*So, I'm on vacation, and have limited time to work on my laptop, but I still managed to get this done. Haven't had time to give it a complete edit, but I wanted to give you guys something. Once I get back from my vacation, I'll probably give it a more thorough edit, but nothing substantial will change.
Alexander & Jane: Interlude – Chapter 6
The next few weeks were interesting to say the least. He'd been banned from the precinct, so he couldn't go in and follow her around, no matter how much he wanted to. It hadn't been a big surprise to him when she had made that part of the bargain. Castle had made the mistake of showing up the Monday after their little romp on his office desk, and was practically thrown out of the precinct, at gunpoint, no less. Okay, maybe he was exaggerating a bit, but it surely felt like that. And for a moment there, he'd seriously been worried that she might make good on her threat to shoot him.
Oddly enough, every time she did threaten him like that, it just made her all the more hot in his eyes.
After the quagmire at the precinct, she met up with him later in the evening for their weekly family dinner, which she encouraged them to keep doing. Her rationale being they needed to keep up appearance for Alexis and Alex. So, it was there, that she had unexpectedly gotten up from the table and offered to help him do the dishes, a task she rarely did. Beckett tried to be discreet about it, whispering to him in soft words, as he passed the plates to her to dry off, needing to make it clear to him that that particular aspect of their relationship—him shadowing her at work for 'research' (she literally did the air quotes)—was over.
Castle had just nodded his head in understanding, all the while thinking, at least for now; I'll wear you down, loverbuns. And that just got him thinking about her cute little behind, and the way the dark jeans she had been wearing hugged the delicious curve so enticingly. Mulling over his endearment, for a lack of a better words, Castle pondered what she'd do if he ever called her that out loud.
Answer: She'd probably really shot him.
It was nice, though, that not all their non-sex related activities hadn't been canceled. He'd be the first to admit that he missed playing detective and watching her do the job that made her so extraordinary, but it would have killed him if they'd stopped their family time.
That being said, Castle still held out hope that he could get his 'research' time back. He reasoned that he'd find a way to weasel his way back into the station without fear of getting kicked out, and eventually reattach himself to her in that highly enjoyable tag-along gig. It was only a matter of time. She couldn't keep him gone for long. After all, if there was anything he'd learned during the last couple of months, since reuniting with his long lost Jane, it was that he was quite capable of weaseling his way into every aspect of Detective Kate Beckett's life.
Speaking of Beckett's life, the only thing he was allowed to participate in was her personal life… their personal life, to be more precise, which was another matter altogether. And Castle was still a bit fuzzy on the details.
They really didn't spend that much time together, not counting their rendezvous at a hotel room he'd taken to paying for on a monthly bill, almost like a second apartment. When they weren't doing the horizontal mambo—or should he say 'vertical mambo'? Beckett did like being on top most of the time—they were separate, unless it was a family event, where they would then pretend as if everything was normal.
Sure, Castle enjoyed their alone time at the hotel room, but he found he actually enjoyed the family time the most. Because it was during those occasions that Beckett would actually let him touch her in a more personal manner that had nothing to do with stimulating sexual pleasure. He got to touch her arm, hold hands, and wrap his arm snuggly around her waist or shoulders. When they were in front of their family, any of them, they appeared to be a happy couple, as if nothing wayward had occurred.
He thought they were being discreet, and careful. But something was obviously amiss with them. And someone did take notice. As if the universe had decided to irk him more than it already had, it was his mother, of course, who was the first one to see through them. It only took her three weeks, and Castle had dreaded the inevitable awkward conversation that ensued when she called him out on it.
"Really, darling, how long do you think this is going to work?" Martha questioned him, practically cornering him in his office, away from the sensitive young ears of his teenage daughter, who was working on some of her summer assignments for her AP courses at the dining room table.
"I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Don't pull that on me, Richard!" she exclaimed. "A mother knows."
"It's none of your business, Mother," Castle sighed, holding back the bite in his tone.
"You're my son, Richard," Martha declared with a dramatic flare. "It is my business."
"Funny how now you remember that," he grumbled, earning him a glare. "Sorry." Castle hesitated, genuinely feeling contrite for that retort, and gestured for his mother to sit down. Martha eyed him warily, but took a seat in one of the finally upholstered black leather armchairs. He took the opposite one. He let out a long sigh and slumped his head forward in his hand. "It… it's just complicated."
