12th Precinct Castle Valentine's Day FanFic Competition: All The Things You Are

Another story for our fanfic competition. Here you can find all the stories for the 12th Precinct Castle Halloween FanFic Competition. And here you can find the rules.
You can also find the stories at www.fanfiction.net for a possible easier read (blogspot doesn`t agree with word format most of the time).

Story: All The Things You Are 
Rating:  T
Words: 3488

It's not the kind of bar that gets crowded on Valentine's Day. Five steps below street level and a dank, dimly lit entry opening into a space just wide enough for a sticky bar top faced with shag carpet that's seen better decades and a handful of tables across a narrow aisle.
It's probably not the kind of bar that ever gets crowded, and that's fine with him. More than fine.
Beckett stops short and he almost plows into her. She's been forging ahead, threading through the early evening crowds while he follows blindly. He's living in 10-second increments. It's about all he has in him at the moment.
He almost plows into her. His chin jerks up and he expects to find himself on the receiving end of her trademark glare. Instead, she rests a hand on his elbow and turns sideways. He follows suit. She coaxes his elbow upward and they're both pressing their backs into one of the tables bolted to the wall, arms held out to the side, away from their bodies, to make way for a dour, grey-faced barmaid.
She herds him into one of the booths and tells him to stay put. That she'll be right back. It's weird. It's motherly, and he feels a flare of anger. At her, because the last thing—the very last thing—he wants from her is motherly. At himself, because motherly feels good right now. So does anger. So does anything but this.
He jerks his coat off his shoulders, hating the feel of it. The heat. The weight and the expense and pretense. He feels like a kid in ill-fitting hand-me-downs and wonders how he knows. How he could possibly know that feeling. He shoves the coat aside, as deep into the corner of the booth as it will go.
Out of habit he pulls a pen and his moleskine from his inside pocket and flips to the most recent page, but there's nothing. Just the guttering flame of a candle through cheap red glass and nothing else. Not a single word. He pushes the pad away. Squares the pen alongside it and tries to ignore the unfamiliar stillness of his own hands.
There's a clattering of glass as she sets the drinks down. It's loud—shockingly loud—and it's only then he realizes that there's no music and hardly any conversation to speak of.
But she's come bearing gifts. Two empty glasses and the generous end of a bottle. He looks up at her curiously. He wasn't expecting a bottle. He wasn't anticipating anything more than a quick drink. A friendly formality. He wasn't expecting anything at all, but she brought a bottle and she's already sliding in across from him. She's already pouring and he's grateful to have something to do with his hands.

"I've got a couple of hours," she repeats in answer to the question he didn't ask.
She slides her glass over the scarred table top and angles it against his. It's loud enough to draw glares from both sides of the bar. Neither the bartender or the waitress seems to welcome the intrusion of paying customers, but she doesn't seem to notice. She dips her head. Holds her glass against his until he meets her eyes.
"What are we toasting?" he asks finally as he tips his glass against hers in answer.
She thinks a moment. Stares down into the amber liquid as though it has an answer. Whatever face this is she's been wearing since she bumped her shoulder against his and called him a liar wavers for the first time. It wavers for an instant and she recovers, surer and more determined than ever.
"Truth," she says.
He nods. It's a good toast. He'd rather know than not. He'd always rather know, and that makes him feel a little less empty.
"Truth," he repeats and raises his glass. He tips the entire contents down his throat and she's there with the bottle before the bottom hits the table again.
She's only sipped hers, but she tops it off again anyway and he flashes her a smile. A cheap imitation, but no less grateful for all that. He's grateful for the company.
They're quiet for a few long minutes. He's fine with that, but she's not. He files that away for later, thinking he'll laugh at it some day. The knowledge that his silence drives her crazier than his babbling ever could.
"So," she says. She takes a bigger swallow of the scotch. "So."
He casts about for words. He has her and he wants to keep her. Because he doesn't want to be alone. Because he doesn't want her to go. Because she might if he can't find any words, but they're not there. For literally the first time he can remember, they're not there.
"So." It's bright and she grits her teeth. She takes another big swallow and she's topping off both their glasses again. "Worst Valentine's Day?"
He huffs out a laugh and gives her a look he'll regret at some point. Amused and incredulous and he'll definitely regret it at some point. "This one?"
Her eyes widen. She hadn't thought of it that way. She honestly hadn't, and she's just trying to take his mind off things and he's a brooding, privileged, self-absorbed ass, and he wouldn't blame her for getting up and walking out and he doesn't want her to. He doesn't want her to go.
His eyes burn. Scotch and humiliation and 8-year-old cigarette smoke rising up from the crackling vinyl of the booth every time either one of them moves. He blinks hard and gives up. Raises his eyes to hers in apology, but she waves it off and tops off his glass again. Not hers, he notices, but maybe that's for the best. She has a couple of hours. She doesn't have all night.
"You wanna hear mine?" she asks when the silence stretches out again.
"My worst Valentine's Day," she says in answer to the puzzled look he gives her. She kicks him under the table. "You wanna hear about it or not?"
"I do," he hears himself saying, but he's not sure it's true. He's not sure he's up for it, but he doesn't want her to go.
She senses it. She senses his reluctance. That's obvious, but he wonders how much she knows. If she realizes that he doesn't like knowing her heart is someone else's to break. That it's ever been someone else's to break.
Whatever she knows or doesn't know she starts quietly. She starts quietly and has his attention immediately. "He was a writer."

