Alexander & Jane: Interlude – Chapter 2
Kate didn't know what to feel. Sure, she was angry. She wanted to yell at him, severely chastise him for doing the one thing she had asked him not to do. But, at the same time, she was also so very disappointed, and that seemed to outweigh the anger, which was what had stayed her hand when it had been so tempting to just slap the living hell out of him.
Letting out a dejected sigh, she glanced away from him as he stood there, looking forlorn and remorseful—though she had noticed that despite everything he'd said, he hadn't actually articulated a proper apology. She took a slow breath, and pushed forward, entering Sorenson's room.
Will was lying back, resting his head in the propped up pillows. He appeared to be asleep, but his eyes opened the moment she entered the room, and he smiled, a slight tug of his lips that was so very telling. He knew something was up, and because of his doped up mind, he probably thought that if he oozed out the charm he could find out what it was. She fought the urge to roll her eyes.
"So… what did Writer Monkey want?" he asked, the undertones of jealousy in his voice.
"Nothing that concerns you," Kate answered curtly, once again taking up her seat beside his bed. "And don't call him Writer Monkey, he's Alexander's father, not some stupid ape." Even if that's how she thought of him at the moment, she wasn't going to allow anyone else too.
"Fine," Sorenson grumbled.
Kate knew that her behavior as of late had been odd. She had felt slightly guilty that Will had been shot while helping them out with a case, and when she had first arrived at the hospital, he'd been so drugged that it had been easy to just fall back into their old pattern of flirting. It didn't mean anything… she was just trying to be polite and have a little bit of fun. Plus, she did always like teasing him. It was one of the things she'd found most enjoyable when they were together. And he didn't seem to mind. Will was very keen on pretending that nothing had changed, that there was no Rick Castle and all that he'd learned about her past with the bestselling author wasn't real.
Like her first relationship with Castle, her relationship with Sorenson had been intense, but brief. But whereas she'd only been with Castle for around two or three months before it all went sideways due to misunderstandings and assumptions, Kate had been with Sorenson for six months before it ended.
However, in the matters of her heart, when put next to Castle, Will Sorenson was nothing more than a blip. She'd never really loved him. She had liked him… a lot, enough so that she had agreed to date him, partly in an attempt to finally move on. And she had been so very lonely and in need for physical companionship. He was the only man she'd ever slept with after Castle. And for a while, she thought it would work, that she'd found someone who could be both a husband to her and a father to little Alexander. But then he'd gotten his promotion and wanted her to drop everything to move with him to Boston.
And that's how it ended. His sudden proposition of moving away from New York had been the final straw, forcing her to acknowledge what their relationship really was. She'd never love him. He would never be enough. Never be what she wanted. Because what she had wanted was Richard Castle. Hell, she had even admitted it to herself, at the time, that she was probably still in love with the rakish mystery author.
"So… you two… you're back together?" he asked, pulling her out of her thoughts. It had been a while since she'd gotten lost in her thoughts like that, and it was a little embarrassing.
"Yeah, we are," she replied without hesitation, reaching back for the sprinkled donut, nibbling at it anxiously.
"And you're sure everything is okay?" Sorenson pressed.
She narrowed her eyes at him, knowing he was trying to find an opening that would tell him that her and Castle weren't totally serious again.
"As I said, none of your concern," she replied with a firm voice. And it really wasn't. What went on between her and Castle was just that… between her and Castle. She wasn't going to let anyone butt in, especially when that someone else was an ex-boyfriend who made no secret that he wanted to get back together; despite the fact she'd made it very clear that that was not going to happen.
"Okay," Sorenson gave a shrug, dropping the topic, which was odd for him.
Early, in his futile attempts to woo her back, he'd been trying to pretend the whole incident at the precinct hadn't happened. It had been a couple of weeks since she'd punched him in the nose for roughing up Castle when he had seen the writer pinning her to the back wall of the precinct elevator, kissing her hard and fierce. The memory of it—both punching Sorenson in the face, and the way Castle had been kissing her, not to mention the way his hands had deliciously roamed her body—still made her smile slightly, but only slightly, just a little tug of her lips, nothing more.
Her thoughts darkened though, recalling what had just occurred out in the corridor and in the empty hospital room. For the time being, Kate wanted to forget about it. Though she fully understood that she couldn't let it sit for too long. If she did, the whole thing would fester and the damage would be irreparable. And that was something she did not wish to happen.
But for now, she just wanted to be distracted from serious things.
Schooling her features, and thoughts, Kate smiled back at Sorenson and feigned levity, quickly returning them to the fun and light conversation that they had been having before Castle had shown up with his somber news.
