Reading into Every Word
But I don't want to live that way
Reading into every word you say
You said that you could let it go
And I wouldn't catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know.
- 'Somebody That I Used to Know', Gotye
He still isn't here. It has been over five hours since shift started, since he normally strolled off the elevator with their coffees in hand.
She's not waiting for him. She's not.
But she is.
Kate can't stop herself from looking over toward the elevator, ears straining for the familiar 'ding' of the car reaching their floor. Her pen falters over the report she's been filling out for the past hour.
He had been acting weird yesterday. Too many biting comments, not enough quiet glances or accidental brushes of their shoulders. He had darted out of the precinct as if the dogs of hell were on his heels, turning down her offer of drinks without a second thought.
Tough case, Kate tells herself with a shake of her head. It had been a tough case and even she hadn't really wanted to go and be social with her co-workers. So that night, instead of sitting in a booth with Ryan and Esposito and her partner, Kate had curled up on her couch in her pajamas with a glass of red wine and watched re-runs of 'M*A*S*H' on TV Land. Relaxation, though, hadn't been on the schedule.
She spent the night trying to figure out the root of his behavior.
Everything had been fine until he had disappeared, leaving her coffee going cold on her desk. Sure, they had been interrupted the few times they'd gotten alone. Usually in the middle of what could have become a full-out confession on her part. Kate still wasn't sure if she hated the boys for barging in or loved them more for stopping her from making a mistake. But they'd been okay.
But now Kate just knew they were as far from 'okay' as possible.
She starts when Ryan speaks from the side of her desk. "Huh?"
The man raises a brow, glancing over at Esposito before looking back at Kate. "Castle. Any idea where he's hiding today?"
"Working from home, maybe. No clue." When Ryan's face falls, Kate forces a smile. "You're a detective, right? Go hunt down leads on his location. GPS track his phone if you miss your boyfriend."
That earns her a mild glare as Ryan moves back to his own desk.
Kate is halfway tempted to go home and set up her own timeline to figure out what could explain Castle's absence. He hadn't been around before they had brought Bobby into the precinct but he had to have come and gone during that time period if the coffee had appeared while she was working on the young man.
"Hey, Espo?" she calls. The man looks over, spinning around in his chair. "Yesterday, did Castle show up in the afternoon?"
He shrugs. "Sure. Headed into the observation room after he found out that we had Bobby in custody."
And then he was gone by the time she left Bobby alone to think about confessing. So it was something between Esposito's comment about her interviewing Bobby and –
Kate gets up quickly, her chair tilting wildly with the motion. Ryan and Esposito watch her as she runs for the stairs – the elevator will be too slow – and tries to shove her phone into her pocket. "Uh, I'll…"
"See you tomorrow, Beckett," shouts Esposito before the door to the stairwell closes behind her.
She toys with the idea of taking her car to his apartment but her hands are shaking so badly as she searches the pockets of her jacket for her keys that Kate decides to hail a cab. Traffic is heavy thanks to rush hour and she can tell the driver can sense her anxiety. The man keeps glancing back at her through the rear view mirror before he edges around a line of slow cars to zip down a free lane.
Kate tosses a few bills at the driver as he breaks along the curb in front of the brick building, opening the door before he can come to a complete stop. In her rush to get out of the car, one of the heels of her shoes breaks off and Kate catches herself on the hood of the cab. Perfect, she thinks, hooking the destroyed shoes on her hand as she runs for the front door. Just perfect. Eduardo tries to stop her from heading for the stairs but Kate throws him a look that tells him not to even try.
The carpet on the hallway outside his apartment gives under her bare feet, toes curling into the fabric as she hesitates outside his door.
"To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards of men." The quote from the second interview she had done at the start of the Boylan case echoes in her head.
Time to protest.
She knocks before she can back away and take the coward's route out again.
"He's not exactly up for a visit right now," says Martha when she opens the door, sparing a glance to Kate's hands where she has her heels. Kate knows that there's an unspoken 'with you' thrown in there after the part about visiting. The woman is a good actor but Kate's read of facial signals tells her that Martha is playing the role of mother right now, not friend or even acquaintance.
"It's an emergency, Martha," Kate says, hoping that some of the desperation she feels is laced into her voice.
Martha must see the tears Kate can feel pricking at the back of her eyes because she swings the door open a little further, moving her body from blocking the entrance. "Let me go see if he's up."