She's a great storyteller. A complete natural and he'd hate her for it if he could. If that were an option, he'd hate her.
The bottle is at her elbow, all but forgotten, and she's killing him. The pacing. The ruthless picture she paints of herself. Eighteen, stubborn, stupid, and broke. Spending a hefty chunk of her Winter quarter book allowance for a plane ticket for a long weekend. Six hours from SFO to Logan for a long weekend. Another twelve lost. Fog on her end. A snowstorm and a dead car battery on his.
But she'd made it. They'd finally made it to his parents' house on Cape Cod.
"It was like nothing I'd ever seen," she says into her glass.
Her hair falls in a curtain on either side of her face and he wants to brush it back behind her ears. He wants to see the color painting her cheeks, but he tightens his hold on his own glass and keeps his hands to himself.
"Two houses," she continues. "Two giant houses, really, and they just . . . stuck them together. Knocked out the walls in between and built out on each side. And there was this weird spiral staircase."
She twirls her finger up from the table. Traces the tight arc in the air between them and she's smiling at the memory.
He smiles back at her and it feels strange on his face. Tight and alien, but he loves the gesture. He loves when she loses the battle and talks with her hands.
"Right in the middle of the great room," she slaps her palm down on the table and gives him a look. Like she's asking if he can believe it.
He can. He can see all of it because she makes him see. She's a great storyteller.
"So?" He nudges her fingertips with his own.
He just wants to know what happens next, but the move startles her. She comes out of the moment. Out of the story and he's sorry. He's sorry for more than one reason. Because he wants to hear the rest of the story. Because he doesn't know how much time has passed. Because he doesn't want her to go.
"So what happened?" He asks. It's loud and false. He grabs the bottle and tries to cover by pouring them both a little more.
She touches her finger to the lip of her glass like she's going to wave him away. Like she's going to cut herself off. Like she's going to go. But she pulls her hand back and nods.
"What happened?" He asks again, and it sounds more like him this time. "Sounds romantic so far."
She laughs at that. Full and sincere and only a little sorry for her eighteen-year-old self. Not at all sorry for herself right now and he loves the story a little more.
"Oh, it wasn't," she tells him. "It was not romantic at all. No one had been to the house in weeks and it was freezing. He had no idea how to make the furnace work, and no one in the family was answering the phone. He built a fire and we almost burned the place down. He'd forgotten about the flue.
"And you didn't have a chimney," he breaks in. "A city girl who'd never even heard of a flue."
"You would remember that, Castle." She shoots him the tight-lipped scowl that's really a grin.
"My job," he says as he raises his glass to her briefly.
"It is," she says quietly. She gives him a real grin, then. Like she's glad he remembers. Like she's glad he still knows who he is.
He's not sure he does, but it feels like a possibility. Like he might still be a writer underneath, and that's something.
"So you didn't freeze to death or go up in flames," he prompts. "What did you do?"
She does go up in flames, then. Her cheeks do, and he's worried. He can tell she hadn't thought this far ahead. He feels warmth creep up his own cheeks in answer and the silence is terrible.
"I . . . that's," he stutters. "You don't have to tell . . ."
"We went to bed." She cuts in sharply and her fingertips just brush over his. Like she's sorry, but she's going to have to gun the motor if she's going to go on. Like she wants to go on. "It was even colder upstairs. No idea how that was even possible, but it was freezing. And . . . oh, God, I forgot . . . the lights didn't work upstairs and there's like . . . a dozen bedroom, and we're walking down this creepy hallway with a little penlight and he turns into the last one—the very last one—and it's two twin beds and cowboy wallpaper."
The detail just sends him over the edge. He doesn't even know why. If it's the scotch kicking in or the sum total of it all or the exasperated look on her face. He doesn't even know, but he's laughing hard enough that his forehead is brushing the table and she's swatting at him. Aiming her toes at his shins in half-hearted kicks, but she's laughing, too.
"Oh, Beckett," he sighs finally. He wipes his eyes. "Did you take the Tiki idol back to the island?"
She's working on a scowl, but it doesn't hold. It blooms into another grin. "No, but I nearly broke an ankle helping him push those beds together in the dark."
"At least you couldn't really see the cowboy wallpaper," he offers. He hides his smile behind his glass and half expects another kick, but she just nods.
