TITLE: Alexander & Jane: Interlude
AUTHOR: Lord of Kavaka
TIMELINE: Season 1 AU, Sequel to "Alexander & Jane"
STORY TYPE: Romance/Angst
SPOILERS: Anything from Season 1
DISCLAIMER: I do not own them, and I make no profit.
SUMMARY: Trust breached, it's time to rebuild. Caskett; Season 1 AU
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Picks up immediately where "Alexander & Jane" left off... basically its kind of a continuation of season 1 from "A DEATH IN THE FAMILY" but in my WHAT'S IN A NAME? universe, where Castle and Beckett met 9 years prior to season 1 and had a three month love affair that ended badly due to some misunderstandings and assumptions, not to mention producing a son that Castle was unaware of until they reunited. If you haven't read "Alexander & Jane" I'd recommend you read it before this.
Alexander & Jane: Interlude – Chapter 1
"You can't keep that from her," Martha said, her voice firm while her eyes gleamed with sympathetic understanding.
"I know," he grunted. "But she said if I opened the file, that we'd be through."
His mother put her hands on her hips and shook her head at him. "Do you really believe that, Richard?" she questioned, unconvinced. "After all the hard work you two have done to put to bed past mistakes, I think you should give her a little more credit."
He gave her a hard stare, knowing full well she had stressed the word 'bed' on purpose. It had only been their second night together, after their initial recoupling, when Martha had nearly walked in on them in flagrante delicto. It was so embarrassing. He had to shield Kate's nude chest, her legs still cradling his hips as he hovered over her. Thank god they'd had the good sense to wrap the covers around them… otherwise his mother would have been graced with a view of his naked derriere.
And of course, his mother wasn't even fazed by it. She just apologized quickly and with a "Carry on, kiddos!" she was ducking out of the room and closing the door behind her.
Needless to say, the mood had been killed.
"She loves you, Richard. And you love her."
"I know," he ground out, snapping back to the present. "But… you don't know how she can be, Mother. When things are personal, she'll jump to conclusions. And hold grudges. I think the last nine years can attest to that fact." He paused to heave in a deep breath. "She's going to take this personally, which she should, considering the case. But it's not like I've blatantly disobeyed her orders."
"Yet you have," Martha asserted with a casual shrug of her shoulders, not really helping. She sighed, giving him an apologetic look. "I didn't mean it like that, darling. I'm sure if you explain things, she'll understand why you did it." Castle gave her a dubious look. When Kate was pissed off, it really wasn't easy to explain things. "Whatever her reaction is going to be… it doesn't matter. She has to know."
Rick Castle stood outside in the hallway, ignoring the bustle of doctors and nurses around him, trying to buck up the courage to knock on the door and announce his presence. His conversation with his mother was running through his mind. Momentarily, he pondered when his mother had become so wise. He shook his head. That didn't matter. What mattered was that she was right. He knew she was. He had new information that could give Kate a lead. He had to tell her.
But he was torn.
For purely selfish reasons, he wanted things to keep going as they had been. Kate was more open, and happier than he'd seen her in a long while. Her smile illuminated his world, and he loathed to disrupt that. Yet, he couldn't keep this from her. It was too important, too sacred to do so. Even if this upset their lives, it was the right thing to do.
She had to know.
Swallowing past the lump in his throat, Castle pushed forward, inching the door open. Her beautiful laugh pealed through the room, causing his heart to constrict with inner turmoil, knowing that he was about to unbalance her psyche. He paused, at the threshold, unashamedly eavesdropping on their conversation.
"No, you didn't. Stop making me laugh," that was Sorenson.
Castle gritted his teeth. He wasn't ashamed to admit he didn't like the guy. Call it jealousy, or just overprotectiveness, but he just knew that the FBI agent was keen on reconnecting with Beckett. And after he'd gotten injured while reluctantly assisting them on a case, Kate seemed more willing to forgive and forget Sorenson's past indiscretions than he was.
"Oh, come on," Beckett said, a teasing lilt to her voice. "It's not like you've been shot or something."
His heart wrenched up when the two laughed together, as if they were reliving old times, when they'd been dating. Castle knew it was petty, but he wanted to be the only one that could make her laugh like that.
"I thought you were over sprinkles," Sorenson said, catching Castle's interest.
