"See you in the fall?" Beckett called after Castle, trying to disguise the pleading in the question.
"See you in the fall," Castle answered, almost casually over his shoulder.
How could he? How could he be so casual, Beckett thought. I was gonna bear my soul to him and then Little Miss Sexless Relationship Ex-Wife swoops in and ruins everything. After dumping her handsome, but uninteresting Detective boyfriend Tom Demming, she was finally going to open up, take down some of the bricks in the wall she had erected around the most vulnerable part of herself, and tell Castle that she had truly grown to care for him and that she was prepared to deal with whatever fate had in store for them for the future. She didn't know where his career would take him, or even whether or not she'd survive a bullet fired tomorrow from some crazed lunatic's gun, but all she knew was that she liked him more than a friend and that she didn't want to lose him. Now it felt like she had done just that.
She watched in shock as Castle headed towards the elevator with his ex-wife and publisher Gina, arms around each other's waists. She watched as they boarded the elevator, and as the elevator doors closed on them. That was it. She wouldn't see him again until the fall. And God knows a lot can change between now and then.
She wanted to run after them, to sit down, to move somehow, but the impulses her brain was sending to her legs weren't registering. She was rooted on the spot, right in front of a pane of glass that looked into the conference room where all her friends, Lanie, Ryan, Esposito, and Captain Montgomery stood with emotional faces watching her. She felt their eyes boring into her and wanted to get away from them, but again her legs felt like they had been stuck knee-deep in wet cement.
She put her hands in her pockets and stared at the floor, feeling hot tears forming in her eyes. I am not going to cry in the precinct, she demanded of herself. But dammit, that bastard! How could I let him get to me like this? If she had asked him that, he would have simply said "The heart wants what the heart wants" or something nice and pithy like that. Well, it's obvious what his heart wants. And it clearly doesn't involve her.
Beckett felt the old anger surge from her stomach into her chest, and quickly spread to all her limbs. It was the same reaction she had after her mom died and the detectives boxed the unsolved case up in a nice, neat little package. It was how she felt when Sorenson took off out of state to take a job with the FBI, callously thinking that she would just pick up and follow him and then rearrange her life every time he got transferred somewhere else. Never again, she had vowed. Never again would she let someone peel back that many layers of the Beckett onion so easily.
Then Castle came along. He irritated the crap out of her at first with his incessant flirting and joking and playing at crime scenes like he was on a 9-year old on a field trip. Still, he had helped her solve the case where someone made it look like they were copycatting his books. And that intrigued her. She was used to being the one who was right, who always caught the right guy, who never left any stone unturned in an investigation. So whenever he told her she was going down the wrong path after their first case, she was reluctant, but she listened to him. And his hunches always seemed to pan out, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly. She also found out, that behind the flirts, and the charm, and the cool arrogance, was a sweetness and a heart and a sense of humor that she missed. So she had slowly let him in. Only to have it blow up in her face and tear her heart to pieces.
As Lanie approached her finally, her legs caught weak life and she slid into the chair that had been his chair. The romantic side of her hoped to feel his warmth emanating from it, to smell his cologne on the cushions, to gain strength from it as he had so many times given her strength. She sat there, hands clenched on her lap and her lower jaw tightly closed. Her eyes were full of both fire and tears. Lanie sat in Beckett's chair and rolled it close to her best friend so that their knees almost touched.
"Kate," Lanie said and she reached out and put her hand over one of Beckett's fists. "I'm here if you wanna talk. We're all here."
"Well, I don't wanna talk about it," Beckett growled and stood up so fast that she pushed the chair back a good several inches. Forgetting about the cold beer she had sat on her desk and about the fact that all the gang was watching her, she walked around to her desk, and yanked open the drawer where she kept her purse. She pulled it out, threw it over her shoulder, and banged the drawer shut so hard it bounced open again slightly. She began to head for the elevator, when Lanie caught hold of one of her arms.
"If you don't wanna talk, fine. I just want you to know that even though he's gone, we're not." Beckett paused for a moment and slowly nodded. "Call me. Anytime, if you need me," Lanie said. Beckett nodded again and caught a glimpse of Ryan, Esposito, and Montgomery in the doorway of the conference room. The looks on their faces told her that they had her back, as always. Just because they too may have missed Castle, didn't mean they wouldn't be there for her.
