He was an idiot. Of course, she didn't want to kiss him. This was Kate Beckett. She never made it a secret how little she liked him.
Even though she had agreed to spend the weekend with him in the Hamptons and it had felt right and he could have sworn there was something building between them. Well if there was, then he broke it down again just now.
Her car was long gone, turned around the corner at the end of his property when he finally moved from his spot and walked into his home. He closed the door and leaned against it, dropping his head back as he closed his eyes.
He stood there for a few more minutes, tried to figure out what exactly went wrong. Their weekend played behind his closed eyes, the looks he had caught her giving him, the smiles on her face when they watched the fireworks and how easy it all had been.
He didn't understand her reaction.
With a sigh, he pushed himself away from the door. He had a book to finish after all.
For a second he wished he could have stopped her from helping him with the dishes so he could do something else right now. The thought of writing left him feeling sick. How was he supposed to do Nikki justice in this state of mind?
Instead of walking to his office he went into the living room to lay on his couch and feel miserable. He would be allowing himself this day to feel miserable, tomorrow he could go back to writing. And when he was finished with the book … He didn't know what he would do then. He could spend the entire summer in this house, his mother would come at some point, and Alexis' college program didn't last the whole summer either. He didn't need to get back to the precinct, the research he had done already was more than enough to finish the 3 books his contract asked for.
Except, he wanted to go back to the precinct, he wanted to see Kate again no matter how much it hurt right now. He wanted to see the boys and the Captain. And yes, he wanted to help solve cases.
Maybe in a few weeks, he would be able to go back to being just friends with Kate. If that was what it took, he could do that.
A knock on the front door pulled him out of his thoughts and he sat up again, furrowing his brows. He didn't expect anyone today. And frankly, he didn't want to see anyone right now. He just wanted to be left alone for the day. Wallow in self-pity and ignore every responsibility he had.
Whoever was at the door knocked again with a little more confidence this time and he sighed deeply before he got up from the couch. Apparently, he wasn't allowed to wallow in self-pity today.
Castle had no idea who was at the door when he opened it, and seeing Kate on the other side was the last thing on his mind. But there she was, nervously biting her lip, looking both determined and on the verge of fleeing.
Before he could sort his thoughts and ask what she was doing here - she left half an hour ago after all - she lifted her eyes to meet his.
"I forgot something," she said and he nodded before stepping aside to let her in, berating himself for the glimmer of hope he had felt, as if she had another reason to come back.
Kate hesitated for a fraction of a moment, seemed to need to take a breath before she stepped into the hallway. Castle closed the door behind her and turned around, more confused than before.
Kate had stopped just a few steps away from him, seemed unsure of what to do now that she was here. Her hands were wrung together and she opened her mouth but no words came out.
"If you tell me what you forgot, I can help you find it," Castle offered, tried to sound casual but knew he failed at that. There was nothing casual about this situation. He had misread the whole situation and kissed her, and she had left without a word just to realise she forgot something.
"It's," she started and he raised his eyebrows, was about to offer to send it to her instead of prolonging this moment, but before he could say a word she took another deep breath. "This," she said, took a step forward and pressed her lips on his.
For a second he froze the surprise keeping him from moving. She was kissing him. Kate Beckett was kissing him. Her hands held his cheeks and she was kissing him and when she was about to draw back he finally started to move. His hands spread over her hips, drawing her closer while he kissed her back.
After a while, he drew back, rested his forehead against hers, and slowly opened his eyes.
"I forgot to do this," she said, her fingers playing with his hair, and he chuckled.
After a few moments of contented silence, Kate lifted her head to look at him, her eyes caught his and she caressed his cheek with her hand. "I'm sorry," she said.
For a moment he froze. Was she apologizing for kissing him? "For what?", he asked, trying to not sound worried. Trying to reason with himself that it made no sense for her to apologize for kissing him when she specifically came back to do that.
"Leaving you the way I did." And oh yeah that made more sense.
"Hm, you're forgiven," he said before kissing her again.
"Why exactly did you leave?"
They were standing in the kitchen. Castle had offered her a coffee, trying to avoid the inevitable of her leaving again. Yes, she just had coffee for breakfast before leaving. And, yes that wasn't that long ago. But she had agreed and no choice other than to follow him, as he had taken her hand in his and started walking.
"I don't know," she replied, tracing the rim of her coffee mug with a finger. "I think I freaked out because I was waiting for this to happen and then I worried too much."
"What this means for us."
"What does this mean for us?"
