Tick, tick, tick. Click, tick, tick, tick. The familiar sound registers in her ears and she groans. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. She rolls over and squints an eye at the clock, sighing when 4:10 shines back at her in bright red digits.
The room falls quiet; the noise that woke her suddenly gone. She closes her eyes in relief.
The moment her body starts to relax once more, the silence is broken as the tick, tick, tick-ing starts back up again. Her eyes open, mouth tight with annoyance."Castle." Her voice is scratchy from the meager amount of sleep that she has managed to get after the late night interrogation she led just four short hours ago.
Tick, click, tick, tick, tick. She rolls over with a groan, opening her eyes in a squint to confirm her suspicions. She usually finds it adorable the way his tongue peeks out of his mouth when he's lost in a story but right now, if she had the strength, she'd sock him. She clears her throat and raises her voice. "Castle."
The tick-ing finally stops and he turns his head away from the bright computer screen in front of him. By the time his eyes adjust to the darkness beside him, hers have already closed again.
He whispers and it somehow manages to annoy her even more. "Oh, is this bothering you?"
She groans, nodding against the pillow. "I got home less than three hours ago."
"I'm sorry. I'll fix it."
The tick, tick, tick and resulting dimming of the light shining from his lap inform her that not only does he have no plans to move, he's completely misinterpreted the object of her annoyance.
Confirming her suspicions, his fingers begin to fly over the keys once more. Tick, tick, tick, tick. She throws her pillow over her head but it's of no use. She's awake now and every minute sound seems to grate on her even more. She pushes the pillow off her face with a huff. "Castle."
He doesn't even turn his head. "Yeah?"
She growls. "Seriously?"
He manages a short look towards her and then his focus is back to the story in front of him. Tick, tick, tick. "What?"
She throws the covers off of her and moves to sit up on the side of the bed.
This seems to get his attention. "You're getting up already? It's really early, Kate."
She turns towards him quickly and he must read the anger on her face because he flinches. "Yes, it is really early. I'm not getting up, I'm going to sleep in the guest room."
"Whoa, what did I do?"
She gapes at his ignorance. "The tick-tick-tick-ing, Castle." She mimes typing in the the air with an exaggerated fervor. "It's driving me insane."
"Oh, the typing?"
She shakes her head incredulously. "Yes, the typing."
"Well you could have told me it was bothering you."
"Clearly it was bothering me, Castle. I'm awake at four o'clock in the morning."
He pouts. "You used to love waking up to me typing. You said it sounded like rain against the window."
"Well I must have been insane. I don't love it. I don't love it at all." She ignores the wounded look on his face and barrels forward. "After no sleep it sounds like someone's hammering against the window."
He frowns, sticking his hands out in surrender. "Okay, I think you're being a little hyperbolic-"
Her annoyance is overflowing and she cuts him off. "Why are you even typing in bed in the first place? Don't you have an office and a desk for that?"
"I thought that you liked-"
"No. I do not like it."
He nods his head with a tight frown. "So you've said. Message received. Geez."
He turns his head back to the computer and she watches as he saves the document with a pout, hitting the keys harder than necessary. She narrows her eyes. "Don't act like I'm the one being unreasonable here." She sticks her hand out pointing to the offending object in his lap. "That thing is right by my ear and all I can hear is those things-" Points to his hands. "-Hitting those things-" Points to the keys. "-And it's making this thing-" Points to her head. "-Not do the sleep thing that I so, so need." Her voice nearly breaks with a healthy mix of desperation and frustration.
"Okay. I get it. I've said I'm sorry. I was just warm and cozy and I wasn't ready to get up yet-"
It's immediately clear that that was the wrong answer as she scowls at him. "Yeah well, me either." She grabs her pillow. "I'm going upstairs."
He moves to push the covers off of him. "No, you stay. I'll move."
She's off the bed before he can even close his laptop. "Too late."
"Don't-" The door slamming as she goes makes him flinch. "-Go." He looks at the clock with a frown. "Damn-it."
