Authors Note: Some of you asked for it and here it is, the sequel to 'Someone To Tell My Troubles To'. I consider the first story to be set in October and this one is set in December, so a little time has passed. I have a lot of ideas for this story and I promise to have a good dose of the humor and lightness of my first story but I'm planning on adding a few deeper elements, no angst so don't worry about that! I hope you all enjoy this.
There was silence between them as Kate drove towards the loft and Castle subtly studied her from the corner of his eye, taking in the weariness he saw in her features and the melancholy mood that surrounded her. Another case was behind them now, but they both knew the memory of it would linger for awhile in their minds. It had been a horrendous crime, not that any murder was anything but, this one however seemed even worse. A family that had imploded upon itself, its members ripping and tearing each other apart verbally and physically for years had led to a couple of members taking it upon themselves to end it once and for all. Eight victims, two of them teenagers and it had turned all of their stomachs when they had to walk into the crime scene.
They had caught the two young men who had committed the crime and only one of them had shown any remorse for the act. It had been one of those cases that took its toll on everyone, especially this time of year and he could see it weighing heavily upon Kate's shoulders as she had set at her desk starring at the mound of paperwork to be completed the next morning. Castle had quietly suggested that she come home with him that evening, he used the home cooked meal Alexis had texted him about as a bribe and gave subtle hints that Martha would be home for awhile and would be available for any mothering she may need. She agreed without argument, simply stood from her chair, pulled on her coat and gathered up her belongings.
The past couple of months had signified a subtle change in their relationship, one that he was grateful for because it seemed as though they were finally heading in the direction he wanted them to go. She was more open with him, as she had been that day at Remy's when she divulged childhood stories and revealed a grandmother that he didn't know she had and it seemed as though she might be tired of running from him, although she had yet to admit to the fact, but he could wait, he had lots of practice at the art of waiting for Kate Beckett.
"You're staring," she said softly.
"Am not," he replied.
A tired smile lifted the corners of her mouth, "You think because you don't do it with direct eye contact that I don't notice it?"
"That's not possible," he replied.
"Trust me, Castle; I always know when you're watching me."
"How?" he asked as she pulled into the parking garage.
She parked and turned the car off and then faced him, "Because I feel it."
He smiled but couldn't think of an appropriate response to make, especially given the fact that her gun was still resting upon her hip.
They made their way into the building and as they stepped inside the elevator her hand found its way into his. He gave it a squeeze and met her gaze.
"Tomorrow will be better," he promised.
She nodded and did her best to smile but she said nothing, settling for the feel of his hand wrapped around hers, something that was becoming a frequent occurrence between them on their off duty hours.
The loft was warm and inviting and Castle couldn't help but smile as he watched her step out of her heels once she was inside the door. She shrugged out of her coat, checked the safety on her gun and then placed it, along with her badge, inside her purse. He hung her coat in the closet, placed her bag on the shelf and couldn't help but revel in the fact that she felt so comfortable in his home. He followed her into the kitchen where she walked directly into his mother's embrace.
"Hang in there kiddo," he heard his mother tell her and he could see her taking comfort in the embrace and the words Martha always said to her.
When Kate pulled herself out of Martha's arms she watched Castle as he hugged his daughter tightly and she knew that he was thinking of the teenage girl who had been one of the victims. Truth be told she had thought of Alexis every time she had to look at those crime scene photos and she had the overwhelming urge to hug the girl herself, but she held back, not knowing exactly where she stood with Alexis, despite the fact that things seemed to be improving between them over the past several weeks.
Kate looked away when Castle finally allowed his daughter out of his grip and she was slightly startled when she felt a pair of slender arms wrap around her.
"Thank you, I needed this," Kate whispered as she returned Alexis' hug, no doubt holding her as tightly as her father had done.
"I know," Alexis replied before pulling back and smiling. "I made a lot of comfort food for both of you."
"Good, because I need that too," she answered with a smile.
