Into the Open Air
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The song was written by Alex Mandel and performed by Julie Fowlis for the motion picture Brave.
She knew it, even before she was shot. Even before knowing him. Kate Beckett built walls around her, around her heart, to protect it from getting hurt. Again. And again. And again. Ever since Johanna Beckett was murdered, she felt that everyone she loves, and will love, would leave her - her mum, Sorenson, Demming, Royce, Josh, Montgomery, even her dad. He took his wife's death hard and "left" her to grieve. She was fine with it; she got used to the feeling. Thus protected herself inside those walls. Until Richard Castle came along. And she fell. Hard.
Castle left her once, too. She was ready then, to tell him everything, to open up to him. But he knew she was with another man and he respected her choice, her decision. She wanted to forget him, to move on but try as she might, she couldn't. Then he came back. In her experience, no one came back once they left (except perhaps her father but he's an exception). Rick Castle did and for the first time, there was, is hope.
Kate thought that Castle left her again. He has every right to be, she knew that. It was her fault. She lied to him. He lied to her, too, but it was for her own good. Her anger was clouding her thoughts but deep down, her lie was far more significant - to him - than his. He threw himself in front of her to take the bullet, didn't he? He was a second too late but he never once cared about his own safety. And he admitted what he felt for her - that he loves her. But she closed everything again, because she told herself she wasn't ready for it, yet. That's why she lied. But she wanted to be more. So, ready or not, she threw herself into the open air, letting the walls crumble for the man who loves her, broken and damaged though she is, and who she loves.
Rick Castle scratched and clawed through Kate Beckett's walls. Brick by brick, even at the beginning of their relationship, he tore that cover away. The moment when the last layer needed to be torn down, the moment when she thought he would leave her forever, he proposed. And she accepted. The minute she did, Castle became Beckett's wall because with him, she is safe. Always.
Richard Castle also has walls but he knew that like he, Kate will see though it. She was the only one who he let in further than anyone else in his life. And just as he, he knew that she will be there once it crumbles.
It had been three years since that fateful day, the day which they should have been one, originally. Not everything went to plan but they managed. Another obstacle overcame. They now have a son, Thomas, which Kate thanks is at least a normal name and not Cosmo, as Castle said he wanted. They have been open to each other, although there are still minor secrets, thin sheets, that need to be there. And right now, Beckett is dealing with one.
Thomas is crying his heart out and Beckett is getting frustrated. She can't figure out what he wants. She had already fed, burped, and gently bounced him but he is still crying. She had already changed his diaper, twice, to see if he'll stop but the baby is still crying, his face getting redder by the minute.
"Honey! I'm ho-," Castle called upon opening the loft's door but stopped mid-sentence. He had just finished his book tour for the latest Derrick Storm graphic novel.
"Kate! Kate!" he shouted for his wife over the noise of the baby's cries. He found her hiding behind his favourite armchair, herself crying.
"Hey, honey," he said, joining her, sitting beside her. The baby had quieted down a bit and is peering in between the bars of his crib. "What happened?"
Kate looked at him, tears staining her cheeks.
"I thought I was ready," she sobbed.
"Ready for what?" asked Castle, confusion etched on his ruggedly handsome face.
"Him," his wife nodded towards the crib in front of her. "I thought when we have a baby, it will all turn out fine, that I'll learn. But obviously, I'm not. If I were, I know what's wrong with him."
It dawned on Rick then that Beckett is still scared that she isn't a great mother. He put his arms around her and let her lean on his shoulder, giving her comfort. Little Thomas looks at them with interest, witnessing something he'll discover will last years later.
"Hey," Rick said, tucking a loose strand of hair behind Beckett's ear. "You're doing great." And he means it.
"Castle-," Beckett started to explain but Rick stopped her.
"I know you're scared and that you haven't been around babies much, except for Benny, but you are doing great. Every first-time mother feels scared, thinking what if they accidentally drop their baby, but they learn. All of us learn. Mums, dads, brothers, sisters, everyone. There is no one in this world who doesn't. We were all babies once and we all had someone look after us."
Beckett tilted her head a bit so she can see her husband's expression. He is smiling.
"But what if I'm not at par with how my mum raised me?" she asked. "Or how you raised Alexis?"
"Motherhood is not a competition, Kate," Castle said. "Whether you think you're lousy or you think you're great, you are still a mother and you still care about your baby. I'm gone for a few days and he's still breathing."
Kate chuckled and disentangled herself from her husband's embrace to properly look at him. He continued explaining.
"Meredith was never there when Alexis was little but it doesn't mean she's a bad mother. She's lousy at it but she still cares for our daughter. If she hadn't-"
Castle looked at Kate intently, her understanding what he meant.
She smiled at him and said, "That's why I married you."
Castle smiled back and kissed her on the lips. When they parted for air, Beckett realised that it had gone quiet.
"Thomas stopped crying," she whispered.
Both looked at the crib to see their six-month-old baby looking at them, big, blue orbs shining with what's left of his tears.
"You're right," he mused. "But why?"
"Come to think of it," Beckett said. "He slowed down the moment he saw you."
Castle stood up and went over to his son's crib.
"Oh, wee one," he said. "You're going to give your mummy a nervous breakdown and your big sister a run for her money. You just missed daddy just like I missed you and mummy!"
Thomas gurgled and laughed as Castle picked him up. Looking at father and son, Beckett couldn't have been more proud.