Kate took a deep breath and finally looked up from her coffee again to meet his eyes. "It means that I really liked kissing you, and I would like to keep doing that."
"Hmm I think that can be arranged," he smiled and lowered his head to kiss her again.
"You were waiting for this to happen?" Castle asked a few minutes later and Kate frowned. She hadn't expected that to be a surprise to him. Yes, she had tried to keep it a secret, actually denied it most of the time. But somehow she had still expected Castle to know. Castle always knew things about her she didn't want him to know.
"I didn't think this would be such a surprise to you," she confessed.
"Well let's just say the past few weeks have been a little confusing."
"That's the understatement of the century," Kate laughed.
"What I don't understand is, you say you were waiting for this to happen, and then you dated Demming."
"Oh," Kate released a breath and then walked out of the kitchen to sit down on the couch, resting her elbows on her knees and dropping her head into her hands, before carding them through her hair and looking up again. Castle had followed her to the couch, placed her coffee on the table in front of them and sat down next to her, one leg on the couch, resting against the backrest.
"Tom wasn't a risk," she said, expected some sort of reply from Castle, but he remained silent, just waited for her to continue.
"When I was staying at the loft, we spent a lot of time together," she continued, staring at her coffee mug in front of her, not daring to look at Castle, too scared to freak out again. "And it was a lot. I mean I am sure you noticed that too. And it scared me so I moved out as soon as I could, to get some space and figure out what was going on. And before I could do that you dated Ellie Monroe."
"Okay I wouldn't call that dating," he interrupted. "That was me being an idiot. But it's good to know that I was right and you were jealous."
Kate slowly turned her head towards him, her expression a mixture of amusement and annoyance. "You were dating Ellie Monroe," she repeated. "And yes, okay so I was jealous. And then Tom showed up. And he was nice and he asked me out. And there was no risk. I didn't have to fear losing my best friend when we didn't work out so I agreed."
Castle nodded. That made sense, and as much as he hated that it happened that way, he couldn't fault her for reacting the way she did.
"So what changed?"
"Lanie told me I was acting stupid," Kate replied, recalling the phone call she had with her friend the day Castle had invited her to the Hamptons. "Well, Lanie and Espo actually."
"I'm going to send them a thank you card," Castle said and Kate snorted.
"You know what I don't understand?" Kate asked, changing her position on the couch to mirror his, reaching out to slide her fingers between his. "You knew I was with Tom, and you still invited me to spend the weekend with you."
"Well," he squeezed her hand, looking for words to explain this action, but he hadn't been able to explain it to himself that day, so he just shrugged. "I have no idea. I guess I just hate losing."
"I am glad you invited me," she told him with a smile.
"So am I," he replied and pulled her towards him.
They were interrupted by the alarm on Kate's phone going off.
"I still have to go," she said with a mournful look after turning it off.
"I have to work tomorrow."
"And you need to finish your book," she added, reminding him of the reason he decided to spend the summer up here.
"I could finish it in the city," he mused, already starting to plan his departure with Kate.
"I do prefer you with a heartbeat."
Kate's remark pulled him out of his thoughts and he cast her a confused look.
"You said if you come back to the city with me Gina would kill you," Kate reminded him of his own words from Friday, the reason she had agreed to take her car with them instead of his.
"Right I did say that and it's probably true," he agreed, looking disappointed. He knew he wouldn't be able to finish this book if he left to go back to the city now. Especially now, when he had Kate to distract him from writing. "But I don't want you to not be with me."
"Me neither," she sighed. "But I can come back the next time I have a day off. Montgomery keeps telling me I work too much."
"He is probably right about that."
Kate rolled her eyes. "I will tell you when I come back, okay?"
"Okay," Castle agreed with a sigh. "But can you come back tomorrow?"
She smiled and kissed him. "No. But soon."
He pouted but there was nothing he could do. She had to work tomorrow and he had to finish his book, so he wouldn't get to see her in the city either way. And it was a fact that he found more ways to distract himself from writing in the city. So if he wanted to see Kate again soon, he needed to accept his fate and stay here.
He walked her to her car, noticed the similarity to just two hours ago, except he wasn't carrying her bag now, and she was holding his hand.
"Out of curiosity," he said when they reached her car. "How far did you drive until you turned around to come back?"
Kate cleared her throat. "To the end of the street."
Castle shot her a mockingly impressed look. "That takes like 5 minutes. If you're walking."
"Oh, I know," Kate said. "I kind of freaked out about how I reacted and then didn't know if coming back was a good idea, or if you had already decided that you never wanted to see me again."