He peeked his head around the edge of the door, spying Beckett picking at a rainbow sprinkled donut. He frowned. She didn't like sprinkled donuts. He'd gotten her one once, and she'd told him that she couldn't stand them.
Beckett smiled, and broke off some of the pastry before nibbling on the tidbits. "Maybe not," she replied with what looked like an enticing smirk.
Great, he thought, after all that hard work, she's lowering her defenses and letting jerk face back in. Swallowing his jealousy, knowing now was not the time for it, Castle rapped his knuckles along the surface of the door.
"Oh look, it's the writer monkey," Sorenson sneered. Beckett gave him a mild 'grow-up' glare, but her eyes were still sparkling with amusement, before turning to give Castle a questioning look. Meanwhile, the injured FBI agent continued, "What is he still doing here? Haven't you finished your book yet?"
"Last chapter," Castle replied with a crisp nod of his head before focusing on Beckett. "Do you have a sec?"
Beckett raised her eyebrows and pursed her lips. "Sure," she nodded. Turning back to Sorenson, she murmured a quick, excuse me, and put the remaining donut back down on his tray before standing up.
"Watch it, Kate," Sorenson said with a teasing smirk. "He likes you."
Beckett rolled her eyes and chuckled, turning to Castle. Oh, you don't know the half of it, Castle thought. "You'll have to forgive him. He is heavily medicated," she said, putting a hand on his arm to direct him out into the corridor.
Once out of the room, she let her hand drop down his arm to his hand, interlacing their fingers. She smiled at him, knowingly. "If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were jealous, Castle," she teased, her tongue flicking out between her teeth as she smiled.
Castle heaved in a deep breath. She knitted her eyebrows together, confused when he didn't squeeze her hand back.
"You look awfully serious," she observed, narrowing her eyes worriedly. "Is everything okay?"
He directed them a little ways down the hall, and gestured towards a row of plastic chairs. "Take a seat."
Beckett chuckled. "What?"
"Castle, what's going on?"
This was it. There was no going back. He took in a deep breath to try and calm his nerves, but it didn't work. His nerves were already frayed.
"It's about your mother."
He watched, crestfallen, as her smile disappeared and she staggered back, letting go of his hand. Her demeanor completely changed from that light teasing to a somber shock.
Castle waited for a response, but he got none. She seemed incapable of speech. Her eyes were large and expressive, just the hints of tears threatening. Her mouth moved, but there was no sound. If he had to name it, he'd say that she looked shell-shocked.
Inhaling a quick breath, he decided to tear the bandage off. "I've had someone I trust take a look at the case file, and Kate, he found some things that I think might give us some—"
Castle cringed at the harsh tone in her voice. She was pissed. So very pissed. And rightly so, really. She'd told him—specifically told him—not to do this. But, being him, he couldn't help himself. He had to, knowing that for her to fully become the woman he knew she could become, to fully embrace life and a promising future, she had to have closure. He knew it. Her dad knew it. Hell, even Esposito knew it, otherwise the detective would never have given him access to the case file in the first place.
And Castle knew, not just from the current woman before him, but also from the woman he'd known only as Jane, that if this case were never solved, it would haunt Kate Beckett for the rest of her life.
"No. Just… No," she held up her hand to forestall any explanations or excuses he might have. "You… don't get to do that. Not now."
He took in a deep breath, unsure how to handle this. It was decidedly new territory for him. Her anger wasn't anything new. He'd had to deal with that before. But that's not what he was seeing, was it? He knew what Kate Beckett looked like angry. And this was not it.
"Look," he hedged, cautious, as if he was stepping around broken glass. "I get that you're angry. I do."
"Angry?" Beckett sputtered, eyes wide, brows raised in amazement at his audacity. "Damn right I'm angry." She jabbed her finger into his chest. "Damn it, Castle, what did I tell you? I gave you one simple rule. Stay the hell out of my mother's case. And what do you do? You go digging right into it!"
Again, she interrupted, "I can't believe you did that. I… I just can't." Beckett pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes, the vein on the side of her forehead throbbing. He wanted so badly to reach out and soothe it away, desperate to make her see that he was only trying to help. But he managed to restrain himself, knowing very well that that would only make things worse.
