Convalescence

Not Enough For You

"All that you rely on
And all that you can save
Will leave you in the morning
And find you in the day"
-"In My Veins" by Andrew Belle


“Well, you two certainly look happy,” Martha greets them at the door. “Katherine, you’re positively glowing.”

“Am I?” Kate asks, glancing at him. “We were just at the range shooting stuff and then went for burgers.”

Castle mouths, “Tell you later” over her head to his mother, who looks delighted.

“I must be off!” she says, snatching up her handbag from where it sits on the edge of the couch. “You two kids have fun. I won’t be back until morning. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do,” she waggles her eyebrows at him.

“Mother!”

“So long!” the door shuts behind her.

“Martha says the oddest things sometimes,” Kate says, turning to him and kicking off her shoes. “What did she mean by that?”

“Oh, um,” he stammers. “Nothing.”

She gives him the Beckett look. “I’m the expert on ‘nothing.’ That’s not nothing. Come on, tell me.”

“Fine,” he says, taking a seat on the couch. She sits next to him, close enough so she can lean her head on his shoulder. “Well, as a kid, I went to a lot of different schools.”

“Because your mom’s acting required you to move around a lot?”

“Partially. I got…kicked out of most of them.”

“Why does that not surprise me?”

“Shush, you,” he says, poking her in the leg. “Do you want me to tell the story or not?”

“Yes, please. Continue.”

“So, I was at this boarding school, a particularly nasty one called Faircroft Preparatory Academy. I was probably, oh—sixteen at the time. It was in the weeks before prom, and my buddies and I were looking for something fun to do because we were bored with our classes. I came up with the idea of a prank—putting a cow on the roof of the school.”

“Oh my God, Castle,” Kate covers her mouth with her hand, staring at him. “What happened?”

He shrugs, laughing. “We did it. When the bell rang to start class at eight o’clock that morning, not a single student showed up in any of the rooms. The teachers came out to see why, and everyone was just staring up at this cow on the roof. Principal Duncan had to hire a crane to get it removed, and both he and the cow were not happy.”

“How did you get it up there?” The awe on her face is palpable.

“Trade secret,” he replies infuriatingly. “Anyways, once he got it down he called me out of the crowd and made me go in front of the whole school for a reprimand. He forced me to apologize to the entire student body for interrupting their day and for ‘defacing’ the beautiful school property.”

“Did you?” she asks skeptically.

“Sort of?” he offers. “They gave me a standing ovation and threw their stuff in the air when the cow flicked its tail in Principal Duncan’s face.”

Kate snorts and rolls her eyes. “I still don’t understand why Martha would care so much about this.”

“Just wait,” he promises. “Anyways, after he got all the students to quiet down, he ferreted out the rest of the guys who helped me with the prank. One of them let slip that I came up with the idea, so he pinned most of it on me.”

“Justifiably,” Kate points out.

“Yeah. He told me that I had to dispose of the cow and then he expelled me in front of the entire school. So I looked him in the eye, did the Vulcan Salute with my fingers, said, ‘Live long and prosper,’ picked up the rope around the cow’s neck, and walked off campus with it.” Kate’s laughing so hard now that she seems to be finding it difficult to breathe. “I had no place to take it but home, to my mother’s fifty square foot apartment.”

“Castle, I can’t believe…what did Martha say?”

“When she came home she just sighed and sat down on the bed and asked, ‘So, you got expelled again, huh?’ We couldn’t find the cow a home for three whole days, so it stayed with us. She made me swear that no future pranks would involve livestock, and after living in close proximity with the smell that cow created I readily agreed.”

“That poor cow.”

“Hey! Poor us! The cow herself didn’t seem to mind at all.”

“Uh huh,” Kate rolls her eyes at him.

“You’re cute when you roll your eyes at me,” Castle tells her, hoping to derail her with a compliment. It works.

“With you, I’m always laughing,” she spins right back.

“At my stupidity. And my man-child side.”

“A laugh’s a laugh, Castle,” she argues, pulling away slightly so she can look at him directly.

“Well then, between those two, I think I got you for the rest of our lives.” She grins and kisses him, and with an electric jolt Castle realizes her hand has snuck slowly up the seam of his jeans and is now playing with the hem of his shirt. He leans forward, deepening the kiss before pulling away and stilling her creeping hand with his own.

“Are you sure?” he asks. She’s beautiful and alluring and if he doesn’t pause this now he won’t have the willpower to do so later. She bites her lower lip, nodding. “I don’t want to hurt…” He gestures down her body feebly, vaguely indicating all three of her scars.

“Castle,” she whispers, shifting impossibly closer to him. She places a single finger on his lips. “Don’t worry about it. I just…I just want you.” It’s clear in her darkened eyes, but they’re clear, gazing at him with absolute sincerity. Kate stands, pulling interlacing her fingers in his. She leads him to the bedroom and shuts the door.


The sound of thunder and rain drops smacking into the windows wakes her in the middle of the night. For a moment she just lays there on her back, listening to the drumming of the freak July storm before turning over in bed to face him. The covers are obscuring most of his bare chest, and his mouth is open slightly as it rises and falls. As she watches him, her happiness dwindles away to be replaced with cold fear. Thunder claps, rocketing her out of the bed with images of gravestones burned into her retinas. Clothes are pulled on in a frenzy, and she dashes out the door with a jingle of keys. The elevator takes a second too long to arrive, and she sprints down the stairs so fast that are slips on a step halfway down and smacks her forehead into the concrete barrier separating the stairwells. Her hand finds the throbbing place on her skull, and when she finds no blood she’s up and running again. Kate finds herself inside Castle’s car, keys in the ignition, and all of a sudden she’s peeling away from the curb and heading out into the night. Only her years of experience driving on slick roads keep her from becoming a smoking wreck at these speeds, and she doesn’t even have a destination in mind but somehow ends up sitting on a swing set in a deserted park, freezing rain pelting her. It soaks through her clothing quickly, washing the unique blend of their sweat off her body. Castle. She grips the cold steel links of the swing in icy hands. Castle.

