He pushed her through the empty house, Martha had gone off to who knows where and Alexis was out with friends, and out onto the back porch. Kate gasped as she took in the sight before her, it was breathtaking.
The sun had already set and the night was warm. The top of the gazebo was completely lit up with lights that reminded Kate of quiet childhood Christmases at her Father's cabin. There was white fabric draped from the rafters, blowing softly in the wind where they hung down along the columns. There, in the middle of the open wooden floor, was a beautifully set table complete with a white table cloth, a beautiful bouquet of red roses, and candles lighting up the middle.
She was completely blown away. No one had ever done anything like this for her before, nothing even came close. She had no idea how he even had time to arrange all of this. There was so much she wanted to say to him, so much she wanted him to know, so much to thank him for, but nothing would come out. She was completely speechless.
"Oh, Castle." She managed to get out after quite a few seconds. She looked up into his eyes and saw the apprehension written all over his face and she knew her previous actions were the cause. "It's so beautiful, Castle."
She saw the moment his face changed and he breathed a sigh of relief. His face spread into a huge smile as he stared down at her.
"Really Castle, how did you pull all of this off?"
"Oh you know…I know I guy." He smirked as he pushed her down the short ramp and down the path leading them to their future.
Turns out he knew quite a few guys. No sooner had they settled down at their table that a waiter appeared out of thin air with iced water and salads.
The night was perfect. They ate a delicious meal, the best she had in weeks. Amazingly it still followed all of her dietary restrictions and tasted like it deserved five stars. They easily fell into a light and comfortable conversation throughout the meal.
They reminisced about their most memorable cases and the boys back in New York. Castle told some stories about a young Alexis and Kate shared a few fond memories as well. She was quickly finding out that talking about her childhood and being reminded of her mother was becoming easier and easier with each passing day, especially with Castle.
By the time the desert, yogurt parfait with fresh fruit, about the only thing resembling desert she could have, had been cleared away the conversation had died down. It wasn't an awkward silence, but they could both feel the promised "talk" hanging over them. Both parties were nervous about what was to come.
They had never before been on the same page and everything they had, and hoped to have in the future, was on the line. If this conversation didn't go well who knows what would happen to them? However, they couldn't go on in the holding pattern they were in, regardless of the impending consequences. They needed to sort out exactly what they meant to each other and what they each wanted for their future.
"Kate?" He questioned lightly as he took her hand from across the table. She looked up with slightly glassy eyes. He looked into her eyes and she gave him a little nod. There was no avoiding it now, it was time.
"I'll go first." They both said at the same time. The tension eased a little bit as they both let out a chuckle. They met each other's eyes again and Kate giggled. She actually giggled. Kate Beckett didn't giggle.
"I feel like I'm fifteen again." She said through a sigh. There was a pregnant pause before Castle began. He couldn't wait any longer. The truth of the matter was he had waited so long for this. He knew he had to get it all out and lay all of his cards down for her. He wanted to open his heart completely for her and give her everything he could.
"I love you, Kate." Her eyes snapped up to his with his bold start. It wasn't the first time she heard him say it, but it was still an overwhelming feeling. It made her heart hammer in her chest and it only quickened when she looked into his eyes and saw the complete and utter adoration and sincerity there for her. She had seen it in all of his actions since they had been here, even before then really. "I love you so much and I can't go through my life without you in it. I know that that's heavy and a lot to take in, but you have to know. You have to know everything. I don't want to have to tiptoe around my feelings and I don't want you to have to tiptoe around yours, okay."
She nodded her head but didn't interrupt. She knew that he wasn't finished and she knew better then to interfere with his train of thought. "Kate, I don't care if you never walk another step. I just want you. I never want you to have to be alone. I know you aren't ready for a ring or a white dress and we have so much to figure out before then, but that's what I want. If we do this. I want you to know that that is what I want for us. I want everything with you because you are everything to me."
Her eyes had migrated down to their joined hands on the table as he spoke. It was a lot to take in and only a few short months ago she would have been running in the opposite direction, but in this moment she found that she didn't want to run, well most of her didn't, even if she could.
