I want to thank everyone who read and reviewed. This was something that I thought about last season and it's been bugging me to write, at least this part of it, for some time now.
When the last page came out of the printer, Castle shuffled them. Sighing, he looked out the window. Kate was drinking coffee in the lawn chair and gazing out at the ocean. It had been three weeks since they came to the Hamptons. The first week Martha and Alexis were with them, with Meredith staying at a nearby hotel. Pi came too, which absolutely irked Caste, but at least the house was big enough to keep him out of Castle's hair. By the end of the week, things were back to normal and everyone made arrangements to return to the city, leaving the fiancées to stay at the beach by themselves.
It had been idyllic, really. Kate didn't have to head to her job and Castle didn't have any deadlines looming. Some time was spent staying in bed, so glad to be alive and together. Kate would cook one night, Castle the next, and during the day they would head out and sightsee. Castle was loving it and he could tell Kate was too, but he knew they couldn't stay there forever. Well, they probably could, but he knew Kate well enough to know she would yearn for something more productive to do with her life.
Last weekend the boys and Lanie came up for the weekend to visit. It was great to have the old gang together again and Kate asked a lot of questions about the precinct. He had a feeling she was looking to get her old job back, and judging by Ryan and Esposito's comments he didn't think that would be a problem. He knew they couldn't put off the subject forever, but before he did broach it he wanted to talk about the other elephant they were ignoring: his nightmares.
He didn't have them every night. They weren't the sweating, tossing, and screaming at the top of the lungs kind of nightmares, but they were disturbing enough to wake him up. Talking in his sleep let out some information, and since it was more information than he actually shared with Kate she was concerned, or at least confused. He managed to keep from talking about it, and he was sad to let her believe the reason was because he didn't want to, especially when it was just the opposite. He was nervous about discussing the spirits. Kate wasn't likely to believe him and there was the matter of dreaming of her mother, a person he never met and whose death was still causing her pain.
So he decided he use the talents God gave him and take the words he wrote weeks ago and let her read them herself. He knew she was a fan and thanks to Johanna he knew how his words really affected her. Maybe reading about Royce, Montgomery, and Johanna would be a better way to understand how they helped him; to show how, without them, he would never have made it out of the cave.
He walked out to the chairs. Kate was obviously deep in thought since she didn't hear him approach, her eyes staring far out into the ocean. When his shadow got her attention she looked up and smiled the smile that made him forget to breathe. "Hi, there."
"Hey," he said, unable to hide his nerves. Taking a seat beside her he kept the papers to his side, not trying to hide them but not making them obvious either. Now that he was out here, his mind blanked on him. He smiled and glanced at her cup. "Done with your coffee?"
Kate narrowed her eyes at him, sensing he was up to something. Biting back a smile, she said, "Yes. You were going to get yourself some."
"Oh, right." He had forgotten.
"Castle, what's wrong?" she asked. "You have been acting strange this morning, even for you."
She was teasing but she wasn't wrong. Clearing his throat, he knew there was no point putting it off. "I went in and printed something off my computer."
She cocked her head. "You already writing the next Nikki Heat book?"
Shaking his head, she shifted in the chair so he was facing her directly. Her eyes fell on the pages he brought out. Motioning to them, Castle said, "I wrote down what happened in the cave."
Her smile fell and her eyes got a deer in headlights look. Then she recovered. "I didn't realize…"
"I wrote it back in DC, before we left to come here. Well, first we went to the loft, then we came here. I keep forgetting we came to the loft first, we only spent the night. And then there was Pi, God, I wished I blocked that kid out of my mind, thank God he went back to NY with Alexis but I hate to think what they are doing together—"
"Castle," she said, which ended his rambling. Sitting up, she leaned towards him, taking one of his hands. "Are you sure? You brought those out here for me to read, right?"
She held his gaze. She knew there was something he wasn't telling her. "What should I know?"
"Everything you need to know is in those pages." He handed them to her.
Taking them, she clung to them. "I'm trying to remember when you had time to write all of this."
"That first night, I couldn't sleep. You got up and came into the living room to see what I was doing. I had just finished."
"Oh, I didn't know—"
Castle sighed. "I was realizing by then that the details of what happened in the cave were fading. I'm sure this account left out some moments, and I didn't want to forget anything more."
Now Kate shuddered. "Why would you want to remember?"
"Because, Kate, it's part of my life now. Surviving that cave, how I got through it. It was awful and terrible and frightening but I did do it. And I know I was meant to survive it."
