Kate knocks on the door, folder held to her chest like a shield as she waits for it to open. There's a short wait, then it swings wide and having expected the tall, blue-eyed, tousle-headed writer, she's surprised and has to drop her eyes slightly when she finds it's his redheaded daughter standing in the doorway.
"Hi Kate, come on in, Dad will be out in a moment" and Alexis is taking a step back and gesturing her in. She was a bit nervous waiting at the door thinking about the writer, she's even more nervous finding his daughter in front of her. With a "Thank you" she steps inside, still clutching her folder protectively and offers Alexis a hesitant smile.
Alexis closes the door and turning to look at Kate, asks "How's your back?"
"Much better thanks, in fact it's totally healed … thanks to Florence Castle" and the last bit just pops out unthinkingly only for her to cover her mouth with her hand as she realises what she's said.
Alexis however just bursts out laughing "Florence Castle? Oh that's just so good! I'm going to have to remember that one next time he gets over-attentive!" then turning towards the study she calls out "Dad! Kate's here!"
There's a "Coming!" which filters through the wall of books and then Alexis is telling her she's going up to her room to "… leave you guys to get on with it"
She's only gone up a couple of steps when Castle appears from the study, sees Kate still standing near the door, biting her lip and obviously trying not to laugh. He waves her over as he heads for the kitchen and asks "What's so funny?" as she joins him by the now familiar kitchen counter.
"I didn't realise you were that excited to see me" she says, biting her inner check to keep from laughing and keeping a wary eye out in case his daughter appears again.
He looks at her puzzled "We … ell, I am excited to see you but …?"
"So I gathered from the answer you gave your daughter" unable now to keep the laughter out of her voice.
He thinks about it for a second and then realises … Coming! he'd called out … then grins as he looks at her, "Yeah, well you do all sort of things to my self-control" he says and laughs as he sees her colour up. "Coffee?"
She nods, unsettled at how quickly he's turned the tables on her and aware of the look that accompanied his self-control comment … there was no doubting his meaning. She drops the folder onto the granite top, hitches herself onto one of the bar stools and slips the strap of her bag over the back, remembering the first time she'd been here and how his hands and breath had felt on her back. If anything the memories were making her even more conscious of his presence just across the island.
He pulls the vanilla creamer from the fridge and places it on the island next to her, then turns back to pour the coffees. She looks at the creamer … she's sure it hadn't been here before … has he really gone and bought it because she likes her coffee that way? The appearance of the cup before her drags her eyes away from the bottle and she's smiling up at him, nodding in thanks.
"Do you want to talk here on in the study?"
She glances over towards the stairs and seeing her look, he's quick to add "Alexis will be doing homework for quite a while and my Mother's slaughtering Shakespeare with her pupils for at least another three or four hours"
She nods, "Maybe start here …?" She's comfortable in this spot, it's reminiscent of her stay here when he'd 'kidnapped' her last time, its open, friendly, warm … less intense than the more enclosed office.
Carrying his cup, he moves round the island so that he's sitting on the stool next to her, a foot or so separating them, the folder lying closed on the worktop between them, the creamer bottle incongruously guarding her left elbow. She shifts slightly so that she's facing him, elbow on the counter, cup held between her hands, watching him observe her with understanding. It's something she's still getting used to, this ability he has to make her feel safe, important, respectful … something she hasn't felt since those long gone days when she, her Mom and her Dad would sit round the kitchen table and talk about her day at school or the sleepover at Maddie's or plans for the weekend.
With a sigh she puts the coffee cup down on the granite top, pushes the handle a little one way, then the other. "I told you about what happened to my Mom right?" she asks, looking up at him from the corners of her eyes.
He nods, but says, "Why not start from the beginning, tell me about her, if that's all right? I'd like to know a bit about what she was like, what it was that made her laugh, or cry … or get mad at you …" His voice is soft, uncertain, not wanting to push but full of curiosity.
It makes her turn her face to look at him fully. No one has ever asked her that, not since her Mom was killed. Boyfriends have listened to the bare facts of her murder, tried to comfort her in different ways, Lanie's sat and listened to her pour her heart out at particularly poignant moments like anniversaries or birthdays, been there to hold her and shush her and let her cry herself out … no one has actually asked her to tell them about the living Johanna Beckett, the laughing mother, scolding parent, protective being. It catches her by surprise, takes her breath away and brings tears to her eyes.
He reaches out a hand, gently takes her own and says, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you, you don't need to …"
But she shakes her head, her hand returns his gentle squeeze and once she's taken a deep, halting breath she manages to say "It's ok, you just caught me by surprise, no one's ever been interested in that side of my Mom"
He decides to keep quiet, aware of the fact that her hand is still wrapped around his fingers, then she begins to talk, a wistful look in her eyes. She tells him about growing up in a house full of laughter and singing and love, the love of her parents for each other, their unequivocal love for their daughter, the pranks they would pull on each other, the ethics of hard work and respect for the law which was so ingrained in both of them and had been in her until life had taught her otherwise.
She tells him of rebellious teenage years, of patient parents and her Mom's favourite phrase of "I told you so" every time the impatient and rebellious Katherine Beckett fell off whatever 'horse' she was riding at the time; bicycle, skateboard, boyfriend … whatever or whoever it was that got the better of her.
She talks of her decision to study law, to go to Stanford in order to get away from her parents for a bit, one more act of rebellion. Castle nods and murmurs "First female Chief Justice of the Supreme Court" and she smiles at the fact that he remembers.
Then she loses the smile, lets go of his hand and picks at the corner of the folder, using her finger nail to flip the edge up before letting it go again, the flopping noise it makes intruding into the silence.