Word Count: about 2800
Spoiler alert: S4 Finale "Always"
Summary: Sometimes all you want is a hand to hold. Kate Beckett, Richard Castle, and a conversation the morning after the season four finale ends. In chapter two, Jim Beckett makes his own statements on the matter.
Author's Notes: I had thought that the story was complete, but I might have been jumping the gun a bit. Someone had brought up the idea that Castle's little line could have caused a bit of unneeded worry on the part of Beckett's father, and the muse just couldn't let it be. So here's part two, in which Beckett tells her dad. About some things, at least. Not all of them. Not yet. Remember, feedback is love, and any tips and critiques you have to help me improve my stories are always appreciated. More author's notes about the future of this story after the fic...
Thank you for reading!
Okay, so maybe telling Esposito to call Beckett’s dad wasn’t the best idea Castle had ever had. After the third missed call Beckett finally picked up to reassure him that everything was fine. Seriously, it was fine, but how about if she brought dinner over to his place tonight so they could talk? Jim agreed to that, and so any plans Castle had even been thinking about making for that evening had been quickly shelved before he was even able to bring them up. It wasn’t quite as jarring as it could have been, but the delightful spell of that morning was beginning to dissipate with the storm clouds outside.
“I probably should let him know about what’s going on.” Beckett sighed and hunched over the kitchen counter, sipping at her mug of coffee. “I have no idea how he’s going to take it.”
Castle reached out to rub a hand across her upper back. “I honestly don’t know what he’ll say.”
She straightened up and leaned into Castle’s chest. “Only one way to find out, I guess.”
By that point Beckett’s clothes had dried out (mostly – the leather jacket was still a bit squishy), so she gathered up her things and got herself ready to face the world once more. As they stood by the door where everything had started the night before, it took a few more minutes to rouse themselves out of the lassitude that was still there. “What time is Alexis getting back?” Beckett asked eventually, looking up at Castle.
“About half an hour, I think.”
Her eyes darted around the room quickly, but what she was looking for Castle couldn’t be sure of. “Well, at least we didn’t make too much of a mess of the place.”
“Except for the part where your top ended up on top of the lampshade.”
“Yeah, that one was all you.”
“I do not deny that I was a bit eager last night.”
“You weren’t the only one.” She leaned in close, tilting her head and pointing a finger at the base of his neck. “You’ve got a bit of a bruise right there.”
Castle’s eyes widened and he clamped a hand over the spot she was pointing at. His head twisted wildly about, looking for the closest mirror. He was about to run for it when he noticed Beckett starting to snicker under her breath. “You are too easy,” she said.
“You’re very funny.” Now, it was Castle’s turn to smirk. “If I had time I’d exact my revenge in very creative ways, but I’d need more than half an hour. That and I really don’t want to traumatize Alexis any more than she’s already been growing up with me and Mother.” He frowned quickly. “And I really wouldn’t want to risk Mother walking in on that either. Discretion isn’t one of her strong points.”
Beckett reached out and took his hands, encouraging Castle to lift one of them up and brush a kiss against the bruises on her knuckles. She smiled and leaned forward, resting her forehead against his shoulder. “Thank you,” she said.
“For being there. For everything else.” She sighed, and he could just about feel it brushing against his skin. “And now I’ve really got to run. I’ll call you tonight. Maybe we can meet up later…?” she trailed off, letting the unspoken question linger in the air.
“Sounds like a plan.”
Beckett knocked at the door to her father’s apartment, juggling the bag full of steaming hot food and hoping that she wouldn’t drop it on the floor. When Jim opened the door she smiled and motioned with the tenuously balanced sack. “I brought Chinese.”
“Smells delicious, Katie,” Jim said, opening the door wider so Beckett could slip inside. Out of habit, she glanced around the apartment. It wasn’t the same place that she had grown up in; her dad had moved out of there not long after he’d cleaned himself up and stopped drinking. Over the years, however, he’d managed to make it feel comfortable and inviting. It wasn’t quite the same as returning to the familiarity and comfort of a childhood home, but there was a nice feeling of ‘this-is-new’ about the place.
She placed the bag on the table, and within a couple of minutes she and Jim were tucking into their meals. Boxes and cartons of meats, rice, and noodles were spread across the table, ready for refills whenever they needed. “So what’s going on, Katie?” Jim asked a few mouthfuls of food in.
Beckett carefully laid her chopsticks to the side of her plate and paused for a moment. She could do this. All she had to do was tell her dad that she’d quit her job. ‘Come on, girl,’ she thought. ‘If you could be brave last night, you can do it again now. And look how well last night turned out.’ Beckett had to fight to keep her face straight as images from the night before darted through her mind, and she hoped like hell she wasn’t blushing in front of her father. That would really do her in. Then the thought of why yesterday had turned out like it did rose up to the top, and she sobered up fast. How would her dad feel to know that she was that much closer to finding out information about who had killed her mother and she had let it slip right through her fingers? She could only hope that he wouldn’t hate her for it.