After an hour or two, maybe three, Kate was growing tired of putting up a happy front—plus Sorenson really did need rest to recover from his injuries. Not to mention, she was getting irritated with all his little comments that implied they were getting back together when that was so obviously not the case. So, she excused herself and made her way home, hoping to find some solace with her family. When she unlocked the front door of the apartment and let herself in, she found her dad sitting in his favorite armchair watching Jeopardy, occasionally endeavoring to answer the questions before the contestants.
"Hey," she greeted when he glanced over his shoulder in reaction to hearing the front door close.
"Evening, Katie," he gave her a welcoming smile, one she sorely needed. "So… um… how's Will?"
"Doing okay," she answered, shrugging out of her coat and tossing it onto the back of the couch. "He's out of surgery and recovering."
"That's… good," her father said, nodding slightly as he turned back to the TV. She knew her father had never liked Will, which strangely enough had helped a little when she'd broken up with him.
Truth be told, she wasn't really planning on going back to visit him at all… in the hospital or elsewhere, for that matter. He was a big boy; he could deal with the rest on his own. She was done with Will Sorenson. He was the past. Castle was her past, too, but she also saw him in her future, even if she was angry with him at present.
Jim Beckett had long been a proponent of her getting in touch with Richard Castle and trying to reconcile that relationship, even if she had not wanted to rekindle the romance of it. He was one of the few that really knew how much that short time with Castle had helped her after her mother's death, and both of their subsequent downward spirals.
Kate wondered what her father would say to this latest development. Hell, she hadn't even informed him about the recent change in her relationship with Castle. Martha was the only one who knew about them rekindling the romantic (or rather physical) side of things, and that was only because the aging diva had walked in on them while they'd been fooling around in Castle's bed.
It had been rather embarrassing, but thankfully Castle had been able to shield most of her nude body with his own, and it did help that they were under the covers too. Still, it had been a mood killer, much to her chagrin. However, Kate did find it strange that Castle's mother would just barge into his bedroom without knocking.
Jim Beckett hadn't done anything similar to Martha Rodgers, which she was eternally grateful for. She'd be mortified if her father ever caught her and Castle in the act. So, for all her father knew, she was still pushing the writer away and refusing to reconcile.
There was a big part of her that really did not understand why she had ever felt so unworthy of him. That feeling had come out of nowhere, so she couldn't really say why she'd believed that. Part of her knew that it was most likely a result of her stupid assumption of his intentions, and also because of her own shame in regards to keeping the birth of Alex from him. Plus, she'd felt like such a mess, and unworthy of anyone, really, at the time. The whole thing had really been irrational. The feeling had come out of the blue, and she latched on to it, using it as an excuse to keep him at arm's length.
It had also helped with her hurt and disappointment when Castle had caved into his ex-wife's admittedly aggressive advances and slept with her, something that still gnawed at her. At the time it had happened, Kate had believed herself to be partially to blame, seeing as she'd given him mixed signals and had stirred things up, leaving him wanting with needs she was yet unready to assist him with. She couldn't fault him for falling into bed with Meredith, especially when the redheaded actress was so ready and willing to help out with his baser needs—needs that Kate had brought on.
Still, it had bugged her that he was unable to resist. Which, in the end, had probably only added to her confused state and had prolonged their eventual reconciliation.
Kate could still vividly recall the incident that had put Castle into the position of needing someone to fulfill his physical desires. She had shown up at his place, clad in her workout clothes and still sweaty from her intense yoga exercises. Castle had been semi-drunk and angry with her, rightfully so, since he'd just discovered she'd been keeping Alexander a secret. She had wanted to apologize, that's all, but the smell of him—just him, no fancy cologne, mixed with a hint of whiskey—was so very intoxicating. Not to mention, he was kind of sexy when he was angry, all hot and bothered. She'd almost given in to the overpowering magnetism then and there… on the floor of his living room, his mouth devouring hers as his large hands roamed her trembling body.
In retrospect, Kate wished she'd done so, because then things would have been so very different. They'd have had more time to rekindle their romantic relationship before the bubble burst. As it were, they'd only really had a couple of weeks to enjoy one another without life getting in the way.
Shaking her head, Kate frowned at her recent habit of drifting away in contemplative thought. If she wanted to fix things, she was going to have to remain in the present and not get lost in past mistakes. Returning her focus, Kate leaned down to kiss her father on the cheek. It was her way of showing him how much she loved and appreciated him. Jim raised his eyebrows, a little taken aback by his daughter's behavior.
"Is something wrong, sweetie?" he questioned, narrowing his eyes. She could tell from a mile away when her father was attempting to get a read on her.
"No. Everything's fine," she lied, rounding the couch to head for the kitchen. "Do you want some coffee or tea?" she hollered back.
"No, I'm fine," Jim replied, letting the matter drop. "Thanks for asking."