"I was not cursing the darkness," she agrees with a laugh. But she stops, then, and her eyes drop to the table. The color is back on her cheeks and her hands are worrying a napkin all of a sudden.
He pulls back. Sits upright in the booth like he's seen something he shouldn't have. That she doesn't want him to. He sits back like he can give back her privacy. Like he wants to give her back her privacy even more than he wants to know what happens next. And he really wants to know. He really wants to know.
She stills her hands. Sweeps the shreds of the napkins into a neat pile and makes up her mind to go on. "It was so cold. And so . . . awkward."
She looks up at him and he has that feeling again. Like he's been caught listening in on her, but she tilts her head and he realizes that's not it at all. She wants him to listen. She's making sure he's listening. He nods slowly to say he is and she flashes him a tight smile.
"We hadn't . . ." she trails off. Rolls her eyes at herself and goes on. "It was nothing. Crazy jumping on a plane like that after a few drunk kisses at a New Year's party. Stupid."
"Romantic," he says. Someone has to stand up for eighteen-year-old her.
"Maybe," she says like she's really considering it. "Maybe it was at one point. But when you're alone in the dark, curled up under a cowboy quilt the romance is gone."
"Alone?" He sounds shocked. Affronted. He is. Twin beds or no—cowboy quilt or no—he can't quite believe any man would leave Kate Beckett alone.
"He didn't have any condoms." She groans and buries her face in her hands. "And I didn't . . . I didn't even really think about it. But I think maybe I thought it would look . . ."
"I do not miss those days." He shakes his head and thinks back. No change and jammed machines and awkward conversations through the crack of a dorm room door. "You couldn't pay me to be that age again."
Her face appears between her hands and she looks startled. Stricken. Like he's undone all her work with nine careless words. And it's not . . . it's true. It's true because of Damian, too, but that's not what he meant.
He reaches out for her hand. Before he even realizes what he's doing, he reaches for her hand and wraps his fingers around hers and squeezes. She gets it. She gets it right away and squeezes back. They linger like that a moment, then their hands fall away.
Their hands fall away, but he can still feel her skin against his and he doesn't want to hear the rest of the story. Not this part anyway. He wants to go back in time and destroy every condom in Massachusetts and he doesn't care what kind of fool that makes him.
He doesn't want to hear it, but he asks anyway. He tells the next part of the story. "So he went out to get some. He left you alone."
"He left me alone," she repeats and falls silent. She looks at her glass as though she's just remembered it and takes a grateful swallow. "He said they didn't have any."
His jaw drops open and he knows he must look ridiculous. Knows he must sound ridiculous when he repeats it. "They didn't have any."
"That's what he said." She tosses back the last swallow of her scotch and looks at the empty bottle a little regretfully. "He came back with this huge, glittery pink heart full of drugstore chocolate and said they didn't have any. But the chocolate was half price. He was pretty excited about that."
"He . . . I . . . what?" He blinks at her. Looks down at his empty glass as though it might be to blame. As if he might understand this ridiculous plot twist if he'd had less to drink. "He . . ?"
"He," she says and nods. She rolls her eyes and laughs.
"So what did you do?" There must have been violence. With Kate Beckett—his Kate Beckett—he can't imagine anything less.
But she's not his Kate, is she? This stubborn, romantic kid isn't the Kate he knows. He peers up at her. Her face is a little pink at the edges. It still stings a little after all this time, but it's mostly a funny story to her. Someone else's story, because this girl isn't his Kate any more than he's a homesick 14-year-old who doesn't know who he is or who he'll ever be.
He wants to touch her. He wants to grab her hand again and bring her fingers to his lips. He wants to thank her, somehow, but he just asks again. "What did you do?"
"Went to sleep." She shrugs. "Drove back into Boston the next morning and spent an incredibly awkward day pretending to have fun."
She toys with the empty bottle and he wants to say something. Wants to tell her that this guy was a fool and if he ever had or ever got any sense at all he must regret everything about that weekend. Every day of his life he must regret it.
But she goes on before he can open his mouth. "He dropped me at the curb. At the airport. Didn't even get out of the car. And two days later . . ."
"The call?" he winces.
"Voicemail." She gives him a rueful smile. Rueful at first, but it widens to a real one. "But it wasn't all bad."
He feels the corners of his own mouth curving up as he waits for it. One eyebrow quirks up and he waits for the punchline. "No?"
"Half price chocolate didn't suck."

