(…this needs a Castle stamp… 😇)
I don’t have a stamp, but I DO have a fic. 28 Days Fic Challenge: Day 11
They had made an agreement. It had been forged in late night conversations and around the kitchen island at breakfast over a span of two weeks. It had been born from anxiety, the type that was only born from the burden of purchasing gifts for someone who could afford to buy nearly everything they wanted and, ostensibly, had everything they needed.
That was Kate’s burden in buying gifts for Castle. Be it birthday, anniversary, or Christmas, she invariably agonized over all of them. Not that he was hard to please, the opposite was true, but that it was incredibly difficult to please herself with tokens of, what she felt, should be representative of their relationship and life together.
He had relented easily enough to her request. No wedding presents. The ceremony, the extravagant honeymoon and their three weeks of uninterrupted leisure were more than enough. She had a diamond engagement ring and a platinum wedding band as reminders of the day. Anything else was unnecessary.
But piles of presents were expected. Towers of them lined tables and across the foyer of the Hamptons estate. They’d done their best to put them away, to erase any markers of the ceremony, but it had been hasty. She’d gone to shower, to strip away her mother’s ruined dress and put on the armor of Kate Beckett, NYPD Homicide Detective. Years of therapy and progress had stuttered with her retreat to what was her default setting in a crisis.
She didn’t back down, she bowed up. Arming herself with functional practicality and finding a problem to solve. That was how she coped.
And they had hidden the reminders by shoving them into closets, locking the doors of unused rooms with the adage ‘out of sight, out of mind’. It didn’t really matter that it wasn’t true. None of them were going to forget the missing piece of their lives.
It was too quite, for one. No boundless bright ball of energy and words to keep them entertained. Just silence, a gaping hole where a father, son, husband, and friend was meant to be.
In the immediate aftermath she never noticed the small white box. Perhaps once it had been placed neatly on the bed, meant to be within her line of sight to entice her into tugging at the soft dove-gray ribbon. But it had gotten lost, been shifted in the emotional trauma, discarded and unused.
The box reveals itself after a week of dead ends and heartbreak. They’ve searched every potential lead, interviewed the same endless loop of people over and over. She’s called in every favor and promised more than a few but the case, Castle’s case, has gone cold.
She’s packing when she finds the box, her toe nudging against its edge with her haphazard tossing of clothes into a suitcase.
Curiosity demands she pick it up. The effortless scrawl of her name on the creamy white name tag dictate she open it; heart lodged in her throat because Kate knows.
The handwriting, the careful detail in the tying of the bow - its from Castle. He broke the rules.
She’s careful in opening the lid, fingers gingerly pulling away the gray tissue paper until she can lift the mug out.
The fact it’s a coffee mug doesn’t escape her. Instead, the steady staccato of her heart kicks up a notch as the swell of emotion kicks her swiftly in the gut. He bought her a coffee mug, something practical and useable.
Before she ever reads the words, she’s overwhelmed. There’s a prick of tears threatening at the back of her eyes, and they spill forward as she reads the words painted onto the side.
They aren’t his words; Kate is fairly certain of that, but they are no less true because she can imagine it. In crystal clear technicolor, she can see his twinkling blue eyes and that tiny, lop-sided grin. His voice tickles at her ears when she imagines him reading the message to her, how he would draw her against his chest and let her rest there for a moment. And he’d kiss her, undoubtedly, one of those gentle, soft presses of their lips. Sweet confirmation of their devotion and mutual love.
It makes her ache for him, tears blurring her vision until the moisture breaks free to trail down her cheeks. Like a wave crashing to shore, the pent up emotion finally releases and it doubles her over onto the bed where the mug remains her lifeline.
It anchors her to reality, a talisman against the current of grief and darkness that could so easily drag her under.
But the tears eventually slow, their only trace in the swollen patches of skin under her eyes. For once, Kate feels stronger as she untangles her body from its grip on the cup. She’s not quite so lost when she moves back to her suitcase, drops the final few items into it to complete her packing for a return to the city.
The cup goes with her, a silent sentry for the days and weeks that follow. Her ever present reminder that Castle loves her, that she will get him back and they’ll have their happy ending.
It’s months after he’s home before she brings the cup back out, tenderly wrapping it in gray paper and a white box. Like Castle did before, Kate recruits Alexis for the delivery, his name written in elegant cursive on a creamy white tag.
But this time its different. This time there is no kidnapping, no afternoon filled with flames. Instead it’s quiet and unassuming, her in a simple white dress and Castle in a tux.
And the cup? Well, it’s how they take their first toast as husband and wife, by sharing a cup of coffee.