I'm not sure why I needed to write this, but I just sort of did.
more first than sun more last than star
when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone's any was all to her
- ee cummings
There's a tap at the door. "Katie? Katie, dear, you in here?"
"Yeah, Dad. Come in."
Jim pokes his head in the door. Sees her. His mouth opens. "Oh. Oh, Katie."
She swallows. Curls her fingers in her skirt. "Is it – "
"It's perfect, sweetheart. You look – you look perfect." He wipes his eyes, closing the door behind him before crossing to her. "So beautiful. So much like your mother."
"Thanks, Dad." She takes a deep breath. "Lanie's got my veil. She'll come pin it in a few minutes."
"Well. You look amazing, Katie." He hugs her carefully, mindful of her dress. "I'm so happy for you."
She shakes her head, her smile a little watery. "I just can't believe it. That this is really happening."
"Rick's a good man. He makes you happy." Jim smiles dryly. "Actually, I just had a little talk with him."
"Oh, no, Dad. You didn't threaten anything if he broke my heart, did you?"
"Not at all. I told him I trust him. He loves you." Jim shrugs. "He loves you like I loved your mother, Kate. He's a keeper."
She nods, wiping her eyes quickly. "Yeah. He really is."
He presses a kiss to her cheek. "See you out there, sweetheart."
He leaves and she looks back at the mirror. It should feel – well, she's not sure. It doesn't feel real. This has to be a costume, this pretty beach house in the Hamptons a mirage, the entire world one long, lovely dream.
She hears the door creak open slowly. "Lanie?" she calls, not looking up as she smoothes her skirt.
"Castle?" She gasps, whirls around. "What are you doing here? You're not supposed to – "
"Relax. I can't see you. Or anything, for that matter." He taps the blindfold over his eyes, then feels for the doorframe. "Actually, give me a hand here – "
He blindfolded himself.
"Castle, why did you – "
"I just wanted to be with you."
She bites her lip, warmth flooding through her chest. He really shouldn't be here. But…he looks so earnest, so hopeful, so utterly ridiculous with a blindfold over his eyes, that it's too much. Besides. She wants him here.
"Oh, fine. Just for a minute." She shuts the door behind him.
"Good." He feels his way over the wall to the couch, perches on the edge of the seat. She sits carefully on the other end. "So." He waves his hand around blindly for a few seconds before she takes pity, catches it, curls her fingers through his. He runs his thumb over her knuckles. "Thanks. How are you so far?"
She lets out a little laugh. "Fine. Just. It's all so surreal. Kind of hard to believe this is really it."
"Yeah." She lets out a long breath. "Yeah, I'm good. Just a little jittery."
"Kate. Whatever you want." His hands curl around hers. "If you want me to stall them, I'll tell jokes for a few minutes. If you want to run off to Vegas instead, I'll pull the car around. Just tell me. This day is going to be perfect for you."
"Not me, Castle." She smiles. "Us."
"You're not going to be a Beckett much longer."
"No." She bites her lip. Katherine Castle. Kate Castle. Her cheeks get warm.
(He told her once that neither of his first two wives really committed to taking his name. Meredith was trying to establish herself as an actress; Gina already had a solid career for herself in publishing. Neither one had wanted to deal with the domestic connotation of Mrs. When Kate told him she intended to be Mrs. Castle, he'd gotten so choked up he almost couldn't get out the words I love you.)
"Don't get me wrong, Beckett is good. Strong consonants. But Kate Castle. Good alliteration. I'm just making you more literary, really."
"You're so good to me."
"I really am." He presses his lips to her hand. "So good to you." His mouth turns up in a crooked smile. "I could actually hear you roll your eyes."
She laughs, glancing at the clock. "You should probably get out there. It's almost time."
"Wait." He tugs her hand, pulling her closer.
"It's the last time I get to kiss Kate Beckett. I want to make it count."
Her face gets warm. She hasn't thought of it that way.
His fingers trail lightly over her face, tracing delicately over the lines of her cheekbones, sliding gently down the curve of her jaw. Her eyes flicker shut, her mouth opening involuntarily as he runs his thumb over the flush of her lower lip. And then his mouth is on hers, soft and warm and perfect.
And he's kissed her so many times – so many, many times – but today is different. It's tender, but desperate, and it's everything, their first frightened kiss in the dark alley, the quiet fear waiting for death together in a locked freezer, the terrified I love you caught between pristine blue sky and bloodstained grass. The months of agonizing waiting. And the first real kiss, the night she finally realized what she was missing. The night she knew he was the one.
"You're thinking too hard," he whispers against her mouth. "Shhhh."
She kisses him back, her fingers curling neatly around the strong line of his jaw, and he's careful and soft and perfect and they're getting married and it's all –
She rests her forehead on his, feels his breath warming her face. The same way it always does. Not everything's changing.
He kisses her cheek lightly. "You look so beautiful."
"You can't see me."
He shrugs. "Don't need to. I already know."
The door opens behind them. "Castle?" Lanie huffs, leaning in. "What are you doing here?"
"Not looking at the bride." He holds his hands up in mock surrender. "See? Blind."
"Seriously." Lanie just shakes her head. "All right. Get out so I can finish up with your girl here."
She shoos him out, snorting when he half-runs into the wall before she mercifully points him in the right direction and shuts the door behind him. "You ready for this?"
Kate looks back in the mirror, still not used to seeing the wide-eyed, glowing woman in white. "Yeah. I think I am."
"Good." Lanie starts carefully pinning the veil to her hair. "Everything else is ready, hon. Even the weather's perfect." She finishes and steps back, letting the veil fall around Kate's shoulders. "There. You look like an angel."
Alexis comes in then, and Martha, and together with Lanie they coo and fuss and hug her, and Kate just stares into the mirror, mesmerized by this starry-eyed creature all lacy and shimmering in misty, creamy white, a gentle smile hovering over her lips.
Alexis, lovely in her purple bridesmaid dress, gives her a quick hug. "You look gorgeous."
"Dad asked me to give you this."
She hands over a paper. Kate unfolds it; it's a quickly scribbled note from the extra legal pad he keeps on his desk out here in the Hamptons.
The first time we met, you brought me in for interrogation. You couldn't stand me.
You've arrested me twice.
I wrote an entire series of novels. Just to impress you.
We've both hurt each other.
We've almost died.
We've saved each other.
I love you more than I can possibly say.
And it's about damn time we do this.
So let's go get hitched, okay?
She folds the paper, tucks it into her sash, and picks up her bouquet.
It's about damn time.
love is the voice under all silences,
the hope which has no opposite in fear;
the strength so strong mere force is feebleness:
the truth more first than sun more last than star
- ee cummings