Stained-Glass Windows

One Day


April 30th, 2012-New York City

Richard Castle’s Loft

2:39 A.M

Later that night, both tired and sated from a day of sex and food and comfort, Kate laid in bed with Rick’s arms around her stomach. She had to return to work Tuesday but somehow that seemed so insignificant right now. With as much stealth as she could muster, she extricated herself form Rick’s arms and moved to stand in front of his window. The grey expanse of the city stretched out before her like a veil that hid the depths of the depravity she fought against daily. It was peaceful and serene.

He felt her leave his bed and for the briefest moment doubt seeped into his consciousness. He trusted her with his life and his heart, and while old habits were truly hard to break, he found that her habit wasn’t the one in play here. It was a discussion he knew would come but until it did he knew that his own fault was to see every woman whom he had loved or thought he loved as someone who would eventually leave him. He wasn’t good enough for any of them. It wasn’t their fault, and as he was coming to learn, it wasn’t his either. It was something she taught him, another gift she gave him in their unorthodox partnership and now hopeful relationship, by forcing him to dismiss the playboy and embrace Rick. It was the gift everyone at the 12th had given him. Esposito, Ryan and Lanie cared more about his well-being than his money, and they saw past his carefully crafted persona that allowed him to sell books.

Maybe he didn’t need the persona after all; maybe what he really needed was to trust that people would still buy his books even if they knew the real person behind them?

The thought lifted him from the bed and stayed his feet behind her. She stood like a Goddess dressed only in her black satin panties she had hardly worn that day. She was stunning even fully dressed, but standing in front of his window like this reminded him of the giant step forward they had taken. He wrapped her in his arms and sought to envelop her in the hope of a new relationship and a fresh beginning, and her hands joined his across her naked and toned stomach.

“Hey.”

She almost whispered her response as if trying to keep them from the world for a little while longer, to revel for just a moment more, “Hey.”

“New York City at night has always been special to me. It’s why I’ve never moved out of the city.”

“It does take on an almost ethereal quality doesn’t it?”

“Yeah, it does. I remember when I first moved to this apartment, I would stand in front of this window and marvel at my own good fortune. I had an amazing daughter and the freedom to write and be the father I wanted to be.”

“When my mom died, I seriously considered moving to any other place in the world. It didn’t matter where, not here was just fine. Then I realized that I could never find justice that way.”

“I’m glad you stayed.”

“I am to. I would have left my dad and who knows what would have happened with him left to his own devices.”

“You’ve never really talked about that time in your life.”

“I know. It was a time where I was both proud and ashamed. I did some things that I know I should never have done. I put myself in positions that were dangerous and I don’t think I would have cared if I got hurt. But no matter what I did during the day, at night I made sure my dad was alright. I pulled him out of bars, I cleaned him up and made sure he was home in bed every night.”

“You did something noble and worthwhile.”

“Maybe. But what I also did was avoid everything that I needed to face. He was an easy excuse, and it’s what I built my life around. Helping him meant I didn’t have to help myself.”

“It is amazing that you guys have the relationship you have today.”

“He made a mistake, but it was one I completely understood. I don’t know what I would do if I ever lost…”

“Me?”

“Yeah.”

“Kate, I’m tired of not saying the things I want to say, so allow me this. You have no idea what that means to me.”

“Castle I…” She sighed. Why couldn’t she say it?

“It’s alright, Kate. Say it when you are ready.”

That sweet, adorable dufus, “I am ready, Rick. It’s not about that. There are things in this world that I am good at, that I claim some level of expertise, but relationships have never been one of them. I am just really horrible at this. I’ve never done it right and I really want to do it right this time.”

“If I am honest here, it’s not like I’ve done it right either. I’ve been divorced twice because they both decided I wasn’t good enough and cheated on me.”

She caught the tinge of regret and hurt in his voice, “They were both idiots if they thought you weren’t good enough, but I’m glad they didn’t because I do. And now we are here.”

“Well…”

“I love you, Castle. I love you with all my heart. I love you,” she whispered.

She turned in his arms and was met with a single tear, “I love you too, Kate.”