"I would think so, you two kids are carrying on like you're having some secret affair when everyone who loves you knows exactly what is going on," Martha said under her breath, but still loud enough for him to hear.
Castle's head shot up at her words. "Everyone?" he hissed, the look of panicked dismay flashing across his face.
"Oh, dear me, no… I didn't mean that," Martha laughed weakly, her eyes glancing in the direction of the dining room. "I don't think Alexis or Alex, for that matter, are aware of what is going on. But Jim Beckett and myself, now that's a different matter."
"Her father knows?" Castle was even more mortified than he had been before.
Martha sighed, and reached out to clasp his hands with hers. "I don't know to what extent he knows, but I do know that he's aware that something is different. And that his daughter's gone once a week for an extended period of time during the evening… and it's not work related."
"How would he know if it wasn't?" he questioned, not knowing why he was even having this conversation.
His mother gave him a knowing look. "When she leaves for your… well… meet-ups, she doesn't bring her gun and badge with her."
"Oh," was all he said.
Martha gave his hand a gentle pat. "Don't go worrying about it, kiddo. Both Jim and I are old enough to know what two young people in love do when alone."
"Um…," okay, if he hadn't been embarrassed before, he definitely was now. How the hell did he get into this conversation with his mother of all people?
Martha laughed at his blushing face. "It's not like we think about it too much, Richard," she assured him. "We just know what you two are doing."
"Okay, okay… no more need to talk about that, okay?" he blanched, feeling like he was going to be sick. Hell, his mother had never really given him the 'birds and the bees' talk. He sort of just figured it out as he went along. Not to mention all the things he saw and learned whilst backstage before, during, and after some of her performances. Really, some people in theater just had no shame.
"But seriously, Richard, talk to me," Martha said, all trace of humor gone from her demeanor. "What's going on between you and Kate?"
"I…," he fumbled with his words. God, it was frustrating at times. Here he was, a bestselling novelist, and he was struggling to find the words to explain this situation to his mother. "I messed up, is what happened."
"Her mother's case," Martha said, nodding knowingly.
"Yes," he bobbed his head in confirmation. "And now, she doesn't really know what to feel… sort of. I mean… she doesn't want to deal with the emotions. Or anything dealing with our relationship, for that matter. But she doesn't want to break up. So… we are just… we're on hold—that's how she described it. From what she has told me, which isn't much, I've gathered a lot of it has to deal with me digging into her mother's case behind her back. I think she understands why I did what I did, and she wants to forgive me, but she just doesn't know how to do that."
"But what about…," she waved her hand in the air, referring to his private meetings with Beckett in hotel rooms.
"Just sex, nothing more," he said, not even blushing at his admission. "At least, that's what she says."
Martha raised her eyebrows, understandably confused. "I don't understand. You two love each other, very much from what I've seen. How can it just be nothing more than 'just sex' between you two?"
"I've been asking myself the same question since she imposed this arrangement," he said. "Honestly, I could hardly refuse."
"Hey… if that's all she's going to give me, I'll take it," he spoke with a deflated sigh. "I love her."
His mother softened, and gave an understanding nod while she squeezed his hands in reassurance. "Well, I just hope you two kids work out your differences soon. Because even though you're getting a regular dose of whoopee, you don't look too happy about it."
Castle winced at her description of their arrangement, but he couldn't fault his Mother's final judgment. After all, her crude, yet humor filled summarization was pretty accurate. True enough, he was getting laid at least once a week, but it really, in all honesty, wasn't enough for him. It didn't… do it for him. He loved Kate Beckett, and when he loved, he loved with his whole heart. He missed being able to look her in the eye during the act, and holding her afterwards.
It was always the same. Once they were done, she was out of the bed, and heading for the shower to clean. Always alone, never allowing him to jump under the hot spray with her. Then she'd get dressed and leave, with only a quick wave and a "thanks, see you next time". Castle almost felt cheap, like he was nothing more than a hunk of meat to her. All he wanted to do was to be able to make love to her again. That's all. He was growing tired of meaningless sex. Because with Kate Beckett, the sex was never meaningless to him. It was never supposed to be meaningless with her! He just hoped she felt the same way.
