Don’t say "Yes", run away now. I’ll meet you when you’re out of the church at the back door.
Don’t wait or say a single vow, you need to hear me out.
And they said, "Speak now".
Rick doesn't see Kevin spot him when he heads for the break room, but when he steps inside, the detective is holding out a mug to him. “Thanks, Ryan.” He says, surprised. Then again, the guy's a detective, it's not hard to know how Castle likes his coffee. Also, he's not as afraid as Esposito to offer 'grand gestures of friendship' or the usual little attentions that makes Javier call Rick Kevin's secret boyfriend.
“Hey, Castle...?” Kevin calls hesitantly when he's about to go back to Beckett.
“Mh?” He ducks an eyebrow, taking a careful sip of his scalding beverage.
Kevin is clearly not at ease. He's put his coffee down and his fumbling with his jacket pocket. He goes to pull something out and seems to think better of it. He looks up, licks his lips and opens his mouth.
Ryan takes a deep breath and finally, something comes out. “How's Alexis?”
Somehow, he wasn't expecting this. “She's great! All excited about college. Which I really am not.” he cocks his head. “But you weren't all nervous asking about Alexis.” he says. He's no cop, but he's a father, for one, so he can spot beating around the bush like nobody's business.
“No. Well, yes.” Kevin winces at his jumble of words and sighs. “Do you think maybe-... Does Alexis-...”
Castle lets his face fall flat. “Dude.”
“Do you think Alexis might have a crush on me?” Kevin gets out in a rush.
Rick bursts out laughing. “Oh, man. Sorry, but no dice. One, I'd never let you near her, and two, I'm dreading the day when I'm gonna try to talk to her about Ashley and she's going to give me the sex talk.”
Kevin looks at him, and nods.
“You're serious.” Castle realizes. “You're really worried about this. Why?”
“I-...” Kevin finally pulls his hand out of his pocket and holds out a burned CD to him. On the CD, he can read 'Taylor Swift from Alexis' and at the back of the transparent case she's placed a picture Rick would know, since he was the one who took it. Ryan stands in the middle, Javier's arm is thrown over his shoulders and he's grinning at his best friend. Kevin is smiling at the camera, and so is Alexis, who's snug close to his side, opposite Javier. “It's a... It's just one song. About stopping a wedding, so I... She said to really listen. I don't...”
“Huh.” Castle adds, just as eloquent.
“Hey, what's going on?” Kate asks lightly as she walks in, oblivious to the flabbergasted expressions of her friends. Or maybe she doesn't pay attention, because they have those too often.
“I gotta-...” Kevin points over his shoulder and hurries out, forgetting his coffee.
“What's with him?” Beckett asks, turning on the espresso machine. “Aw. Did he just give you a mixed tape?”
“No, just the one song.” Castle replies numbly. “What? No, Alexis gave it to him.”
“Mh.” She leans close to his side to peer at the CD. “Which one?”
Kate tilts her head, nods to herself and walks out. “That girl wold make a great detective.” she says. “But she's such a Castle.”
Rick blinks again, and decides that he wants to sit down.
Rick remembers putting the photo wall up in Alexis' room. Right in the corner, next to her desk, there's dozens of pictures pinned. He wanders over and examines more closely the section which clearly regroups the precinct people. There's one of the Captain, a couple of his dad and Kate at work -how did she even get those? Did Esposito or Ryan help?-, there's a bunch of evenings at the Old Haunt or at his place, with one or the other. Central, though, are three pictures that catch his eye.
One is another printing of the one on the back of the cd case, another one was taken one day when they all went out to picnic in Central Park. There's Lanie in the background, tossing a ball to an out-of-frame Kate, and in the foreground Javier and Kevin are wearing old damp tanks, looking like they just stopped playing. Javier is splashing his face with some water and Kevin's been snapped mid sentence, looking at him. Castle finds the picture awesome, the water isn't blurry at all and you'd think this was staged by a professional.
The last picture is of the two partners again, a might tipsy at the time, if he recalls correctly. They're posing in front of the bar at the Old Haunt. On the counter there's Ryan's birthday cake, and the two of them have arms tossed over each others frames.
Or, more accurately... around.
He frowns and looks closer. Yeah, they look happy, grinning goofily, but their aren't arms around around each others necks as you'd expect, they're... around each others waists. Castle wouldn't think too much of it, they were drunk and tired, gravity does what it does, and at the Old Haunt, there are hours of the night when you find yourself seeking balance and something large and unmissable to grasp. Like a human being.