She wiped the right side of his cheek free of the salty water that snaked down his cheek and smiled fully for the first time in 13 years. “You are such a girl.”

And just like that, they had returned to a place of normalcy, “I think you have ample evidence that I am not. By the way, you are extraordinary.”

“Uh huh. Ample is one word for it. And you are amazing.”

She wound her arms around his waist and was glad for her lack of heels because she was able to rest her head on his chest. His arms found her back and held her close to him while his head turned and rested on her head, “You know, everyone is going to be shocked about this.”

She chuckled lightly, “Let them. Who cares. We are going to have our problems but I don’t think our friends will be anything but happy for us. Be prepared though. Esposito and Ryan will want to talk to you.”

Castle smiled brightly, “I’m sure my mother and my daughter will seek the same.”

She stumbled at the mention of Alexis but didn’t let it show, “You’ve raised an amazing daughter, Castle.”

“I sent them away because…”

“I know, Castle. I get it, I promise.”

“I know you do.”

“This case has come to define me but I don’t want it to anymore.” She thought back to her mother, “I’m tired of the obsession, of keeping people at arms length. I want to be the kind of person who doesn’t expect the worst, who doesn’t see loss as inevitable, the kind of person who loves without regard.”

“I want that for you to. I’ve always wanted that for you.”

“Put the case away Castle. Don’t destroy it, don’t get rid of anything you have found, but put it away. When I am ready, we can decide what to do. We can turn the case over to the FBI or even to another precinct. Give me a few days. But put it away.”

He gently placed his hand under chin and lifted her face so he could look into her eyes but instead of the resignation he expected, he saw nothing but determination and joy. It amazed him sometimes how they could have a conversation with just their eyes. He knew then that he would give up the case, he would give up the obsession just as she was doing now. It was the easiest decision he would ever make.

“Help me?”

“Always.”

An hour and half later…

“It’s done.”

“Come back to bed, Castle.”

“You have no idea how long I’ve waited for you to say that.”

She smiled, “I bet. C’mon, let’s get some sleep.”

“You go ahead. I have one thing I have to do first and then I will join you.”

“Castle?”

“Don’t worry. Trust me. I promise.”

She leaned into him and kissed him hard, “Don’t take too long.” With that, she returned to bed. He really needed to do this quickly because he wanted so badly to go back to bed with her. But first he had a letter to write…

April 30th, 2012-New York City

Castle’s Loft

9:14 A.M.

“Good morning, sunshine”

“Shut up, Castle. Where is my coffee?”

“Touchy, detective. Your coffee awaits.”

Kate settled at the bar and took a sip of the warm coffee, “Oh god, this is good. Thanks Castle.”

“My pleasure detective.”

“I’m sure.”

“As was last night.”

Kate laughed out loud, “I know. I was there and heard you. ‘Oh God, Kate!’ “Please don’t stop Kate’. Yeah, I would never stop!”

“Hey, I seem to recall you finding religion more than a few times last night. You really do know how to order men around, don’t you Beckett?”

“Uh huh, and you seem to be able to follow orders quite nicely.”

“I aim to please.”

“That’s not all you aim for…”

It was his turn to laugh, “Well yeah, that was fun as well.”

“You know, if I knew how dirty we were going to be this morning, I would have taken two showers.”

“At this point, I don’t think showers are what we should be talking about or we will never be clean again.”

“And who says I want to be clean?”

“Whenever you feel the need to be dirty, you have but to ask.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Fair enough.”

“So, what’s for breakfast? And why didn’t you wake me up?”

“You are extraordinary when you are awake and stunning when you sleep. Besides, it looked like you needed it. I did wear you out last night. As for breakfast, I was thinking chocolate-chip pancakes and fruit?”

“Uh huh, sounds wonderful, Castle. Here, let me help…”

“No, no, you just sit there and look beautiful. Let me cook for you.”

“No longer first through the door, huh?”

“Well…not all of the time. And you have help now.”

“And so do you.”

“No more waiting.”

“No more waiting.”

“Only connect. That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer.”

“Howard’s End? Really?”

“I’m a writer, it’s what I do. I am the prose and you are the passion. By the way, you have no idea how sexy it is that you knew that!”

