A/N: i really wasn't going to turn this into anything more than a one-shot. but then i got requests, and, well, we know how that goes. so, the moral of the story is, DON'T ASK ME TO WRITE FOLLOW-UPS! BECAUSE THEN I DO! lol. i have something else in the works that's been put completely on hold because of this, so requesters, feel bad! :P
i don't know if i'm entirely happy with this. but, considering i wrote it without having any idea what i was doing or where it was going until it got there, i think it came out pretty well. and i didn't want to write the exact same scene twice, so this one is rather thoughtful and flashback-y. because it's Castle's POV, there's stuff going on with Beckett that he doesn't see/pick up on, so that's on you, dear readers. :)
The ride back to the precinct was a silent one. Rick was having trouble thinking straight, and would glance to the driver's seat every few seconds; he couldn't help himself. Kate had a fantastic poker face, and he knew that, but he was glad to see the index finger of her right hand tapping restlessly on the steering wheel. It was his only clue that something was going on in her head. It gave him a bit of hope that she was a fraction as confused and conflicted as he was.
But, he realized, she may not be thinking about him at all. Her mother's killer had just slipped through her grasp yet again, after all. There was every possibility that she was focusing on how she was going to break the news to the captain, or trying not to cry, or something else that had nothing to do with him.
Or maybe he was being too hard on himself.
He'd tried to be good. The prospect of endless hours in a cold, cramped car at night wasn't especially appealing to him, but he'd known that, as much as she denied it, she would want company over waiting alone. And like hell if he'd be anywhere else. When he followed her to the car she'd tried to tell him he didn't have to come, but he just gave her a look and settled himself stubbornly in his seat. She hadn't argued, and that said more than any 'thank you' ever could. Beyond just being there, though, he didn't know what she'd want. He didn't know whether to talk to distract her, or leave her alone with her thoughts, or what.
The first hour was the worst. She was tense and expectant, bouncing her knees with restless energy and jumping at the slightest noise from the street. Every so often he'd try to start a conversation, but she'd give him one-word answers. Eventually he'd taken the hint and dropped it, but still glanced at her every now and then to make sure she looked okay, at the very least. After about an hour or so, her legs had gone still, and she was the one to speak first.
"Have you ever lost anyone, Castle?"
He looked at her again, but she was still looking straight ahead, rather morosely, he thought. He shook his head. "No. But I did cry for a week when John Lennon died." She smiled slightly, and he took a deep, cleansing breath. Yes, he thought, she smiles. "Sorry I can't be of more help, or relate, or… anything."
She looked at him. "Don't be. I'm glad you don't know what this feels like."
He sighed. "And I'm sorry that you do."
She smiled, and looked back out at the street. "Sometimes I wonder what my life would've been like."
He hummed in thought for a moment. "Dr. Kate Beckett?"
Wrinkling her nose, she shook her head.
"Kate Beckett, esquire?"
She paused. "Nah."
She burst out laughing. "Good joke!"
He mentally patted himself on the back for getting her to laugh, and grinned. "So what've you come up with?"
She shook her head in mild disbelief. "Nothing. I have absolutely no idea."
"What was your major beforehand?"
"I didn't have one, I was undecided." She blew out a breath. "It's kind of weird, ya know? Sometimes I try to imagine my mom being here, but if it weren't for her murder, I probably wouldn't be doing what I'm doing. And that's such a big part of my life. I can't really imagine doing anything else." She smiled sadly. "That was my mom, though. Always trying to help me out. I just kind of wish she didn't have to die to help me figure out what I wanted to do with my life."
Silence stretched for a few moments. Rick wasn't really sure what to say. He was heartbroken for her, and touched beyond belief that she would share this with him, and immensely proud (though he really had no reason to be) that she had such a good outlook on things.
"What was she like?" he asked softly.
She looked at him. "What?"
"Your mom. What was she like?"
He watched her take a deep breath, and was worried when he couldn't read the way she was looking at him. It was as if she was touched that he asked, but couldn't quite believe what she was hearing. "Why?" she asked quietly.
"Well," he said slowly, petrified of saying the wrong thing but knowing that his intentions were good, "We've known each other for two years, and all I really know about her is that she was killed. And I know that's not the legacy she would've wanted to leave behind." When Kate still looked hesitant to say anything, he cracked a smile. "Come on, she must've been pretty great if her daughter turned out the way she did."
She blushed, but grinned, and allowed her head to fall back against the headrest of her seat. "She was beautiful."
He smiled at the memory of the rest of that conversation. He'd meant what he'd said; he could only imagine what Johanna Beckett must've been like to raise such a phenomenal woman as her daughter.