“Uh…I found out who the sniper was that had shot me. He’d been hired because I got too close to Mom’s case. He knew so much…” Beckett sighed, and fiddled with the chopsticks, the little sticks making quiet clicking noises as they scraped against the tabletop. “I was so close to taking him down and…he got away. I let that bastard get away.”
Jim put his own chopsticks down and stared intently at his daughter. “Did he hurt you again?” he finally asked.
Beckett couldn’t quite interpret his expression. Her dad’s face was carefully blank, to the point where if he’d ever trotted it out during a poker game he’d end up ruling the entire table. Still, she figured it wouldn’t be wise to tell him all of the details of what happened. He didn’t need to know that his daughter was literally about a finger away from dying. “He tried,” Beckett said, swallowing convulsively. “But I couldn’t go after him. I let him get away.” ‘You let him get away because you were thinking about Castle.’ It was a seismic shift in thought patterns, internal continents sliding and crashing into each other until a new being existed. She was surprisingly comfortable with this change, but she wasn’t sure how her dad would take it.
“Good?” Okay, that wasn’t exactly what she was expecting to hear.
“It’s not a hard choice, Katie,” Jim said. “I’d rather see you healthy and having dinner here with me than stuck in the hospital again – or worse.” He clutched at his glass and sipped at the seltzer water inside. For a quick moment Beckett wondered if he was wishing it was something stronger given how tightly he was squeezing the glass.
“You don’t think I’m letting Mom down?” she blurted out.
“Do you want me to say that I think – or that your mother would think – that you should sacrifice yourself to find the answers?”
In a way, something had almost been sacrificed, Beckett thought. She had been willing to go so far off of the book to get these guys that she was playing faster and looser with the law than Johanna would have ever approved of. And in that one moment, when she had tumbled over the edge and was about to fall, everything had been thrown into stark sharpness. That this current state of anger and revenge wasn’t what she wanted out of her life. That what she really wanted had been right there in front of her for years, and that maybe that last chance she always believed would be there had come and gone, and that she was too late. Maybe she was searching for absolution, for forgiveness that her mother wasn’t the first and last thing on her mind in those moments. “I don’t know,” Beckett said, shrugging lamely. She wasn’t the one with the words in this game, her brain piped up impishly.
Jim reached across the table and squeezed her hand tightly. “I’ve almost lost you to your mother’s case before. I didn’t exactly like it, and I didn’t think your mother would have either, but you can be kind of, well, willful and stubborn.”
Beckett winced, her whole body slumping over a bit. Words like that had been used to describe her a lot lately. If her dad had brought out the word ‘maddening’ too she really would have lost it. Instead, Jim just chuckled and squeezed her hand tightly once more. “If I’d told you no,” he continued, “you wouldn’t have listened anyway. Not at that point in time. If you backing away from these people means you’re going to be here with me for a good long time, I’m okay with that. And wherever your mother’s watching from right now, I know she’s thinking the same thing.”
She straightened up and looked directly at Jim. “If you really didn’t like me pursuing the case, why didn’t you at least try to tell me as much?”
“Should I repeat what I just said about stubborn?”
“Sometimes, Katie, we have to let our kids make their own decisions and make their mistakes in the process. Part and parcel of being a parent.”
Beckett nodded, pursing up her lips. She briefly thought that their food was getting cold, but the opening Jim had provided in the conversation was too perfect to pass up. “Yeah, speaking of making decisions…”
“I, um, I resigned from the force yesterday.”
Jim sat back and blinked a couple of times. “Okay, that was probably the last thing I had expected to hear from you tonight.”
This time, Beckett smiled slightly. “I know it seems out of the blue. It was a little bit for me, too. But I realized that my life was going in directions I didn’t want it to, and I think that this may be the right path.”
Jim imitated Beckett’s pursed lips of a few moments before, a shared father-daughter trait. She could tell he was thinking hard, that she had really caught him off guard with this one. “What are you going to do now?”
“I have no idea,” Beckett said. “But I’ve got some money saved up; I’ll be all right until I decide what to do next. Who knows, maybe I’ll apply to law school.”
Jim picked up the chopsticks, forked down a mouthful of orange beef, and grimaced slightly. It had obviously gone cold. “Now I am going to give you some fatherly advice. Before you go any further, think this through long and hard.”
“It’s too late, Dad. I already told Gates I was done.”
“Did you sign any paperwork?”
“Well, no, but – “
“Then it’s not too late.” He pointed his chopsticks in her direction. “Just because you’re moving on from your mother’s case doesn’t mean you have to stop being a police officer.”
