Alexander & Jane: Interlude – Chapter 11
He had no idea what he was doing sitting here, anxiously drinking some coffee he ordered when he had first sat down in the booth. Just the other night, he'd been lounging on the couch with Alexis and Alex, watching some B-grade zombie movie and pigging out on junk food, when they were interrupted by a phone call. It had been Beckett. Normally she'd had been with them, enjoying the family time, but she'd been on call and had a case to solve.
"Kate? Is something wrong?" he'd answered the phone, a little worried considering the late hour.
"No, everything's fine. I'm just getting off," had come her hesitant voice.
"You coming over? I can make up the guest bedroom for you?"
"No… no, that's okay," she'd replied hastily. "I have to get up early tomorrow to hunt down a lead. So, I'm just going to go home and crash." There was a pregnant pause. "I… I was wondering if you'd… er… I don't know, maybe like to… um… meet up for coffee before my shift tomorrow?"
"Um… sure, that'd be nice," Castle had reluctantly agreed. It had almost sounded like she was saying 'we need to talk', and in his experience, conversations that began with that phrase never went well.
"Great," she had enthused. "Can you hand the phone to Alex? I want to say goodnight."
Afterwards, Castle hadn't been able to focus on anything else. The rest of the zombie movie was a blur. He saw the kids to bed, and then tried to get some sleep himself. But sleep never came. He ended up tossing and turning all night, to the point where he was up and showering long before he needed to.
And that's how he found himself sitting in a booth, sipping coffee… and waiting. Once again waiting… on Kate Beckett. It seemed like all he did was wait for her. At first, it was waiting for her to acknowledge him as more than a pesky shadow interfering with police procedure—granted, sometimes he probably was. But still, he had helped crack some cases; she couldn't deny that. Then it was waiting for her to be ready to tell Alex the truth about them, and who he was in relation to the boy. And finally, it was waiting for her to get over her hang-ups and insecurities to admit that she still had feelings for him.
Yet, despite all that patient waiting, it felt like they'd just hit repeat, and were cycling back to the beginning. He'd be the first to admit that some of that was likely his fault. If he hadn't dug into her mother's case, Beckett would never have been disappointed and angry with him. She'd never had imposed that absurd 'friends-with-benefits' arrangement that they'd been living in for the entire summer. And he'd never have been forced to issue that damned ultimatum.
The setbacks had been difficult to deal with, as he missed her, he truly did. But it was about more than just the sex. He wanted Jane back, the carefree and loving Jane, who gave herself whole-heartedly to him. He had seen her in Kate when they'd first gotten back together, shining through the cracks in the hard shell of Detective Beckett. But with his betrayal, those cracks had been sealed and cemented, reinforcing the wall around her heart, making all the more of struggle to break Jane out.
Castle sighed, and shifted anxiously in his seat. He wasn't above admitting that he was nervous. Slightly over two weeks ago, he'd finally gotten to kiss her again, and it had been wondrous. However, they'd yet to have a repeat performance. The closest they got to that kind of intimate contact again was when they'd gone to a movie as a family to celebrate Alex's good grade on a math test that Alexis had helped him study for. Unlike the last time they'd done such a family activity, where she had made sure the kids sat between them, Beckett made a point of sitting next to him, and sharing a bag of popcorn. Their fingers had brushed on multiple occasions, and by the end of the movie, they were holding hands.
It was a start. He'd concede that. It was just a slow start. And after a long summer of meaningless sex in impersonal rendezvous, Castle was growing restless for some forward momentum that proved things were on the right track. He supposed he should be grateful for the little progress they'd made. But he couldn't help but being greedy, and wanting more. Castle wanted to hold Kate in his arms again, to kiss her freely and tell her how much he loved her, and then to show her, worship her body and soul as he had back when she was Jane and he was Alexander.
He'd have to wait for that. Just like he did with everything else. But he was willing to wait, even if it frustrated the hell out of him. Kate Beckett was worth the wait, of that he had no doubts.
Castle took another sip of his coffee and glanced around the familiar diner, taking in the mise-en-scène. He couldn't help but remember the first time he'd been to this diner with Beckett. It had been right after they'd told Alex the truth, and were getting ready to introduce him to the rest of the family.
Castle ended the call and shoved his cell back into his pocket, glancing up to look at Beckett and her son—their son—sitting across from him in the booth. He couldn't help but smile as he observed this new side of Beckett… the mom. He hadn't seen it before, and he found it very endearing to watch her mother Alexander. That still made him smile. Even though she'd been upset and mad at him, she'd still named their son after him.