“I think we have already established that I am much more intelligent and well read, Castle.”

“Maybe so but when we have kids, they will inherent my rugged handsomeness.”

Kate smirked at that, “…”.

“Right…filter…uh, can we just forget I said that?”

“Probably not but I’ll take what I can get.”

“You can always have me!”

“I was looking for something a little more substantial actually.”

“Tease. That’s fine though, you need pancakes and I am the warden.”

“Goo goo g'joob!”

Castle look on incredulously, “The Beatles, really?”


“Hey, you said it. The only boy band I will ever embrace.”

“Wow, that is so hot.”

“Oh Castle, you don’t think you could stop me do you?”

“It might take years but I did find the end of the rainbow.”

“I’m not looking for cereal, Castle.”

“What can I say, you are my lucky charm.”

“Yeah but I don’t come with milk.”

“No, you come with my hand and my tongue…”

“Castle!”

“What? I think those walls lie in ruins Kate.”

They both paused at that one. Shyly, she looked down and whispered, “You can say that again.”

“I think those walls lie…”

Just like he hoped, she laughed once again, “I didn’t mean that literally smartass.”

“But not jackass, of course.”

They both looked at each other in remembrance of the day where they nearly fell apart for the final time. As if both understood the solemn promise of never again, they smiled and accepted the thanks and forgiveness the other offered.

“I wouldn’t be so sure.”

“Hey, you want these pancakes or not?”

“Oh, I have ways of getting them Castle.”

“I’ve already seen you naked.”

“My sig actually. Or my knee. Sorry about that, by the way.”

“Eh, I probably deserved it.”

“Well, then when are going to kick me in the balls?”

“I happen to know from experience that you don’t...well now that I think about it!”

“I will shoot you.”

“Threatening to shoot me? Then who would cook for you?”

“Hey, I can cook for myself.”

“Uh huh, I’ve seen your refrigerator. Scientists could study that thing; it’s the perfect Petri-dish.”

“Just because I don’t cook often, doesn’t mean I don’t cook.”

“The comfort food truck doesn’t count as cooking Kate.”

“Hey, I’ll have you know that I used to cook all the time. I am an awesome cook. But I have a real job, not like some writers who can annoy people on their on own time.”

“Point taken.”

“Ha! I win!”

“You may let me lead sometimes but you still have to win.”

“Hey, some things are better left as they are.”

“Except of course for our hunger. Breakfast is served.”

What Kate found in that moment was that she could do this every morning. Their banter had returned in full force and this was the icing on her Sunday morning cupcake. They feasted on pancakes and strawberries, they bantered and laughed, and it was if the world allowed them a morning of peace and joy. They feasted on that too. When they were done, they moved to the couch where they snuggled together and decided to watch a movie. It was so domestic. It was perfect.

“In my wildest dreams, I never imagined that Kate Beckett would be a cuddler.”

“There is still so much to the Beckett onion, Rick.”

Rick smiled down at her, “I look forward to the tears.”

Kate laughed softly, “So when do Alexis and Martha get home?”

“I think you are better attuned to my daughter this morning than I.”

“Huh?”

“I called her this morning. She told me what she did.”

“Oh…”

“It’s alright. She was worried about me, and…she probably had good reason. You know, before that call, I never understood the obsession that drove you. When it’s the woman you love, when it’s the people you love, the world seems to fade to black. Like a shroud of darkness that hovers over everything and everyone that isn’t pertinent. A tunnel that forces you to see nothing but the hope of a small light that offers absolution. It’s both intoxicating and humbling. Frustrating and blindly horrifying.”

Being truthful was so much easier than either thought it could be. Kate remembered her mother’s words, if in fact that was her mother, and how she spoke of honesty and its healing power. Today, she was going to heal, and she was going to make him do so as well.

“After seeing me fall apart, I can only imagine how far you fell.”

“That’s not the zenith of my helplessness, but it was close.”

“You helped. More than you know.”

“And if you will let me, I will always be there. I can’t beat back the darkness for you Kate, but I can stand beside you while you do.”

