Summary: When “the question” hangs in the air between them, is the answer for Kate and Rick as simple as yes or no? A continuation to the season 5 finale.
A/N I know probably every fic writer out there is writing something to follow up the season 5 cliffhanger, but I just couldn’t leave it hanging all summer and had to bring a little bit of resolution to my mind about the entire matter. Thanks for reading and hopefully reviewing, I’d love to see what you think too.
Disclaimer: I do not own Castle, or any of it’s characters. I simply play with them and put them back on the shelf, just as I found them.
“A Page Turned”
“What?” It was barely a whisper but it took all she had, since every molecule of air had just been sucked from her lungs.
Rick swallowed and rocked slightly as he readjusted his weight that was pressing his knee into the grass, but he never blinked or broke the intensity of his stare. His left hand found hers, taking her trembling fingers. His right hand, which presented her with an exquisite diamond ring, shook. He licked his lips. “Will you marry me, Kate?”
Hearing the question a second time didn’t make things any clearer for her, as a million thoughts bombarded her mind. A billion feelings that she couldn’t name, threatened to swallow her whole. Only moments earlier, she’d been on the verge of tears, certain that he was breaking up with her, feeling punched in the gut like she had three years earlier, when she’d been ready to go to the Hamptons with him, only to find out the offer had already been filled. Now he was asking her to be his wife! Mental images of two other time where he’d held an engagement ring out to her flashed in her mind’s eye, and a part of her wanted to believe this was just as absurd as before, but she knew it wasn’t. His eyes were fraught with determination, uncertainty and hope. His palm was clammy and she could see his pulse throbbing under his collar as he waited for her answer.
She opened and closed her mouth but no words escaped. No acceptance. No denial. Just stunned silence.
This was not how she pictured him proposing, not that she’d allowed herself to fantasize about this moment often, but it just didn’t feel like what she thought he’d plan. Yes, it was as simple and intimate as she’s dreamed, but weren’t they still somewhat fighting only minutes earlier? Why would he do this now? Was he so afraid of losing her that he thought this was the only way she’d stay? No, that couldn’t be it though, he’d said, no matter what she decided.
Kate drew a deep breath, filling her lungs with the warm spring air of the urban park, fragrant with the scents of flowers, take-out food and car exhaust, which was refreshing in its own familiar way. She noticed people on the perimeter of their private little world were beginning to pause and gather, curious about the scene unfolding in front of them. She squeezed Rick’s large hand and offered a half smile as she reached for his other hand, which still held the ring, “Let take a walk.”
The unexpected answer caused Castle’s shoulders and face to drop, “I ask you to marry me and you want to take a walk? It’s OK, Kate. I understand.” Hurt and disappointment oozed from his stoic words, and stabbed her in the heart.
He began to stand and she did as well, making sure not to let him pull away. “No Castle, I don’t think you do. Please, we need to talk more first.”
Rick met her eyes again and saw the sincerity in their hazel pools. His response was long in coming, but eventually he agreed, although with some palpable resistance, “Yeah, OK.”
Hand in hand, the couple made their way down the nearby path. A few strangers continued to watch them, but for the most part, onlookers had returned to their business, no longer intrigued.
Silence hung in the air for several minutes before Kate spoke. “You’re right, ya know. I don’t let people in. But you’re not “people”. You’re,” she paused while choosing her words, “You’re a part of me, Rick, and I love you, and keeping things like this from you, was wrong. Saying that’s who I am, isn’t really an excuse any more. Especially since part of why I didn’t tell you was because I was afraid.”
He stopped walking and faced her. “Of what?”
“Of… of everything! Of what it would mean for me, for us. We’ve had this unique, evolving relationship for five years and we never talk about it. This year that we’ve been together has been so wonderful, but we’ve never talked about a future. Have we reached the top? Do you want more? Do I want more? If it is going somewhere, where do we see this going? Marriage? Kids? What about our careers? I may not be a detective forever. You might not want to write Nikki Heat for the rest of your life, what then? Do we have more than that? Do you want more than that? I’ve been asking myself these questions for weeks… ever since the bomb.”
“Why didn’t you talk to me about it?” Castle asked.
“I tried… sorta. Things just never worked out.” The couple began walking again, down the tree lined path. Deep in thought, she replayed everything Rick said at the swings, over and over again until it felt seared into her mind. “I want more,” she stated eventually.
Rick didn’t answer, but he continued to stare at her, waiting for her to continue.
“I got the job…”
Her only clue that he heard her, was the slight tightening in his grip on her hand.
“…But I declined.”
Castle’s brow furrowed deeply, and his full lips twitched. “But it’s what you want.”
“It’s what I wanted. Or at least what I thought I wanted. But I’m a detective and I love what I do and where I am and who I’m with. And I want that much, much more now. I realized that years of throwing myself into my job, keeping my relationships at arms length, and hiding from what you call, “the possibility of magic”, have all been decisions made mostly out of fear, and I don’t want that anymore. As tempting as that job is, for all the right reasons… I only really considered it for the wrong ones. I haven’t felt at home in my entire adult life until now. I’m at home when I’m at the 12th and I’m at home when I’m with you. Taking that job would mean sacrificing too much of that. A few years ago I would have jumped on that, but not anymore. A page has turned, I’m starting a new chapter in my life, and I don’t want to leave that all behind.”
“Kate, I don’t know what to say. As much as I want you to stay here with me, I hate to see you turn down such a golden opportunity.”
Their steps continued forward again, but now at a much slower pace than before. Slow enough that Kate could lean into Ricks side now, as they moved. “A friend once gave me some advice that I hesitated to accept. He said ‘Putting the job ahead of your heart is a mistake. Risking our heart is why we’re alive. The last thing you want is to look back on your life and wonder, if only.’ Jobs come and go Rick, but I think what we have is real, and I’m not willing to let that go.”
Again they stopped walking, but this time Rick gathered her to him in an embrace. “Does that mean you’re saying yes?”
Kate bit her lower lip and raised her gaze so that she could look into his clear, blue eyes. “It means… it means I’m not saying no. I think we need a little more time. We need to talk more, to figure out if we’re on the same page.”
There was no denying his disappointment. She could feel it radiating off him like body heat. But he didn’t let go of her or step back, instead he dropped his forehead to hers and closed his eyes. “I love you, Kate.”
“I love you too.”