The First Brick In The Wall
For Panda who had the brilliant idea in the first place
Disclaimer - no copyright infringment intended. All characters property of abc and Marlowe the Great and Powerful
Spoiler warning - spoilers for 5 x 18 "The Wild Rover"
A New York City morning - the white light streaming in through the windows of the loft, illuminating the breakfast bar where Kate Beckett stood awaiting her first cup of coffee of the day. It was a Saturday and she was on-call, but with her phone so far blissfully silent she looked forward to a lazy breakfast with Castle.
As he placed the mug in front of her, she said "Do you want to grab a bite to eat?" Her stomach had been protesting ever since she got up.
"Actually, it's not food that I'm craving" he replied, approaching her with an expression which could only be described as lustful. He had noticed she had on a brilliant blue top, much lower-cut that she usually wore. If he stood at just the right angle, he could sneak a peek at the black lacy top of her bra.
Her first reaction was to take him there, on the breakfast bar, the cool marble against her back and the weight of him pressing her into.....but no, there was something she wanted to address with him this morning, something that had kept her awake all last night and something which created a dark, pressing feeling in her chest. She just didn't quite know how to start.
"Ahhh, erm, ahhhh, no"
Inarticulate stuttering Kate, way to go. Great way to start a conversation, she thought. Fortunately, Castle made his own interruption.
"What? Is it.....?" He lifted a hand to his lips, indicating his coffee breath.
"No, no, it's not that" Castle was by now looking more that a little confused - he thought Beckett may just have turned down ridiculously hot morning sex with him.
Maybe this isn't the right time to be discussing this, mused Kate. Clearly thoughts of sexy morning liaisons with Castle were clouding her judgment. "It's nothing" she added.
"No, no - I happen to be an expert on nothing - this.....this is not nothing" Castle approached her again as she took a fortifying gulp of coffee, feeling the hot liquid run a trail down her throat. The look in his eyes had turned to one of concern.
"OK, fine, um....." She put down the coffee mug and turned to him "Do you know you talk in your sleep sometimes?"
The look of confusion was now self-evident on Castle's face. No going back now, she thought - best to just press on regardless. "Well, last night you said a name"
"Ohhhhhhhhhh" Castle was rendered temporarily speechless - he could see where this was going all too clearly now. "And not your name I'm guessing?" He flinched. How could he? He'd known he used to talk in his sleep sometimes - his mother had told endless "amusing" stories to various friends of his childhood ramblings, but Kate had never mentioned it before. He mentally gave himself a headslap - to utter another woman's name while he was in bed with the most amazing, remarkable, beautiful creature he had ever set eyes on! It seemed almost impossible. Time to backpedal as fast as possible - rescue mission to be launched immediately. "Well, I wouldn't read anything into one random utterance" He tried to nonachalantly take a sip of coffee.
"Fourteen utterances" said Kate, without meeting his eyes.
He nearly choked. FOURTEEN!
"And the name was Jordan. You said it over and over again." she added.
Castle felt like a tonne weight had landed on his chest. That name was one which he hadn't heard in a long time, the lovely FBI Agent Jordan Shaw excepted. But the Jordan he knew before was part of a nightmare. He stepped back from Kate, feeling the sudden urge to put distance between them, to stop her entering that part of his life - the part he didn't want to relive.
Kate looked him in the eyes "Who's Jordan?" She tried to keep the tone of her voice light, almost teasing, but she hadn't missed the colour draining from his face or the way he had backed away from his previous position. Her anxiety heightened another level.
"I've no idea" Castle looked at the floor, avoiding her gaze.
Oh no, she thought, you're not getting out of it that easily. She remembered all the times Castle had tried to wheedle information out of her - about her life before they met, about her likes and dislikes - how he used humour to extract more information than she had really been willing to give. Turning this tactic on him, she put some mock indignation in her voice when she said "Is it a woman?"
"No" the word was out of his mouth almost before she had finished the question. "It's nothing" he turned away, towards the refridgerator, desperate to avoid any further exploration of this particular conversation. His mind was whirling - it was so long ago that he had even thought of that name.
"Castle. I know nothing. Nothing is a dear friend of mine, and this, this is not nothing" Kate waved her hand towards him to emphasise the point. She was now really worried - he was clearly avoiding the subject and she was convinced that it wasn't over a woman. His response had assured her of that.
"Yes, it is. Besides, most of what I say is meaningless. Why would it be any different while I'm asleep?" Castle felt a wave of relief wash over him as Kate's phone rang, the high-pitched alarm piercing some of the fog which seemed to have recently enveloped his brain.
Kate raised her finger, indicating towards him. "We're not done here" and turned her attention to her phone. "Beckett.....yeah.....text me the address.....we'll be there in 20 minutes" She hung up. "Espo. Body downtown."
Castle felt a guilty wave of relief for the appearance of a dead body to draw a line under this conversation.
"Come on, Castle." She beckoned him towards the front door to grab her coat and boots. "But we ARE gonna talk about this later"
He fervently hoped not.
The case had dragged on for three days - three days in which Ryan's past had come back to haunt him. There had been a time when Kate had feared for the future of his marriage to Jenny, but despite that, at the end of the case, they had gone home together, to talk over the revelations of his previous relationships and how they would go forward, as a couple.
