"How much did you hear?" He said as he shut the door on their friends.
Dessert was a short, but unhurried affair. The boys and Lanie were in the middle of a case and the autopsy was scheduled for bright and early. As soon as the door closed behind their guests she was right there behind him, a full blown Beckett-glare fixed on him. He didn't even need to turn around to feel it burning into his back.
She put on a good face and enjoyed her time with her friends, but Castle could tell something was off. He could always tell when something was off with her, even more so now after the last two and a half months in the Hamptons. It didn't take him long to realize that she had overheard his conversation with the boys.
"Enough." She replied coolly. He turned around to face her. He could see the anger in her eyes, and as he stepped closer he saw the hurt behind the wall of anger she had erected. He hated himself for putting it there.
"Why would you lie to me, Castle? Why did you feel the need to hide things from me about my mother's case? My mother, Castle." He took a few steps toward her, sat on the couch to be eyelevel with her, and helped her spin around. She leveled him with a look that could kill, clearly letting him know how much she hated to be helped when it wasn't strictly necessary. He started to say something in defense, but she held up her hand to stop him.
"We are suppose to be partners, Castle, equal partners. You cannot keep me in the dark about these things. You told me it was over. You told me the new captain had shut it down. You've been investigating behind my back for three months. Three months and you haven't said a word to me.
"I might be weak right now, I might be broken right now, but I am not an invalid. I am not some child that needs to be protected, Castle."
"I know, Kate, I know. I was just trying to keep you safe. You had just been shot, Kate. You weren't even speaking to me, and when you finally did I just… I couldn't drag you down that hole again. You had so much going on with Montgomery and your therapy and everything else. I was going to take you to the Hamptons anyway, we all needed some space from the city. I didn't mean to hide anything from you.
"I started to tell you so many times, but you were smiling and studying with my kid and I just… There was never a good time."
"Now, Castle. You're going to tell me now. I want every little detail, everything you and the boys have said and done in the last three months, I want to know everything. If we're going to have a life together, we're going to have to trust each other, so spill."
He was taken aback by her forwardness. He thought that she would blow up in his face, yell and scream and fight against him. He thought he was going to have to fight to keep her and beg for her forgiveness. But here she was, this amazing woman, trying to put in the work. Trying to fix what he had so royally messed up. He really didn't deserve her. He could see how hard it was for her to stay with him, how hard it was not to run away and refuse to listen. How hard she was fighting to keep the anger from consuming her, from consuming them.
He couldn't help but lean forward and fuse their mouths together. Pouring all of his regret and thankfulness and love into it. She let him have a moment before pulling away.
"Case, Castle. Now." She said it gently, but the command was still there.
"Sorry, case, right." She let out a little strangled laugh at his inability to put a sentence together even after such a short and chaste kiss. "It started a few weeks after the shooting. There was an endless trail of dead ends. No cameras, no witnesses, no prints on the weapon, nothing. We were on it day and night, mostly the boys, but I did what I could and they kept me updated.
"About a week before you left the facility, there was a development, but not the good kind. Lanie went to your apartment for me one day to pick up some of your things. When she got there the lock was broken, bump key most likely.
"Nothing was noticeably messed up or gone through. Everything was still hung and folded and placed as you had it, except for your murder board. Everything was gone. Every picture and sticky note was gone and in its place was a picture of you and your mom, the one of you guys at the ice rink a few weeks before she died. They…um…. They drew a red "X" over your face in the photo.
"I was so scared when they called me. I couldn't even think; I was scared out of my mind. There was a partial print on the picture that wasn't a match to yours, but it wasn't in the system. And frankly I'm not even sure it was the suspects, because it is so out of character for him to leave a print behind and he would never do that after all the trouble they've gone through before. Unless they sent a rookie, someone disposable with no experience, but then Ryan said…" He stopped when he felt her hand cover his where it rested on his knee.
"Castle, you're rambling."
"Right, well, that's it. Nothing came of it. The cameras in your building were being "worked on" and the others on the street were disabled. Which means we know when your apartment was broken into, but have no clue as to who.