"Kate?" She looked up when he called her name and she saw the slight fear and vulnerability in his eyes.
'Come on, Kate. Get it together.' She thought. 'You can do this. You can give him this after all he has done for you.' Words never came easy for her. Words were his thing. She had always had problems putting words to her emotions and even bigger problems getting up the courage to voice them.
"I want that, too, Castle." She said it so quietly that he almost missed it. "I want you….I just want you." It wasn't much, but it was all he needed to hear. She wanted him and he wanted her. All the rest could sort itself out. He leaned over and caught her lips in a perfect, if a little awkward, kiss.
When air became a necessity they pulled away and sat back in their respective chairs, hands still clasped. For a while they just smiled at each other like love drunk teenagers, breathing twin sighs of relief as they realized they never had anything to worry about. They sat for a few minutes in comfortable silence before going deeper into their conversation.
This time she began. "I guess it isn't really that simple anymore is it?"
"What do you mean, Kate?" It wasn't a biting or accusatory question, just a curious one.
"Well, after…everything. It just isn't… life isn't going to be normal anymore Castle. If you…well if we are together it's just…. I'm not doing a very good job of this am I?" They laughed a little together. He had never seen her so flustered and he found it quite the adorable sight.
She took a deep breath and organized her thoughts again. "I'm never going to be Detective Beckett again. At least not the Detective Beckett you knew. I just… I can't be that person anymore. I'm just scared that…"
"Scared that what, Kate, scared that I won't love you just because you aren't running around jumping tall buildings and making drug dealers cry in your four inch heels?" The dip of her head told her everything he needed to know. "Oh, no Kate. You don't believe that do you? There is so much more to you than just Detective Beckett and I love every side of you, even the sides I've only been able to catch a glimpse of. But I want to get to know every side of you. I want to know everything there is about you. I really don't care if you are never a detective again, I will be your partner either way, in crime or in life."
She gave him a watery smile, "I want that with you, too, Castle. I want to know everything about you. I don't want you to be afraid to tell me about your past or to tell me what you want for the future. If you haven't figured it out already, I am in no condition to run away from you!" He blanched a little before finding his ability to laugh at her terrible joke.
"Well in that case… Hi, I'm Rick." He said with a smile on his face as he reached out a hand.
She took it and gave it a firm shake before replying. "Hi, I'm Kate."
They talked for a while. Each divulging new information to the other, freed by their confessions. They spoke a little about everything and felt very much like they were two strangers meeting for the first time. They never let go of each other's hands and stopped every once in a while to steal a kiss or just sit comfortably with one another. The world melted away and left them alone in the gazebo. All of the drama and criminals and families was forgotten.
Finally she yawned and he decided it was time to call it a night, it was starting to get chilly anyway and he didn't want her to be cold. They had a big day tomorrow and he didn't want her to be tired. Kate was against the idea, tired or not.
"I just… I don't want this night to end. I don't want to wake up tomorrow to find it was all a dream or to find everything awkward or changed between us."
"Nothing's going to change between us, Kate. But if, you're really set on not going in, there is an alternative." She watched as he took out his phone and made practiced swipes across the screen. She couldn't quite see the screen, but she didn't have to wait very long before music spilled out of the small device. The sweet and sultry notes of Coltrane filled the air around them.
"Dance with me?" He stood before her and offered her his hand. She looked up at him in confusion, she couldn't even walk much less dance, but she took his hand anyway. She knew and trusted him enough to know he had a plan already formulated.
He bent down and scooped her into his arms. Instead of their normal hold he picked her up as if she were a toddler resting on his hip, except she was facing him fully instead of resting on his hip. His arms provided support for her and she rested comfortably against his chest. Her arms came up around his neck as he began to sway to the music.Eventually her head fell onto his shoulder and she relaxed completely. It wasn't exactly as she had imagined dancing with him, she would never admit it but she had thought about it once or twice, but it was perfect. The perfect moment with Coltrane mixing in with the waves in the background. She felt safe and happy with him, especially knowing where they stood. Knowing that they were moving forward together, she felt invincible.