Disclaimer: I don't even own the computer this is being written on, so I obviously don't own Castle.

Miss your smile

5 months ago

Rick had noticed that Kate seemed distracted since the drone case, but he had learned not to push so he waited, hoping she would eventually tell him what was bothering her. They were together at her place, cooking dinner together, when she finally decided to share her thoughts with him.

"I got a job offer." she said, quietly, apropos of nothing.

"A what?" was his first reaction, and the tone of voice was perhaps a bit harsh because she drew back a bit. He cleared his throat and started again. "A job offer? From who? When?" he hadn't been in the precinct every minute with her, but they had been together most nights, so he wasn't sure where this had come from.

"Well, it's not an actual offer, more a suggestion to apply for one, an invitation to join the team as such."

"What team?"

"The Attorney General's Department."

"Here in New York?"

"No, in D.C."

Rick was taken aback, both by the fact that Kate had started the conversation then reverted to single word answers, and that she had an offer in a different city. He could not imagine her ever leaving New York; her dad was here, and her mother's case was here. Perhaps once they had solved the latter - and he was confident they eventually would - she may consider a move, but it was not anything he thought she would even entertain. After all, it was a big part of what ended her relationship with Sorenson. He realised he had been silent too long because Kate had dropped her head and started serving dinner.

"D.C. OK, so how do you feel about that?"

"I don't know, Castle. My life has been here in New York. My life is still here in New York" –she looked up shyly and smiled at him – "and I never considered moving anywhere else."

"Why don't we sit down and you can tell me all the details while we eat?" Rick asked, understanding she needed a bit more time.

Over the course of the next hour, Kate explained how she had been approached by Agent Stack after the Dale Tanner case, and how she had been thinking about the opportunity ever since. The idea became more solid earlier that week when she had a call from Stack inviting her down to interview.

After asking a few more questions, Rick asked the one he really wanted answered, but had been afraid to raise. "So what does your Dad say about it? Or Lanie?"

"I don't know, I haven't spoken to anyone else about this yet. I wanted to be sure of what I wanted, but also ask your opinion."

"And what do you want, Kate?" Rick asked, figuring she had sorted out at least her own thoughts before coming to him.

"Well, it's a great opportunity, perhaps once in a lifetime, to make a difference on a larger stage. And maybe I can use whatever additional resources I have access to there, to pursue my mother's case."

"Sounds like you want to take it," Rick said, but his heart was in his throat. If Kate took the job she would have to move to DC, and while they still had their own apartments, they were together at one or the other most nights. He was uncomfortably reminded of Kyra's farewell to him before she moved to London, and a shiver ran down his spine. Kate, examining her fingernails, didn't notice.

"But it's also leaving the 12th, leaving New York and my dad, and…" - she looked up, and he could see pain in her eyes - "leaving you."

"Well, it doesn't have to be. I mean, I can write from anywhere, Beckett."

"I know that, but your life, your family is here. You can't just up and leave Alexis, or worse move her to a different city when she just enrolled at Columbia. And Martha is well established now-"

"Yes, she is well established, which is exactly why I can leave her here. I wouldn't be selling the loft, so she can look after that for me, and as for Alexis, well, we can work that out. The question is, would you want me to move there with you?"

"I don't know." And with those three words, Rick's heart plummeted to the floor. He had thought they were in a good place, that maybe soon she could be ready for more, to maybe move in together, formalise their relationship. He had put a deposit on an engagement ring, but had been putting off collecting it, for reasons that currently escaped him. And now, it seemed the woman he loved was contemplating moving away.

"I'd love to have you there, of course, but from what I have been told the training is pretty intensive, the first three or four months I'd hardly be home except to sleep. They fly you around the country depending on where the cases take you, so there could be weeks where I wouldn't see you. I don't want to drag you to another city to just leave you there. And I want to be able to concentrate on the job without worrying about hurting you."