Alexis and Castle shuffled around the kitchen, picking up the food and carrying it to the table.
"This is a gift from me," Martha declared as she placed a glass of wine in Kate's hands; "Because I know you probably need it too."
Kate laughed, "Thanks, Martha."
The actress grinned, picked up her own glass and led Kate to the table where they all sat down to enjoy their meal.
Hours later Kate found herself on the sofa next to Castle, the TV tuned to an old sitcom, providing them relief from the violence of the world. Alexis was in her room with her homework and Martha was getting ready to head out for a drink with friends.
"I'm leaving," she announced as she stepped into their view.
"Try and behave yourself, Mother," Castle told her.
"What's the fun in that?" she asked causing Kate to chuckle lightly.
"There's no fun in it but I don't feel like bailing you out of jail tonight," he replied.
"Richard, have you no faith in me? Don't you think I could charm my way out an arrest?"
Castle looked at Kate who was grinning. "What do you think?" he asked her, "do you think she could do it?"
She thought about it for a moment, "If she had the right officer and the right setting she could probably pull it off."
Martha clapped her hands, "There you have it, and from one the NYPD's finest at that."
"Way to go, Kate," he replied. "Now you've given her confidence and she'll go out and see if she really can do it."
"No she won't," she answered.
"What makes you so sure?"
"Because she isn't you," she teased.
"Just for that, you can bail her out," Castle stated.
"I have no doubt that Kate would come to my rescue," Martha said as stepped toward the sofa and kissed his cheek.
"Yeah, I don't doubt it either, in fact if you ever do land in that situation you might want to call her, I might be tempted to leave you there," he joked.
Martha swatted his shoulder and turned to Kate, "I think you should throw him in a cell for awhile."
"I've been tempted," she replied.
Martha laughed and then kissed her cheek as she had done to her son.
"You two have a nice evening," she told them.
"Be careful Martha," Kate called behind her.
"I will," she answered before the door shut behind her.
They were quiet for awhile, allowing the sound of the television to relax them. Finally she shifted and turned herself so that she could face him.
"You remember that night we had dinner with my grandmother?" she asked.
"Yes," he replied. "That night is engrained upon my memory forever."
She blushed knowing that he was referring to the kisses they had shared at the end of that evening.
"You said that since we were 'work married' that we should have a family dinner," she stated.
He smiled widely, "You want to have one?" he asked his voice already tinged with enthusiasm.
Kate laughed lightly, "Yeah, I do, this case has made me think a lot about families, especially my family and by that I mean the people I'm related to by blood and the ones that are my family by choice."
She watched his face as he processed her statement and she could see the excitement building in him.
"We should have it this weekend," Castle declared.
"This weekend? Why so soon?"
"Well for one thing, you're off this weekend and second if we wait too long you'll change your mind."
Kate thought it over for a moment, "You're right, we should do it this weekend when there's no chance of me being called out on a case."
"Do you think your dad and your grandmother will come on such short notice?"
She nodded, "I think they will, I don't remember either one of them saying they had plans for the weekend the last time I talked to them, what about Martha and Alexis, will they be free this weekend?"
"I'll make them be free," Castle announced.
Kate laughed, "We don't want to have a dinner where the guests are forced to attend, Castle."
"There won't be any force involved," he answered. "I will simply issue my command and the people of my kingdom will follow."
Her brow rose and she gave him a look, "Do they know that you think of yourself as their ruler?"
"Of course not, Mother thinks she is the ruler and I allow her to believe that, but I assure you my dear detective that all of the power in this house belongs to me."
"Yeah right," she said. "Everyone knows that the boss of this house is Alexis."
"She just wants you to think that so you'll be on her side in case of a civil uprising."
"Have you been watching war movies again?" she asked.
"That's what I thought."
"The point is that I will make sure everyone is in attendance," he told her.
"You know there are other members of the family that we should invite," Kate said.
"You're great aunt Miriam?" he asked with a smirk.