He grits his teeth and reopens the laptop, fingers hovering in the air above the keys. As the seconds tick by, his fingers are still as the all words that once flooded his mind have seemed to vanish with the argument. He re-closes the computer and sets it on the beside table, running his hands down his face.
He scoots down on the bed, head resting on the pillow and eyes wide to the ceiling. He turns his head towards the empty space beside him. The seconds and minutes go by in silence and he closes his eyes briefly.
A light flashes and a muffled ring catches his attention from across the room. He groans and gets out of bed, grabbing the discarded pants from the back of a chair. He digs in the pocket and retrieves her phone, Esposito's name flashing across the screen.
Castle frowns and presses the green 'Accept' button. "Beckett's phone."
"Castle? What are you doing answering Beckett's phone."
"She's asleep. She got home late last night."
"Yeah, I know. I'm still at the station."
He frowns wearily. "You want me to wake her up?"
"Needham broke about an hour after she left. We just picked up our guy. She told me to call if there's any development and this is one hell of a development. Your call."
He sighs. "Yeah, she's probably gonna wanna come in." He grimaces sensing his immediate future isn't looking too bright. "Okay, I'll wake her and let her know."
He ends the call and throws on a tee shirt. He walks towards the stairs and then smartly u-turns towards the kitchen putting on some coffee first. He'll need all the help he can get this morning.
"Kate." It breaks through her unconsciousness like an unwelcome bee buzzing in her ear. She groans and digs her head farther into the pillow.
"No," she whines in disbelief as she shrugs his hand off of her shoulder. "Go away, Castle."
He sighs, pulling the rejected hand to his lap where he sits beside her. "Espo called."
One eye opens at that. "Why'd Espo call you?"
"He didn't. He called you."
"You answered my phone?"
"You left it in the room and I thought it might be important."
She sits up with a frown. "Don't answer my phone, Castle."
He stands up with a huff. "Fine. Sorry. You want me to call him back from my phone and tell him you're sleeping?"
"No because that would be a lie. You seem dead set on preventing me from doing any of that tonight."
He runs his hands through his hair and takes a step back. "Yeah okay, I can't win here. I put coffee on downstairs if you do decide to go in." He tosses the phone on the bed beside her. "Here's your phone. I'll never answer it again." He turns towards the door.
She rolls her eyes. "You're so dramatic." He just raises his hand, accepting the barb as he disappears from the doorway.
She groans and moves to put her feet on the floor, tiredly reaching for her phone. She presses the call button. "This better be damn important, Espo."
The talk with Esposito has definitely started to turn her mood around. A lead. A real lead, finally. A light at the end of the seemingly endless tunnel that this case has been for the last month.
When she walks down the stairs, the only sound she hears is the gurgling of the coffee maker in the kitchen. He's left the lights on for her but the man himself is no where to been seen. There's a banana on the counter alongside a baggie with one of her favorite blood-orange, wheat muffins inside. She walks over and sees her to-go coffee cup sitting beside the maker with cream and sugar left out beside the empty cup. Taking in all the provisions he's provided for her, she frowns.
She looks towards the bedroom. Okay, so she's been a little harsh this morning. Not that he didn't deserve at least some of it, but she could have been better about it. She's tired. Grumpy. She knows it. He knows it. She'll make it up to him.
With that resolve, she walks through the office and the open door of the bedroom. He sits in the bed silently reading a book and doesn't acknowledge her presence. Okay, fine, so she deserves that. She walks to the dresser and quietly pulls a drawer open removing some clothes. She throws off her tee and peeks at Castle who surprisingly, despite her current state of undress, is not peeking back. She sighs and grabs her bra, clasping it behind her back.
She shrugs on her shirt, starting on the buttons as she glances between them and her sulking boyfriend. She clears her throat and breaks the uneasy silence. "So the guys picked up a pretty promising suspect."
His eyes don't raise from the book in front of him. "Yeah, Esposito told me."