Rick was silent for a long time, considering all that she had said. His heart rejoiced when she said she would love to have him there, but he knew just how driven she was to succeed, and knew that she would give this new job her all, leaving little time for socialising. He was devastated, but he couldn't let her know that, for if she gave up this opportunity to stay with him she would eventually come to resent him for it. He mustered his best smile, and hugged her close. "Well, it sounds like you have it all figured out, Beckett. So what's the next step?"

Kate was taken aback that Castle had accepted the idea so easily, and a small part of her was disappointed he hadn't fought harder to stay by her side. Still, their relationship had stalled from her perspective, and she had started to wonder if now that Castle had her, he was becoming bored with her. Maybe this move was a way for her to bow out of the relationship gracefully, before he had a chance to leave her. She assumed her Beckett armour - something she had not worn around him in over a year - and detailed the next steps; an interview in DC, perhaps two, and then the other requirements before she could take up the position, including saying goodbye to the Homicide department at the 12th.

By this time dinner was done, the dishes all put away, and they were enjoying a glass of wine on her couch. Already there seemed to be a gap between them, which hurt them both, but neither was willing to let the other see their pain, thinking they were alone in their grief. After a long silence, Kate spoke. "Are you staying?" The tonight was implied but unspoken.

"No, I promised Alexis I'd be home so I can take her to school early tomorrow; she has a science excursion. But I'll see you tomorrow at the precinct?" He was already standing, his jacket on his arm.

"Until tomorrow, Castle," Kate responded, letting him out the door, her tone and mood both melancholy.

Castle didn't turn up at the precinct the next day, but he did text Beckett that he had been held up and would see her later. She received another text mid-afternoon inviting her over to the loft for dinner, which she readily accepted. She could feel the end of the relationship looming, but she was having trouble giving him up. Maybe they both needed the words spoken to end things on a positive note.

When she arrived at the loft, both the redheads were conspicuously absent and Rick had set the table for two with candles. She tried to enquire about the occasion, but he just handed her a wine glass and seated her at the kitchen counter, grilling her about the case he had missed that day and allowing her no opportunity to turn the conversation to other matters.

They were once again seated with dinner plates when he returned to the previous night's conversation. He had obviously taken some of the last 24 hours to think about the situation, and what he wanted to achieve – or retain.

"Kate, you know I love you. This past year has been the most wonderful of my life, and I'd hoped we were progressing towards something stronger, something more permanent. I thought that was what you wanted as well. Was I wrong?"

"No, Castle, you weren't wrong. I never wanted this job to come between us, but it's a very rare opportunity for advancement."

"So your professional life aside, what does this mean for our personal relationship?" Rick closed his mouth with a snap after asking because he really wanted to ask if she wanted a 'them' to continue, but he didn't want to force her into something she wasn't ready for.

Kate had been doing some thinking of her own, but Castle's declaration had messed up her thoughts. She had been thinking he was ready to move on, but he had very clearly just contradicted that. However, the training and the job itself was very intensive, and she couldn't expect him to hang around, hoping to see her, for months on end. "I'm not fully sure, Castle. I don't want you to move to a different city in the hope that you may see me once in a while, and I can't commit to anything until at least my training is complete and I have my feet settled in the new role. I don't want to keep you hanging-"

"Kate, I waited four years for you, and now that I know how good we are together I'd be happy to wait for as long as it takes. I don't want to put pressure on you for anything you are not ready for yet. But I am still not sure where that leaves us."

"I know I don't want to break up with you, Castle, but I just don't know how good I would be at a long-distance relationship."

"Well, then let's not call it a long-distance relationship. You are going to D.C. for some training, I will come to visit when I can, and we can keep in touch via phone or text. If you can swing it, come home for a weekend, and we'll just take it day by day. How does that sound?"

Kate was feeling a lot more optimistic after Castle's suggestion, and she loved the fact that he said 'come home' while looking around the loft; his home had certainly started to feel more like her home than the apartment with her name on the lease. She started to agree when a yawn forced its way out of her mouth instead, making Rick smile.