Kate lay in bed, exhausted but determined to get to the bottom of Castle's nightime ramblings. During the case, they hadn't shared a bed - he'd slept at his place and she at hers - the extended hours at the precinct playing havoc with their sleep schedules. She couldn't help but wonder if the unearthing of Ryan's past was mirrroring in some way Castle's own experiences. She sighed and turned on her side to face Castle who was sat up beside her casting an eye over the latest chapter of Nikki Heat's adventures.
She placed a hand on his bare chest. "Castle"
He looked over at her - his eyes twinkling. "Yes, Beckett" He was exhausted too, but he could already feel the frisson of arousal in his body.
"No, Castle" She swatted him in the chest gently, but still enough to elicit a wounded "Ow!" from the man beside her.
"Castle, I want to talk to you, really talk to you about the other night - I want to know who Jordan is. I don't care if it's embarrasing, or if it's another woman, or if you don't want to talk about it. I want to talk about it." She changed tack. "I'm worried about you"
He sighed and put down the manuscript pages. He'd known this conversation was coming for three days, and yet he still wasn't sure how to start it. Kate's eyes were gazing at him, open, loving and gentle and he made his decision there and then to tell her. "Do you remember I once told you a story?"
Flashback - 3 years previously
Castle dropped into his customary seat beside Beckett's desk, trying to wind down after a long case.
Beckett was finishing up the last of the paperwork, no doubt taking twice as long due to his interruptions. She sat down in her seat, clasping her hands on the desk in front of her. "You know, you still haven't told me where your fascination with murder came from" she said, referencing their earlier conversation. She was eager to learn more about the man Richard Castle, and not just the writer of her favourite novels. He had been following her around for months and she felt like she had learned practically nothing.
He took a steadying breath and turned to face her "I was five years old. We were summering in the Hamptons. I was pretty much left to my own devices" He gave a small smile. Kate could almost see the young boy left to roam the beaches and coves, creating his own adventures using nothing but his imagination.
She found herself being drawn into the story, leaning forward to catch the next part.
He sighed "This one day, I was walking along the beach. I was miles from where I started" He smiled at the memory of those seemingly endless trails of sand. "I was just about to turn back when I saw something had washed up on the beach. I thought, maybe it's a whale, or a turtle or a sealion"
Kate smiled, wondering where this was going.
"So I ran over to see what it was" He was looking over her shoulder now, avoiding her gaze.
"What was it?" She prompted.
He paused "It was a boy.....my age.....it was our housekeeper's son"
Kate looked away and bowed her head - in her line of work, she sadly was too familiar with the sight of a small body, but knew that to a five year old boy, it surely would have been devastating.
"It must have just happened" His voice was softer now, pausing painfully, as if he was dragging the memory up from somewhere long buried. "'Cos the tide hadn't washed away the blood." He paused again, then raised his eyes to look at her "We had just played hide-and-go-seek the day before."
"What happened to him?" She almost felt guilty for asking, but needed to hear the conclusion to the story.
Castle swallowed "They never found out"
"And his name was Jordan" Castle whispered into Kate's hair as she laid on his chest, gently stroking her hand up and down his bicep as he recounted the story to her again.
"You know, I always had a feeling that story was real, even though you tried to tell me it wasn't" She murmured. "There was something in your eyes"
Castle sighed again, his breath tickling the crown of her head. "I haven't thought about him in years. I had nightmares for weeks at the time. Mother brought me straight back to the city after the funeral, but we never talked about it again"
Kate changed position so that she could look into his eyes, those piercing blue eyes which could make her weak at the knees with a look, but were now clouded with the mists of time and remembrance. "When did you start having the nightmares again?" she asked, her fears already confirmed.
"After I got back from Paris with Alexis" he replied. "I came so close to losing her, Kate, I just....." his voice trailed off, his throat constricted by unshed tears.
Kate had known this was coming. From her own experiences, she knew that feelings couldn't just be boxed away and forgotten about - she now knew, and she had learnt it the hard way, that sooner or later those feelings were going to have to be dealt with. She lifted herself off Castle's body, sitting up in the bed, the sheets twisted around her legs. Reaching for him, she turned his face to look at her. "I'm so sorry Castle. I'm so sorry you and Alexis had to go through that. I would have done anything to stop that happening" She deliberately didn't reference his meeting with his long-lost and previously unknown father, not wanting to further cloud the issue. "But it did happen and now you have to deal with the consequences"
His face contorted into a grimace and he opened his mouth to say something. She jumped in before he could start "But I will be here, Castle - I promise you I'm not going anywhere. Sometimes I look at you and I remember how little I really know about you. You know so much about me - you've seen me at my worst, you've fought for me, you've saved my life more times that I can count and I want to be there for you, for the good times and the bad"
She knelt up, pressing her forehead against his and whispered "Because Castle, that's what people who love each other do"
A grin split his face. "Kate....."
She smiled and moved down to once again rest her head against his chest, the sound of his heartbeat strong in her ears. As they both drifted off to sleep, she knew then that she had begun to break down the wall, the wall that sheltered the real Richard Castle, the man she loved.