He reached out and snatched a fry from Beckett's plate and popped it into his mouth, grinning mischievously as she shot him a little annoyed glare, but her reprimanding intent was betrayed by the twinkle of amusement in her eye. And then her eyes softened just a bit, and he noticed the anxiety trickle in, the silent communication that they so easily shared.
"Was that Alexis?" she asked, speaking out loud what her eyes had been asking, referring to his phone call.
"Yep," he confirmed with a nod. "She just called to confirm that she and Mother will be back at the Loft in two hours. So… we still have some time to kill before we gotta head over there."
Beckett gave a slight nod before shifting next to Alex, who was focused on slurping up his chocolate milkshake through the straw and grinning widely when it made funny noises. Castle cracked a grin, remembering doing the exact same thing when he was that age… and last week.
He watched as Beckett absently nibbled on a fry as her eyes glanced out the window, contemplative. Her uncertainty and insecurities were rolling off her in waves, and Castle didn't know what he could do to reassure her that his family wasn't going to be jumping at her in judgment over the last nine years. He'd already discussed it with Alexis and his Mother, both together and separately, and after much discussion, the whole family had agreed that they needed to move past it and embrace the new future that was stretching out before them.
"Mr. Castle, are you married?" Alex suddenly spoke up, pulling Castle's focus away from the brunette detective and towards his son.
"Uh… um… no, why do you ask?" Castle inquired, a little startled by Alex's abrupt question.
"You just said 'Alexis and Mother', so I… assumed you were referring to Alexis's mom," Alex said, now looking uncertain about his assumption.
"Oh," Castle's heart eased a bit. "No… I was referring to my mother, Martha Rodgers. She moved in with us just about around the time I started shadowing your mom."
"So she's my grandmother, right?" Alex asked, his eyes twinkling with all the new information he was getting about his family background. He looked positively thrilled with how his day was going. Castle couldn't blame him. Now that they'd broken the news to Alex, he was hoping he'd get to spend a lot more time with his son, and the boy's mother as well. Oh, yes… Castle was looking forward to spending a lot more time with Detective Beckett outside the precinct.
Blinking out of his thoughts, Castle returned his attention to Alex, and smiled. "Yes," he nodded. "And she's really excited to meet you. As is Alexis. She's always wanted a little brother or sister."
"Cool," Alex exclaimed, before diving back into his milkshake.
"Really?" it was Beckett speaking now, having previously been silently listening in on their conversation. Castle flirted his eyes up, catching the anxious tone to her voice.
"Absolutely." He nodded. "Don't worry, Beckett," he assured her, itching to reach out and give her hand a comforting squeeze, but managed to restrain himself, knowing she wouldn't allow it. "Everything is going to be okay."
She let out a sigh and tentatively inclined her head before turning her attention to Alexander, who still had a nasty bruise on his cheek from his fight at school. He watched as she frowned, before wrapping an arm around Alex's shoulders and rubbing his arm attentively. Alex looked up at her with a confused, and somewhat embarrassed expression, no doubt he felt awkward receiving public displays of affection from his mom. Castle could relate… though, unlike Alex, he wouldn't mind some PDAs from Beckett directed his way.
"Mr. Castle, I was always wonder—"
"Stop calling him that, sweetie," Beckett admonished softly, stroking her hand up and down his arm.
Alex furrowed his brow and glanced up at her. Castle raised his eyebrows, intrigued at her sudden interruption. His gaze darted back and forth between mother and son, waiting and watching.
"Mom?" Alex asked, clearly confused.
"He's your father," Beckett said, her eyes flicking up to lock with Castle's for a moment. "You can call him 'Dad'."
An excited smile spread across their son's face. "Oh… yeah, duh!" he chuckled, shaking his head and turning back to Castle.
"You had a question?"
"Yeah, yeah," Alex seemed to be bouncing with anticipation. "Mom's always told me that I was named after my father, but you're name is Richard Edgar Castle."
He pursed his lips together and looked across at Beckett, before returning his gaze to Alex. "Yes, that's true," he said. "I was born Richard, but only my mother calls me that. Most people call me 'Rick'… or, like your mom and her colleagues… 'Castle'."
Alex bobbed his head and picked up a fry from his mom's plate, giving him a very Beckett-like stare. "I can't help but notice you didn't really answer my question."
"Oh, he is so your son," Castle smirked, glancing up at Beckett to see a beaming smile of pride plastered across her face as she gazed down at her son. Her eyes shifted and she looked at him. "Should I tell him, or do you want to?"
"You're the one he asked, Castle," Beckett said. "You tell him."
