The sequel to 'An Odyssey to Us'.
4. A Brewing Storm
She's staring at a nonexistent spot on the carpet. The room is quiet – the only sounds are their breathing and the rhythmic ticking of the clock. Finally, she sags back into the seat, exhaling slowly as her eyes drift back to Burke, ever patient and unwavering.
"Why are you here today, Kate?" His voice is smooth and soothing; his warm, brown eyes regarding her calmly.
Kate drops her eyes to her hands, picking at her nails. "Just. . . I don't know." She shrugs, lifting her gaze to the therapist again.
"It feels like everything is about to go to hell."
Burke tilts his head, a frown creasing his forehead. "How so?"
She tips her head up, wetting her lips before continuing softly. "Gates forced us to close the sniper case."
She doesn't say the words; she can't. So, she just nods once, feeling her throat closing up.
He crosses his legs. "How does that make you feel?"
She lets out a humourless laugh. "Angry." Her brow furrows, her eyes suddenly turning flinty. "No, I'm pissed off. Really pissed off."
He nods, jotting down a few notes. "Kate, it's perfectly normal to feel frustration and anger in a situation like this. But it might be a good thing for you to step away from this case. To get some perspective," he comments after a moment.
She lifts a shoulder. "Suppose so. I mean that's what everyone is telling me."
He folds his hands, placing them on the notepad on his lap. "What about you and Castle?"
She's quiet for a while, gathering her thoughts. She wraps her arms around herself, rubbing her hands up and down her upper arms as if to dispel a nonexistent chill.
"Things are fine."
She clenches her jaw, the muscles tensing again. "It feels like the other shoe is about to drop."
Burke shifts in his seat. "Why do you say that?"
She lifts her eyebrows and pulls up one shoulder. "I can't explain it, but it just feels like something is about to go wrong."
The therapist cocks his head, his eyes studying her intently for a few moments.
"Have you told him about the miscarriage?"
Her eyes flutter shut. There was that on top of everything else.
"No," she scrapes out, her voice splintering.
"Why not?" Burke asks, his tone even and serene.
She blows out a breath, carding a hand through her hair; tears are not far off now. "Does it matter?" She evades the question, the answer she doesn't want to give.
"Kate, I think you know the answer to that."
She lets out a stuttering laugh, her eyes flooding with tears. "Yeah, it matters. Of course it does, but. . . I-I don't want to tell him."
Her heart starts a staccato battering against her rib cage. She inhales and lets the breath go slowly, the answer tumbling off her tongue.
"What if that's the other shoe?" She leans forward, elbows on her knees, her hands cradling her head.
"What do you think will happen if he does find out?"
After a moment, she sits up, her eyes finding his; suddenly serene and calm like the quiet before the storm. There is an eerie certainty, a finality in her voice when she says:
"He will never forgive me."
He's trying. He really is. But the ideas just aren't coming, the words aren't melting into easy sentences, the paragraphs have disintegrated into a blank page and a blinking cursor.
The story has hit a dead end.
Much like what Kate must be feeling with her mother's case. Rick leans back in his chair, the soft leather squeaking under the movement of his body. He tips his head back and blows out a heavy breath, his eyes tracking over the ceiling. He shouldn't be happy, he should feel guilty about the recent developments, but. . . he's relieved. And a little happy. When it comes to her life, he'll give or do anything to keep her safe.
Even jeopardise the most important case of her life.
However, as he has learned, there's a price for that. And that price has been Kate's availability. Sure, she still with him – every day and every night nowadays. Emotionally, however, she has pulled away, going into hiding to lick her wounds. Of course, he isn't allowed to share in that with her. To help her carry the burden.
Kate Beckett, by nature, is a lone wolf.
He pushes himself up and out of the chair, raking a hand over his cheek, sprinkled with a few days-old stubble. He meanders out of the office and checks his watch - only 13:15. Kate would only be home by two at the earliest. Maybe she'll even swing by the precinct despite the fact that it's her day off.
He hasn't eaten yet and is in desperate need for coffee. He can feel the caffeine headache taking root in the base of his skull, sprouting up to overtake the rest of his head. He rubs at his eyes to relieve some of the pressure and opens the refrigerator to search for something to eat.
His thoughts drift back to Kate and the ring he has stashed in the safe in his closet. He's had it for a while now and is anxious to make its presence known, but with everything that's happened. . . he's not sure anymore.