She smiled at that, but Castle knew she really didn't understand yet. Glancing at the pages, Castle pointed, "Kate, I haven't told you very much about what happened there. But it wasn't because I wanted to hide it from you or didn't want to talk about it."
Kate shook her head, "The last thing I wanted to do was push you, to force you to talk about it before you were ready—"
"I know, Kate, I know."
They stared at each other for a long time and he had to fight back the urge to kiss her. Realizing she should have privacy, Castle took her empty coffee cup. "I'm going inside. I'm sure reading this will be difficult but having me staring at you while you're doing it will be … creepy."
She shook her head at him. "Not creepy. Never creepy."
He stood up and began walking, but stopped. Now that she had it there was no going back. "Kate, I swear everything in there is what happened. Whatever you imagined it was like for me down there, this will be nothing you expected."
She surprised him by laughing. "Castle, I learned a long time ago; being with you, nothing is what I expect."
He laughed with her. Turning around, he mumbled, "You have no idea."
Creepy or not creepy, just because Castle went inside didn't mean he wasn't going to watch her. Sitting at the nearest window, he stared as she read. Her back was to him so he had no idea how she was reacting to his words. After several minutes, he realized he was still holding her coffee cup. He hurried into the kitchen, placed it in the sink, and then practically ran back to the window. Of course she was still reading.
He tried to busy himself by straightening up the house but it wasn't working. He doubted his decision to leave her alone. Not seeing her face, he was imaging a look of dumbstruck astonishment. What was he thinking? The people that helped in the cave he knew because of her. If she thought he was making it up, she might think he was intruding on her past before she knew him.
Eventually Kate did finish and she came in. Castle was in the sunroom practically standing at attention as she entered the house. The sunlight behind her illuminated her form through her sundress. Castle forced himself to look her in the eyes, those eyes would tell him what she thought, even if she didn't voice it. What he saw there surprised him. It wasn't anger, or disappointment, or outright fear that he'd lost his mind. It was love.
Approaching him, she put the papers down on a nearby table. Taking his hands, she squeezed them. She didn't say anything. As it usually did, it made Castle nervous. "Kate, I swear what I wrote was the truth. They did come—"
"I believe you." She said it so simply.
"You, you do?"
Pushing some hair out of his eyes, she nodded. "Have you forgotten you talk in your sleep?"
"I, uh, no." He was confused by the question.
"Your nightmares, you were reliving some of the cave stuff. You mentioned Mike and Roy's names."
Now he was surprised. "I did?"
"Yeah, and I didn't understand. I wondered if you were just confusing events in your mind. Now after reading this," she gestured behind her, "I understand."
He almost gasped. He hadn't expected this to be going so well. "So you know now. They helped me out." Now her expression faltered. She recovered, but it was too late. Castle's heart sank. "Oh, I see."
"You believe that I believe this, but you don't think they were really there."
She put her arms around him. "You didn't believe they were really there, either. A lot of what you wrote down here was questioning if they were in your head or not."
He couldn't argue with that. If he didn't think they were real at that time, how could he expect her to believe in them weeks later? "Kate, if they hadn't been there, there is no way I'd ever get out—"
She kissed his cheek. "Whatever helped you get out of that cave, I will always be eternally grateful."
He felt a lump in his throat. "Even if it's your mother?"
"When I got to that part, when she was there, you know what struck me?"
He was scared to answer that question so he didn't.
"That you were afraid I'd get angry." She kept caressing his head.
"Well, it's not like I have the right to—" he stopped at that. He wasn't sure how to finish that statement. "You shouldn't have to share her with me. I never knew her."
Her forehead leaned on his. Tears were in both their eyes. "God, Castle, after everything you went through down there, you were worried about that?"
"I might not have been thinking exactly clearly," he said, his arms around her. He loved feeling her body against his. "But I know she was there. And if she hadn't been, I wouldn't be here."
She leaned her head back. She didn't say anything to that. So he explained. "Kate, if she hadn't been there then, I would have kept going. The flashlight was nearly out, but eventually I'd've tried to keep walking. Well, crawling. You know me, I never know when to quit."
"That's right," Kate smirked.
"I don't know how far I would have gone with the flashlight going out, but I'm sure I'd have been far enough away that when the sun came up I wouldn't have known it. Her sitting there talking to me saved my life because I would have just kept moving on."
"Castle, reading those pages with Mike, Roy, and my mother wasn't the hard part. The hard part was reading what you were talking about."