Kate filled the kettle with water as she turned the burner on. The flames burst to life in a small puff, and she slid the kettle over the stove. Tea. Yeah. That's what she felt like. She was too hyper and worked up for coffee. Turning away, Kate returned to the living room and slumped down onto the couch, absently staring at the screen, watching as Alex Trebek spoke with the contestants, which made her think of another Alex.
"Where's Alex?" she asked after a beat, noticing that her son was nowhere to be seen.
Jim glanced up from the TV. "In his room. When he finished his homework, I said he could play on his X-Box."
"X-Box?" she echoed in surprise, raising her eyebrows. "Since when did Alex have a X-Box?"
"Uh," her father stuttered. "You… you mean Rick didn't tell you?"
"Tell me what?" she narrowed her eyes, suspicious. "Wait. Are you saying that Castle bought him the X-Box?"
Jim let out a breath and nodded, giving her a tight smile, looking relieved that she had guessed correctly and he didn't have to tell her. "Yeah…," he paused, taking in her scowl. "Was he not supposed to do that?"
"Yes. No…," Kate let out a huff in annoyance. "It's fine. It doesn't matter." She slumped back into the cushions and crossed her arms over her chest, knowing that she was pouting like a child.
Her father looked at her cautiously, before shrugging and turning his attention back to the TV. They sat in companionable silence as he occasionally tried to get the answers right as he watched Jeopardy. After an interval, the loud piercing wail of the heated kettle pulled Kate out of her apathetic torpor.
Pushing up off the couch, she went back into the kitchen and turned the burner off. She opened the cabinets and pulled out a mug, filling it with boiling water as she opened a drawer and rummaged for a package of herbal tea. Letting the teabag soak and percolate within the water, Kate sighed and lolled her head forward, using one hand to rub the back of her neck. She could feel the tension in her shoulders and it was making her anxious. She had nervous energy that needed to be released, but nothing to do. Her muscles were tensing up from trying to contain it.
Kate picked the mug up and brought the lip up to her nose, inhaling the aroma of the hot tea. She closed her eyes and took a big whiff, allowing the scent to surround and permeate her entire being. Hopefully the herbal tea would help to calm her nerves and ease her worries. The last thing she needed to do was go to bed all tense. If she did, she'd wake up with stiff and achy muscles, and that was not something she wanted.
Taking a sip of her tea, she slipped back into the living room and walked up to her father, lightly touching him on the shoulder to gain his attention. "I think I'll go check on Alex and then go take a bath before bed. Do you need anything while I'm up?"
"No, sweetie, I'm fine," Jim assured her. "Go see Alex, and then enjoy your bath."
"I will," she replied, squeezing his shoulder affectionately to let him know that she appreciated all that he did, and the fact that he wasn't pestering her on her current mood.
Kate marched down the hall, letting her legs carry her as she drummed her fingers on the ceramic of her warm mug. She could hear faint noises emanating from Alex's room. His door was slightly ajar, which informed her she wouldn't get in trouble for intruding on his private time. When he wanted to be left alone, he would close the door fully, though he wasn't allowed to lock it.
Pausing as she reached the door, Kate sucked in a deep breath and forced a smile onto her face. She wasn't going to let what was happening between her and Castle affect her son… their son. She had decided long ago, back when Castle first returned into her life, that she wouldn't let anything stand in the way of father and son bonding.
Even though his door was slightly ajar signaled he'd be okay with an interruption, Kate still lifted her hand and lightly tapped her knuckles on the plywood surface.
"Come in," came Alex's somewhat distracted voice.
Kate pushed the door open and leaned against the doorframe, glancing into the room. Alex was seated on the edge of his bed, facing the TV he'd talked her into letting him get. She didn't like to spoil him, but sometimes it was hard not to give in. And for the most part, he was a good kid, so she didn't feel like she was coddling him. His hands were wrapped around a white X-Box controller. She frowned, still unsure how she felt about her son having a gaming console. But it seemed that it was a gift from the boy's father, and she wasn't going to take that away. Playing video games was something the two of them did to bond.
Flicking her eyes up to the screen, she let out a relieved sigh when she saw that the game he was playing wasn't some shoot 'em up game like Call of Duty or Modern Warfare. Kate really didn't know that much about video games, that was more Castle's domain.
Alex glanced over his shoulder and spied her standing in the doorway.
"Hey, Mom!" he greeted her with a smile that melted her heart. He would always be her little man, and she loved him dearly.
Kate smiled back. "This new?" she asked, gesturing to the X-Box.
"Um… yeah," he looked hesitant and nervous, but then he grinned excitedly. Oh, he looked so happy. It had been a while since she'd seen her son this happy. "Dad got it for me."
Kate could not help but notice how his face lit up when he said Dad. For a long time he had never had a father. Jim, his grandfather, was the closest thing Alex had ever had to a male role model. And though he was helping in raising her son, Kate knew that Jim didn't want to assume the father figure role.