"Oh come on, it would be fun and besides after that conversation about her that night at your grandmother's I'm intrigued."
"The words fun and Miriam do not belong in the same sentence," she answered, "and if she were to be in the same room with my grandmother we would most likely end up with a brawl on our hands."
He shrugged, "So, there would be entertainment with dinner."
"You really want to watch two old women beat the crap out of each other?"
He considered it for a moment, "Maybe you're right, it's only all fun and games until someone breaks a hip."
She laughed and then steered the conversation back to its original topic, "I meant that we should invite Lanie and Esposito and Ryan and Jenny."
Castle nodded, "Yeah, we should invite them, we don't want them to find out we had a family dinner and they weren't included, they'd get offended and you know what happened the last time we offended Ryan and Esposito."
"Yeah, we ended up in a counseling session."
"I can't believe they haven't mentioned that bill yet," Castle replied looking thoughtful.
"I know, I have a feeling they're planning something."
"Should we be afraid?"
"Will you protect me?" he teased.
She rolled her eyes and smirked, "You're the man, shouldn't you be protecting me and my reputation?"
"I would but you're the one with the gun so it makes much more sense for you to do the protecting," he reasoned.
She nodded, "So much for my 'work husband', I thought you would jump at the chance to be my hero," she said sarcastically.
"I can check under your bed for monsters if you want," he replied with a smile.
"That's alright, I made sure my apartment was monster proof before I moved in," she said with a laugh.
"You can never be too careful," he said. "What about the boogie man? I can protect you from him."
"Why do I have the feeling you only want to protect me if it involves you getting into my bedroom?"
He shrugged, "Because you have a suspicious nature?"
Kate laughed, "Maybe it's because I know how your mind operates."
"Hey, it doesn't have to be your bedroom, you can stay in mine and I'll perform the same services…no charge of course," he said with a mischievous grin.
"We're getting off track here," she said as she swatted his knee playfully.
"Alright, suit yourself," he replied. "If you want to chance an encounter with the boogie man and not have big strong protective me there to comfort you then so be it."
Kate shook her head, "You just don't give up do you."
"Should we have this dinner Saturday or Sunday?" she asked effectively brining the conversation back to the topic at hand.
"Saturday," Castle declared.
"And how should we do this? What type of dinner should it be?"
"A holiday dinner," he announced.
"A holiday dinner?" she said. "It's after Thanksgiving and before Christmas, we're between holidays, Castle."
"So?" he said with a wave of his hand. "We'll create our own holiday."
"Our own holiday?"
"And what shall we call this holiday of ours?" she asked and she could see the wheels turning in his head as he conjured up a response.
"Thanksmas!" he announced with pride.
She scoffed, "Thanksmas?"
Castle grinned, "It's the perfect name, we're between Thanksgiving and Christmas so we mash the names together and get Thanksmas, it's like breakfast and lunch being combined into brunch," he explained.
Kate looked at him as if he were crazy, "That's ridiculous."
"Alright how about Chrisgiving?"
She couldn't help but laugh, "That's even worse."
"Well what do you want to call it, wise one?" he asked.
"How about we call it dinner," she replied.
He wrinkled his nose, "That's so boring, Kate; haven't I taught you anything about creativity?"
"Family dinner?" she answered.
"Familymas?" he suggested.
"Now that's just terrible," she told him with a laugh.
"You're killing me here," he replied with an exaggerated pout, "shooting down all of my fabulous holiday names like ducks in a pond."
"Torturing you is one of the highlights of my day," Kate replied as she leaned back into the sofa.
"Bully," he whined.
She stuck her tongue out at him in response.
"Oh, I wish I had been able to get a picture of that," Castle stated with a laugh. "I would've had proof that Kate Beckett can find it within herself to do something immature like sticking her tongue out at somebody."
"Better luck next time."
"We still need a name for our gathering," he stated as leaned back beside her.
"Why? Why do we have to call it anything?"