His dream…his dream is good. The first good one he’s had since this whole ordeal started. No shooting, no tombstones, no hangars, just Kate in all her glory. Telling him she loves him. Showing him.

He twists in his half-asleep state into a more comfortable position, reaching out a hand to stroke her skin. It meets empty air. His eyes blink open confusedly, and he registers first the clock that reads 4:41 A.M. and then the empty bedcovers beside him.

He leaps to his feet, sheets flying up haphazardly behind him. He pulls on his pants from the floor but has to hunt for his shorts, eventually finding them in a heap by the door. He opens his bedroom door and peers out into the darkness, calling, “Kate? Kate?” He’s glad neither Alexis not his mother are home to witness his panic. They wouldn’t know the significance of the night—just another night in the same bed, to them—but for Kate’s sake he’s glad they’re absent. Why tonight, of all nights? Thunder claps from above him in answer, but true terror doesn’t set in until he sees his keys missing from the rack.

No, Kate...

Where could she have gone? His first thoughts are her apartment, her dad’s cabin, Lanie’s… But none make any particular sense. Why didn’t she just wake him, turn over and tap him on the shoulder if the thunder was spooking her?

Instantly he remembers the security measures he had installed inside the car, measures to prevent anyone from stealing it. He’d gotten the idea while he researched on the CIA with Sophia Turner. He runs back into their room for his phone, unlocks it, and opens the GPS locator he’s synched with the car’s navigation system. Kate doesn’t even know there is a password to enter when the vehicle first turns on to deactivate the system, and right now he’s ever so grateful for that small mercy. The blinking red dot shows her at a small park, and he calls the town car with a racing heart. Why there? Especially in the pouring rain.

It takes ten minutes of droplets cascading down on his head on the sidewalk outside for the car to show up, and Castle thinks the back seats might take several years to dry with the amount of water he brought in. He’s soaked to the bone but not caring, and the idea of an umbrella has never crossed his mind. He gives the driver the directions, already mentally preparing himself for what he might find.

When the driver stops, Castle tosses him a hundred to wait there indefinitely, and bolts out of the car. It’s not a large playground, but through the dense rainfall he can’t see more than a few yards in front of him. As he cautiously moves forward, a dark shape looms ahead, and as he gets closer he can make out that it’s a small set of swings, and there’s a figure sitting on one of them.

“Kate!” he calls out, but she doesn’t respond, whether because of wind noise or because she’s ignoring him he doesn’t know. He reaches her, finally, and her skin is icy to his touch. “Kate, please, come on, we have to get inside.”

“No,” she says, looking at him and shaking her head profusely. “No. It was a mistake. I’m so sorry, Castle—it was a mistake.”

“Our…our having se—making love was a mistake? Why, Kate? Why would you think that?”

“Because I don’t deserve you, Castle. Because I’m broken, and you deserve someone whole.”

“Kate…” He reaches out to take her hand but she moves it out of his reach and continues as if he hadn’t interrupted.

“Rick, you’re a wonderful man. You’re an amazing father, a genius with words. You have this special ability to make me want to smile as soon as you walk into a room. Your enthusiasm is infectious, and you always know what to say to make me feel beautiful and loved and whole. But the truth is, I’m not whole, I’m damaged. And you deserve someone who can give all of that and more back to you, not someone with as much baggage as me.”

“That’s not baggage, Kate, that’s the past that makes you who you are. And it’s who you are that I’ve fallen in love with. You have lived one of the hardest lives I can imagine, and you are still making a difference and never asking for anything in return. You’re a trooper, Kate, a fighter, and your willpower and determination are unmatched. You’re incredible, extraordinary, courageous…the heights you can reach are boundless, Kate. You’re beautiful and generous and kind and you complete me. You’re the yin to my yang, the pen to my notebook, the cream to my coffee, the crew to my spaceship. Kate…you’re the one I’ve always dreamed of sharing my life with. You’re the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. ”

“But…”

“I’ve never loved someone like I love you. I can’t imagine my life without you in it.”

“Are…are you sure? I just…I keep feeling like I’m not enough. I mean, I’m just a cop with a tragic past. I don’t belong in your world, the writing, the book parties, the fans…not like Meredith and Gina would have.”

“That may have been my world,” Castle says slowly, “three years ago. But now…now my world is whichever one you’re in. I never loved Meredith or Gina, I know that now. I was only in love with the idea of a family with Meredith, and Gina and I always worked better as friends and business associates. I haven’t known true love until now, and I’m absolutely certain that you’re the one for me, the one I’ve been looking for all this time.”

Her hand finds his, and she clasps it like a lifeline. “See? You always make me feel loved.” A smile is tugging at the corners of her lips, and Castle would give a lot to see it grace the sunrise that’s breaking through the clouds and beginning to light the world behind them. “I love you too. It’s just…sometimes it becomes too much, and all I can see are my flaws. Thank you for reminding me.”

“Always,” he tells her. “Ready to go?”

She nods, a pensive look on her face. “That sounded a lot like a proposal.”

“No ring,” he points out. “But how about this: it’s a promise to propose, someday, when we’re both ready for it. Agreed?”

“Agreed.” She stands and hugs him tightly, chin resting on the crook of his shoulder. “Let’s go home.”


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