They are at the kitchen counter, halfway through their baked potatoes and tomato and basil salad when they hear keys rattling and the front door opens.
"Hi Dad, what's for ..." Alexis pauses as she spots Kate "... hi!" she adds.
"Welcome home Pumpkin, oh and this is Kate" he says as he pulls his daughter into a big hug that lifts her off her feet.
"Ugh, Dad, you can let me go now ... so I can breathe?"
"How was school today then?"
Having smiled and given his daughter a little wave on her arrival, Kate now sits back and watches the interaction between the two. Whatever she may have thought of Castle's page six life, the way he treats his daughter ... and hell! The way he's treated her so far, plus his earlier comment about not bringing his 'double entendres' home makes her wonder just how much of what she thought she knew of him is actually true.
"Oh, by the way Pumpkin, Kate may be staying the night in the spare bedroom ... she came off her bike yesterday and hurt her back so I've been patching up her cuts and bruises"
The grin and waggling eyebrows he throws at her over his daughter's head help to keep both her embarrassment and the rising colour off her face, at least he's gone with the story she gave Corrine earlier which for some obscure reason pleases her.
Alexis is all concern and asks "Did you hurt yourself badly?"
She shakes her head and plays it down as Castle sets out Alexis' lunch, pulling the remaining potato from the oven where it was being kept warm and fussing around his daughter much to Kate's secret amusement. Discussion is all about Alexi's homework and her day at school and it's not till they've finished and cleared everything away that the conversation returns to her. Castle moves towards her and says "Probably time to check that gash, see how it's coming along, anyway"
Kate gives a frustrated huff but allows him to pull the T-shirt up and peel off one edge of the gauze padding. She hears Alexis' indrawn breath and feels Castles finger prodding gently around the wound which has her flinching away from his touch. All she can think of is that at least this time she's got her bra on.
"Well, I don't know if it's the antiseptic spray or Kate's super healing powers, but the swelling seems to have gone down a bit and it doesn't feel quite as hot. There's still a bit of bleeding though ..." he adds as he presses the tape back onto her back, "... It'll probably need changing before you go to bed"
Kate twists her head round to glare at him, but softens the look when she sees Alexis staring at her now covered back with huge blue eyes. She's still not sure what his game is ... other than to get her to spend another night here, what for, she can't understand, but his kid doesn't need to get caught in the crossfire.
By the time she's assured Alexis that things aren't as bad as they look and she's changed the subject back to her schoolwork and they've discussed how dumb boys are in certain matters, the pointed looks he's getting not going unobserved by Castle, she's feeling quite at home.
Watching Alexis head up to her room to do her homework, Kate shakes her head and feeling his eyes on her turns to look at him. "That's quite a girl you have there!"
There's simple and unadorned pride in his eyes as he nods "That's what I tell her every day. Coffee?"
The change in subject matter catches her by surprise, but then she realises he wants to get back to their talk. She feels a bit reluctant now, but he did say she could leave at any time. She's about to say yes when the buzzer goes and Castle answers. It's Charlie, the daytime doorman letting them know that Crown Cars is here with her bike.
They take the lift down and by the time Castle opens the garage doors with the remote, her bike's been unloaded from the recovery vehicle and the mechanic's wheeling it down the ramp. Castle shows him where to park the Harley and Kate can't help herself checking her baby over. Castle signs the papers takes the keys from the guy and tips him, waiting until he's gone back up the ramp before closing the doors.
They're back in the lift heading for the apartment before he hands her the keys over and she's asking him how much he tipped the mechanic, and that she'll pay him back ... he silences her by placing his finger on her lips and she stared at him from large, surprised eyes. She expects him to say something but the doors ping open and he steps back ushering her out before him.
What is with this guy? She steals from him ... well ok, his mother ... and he treats her like she`s special? Or is he just piling up so much debt that she's going to have to tell him everything? Maybe he's Machiavellian after all!
Once they're back inside the loft he gets their coffees and leads the way to the office, closing the door behind her and indicating she should take one of the chairs. As soon as she's settled down, feet drawn under her, he hands her a coffee and takes the other chair.
"Ok, so Jimmy Valote asks you for a thousand bucks a month to investigate your Mom's case … what did you say?"
Wow, straight into it huh Castle, way to get your girl! She thinks, then suddenly blushed at her own thought ... must be that cut out that's staring at me.
Placing her cup on the table between them she shrugs and runs her fingers through her hair. "Yeah, right. You can imagine my reaction … days as a messenger, nights as a waitress, like a thousand bucks a month is peanuts. I just laughed in his face, but he told me there were ways. I thought I knew what he meant and was about to punch his lights out when he said that a certain someone would be willing to pay good money if I were to let him look at certain papers before they were delivered to their rightful owners"
"What did you say to that?"
"I felt like saying he could take a running jump, but decided to be more diplomatic and just said no" she takes a sip of coffee and continues, "About two weeks later he appears at the bar again and hands me an envelope, says the contents are a goodwill gesture, and for free, that if I'm interested in more information, to contact him, his number was in the envelope"
For a while she sits there, small in the chair, staring unseeing before her. He waits her out. Eventually he hears her clear her throat and continue, "When I got home that night I opened the envelope. There were three police photographs from the scene, the ME's report and a couple of pages from Raglan's report. Not much, but more than I'd been able to get in two years of pleading and using the law ..." she looked at him, begging for him to understand her.
"In two weeks you'd got more information than previously in two years, I can understand that being pretty tempting ... but what if it were false?"
"Oh believe me I thought about it, about how they could possibly get that type of information, whether it would be reliable, what would it cost me in the long run ... the how was obvious, once I'd thought about it, it was what they were asking me to do, in this case it was probably some cop or admin staff who could be bribed or forced into getting the info"
"I struggled with my conscience for the next week or so, it went against everything my Mom and Dad had taught me, against everything I believed in ... and yet, there was my Mom who believed in the sanctity of the Law lying in an alleyway with her throat cut and my Dad who wouldn't even cheat at monopoly lying in a drunken stupor ... and you know what?"
He shakes his head even though he feels it's a rhetorical question.
"I got mad ... and I wanted to get even. I'd stop as soon as I had what I needed, but I'd do whatever I had to, to get to the bottom of her murder!"
He watches her twisting her fingers together, trying to get her emotions under control before turning to look at him. "Does that make me a terrible person Castle?" she asks almost tearfully.