I know I emphatically said this would be the final chapter, but it is not (Surprise! Except not really at all!).
This went long, so I cut it in half for easier reading. And to sooth my self-diagnosed OCD , which was freaking out because this was going to end up with an odd number of chapters.
The final chapter is complete but for bits and pieces, and will be up Sunday night, whether I like it or not.:)
Kate took a deep breath and willed her voice not to shake. "Oh, well. Cool. Have fun." That was all she got out before she had to stand up and head for the door. So stupid. It was not all right. But she couldn't cry. She was not going to run. She wasn't. The damn fucking tears were pressing against back of her eyes, but she just had to make to the elevator…
But something in her voice or face must not have been as controlled as she thought, or maybe Castle could just read her that well, because she had only just made it into the hallway when he was behind her, grabbing her by the upper arm, turning her around.
"Hey, what's wrong? You don't…" he trailed off when he saw her face, and Kate realized, humiliated, that she hadn't managed to hold back all the tears.
She started to say something, anything, to put him off so she could escape, buy herself a few minutes. But her throat closed up around a knot of misery and she couldn't do anything except stand there, futilely swiping at her cheeks, while Castle's face morphed from confusion to baffled concern. Abruptly he pulled her forward, opened the first door he came to and pushed her through. He shut the door behind him, plunging them into darkness.
3:31 pm. 12th precinct, supply closet. Literally and figuratively in the dark.
Castle was pressed against her in the tiny supply closet, her back against the shelves, the only light seeping in from under the door. The dark and her tears - the hateful, stupid tears – made everything blurry, indistinct. Uncertain.
In the dark his voice was low and intimate, edged with a quietly frantic concern, and she wished he would shut up, step back, because his concern would break her like nothing else. She'd figure out a way to be fine it only he'd stop asking her if she was.
"What's wrong?" His hand was still wrapped around her upper arm, but then the other was against her face, the pad of his thumb gently sweeping across her cheekbone, collecting the tears as they fell.
Kate squeezed her eyes shut, immobilized by his tenderness and physical proximity, a voice inside her fighting desperately to be heard saying that she should step into him, wrap her hand around his neck. Just ask him, tell him what was wrong.
But the words were trapped, fear making her mute. She needed a minute, because she couldn't lose it in front of him. She just needed a few moments alone to prepare herself for the worst.
"Please, you have to tell me, I can't…" Castle broke off with almost a guttural sound as all at once she was hauled against him, his arm tight around her waist, his other hand cradling her head, his voice in her ear, hot and close. "I don't know what's wrong. I don't know what you want me to do. You have to tell me."
He sounded so lost, so confused, so exactly like she felt every second that Kate could feel herself breaking. She was gritting her teeth against it, because she couldn't do it like this. She wouldn't do that to Castle; melt all over him into puddle of messy emotions.
But being held so close, the sheer unfamiliar relief of it, was suddenly too much. This day, the tension of being with him but not… and tonight was so far away. She'd been waiting so long that the extra hours seemed unbearable, insurmountable.
"I'm sorry," she choked out, trying not to sob out loud. Her hands crept around his neck, holding him close. She felt his arms spasm around her, pulling her in tighter, surrounding her in warmth.
Kate didn't know if she was apologizing for crying all over him or…or for all of it. Maybe for being an idiot all these months - years - too long. She just knew that she was sorry.
Castle's breathing was rough and irregular. He was holding her so close she could feel his heartbeat, and one hand was stroking her hair, her shoulder, her hip, like he didn't know what to do, how to help.
This wasn't fair to either of them, this uncertainty, this confusion. With her own unspoken rules and unspoken truths she had tied Castle's hands, so this was up to her.
Time to pull it together. She didn't have a minute. She had right now, and his had gone far enough.
Kate took a huge breath and raised her hand to his face. Her voice only shook a little.
"I don't want you to date anyone else."
3:37 pm. 12th precinct, supply closet. Holy, holy shit.
He was actually holding Kate, her body against his, her hand on his face, and it was impossible to think. His fingers were still wet with her tears, and he wasn't sure how but it was his fault. And now she said-?
She doesn't want him to -?
"What?" Castle was so startled he laughed. Only one quick exhalation of disbelief, but it was enough.
Kate dropped her hand and pulled away. Anxiety pitted in his gut, and he tried to loosen his grip, give her a little space, don't run don't run but he hit the opposite shelves in half a step. God, this was a small closet – sideways they both could barely fit in the aisle. His hand was still at her waist.
"That's funny?" She was trying for a neutral tone but he could hear the tears still clogging her voice. He dipped his head, trying to see her eyes.