"I'm going to go in and see if I can get anything from him." She's met with stoney silence. "You going to come by later?"
"Think I'll just stay home and write today."
She frowns. "Are you sure? We're hopefully going to be making the arrest today." She sees the smallest flicker of interest flash across his face before he pushes it down.
"Tempting, but I have some chapters due soon. I should probably take the day to catch up."
She sighs. "Castle, I know I was grumpy earlier-" He scoffs and her eyes narrow. "Hey, I'm trying to apologize here."
"You don't need to apologize. I get it."
"Well, I'm sorry anyway. I am working on close to no sleep here."
He raises his head with a tight smile. "I know. It's fine. I understand."
She looks unsure and then winces as she sees the time. "Shit, I gotta go." She reaches for some pants and throws them on quickly. She buttons them up and then immediately pulls her hair back, throwing it in a quick ponytail. "I'll be back when we're done, okay?"
He nods, still avoiding her gaze. "Okay."
She pauses, watching him sitting studiously with his nose in a book. He hasn't turned a page since she's been in here so she's pretty sure he hasn't read a damn word. "Castle." She waits until he raises his head to look at her. "Do you want me to come back here when we're done?"
He drops the book to his lap, sighing. "I don't know, Kate. Everything I do seems to be bugging the hell out of you this morning. If you want to go back to your sanctuary-" The use of air quotes has her gritting her teeth. "-I'll understand."
Now he's just trying to bait her. She takes a deep breath, barely holding in how one-hundred percent done she is having this conversation. "It's five o'clock in the morning and I've had two hours of sleep. Now is not the time to revisit that particular topic, trust me."
He shakes his head and looks back down to his book. "Of course it's not."
She refuses to accept the guilt that's creeping up her spine. Physically shakes it down. "We will talk about it." His lips tighten and she knows the words he's holding back. The onslaught of accusations he's tampering down. Accusations that may not wholly be undeserved. She's put him off for weeks now. "We will."
"It's been a month since I asked you. If you don't want to move in, just tell me." He spreads his arms out in invitation.
She hardens and gives him a look. "No." The way his face falls has her rushing to continue. "No, I will not talk about this now." He exhales heavily. "Now I'm sorry I'm cranky but you woke me up two hours after my head hit the pillow."
"I told you I didn't mean to."
"And I told you that I was sorry I snapped. Can we be done talking about this now?"
"Yes." He picks his book back up.
She rolls her eyes. "Okay, fine. I'll call you later."
His disinterested tone and the frown that pulls across his face makes her sigh. She tries one more time. "Okay well, have a good day."
He responds in the same dull tone as before. "You too."
She takes a deep breath and grabs her badge and gun from the top of the dresser and makes for the door, stopping just beyond the threshold and turning back to him. "Love you."
She watches as the stoney expression on his face softens just a little with the words. He peeks over the top of the book. "Love you too, Kate." Though remnants of his anger still linger on his face, she'll take the small improvement.
She nods with a tight smile and leaves the room.
As she closes the interrogation door behind her, the boys exit from the observation room and greet her with large smiles. Esposito nods to her. "Nicely done, Detective."
"Thanks. Let's book him."
Esposito and Ryan high-five as she opens the folder in her hand, sticking the ballistics report inside.
She looks down at her watch. "Nine am. Not bad." She holds up the folder. "I'm going to get this over to the DA and I'll take care of the paperwork so you guys can go home and get some sleep."
Ryan nods and the tired lines of his face droop in relief. The thankful smile that adorns his face falls when Esposito slaps him on the back and chimes in. "Nah, we can hang out and help you finish up."
Ryan pulls it together and smiles tightly. "Yeah, sure we can."
She narrows her eyes at him with a grin, not missing the lack of sincerity in his voice. "No, it's alright. You guys have been here all night. I appreciate it but I can handle it from here."
Esposito nods and Ryan looks relieved. "Thanks, Boss."