She kissed him quickly, then whispered, "I love you. You aren't a distraction. You will never be just a distraction. I want to marry you and no job is as important as you are."
He had been so focused on the spirits themselves he had forgotten their actual conversations, which he had written down. "Kate, I'm sorry, I forgot … I didn't have you read that so you could feel guilty or anything. It's not like I really believed any of what they were saying-"
"Kate, I love you too. And I don't care how deep into the earth's crust I was, nothing was going to stop me from crawling my way out to you."
She smiled at that. "And nothing was going to prevent me from finding you."
Two weeks later, Castle and Kate were moving her DC stuff into the loft. They had taken a few days to go and pack everything and bring it back. It was just the nick of time, since tomorrow she would be back at the precinct, and though their vacation was coming to an end, Castle could tell she was excited about it. Truth be told, he was too.
"So, you hungry? I'm thinking Chinese."
Kate placed her last suitcase down on their bed and turned to him. "Castle, we need to get some of this stuff sorted out. I start back to the precinct tomorrow and then there will be less time."
He laughed. "I can do a lot of that while you're at work." He pulled her to him. The look she gave him told him she didn't believe him. "What?"
"Like you aren't coming in, too."
He almost laughed at that. "Actually, I hadn't planned on it. You have to resettle in back at the station, fix the messes Javier and Kevin have made with you gone."
She snorted. "Right. I give you four hours before you come in."
"I may bring some lunch for you, if you are nice to me." He really hadn't planned on going up there.
She arched an eyebrow. "And then if we happen to be on a case, you won't happen to stay?"
"I don't have to be there for every case," Castle said, but was secretly pleased she wanted him there. Then he thought about it. "Unless you get an interesting one."
"Right." They kissed briefly. She stepped away stating she needed to freshen up before they headed out.
When she closed the bathroom door Castle scanned the bedroom, looking for anything he could finish in the next few minutes. A nearly half empty box on the dresser got his attention. He went to it. There were odds and ends in there, female stuff. But in the corner he was shocked to find a paperback book of his: Hell Hath no Fury. Taking it out, he could tell it was well worn. This was the book she mentioned in that very first case which told him she had been a fan. Opening it up, he saw the inscription; "To Kate, thanks for reading."
His mouth dropped open. He had no idea she had ever stood in line to get his autograph. Sitting down, he kept rereading his own handwriting. He was shocked he didn't remember her.
When she came out of the bathroom, she asked him if he was ready but stopped when she saw what he was holding. "Castle, what are you doing with that?"
He looked at her. "My God, Kate, when did you get this signed?"
She practically snatched it from him and he could almost see that wall going up. But when she turned to put it back in the box, she stopped. She closed her eyes like she was inwardly fighting herself. Taking the book she hugged it to her chest. "It was a long time ago."
His mind went to the cave and to Johanna telling him his books got Kate through her murder. Was this what she was talking about? Kate put the book back in the box. She folded her arms, "I never told you about that. I probably should have."
After a beat, Castle asked. "How long after Jo-your mother's death did you begin reading that?"
Now she looked at him. "How do you know it was after my mom's death?"
He realized then this was one of those details he forgot about. He forgot to put that in the journal about the cave. He was tempted to lie, because the way she was acting about the book was a clue it was probably during that time in her life. "Johanna told me."
"That's one of things we talked about in the cave."
She was staring at him now. Eventually she said, "You didn't write that down."
"I told you I forgot some things." He couldn't believe he had forgotten that, though.
She was looking at him weirdly now, like she was considering something. Deciding this silence wasn't a good thing, Castle got up. "I'm sorry if I intruded just now. I thought I'd empty the box for you, but saw the book in there was mine. I wished I had known you had my autograph."
"It was so long ago, Castle." She was staring at his lips. When she did that, it was unlikely they were going anywhere.
"I wish I remembered. I'm so sorry that I didn't."
She put her arms around him. "I didn't really want you to. I'm glad you didn't."
He nodded, embracing her too. "Is it okay I know now?"
She thought for a moment, then returned that wonderful smile. "Yes, it's absolutely okay." They kissed. And they didn't go out for Chinese.
Again, thank you to everyone. I may write the follow up to Kate's side but right now I want to rest and enjoy these new episodes of the show and see how Marlowe really does end the Federal arc. I thank all of you taking the time to read, follow and review. And if you would like to review this last chapter, I would greatly appreciate it. :)