They ate breakfast side by side and she wondered when he'd go.
Why was he still here?
"So. . .six months, huh?" she said finally, breaking the silence as she spooned cereal into her mouth. He'd offered to try to cook something, but they both knew it'd be a disaster.
"Six. . .yeah. I asked for leave."
"You told me," she murmured, gave him a look. "Right after-"
"Ah. I'm usually not so chatty in bed," he sighed.
"I can see how that'd be a detriment to a CIA agent."
"You think?" he laughed. "You do things to me, Beckett. Not sure they're all good."
She nodded back, saw the seed of seriousness in his eyes. "Yeah," she echoed. "Look, I can't be your CIA asset."
His mouth twisted and he looked away. "Why not?" His voice was hardened now, removed.
"It won't work," she said simply.
"Sure it will."
"It interferes with my job - a conflict of interest-"
"We're on the same side here, Beckett," he said softly.
"Castle. It doesn't work for me. I - my job already sucks up all of my time. And that's how I like it. Being your asset would mean. . .it's a commitment I can't make."
He was silent at that, his thumb rubbing the top of his spoon.
She hurried on. "All of my free time, all of my extra effort goes straight into solving my mother's case. She was murdered, Castle. She was stabbed in alley and left there to die. She was my - I have to do that first. I have to."
He turned an intent look to her, his eyes so sharply sky-blue, his face a road map. "I know you do. And I can help you, Kate. Let me help you."
She shook her head, but his hand was covering hers, squeezing.
"We make a good team. Imagine what we can do with CIA resources, with all my contacts in the field, and your knowledge of this case - Kate. Kate, we could solve it in the next six months."
Something was crowding her chest, something sharp and mad was waking up and she didn't know how to breathe around it.
"Kate. Let's do it together. You come in as my CIA asset, and we put this thing to rest."
She clutched his hand like a lifeline, everything churning in her guts. He'd see what she was like when-
But maybe it was the only way.
"This time. . .without the hood?"
He huffed a laugh and wrapped his arms around her shoulders, dragged her into him for an embrace she felt down to her bones. His fingers tangled in her hair, dragged it back from her face so his mouth could work at hers.
She opened for him, let his tongue invade, let him think he'd conquered before she rose up, mounted her rebellion. Her body surged into his; he rocked back on the stool as she wrapped her legs around his waist. When groaned into her mouth, she slid her hands down his back, tugged the tshirt up over his head despite the stiffness in her shoulder.
"Maybe this time," he growled, his mouth roving down her neck, nudging the collar of her shirt. "Maybe this time with the hood."
She sat in the vee of his legs in her bed, the sheets and blanket tangled around them, his cheek scraping hers while he held the ice pack to her shoulder. The black hood was draped over the knob of her metal headboard and she smiled to herself, bit her lip as Castle reached past her.
"What's this one?" he murmured, his words stirring her hair.
She bit her lip and examined the contents of her mother's case spread across the messy bed, files and notes and photos, evidence and the stuff from her mother's desk and the copies of her cases.
"The two of us," she murmured, taking the photo from his hand. "Ice-skating."
"Look how cute you were," he laughed, his body draped over hers like a warm blanket, a strange contrast to the ice.
She snorted. "I was something. Terrible. I fell too many times to count."
"But you're so graceful."
"Not at that," she sighed, felt her body tense as he reached for another photo, sifting through her stuff. "Castle. Why don't we wait and-"
"No, let's do this now."
She had to make fists in the sheets to keep from snatching it all back, taking it away from him. He was disorganized in his approach, touched everything, wanted to spread it all out. He wanted to do this now?
"What if I want to do something else?" she said, slipping her fingers up his thigh.
"You can't resist me. I know; no woman can. But just hold off on the lust, Beckett. I want to know you better. And not just know-know you."
She bit back the first retort that sprang to mind because she knew it was frustration talking. And not her sexual frustration.
"Honestly, Beckett, I don't think you could take another round." He shifted the ice at her shoulder to make his point and she barely bit back the grunt of pain.
"I get your point," she hissed, elbowing him.
"Good. Now tell me about this."
"It's just the last roll of film she had developed before her murder - family stuff. The negatives are somewhere in this mess you've made."
"Not a mess," he disagreed. "This is my form of the timeline. It's her story. Layers and layers."
Kate shivered hard - it was just the ice melting, the condensation - and watched him move unerringly to the packet of negatives. She didn't want to see them, her mother's face, her own, the innocence.
