A Deadly Affair
Castle stews over it. Sips his Scotch and rubs a finger over his lip, over and over, thinking.
Kitty and Earl. It's almost a bad joke at a party.
Only it isn't. No one is laughing. He aimed a weapon her direction and she did the same to him - and neither of them shot the other.
In fact, she saved his life. He saved hers, just like old times. Except it's not old times, none of this is old, routine, normal.
She pointed her gun at him and he thought - he actually thought - she was going to shoot him. And by the look on her face, she thought the same of him. Which was why he nearly-
But he didn't. He wouldn't have, right? No. But that second, that heartbeat, where she raised her gun and barked his name in that hard and tight voice that brooked no arguments, the same voice she used to arrest him-
He can't settle. He can't stop thinking about it. How close they were, they thought they were, but weren't at all, never were, only they nearly did.
She saw their suspect behind him; he saw the partner behind her.
Neither of them shot the other.
Kitty and Earl. Almost a bad joke, but he's not laughing.
He's not supposed to; he made rules for himself when he gave her up at the beginning of the summer. If she wants Demming or whomever, if she wants left to her own devices in the romance department, if she wants him to stop being so territorial over what is, essentially, a badly timed crush, well he can do that.
No uncalled for contact. No foul on the play.
Well, he's assuming there's some appropriate sports metaphor that would apply. Basically, she's not his, she doesn't want to be his (his what? it's not like he owns her story, that her life is somehow his playground that he gets to frolic in and then go home and slough off). She - the Kate of Beckett - is off-limits.
(Especially now that he's trying to make a go of this second attempt with his ex-wife and publisher, and shouldn't that be his primary reason for not fraternizing with the detective who always turns his head? The mere fact that Beckett turns his head means even friendship is a dangerous idea. And yet the second he saw her again after the long drought of summer, everything jumped to life. Colors revived. That surge of curiosity and that instinct for vibrancy all came rushing back.)
And he nearly shot her. She would have shot him. If it hadn't been for Kitty and Earl.
He's driving himself crazy sitting here in the dark, steeping in the fast-approaching midnight. He managed to not think about it all afternoon, but now that the city is dozing (if not asleep), he can't put it out of his head.
How she looked at him. In that split second, how little she trusted him - and how that triggered his own distrust. How it snowballed faster than he could contain it, how he grit his teeth and flexed his jaw and determined he would do right by her even if it killed him.
(It didn't, did it? She didn't shoot him. He's alive, in fact, because she did shoot her gun but not at him, and likewise, likewise.)
He's staring at his phone before he realizes it's even in his hand, like muscle memory. (Or self-sabotage). He rubs his thumb over the face, but it's no good.
He gives way to the urge and calls her.
As it rings down the other side, he surges to his feet and deposits his tumblr of scotch on the desk blotter, strides to the windows as if standing will somehow impart real courage.
"Castle?" she answers, voice rough and low.
He freezes, caught at the throat by the way she sounds at 11:58 pm and clearly woken from a dead sleep.
A sharp breath on her side. "Cas-something wrong?" She's beginning to sound more and more aware. "What happened?"
"I'm okay," he wheezes. "Okay. But I almost wasn't. You almost weren't."
"What?" she says. She sounds like she's dragging herself out of bed. Out of bed. Oh, God. This was a mistake. "Castle. What are you - you mean Kitty and Earl? But they didn't. We got them before they got us."
"We nearly didn't," he croaks. "You were going to shoot me."
"I saw it on your face," he insists.
"No. Castle. I was not. I would not."
"You were," he finishes weakly, not even insisting any longer. Her too-forceful negation already gave her away. The lady doth protest too much. "You thought I would shoot you."
"You thought I was going to shoot you, Castle," she hisses back.
"No," she says briskly. "Stop this. It serves no purpose." She's going to hang up on him. After everything, she's going to- "I'm coming over, Castle. Better tell that damn doorman to put me on the list."
He put her on the list ages ago.
Castle paces the front entry. Quietly, because Alexis and Martha are upstairs (well, his mother might actually be out; he doesn't want to know). He paces and the second he hears the smallest noise, he opens the door. Even though it isn't her, and his apartment is too high-end to allow noise from the hall or elevator to penetrate, he keeps opening the door and searching.
Until finally, he yanks open the door and she's one pace away, mid-stride, her mouth open and her thumb in her teeth. Worrying a nail. She snatches her hand away, cheeks a little flushed like she's been caught, and she stalks forward to jab at his chest with a finger.
"We did not almost shoot each other. We had a moment, Castle. A moment doesn't make for almost shooting each other."
"No," she enforces, shoving on him a little and glancing surreptitiously over her shoulder down the hall. "No, we did not. It was nothing. It's over. Nothing happened."
"But I really think we should at least talk-"
Her glare freezes his guts. "If you keep talking about this, Richard Castle, it will ruin everything. Do you understand?"
He gulps and swallows, bobs his head.
She narrows her eyes and studies him minutely, his entire visage, and then she nods with a terse jerk of her chin. "Good. Then it's settled. Still friends."
It wasn't a question but he croaks, "Friends."
"Go to bed, Castle, and I'll see you at the precinct."
She spins on her heel and stalks off, and he's left tongue-tied and blasted at his own doorway.
Why does it all feel so illicit?
It's not like he kissed her or anything.