Moon In Scorpio

Chapter 61

The promise of snow has materialised, not dramatically, but with a thin coating of white powder where disturbance is least; in nooks and crannies, windowsills and stationary cars. The rest has been turned to slush as vehicles, pedestrians and the heat from the subway vents besmirch the pristine powder turning it into unsightly, grey-brown streaks piling up against kerbstones and where sidewalks meet walls.

Bagel Bob's windows are misted over as his clientele sit nursing hot cups of coffee, tea or chocolate, occasionally looking up as some new patron pushes open the door allowing a blast of cold air to leech away some of the carefully stored heat before the door closes behind them and heads return to contemplation of steaming liquid and opaque windows.

One such entrance brings the clumping of boots to release the clinging remnants of slush before the head lifts to survey the room. Hazel-green eyes spark as they observe the writer, thick blue coat stretching across broad shoulders, eyes of the same colour staring at her in anticipation, a small smile curling his lips and a hand lifting and gently shaking a cup. She makes her way between the tables, eyes on his, a matching smile playing on her lips, totally oblivious of the interested stares which follow her passage as she zigzags through the room till she's pulling back the chair and sitting down opposite him, hands gratefully taking the paper cup and wrapping themselves round it.

"Hey", it's a quiet greeting, full of question and promise and doubt and gratitude.

"Hey to you" he answers and his hand moves to stroke hers where it's holding the cup. In spite of the chill in her body the simple gesture floods her with warmth and she's biting her lip as she looks up at him.

"So, you going to be here every morning Castle?" she asks, a glint of humour in her eyes.

"Good coffee here" he answers enigmatically.

"Your own coffee at home is better" Kate retorts

"Yeah but the company's better here"

"Right" she laughs and glances around the busy café, a grin on her face.

They spend the time sipping their coffees and talking, keeping the conversation light although they both know there are plenty of important discussions ahead of them. With their coffees finished they walk out onto almost-privacy of the street, the few pedestrians braving the weather at this time of day hurrying, heads down, uninterested in those around them. "Will I see you later?" he asks.

"I have to see to some things this afternoon Castle, things I can't put off … maybe tomorrow?"

He's disappointed and she can see that, but there are still things which she needs to work out and deal with on her own, things which she can't share … at least not yet. But she also needs him to understand … "Castle, I've told you more about myself during the last days than anyone else … and I'm ok with that …" she checks that he's with her, then continues "… but I'm not used to sharing, and as I told you yesterday, I have a load of baggage which I have to deal with in my own way … before I can … share it with you. I'm sorry, but it's the only way I can do this, a step at a time"

He nods, puts his arms around her and pulls her in for a hug. "Ok, well at least call me this evening when you get home?"

She leans up to kiss him, their lips cold, mouths hot, then she's pulling back, pointing to the office behind her and indicating she has to go in. He watches her as she disappears inside, seeing her turn at the last moment to wave to him and then he's looking for a cab … time to head home and add some more chapters to the book.

It's gone two when Kate leaves UMS for the day and heads for her rendezvous. The diner is a small, quiet place in no-man's-land, although it's no longer a requirement, habits are hard to break and this one even more so. She spots her dad over towards the back and pulling her gloves off heads for the booth, sliding in opposite him and placing the gloves on the table next to her.

"Hello Katie, good to see you" and he stretches his hand out on the table towards her. She takes his hand, her own feeling small and cold within his.

"Hi Dad, good to see you as well, how are you?" and she's pleased to see his eyes looking clear, he's been looking better each time now, more like the old Jim of yore, though she knows he'll feel the emptiness for a long time yet, if he ever gets over it.

"I'm alive Katie, and I guess I'll take that and seeing you as good things. What about you, how are you doing? You letting your hair grow again?"

The waitress appears so she places her order and waits till she's headed back to the counter before continuing. "I thought maybe it's time for a change … and yeah, I'm doing ok, Dad. I've met someone, and … well, I think maybe … I don't know, it's complicated Dad, but he's helping me with Mum's case and …"

Jim's face loses some of its cheerfulness and he allows a sigh to escape him "Oh Katie, I wish you could let it go, learn to live your life instead!" interrupting her.

She almost retorts what, like you did? but manages to bite her tongue. "I can't Dad, you know I can't. But I think maybe I'm getting to the truth now, Rick is helping me … he has contacts … and if we can find out who did it, then …" and she tails off, not willing to explore that idea any further right now.

Jim shakes his head, aware that he can't talk his daughter out of this, partly because he wasn't there when she needed him, partly because they think differently. His daughter's tenacity reminds him of his late wife, the way she tackled the Washington Heights problem head on … the same way she tackled any other problem … and it ended up hurting them all. He just hopes Katie comes out the other end, he can't take a further loss. However, he knows he needs to change the subject and she's given him the opening. "So, Rick … he a policeman or something?"

Kate waits for the coffee and chicken roll to be placed before her and the waitress to move away before answering. "No, he's …" she hesitates then decides on "… he has contacts in the force and he researches stuff …" then hating how inelegantly she'd phrased that she gives an impatient wave of the hand "He's a writer …" her eyes flickering up to his a moment to check that he hasn't made any connection, then continues, "… and I'm helping him with background information for a story. In exchange, he's helping me with Mom's case" and though not strictly true, she's hoping her Dad will take it at face value for now. Later, once she's processed the information herself and neatly pigeonholed everything … then maybe she'll tell him more.

Jim knows there's a lot more to this than his daughter's telling him. Not just the information she's imparting, but also the slight colour in her cheeks when she mentioned Rick. He just hopes he's not some sleaze ball taking advantage of his daughter, though not many guys would get far with that he thinks, hiding a smile. With a mental shrug he decides to drop it, knowing that she'll tell him when she's ready and changes the subject, throwing last weekend's baseball game onto the table for discussion and hiding a smile as she refers disparagingly to the ump's interpretation of the rules.

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