Alex turned back to the game and paused it. "It's really cool," he continued.
"No… well yeah that too, but that's not what I meant, Mom," he shook his head, still smiling widely.
"Then what?" Kate asked, stepping inside and easing down onto the edge of the bed, sitting alongside him.
"My dad is Richard Castle!" he exclaimed. "I mean, how cool is that!? And I've got the most awesome big sister. She's wicked smart, Mom! Like… I don't know, super smart. It's like she has super brainpowers or something. Last night, she came over and helped me with my math assignment."
"That one you've been struggling with since Monday?" Kate questioned, raising her eyebrows.
Alex nodded in confirmation. "It was super hard, but Alexis made it so simple," his smile was infectious. "You know what? I've got the coolest family. My grandpa can fix anything with his hands, my grandma is a Broadway actress, my sister's a genius, my Mom's a super cop, and my Dad's a famous writer! The kids at school are all kinds of jealous."
Kate smirked and let out a soft chuckle, reaching out to brush his unruly brown hair back from his forehead. "Well, at least you're no longer getting into any fights," she said, smoothing his hair down. It was so untamable, just like his father's. And the same color too.
"Mom," he whined, grousing at her mothering.
She just chuckled, and leaned back, letting her hand fall down to her side, the tea cup was still cradled in her other hand.
"So, it's ok, right?"
"Hmm?" she hummed in question, still admiring her son's features. He really did inherit his father's good looks.
"Oh, yeah, it's fine, Alex," Kate replied, turning to examine the gaming console. "Just as long as you don't get too addicted to it."
"I won't. Promise!" he declared, looking so earnest and innocent.
She narrowed her eyes at the paused image on the screen, noticing it appeared to be a football video game. "And as long as the games aren't violent," she continued. "And no playing it unless you have finished your homework first."
Alex bobbed his head, agreeing to all her restrictions.
"Good," she smiled, then leaned forward and kissed him on the top of his head. He squirmed and grumbled. He'd reached the age where he tried to downplay her affection for him, like it was somehow embarrassing to have his mom touch him.
"Oh, Mom, I almost forgot… can I go to the zoo with Alexis tomorrow?" he asked, eyes wide and pleading.
"Is anyone else going?" Kate asked. In truth, she'd be fine with just Alexis, she trusted the teen, but with Alex she still felt adult supervision might be advisable.
"Grams is going, and Grandpa said he might too, depending on what happens with his court case in the morning," he answered. "Dad was going to come too, but he forgot that he had to be at a meeting or something… you know, book stuff." Alex grinned widely. He thought it was so cool trying to act all nonchalant about Castle's fame.
"Yeah, I know, book stuff," Kate agreed, nodding her head, and squeezing Alex's arm affectionately. Though unlike her son, her thoughts were scattering to different things, remembering how she'd unfairly accused Castle of digging into her mother's case for book research. She really knew him better than that, but she wasn't ready to forgive yet. Taking a deep breath, Kate heaved herself off the bed. "Well, I'm going to go take a bath. Go back to playing your game… but don't stay up too late. Just an hour more, okay?"
"Just an hour?" he pouted, and he looked so much like Castle at that moment, that Kate had to hold her breath. It still startled her, Alex's resemblance to Castle. She'd never really noticed how similar their features were until the writer returned into her life. It took seeing the two side by side to actually see and recognize it.
"Yes, just an hour," Kate enforced, and then glanced at her watch to check the time. It was Friday, so it wasn't a school night. Normally she'd let him stay up. But since he wanted to go to the zoo tomorrow with his sister and possibly both his grandparents, Alex probably should go to bed sooner rather than later. She had learned fairly early on that he was one of those kids who really needed his sleep. "Then bedtime. Got it?"
He sighed in defeat and inclined his head. "Got it," he grumbled, looking sullen.
Kate shook her head and couldn't resist ruffling his hair again. He grinned up at her, his eyes sparkling. "I'll check in on you before I go to bed."
"I'm not five, Mom," Alex rolled his eyes.
"True enough, but you'll always be my little guy," she said, winking at him before pressing a kiss on the top of his head. She then slipped out of his room and pulled his door back just enough so that it remained slightly ajar, just like it had been before she'd entered.
Kate paused, and stood there for a moment, her ears listening for the noises from his video game to resume before she walked back down the hall towards her room. Entering her bedroom, she took a sip of her tea, and sighed, feeling the warmth slide down her throat. It was comforting, the tea… and the talk with her son. But she was still coiled up, tense, and needing a release. She ground her teeth and huffed in irritation as she stripped off her clothes, making a beeline for the bathroom. Hopefully a nice long hot bath would help.
Only it didn't.
And there was only one thing that could.