"Thanks guys," Beckett said and headed for the elevator. For a moment there, surrounded by her friends, she felt the anger dissipate, but as soon as she was alone enclosed by those steel walls, she felt it come rushing back. She wanted to kick a hole through the elevator wall, but knew that that story would follow her around the precinct for weeks, just as the one about her dumping Demming, and then being dumped by Castle would follow her too. Word around the 12th precinct would be that she had lost her edge and that she couldn't handle the stress anymore. That was the last thing she needed right now.
She exited the elevator and the building and caught a cab with remarkable ease. As she sat in the back seat on the ride home, she couldn't help but notice all the happy couples out on the street. Why was it always like that, she thought. Does someone notify all these people whenever some poor sap has had their heart stomped on that it's time to rub their happiness in the heart breakee's face by rushing into the streets at the same time and making goo-goo eyes at each other? It's so freaking unfair. To think she was so confident and relaxed only 15 minutes ago. She was so looking forward to Castle's reaction to what she had to say as well as to seeing that smile break across his face, and to maybe feel his hand hold hers…or to feel more him near her. But it was all over now.
And to add insult to injury, the song "It Must Have Been Love" by Roxette came on the radio. Beckett tried her hardest to shut out those words and the vision of Julia Roberts riding in a cab in the rain away from Richard Gere's hotel room. Was the look that she now wore on her face very similar to that on Julia Roberts' face? Was the sadness there? The longing? The regretting a missed opportunity? It was all there, Beckett answered herself. She rested her head against the cab window and shut her eyes. As hard as she tried to stop it a single tear finally leaked out and crawled down her cheek. She attempted to stem the flow by blinking her eyes and breathing faster until her chest heaved and she wheezed through her nose under the effort.
"You OK lady?" The cabbie asked. Beckett quickly wiped the tear off her face.
"I'm fine. Just get me the hell home," she answered curtly. The cabbie nodded silently and clammed up, but still smirked and threw her a knowing glance in the rear view mirror.
He let her off in front of her apartment building. As she approached the front door, she cursed her clumsiness when she dropped her keys to the pavement. She picked them up and found that her hand was trembling so much that she could barely get the key in the lock. She growled at herself some more and finally succeeded. The door banged against the wall next to it when she threw it open. She could see that she had mail in her box, and ignored it without a second thought. At that moment, she could care less. Her footsteps echoed through the stairwell as her legs stomped on each step to her floor. She had a bit of an easier time getting her front door open. She shoved it, much like she had the front door to her building and when it came back at her to close, she smacked it back open again. She slammed her purse on the kitchen counter along with her keys.
Now safe inside her apartment, she looked around at the darkness. The loneliness. She could see the new couch she had bought to replace the one she had lost when her apartment was blown up. This made her remember the night before that day when Castle had demanded to sleep over, not wanting to leave her alone as long as a madman was loose and dedicating murders to her. In retrospect her apartment seemed lighter while he was there, even more comforting than before. It seemed truly like a home and for a second Beckett saw him laying lengthwise on the new couch, his arm over the back, his hand grasping a glass of wine. He sees her standing there looking at him and smiles the devilish grin that always made her heart flutter. Then he fades away into the darkness.
He's not here, Beckett thought. He's in a car somewhere halfway to the Hamptons…with her. And here I am, all by myself. Alone and broken hearted.
Suddenly the solitude overwhelmed Kate Beckett and she leaned back against her front door. Slowly, she slid down until she sat on the floor with her legs pulled up to her chest. Now, curled up in almost the fetal position, she lost control. Her face gradually contorted and the tears fell like rain on an April day. She buried her face on her knees and wrapped her arms around her legs as her shoulders trembled uncontrollably.
Castle. Rick Castle.
She had lost him.
Perhaps for good.
Beckett lifted her head off her knees, wiped her eyes and nose, and fished her cell phone out of her coat pocket. She scrolled through its contacts list until she found the name she desperately wanted to talk to and punched send. After a few rings, a voice answered.
"Lanie?" Beckett asked, her voice trembling and her nose sniffling.
There was a pause on the other end, then an answer. "I'm on my way."