"Yeah that was never a possibility," he replied, pushing a strand of hair behind her ear.
"But I knew if I ignored this I would regret it, so I came back."
"I am very glad you came back," he told her, lowered his head and captured her lips in a last kiss before he let her drive away with a promise to call him as soon as she arrived.
Kate arrived home, dropped her bag on the floor and sat down on the couch to let Castle know as she had promised before she allowed herself to relax. The smile that had barely left since she had been brave enough to face her feelings for him grew again, and a giddy feeling spread through her chest, forcing her to take a deep breath.
Ten minutes later she decided to unpack her bag, Castle must be busy writing, as he hadn't replied to her message in any way, and writing was the only thing that kept him from immediately replying to her. Well, that and spending time with Alexis.
The thought of Alexis made Kate stop unpacking her bag. What if Alexis didn't agree with her being in this relationship with Castle? Yes, during the time she had spent at the loft, Alexis had seemed to like her, but that didn't mean she approved of Kate dating her father. And she wouldn't want to come between Castle and his daughter.
Her phone chirped, signaling an incoming message. It pulled her out of her thoughts, and she shook her head. This was ridiculous. Alexis wasn't against a relationship between Kate and her dad, she had in fact told Kate that she would like that - a fact Kate had purposefully forgotten until now.
She took her phone out of her pocket, expecting Castle to reply to her earlier message but instead saw a text from Lanie, asking if she was home already. Knowing that it would lead to more questions from Lanie she answered truthfully and then finished unpacking the bag.
Only when Lanie didn't reply, she started to worry. Lanie hadn't texted her once during the weekend, which wasn't a problem or something to worry about, but Kate knew there would be questions. And Lanie asking if she was home yet but then not continuing to press her for details about the weekend was unlike her.
Without realising it, Kate had started to pace around in her apartment, until there was a knock on the door and she stopped, almost slapped her hand against her forehead. Of course, Lanie wouldn't ask any questions on the phone and give her the option to not answer. Kate took a deep breath to prepare herself before she opened the door, and almost closed it again right away. Lanie herself was good enough to make her talk, but Lanie with a bottle of wine was a force Kate could barely fight.
"Hey, Lanie. What brings you here?" she asked, painfully aware that she couldn't fool anyone with that question. Especially not her best friend, who only raised an eyebrow at her.
"Stop pretending you don't know, Kate", Lanie replied while walking past her. Kate closed the door and took a deep breath before she turned around, bracing herself for the question that would certainly come.
Lanie had walked directly into the kitchen, opened a cabinet and took out two wine glasses before Kate was able to say a word.
"Oh Lanie, I have to work tomorrow," she tried to reason, but Lanie was already opening the bottle.
"Javi says you aren't expected at the precinct until noon, so there is nothing wrong with one glass of wine."
"Javi said that?" Kate tried to shift the conversation away from her.
"We're not talking about me today," Lanie shut her up, walked out of the kitchen, pushed one of the wine glasses into Kate's hand and Kate towards her couch, where she sat down.
"So, how was your weekend?" Lanie asked after taking one sip of her wine.
"Oh, it was okay."
"It was okay?" Lanie repeated. "You spent three days with Castle and it was only okay?"
Well, it was more than okay, but she wasn't ready to tell her friend that yet. Especially as it only had happened a few hours ago. She had to fight hard to suppress the smile growing on her face. That would give her away for sure.
"Yes," Kate said, knowing that she was only making it worse.
"Are you honestly telling me that you guys spent three days together in one house and had breakfast and dinner together and I don't know what else. And nothing happened?"
"Yes, this is what I am telling you," Kate replied and hid her smile in the wine glass she raised to her lips.
"Why can't you guys just talk to each other?"
"What do you mean?"
"What I mean is that you're both clearly in love with each other and you had the chance to finally act on it and you decided to do nothing about it."
"You make it sound like it's the easiest thing to do."
"It is the easiest thing to do. You just-"
"It is not the easiest thing to do, Lanie," Kate interrupted her, starting to get frustrated. "Maybe it's easy for you. But other people just aren't that open. Plus I just ended things with Tom hours before I went away with Castle, wouldn't that have been unfair on both of them?"
"But you literally ended things with Tom, because you want to be with Castle. I mean you could have told him that. I am sure he would have been happy to know that."
