Hey, guys! So, first off, let me apologize to anyone waiting for me to update my multi-chapter fics. I've been bombarded with a lot of different ideas and pieces I've started (most of which will probably never make it on here), and I've been a little blocked with what I SHOULD be working on. Rest assured, I haven't given up on those yet.
Anyway, this little nugget popped into my head, and I was actually able to take it somewhere. Overall, I'm pleased with it, though I am a little worried that it's OOC (but, we haven't seen Caskett truly interact romantically on the show yet, so it's hard to judge). Also, I'll warn you that it's FLUFFY. Hopefully it isn't too sappy/cheesy/corny, but fluff haters should just turn back now.
One last thing, and then I'll shut up and let you read. The timeline is set in the fall of what will be season 4. Oddly, there are heavy mentions of "Knockout," but I actually took the idea from the ending of "Lucky Stiff" when Castle went to Beckett about the scholarship started in her mother's name and the fundraiser he wanted to host for it. It's been done before, but I've been itching to play with that for some time now and decided to use it here.
Okay, I'm done :)
DISCLAIMER: "Castle" isn't mine, and it's best we keep it that way. I'm just having my fun here.
Kate felt the chill of the autumn wind nip at her skin as she stepped out of the French doors of the ballroom and into courtyard just outside the building. While most of the lights of the city prevented many stars from appearing in the night sky, she could clearly see the glow of what had been a full moon just a couple of days previously overhead.
She wrapped her shawl more snugly around her body as she paced the brick patio, wishing that she'd not gone with a strapless dress for the event that evening. She could go back inside, but at that moment, she just needed space to breathe and think. Thankfully, the October chill had kept all of the other guests inside.
All of the other guests, that is, except one Richard Castle, who chose that moment to step outside as well.
"Evening, Detective," he greeted her with a warm smile, holding out to her one of two champagne flutes he was carrying, "Figured you could use a drink."
"Thanks," she replied, gratefully accepting the glass and taking a hearty sip.
A few moments passed in which they stood in companionable silence, taking in the scenery around them. While New York wasn't the most glamorous city during the day, there was just something about it at night that made the view breathtaking. Of course, they were in a more prestigious section of Manhattan, where the crème de la crème of the New York upper class spent their days rubbing elbows with the right people and making a small fortune.
Rick took a sip of his champagne and let out a long, drawn-out breath.
"So..." he began, trailing off for a brief moment, "Have you been enjoying yourself so far tonight?
"Oh, definitely," she nodded, tucking a loose curl behind her ear, "You've truly outdone yourself with this fundraiser, Castle. Not that I'm surprised, because you like to do things big, but this...I didn't expect so much to go into it."
"Well, your mother seemed like a special person, and I wanted tonight to really honor her memory. The scholarship is in her name, after all."
"Still, that speech you made..." she shook her head slowly, allowing her lips to turn up in a soft smile as she remembered the beautiful words he'd spoken about Johanna Beckett only a few minutes ago, "It was very sweet, Rick. I mean, you've never even met her, but it was like you were talking about somebody you've known your entire life. And to speak so highly of her..."
"I may not have known her, but I know her daughter," he pointed out, "And though I can't describe her as personally as you can, I've heard you talk about her and how strong she was—how great she was. I've met your father, and I can definitely see part him in you, but I'm pretty certain that it was your mother from whom you inherited your most extraordinary qualities. I figured she couldn't be much different than you."
Kate was partly taken aback and partly flattered. While he'd complimented her numerous times before, she still wasn't quite used to it. And the way he spoke when he said things like that...the sincerity and emotion behind his words only served to help crumble more of the walls she had built around her heart. And right there, in that moment, she could swear he had just broken down the last one.
He had been there for her at the beginning of the summer, after she was shot at Captain Montgomery's funeral. And though she was still with Josh at the time and the good doctor didn't appreciate the attention the writer was giving her, she couldn't have been more grateful to have someone constantly by her side while she healed. He had shown so much concern for her and more maturity throughout her entire month-long recovery than she'd ever seen from him before.
Of course, while Josh had tried to be there for her as much as he could (he'd operated on her, after all) he still found himself too busy to truly support her. It wasn't that he didn't care, it was just that his job demanded more of his attention than he could give her. It was like the Doctors Without Borders thing all over again. He may not have been running off to other countries, but he had been in the operating room a hell of a lot more than he was with her. But, she knew she couldn't be selfish about it; she was in the process of healing while majority of Josh's patients were in potentially fatal conditions. She couldn't compete with that. Still, she needed him, too. When he couldn't come through for her, she'd decided once and for all that she could no longer be with someone who couldn't be there for her—especially times like that when she needed him most. Thus ended their romantic relationship and a mutual decision to remain friends.
But the whole time, Castle was right next to her—performing kind acts without her even having to ask, comforting her physically and emotionally, and simply being a good friend. Even after their fallout after Lockwood's escape. He just refused to let her go it alone. Oddly, she managed let go of her pride and independence for just a little while to let him take care of her. It was something she'd always struggled with, and she was still struggling with, but he was definitely helping to break her out of that shell.