"Well, then I guess you guys won't be wanting these." Castle's voice comes up behind them and she turns, surprised. He's holding four very tall coffees and as close to a bashful smile as he's capable of. He shrugs. "More for us I guess."
Her insides tumble when she sees him. Blue v-neck sweater matching the light blue in his hesitant eyes. Much lighter than the dark anger that was there this morning. The air thickens as the silence draws out a little too long. Unspoken words dancing between their eyes. Esposito clears his throat and she comes to, registering the awkwardness and belatedly giving him a smile. "Hey."
"Hey." His words are much more hesitant than usual. Harsh words spoken in the early morning light still lingering at the forefront of their minds. She holds the folder tighter as to not wrap her arms around him in apology and relief.
As another long silence begins to draw out, Esposito nudges Ryan. "We're gonna go get some uniforms to take Bradley down to holding."
"Nah, let's make him wait." Ryan smiles until a harder nudge knocks into his ribs. "Ow." He finally registers the awkwardness between the two of them and nods. "Oh yeah. Let's – do that."
Beckett smirks at the two of them. Castle holds out a bag and Esposito's eyes light up as he snatches it from his hand. "I'll take that."
They hurry off; Ryan's voice fades away from them as he tries to fight a pastry from Esposito's hands.
"You better not have given away my bear-claw." Her voice pulls his attention back to her. A light smile on her face and a teasing glint in her eye.
"You know I know better than that." He pulls another bag from his hand underneath the coffee.
She takes it with a smile. "Thanks."
"You're welcome." He nudges his head towards her desk and they walk over, sitting in their respective chairs.
She greedily reaches for the coffee and moans in happiness as she takes a sip. "I really needed this."
"I figured you might."
She smiles and sets the cup down. "I thought you were writing today."
He shrugs easily. "Found a breaking point." She eyes him skeptically. He sighs, caught. "I couldn't focus."
She frowns. "I'm sorry."
"No, I'm sorry."
"Just a bad morning."
He nods, reaching up and squeezing her hand in silent apology. Clears his throat. "So hey, I heard you got your guy."
She smiles. "We did."
"Good. I'm proud of you."
Her face softens with his words and she grins softly. "Well the guys did all the heavy lifting. I just swooped in just as he was about to break and took all the credit."
He nods, disbelieving. "I'm sure."
She smirks. "You going to stick around for a little bit? I think I can be out of here in about an hour."
"Yeah. That's the plan." His smile falters for a quick moment. "If you don't mind having me around."
She pulls a tight regretful smile, eyes trying to convey the words she can not say. "Believe it or not, I do like having you around."
He holds her eyes with a smile. His thumb sweeps across the back of her hand. "Good, because I'm not going anywhere."
She smiles back, the meaning behind his words uncurling the knot that's been in her stomach since she left the loft this morning. "Me either."
He squeezes one last time. A silent forgiveness passing between them. "Good." He releases her hand and looks at the papers on her desk. "Okay, so what can I do to help?"
She cocks her head disbelieving. "Really?"
He nods sincerely. "Yes. I want to get you out of here as fast as possible."
She smiles. "Go tell the boys to go home." She tilts her head behind her. "They're ducked behind that desk eavesdropping."
Sure enough, Castle turns his head and the boys pop up from behind the desk innocently.
"Oh, there it is." Ryan says, picking up a piece of paper from the floor. Esposito glares at his flimsy excuse. Ryan pointedly ignores his look and innocently turns towards the pair. "Oh, hey guys. What was that now?"
Castle smiles. "Beckett here was just saying how lost you'd be without her."
Ryan scoffs. "Nu-uh. She said-"
Beckett turns around raising her eyebrows.
"See ya." Esposito grabs his jacket and the boys walk quickly by Beckett's desk as she reaches out and swats the back of Ryan's legs with a folder.
"How long were they there?"
"I'd guess they scurried back in a few seconds after we sat down."
Castle nods, mystified. "You're good."
She shrugs. "They're pretty predictable."
