A/N Hey guys! I finally figured out how to upload to the site...so here is my first published fic, a post-ep AU for "Cops and Robbers'. Thanks to alwaysgoosies, VickyIsEnough, and AAR1806 for proof-reading! Please leave a Review! xx
Disclaimer: I do not own Castle or anything affiliated with the show. :) (did you really think that I did? :D)
Relief flooded through her body at the sound of his call for her. He was alive.
It took her only a few seconds to locate him. Well, them, really. He and all the other hostages. But she wasn't paying the others any attention. She had eyes only for him. She fell to her knees in front of him, reaching out and touching his collar, smiling slightly, more relieved than she had thought possible. He was there, alive, talking, smiling, he was okay.
"Hey," she murmured.
"Are you okay?" she asked. He nodded.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine." Kate nodded.
"Good," she whispered. "I thought I had lost you." Rick smiled.
"Never. You're stuck with me," he said.
"Good," she repeated. She quickly untied his bindings, vaguely aware of the boys and other cops untying everyone else, but she wasn't really paying attention. She could only pay attention to him. After his bindings were untied, she gently cradled his wrists in her hands, carefully inspecting the irritation on his skin.
"I'm fine, Beckett," he said softly. She nodded.
"Yeah. I know," she replied, rather unconvinvingly. Neither of them had really noticed, but nearly everyone else had left the bank now, leaving them alone together.
"Castle-" she began.
"I know," he interrupted. "We need to talk. How about I send Mother and Alexis to the Hamptons for the weekend. They'll leave within a couple of hours and then you can come over. Is that alright?" he asked. She nodded.
"Yeah." Castle smiled, flipping his hand over in hers to squeeze it gently before they both stood up. Kate leaned close as he stood.
"I'm glad you're okay," she murmured. She didn't give him time to reply, just turned and exited the bank, him close on her heels.
There was a resounding buzz as Castle walked to the door, knowing exactly who would be on the other side. He pulled it open and smiled at Beckett, who was now wearing a pair of dark jeans and a blue long-sleeved shirt with a scooped-out neckline, her long hair down and cascading over her shoulders.
"Hey, Beckett," he said.
"Hey, Castle." He smiled and moved aside.
"Come in," he invited. She nodded with a small smile and came into the loft.
"Have you eaten?" he asked as he shut the door.
"Um, no," she replied. "I...forgot," she admitted, feeling a little embarrassed by that fact. But he just smiled.
"It's fine. I haven't eaten yet either. I'll make dinner." Kate nodded, following him into the kitchen. She sat down at the bar while he began the preparations for dinner.
"Anything I can help you with?" she offered. Rick shook his head.
"No, it's not a big deal," he replied.
They made small talk as he moved around the kitchen, his ease and grace in such a domestic setting causing her to flush slightly. She found herself admiring his ass in those tight jeans and the outline of his well-defined shoulders under his black cashmere sweater. He really was incredibly good-looking. Their conversation was focused on nothing in particular, but the lingering elephant in the room was the reason for her presence in the first place. He served dinner-some sort of easy meal, with ramen noodles drained and topped with a chicken, artichoke and cheese mixture-and they sat down together at the bar. After they ate, again making small talk, he rinsed their dishes and simply left them there in the sink, before joining her on the couch with two glasses of wine. She smiled as she took hers from him.
"Thanks," she said.
"Sure." He sat down next to her, each of them pivoting to face the other. Kate twirled her wine glass slowly between her fingers, the silence between them companionable.
"How's your wrist?" Kate asked quietly, a way of opening up the conversation they both knew they were here to have.
"Oh, it's fine. It's not a big deal, really," he replied reassuringly. Kate nodded.
"But it is for you, isn't it?" he asked, knowingly. Slowly, Kate nodded, knowing she needed to open up to him and stop hiding if she wanted this conversation to result in anything at all.
"Yeah, it is," she admitted. He studied her silently, waiting for her to look up at him before he said anything. Finally, after a minute or two, she did, raising her head to meet his gaze, blue meeting green.
"Why?" he asked.
"Why?" she parroted. He nodded.
"Yeah. Why is it a big deal for you?" he asked. She blinked at him, seemingly thinking his question over, deciding how much to say, how far to go.
"Kate. Just say what you're thinking, don't analyze it," he said, deciding for her. She took a deep breath.
"Okay. It's a big deal for me because you're my partner and because you could've died today. Easily. You came close to it, Castle. Too close. And I know that we've been in that situation before, but usually it's us in that situation, not just you. And I don't like it when you're in that situation, when you're so close to that, so close to not being here anymore..." she trailed off, not wanting to say the word dead. It was too real, too possible. She didn't want to think about it.
"Okay," he said, leaving the conversation open to her, not wanting to push her or make her shut down. She took a moment, and then resumed talking.