"I… Kate, I just want to…," words failed him as he fought with all his instincts not to reach out and embrace her. Castle grumbled a silent curse. Out of all the times to not have any words, now was certainly the worse. He let out a shaky breath and looked at her pleadingly, hoping she'd just understand him like he knew she could. No one in his entire life had understood him the way Jane (a.k.a. Kate Beckett) had. For heaven's sake, she had known him without actually knowing him or who he really was.
She had to understand.
She just had to!
But she didn't.
She was already shrinking away from him, he could tell. He'd known her long enough to know when she was pulling back, and that's what he was seeing. The light in her eyes had dimmed, and something crossed her face for a brief moment before she suppressed it. But she hadn't been quick enough. He'd seen it. And it hurt more than the anger. Far more.
It was disappointment.
He'd disappointed her. And that… that was like a knife to the gut.
"Why?" she whispered, like the plaintive cry of a lost sheep. "Why would you do this? I thought you understood… I… I thought…" her voice trailed off and she looked away from him, disillusionment written all over her face.
God, he'd done that to her. He knew her mind, how it worked, and he knew what she was thinking. She was doubting everything again. His love, her love, all of it.
Castle gritted his teeth, vexed by her irrational jumps in logic. It was growing annoying. And frankly, it was quite surprising considering her occupation. If he didn't love her so much, he would be half-tempted to just give up here and now… and walk away. But he did love her. So very much. And he couldn't throw that away. Not after all the time they'd lost, the lives they could have lived if only things had gone differently.
Their families were still two separate units, but should have already been one… from the very beginning, back when Alexander had been born. But, that was not how it had happened. There was no point in dwelling on a past he couldn't change. He had to focus on the future. And he was working on that. He really was. They'd only recently reconciled some of their past mistakes. But, like always, he had to sabotage their success.
It was ironic, he thought, that once they'd finally reunited and reconciled their pasts, a schism was now forming between them… again. But this one was of his own making.
She was right. She'd given him one simple rule. And he'd broken it. He'd asked Esposito to give him a peek into Johanna Beckett's case file, and then he had had the bright idea to ask Dr. Clark Murray for an outside consultation, hoping that the forensic pathologist would find something that might shed some new light on the decade's old murder investigation. And he had. That's what was so brilliant and tragic at the same time. He had a new lead for Beckett, yet now she wanted nothing to do with it.
Beckett was still waiting for his response. She was standing there, her back ramrod straight, arms folded protectively over her chest. She was worrying her bottom lip, and purposely not looking at him directly, rather she seemed fixated on some random spot just to the left of his head. It was slightly unnerving, having her glare at him, yet not really.
"I did it for you," Castle couldn't hold back any longer. He was getting fed up with this pattern of running in circles. Besides, it was also the truth.
She stood there in shock, her mouth hanging open in disbelief. She attempted to speak, but she only ended up stammering. Shaking her head, Beckett took a conscious step backwards.
"No," she seethed, the fury returning to her eyes, fueling her rage like wood to a fire. "You wanted the story. Right? You wanted all the gory details to use for Nikki Heat's background. That's all it is with you, isn't it? Just the books. That's all this has ever been about," she gestured between them, "the books!"
He stood there agape, truly at a loss of words for her continued stubbornness to even listen to him and what he'd just said. Damn it, Kate, read between the lines! You know what this has been about, and it has never been about the books! Castle wanted so badly to reach out and shake her. However, doing so would only further aggravate the situation. He had to clench his hands into fists at his sides to prevent himself from doing anything he might regret.
"How can you even say that?" he shouted back, completely ignoring the fact they were standing in the middle of a hospital corridor. Some of the nurses making their rounds paused and glanced their way, some with interest, others not.
Castle heaved in a quick breath and raked his fingers through his hair, averting his gaze for a moment, trying to delay this big blow up for as long as he could. God, it had just been a few weeks ago that he'd woken up to find a deliciously naked Kate Beckett in his bed, decidedly determined for another round. Now he had an unsettled feeling developing in the pit of his stomach.
The last time he'd had that feeling was when he'd been talking with Jane on the phone and suddenly realized she was at the same bookstore that was hosting his very first book signing. She was waiting in line to get his autograph, oblivious to the fact that the man she was so excited to meet—author Richard Castle—was in fact the very same man that she had known as Alexander Rodgers. And after that whole fiasco, he hadn't seen her for nine years. Not again. He wasn't going to let her run away this time.