Kate paces the living room, twisting her hands together and trying to swallow past the ball of dread sitting in her throat. She's screwed this up. Not a little stumble or a trip. This is major.
"Detective," he says, voice distant even though he's standing right in the doorway to his office. "What's wrong?"
She can't figure out how to narrow down the list. Does lying to him for ten months top the list or does revealing the information through an interrogation that he had no part in beat it out? So her mouth opens but nothing comes out. Her breath hitches and she can see that he wants to come over but doesn't; he stops the inch of his foot forward before it turns into an actual step.
"You know," Kate finally manages after a staring contest that lasts a minute, long enough for Martha to skirt the room and go upstairs, sending daggers at Kate. When he doesn't respond, his face one of a professional poker player, she can tell he's waiting still. Waiting for her to actually say the words aloud. With the couch dividing them, she takes a deep breath. "You know I remembered you telling me you love me."
The air crackles. Kate wants to look away – the emotions zipping through his are making her dizzy – but she doesn't.
"How long, Kate?" His voice is soft, almost dangerously so. "How long have you been lying to my face?"
"May," she responds just as quietly. "The hospital." Before he can turn to run, she steps closer, her thighs against the back of the couch. "Castle, don't."
"Don't what?" he shouts, throwing his hands up and seeing Kate wince when one connects with the bookshelf. "Don't be like you, running from the problem when things prove to be inconvenient? Why not just tell me you don't feel the same and let me down easy, Beckett? Why string me along for months?"
It hits her in the chest and she has to hold onto the couch so she doesn't fall. Her shoes, though, tumble to the ground with a muted thump. "You… But I do…" She hates that she needs to swipe at her cheeks when she feels the first tear spill over. "Castle, you don't underst –"
"Try me." His voice is venom as he tosses the two words at her, crossing his arms to lean a shoulder on the bookshelves.
"I'm a mess," she starts, fingers curling around the cushions of the couch. "And I do love you but you deserve someone who's whole. Not… Not me. I just thought you should hear it from me but… I'll go. You don't want me here." Kate scoops her broken shoes from the ground and moves toward the door, wiping at her now-wet cheeks before pulling the door open.
His fingers touching her elbow are a surprise. "Kate, don't leave."
They stand in the doorway, neither moving. The predator cornering their prey, though Kate has no idea what role she's fallen into right now. She knows that her mind is telling her to flee, to get out before she truly breaks down but her body is canting closer to him, two magnets unable to be kept apart.
"Don't leave again," he whispers, his breath fluttering her hair in a warm breeze.
"You left this time," she returns, closing her eyes so she doesn't have the urge to turn her head and see what he's doing. "You were the one who didn't show up."
"I was wrong. I was hurt and pissed off and I still am. But I was wrong. Kate," he says, so quietly that she barely hears him.
She can't stop herself this time. Kate lets the shoes fall again, the toe of the black heels hitting her on the ankle as she turns toward him. His arms wrap around her shoulders as hers sneak up around his waist, fingers holding onto the fabric near his shoulderblades. His neck smells like his cologne and whiskey as she buries her nose into the skin.
"I'm sorry," she mumbles against his collarbone. "I'm sorry, Castle."
He pries her off him far enough to rub his thumb under her eyes. "I'm still angry."
Kate nods, pulling back out of his arms. "You should be. I'll… I'm gonna go home."
Castle hands her the shoes from the ground, examining the broken heel. "Let me lend you a pair of Mother's ballet flats to get home. No reason to risk disease to get up the stairs at your place." When she shrugs, he heads for the stairs. His fingers stay at her elbow for a moment. "You'll wait?"
"You're waiting for me," she says softly.
When he returns, he has a pair of black ballet flats in his hands that he tosses in front of her bare feet. Castle lets her balance a hand on his shoulder to slip her feet into the barely-too-big shoes.
"Thank Martha for me?" Kate asks. "I don't think anyone's very happy with me right now. Her least of all."
"Of course." He holds the door open as she steps out into the hallway, leaning his temple against the wood. "Text me when you get home?"
"Worried about me?" she asks, looking up at him from under her lashes. When he opens his mouth to respond, nodding already, Kate smiles. "It's sweet, considering."
"Just because I'm angry at you doesn't mean I don't care about you," he clarifies. "You'll text me?"
"Yeah. See you tomorrow, Castle?" Kate can't keep the hopefulness from her voice, smile wavering.
"See you tomorrow, Kate."