Apprehension squeezed his chest and he tightened his fingers on her hip, because he couldn't lose their connection now. Alarm bells were ringing and he sent up a prayer to whatever or whoever was up there to please, please let him say the right thing.
"No! No, Kate." How was he supposed to say the right thing when he had no idea what she was talking about? He thought…the break room…tonight. "Why would I be dating anyone else?" He was parroting her words back at her because they made no sense. He couldn't get a handle on why she would even -
"I don't know." She shrugged. "Because I'm closed off. Afraid, like you said." Kate swayed into him, slowly wrapping her hand around his bicep. He could smell her hair; feel the soft curve of her waist. He tried to breathe quietly and listen because this was important, but she was right there, overwhelming his senses, and this would be perfect if she weren't crying and they weren't in a closet and what the hell was going on?
Kate looked down, her words rushed, unsure. "Because I haven't let you know how I really feel, and maybe you're tired of waiting. And I don't blame you." Her voice hitched. "I'm difficult, I have a thousand issues, and maybe you don't even want –"
"What?" He couldn't even keep up with what she was saying, it made so little sense. "No, not why would I date someone else, why would you think I was dating someone else?"
But then her words caught up with him. His chest seized up, and he almost bent over with the shock, his face in her hair, because, oh god, she was trying to answer him. Kate was giving him reasons why he should date someone else, someone who wasn't her, and something in him broke a little.
This was what she thought? That she wasn't worth it to him? That he was going to get tired of waiting?
"Stop." Castle wanted to shake her, kiss her, anything to make her stop talking. His heart slid into his stomach and behind his eyes was the unmistakable sting of tears.
"No." Kate looked up, suddenly fierce, her hands gripping his arms, holding them both steady. "I need to tell you. I'm sorry. I haven't been fair to you…"
The stinging got worse. "Kate."
She swallowed, shook her head. "…but I'm trying, I'm honestly trying, and I know you have to be exhausted, but please. Please don't give up on me now."
Oh, Kate. All the air whooshed out of his lungs as a tangle of words rose up to choke him, all struggling to get out at once, none of them making it, none of them quite right. So he answered her the only way he could, with his mouth on hers.
3:41 pm. 12th precinct, supply closet. !
The shock of Castle's mouth on hers wiped her mind and stole her words. Her thoughts scattered as his lips slowly brushed back and forth; not quite a kiss, not yet. His arms untangled, releasing her, but then his hands were on her face and he was moving into her, surrounding her, and Kate knew that it was only his body against hers that kept her from shaking, kept her from flying apart.
She had really done it. She had used real words to tell him real feelings now her blood was pounding in her ears and she was almost vibrating with the tension because what were they doing? Or maybe it was because he had just tugged her hips to his and slid his lips across her jaw. Hard to tell.
"Why would you think that?" He sounded so honestly baffled that Kate was confused. Confused, and in danger of her legs collapsing. His hand rubbed against the sensitive point at the base of her spine and she gasped, accidentally arching into him.
Oh, god. Concentrate. The phone calls, she needed to know... but she was in a surreal haze that surrounded her like a dream. It had her questioning the reality of anything and everything except his body, his mouth, on hers, here in the dark.
His palms were hot on her cheeks, his fingers against her neck and behind her ears, sending little frissons of desire along her nerves. His breath was rough and fast across her mouth and she needed to trace his lower lip with her tongue, pull it between her teeth, she had to, except …she needed…
"Those phone calls. You got a text message…" Castle leaned in and Kate stuttered to stop as she felt his lips on her throat, feather light. Her breath was coming fast; it was making her light headed, unable to think, but she had to - "…a message about something for tomorrow night. It was from a woman…"
Castle pulled back. "Betina?" Her eyes had adjusted enough that she could just see his, dazed, unfocused. He shook his head, even as he slipped one hand to nape of her neck and threaded his fingers in her hair, sending shivers across her skin. "She's a contortionist. Used to work with that cat burglar I know, from that case a few years ago."
"Oh. And, um…" She swallowed as her stomach dropped. Oh, god. What were they doing? Not making out. Was this making out? They weren't even kissing, why weren't they kissing? But his mouth was hovering over her pulse point and he is all around her and she is on fire from the inside out. "…you're meeting her tomorrow night?"
"No. No!" Castle straightened up, his body abruptly thrumming with a different kind of tension. "Oh, god. Is that what you thought?" His mouth was no longer on her neck, her lips, but there was nowhere for him to go and Kate was glad. Glad she was still surrounded by everything that was him. It clouded her mind, but it also made her brave.