He's not sure about-
A knock at the door startles Rick out of his musings. He frowns and strides toward the entrance; he's not expecting any visitors and Kate wouldn't be knocking on his door because she has a key.
It's her home now.
When he opens the door, his eyes widen in surprise at seeing his physical therapist standing there in the entrance.
"Emily, hi." He smiles politely, the confusion seeping into his tone. "What are you doing here?"
The pretty blonde gives him a shy tilt of her lips, almost batting her eyelashes at the writer. He doesn't really take notice, too preoccupied with why his physical therapist would be showing up at his door on a Friday afternoon.
"Well, you missed our appointment today and I was worried when you didn't return my calls," she says, raising her eyebrows.
His face falls, his eyes widening. "Oh, shit, I'm so sorry. I-I was writing and our session completely slipped my mind. And my phone-." He pats his pockets, searching for the device. "-must be lying somewhere around here. I'm really sorry." He steps to the side, opening the door wider. "Please, come in. I'll make us some coffee."
She shakes her head, lifting her hands. "Oh, no, that's not necessary. I just came to see how if you are alright. I don't want to impose-"
He grins and waves her protests off. "It's nothing. Besides, I owe you that at least a cup of coffee after wasting your time."
She offers him a grin, her mouth parting to reveal a row of pearly whites. Emily easily touches his arm as she passes him, her blue eyes trained on his.
Kate doesn't go to the precinct after her session with Burke. She feels too raw, too frayed at the edges to do anything but stroll around in Central Park.
Alone. With a cup of coffee.
This is how she does it - how she handles things, how she heals. It's done privately, on her own and away from prying eyes. She doesn't want Rick too see her this vulnerable, see how damaged she truly is at the core. How she has been held together by the sheer force of will. She takes a seat on the park bench, her eyes taking in the scenery. She's not looking for something in particular, just observing the beauty and drinking in the serenity.
Burke had told her to put down what she felt in words, to buy a journal and just. . .write about it. It was said to be cathartic, cleansing. A way of unburdening herself and shrugging off the yoke. So, after her session with the good doctor today, she went out and bought herself a journal.
Kate sweeps a hand over the leather cover, her mouth pulled into a tight line. Finally, she flips open the first page and is met by the familiar, comforting scent of new, unused paper. Her mouth arches into a whisper of a smile, her thoughts naturally floating to her writer. At that, her mouth breaks open into a fully-fledged smile that floats up to her eyes.
She carefully puts the cup of coffee on the ground and pulls a pen out of her purse. Her hand is hovering just above the blank page while her heart gives a strange little gallop in her chest. Even though this will be private and therapeutic, writing down everything she thought and felt and remembered will make it permanent.
Kate gives her head a shake and drops the pen down to the paper, painting the blank canvass with her words, her story. As she writes, her mind drifts back to a few months ago, just after the shooting.
He's just staring out the window, quiet and acting completely out of character. He's not the brooding type. She is. Kate watches him for a moment longer before walking towards him with the bag of take-away she bought on the way.
"Castle," she calls softly. He doesn't react, seemingly lost in thought. She steps closer, putting the bag of food on the coffee table next to him. "Rick," she says louder this time, reaching out a hand to touch his arm.
But the moment her hand lands on his arm, he jerks away as if being burned, his eyes jumping to her in surprise.
"God, Kate, you scared me," he mutters breathlessly, clutching his chest. "What are you doing here?"
She frowns at him. "What do you mean what am I doing here? I kinda moved in this week. Remember?" She giving him an incredulous look, shaking her head and smiling sardonically.
He scrubs a hand down his face, rolling his eyes. "Yeah, I know that, but what are you doing here now?" He glances at his watch. "It's only one-thirty."
"I came to have lunch with you," she says with a wide smile, pulling their lunch out of the plastic bag.
He doesn't return the smile, just watches her with a blank expression. "Translation - you came to check up on me like I'm some sort of sick child."
Kate sighs, not in the mood for an argument. "I'm just concerned," she finally says before handing him his portion. "Here, you need to eat something."
"I'm not really hungry."
Kate bites back a sharp retort and stands her ground. "Rick, please - just eat something. You didn't touch breakfast this morning. Besides, I brought Thai."
His eyes flick to her hers, his brow creased in an unhappy line of defiance. However, after a moment, he reluctantly takes the offerings from her.