He held the negatives up to the light and she looked away, her eyes falling on his suit jacket hung carefully from the back of her chair. She could see his holster beneath it, the dark shadow of his weapon, and it made her mouth dry.
She wanted him. Here. Wherever. However. Their sex was fantastic and she was half-dead with exhaustion, but it was more than that. More than his body and his gun. Just what, she didn't know. . .but she had six months to figure it out.
Have her heart broken.
His thigh twitched under her fingers and she realized she was stroking along his bare leg just beneath his boxers. She turned her head with a slow smile, opened her mouth to explore that spot at his neck, but he let out a startled breath.
"Hey. There're photos missing."
"What?" she rasped. Her movement arrested mid-motion, she stared at him.
"Yeah, a range of them. See on the negatives? It goes from you and your father - who looks very nice, by the way. Normal, like you said. And you're right, I should meet him. Sooner rather than later, explain my intentions-"
She slapped his shoulder and yanked the negatives out of his hand. "There are some photos missing. How did I not see that before?"
He was silent for once; she felt his arm slide around her waist, his hand splayed at her stomach, stroking slowly. She rifled through the stack of photographs one more time, searching in vain for that row of three or four that just - negative space, the flare of a wall or rock?-
"Castle, help me," she muttered, holding the film up to the light again. "What is this? What are we looking at?"
His mouth settled lightly at her neck, his arm bringing her body back flush to his chest. She realized her arm was shaking only when he drew his own hand up to enclose hers, bring the negatives back down.
"We'll figure it out. I can get one of my guys to print the images."
He was sliding out from behind her, already leaving her bed, but he went only as far as his jacket pocket. She sat there for a moment, hands clammy in her lap, before she realized what he was doing.
"I'll send the images to my guy right now," he said. "Takes only a moment and he's always on duty."
She watched him take photos of the negative, felt that too-tight squeeze of her heart in her chest, couldn't figure out how to breathe around it. "Castle," she gasped.
He turned his head to her finally, thumbs pausing over the keyboard on his screen. "Kate." He got up immediately and came back to bed, slid in at her side, his mouth at her temple, his other hand cradling her by the back of her neck. "You asked me for help. You've got it. Six months, remember?"
He meant it. He meant to give her the next six months, to put the entire force of his CIA resources at her disposal to solve her mother's case.
She lifted her hand and feathered her fingers at his cheek, over his brow, down his nose as she stared at him. He turned his head slightly and pressed a kiss to her fingertips, snagged her thumb between his teeth, but his eyes were light, and so clear winter-blue, and he was only waiting.
Waiting on her to figure it out.
"Okay," she said finally. "Six months, partner."
stay tuned for the New Adventures of Spy Castle in Episode 2: The Man With the Golden. . .ahh. . .yeah. Actually, here's a sneak preview, slated for sometime in January, and oh yeah, COMPLETELY UNEDITED SO I APOLOGIZE. this is for cartographical, who begged me rather obscenely.
"What are you doing?" he rasped, rooted to the spot, his eyes caught by the bold, black title: Broadway Productions, 1970.
"You're poking around in my life, I thought it was only fair that I do the same."
His heart pounded painfully, his fingers flexed before making fists at his side. "Beckett."
"Oh, it's Beckett now?"
He growled and stepped back, realized his hand was reaching for a weapon that wasn't there. Three weeks into a six-month sabbatical and he still ached for the protection and security of his service weapon. His father would say it was a crutch.
He scraped a hand down his face. "What have you done?"
"I looked up your mother."
"You don't even have a name-"
"I found someone I think is your mother," she amended, raising a hand defensively to him.
Castle made an effort to relax his stance, lower his voice. "You don't know-"
"Read the article, Castle."
She narrowed her eyes at him, came forward to crowd him back into the bookshelves that closed off this space from the main aisle. "Castle."
"I'm not interested."
She leaned in, her fingers sliding at his waist and hooking over his belt, tugging. He swallowed hard - it really wasn't fair, the way she blatantly used her body to get him to obey - and tried to close his eyes against her.
"Fine," she gritted out. "I'll summarize it."
"It says, After a long-speculated hiatus, the incredible Martha Rodgers returns to the stage in-"
He shoved her away, spun out of the alcove, stalking for the stairs, the exit, a way out-
"Richard Castle, do not walk away from me."
His body halted before he could even make up his mind one way or another; traitorous legs, the way they turned him around to face her.
Her eyes were dangerous. "You don't get to ignore your past while you go mucking through mine."