However, it wasn't just his being there for her that had affected her. She could remember him uttering three small but very big words right after she'd been shot—just before she faded to blackness. Hearing him say "I love you" was the last thing she'd ever expected. Three years, and he'd never once told her until that very moment. She hadn't had time to dwell on it after he'd said it, but once she was back in her right mind and able to remember and process, his admission had all but eaten her alive. She couldn't stop thinking about it—wondering how she would have responded if the circumstances had been different.
If she was honest with herself, she probably wouldn't have been able to stop herself from saying the words right back to him. As much as the idea of openly admitting her feelings for him scared the hell out of her, she really had fallen in love with him over the past three years. He was always there for her, and it wasn't just for her recovery after the shooting—it was everything. Her mother's case, near-death experiences in which he'd saved her life, moments in which they both could have died, a time when she'd lost her home and he'd welcomed her into his for a little while...
Hell, he had done numerous small things for her as well, like bringing her coffee every day or getting her a signed cast photo from her favorite soap opera. This fundraiser itself was another thing he had done with her in mind. Granted it wasn't specifically for her, he had done it for a scholarship created with the intent to honor her mother's legacy. That, to her, meant more than she could ever properly express.
Now here he stood, in front of her after having just delivered a speech that was arguably more beautiful and meaningful than even the eulogy at her mother's funeral was. What was more, he had just made it clear that he also associated everything he'd said about Johanna with Kate herself.
No man had ever thought so highly of her in such an open way or loved her that much. Even men who had told her they loved her before never meant it like Rick did.
So, right there, in that moment, she decided to quit hiding. She knew she had to stop stringing him along and letting him think that she didn't return his feelings; that she had to let herself open up to something she was scared of but might end up being the best thing that ever happened to her.
Suddenly, she felt nervous. How was she supposed to even bring this up? It wasn't like she could just say, "Hey, I'm in love with you even though I never told you, and I think we should get together now." No. She had to approach this carefully.
She looked up at him, and butterflies began to flutter in her stomach when her green eyes locked with the blue of his. God, she felt like a lovesick teenager again! Until he had come along, nothing could shake her like this.
Finally, after taking a deep breath, she found her words.
"Look, Rick," she spoke softly and carefully, "I...there's something that I've been meaning to tell you for months, and—God, you have no idea how nervous I am right now."
She combed her fingers through her hair, taking a moment to collect her thoughts and organize what she was going to say.
"It's okay," he soothed, "Take your time. Just remember, though, you can tell me anything."
She closed her eyes for a moment, taking another deep breath and finding a place to set her champagne down before continuing.
"I've been thinking about what you said to me a while back, right after I was shot at Montgomery's funeral," she told him.
"What I said to you?" he asked, his eyebrow furrowing in confusion. He seemed to consider it for a moment before realization dawned on him and his eyes widened. "Oh, you mean...?"
She nodded. He gaped at her for a moment until the surprise on his face turned to confusion.
"Wait," he said, "You actually remember it? You heard me?"
"Yeah," she nodded again, "I heard you perfectly. You did mean it, right?"
"Of course, I did—every word. But, why didn't you say anything? I mean, not that I expected you to. I'm just curious as to why you're bringing it up now."
"Because I can't stop thinking about it. You told me you love me, for Christ's sake! I knew you cared, but I had no idea how much until that day. And, since then, I've been battling with that knowledge and wondering how I'm supposed to deal with it, but now..."
She had to look away from him. She'd never felt so vulnerable in front of him—so open about her emotions—and his eyes seemed to see right through her. It made her feel naked and exposed.
She sighed. She knew she was still fighting. This was supposed to be about opening up to him, yet a small part of her was telling her to stop right where she was before going any further.
No, she firmly told herself, He needs to know. Whatever is supposed to happen will happen, but he needs to know regardless.
"Kate?" his gentle voice broke her out of her reverie. He set his champagne down next to hers and reached out his hand to take her own.
As she looked back up at him, their eyes met again, and she thought of every reason to take the plunge—every reason that loving him was what she wanted and needed. While she couldn't erase all of the concerns she had regarding a more personal relationship with him, considering everything positive that could come out of it helped her to find her courage.
Slowly, she moved closer to him and looked him directly in the eye. She was done with monologues and explanations. This time, she was just going to say the words.
"I love you, too."
While she felt as if a weight had just been lifted off of her shoulders after saying it, the nerves were still present in the anticipation of his response.
She took that moment to study his face, to find any tell-tale signs of what he was thinking. But he just stood there staring at her, seemingly at a complete loss for words. Unfortunately, she couldn't tell if this was a good thing or a bad thing.
Then, when his lips curved into a smile and a twinkle appeared in his eyes, she felt relief wash over her. He was happy.
"Kate," he placed a hand on her cheek, "Do you have any idea how long I've waited to hear you say that?"
