Wow! I was blown away by the response to the last chapter! You guys are so sweet and encouraging, and I really hope this chapter lives up to all of your expectations. I think I responded to all of the reviews, but if I missed some, I apologize. Know that I really appreciate your feedback!
Silence fell as they digested the first letter, the conversation spawned by it. Castle had started this notebook so long ago that he couldn't remember everything contained in its pages, especially those from early in their partnership. He hoped that none of it was horribly tacky or shallow.
The first letter was relatively straight-forward, free of innuendo (for the most part), and not overly deep or emotional. Some of them were, though. Some he knew word for word, simply because he'd been so distraught when he wrote them that the sentences were forever drilled into his brain. Those were the ones, really, that he was most worried about, not only because his own feelings would undoubtedly resurface, but because it would bring back memories for her as well. Memories that she'd only recently been able to put to rest.
But they'd deal with those when the time came. For now, Castle was actually looking forward to this, to seeing what he'd written five years ago. For so long, he'd been documenting their story with his words. Every day they continued to write it, together. But this... it was as though they were reading their story from the outside looking in. And that was something new and different.
Castle felt Kate move against him, her elbow bumping his arm as she flipped the page slowly.
"You okay?" he asked softly.
She nodded, her cheek brushing his, as they settled in to read the next letter. "Yeah."
I learned something about you today. People say you're the best homicide detective in New York City. After this last case, I completely agree. I'm sure it couldn't have been easy for you. Hell, it was a difficult situation for me to watch, and I wasn't really all that involved. But the way you handled it amazed me.
When you're interrogating someone, you're tough and intimidating (in an incredibly sexy way). But today with Chloe, you were completely different. You were compassionate and empathetic, and it was the first time I'd seen that side of you. I knew it had to be there, beneath the hard shell on the outside. And now that I've seen it, it makes me even more curious as to what it was that caused you to put up that tough exterior and hide the softer parts of you away. Or maybe that shell is just a necessary part of being a cop. I think there's more to it, though.
What are you afraid of, Kate? Who did this to you, caused you so much pain that you feel like you have to hide?
I can't get a very good read on you, and maybe that's because you don't want me to. I know you're still not thrilled with this situation, as evidenced by the fact that you didn't want to call me and you threatened to shoot me. But I'm excited about it. I'm excited to learn more, not just about you, but about the work you do. It's pretty cool, being up close and personal on interrogations and take-downs.
And I can't wait to have another chance to figure out your story, to start digging some more. This new side of you has me curious, yearning for an explanation. I know there's one somewhere, deep down inside, and I highly doubt you'll willingly share it with me. But if there's one thing I'm good at, it's putting together the pieces of a puzzle.
So far, I have three:
1. Something bad happened to someone close to you.
2. Whatever it was, it was very personal and very painful for you.
3. Having suffered that pain is part of what makes you a good cop because you're able to empathize with the victims. Something like that can't be taught. It's something you learn through experience.
Like I said, pieces of a puzzle. So now I'm sitting at home, looking forward to our next case, to seeing you in action again. To finding the next piece, figuring out how it all adds up.
It's intriguing, a game like this.
And one day, I'm going to understand how it all fits together.
Kate lifted her head slowly, signaling that she'd finished reading, but didn't immediately say anything.
"Uh..." Castle began awkwardly.
"Probably wasn't my proudest moment. Likening you to a game, I mean," he clarified.
Surprisingly, she wasn't as upset about it as she felt like she should be. Maybe because it was in the past and she knew Castle was different now, knew what they had wasn't a game at all. But maybe it was also because, game or not, at least she now understood why Castle had been so interested from the beginning. Why she'd been able to not only snag his interest, but also retain it.
He'd once said she was a mystery he was never going to solve. At the time, Kate didn't really believe him. And she certainly didn't know his interest (beyond wanting to sleep with her) had begun this early in the partnership. Apparently she'd underestimated him. In more ways than one.
"You were close," she replied softly, her thoughts drifting back to both the letter and his words during their very first case.
"Like I said, pieces of a puzzle."
"Maybe you should have a secret career as a profiler or something."
"Oh, damn, you weren't ever supposed to figure that out," he teased, gently tickling her sides, making her squirm. "I actually work for the FBI, I just write novels and shadow you during my extensive free time."
Kate laughed, really laughed, head thrown back against his shoulder, the sound loud, bright, musical, filling the room. It was beautiful, contagious, and it quickly spread to him.
"Really, though, how did you peg me so quickly?" she asked as their laughter died down.
"I'm a storyteller. And if there's one thing I've learned, it's that every action, every decision made, has a psychological reason behind it. As you know, people don't kill just for the hell of it... most of the time. They kill because they're angry or jealous. Just like people close up because something happened to them in the past that hurt or scared them. It's a decision, conscious or not, that everyone makes."
"Think about it," he continued, pausing only long enough to take a breath. "You search for motive whenever you're looking through suspects. Motive is really just whatever happened that jump-started the decision-making process."
Kate nodded slowly, thoughtfully. "I guess I never thought of it like that."
"Well, that's what makes me the creative one in the relationship."
Kate twisted her arm around behind her, swatted at whatever part of him she could reach. "Shut up, Castle."
He smirked. "Oh yeah? And what do I get if I do?"
She rose, turned in his arms until she was kneeling in front of him, and the look in her eyes could only be described as alluring and sinful.
"If you do," she wrapped her arms around his neck seductively, pulled him in for a brief kiss before speaking in a low voice, lips still brushing his, "I'll show you exactly how creative I can be."