"Thanks," he mutters grudgingly.
Kate wipes her hands down her thighs and sits down next to him, reaching out for her own food. He chews slowly, really not hungry, while she observes him closely. He tries to ignore it, the constant vigil that they all keep around him, but it gets too much. She doesn't hover because it's not in her nature.
So, why is she doing it now?
He darts his eyes to her, his jaw moving as he eats. "What?
Kate lifts a shoulder. "Nothing."
There's a beat of silence before he dumps his half-eaten meal on the coffee table. "Kate, go back to work," he snaps, getting up.
She rocks back, her lips parting in shock. He walks off to his office, his face drawn into hardness, everything sharp and scathing. The detective gets to her feet, her own temper wavering.
"What the hell did I do wrong now, Castle?"
He stops with his back turned to her and, for a moment, everything goes still. Finally, Rick spins around, his eyes spitting fire, his brow pulled down into a sharp edge of unhappiness.
"You're hovering and it's fucking suffocating, Kate," he spits out, his voice a low growl. "It's bad enough that I got shot because of you, now you want to pity me? Please, just don't."
She stiffens at that, her face blanching, eyes rippling with hurt. They stare at each other for a while; she's desperately trying not succumb to the tears just simmering underneath the surface. She swallows, her throat convulsing a few times, and bites her lip severely to keep from crying.
"Finally," she croaks out.
He drops his head and exhales, lifting hand to the back of his neck. He closes his eyes for a moment, remorse slowly clogging his throat. Rick glances up and takes a step towards her, a hand suspended in the air.
He needs to make amends.
"Kate, I'm so-"
"No. No, Rick, I've been waiting for that," she cuts him off, her voice trembling. She grabs her coat and puts it on, struggling to keep her face neutral, struggling to keep the devastation from manifesting itself. "And you're right, it is my fault."
He's shaking his head at her, watching as she gathers her purse with shaky hands.
Shit, this is the last thing he wanted to-
"You got shot because of me, you almost died because of me," she rasps, the tears dripping one by one down her cheeks. Her whole face is crumpling, her heart breaking open in her eyes. She takes a step closer to him, her eyes glossy. "So, yeah, Rick, I'm hovering. You know why? Because I love you and I'm scared, so fucking terrified of losing you."
He's staring at her, mouth agape and his own eyes teeming with tears by now. He wants to touch her, but she seems so fragile, so breakable right now. And it's his fault.
"Well, it seems that I've lost you already. How ironic," she mutters with a humourless, broken laugh, her eyes cast downward. She sweeps a few fingers underneath her eyes to catch the moisture gathered there.
Wordlessly, she brushes past him towards the door. Rick finally snaps into action and lurches after her, snagging her arm, his fingers gripping onto her bicep.
"Kate, just, please wait a minute-"
She shrugs him off, her chest heaving with the effort not to spill any more tears. Eventually, she looks at him, tremulous and wounded.
"Castle, just don't."
With that she escapes out the door, leaving him standing there uncertain if she would ever return.
Kate smiles - a little bitterly - at the memory and gives her head a shake. She slides the key into the front door and the smile widens, tipping her mouth upward. She did go back that night, albeit very late.
And found that he had waited up for her.
She remembers when she came through the door, he was before her in a flash, crushing her in a hug with a slew of apologies rolling off his tongue. She also remembers how frantically his heart was beating against her hand, how breathless he was, how choked his voice was. She also recalls how he proceeded to roughly ram her up against the door and-
Emily is here. Drinking coffee and laughing. At something her writer/partner/lover/boyfriend just said.
"Kate!" Rick calls out, his mouth splayed open in a goofy grin. "You're home."
Finally, she gets her feet to move, dropping her keys and purse on the nearby table.
"Hey you. . . two," she greets awkwardly, the confusion still clouding her face. "Good to see you, Emily."
"Hi, Detective," the pretty blonde greets, her enthusiasm significantly subdued.
Kate rounds the kitchen counter to greet her partner. He gives a peck on the lips, trailing a hand around her waist, dipping it to the lower part of her back in an effort to keep her close.
She glances between the two of them, feeling uncomfortable for some reason. "So, having a post-physio coffee?" She inquires with an awkward smile.
Rick chuckles and shakes his head. "Uh, no. I kinda missed my physio appointment today," he says sheepishly.
