A/N: First of all, who else can totally not wait until next week? Man, these next couple of weeks until the finale is going to wreak havoc on my insides.
Anyhow, yes, this is another response to "47 Seconds." I think I took a different spin than what I've seen so far though, so... Please read the author's note at the bottom of this because I think some explanation is necessary to understand why I took this particular route.
In any case, thanks for all your support for my fics thus far, and I hope you all enjoy this one!
Spoilers: "47 Seconds" (4x19) and the promo for "The Limey" (4x20)
Disclaimer: No, I don't own Castle. You may thank Andrew Marlowe and his crazy team for throwing all these wrenches in the development of Caskett.
"You heard me," she says and the moment the words fall from her lips, everything about the past week suddenly makes the awful kind of sense.
The way he's been dodging her calls, the thinly veiled jabs at keeping secrets, the getting away from the precinct (and her) as fast as he could once a case is closed, the fact that the only reason they're having this conversation at all is because she finally managed to corner him in his loft...It all points to this one unequivocal truth. He'd heard her in the interrogation room accidentally spill her secret.
All along, she'd always thought that when she told him the truth (there was never doubt in her mind that she eventually would), she'd be ashamed and contrite and willing to do anything to rectify the wrong and to find a way to push forward through it because if she and Castle had managed to get to the point where she confesses to him her lie, their relationship would be worth all the work she needed to pour into it to make it work.
In reality however, she's just angry.
Oh, she feels dashes of all that other stuff that used to twist her insides in pretzels in the dark of the night when she's agonizing over how to tell him and how he'd react, but it's mostly overwhelmed by the sense of indignant righteousness.
(She pushes down the hurt, refuses to let it rise until later because angry as she is, she is also so, so disappointed. In him, yes, but more in the knowledge that maybe they won't work out after all.)
"You are such a hypocrite, Castle," she bites out.
His eyebrows fly to his hairline and he gestures at himself incredulously. "I'm such a hypocrite?"
"Yes, you. And apparently Sophia Turner had it right when she called you an immature, self-centered jackass."
He jerks away from the kitchen island he'd been leaning against and takes a step towards her. "Oh and who was the one who didn't think it was important enough to tell me the truth?"
"I'm sorry I lied, and I'm sorry I hurt you," she conceded, trying to inject as much genuine contrition as she can because it's true. She is sorry. Sorry that the truth came out this way, sorry that she caused him so much pain. She was wrong, but now so is he. The reminder fills her with a fresh flood of indignation. "You have a right to be angry, but you don't have the right to be angry and then do the same thing to me that you're so pissed at me for."
"What are you talking about?"
"You heard me in the interrogation room. You know that I remember everything, and what do you do? Do you come talk to me about it? Oh no, you do the exact same thing I did and pretend you didn't hear it all the while throwing these stupid, pointed jabs at me. All week, Castle. All week I've been trying to figure out what I did that has you so mad at me, but every time I try to ask you what's wrong, you brush me off. At least I did it in part to protect the possibility of us. You? You seem like you just want to punish me."
He flinches and she wishes she could find satisfaction in the way his face pales, but all she feels is sick to the stomach. Sick because this wasn't how it was supposed to go at all.
"I'm not trying to punish you." And then his eyes flash brilliant blue, and she thinks that maybe he's drawing from the same well of self-righteous indignation as she is because he suddenly goes on the offensive. "And don't you dare use the I-was-trying-to-protect-you as an excuse. You were only trying to protect yourself, and who cares if you happen to trample all over me and my feelings in the process. How many months has it been, Kate? How many more months were you going to make play the fool?"
"I never made you do anything, Castle, and I wasn't playing you for a fool. I needed time. Time to get my head on straight so that we could-" she cuts herself off, not willing to concede this to him. "You want to talk about being played for a fool? How about what you keep doing to me?"
She doesn't give him a chance to answer, and she realizes that this poison has been building up inside her for so long that she can't stem the flow of destructive words, even if she tried. She'd really thought she'd gotten over the heartache from that summer two years ago, from the humiliation of finally being ready to tell him that she was really kind of crazy about him only to be completely shown up by his ex-wife, but apparently the pain had been festering deep inside all along.
"You do this. Every. Single. Time. You spend all this time trying to convince me that you're for real, make me think that maybe we could really work, but whenever an obstacle comes up, you give up. You freaking give up, Castle! You did the same goddamn thing two summers ago, and you're doing it again now. And you wonder why I'm hesitant to go into anything with you."
"What are you talking about? You were the one who chose Demming. Remember, apple carts and how I'm the unreliable kind?"
"Oh and you've done a hell of a job proving otherwise, haven't you?"
"How am I unreliable? I've been by your side like an idiot for the past six months and even before that, ready to do anything you needed," he shoots back, and this is the first time Kate has ever really seen him try to intimidate her.
She refuses to back down, can't back down because these things all needed to come out and somehow she's not worried about the repercussions anymore. (Part of her has already given up too.)
"Anything you thought I needed," she corrects. "You want to talk about Demming? Fine. Have you never thought to wonder what happened? Why we broke up? When we broke up?"
He's clearly a little thrown by how she's finally directly talking about one of those issues-that-they-never-talk-about. "Of course I wondered. I just didn't think it was something you wanted to talk about."