His thumb began to lightly graze over her skin, and her eyelids fluttered closed for at the feeling. He leaned in closer—enough so that their breaths mingled. The one hand stayed on her cheek while the other snaked around her hip and to the small of her back, pressing her close to his warm body. She brought both hands up to cup his face and leaned in to let her lips meet his.
It had been months since the first time she'd kissed him. Then, it was just a taste—pretense, but real all the same. This time, there was nobody but the two of them, and they weren't pretending. It was pure want wrapped up in emotion.
What started off as slow grew into something more passionate. Her arms were now wrapped around his neck, allowing her fingers to thread through his hair. His hands, meanwhile, had taken to exploring her body. She deepened the kiss, letting her tongue trace his bottom lip before slipping it into his mouth to meet his.
Finally, oxygen became a necessity, and they were forced to break apart. They were both panting slightly as their eyes met again. While this was only the tip of the iceberg for them, they couldn't help the satisfied smiles that spread across their faces.
There was a pregnant pause before Rick asked, "So, what now?"
Kate chewed on her lip and pondered this. She'd spent so much time thinking about how she was going to convey how she felt that she hadn't really considered precisely where she wanted to take this afterward.
"I don't know," she answered truthfully.
He sighed and looked away, as if debating on whether or not he was going to accept such and uncertain answer. He was still holding her close to him. After a few moments, he brought his hand up to caress her arm and finally spoke.
"How about we simply move forward?" he suggested, "We let whatever is between us progress naturally and take the steps as we see fit.
"I want this," he continued, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear and staring deeply into her eyes, "And, though it won't always be easy, I want us to try for something that can last—and, by lasting, I mean forever. Because you and I both know what we're getting into, and I'm in it for keeps. So now the question is: is this what you want?"
She had seen this coming. She knew that, despite his track record, he would expect nothing short of full commitment with her. Sure, it had taken until very recently for her to realize that he was over cheap flings, but she'd seen a new side of him that wanted something real—something permanent. It terrified her—the thought that she could spend forever with him—but she felt more at ease considering that he wasn't asking to solidify that right away. Yes, it's what he wanted eventually, but he wanted to see if they could make that work before making that permanent commitment.
And she was okay with that. It may take her a little longer to get comfortable with the idea of possibly spending the rest of her life with the man before her, but she would keep an open mind for him. Until then, they would take it one step at a time, just as he said. It was brand new territory, but she was ready to explore it.
"Yes," she nodded, "It's exactly what I want. But, can we keep this to ourselves for a while? If we're going to do this, I would prefer it if nobody else interferes just yet."
"Of course," he leaned over to press his lips to her cheek, "However, we might have to let Mother and Alexis in on this. They're bound to figure it out right away, and I couldn't keep something like this from them if I tried."
"Okay. As long as they don't tell anyone else, we can let them know. Not that I don't trust them, it's just..."
"I get it," he nodded in understanding, "and I can assure you they won't. They like you, so I'm sure they'll respect your wishes—especially if it means having you around more."
"Well, I've been spending so much time at the loft lately that I would be surprised if they haven't already been suspecting something between us," she grinned.
Rick chuckled, "Oh, I can just imagine the crazy theories my mother's been spinning in that head of hers about us—especially after she found us asleep on the couch this morning."
Kate laughed in amusement, "Did she give you the third degree after I left?"
"No, but she said, 'Richard, I have no idea why you haven't had the sense to ask that girl out yet.' Then, without another word, she just waltzed off to her play rehearsal."
Kate laughed lightly again, her gaze shifting downward momentarily before coming back up to meet Rick's. He was smiling broadly at her.
"What?" she asked.
"I like seeing you happy," he stated simply before elaborating, "I'm used to seeing you serious all the time at the precinct, so knowing that you're happy makes me happy."
"And?" she prompted, suspecting he had something to add onto that statement.
"I'm glad there's finally an 'us'—that you finally quit running from me."
"I wasn't running from you," she shook her head.
"Yes, you were, and I don't blame you for being scared. I mean, my history with women isn't exactly reassuring, but the fact that you're willing to take a chance on me means a lot."
He took her hands in his and gave them a light squeeze, his eyes never straying from hers. She squeezed back and inched closer to him so that their bodies were touching again.
"I love you so much, Kate," he spoke in near whisper, "Thank you for taking that chance and letting me in."
"Always," she replied before bringing her lips to his.
They would undoubtedly return to the party, hoping that nobody had witnessed their private moments and pretending that nothing had changed—all the while knowing the truth and taking satisfaction in the secrecy of it all. After the event, who knew where the night would take them. But, for now, they would savor the moment and worry about the future later.
So, how did I do?
I know the "Always" thing has been overused, but I just felt it appropriate. Really, it's their "thing," when you think about it- it's popped up at least three times in the show. And, again, I hope this wasn't too sappy. I'm a notorious cheeseball.
Review? Feedback is always appreciated! :)
P.S. Any mistakes were solely my own. I have no beta, and I don't always find every error. However, I always go back and fix them as I find them. So, please, feel free to point any out that you come across.