"Because it is an insult to my creative integrity not to name it."
"Well we wouldn't want that," she answered with a grin. "We can't have you taking a blow to your ego or anything."
"I still think it should be Thanksmas," he declared after he took a moment to try and think of another name.
She rolled her eyes, "Fine, Castle; you can call it Thanksmas."
"Really?" he asked with a grin.
"Yeah, I wouldn't want it said that I had deprived you of your creative integrity."
"This is great," he exclaimed. "The first annual Castle and Beckett Thanksmas."
"Why do you get top billing?" she asked her eyes slightly narrowed.
"The man always gets top billing."
"No they don't."
"Yes they do, think about it, Regis and Kelly, Pat and Vanna, Bogie and Bacall."
"Yeah, well what about Lucy and Ricky, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, Nikki and Rook?"
He looked at her in shock, "Can you believe it, my own characters came back to bite me in the ass…wait that sounded dirty, didn't it."
Kate shook with laughter, "You manage to make everything sound dirty."
He chuckled, "Why do you think that is?"
"Maybe because you have a dirty mind," she suggested with a smirk.
"Well you know what they say, dirty mind, pure heart," he told her.
"I'll have to take your word for it."
"You don't think my heart is pure?" he exclaimed with an air of mock offense to her statement.
"I've had my doubts," she teased.
"Don't make me take your Christmas gift back," he replied his eyes shining in amusement.
"You mean you already bought it?" she asked. "I though you liked to wait until the last minute so you could be out in that sea of humanity that's pushing and shoving and walking over each other to get a bargain."
"Usually that is true, but after last year's foot trampling I decided I should go out earlier than usual," he answered.
"Good choice," she replied. "Most of us normal people figured that out years ago."
"Who told you that you were normal?" he asked.
She laughed, "It's stamped on my birth certificate."
"Oh, and what do you think is stamped on mine?"
"Yours probably says, 'future menace to society'."
Castle laughed, "I should probably be offended by that, but I'm not."
"Of course not, if I wanted to offend you I would've said that your birth certificate was stamped with the words 'Future Wannabe Mystery Novelist'."
His mouth fell open and he pretended to be affronted, "That was so wrong on so many levels."
"Makes me afraid to ask what you think is stamped on my birth certificate," she told him with a grin.
"It probably says, 'Destined to be extraordinary'." he replied.
"Now I feel bad," she told him.
"No you don't," he laughed.
"You're right, I don't," she said as she eyed her empty wine glass on the stand.
"Should we have the dinner here?" he asked.
"This is where I was planning on having it," she laughed. "Your place is bigger than mine."
He shot her a look, "You just want me to be stuck with the mess."
"I wouldn't leave you with a mess!" she protested. "I'll help you clean up afterwards."
Kate shrugged, "We are."
"Both of us?" he asked with a raised brow.
"Yes both of us," she replied. "We're both hosting the meal so we should both cook it, do you have a problem with that?"
"No, not at all," he said hurriedly. "I just wasn't sure you could handle cooking for such a large group."
She glared at him, "What? You don't think I can handle it?" she asked. "I do know how to cook, I mean I did cook when I stayed here, you know that."
He threw up his hands in surrender, "Calm down, I was just kidding."
"Sure you were," she told him as she snatched up her wine glass.
He chuckled, "Seriously, I was kidding, I think it'll be fun for us to cook together, maybe I can teach you a few things."
She pushed herself off the sofa, "What makes you think I want to learn anything you have to teach me?"
"Because I'm the master," he replied as he followed her towards the kitchen.
Kate laughed lightly, "The master of what?"
"Of anything you want to know," he said.
Kate reached for the bottle of wine sitting on the counter but Castle put his hand on it, preventing her from lifting it.
"You know the rule," he stated.
She sighed, "I know, Castle; second glass automatically wins me a stay in your guest room."
He lifted his hand away and allowed her to add to the contents of her glass.