They climb the stairs out of the bar. Shoulder to shoulder, they step up and out into the street. It's been a long time. More than a couple hours and he should feel guilty. He should apologize and thank her and say he hopes he hasn't made her late for her date. He should but he doesn't want to. He doesn't want her to go.
The thing is, she doesn't seem to be in any particular hurry, either. It's been more than a couple hours and she's not rushing off. She's staring and their feet, toe to toe in the circle of streetlight, and she's not rushing off.
"So," he says. "Best Valentine's Day?"
She tips her head to the side like she's thinking about it.
"Yet to come, I think," she says finally.
Yet to come. She has a date. She's looking forward to it. Yet to come.
He wants to kick himself. He wishes his words would go back to wherever they've been all night. His heart drops and he hopes she can't see it. He's staring at their feet, too, so maybe she can't. Yet to come.
He looks up when he can't stand it anymore and she's not looking at their feet. She's looking at him. Intent. And she's not going anywhere.
"What about you, Castle?" she asks softly. "Best Valentine's Day?"
He shrugs. Shakes his head and gives her what he hopes passes for a brave smile.
She's still looking at him and it's like . . . it's like she's disappointed. It's like she's disappointed and he's just thinking again that she doesn't seem to be in any particular hurry.
Her phone buzzes then and her face changes entirely. It closes up and he misses her already.
She says she has to go and he tells her she should. That she should have a good time. He thanks her for the scotch and the story and the company. She touches his elbow and turns away. She goes.
She goes and he whispers after her.
"This one. This one."
Captain Founder, Administrator, Editor and Writer

The moment that I met you, my life became extraordinary. You taught me to be my best self, to look forward to tomorrow's adventures. And when I was vulnerable, you were strong. I love you, Richard Castle. And I want to live my life in the warmth of your smile and the strength of your embrace. I promise you I will love you. I will be your friend and your partner in crime and in life, always. - Kate Beckett The moment we met, my life became extraordinary. You taught me more about myself than I knew there was to learn. You are the joy in my heart. You're the last person I want to see every night when I close my eyes. I love you, Katherine Beckett. And the mystery of you is the one I want to spend the rest of my life exploring. I promise to love you, to be your friend, and your partner in crime and life, 'till death do us part, and for the time of our lives. - Richard Castle

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