"Okay, sleepyhead, I think that's enough for you tonight. How about we both try to get some sleep and talk more tomorrow?"

Kate nodded, leaning into him as they made their way through his study and bedroom, their movements in sync as they completed their night-time routine. Both fell asleep fairly quickly, Kate snuggled into Rick's chest with his arm around her shoulders.

Not much more talking eventuated with two Beckett-flavoured cases back-to-back before her resignation from the NYPD became effective, as well as catching up with her father and Lanie, and making the seemingly hundreds of arrangements an interstate move required. Rick helped her move some of her things into a small apartment near the AG's office, and she launched herself into her new job.

Present day

Beckett had been working 16-hour days non-stop for the last 12 days, and she was exhausted. She had been exchanging messages with Castle frequently, but she had not actually heard his voice for over a week. If she could have mustered even an ounce more energy she would have called him when she got home, but as she staggered through the door she decided to let him sleep – it was after 11pm local time – and call him first thing tomorrow, when she could enjoy a full day off work and hopefully a lengthy conversation she would be awake for.

She had just enough time to toss off her boots and jacket, and turn the kitchenette light on, when there was a knock on her door. She wasn't expecting anybody, so she was instantly alert, her hand on her service weapon as she turned back to the door. The sight left her speechless.

As if conjured by her thoughts alone, Castle was casually leaning against her door frame, his smile warm and welcoming, and his eyes twinkling and so happy to see her. For a second they just stared at each other, then she flew into his arms, forcing him to expel a breathless 'oooph' at their collision. Castle wasted no time with his arms coming around her immediately, but he had seen her stagger up the few steps to her door from his car out front, so he quickly guided her inside again and shut the front door. Then he proceeded to kiss her in a proper welcome.

They broke apart reluctantly, and Rick led her to the bedroom where they completed their minimal ablutions before falling into bed and asleep almost immediately. Though not as tired as Kate, Rick had driven from Manhattan after a tedious day of meetings with his publisher, and had almost fallen asleep in the car twice while waiting for her. He soothed her with quiet murmurs and whispered they would speak tomorrow. Both slept long and dreamless in each other's arms.

The next morning, Kate's coffee machine automatically started brewing at 6am, and the heavenly smell wafted around the small bedroom before waking both occupants at around the same time. Rick got up to prepare coffee for them, having missed bringing Beckett her morning coffee. After enough of the hot liquid to get her brain functioning, she asked him why he was there.

"Are you complaining, Beckett?" he joked, his smirk in place.

"Not at all, Castle, far from it. I am just surprised is all. You didn't mention you were coming down when I texted you yesterday afternoon."

"I didn't mention it because I didn't know then. I knew you had today off, but wasn't sure what time you were finishing last night, so I wasn't going to fly in. But when I left the Black Pawn office it was still daylight and I had no other requirements on my time – Alexis is busy with Pi, and Mother is in Philadelphia with a theatre group. As I drove home, in surprisingly light traffic for the time of day, I thought of you. And I had this overwhelming urge to see you. So here I am!" Rick's tone was light, but his eyes were drinking her in, committing each aspect of her face to memory. It had been almost a month since they had last seen each other, and he could definitely confirm that absence made the heart grow fonder when it came to him and Beckett.

Kate lunged for him, wrapping him up in her arms and whispering "I missed you so much" in his ear, trying to hold back the tears threatening to drop from her eyes. Until he suddenly wasn't with her daily, she hadn't truly appreciated how much she had come to rely on his solid presence beside her. Her new job was great, giving her a huge sense of accomplishment now that the initial training exercises had been completed and she had been allowed to sink her teeth into some meaty cases. However the separation from Castle, self-inflicted as it mostly was, had brought a downer into every other part of her life.

Rick chuckled to hear her admit to missing him, but he also sensed the deeper emotion behind it, so he returned the sentiment. His life had also felt bereft since her departure; phone calls, texts and the very occasional booty calls just weren't enough for him. He knew without a doubt he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Kate Beckett, wherever she may be. Now he just had to convince her of that.