"You were right, Castle," she admitted quietly. "You said that we don't talk about these things...we kiss and we don't talk about it, we nearly die frozen in each other's arms and we don't talk about it. But we should. we need to. Because neither one of us has all the time in the world. We think we do, but we might not. I mean, we've come so close to death so many times, I just...I don't want to miss a golden opportunity, you know? I don't want to miss out on something that could be...extraordinary." He studied her, the way the light bounced off of her chestnut curls, the way her green-hazel eyes glittered, the way she was holding his gaze, the earnest look in her eyes.
" I don't want to miss out on that either, Kate," he said. "But I also don't want you to rush into something based on one solitary event. If we did this, I would need it to be based on something more solid than that. I want to be sure that you're certain, and that this is something you really want." His tone wasn't harsh or upset, just soft and gentle. He needed to know that she was sure. Kate nodded, reaching out to take his hand, the slight calluses on his fingertips brushing against her palm. The warmth from his skin made her hunger for more, hunger for being in his arms, being able to lay against his chest, being able to have his arms around her, the warmth of him surrounding her.
"No, Castle," she said. "This isn't something I'm taking lightly, okay? I've really been thinking about this, and today only solidified it for me. I..." she hesitated, losing her nerve at the last second. But he wasn't allowing that. He reached out and turned her face up to his, meeting her eyes.
"What?" he asked softly.
"I-I heard you," she admitted quietly. "The day I got shot. I heard you say that you loved me but I...I lied." He stared at her, shocked.
"You what?" Disappointment echoed in his voice and Kate felt him pull his hand back, as if he had been heartbroken expression on his face tore her apart.
"Kate, how could you?" he asked. "How could you?" He stood up suddenly, the betrayal in his eyes breaking her heart. "And then you just left! You sent me away, allowing me to believe that you didn't remember. I was willing to give you some time, but those three months were torture for me. I know it wasn't a picnic for you, either, Kate, but you know I would have been there for you. I loved you, and you knew that. But you pretended you didn't have any idea. How could you do this to me?" They stared at each other for a long moment. then, Kate couldn't take it anymore. She was starting to cry and she couldn't stand that look he was giving her. She stood up, in a rush of long legs and flying hair, and turned away, fleeing up the stairs to where she knew the guest bedroom was. Once there, she shut the door and sank to the floor, curling into a ball. She cried for a few minutes, regret coursing through her. She had done this to him, and she couldn't have regretted it more.
He gave her a few moments before climbing the stairs and approaching the guest bedroom. He knocked lightly.
"Kate?" he said softly. "Can I come in?"
"Yeah," came her small reply, and he gently pushed open the door. His heart constricted as he caught sight of her, curled up on the floor with her back next against the bed. He sat down next to her and Kate could feel the heat from his body mingling with that sweet, familiar Castle smell. Neither of them spoke for a minute. He studied her, waiting. But when she still didn't speak, impatience got the better of him. He placed a gentle hand on her knee and she finally met his eyes, tears in hers.
"I'm sorry," he said quietly. Beckett stared at him.
"You-you're sorry?" she choked. He nodded.
"Yeah. I lost my temper with you back there and I shouldn't have. So I'm sorry." She took a ragged breath.
"God, Castle," she breathed. "I'm the one who should be apologizing, not you. I...I lied to you. I betrayed your trust. And now you're saying you're sorry." Her voice crackled as she spoke. He couldn't stay angry with her. Not when she was like this, curled into a tiny, vulnerable ball, being so honest and so upset. He couldn't possibly stay angry with her when that tear was trailing down her cheek. He reached over and gently swiped it away with his thumb.
"Hey," he whispered. "Don't cry, Kate." He slid closer, wrapping her up in his arms, cradling her to his chest. She curled into him, burying her face in his shoulder.
"I'm sorry, Castle," she said. "I'm so sorry."
"Shhh," he soothed. "It's okay, Kate. It's okay. I forgive you, okay? Please don't cry."
"You said 'loved'," Kate whispered. "Past-tense." Castle's breath caught in his throat. He had, hadn't he?
"No, Kate," he argued. "Not past-tense. Not at all." He pulled back to look at her. "Present tense. I do love you, Kate. I always have, and I always will." She nodded into his chest, and he could feel stray tears seeping into the soft fabric of his sweater.
"I love you, too, Castle. So much. More than you could ever know," she whispered. He just held her tighter, pressing a soft kiss to her head. "I really thought I was going to lose you today, and I realized that I can't keep pretending. We can't keep pretending." She pulled back, her eyes glistening. "Promise me we won't. I'm ready. I want to move forward. Please promise me that you will do this with me. Please." He nodded.
"Of course. I promise, Kate." She smiled faintly. He gently framed her face in his hands and leaned close, seeing her eyes flicker closed as he pressed his lips to hers.
"Come on," he said after they broke apart. "You look exhausted. Let's get some sleep."
Kate was more than willing to accept the threadbare tee-shirt of his from The AMerican Mystery Writer's Convention. It smelled like him. She was also more than willing to crawl into his 1000 thread count sheets that smelled like him and curl up in his arms, listening to his heartbeat and his whispered confessions of love for her as she fell asleep. This was where she wanted to stay for the rest of her life.