Having calmed somewhat, Castle made his move. Before she could object, he grabbed her arm and pulled her into an empty room. He tried to take some comfort in the fact that she did not resist, but there was little to be had at the moment.
Once Castle was sure that they had some privacy, he turned back to her, setting his brow, determined to remain steadfast in his arguments and not allow her to get the upper hand. God, who was he kidding? She'd always have the upper hand.
"Now you're going to listen to me, Kate," he ground out, not caring how his tone sounded. "I've spent the last couple of months having you give me the cold shoulder and act like what we had wasn't worth trying to rebuild—"
"I never said that—"
"Let me talk, okay?" he waited to see if she'd let him continue. Beckett swallowed slightly and gave the tinniest of nods. "It wasn't my intention to hurt you. I never wanted to go behind your back, but I had too. That case… Kate, it holds you back. You may not have been actively pursuing it, but it's always in the back of your mind. We both know that. Remember how you were when we met? When you were Jane and I was Alexander? You were spiraling down because of it. You'll never have peace of mind until you have some sort of closure, and don't try to deny it."
"I won't," she stiffly replied.
"Good," he tilted his head, arching an eyebrow, a little surprised she'd even admit that. "What I'm saying is that I recognize the fact that this is something that is a part of you, and always will be. You're burdened by it… and I—"
"Wanted to share the load?" she asked, tone neutral.
"In a manner of speaking, yes," Castle bobbed his head.
He watched as Beckett took an imperceptible breath. "I…," she paused, turning away for a moment as she brushed her fingers through her hair. She'd started letting it grow out since they reunited, a fact that hadn't gone unnoticed by him. "Castle… I…," she was fumbling over her words now, but the weight she held to them was clear. "Look, I… need… time, to process all this."
"Okay," his lips barely moved, his heart seemed suspended in motion. "How much time?"
"I… I don't know," she shook her head, making a point of not meeting his gaze. She was focusing on the floor, her fingers playing with the hem of her sweater. "When… I'm ready to… discuss this, I'll give you a call." Her eyes flicked up and she finally looked at him. He swallowed. She was unreadable. "Alright?"
"Alright," Castle replied, his shoulders slumping in defeat. He was not going to win today. Nope, not today. He inhaled deeply through his nostrils and locked eyes with her. She was somewhat hesitant, but he could still read the steely determination in her eyes. "You will call?"
"Yes," she replied, and that was as close to a promise as he would ever get from Kate Beckett.
Not knowing what else to do with them, Castle shoved his hands into his pockets. "Whatever you may think of me, you have to believe me when I say I never meant to betray your trust or hurt you," he said, to which she scoffed and rolled her eyes. He sighed and forced their gazes to meet. "I love you, Kate. I really do. If you believe anything, please at least believe that. Because it's the truth. I'm insanely in love with you and I… in my own pigheaded way, I was just trying to help."
"I believe you," Beckett conceded. But to which part, he didn't know.
Castle nodded, and gave a weak smile, but it wouldn't reach his eyes. He hated this, leaving on such terms, with the tension still thick enough to cut with a knife. But there was little else he could do today. It was like she said. He had to give her time to process his betrayal. Because, when it came down to it, no matter his intentions or results, she viewed this as a betrayal. And that's what he had to do too if he was going to make amends and somehow return them back to the almost surreal reality they'd been living in for the past few weeks before the preverbial bubble popped.
With a brief nod, Beckett eased passed him and back out into the hospital corridor, heading back to Sorenson's recovery room. Castle tried not to read too much into that. He knew she felt guilty over how the FBI agent had been shot as a result of their investigation into the murder of Dr. Joshua Leeds, the plastic surgeon.
He stood there, in the doorway, leaning against the frame as he watched Beckett from afar. She paused at the door to Sorenson's room, tentatively glancing back over her shoulder at him. Her eyes still held that disappointment mixed with betrayal look. But there was also something else there, glistening in the depths of her expressive eyes. He hoped it was forgiveness and love, love at the very least. Because he didn't know what he'd do if he couldn't have her love. Beckett bit her bottom lip and looked away, slipping through the door and disappearing.
Castle sighed and pushed off from the doorframe, ignoring the looks of the nurses as he stormed passed. He had to get the hell out of this damn hospital.