"Bullshit, Rick. You were afraid that I was going to reject you, so you took the coward's way out and rejected me first. You didn't stick around to fight for me when the truth is there wouldn't have even a goddamn fight because I broke up with Tom right before I watched you gallivanting off to the Hamptons with your ex-wife! You broke us, Rick, before there was even an 'us' to break. And now—" she pauses in an attempt to regain her composure, afraid to speak because her voice is so close to cracking just now, "—and now you're doing the same damn thing, showing off with some blonde socialite on your arm while you zip around in your Ferrari. Are you sure you're not trying to punish me? Because it sure as hell feels like it."
The silence that descends between them is deafening.
They stare at each other for the longest time, both of them frozen in this horrible tableau playing out in the kitchen of Castle's loft. She wishes that either Martha or Alexis were home and they could wander in with impeccable timing to break this interminable silence, but no such luck.
Their problem, she's just beginning to comprehend, is that they hold far too much inside, thinking that they'll work through things on their own, not realizing that by not talking, they've turned a difficult but manageable situation into a wall of epic proportions. She doesn't know if either of them is equipped to scale this particular barrier between them.
She wonders briefly about what he's thinking, but decides on second thought that she doesn't want to know. She has enough trouble with her own thoughts that she can't accommodate his as well.
He's the first to break the tenuous silence between them.
"You're right. I wish I could say that I'm bigger than this, but I guess a part of me really did want to punish you for hurting me. I didn't know about Demming, but that just proves your point, doesn't it? That I didn't stick around long enough to fight for you? I thought... I told myself I was being the bigger man, but I guess the truth is that I didn't think I even had a chance and so I gave up. But Kate, you have got to give me something here."
"What do you think I've been doing these past months? I'm trying, Castle, I really am. But it doesn't help when I make these strides and then you suddenly step back like this."
"So you're saying this is all my fault?"
"No, I'm saying-" I'm saying just because I didn't say those three words back, it doesn't mean I don't feel it. It doesn't mean I wasn't trying to be better. "I'm saying that I needed you to stand firm for me. And you didn't."
She holds her gaze steady, but she doesn't know what he sees in her eyes because she can't untangle this mess of emotions threatening to pull her under. She feels the threads of whatever tapestry they've weaved for their future unraveling in her fingers, and everything that seemed so possible just last week when she was contemplating how she doesn't want to put it off anymore suddenly feels impossible.
Whatever anger and resentment they tossed at each other like rounds in a shotgun have dispersed by now, and all that's left is uncertainty. Somehow, the uncertainty is worse.
He clears his throat and the sound is loud, too loud.
"Beckett…Kate, I haven't…I haven't been with her. Or anyone else this week, for that matter."
Kate closes her eyes and shakes her head. Was this supposed to be his version of offering up amends for breaking this fragile trust between even more than her own lie already had?
"It doesn't matter, Castle."
"Yes it does."
"No, it doesn't because you tried, didn't you?"
His slight hesitation speaks louder than his words. "Maybe, but I couldn't. She wasn't you."
She rubs her temple with her thumb and sighs. "Is that supposed to make it better? Castle, you gave up on me without even giving me a reason why. I asked you to wait, and you did, but only until we hit the first bump in…whatever the hell this is. If ever you've given me a reason to not dive in, this is it."
His eyes are desolate, the lines in his face deeper than ever with the force of his agony. "Kate, don't…don't give up. Please, don't."
"You don't get it, do you, Castle? I'm not the one who gave up on this. You are."
"I promise you I won't give up again."
"You can't make that promise. Not when you just did it. Things come too easy for you, Castle. And maybe things come too hard for me."
Neither of them voices it (haven't they learned their lesson by now), but they both hear the loud, What happens now? floating in the empty spaces between them. For the first time in a long time, the answer sounds like a hopeless one.
Suddenly she just feels bone-deep weary. She thinks she should at least be upset that he tried to sleep with someone else to rid her completely from his personal life and his heart, but she must have used up all her anger already. And really, what did she have to be angry about? For all that they were basically already together, neither of them had any true obligation to the other to stay single. Besides, the cold reality is that she was the one who lied first.
"The truth is we're both selfish, aren't we, Castle? Maybe…maybe it's time to admit that we aren't the best people for each other."
A/N: First of all, there is a second part coming.
Second, a bit of an explanation is warranted here, I think. When I saw the promo for "The Limey" and even towards the end of "47 Seconds," a recurring thought of mine was that Castle was handling this all very immaturely. I get that he was understandably hurt and upset, but I hate it when people take the passive-aggressive route. It annoyed me that he would throw those veiled barbs at Beckett, and yet refuse to confront her about her lie. At the same time, I realized that Castle's reaction was completely in character, even if it wasn't how I wanted him to react. Explanation? As much as Castle usually just goes after what he wants and says what he thinks with very little filtering, the truth is that he is a master of avoidance. You see this with his relationship with Gina (avoiding her phone calls during their spat), and you even see this in how he handled the situation with Demming (he ducks out by dating his ex-wife again). In his own way, he's just as emotionally stunted as Beckett. I mean, two failed marriages is going to take a toll on a guy, and while there was an obvious reason for the end with Meredith, I get the impression that it wasn't so clear cut with Gina. And I think it's harder to have a relationship fail for no apparent reason because you don't really have a clear picture of why it went bad. And somewhere along the way, Castle developed this instinct to avoid confrontation. And this is why I have Beckett calling him out because for all her issues, I think that she's actually the one who's more willing to confront someone when they're doing something stupid.
So yeah. There's my two cents. Stay tuned for part two coming to a computer screen near you. :)