Beckett sighed, leaned back in her chair, and crossed her arms over her chest. She didn’t mean to act like a petulant five-year-old, but sometimes the actions snuck out anyway. ‘Especially if your dad has a point that you’ve been avoiding for the past twenty-four hours,’ the internal imp piped up again. “I hadn’t intended on being a cop in the first place, so maybe I’m just finding my way back towards where I was always meant to go.”
“Maybe being a cop was where you were meant to go,” Jim fired back, still waving the chopsticks in the air. Because from everything I’ve seen you’re damn good at it. Especially when you’re working with Castle. Do you really want to let all of that go?”
“Dad, I’m not – “
He cut her off again. “It’s all right, you don’t have to answer. Just promise me you’ll think about it.”
Beckett smiled at him and straightened up. If only he knew about her ‘partnership’ with Castle and where that was going. Still, she’d fill him in on that one another time, feeling like she’d already hit him with enough developments tonight. “I promise.”
“Good. Now let’s enjoy this food, which should probably be reheated I think.”
Beckett laughed at that, and grabbed the plates to take up to the microwave.
As Beckett was walking out of her dad’s place later that evening, she sent the following text message: Dinner’s done, on my way back. It was interesting. Meet me at mine?
Beckett was pacing back and forth in her living room, going in rapid circles that were starting to make Castle, who was perched on the edge of her couch, slightly dizzy. “Do you think I was a little hasty in resigning just like that?” she asked, finally getting to the point after a brief rundown of the dinner.
“I…it’s so not my call to make,” Castle said hesitantly, feeling like he was wading into a potential minefield and if he treaded wrong the resulting explosion would take his head off – and not in the good way either.
“Oh, come on, Castle, you’ve got to have some ideas.”
“What would Nikki Heat do then? Come on, think of it as inspiration for a future book.”
Castle leaned back into the corner of the couch and gave her a look. Granted, he wasn’t as good at the looks as Beckett herself was, but he had some skills when he needed them. “As you’ve said multiple times, you’re not Nikki Heat. Now please, sit down.” He patted the couch cushion next to him and gave a waggle of his eyebrows.
Beckett rolled her eyes, but she still smiled a bit and made her way over to the couch. Castle stretched his arm out and wrapped it around her shoulders, feeling briefly like a teenager putting the moves on a girl at a movie theatre. “I honestly have no clue what you should do. Personally, I’d like to wrap you in bubble wrap to make sure you’re protected at all times – or at least tie you to the bed – “
“You have a very dirty mind.”
“This is news?”
“No, not really. Continue.”
“What I was going to say is while I’d love for you to be doing something that I know is going to be totally safe, if going back to the 12th is what’s going to make you happy then I’m not going to say no.” Castle glanced over at her, seeing her head leaning against his shoulder and her eyes staring hazily off into the distance. “If you start digging into your mother’s case again, then yeah, I’ll have a few words to say. Nothing you haven’t heard before, but I’ll repeat myself again until it sinks into that stubborn head of yours. But if you want to go back to being a cop, then you should do it.”
Beckett reached up and grabbed the hand that was wrapped around her shoulders. “I have a lot to think about, don’t I?” she said.
“I’d say that’s an understatement.”
She tilted her head and looked up at him, looking surprisingly innocent. “Can I think about it in the morning?”
“Well, you’ve had a long day; I think you’re entitled to a little rest.”
Beckett nodded, eyes darting quickly around the room. Then, she shrugged off Castle’s arm, twisted to face him, and rose to her knees. She leaned forward, bracing her arms on the couch on either side of Castle. “Remember how I said not too long ago ‘I am still here and I am ready’?”
Castle smirked up at her, his hands stealing up to wrap themselves around her waist and sneak underneath the hem of her shirt. “It rings a bell, yes.”
Beckett grinned widely, her face coming closer to his. “I think I found what I really intended with that statement,” she whispered before pressing a quick kiss to the corner of his mouth.
“I think we should reinterpret that phrase,” Castle whispered back as pulled her close, kissing her deeply and fully, the way he’d been wanting to since she left his loft that morning.
Needless to say, they didn’t make it off the couch that night.
A/N, part two: Honestly, I would like to continue this story. I'm having far too much fun playing in this brand new world that Castle has opened up for us, and considering that it's gotten me writing for the first time in close to a year, I can't let that go. What I'm having a problem with is trying to decide what direction to take the story in. Do I keep it a series of character vignettes, or do I aim for an actual plot line that continues on these two scenes? So I ask my readers - what do you think? Where do you want to see this go? As of right now I'm leaning toward vignettes, but I'm open to other options. Let me know in the comments, and we'll work from there. :) Thanks again for reading!