“It’s not something that’s easy or even pleasant is it?”

“No, it really isn’t.”

“Sometimes I think it’s the hardest thing I have or will ever do.”

“It doesn’t have to be.”

“Ditto.”

“She also told me to tell you that she was sorry. Sorry for everything. I’m guessing that conversation did not go so well?”

She sighed, “No, it didn’t. It was more my fault than hers though. I feel like I should apologize to her.”

“Well, they will be home tomorrow sometime. I was sort of tired of them…”

“I understand Castle. I really do. More than you know.”

While they may be different in many ways, the paths they chose in life were more in sync than even they realized.

“So what’s on tap for today?”

“Well, I have the day off, so I was thinking about finding a hot guy and fucking his brains out. Of course, finding the guy is always the hardest part.”

“Ha ha, very funny. Though there is something incredibly sexy about the word ‘fuck’ coming out of your mouth, I can think of different ways for it to work.”

“Uh huh, I think my mouth did enough work last night, thank you very much.”

“Actually, I was thinking we could talk, but nice to know where your mind is today.”

“Hey, you started it!”

“And we both finished it. Multiple times.”

“That was last night.”

“And this morning.”

Kate’s laugh rang out through the loft, “After four years of unresolved sexual tension, I’m surprised we can even be on the same couch together.”

“Hey, I’m game.”

She turned around smiling and patted him on the chest she was resting on, “Uh we are going to have to hold off for a little while, Casanova. And wipe that smug grin off your face. If our positions were reversed, you wouldn’t be able to get out of bed.”

Castle’s smugness could not be contained, “I think we did that too.”

He was on fire today, “Yeah, we did, didn’t we?”

“I’ve never been the small spoon before. Kinda refreshing, I gotta say.”

“Duly noted. Though sometimes…”

“Sometimes?”

“Yeah, sometimes.”

“Katherine Beckett, hopeless romantic.”

“It’s all about misdirection Castle.”

“So should we have the talk?”

“Castle, we aren’t in high school. I don’t need to check a yes box to tell you that I was serious about last night and I don’t need to declare that we are exclusive or some bullshit like that. I’ve slept with my fair share of guys, Castle, but never after 4 years of friendship. Oh yeah and there was that co-ed junior year.”

Castle literally turned white, “I…who…who was she?”

He sometimes made it so easy, “Easy Tristan, I was joking.”

“Not in my fantasies you weren’t.”

“Wow, what a magical wonderland,” She crowed sarcastically.

“I would never suggest otherwise detective, but I think some perspective might be in order.”

“How so?”

“I feel at a distinct disadvantage here, Kate. I held a secret from you that…”

“Castle, I held one from you too. At first, I didn’t see it, I was blinded by what happened, and I allowed that to dictate my own reaction. It would be a bit hypocritical, hell it was hypocritical of me to hold your feet to the fire. This isn’t hell Castle and I’m not Dante. There are no fires here, at least not anymore.”

“Well, except one.”

Kate laughed once again, “Yeah, except that one.”

“I really am sorry, Kate.”

“I’m sorry too. For everything. For those three months, for those two days, for making you wait, for making you suffer…”

“You suffered as well. You were the one shot in the chest. Yin and Yang, remember?”

“Yeah…those…those three months were hard.”

“I can’t imagine.”

“My dad tried his best, but he knew that there wasn’t much he could do. It had to be such a helpless feeling. I hated doing that to him, but he was the only one. I could barely look at myself, let alone let those who loved me…”

“Is that why you didn’t call?”

“Castle…”

“No, no that’s a stupid question.”

“No it isn’t. After four years, it’s finally time to be honest and open. This is incredibly difficult for me, but…

“But?”

“It’s just…”

“Kate we don’t have to do this right now.”

“Yeah, we do. I…I would do anything for you. Anything. You are my partner, my lover, and my best friend. Somewhere in that dumb hypocrisy I forgot that. So, I will try my very best. It’s why I went back to my therapist. That means that you can ask me anything and I hope the same in return. It’s just…of all the reasons I had to call you, I never thought that the reason I wouldn’t was to protect you. From me. I’ve never been a martyr; I’ve never felt the need. Martyrs foolishly die for their beliefs. Heroes live for theirs, and I wanted so badly to be a hero. I wanted to be your hero, like you tried to be mine. And I thought that’s what I was doing.”