"Okay," he shifted and licked his lips nervously before turning his attention back to Alex. "When I met your mother, I'd just gotten through a very nasty divorce with Alexis's mother. I wasn't really in a good place. I was depressed and lacking some confidence in my own self-worth."
Beckett gave him a sympathetic look, knowing the full story about how Meredith had cheated on him, not just once, but multiple times, to the point that even Alexis's paternity had been called into question during the custody hearings. Her hand twitched and he was startled when she reached across the table and grasped his hand tightly, giving him a comforting and supportive squeeze.
He smiled at her, appreciatively, before continuing. "As a result, I went out a lot to places where no one knew me and I could just be lost in a crowd, one face among many. But my invisibility didn't work with your mom. She saw me, came over, and started talking. I was so worried at first, thinking that she'd recognized me from Page 6 or some event I'd attended, and was just talking with me because I was famous."
Alex glanced between his mom and Castle. "Is that how you really met?"
"Yes," Beckett said, her voice heavy with the remembered emotions of the chance meeting. "I was celebrating my birthday with some friends—well, they weren't really friends, but at the time, I thought they were. And I was just trying to be alone, dwell on my own thoughts, when I looked up and saw your father. We locked eyes and had an instant connection." She shrugged. "I just had to talk to him."
Castle was stunned. He marveled at how she'd so nonchalantly told their son about how'd they first met at the club all those years ago. It was different, hearing it from her perspective. Refreshing, in a way.
"You see, Alex, I had grown tired of the sycophants and phonies that hanged around me solely for my fame," he said, picking up where he'd left off. He noticed Beckett was watching him with interested eyes, as intrigued at his version of events as he'd been by hers. "It became clear very early on in our conversation that she didn't know I was Richard Castle, famous novelist. So, it made me feel good about myself that your mom was talking to me because she liked me for me, not for my fame. I liked it so much that I just couldn't bring myself to break that wonderful bubble of anonymity, because I really liked the feeling of someone talking to me, Rick… not to Richard Castle."
"I can understand that," Alex bobbed his head, just like Alexis, wise beyond his years. Must be a family trait, Castle thought.
"So, when she asked my name, wanting to keep that feeling of being liked for who I was and not for my fame, I told her my name was Alexander Rodgers," Castle explained. "Which was the truth, from a certain point of view. I really didn't lie. My name may legally be Richard Edgar Castle, but I was born Richard Alexander Rodgers."
Alex leaned back in the booth, nodding his head, smiling slightly at finally having confirmation that he was, in fact, named after his father. "I'm so glad it wasn't just some name you made up," he admitted. "I've always liked the idea I was named after my dad. It made me feel close to him… well… to you, I guess." His eyebrows knitted together, confusedly. He chuckled and shook his head. "I guess I'm still getting used to it."
"I know the feeling, buddy," Castle replied with a slight grin.
"So those were your reasons?" it was Beckett asking the question.
"Huh?" he glanced up, puzzled. Her question seemed to have come out of nowhere.
She stammered, and averted her gaze, a blush coloring his cheeks. "About why you lied about your name?" she elaborated.
"Yes," Castle answered with genuine honesty in his voice, praying that she'd recognize his sincerity. "I wanted you to like me for me, not for the person of Richard Castle."
Beckett slowly drew her lower lip between her teeth and smiled. "I did," she responded after a long pause. "I liked you for you." Then she paused again before adding. "I still do."
It all seemed so long ago. A happier time, a simpler time, when things didn't seem as complicated as they were now. A time in which he firmly believed things were heading in a positive direction. Though they'd made some improvements, and things were getting better, he still felt like they were at a standstill. And he wanted that to change.
He was pulled from his thoughts when the bell dinged, announcing the entrance of another patron. Castle glanced up, his eyes softening while a warm feeling spread throughout his veins as he recognized the slender form of Kate Beckett. She was dressed in her usual work attire, looking effortlessly gorgeous. His heart rate increased and he couldn't stop the smitten grin from forming across his face as he stared at her, milking in her natural beauty.
"Hey, Kate! It's been a while," the old man behind the counter called out when she entered.
Beckett stopped and turned, giving the man an easy smile. "Just been busy, Viktor," she replied. "How's Lucille?"
"Oh, doing good," he replied happily. "The doctors say she's in remission. She's taking it easy, spending time with the grandkids."
"That's good. Really good," Kate smiled, reaching out across the counter to give the man's arm an affectionate squeeze. Castle watched the interaction, suddenly remembering that the Becketts were regulars and were treated practically like family. Jim came here often for coffee and brunch with his friends.