She turns to him, her brow creased. "Missed?"
"Seems like he forgot with all the writing he's been doing," Emily adds before taking a sip of her coffee. "So, I just came to see how he was doing."
Kate swivels her head to the physical therapist, assessing her for a moment. "Oh, okay."
"I owe you, Em," Rick says.
Well, that's interesting.
Kate cocks her head, dragging her mouth up into a sweet smile. "Don't worry, I'll make sure he doesn't miss another appointment," she says, wrapping her arm around Castle, a few of her fingers dipping into the waistband of his pants.
The other woman nods her head slowly as if picking up on the subtle cue. She puts the cup down and checks her watch before sliding off the stool.
"Well, it's time for me to go. Thanks, Rick, for the coffee and chat," she says with a grin, her gaze flicking over to the writer.
Rick grins and nods as they make their way to the front door. "Sure and once again I'm sorry. I will be there next week, I promise."
"I'm looking forward to it." Finally, she turns her eyes to Kate, her gaze a little cooler. "Detective Beckett, it's always a pleasure."
Kate gets the feeling that's not entirely - or even remotely - true.
"Likewise," she (also) lies.
"So, how was your day? And by day, I mean your session with Burke."
Her shoulders sag for a moment as she wanders to where he is busy in the kitchen. "It was. . . fine." She plops down on a bar stool, resting on her forearms and weaving a hand through her hair.
When he doesn't comment, she glances up to see him staring at her, his lips pursed in a tight line. She sits up, her brow pulling together.
"Was it really fine?"
Kate sighs and leans back, her hands outstretched on the marble counter top. "It was hard, okay?"
"Did you talk about the case?"
God, he's unrelenting.
"Rick, please, it's been a long day." She pushes herself off the seat and turns to walk away.
"That's not answering my question, Kate," he persists, following her into the office.
She whips around, feeling the frustration bubbling up inside her. It has been a long day of purging her soul to a therapist, of purging it some more on three pages in a newly purchased journal and of finding an attractive 20-something in their - his - home.
"Yes, we did talk about the case."
He bobs his head, his hands coming up to rest on his hips. "How do you feel?" He asks quietly, the concern playing over his features.
She rolls her eyes. "God, Rick, really? How do I feel?" She turns on her heel and marches into their - his, his - room.
"What? It's a legitimate question," he defends with a shrug of his shoulders, his hands slipping into his front pant pockets.
"Yeah, for a therapist," she shoots back dryly, sitting on the bed and pulling off her boots. "I don't want to be interrogated anymore."
He leans against the door, deflating slightly. "Okay, I'm sorry. I'm just worried about you."
Her heart melts at that.
It doesn't help that he looks like a disappointed little boy, pouting and scoffing his foot on the ground. She relents and gets up, her sock-clad feet padding softly towards him. She brushes a hand up and down his arm, before tangling it with his large hand, squeezing her fingers in between his.
"I know, I know. And I find it sweet."
He arches his eyebrows at that and snorts, turning his head away from her. She puffs out a surprised laugh, drifting closer to him, her chest brushing his.
"I do find it sweet." She fiddles with the tail of his shirt, her other hand resting on his chest, the fabric of his navy, cotton undershirt soft under her fingers. "And I love you a little more for your concern."
"But?" He questions, failing to keep the adoration from his face.
She exhales and drops her forehead against his chin. "But I just want to take a long, hot bath and relax." She pulls back, her body still listing into his. "I really don't want to talk about my therapy session or the fact that Burke is now forcing me keeping a journal."
A journal. Huh.
His eyebrows shoot up. "A journal? For all your dirty secrets?" He wiggles his eyebrows, giving her a toothy grin.
"Wouldn't you like to know," she tosses back as she moves out of the orbit of his body. Before she can get very far, Rick snatches her arm and pulls her back for a bruising, aggressive kiss.
"Go take your bath," he murmurs against her mouth when they break apart. "I'll order in."
He can feel the slow, answering smile forming on her lips.
She pecks him one last time before disappearing into the bathroom. He stands there for a moment, just listening to how she moves around in his space, his home and lets his mind, once again, drift back to that little jewelry box hidden somewhere in his closet.
Mr. & Mrs.
Yeah, it does sound great.
This chapter was basically a set-up for what is to come while the next chapter will probably set the ball in motion for these two with regards to the secrets they're keeping.
Thanks for reading.