"It was just a friendly reminder," he replied. "If I didn't give you notice you'd complain about it in the morning when you have to go home and change clothes before going to work."
She lowered her eyes and shifted nervously, "Yeah, well…I might've come prepared this time," she said softly.
"Meaning?" he asked slightly puzzled.
"Meaning I have a bag in the trunk of the car," she answered and he had to strain to hear her response.
It became clear to him then, as he watched her shift uncomfortably. She had been intending to stay the whole time. That was why she hadn't fought him when he asked her to come home with him, she had anticipated it, knowing that he usually tried to get her to come to the loft after hard cases like the one they just finished and it was why she refilled her glass because she knew he'd make her stay.
"Hey," he said softly as he reached out and tipped her chin up so she was looking at him, "You don't have to wait on an invitation, you can always come here."
"I know," she whispered as she blinked rapidly, the heaviness of the week's events weighing her down again.
"And you don't have to make excuses or have an extra glass of wine to stay, you can stay whenever you want, for whatever reason, that room upstairs is yours whenever you need it or want it," he explained.
She nodded and a tear escaped and rolled down her cheek. Castle pulled her into his arms and she clung to him tightly.
"I just couldn't be alone after this one," she whispered.
"It's alright," he told her. "You don't have to be."
"I shouldn't be that way," she whispered.
"Why?" he asked.
"I don't know; I'm used to being on my own but…."
"But you don't like that as much as you used to," he finished for her.
"Yeah, and all through this case, listening to these horror stories of this family that hated each other so much that it led to murder, all I could think of was my family…and I don't just mean my dad and my grandmother…I mean you and Alexis and Martha because when I'm here I feel like I'm apart of a family and I like that and I needed it after this week," she cried softly.
"You are apart of our family," he told her. "And we're always here when you need us."
She nodded against his shoulder, "I'm not used to feeling that way, of needing people so much."
"It's not a bad thing Kate."
"I know, but I guess it takes awhile to get used to," she answered. "After mom…," she trailed off.
"I know," he whispered. "After your mom died you didn't want to need anyone because you didn't want to get hurt that way again."
"Yeah, but that's changing now."
"But why now, Castle?" she asked. "Why am I just starting to feel that way now after all of these years?"
He pulled away from her so that he could look in her eyes, "Maybe because you're ready to move past it, maybe you're letting go in some ways, or maybe you're ready to be the person you want to be…maybe you found the place where you belong."
"It scares me a little," she admitted.
He smiled softly, "Remember when you told me that everything we needed to know about life we learned in kindergarten?"
"I remember," she told him.
"Then don't be afraid, because we'll hold hands and stick together."
She laughed, "I'll hold you to that."
"Deal, now where are your keys? I'll go get your bag for you."
"In my purse," she answered as she moved away from the kitchen and went to the closet to retrieve her purse.
She carried it back to the kitchen where he was waiting and fished out her gun and badge and laid them on the counter as she searched for the keys.
"I'm instituting rule number 2," Castle announced.
"What's rule number 2?"
"Badge and gun go into the safe."
Kate smiled, "That's probably a good idea; I'll keep looking for the keys while you do that."
A few moments later she pulled the keys out from the bottom of her purse where they had fallen and Castle had returned from placing her gun and badge in the safe.
He took the keys from her and said, "Get your wine and head back to the couch, I'll grab the bag and then we'll watch more TV and hash out the details of the first annual Castle and Beckett Thanksmas."
She laughed and agreed and watched him move through the door. She should feel awkward, standing in his kitchen alone clutching a glass of wine, but she didn't. She should be embarrassed that she had packed a bag that morning in hopes she would be invited to the loft and asked to stay, but she wasn't, and she should feel as if she didn't belong here in this family, but it all felt right, she felt like she did belong, that she was accepted, and that she was loved…and that terrified her but she was determined not to run, so she took her glass of wine and moved back into the living room and settled down in front of the television and waited for him to return.