Hey! I've never commented on any of your stories before, but I just wanted to let you know you're one of my favorite writers! Could you write a story about this one too? I know you'll make it great! Kate tells Castle her life is not his personal jungle gym. He takes it to heart and after he starts working with her again, he's careful to be polite and respectful around her, and it drives her nuts! Thank you!
He turns, startled by the close of her hand around his wrist, catching him before he can go, promptly at six o’clock. He doesn’t stay late with her like he used to, doesn’t try to invade her personal space or flirt with her or convince her to go with him for dinner at Remy’s. He just… shows up when she calls about a murder and leaves once the case is over, and she never thought that would bother her.
“Beckett?” he returns, her name like a question, but there’s concern in his eyes, dragging down his brow, taking a piece of her heart with it, because he never calls her Kate anymore.
Not since she’d nearly died in his arms with his body hovering above her, his words seeping with her blood into the cemetery grass.
I love you, Kate.
“You okay?” he asks, his eyes flickering to the fingers still curled at his wrist, his body shifting closer to her, and yes, that’s what she wants.
He’s been here with her, but lately, he’s felt so far away, ever since they had started working together again, since they had found a tentative truce at the swings. She had expected them to grow closer, not drift apart. Had he - had he not understood her?
I’m not going to be able to have the kind of relationship I want (the with you had been unspoken but heavily implied) until that wall comes down.
It’s only been a few weeks since she had said those words, done her best to explain herself, but that wall was already under construction, progress being made day by day. But maybe he didn’t want to wait around throughout the demolition period.
“You - is everything okay with you?” she answers his question with her own, knowing she should let go of his wrist. They’re in the break room, shielded from the eyes of those left on the homicide floor, but they were supposed to be waiting - at least she was - and unnecessary contact certainly didn’t send the right message.
She just really likes the sensation of his pulse beneath her fingertips, even when it’s rioting like it is now.
“Of course,” Castle assures her, even throws in a smile for her, but it lacks his usual glimmer of conviction. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
Kate purses her lips, drops her gaze to his chin, hates how utterly pathetic the next words out of her mouth are likely to sound, but-
“You never… stay anymore,” she murmurs, swallowing down her nerves. “I know things - changed, after my shooting, but I thought-“
“Beckett,” he sighs, but she squeezes his wrist.
“Did I ever properly apologize?” she inquires softly, remembering calling a ‘sorry’ out to him when he’d tried to walk away from her at his book signing, but maybe that didn’t count, wasn’t enough. “Words won’t fix things, it’s going to take time, I know that, but I - Rick, I hope you know I’m-“
“Kate,” he breathes out and the knot in her chest loosens ever so slightly. “I don’t need an apology, I’m just - trying to respect your wishes.”
Her brow furrows and she returns her gaze to his, studies the troubled blues of his eyes in confusion. “What wishes?”
Castle shakes his wrist free of her grasp and scrapes his hand through his hair while her fingers mourn the loss.
“You were right, last spring, before… the night before,” he begins, something painful flashing through his eyes, turning his irises a pale blue, dulled edges of silver, and the scar that sits fresh in the middle of her chest pulls tight. “Your life is not my personal jungle gym and I’m sorry for ever treating it like one.”
For a second, her mind draws a blank before it all comes rushing in, flushing through her skull so fast, she has to sift through the vivid memories of their last fight, their worst fight, to remember what he’s even talking about.
She may have offered an apology for the summer, but she had never given him one for that brutal argument, the biting words, had she?
For the past three years, I have been running around with the school’s funniest kid, and it’s not enough.
“You should have been treated with respect and I-“
“Castle,” she cuts off his rambling with the press of her fingertips to the headache swelling between her brows. “I was angry that night, scared,” she admits, lowering her hand so she can meet his eyes, treat him with the respect he deserves. “And I said some things that I didn’t mean and - wait, is that why you’ve been acting so weird?”
“Weird?” he repeats on a huff. “I’ve been trying to be more polite, respectful, better-“
“No,” she protests that last one immediately, vehemently, shaking her head and taking a step closer, just a breath away from brushing his chest with her own. The closest they’ve been in a long time. “Castle, I don’t want - I just want you. The you I know and - care about.“
Castle’s brow hitches and his lips spill into a gentle smile, but there’s no teasing tainting his features, no amusement tugging at his mouth or filling his eyes. No, he looks… relieved and - and happy. So happy.
“Yeah? Because I’ve missed you,” he breathes, so tender, the lines of his face loosening, no longer so tight with the strain of his apparent strive for good behavior.
She wants to hug him, this sweet man who had been trying so hard for her, for such a terrible reason, and friends, lovers in waiting, can hug, can’t they?
Kate snags his hand, reclaims it, and tugs him into her, bands her arms around his neck before she can lose her nerve. Castle is broad and solid against her, warm and wonderful, even better when his arms tentatively wrap around her torso, embrace her.
“I missed you too,” she murmurs, her lips just barely brushing his jaw, triggering a shudder through his frame. “Don’t… drift away again, okay?”
His arms tighten around her and it causes her incision scars to ache, stretched taut, but it feels too good to move, too good when the cinch of his arms eradicates the bloom of her insecurities, her fears and uncertainties.
“Don’t worry, Beckett. You’re stuck with me.”