He knew she was hurt and felt betrayed, but this was going a bit far, even for her. Castle sighed, and raked his fingers through his hair. "I'll figure something out," he told his mother. "She can't stay mad at me forever."
So bold were his words. Looking back on them, he had to laugh at his presumption. It had been over two full months since that conversation with his Mother, and still there had been little change in his so-called relationship with Kate Beckett. They were rapidly approaching the three month anniversary of this little deal, and it was starting to wear thin of Castle.
He was sitting on the bed in the hotel room, waiting for her to arrive for their weekly rendezvous. He had arrived an hour beforehand and had simply slumped down on the edge of the mattress and sat there, contemplating everything that had happened, while trying to figure out a way to make things better. He was growing tired of this holding pattern. He wanted more than to just be her weekly lay. If all she wanted was sexual release, she might as well use a vibrator for all the emotional energy that was put into their sessions, or rather the lack thereof.
Castle had had big plans for their first summer together, plans that had been shot to hell by her stubborn refusal to actually talk things out. Castle thought she'd grown-up since being Jane, but he was wrong. In many ways she was still the jaded coed who could only find solace in a good humping. He was being unfair to the younger version of Kate Beckett, but at present, he wasn't in a really charitable mood.
He looked up at the door longingly, waiting for her to arrive. God, he really was the girl in this relationship. All she wanted was sex, whereas Castle wanted to talk about things and express his feelings. Recently, she'd even stopped allowing him to kiss her. All they did was go through the mechanics of having sex—no kissing, looking each other in the eye, or soft caresses. She only allowed him to caress her like that if there was a function to that touch, such as stirring up physical arousal or to stimulate sexual pleasure.
It was meaningless and unfulfilling.
Letting out a frustrated breath, Castle tried to relax his shoulders.
Earlier in the day, Castle had come to a decision. He was going to give her an ultimatum, and… see what happened? Beckett was becoming more closed off, and it was seriously starting to annoy him.
Their last family outing had almost been a complete disaster… at least from his perspective. She'd refused to let him touch her, even when he was just helping her into her coat before they left to go to some summer movie with the kids. And then during the movie, she'd made a point of putting distance between them, having Alexis and Alex between them at the theater. And to further compound matters, Beckett hardly spoke at dinner afterwards. Such behavior was unusual, because she was never that quiet around the kids.
They were starting to suspect… and that did not bode well.
The sound of the door unlocking pulled him out of his brooding thoughts. Castle sat up straighter, and took a deep breath, preparing himself for what was to come. He knew it wasn't going to be pretty, so he tried to mentally prepare for her reaction. He waited patiently for Beckett. Despite the fact he wanted to get this over with, Castle still felt the need to prolong his time with her for as long as possible, even if that time was just being in the same room as her.
It took a few seconds, and soon Beckett made her appearance, walking down the short entrance hallway and into the main portion of the room he'd been paying for every month since they began this. By the time she came into sight, she was already shrugging off her jacket and unbuttoning her blouse. She glanced up, startled at his static posture on the edge of the bed.
"Aren't you going to undress?" Beckett asked, gazing at him, her brow slightly creased in confusion as she continued to take her clothes off.
Castle just remained silent, swallowing past the lump in his throat, unable to speak. Beckett sighed, and stopped unbuttoning her blouse, halfway there. God… this was going to be so much more difficult with the creamy rise and fall her half exposed chest on display.
"Castle," she ground out, fixing him with an annoyed look. "We don't have much time, so can we please just get this over with?"
That set him off. How dare she act like this was something she had to struggle to get though! She was the one that had wanted this arrangement. Not him. Castle scowled and crossed his arms over his chest in a defiant manner. "No," he declared, pursing his lips together in determination to stay strong and resist any of her advances.
"No?" she chuckled, clearly unbelieving. But when she was met with his stony expression, her humor dropped, and a stunned expression washed over her features. "What do you mean, no? We have an agreement, Castle."
Castle narrowed his eyes. "It's been nearly three months, Beckett, and frankly, I'm getting tired of it."
"Seriously," she said, shifting her stance to look at him, a touch of amusement dancing in her eyes. "Who'd have thunk that playboy extraordinaire Richard Castle would get tired of free sex on a regular basis."
He clenched his jaw tight and his shoulders tensed. "This isn't funny, Beckett!" he spat out, this time clearly catching her off guard with his anger. He stood up and readjusted his arms, staying in a determined stance. "What exactly are we doing?"