“Saving me?”

“Sound familiar?”

“Vaguely…”

It surprised them both just how much they seemed to walk the same path. Love does not mean consuming someone else, it means enhancing their lives so that their life is just that much better, and sometimes having something in common with someone simply means that we aren’t alone.

It was something Kate was beginning to realize, “I think I realized for the first time what I had really done when Espo told me that you hadn’t been back after being kicked out by Gates. I thought everything would be better, an equilibrium would return, but more than that, I thought we could find a place where I could fix my problems. A place where we might have a chance to be more than just partners.”

“I really did go to that hospital under some naïve illusion that you could just dump Josh right there and fall into my arms. So your assumptions might not have been so far off.”

“I know that too. It doesn’t mean that I couldn’t have a found a better way. Guilt causes us to do horrible things, to do the wrong thing for the right reason. It’s just another thing we share now. If you don’t want me to feel guilty about it, then you can’t either. The scars that paint my chest and side are the products of a foolish and reckless abandon that came to pass because I thought I was Achilles without a heel.”

“I’ve always thought of you as Prometheus stealing fire from the Gods.”

“And now, I’ve had my heart torn out by an eagle.”

“I thought it was his liver?”

“I was being poignant.”

He smiled, “You can do that?”

“I can also make you say apples!”

“Alright, alright. Truce?”

“Truce.”

“If I hadn’t opened the files three years ago…you know, I think back to that, even to this day and I still wonder why I truly did it. Sometimes, I can convince myself that I did it because I wanted to help you find some measure of closure, but then I remember who I was back then and I wonder if I did it because I was a child who wanted nothing more than to patrol the streets of Gotham every night.”

“I don’t think that’s true. I’ve seen you without that mask. The real you that I always want to see. I have no doubt that you did it because you wanted to help me and that’s why I let you back. I would never have found my mother’s killer if Esposito hadn’t helped you pull those files that night and we might not be here. I don’t regret it Castle. I don’t. Please, share that with me?”

“You know, I’m starting to realize something.”

“What’s that?”

“We are human beings and this isn’t a Harlequin paperback.”

“You couldn’t pull off Fabio anyway. Well, you could get hit in the face by a bird that I could totally see!”

“Funny. Wait…Esposito…you know about that too?”

“Of course I know.”

“He threatened to make me bleed if I ever told you.”

“It’s alright Castle, my lips are sealed.”

“Hopefully not for long!”

“Oh, that is it!” She grabbed the throw pillow from the couch and allowed it to live up to its name. The rest of the morning was filled with the laughter of two people who were in love.

April 30th, 2012-New York City

Castle’s Loft

1:43 P.M.

“Delivery for Katherine Beckett.”

“Um, how did you know I was here?”

“I was told that Katherine Beckett and only she could sign for this package so I was told to search for you at four different locations. This was the second on the list. Are you Ms. Beckett?”

“Um, yeah sure.”

Quickly signing for the package, she took it from the carrier and wondered back into the loft. Rick was in the kitchen putting lunch together and when he turned he looked at her and saw that puzzled look she got when a case stumped her. She was adorable.

“Hey, did you get a package?”

“Yeah, it’s weird, why would it be delivered here?”

Castle laughed, “Huh, already having mail delivered here. Isn’t that a little presumptuous?”

“Please, if I wanted to move in tomorrow, you would let me.”

They both paused and it was Castle who spoke, “You don’t know the half of it.”

“Three months, Castle. Three whole months.”

“Really?”

She smiled at his obvious eagerness, “Alright, maybe two.”

He leaned over the bar and kissed her heatedly, “I love you so much.”

“Ditto.”

“Hey, that’s not going to replace ‘always’ right?”

Kate chuckled, “God, I hope not!”

“So what did you get?”

“I don’t know, let’s see.”

When she did see, she automatically wished she hadn’t. It seemed the universe had decided that her peace and joy would last less than a day.


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