"We all decided it would be best to get you out of the city for a while. You weren't even close to being mobile at that point and there was still a target on your back. The Hampton's house is gated and completely secure and we took measures to ensure no one knew where we took you." At her raised eyebrow he elaborated.
"Espo and Ryan both went to the rehab facility before me and then drove in opposite directions. Espo to your dad's cabin and Ryan to another facility outside the city. All the windows in the cars were tinted so no one could be sure where you were. Paula might have thrown in some vague references to the press about me being in LA with Alexis just for good measure and bam said the lady, perfect plan.
"That was it. There hasn't been anything since then. I didn't lie to you, Captain Gates did shut it down, but you know the boys. They are with you til the wheels fall off. They haven't stopped investigating. They update me every once in awhile, but it is always the same. There isn't anything to find and they are being worked twice as hard now that the precinct is understaffed. Apparently, there is no sufficient replacement for the best detective in NY."
Kate had been listening intently while he recounted the case. She wasn't sure how to respond. There was no doubt that she was furious, with the boys, Castle, and Lanie. How dare they keep this from her. This was her case, her life. They had broken into her apartment, there was a hit out on her life. Not theirs.
"Kate?" She looked up when she realized that she had been staring at him for more than a few minutes and he had called her name several times. "Kate. I'm sorry." She tried to speak, but he cut her off. It was just as well; she wasn't sure what she was going to say anyway. "No, I am truly sorry for keeping this from you. I was scared and worried and I didn't think there was another way to keep you safe and happy. It was wrong of me and there is no excuse for what I did. The boys wanted to tell you, but you had just let me in, you had just gained the first little piece of yourself back and this would have just sent it crashing back to the floor.
"I just couldn't do that to you, Kate. I had just gotten a little piece of you back, you had just let me into your world, and I couldn't bear to be banished again. I couldn't let this ruin you, I wouldn't do it. I'm so sorry." The last words were said on a whisper as he buried his head in his hands.
She could tell that he was afraid of losing her. She saw the fear that she would turn away from him. That she would push him away for good this time, honestly, four months ago she would have done just that. She would have screamed at him and told him to get out of her life. But now, she couldn't bear the thought of it.
She didn't want to see the anguish in his eyes. And while she was spitting mad, she couldn't imagine a life without him in it. She couldn't even imagine telling him to get out and never come back. There was nothing in the world that could make her want him out of her life. He was her life.
"I am so angry right now, Castle. I cannot believe that you would keep something so big from me. I don't know how you expect me to trust you after this, and we sure as hell can't build a life without trust." His shoulders slumped a little more at that, expecting her to go in for the kill. But instead she reached out and pulled his head up so that their eyes met.
"But, Castle, I understand. I can't forgive you just yet, not without not meaning it, but I will. It will take some time to completely trust you again, but I will. I will because I love you, Castle, and I can't imagine my life without you anymore." It was said with so much truth and love in her eyes he couldn't even believe what he was hearing.
There was more to say and work through, but they were both exhausted. They sat there with each other, broken and unbelieving in their own ways. Finally, she'd had enough. She wasn't used to all of this emotional chaos on the end of a full day. She wished that she had the energy to do something. To show him that she was still here and wipe at least some of the anguish off of his face.
She could see that he was killing himself for this and a part of her got some satisfaction out of that, but at the same time she wanted it gone, at least for tonight. She could go back to being mad tomorrow and he could start on the path to regain her trust, but tonight she just wanted her partner. So she swallowed her pride and held out her hands, just like a three-year-old or some shattered frail woman in a rehab facility.
He immediately got the message, pulled her into his lap, and got to his feet. She buried her head in his neck and breathed him in. Something about being in his arms made her feel safe and as much as she hated being coddled, she enjoyed the feeling she got when he held her like this.Someone was still out to get her, he had lied to her, and she had no idea where to go from here, but her in his arms she knew they would be okay. And so she allowed herself to be carried to bed.
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