Beckett stammered for a moment, averting her eyes and puffing out a breath in annoyance. "Not having sex, obviously."
"I'm more than just a hunk of meat, Beckett," Castle fumed. "I'm getting sick of this holding pattern." He moved his arms, tempted to reach out to her and just pull her to him, capture her lips with his and just kiss it out of her. But he held back. There was no more kissing, and when she did allow it, it was a hollow and empty gesture, only done to placate his need for physical intimacy.
"What's this really about? Because I know you have no complaints about my performance," she growled, matching his stance.
"It's about us," Castle snapped. "Remember? Us! You said that we were going to work at things. That we weren't over. But you made this one condition, that we meet up once a week and just have sex, with no emotions attached. Well, guess what? It's been three months, and we've just been treading water here. And if it makes me the girl in this relationship, to want this to be about more than just the sex, then so be it! Because damn it, Kate, I love you… but this has just gone too far."
He let out a defeated breath at the end, out of steam. Looking at her, he shrugged, having nothing else to say. It was her turn now.
Beckett stared at him for a long moment, and then frowned. "You agreed to the deal," she said stubbornly.
"Yeah, well, remember my amendment… my sole condition?" he hooked his head towards the bed. "If you want me to put out, then you're going to need to give a little too. Is it really too much to ask that we start trying to rebuilding what we have."
"Yes… yes it is!"
"Because that wasn't part of the deal!" she seethed, ignoring the fact she'd agreed to his one stipulation that assured that he held the option of pushing for more from her if he felt they've neglected the emotional side of their relationship for too long. "I told you, when I've had enough time to process everything, then we'll talk and work through it."
"You've had three full months to 'process', practically the entire summer!" he literally did the air quotes with his fingers. "And relationships are a two way street, Kate. I've been giving and giving, not asking for anything, but honestly, I need something. Just give me something, okay? Some hint that there is a light at the end of this tunnel. I've pined for you for nine years, so if I have to wait a little longer, I can do that. But if there isn't a chance of us reaching the end of this damn tunnel, then you really need to tell me so I can start working at moving on."
Boy, that had been difficult to say. He honestly didn't believe he could ever move on from her. He'd tried to when she had just been Jane, but now that he'd finally gotten a glimpse at the complete package, Castle really didn't want to let go. But he had to stay firm and allow his ultimatum to weaken her fortifications just enough to let him in.
Her mouth dropped and she fumbled for an answer. Castle waited for her, like he always did, but didn't see anything. He sighed, and slumped his shoulders, admitting defeat. She wasn't going to budge, and he was just going to have to accept that. He had to be more decisive.
"Alright," he said, all emotion drained from his voice. "Have it that way. No talk. No sex."
He steeled his nerves and shoved past her, stomping down the small hall. He needed to leave… now, so that his ultimatum was effective. But before he could depart, she grabbed his arm and spun him around, manhandling him like he was some suspect on the run. She glared at him with hard eyes and jabbed her finger into his chest.
"You promised!" she snarled, her blind rage getting the better of her. "You said you'd be there for whatever I needed. And right now, I just need sex!"
"Yeah, well, I'm not giving it to you," he pushed her away, making sure not to be as rough with her as she had been with him.
"Then I'll find someone who will!" she heatedly yelled after him, chest heaving with fury, causing him to halt. He slowly turned to face her, seeing her eyes go wide as she registered what she'd just said.
Castle stared at her, dumbstruck. His lips quivered and he swallowed hard past the sudden tightening in his throat as tears threaten to spill out. This was what he had feared all along. He wasn't enough for her. He was just a means to an end. After all, if he was honest, if all she wanted was sex, then he was an easy target for that, since he could hardly refuse her anything.
He sucked in a shaky voice, letting the truth tremble down throughout his body, making it aware and solid… real. "Fine," he replied, his voice wavering as he pulled his gaze from hers and crushed his eyes shut.
"No… wait, Castle, I didn't mean—"
She tried to stop him, but he was already out the door and briskly marching down the corridor, stubbornly refusing to cry. He was done with this deal. If she truly cared about him and wanted more than just sex from him… then she'd come to him and let him know. Right? Well, he was just going to have to take a leap of faith and pray that what she'd just said wasn't the truth.
Until then, the ball was on her side of the court.