"That writer you like is already here," the old man pointed to Castle, not so subtly.
Castle saw Beckett roll her eyes and smile. "Yeah, I'm meeting him for coffee… we have some things to talk about."
Viktor nodded sagely. "How about I fix you two up some blueberry waffles to go with those coffees?" he asked, smiling warmly at Kate.
She chewed on her lower lip, before nodding. "Yeah. That sounds good. Thanks, Viktor."
"No problem, Kate!" the man grinned, and then turned around to prepare the order.
Beckett wrapped her fingers around the ceramic coffee mug he'd placed on the counter for her as she spun around, catching Castle's eye. She flashed him a quick smile, before closing the distance and sliding into the booth, sitting opposite him.
"Thanks for agreeing to meet me so early," she spoke softly, pausing to take a sip of her hot coffee. "I know how much you like to sleep in."
"No problem," he said, practically inhaling his coffee. "To be honest, I really didn't sleep at all last night, so it was no trouble."
Beckett raised her eyebrows as she looked him over, a hint of concern in her eyes. "Because of me?"
"No… more 'us'," Castle answered at length. She gave him a sympathetic look before averting her eyes. "I love you, Kate. And it physically hurts when I can't say that and have you doubt my intentions."
"I don't," she asserted, glancing back up. Her eyes firm. "I don't doubt your intentions, Castle. I may have, a long time ago, but not anymore." She paused for a moment, chewing on her lower lip. "And I feel the same way. I hate that we're at odds. And I really want to fix this, to make everything right."
"As do I, Kate," Castle affirmed, reaching out to grasp her hand, smiling when she flipped her palm over and intertwined their fingers. He sighed, and looked up into her eyes. "It's just… I know we're getting there. It… it just…"
"Feels like it's taking too long," Kate supplied with a raised eyebrow.
"Yeah," he bobbed his head.
She squeezed his hand reassuringly. "I want the same thing, Castle. I want us to be more… so much more than we are," she asserted. She licked her lips and Castle sucked in a deep breath, sensing a confession coming. "I've had a lot of time over the years to think about us, and… and I've come to the conclusion that this… that you… you're it for me. There is no one else. When I think of the future, all I can see is you." She paused to let out a long breath. "I told you once that I was a 'one and done' kind of girl. So I guess what I'm trying to tell you is that you're my one. I just want you."
"Oh, Kate," Castle mouth spread wide in a joyful grin. "I… I feel the same way."
Beckett flicked her eyes up at him before her lips spread wide in a beaming smile, one that lit up her whole face. She got up from her side of the booth and he watched, curious and a little confused until he noticed what she was doing. He smiled widely and scooted over just as she slid into the booth, saddling right up along beside him, pressing up against his side as he angled his mouth to met hers in a heated kiss.
He sighed and closed his eyes, relishing the feel of her lips moving over his, her hand coming up to caress the side of his face and hold him there. She broke away first, nipping at his bottom lip as she panted against his mouth.
"You never cease to amaze me, Kate Beckett," he murmured, still slightly dazed by the kiss, nuzzling his nose against hers. He let out a shaky breath and glanced up at her, smiling weakly. "It's strange, you know? I almost feel like this is a first date."
Beckett smiled coyly as she batted her eyelashes. "What if it is?"
Castle sputtered, caught off guard for her response. He looked into her eyes, seeing that sparkle and zest for life that he hadn't seen in so long. He reached up and cupped the side of her face in his palm, caressing her cheek with the pad of his thumb. "To a new start," he murmured.
"A new start," she echoed, her eyelids fluttering closed as he leaned in to give him another kiss.
He hummed into her mouth, holding her tight as she brought a hand up to rest on his chest, just over his heart. She sighed and leaned her forehead against his, eyes locked in a silent yet heated discussion. A lot of work still lay ahead of them. Everything wasn't fixed yet, but at least the wait seemed over. They were finally on the same page. Their moment was interrupted when someone cleared his throat. Startled, they pulled back from one another to find Viktor standing by the table with a knowing smirk spread across his wrinkled face, eyes twinkling with amusement.
"Here's your blueberry waffles, kids," he chuckled. "Enjoy yourselves."
"We will!" Castle hollered back as the old man walked away. Kate gave him a little glare and swatted his chest playfully, before he silenced any objections she was about to make with a deep kiss.
*A/N: The flashback takes place after Ch 13 of ALEXANDER & JANE, when Beckett was finally forced to tell Alex that Castle is his father. We will be entering the world of Season 2 in the next chapter.