Kate Beckett stared in confusion at her phone. It had been a long day, a long week really. This last case, the murder of a mother and her young daughter had been grueling. Any case involving the death of a child was difficult. But the five year old crumpled like a bloodied rag doll next to her mother was horrifying. The murder weapon, a machete, lay sticky with blood from tip to handle next to a half crushed dollhouse on their living room floor. The child's toy destroyed during the struggle along with two lives.
They'd caught the killer, the mother's ex-boyfriend. Of course he'd tried to blame it on her current boyfriend, then her brother, even her neighbor. He might as well have thrown in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy. But in the end Beckett had broken him down. They'd gotten a confession. Arrested their man. But the system had worked too little too late. The victim took out a restraining order against him weeks earlier. Kate walked out of the precinct thinking how little good it had done the woman and child.
She wandered home after another 12 plus hour day and took a shower trying to wash away the vision of the bloodied bodies on that living room floor. Her refrigerator bare, she didn't even feel like picking up the phone to order in. She simply slipped under the covers, closed her eyes and tried to shut out the world.
Kate was awakened by the sound of her ringing phone. She looked over at the clock. 11:12pm. What day was it? Was she on call tonight? Her mind was still fuzzy as she picked up the phone and looked at the screen. She froze.
Castle. Was she dreaming? She hadn't spoken to him in over two months. Not since he walked out of the precinct with his blonde ex-wife on his arm leaving her standing there, co-workers watching, feeling… ugh. Why was he calling her at eleven something at night? Then her heart jumped a bit. Maybe there was something wrong…with Alexis, or Martha, or with him. She hit the button. "Beckett" she said out of reflex.
"Oh thank God" was what she heard on the other end.
"Castle? Is that you? Is everything OK?" She heard him let out a shaky breath.
"Is everything OK?" he repeated back. "Are you OK? You're not hurt?" He sounded rattled.
"Castle, I'm fine. What's going on?" Now she was confused. What was this all about?
"I was watching the news. They said a female police detective had been shot. I, I panicked."
She sat there staring into the darkness, phone to her ear. "Oh" was all she could manage. She didn't know what to say. She got a strange feeling in her chest. He cared. Well of course he cared. It was her inner sarcastic voice talking now. He cares that you're not dead. You were friends. Don't read anything more into it.
"You know I'm not the only female detective on the force, Castle." The words came out of her mouth before she could stop them and they sounded a bit harsher than she'd meant them to. She began to wonder who the officer was and made a mental note to call in when she got off the phone.
"Yes Detective. I am aware. But you have to admit that you are definitely in the minority." Hearing her voice was helping him calm down, feel more like himself. A bit like old times. "So…how are you?"
"I'm good" she replied wondering why it felt like her heart was hammering in her chest. "And you?"
"Good. I'm good." The silence stretched on. Why was this so awkward, he thought. They were friends, weren't they?
"So, how's the book going?" She didn't know what else to say but she wasn't ready to hang up just yet.
"The book? It's good. Actually it's finished. Well, almost finished. Every time I think I'm done Gina sends me another e-mail asking for one more revision but really, its mostly done." He walked out onto the patio. Looking out over the moonlit ocean, listening to her voice on the other end of the line. It just brought up everything he'd fought all summer to repress. He wished she were here.
"So Gina's back in the city?" Oh God. Did that sound as needy as she thought it did. What was the matter with her?
"Gina? Yeah, she went back as soon as she was sure I was writing. She's always gotten bored with this place pretty quickly." He took a deep breath and said what he was thinking before he could stop himself. "So, how was your beach vacation?" The second the words left his mouth he wished he could take it back. The last thing he wanted to hear was how wonderful her vacation had been screwing Tom damn Demming. A knot formed in his stomach as he waited for her response.
"My beach vacation?" The question took her by complete surprise. "Ah, it didn't happen" she said slowly.
"Oh?" and suddenly he felt hopeful. "Postponed for another time then?"
"No" was her simple, quiet reply. Part of her wanted to say more. Tell him they'd broken up but she was afraid he'd ask more questions. Castle was always asking questions. She wasn't ready to tell him that she'd ended things with Tom. That she'd done it before he'd left for the Hamptons. He might ask why. She didn't want to lie to him again but she wasn't prepared to answer.
She scrambled to change the subject. "So, will you be staying in the Hamptons past Labor Day?"
He swore his heartbeat sounded even louder than it had before. He even felt the corners of his mouth start to turn slightly upward. "Actually I was thinking about coming back before then. Any chance the NYPD could still use a hand from its top consultant?"
"Oh please. Top consultant? Really Castle, I see your ego hasn't gotten any smaller while you've been gone. I don't know how many consultants the NYPD has but do you really think you'd be at the top of that list?"
"Detective, you mock my efforts? Perhaps I've been away so long that you've forgotten how my expertise has helped your closure rate." He was baiting her. Silently praying that she'd play along.
Kate chuckled lightly. When was the last time she'd done that? "You'll find we've had one heck of a case closure rate this summer Castle. I'm not so sure you can keep up with us."
And there it was. The opening he'd been hoping for without realizing it. "Do you have any numbers to back that up, Detective?"
"I'm sure I can come up with a list that could even put your ego in its place. You should stop in and remind yourself what a real days work is like." She held her breath awaiting his response.
"I'll just have to do that Beckett. But make sure you have that list handy. I may require proof of your supposed accomplishments without my presence." He could almost see her rolling her eyes as he looked out over the sand.
"I think its time to say goodnight now Castle. Some of us have to get up and go to work in the morning."
"Goodnight then Detective. Pleasant dreams."
Kate Beckett ended the call and began to dial the station. It felt odd. Even though she was calling in to find out who the injured officer was, she felt lighter than she had in months.
Castle practically bounced on the balls of his feet as he locked up the house and made his way to bed. He needed to get some sleep. Tomorrow he had some packing to do.
*I know its not very long but that is my take on how they could come back together at the start of season three with their friendship intact and the possibility of more. This just seemed to be where it wanted to end. If inspiration strikes me I'll add on to this at a later time but unless that happens I'll consider this story complete. I hope you enjoyed it. Please let me know either way. FYI, the crime in the beginning was inspired by a real crime that happened a few towns over from me. Just frightening. Please review and thanks for reading.