"Well, yeah." She was thankful for the dark. It made this easier. "You said you'd see her…and, I mean, obviously you can see whoever you want, but…" she took a shaky breath, "but if we're going to talk about what happened, what's been happening then I guess-" another breath. "I guess my feelings are hurt." Her heart was lodged somewhere around her vocal cords, beating so hard it was almost choking her. She forced out the rest. "I guess I'm jealous."
"No, no." Castle gripped her upper arms and seemed to shift into hyper-focus; Kate could almost feel his spiking anxiety. Then words were pouring out of him, and she could barely keep up between her aroused senses and trying to hold onto the tenuous threads of her self control.
"I don't have a date with Betina. I don't have a date with anyone." His voice is low and panicked and sexy. "She's part of a circus acrobat show - I remembered it was in town after we saw the cat burglars. It's really hard to get tickets, so I called her. After that crazy case I thought it would be fun."
A circus show? Relief and chagrin crashed into her so hard she almost sagged against him. "So you were getting tickets for you and Alexis?" Could there possibly be a more innocent explanation? All the blood drained from her head from the sheer shock of relief. She almost swayed as, just like that, the horrible fear that had been with her all day evaporated, leaving behind nothing but desire. Desire and an almost frantic love. And oh, god, this meant…"Castle?"
But Castle didn't seem to hear her. He had frozen, his hands still in a death grip on her arms. Even in the dark she could see the dumbfounded delight on his face, his eyes lit up like his birthday had come early and he had gotten the present he wanted most of all.
"Wait. You're jealous?"
3:48 pm. 12th precinct, supply closet. Omg, had his birthday come early?
"Yes. I was." And then Kate is surging into him, her hands slipping across his chest, around his neck. She exhaled in what sounded like relief and something else, something promising, her breath ghosting across his cheek, and he wanted to talk about this, he did, but he had never been more turned on in his life.
Turned on, and maybe a little hurt because she really thought, she really thought that he was going home with her tonight and out with another woman tomorrow?
"But why a secret?" Kate was panting in his ear, one hand in his hair, the other sweeping across his abdominals, everything in him contracting, and he couldn't think, couldn't stop to decide if it was a good idea before he answered-
"Because it wasn't for Alexis." He might have been gritting his teeth a little, his hand creeping under her shirt, upward, his thumbs stroking her ribs. "Did I work this case with Alexis? For you." Almost involuntarily he tightened his hold, her hips colliding with his, their legs tangling. "For us."
"For us?" Her voice, breathy, surprised, wrapped around him in the dark. Her fingers traced the shell of his ear, and he was stretched about as far as he could go. "Why not just ask me?"
"On an actual date? You would have run." Oh shit. His filter had gone south along with all the blood in his body.
"I would not…I…" She faltered, leaned back a fraction.
"You would." Shut up. What was he doing?
He reached out to pull her back but she knocked his hand out of the way.
"No." Kate grabbed his jaw in one hand and forced him to look at her, her eyes glittering in the dark. "I wouldn't. I won't. Not now." And then her mouth was on his, open and hot and wet, her tongue and her teeth and he was so shocked that his body was reacting before his mind registered what was happening.
He was kissing Kate.
Kissing her in the closet in the precinct in the middle of the afternoon…wait, wait, he pulled away, tried to make his lungs work. "Do you think we should…?"
"No. Stop thinking." Her mouth was back, the hot slide of her lips across his jaw, his throat. She was unbuttoning his shirt, the feel of her hands on him making his eyes cross.
"You're right." He kissed her he kissed her his hands slipping to her back, his fingers tracing the long line of her spine, and she arched into him with a noise deep in her throat that was going to make him crazy. She needed to do it again. "No more thinking. We're making this too hard."
"Something's hard." Kate slowly and deliberately rocked her hips into his, her hand curving around the nape of his neck, her tongue ….and he couldn't believe his heart hadn't exploded from his chest. He was going to die.
"Why, Katherine Beckett." He was making a valiant attempt at sardonic, but was falling way short. It was hard to pull off over the sound of his own panting. "That's so naughty. I'm definitely a bad influence on you."
"Not a bad influence." He could barely hear her but he could feel the words against his mouth, her lips on his; so close he couldn't tell his heartbeat from hers. "The best."
And everything in him combusted. Four years slammed into him, demolishing what was left of his control, and he was pressing her into the shelves, lifting her up so he could reach her mouth, her weight resting on his leg between hers. He couldn't stop, couldn't make sense, and the last coherent thought he had was that this might be the most erotic, most perfect, happiest thing that had ever happened to him, jammed in a closet, surrounded by cleaning supplies, kissing Kate Beckett in the dark.
Thanks always to everyone for reading and reviewing.
The final chapter will be up Sunday night.
I'm so excited for Monday I can barely function.:)