Kate opened her mouth to defend herself, but couldn't find the words. It didn't come as a surprise to her at all, after all, she did tell Castle about that and Castle had been happy to know this. But she had started to deny things in front of Lanie, and she couldn't stop that now just like that.
Her attempt to find words got interrupted by her phone. She had put it on her table when Lanie had sat her down onto the couch, and now the display lit up to show that Castle was calling her. She wanted to pick up, leave this conversation to talk to Rick instead, maybe ask him about what to tell Lanie, but she couldn't just interrupt her best friend like that.
What she hadn't expected was Lanie to grab her her phone and accept the call, and she could only stare at her in shock.
"Hey Castle," Lanie said and Kate wished she had put the phone on speaker so she could actually hear what Castle said at the other end of the line.
"No, I am not, that is correct," Lanie said. "But I have a question for you."
There was another short pause before Lanie spoke again.
"How come you just spent three days with Kate and you guys did not talk about the important things?"
Kate closed her eyes, took a deep breath and a large sip of her wine. She felt sorry for Castle, he didn't deserve this. He wasn't even used to Lanie's questioning, and now he had to endure them unprepared. But maybe that was a good thing. She probably should have told Lanie the truth about the weekend in the Hamptons.
The motion of Lanie handing her her phone pulled Kate out of her thoughts.
"Talk to him," Lanie said and Kate took the phone.
"Hey Rick," she said warily, trying to sound casual as if Lanie picking up her phone and bombarding Castle with questions was normal and happened all the time.
"What was that?"
"Yeah… sorry about Lanie. Wait," she said and got up from the couch to walk into her bedroom, where she could close the door so Lanie couldn't hear every word of their conversation.
Looking back to the couch, she saw Lanie leaning back, her glass of wine in her hand and a smug look on her face.
"Why did Lanie pick up your phone, Kate?" Rick sounded distressed on the other end.
"Because I thought picking up would be rude, while she was here. And she was annoyed because I said the weekend was just okay," she explained and sat down on her bed.
"She asked about the weekend?"
"Did you expect anything else?"
"Good point. But you said it was just okay?"
"Of course it was a lot better than okay," she hurried to say. "But… I didn't know if you were okay with her knowing since we didn't talk about that."
"Well, considering that she was somewhat responsible for you coming in the first place, I think she deserves to know."
"Also I think if you keep letting her think we didn't talk about anything important, she might come up here and drag me to your place to make that happen," he added sounding slightly scared of that possibility.
"Yeah I think she would actually do that," Kate agreed
"Alright then, we'll talk tomorrow?"
"Oh. I could call when she is gone."
"No. you have work tomorrow. You need sleep. Just call me if you get an interesting case. Or call me if you don't."
"I will," she promised. "But sorry for having such a short conversation."
"Don't worry about it. Just make sure Lanie doesn't appear at my door all angry with me."
Kate laughed. "Alright. We'll talk tomorrow then."
After hanging up, she let herself fall backwards on her bed, pressed her phone on her chest. If she had found the courage to act on her feelings earlier than today, she could have actually spent some quality time with Rick. Maybe then she wouldn't be as disappointed about having to cut this phone call short.
She sighed and got up again, walked out of her bedroom and towards Lanie, who had found a book and was flipping through it.
"That was a short conversation," Lanie said and put the book away again
"Well, we talked about the important things"
"In," Lanie checked her watch, "less than five minutes? Girl, that's impossible."
"And he said it's okay to tell you, but if you tell anyone else I will never talk to you again," Kate continued, ignoring Lanie's remark.
"Tell me what?"
"That the weekend was actually a lot better than okay."
It took about a second for Lanie to understand what she meant with that statement, and Kate could practically see the penny drop before Lanie gasped. "Oh my god, I knew it. I knew it. When did it happen? And how? I need details."
"About 6 six hours ago," Kate replied with a glance at her watch.
"And you came home?!" Lanie exclaimed in disbelief.
"I have to go to work tomorrow."
"And he didn't come with you?"
"Yeah, we both figured it's better to not give Gina a reason to kill him. Saves me a lot of paperwork."
Lanie shot Kate a confused look that almost made her laugh.
"He needs to finish his book and Gina may have threatened to kill him if he doesn't keep his deadline. So he stayed up there to finish his book."
"That sounds like the worst," Lanie said with a sympathising look. "But I am really happy for you," she added with a huge smile that Kate returned.
"Yeah, me too."
"But now you have to tell me everything that happened this weekend."
"The whole weekend?"
"Okay." Kate took one more sip from her wine, emptying the glass, leaned back into her couch and started talking.