think I would leave it there, did you?)