Suddenly finding themselves in the same city, let alone in the same bed, with nowhere to be for 24 hours and no likely interruptions, Rick and Kate took immediate advantage to reacquaint themselves intimately. It wasn't until both their stomachs expressed displeasure at being empty at the same time, setting them both into gales of laughter that they headed out for a late lunch.

Kate kept stealing glances at him while they ate, perhaps not believing he was really there, or perhaps just trying to store the details of his face in her memory, until the next time they could be together. As a result, she noticed a few times when he started to say something, then shook his head and kept silent. Finally she couldn't stand it anymore.

"What's up, Castle? You obviously have something on your mind, so spill."

Rick looked at her in surprise, but he acknowledged he shouldn't be surprised that she observed him just as he had observed her. He just wasn't sure how to bring up the subject. Taking one more breath, he decided to bite the bullet and share his thoughts.

"I've missed you so much these last months, Kate, and it's made me realise I don't want to live without you anymore. I can write from anywhere, as you know, and New York is only a short flight away if Alexis or Mother need me. I've been thinking about maybe buying a property here in DC, so I am closer to you, and if and when your job takes you elsewhere, it'll be a great investment." He paused, trying to gauge Kate's reaction, but her face was blank. "I don't want to force you into anything, or push you for something you are not ready for, but I need to be closer to you." He waited again, but there was no further response from Kate. Finally, he couldn't hold back. "Say something, Kate, please."

Kate took his hands over the table and looked him in the eye, for the first time since he started talking. "You want to move to D.C.? And buy an apartment?"

"Yes," he replied, nodding.

"Um, what's wrong with my apartment?"

"Well, nothing, but it's your apartment, and I wouldn't foist myself on you. I know you have long days, and late nights, and you like your own space. But I would be nearby, so you could drop around, like you used to in New York, or I could, if I knew you were home."

"So you want to maintain two separate households?" Kate asked, not sure whether he wanted to live with her, and was giving her space, or if he just didn't want to move in together. For her the months spent away from Rick had reaffirmed the depth of her love for him, and when he suddenly turned up on her doorstep supposedly on a whim, she knew that she couldn't live without him anymore either.

"Well, no, I don't want to maintain two homes, but I told you before I'll never force you into something you don't want, or push you to move forward faster than you're ready to. So if that means I have an apartment around the corner from yours in D.C. for a while, then that is what I'll do. But you'll probably find me at your place cooking meals for you – don't think I didn't notice that Styrofoam temple you have going in your fridge again." He smiled, lightening the conversation, and she smiled back, but she didn't want the out he was offering her.

"Well then, how about we go hunting for an apartment to buy together? And maybe the realtor will know a removalist who can combine the two households into one?"

Rick sat up straight in his chair, obviously taken aback by her words. "You mean it?" he almost yelled, drawing the attention of a few café patrons, which made Kate blush prettily.

"Yes, Rick, I mean it. I can't live without you anymore either."

The smile on his face was almost blinding, then he jumped to his feet and grabbed his phone out of his pocket. "Well, then, what are we waiting for? Let's go!"

She smiled as she rose on tiptoes to kiss him, tasting his joy and sharing hers with him. He offered his arm which she threaded hers through, and they started walking down the sidewalk. Rick was already busy Googling local realtors on his phone and exclaiming about this or that feature he wanted in the apartment. Kate strolled at his side, enjoying his enthusiasm and knowing that finally, all was wonderful in her life.


A/N: Huge thanks again to Kiara for the beta. This little story was inspired by a song I have heard a few times on the radio of late, and I thought it was perfect for Caskett end of season 5, start of season 6. Amazing what actually talking about things achieves lol

I'm not talking 'bout movin' in
And I don't want to change your life
But there's a warm wind blowin' the stars around
And I'd really love to see you tonight

I'd Really Love to See You Tonight

England Dan & John Ford Coley