Castle nods and clasps his hands in front of him. "Okay, so where can I start?"
"You really want to help me do paperwork?"
"I never thought I'd say this but yes, I really do."
"Look, if it's because of this morning-"
"It's not." He cocks his head and corrects himself as he holds his thumb and forefinger with a breath of air between them. "Okay, well maybe a little. You've had a long two days and I just want to help you out."
She smiles at him. "That's very sweet."
"I have my moments. Also, you seem to like me better when you're well rested." He grins and she rolls her eyes at how quickly he can ruin a moment. "Now, what can I do?"
She pretends to think and then smirks at him. "How about you just sit there and look pretty."
He gapes at her. "All these years complaining I never help you with paperwork and when I offer you refuse?"
"Well, Castle-" She flips through a few papers, not quite meeting his eyes. "-Sometimes I say things that I don't mean."
He narrows his eyes, sensing a double meaning behind her words.
His silence raises her head. She smiles gently. "Like I do like when you type in bed-" He opens his mouth but she holds up a finger halting his words. "-When I've had sufficient sleep, it does kind of sound like rain."
He smiles appreciatively. "Understood."
"I thought I should clarify."
"Okay. Good. Thank you."
She takes a deep breath, forging ahead. "And it's a really big step."
She smirks. "No, the other thing."
He nods, leaning back a little guiltily. "Ah, yes. Look, I'm sorry I-"
She holds up a hand. "No, Castle. It's alright."
"Well, I shouldn't have brought it up-"
"I shouldn't have left you in limbo for a month. I should have let you know where I'm at with it."
He tilts his head almost scared to ask; hesitantly pushing the words through. "And where are you at with it?"
She sighs. "This case has just taken up so much time this month I haven't been able to focus on much else."
He smiles tightly. "I know. It's okay."
"But I have been thinking about it and this morning-"
He leans forwards quickly. "This morning sucked. I'm sorry. Don't let that factor into your decision. We'll set ground rules like no typing in bed at four am."
He cuts in once more, desperately. "And no answering your phone without your permission. I'll be more considerate."
"Will you just let me talk for a second?"
He looks chagrined. "Okay. Sorry, go ahead." He holds his face in a grimace awaiting her words.
"Stop what?" He squeezes out the words without breaking his face.
"You look ridiculous."
"I'm a man with an uncertain future. This face helps shield me from potential disappointment."
"If it sticks that way, my answer is definitely no."
His face slowly relaxes as he considers this. "Does that mean right now your answer isn't definitely no?"
She rolls her eyes. "If you'd just let me say what I want to say-"
"Okay, go on." She levels him with a glare at once again being cut off. "Sorry. Again."
She huffs out a breath. "This morning made me realize that even though you have the ability of driving me completely insane-" His face starts to contort into the visceral shield once more. She shakes her head at his antics. "And against my better judgement, for some unknown reason-" A small grin peeks through her annoyance. "I think-" He leans in as she drags out her sentence, keeping him on edge. As soon as he's nearly toppling out of his chair in anticipation, she changes direction. "Are you sure you'll still have me even though I can be a terror in the morning?"
His eyes light up in excitement with where she's headed. He tries to give as good as he's getting and pretends to think, squinting his eyes in doubt. "Well..."
She hits his shoulder with a grin. "Castle."
He snaps out of it with the nudge and barely contains his excitement as he gives her a contrite nod. "I think I'll be able to manage."
She takes a deep breath. "Okay."
He tries not to read too much into it, but he's almost buzzing out of his seat. "Okay?"
She smiles. "I've been thinking that it might be nice." His face floods with relief and happiness. "I'll get rid of my sanctuary but," She puts an emphasis on the 'but' and makes sure he hears it before continuing. "I'm helping with rent."
He cocks half a smile. "I don't rent."
She rolls her eyes. "Of course you don't." He raises his eyebrows. "Well, I'll help with the mortgage."
"Oh come on Castle, it's New York City. You must at least have a mortgage."