A sharp blast from another car's horn jerked him out of his thoughts.
"What?" Kate exclaimed incredulously to the other driver, looking in her rearview mirror and accelerating. "The light just turned green, you ass hat!"
Rick laughed. "Did you just call him an ass hat?"
She chuckled. "Yeah. I don't really have enough room in my head to deal with bad drivers right now."
He felt the smile fading off his face, and knew he should probably say something about what had happened. But as he opened his mouth to speak, the car was briefly illuminated by a streetlight, and he caught sight of the lipgloss smudged around her lips. His heart clenched almost painfully, and he reluctantly turned to face forwards again, deciding that he was momentarily incapable of words. He lightly touched his lips, and felt the slight, sticky lipgloss residue that was there.
He swallowed hard.
He jumped when she spoke. "Are you okay?"
Keep it together, man! he thought. He looked at her. "Isn't that supposed to be my line?"
"Maybe. But you look like you're physically in pain," she said with a chuckle.
"Nope," he said a little too quickly. "I'm fine. Great. Never better."
She eyed him suspiciously for a second or two. "Okay."
"Seriously though, are you okay?" he asked, genuinely concerned.
She sighed, and glanced at him. "I'm better than I thought I would be in this kind of situation."
He sighed, relieved. "Good."
"I'm not looking forward to explaining myself to Montgomery, though." She shifted nervously in her seat.
"I wouldn't worry about that," he said. "He knows you're brilliant, so if you screw up, you've got some leeway." He noticed she still looked unsure, so he added, "And you know he has a soft spot with you when it comes to your mom."
She sighed, a nonverbal agreement to his statement, but bit her lip nonetheless.
"Hey," he said quietly. She met his gaze. "Everything's going to be fine."
She took a deep breath and finally nodded, smiling slightly. "Okay."
"Mother?" Rick called, stepping inside his apartment and closing the door.
"In here, darling," Martha answered from her position on the couch.
He shucked his coat off and deposited it on a chair, simultaneously tossing his keys onto the table as he passed it. Making his way into the living room, he dropped onto the couch next to her. "You were a life coach for five minutes once upon a time, right?"
She looked at him strangely. "Is everything alright?"
"Yes. I mean no." He sighed. "I don't know." He chewed on the inside of his cheek for a moment. "Beckett and I kissed tonight." Martha's eyes grew wide, but he didn't notice and kept talking, mostly to himself. "It doesn't seem right to call her Beckett now that we've kissed, does it? I mean, we should be on a first name basis. Right? But I don't even think this was supposed to happen. No, it wasn't supposed to happen. So—"
"Richard," Martha interrupted. He fell silent, and looked at her sheepishly. "Why don't you start from the beginning?"
So he did. From his refusal to let her do the stakeout alone, to their conversations in the car, to their slip-up of getting out of the car, he relayed to his mother nearly every detail he could manage to remember.
"And then…" he took a deep breath. "And then the guy came outside."
"Talk about timing," she groaned sympathetically.
He chuckled wryly. "Tell me about it. So we were all but busted. We had to do something, right? So I sort of… told her I love her."
Her mouth fell open.
"Well, hey, don't judge to fast," he amended hastily. "I told her that we should pretend to be a couple visiting where they first met. That way we could pretend we were too wrapped up in each other to have paid attention to the murderer across the street."
"And?" she prodded.
"And we kissed." He thought back to that moment, that glorious moment in which she was his and he was hers, and his heart clenched painfully again.
"Judging by the lovesick look on your face, I'll assume you enjoyed yourself?" she asked.
"Of course I did," he grumbled, feeling guilty for saying it out loud.
"I… I don't know," he said hesitantly. "Either she did, or she's a brilliant actress. She certainly didn't fight me." He paused. "It's just… the look on her face when I told her I love her, before she realized it was for cover…"
Martha smiled softly. "You saw something there?"
He swallowed hard. "Mother, I don't know what to do. We're both with other people. We're both happy with other people."
"But this… tonight, it just… it felt real. I know it wasn't, but at the same time, it… it was."
She took her son's hand and gave it a squeeze. "I can't tell you what to do, darling. But it sounds to me like you have a choice to make."
He ran a hand through his hair. "I know. But if I break up with Gina, and Kate stays with Josh, I'm just looking at a déjà vu of last spring."
"That's a risk you're going to have to take," Martha said honestly. "You just have to figure out if she's worth it."
Rick met his mother's eyes, and he knew she knew what he was thinking: Kate Beckett was always worth it.
A/N: if you requested Castle's POV, you're contractually obligated to review. wait, you're not? oh. well, you should be! ;)