"I do, but I don't even see it. My accountant handles all of that stuff."
"Well then I'll send a check to your accountant; I'm not going to be a freeloader."
He considers this. "Okay, how about this? Take what you'd pay for rent and start a fund."
"A fund? Like for a charity?"
"No. For us. For later."
"For later? A fund for what?"
He takes a deep breath. "Like for college or something." He squints, waiting for her reaction.
She almost laughs. "Trust me, I have no plans to go back-" The realization hits her and she stops mid-sentence. "Oh."
He forges ahead. "Or something. Not necessarily that but something in the future. Like our wedding." Her eyes widen further. "Or, shit, um, a vacation? We can go on a vacation. Yeah. A fund for our vacation." She sits still and quiet beside him. More anxiety crawling through his body with every second that passes. "I probably should have started with that, yeah?" He laughs nervously and babbles on trying to fix the stunned expression staring back at him. His grimace does not seem to be doing much to ward it off. "A charity would work too if you'd rather."
"Uh, no it's just-" She snaps out of her shocked state. "I just-" Clears her throat. "Lots of stuff to um, to take in. Yeah, wow. Okay, yeah, so you've thought about this."
He breathes deeply. "I wouldn't have asked you to move in if I didn't see a future with you." He looks at her closely. "Does that mean-" He tries to cover the wounded expression on his face. "-That you haven't?"
"No, Castle. I mean, yes." She scoffs at her own inability to form a coherent sentence. Her face breaks into a small smile and he feels the relief filling his chest. "Yes. As in, yes I've thought about it. I just-" She shakes her head, focusing. "Okay, I think a fund is a great idea."
He tilts his head skeptically. "So all that-" He draws a few big circles in the air in front of her face. "-Was not sheer panic at the thought of maybe one day having little scholarly Castle babies?"
She laughs. "No. Not panic. Just, you took me by surprise. We were talking moving in together and then suddenly we were at college funds and weddings. I just-"
"-Process things differently. I know."
"It doesn't mean those aren't things that I want."
He smiles. "Good to know."
The idea settles into her chest. "Okay, a fund. That could work."
He grins. "Yeah."
She gives him a look. "A fund for an unspecified future event to benefit both of us."
"Yes, totally unspecified." The grins on his face goes no where.
She shakes her head on a laugh. "I hope that writer mind of yours knows the actual definition of 'unspecified'. There's not been an actual conversation on the matter."
He looks affronted. "How do you know I'm not picturing you in a tiny, black bikini on the shores of Cyprus?"
She narrows her eyes. "Uh huh."
His day dreaming takes him somewhere sunny with waves breaking in the background. "Building little sand-castles with little sand-covered-"
"Stop while you're ahead, Castle."
The waves breaking take a break as he's thrown back down to earth. He nods. "Got it."
"You defy conventional wisdom."
"I'll take that as a compliment."
She studies him for a moment. "You should."
He starts to lean in and then looks around at the few people working in the office around them. He sits back broken from his reverie. "Ugh, work."
"Yeah." He refocuses and taps his finger on the folder in front of him. "Bradley. Paperwork."
"Anxious to get home?" A warm smile covers her face.
"Anxious to get you in bed." She lets out a surprised laugh. He corrects quickly. "Whoa, not like that." Looks around nervously. With no prying ears, he thinks for a second. "Well, I have to admit, I wouldn't mind that."
She raises her eyebrows. "Two hours of sleep."
He shakes his head, covering his suggestive change of tone unconvincingly. "Right. Psh. Yeah, totally not like that."
She smirks. "However, after a little nap, well then..."
He nods heartily. "Okay so first step, paperwork."
"And now you want to take it in steps."
"Can't blame a man for getting ahead of himself."
She grins. "Paperwork. And then we'll go home."
"Home." The huge smile that lights up his face sends butterflies into flight within her stomach. "I love the sound of that."
"You know what, Castle?" She settles into her chair and opens up the folder. Looks back up to him with a smile. "So do I."