He wouldn't think much of it.... if it weren't for the fact that he looked back at the other two pictures. The way they look at each other when they think they can't be seen.
“Do you see it now?”
Alexis' voice makes him jump. “I-... What?”
“Do you see why Javier is so sad lately? Why Kevin can't-....”
“I see it.” He cuts her. He can't hear it. Then he'll feel guilty for what he's about to say. “And I may be the last one to.”
Alexis frowns and walks further in. “What do you mean?”
“Well, Kate knows it. And maybe they both do.”
“No, it can't...”
“Alexis, sometimes grownups do things because they have to. Because they're safer.”
“Maybe.” He sits on her bed. “But if they don't know... what happens if they suddenly see? Their whole world shatters. What about Jenny? And how would they feel about all of it? What about their job? They're a team. Or maybe they know, maybe they talked it out and decided to play it that way. Safe. Normal. It's not our place to meddle.”
“That's rich, coming from you.”
“What if saying something hurts everybody? Alexis, I don't think you can-...”
“I can.” She says, holding her chin up in challenge, determined and sad. “They haven't said I should hold my peace forever. I won't until they tell me to.”
“I thought she was kidding!” Martha throws her hands up theatrically. “Boycotting a wedding! After all that dress picking!”
Rick bit his lip and tried to call his daughter again. “I'm sure she's fine, but I'd really like to know where she is. Even if it's not here.”
“Who's not here?” Kate walks in in a whoosh of her satin dress.
Castle makes a sound. “My, my... detective! You look absolutively stunning. You're going to put the bride and her maids to shame.”
“Shut up, Castle.” she glares playfully, and leans in to press a kiss to his cheek. Before pulling back, she whispers. “And thank you.”
His brain is a little scrambled, but when she pulls away he's sure he detects a faint blush from the praise on her, cheek. He resists the urge to stick his tongue at his mom's knowing look.
“There she is!”
“Alexis, you look adorable.” Kate greets the red head with a bright smile.
Alexis doesn't respond, she looks at her dad and the others consecutively, her face grave, contrasting heavily with her pale yellow dress. “I'm doing this for Javier.” she declares, and goes out
Beckett stares after her and sides with Castle. Then she mimics a cat hissing and scratching.
“Yep.” Rick agrees.
“Why is this one so freaking tight?” Javier complains, trying to nudge all of Kevin's middle inside the vest. “The ones you wear all the time fit you better.”
“Meh. Jenny picked it. Says it makes my waist look slimmer.”
Javier closes one button and gives a blank look at his partner. “Has she seen you recently? Any slimmer and you'll be able to hide behind Beckett. What's wrong with her?”
Kevin shrugs, lets it slide and watches Javier work on the last buttons instead. “You sure you don't mind not being my best man?”
“Bro, shut up.” Javier says as he pulls back and watches his work. “Aha, there you go.” He turns Kevin around and loosens the strap at the back of the vest, giving him more room to breathe. That way he has less chances to pass out in front of the priest. Though, knowing Kevin... “You have a brother, I get it.”
Blue eyes are on him in the giant mirror. “I know, but you're my partner and by best friend.” He turns, meeting his gaze. “I want you to know how important you-...”
“Imma punch you.” Javier warns, glaring as he hands Kevin his jacket. The Irishman looks sheepish and pulls on the garment. “Relax. It's your wedding, you look like you're about to give a senate speech.”
Ryan gives a weird chuckle that vibrates under Javier's fingers when he steadies his bowtie. “I kind of feel like it, too.”
Javier considers him for a moment. “Shouldn't it be different? Like the best day of your damn life or something?”
Kevin nods thoughtfully, and sighs. Javier rubs at his temple again. Kevin's seen him do it a bunch of times already.
“Javi, you okay?”
“Yeah, my head hurts, I'm fine.” He swats him away gently. “Don't go worrying 'bout me today of all days.”
There's a sort of ring in Kevin's ears, so he doesn't catch up as quickly as everyone else. This wedding is something he has to go through. He does it to make Jenny happy, he doesn't care much about being married or not. As long as people are together, they shouldn't need proof, they know it. Though he finds he's insanely nervous as the time approaches.
And there's a sudden death silence in the church, announced by a few gasps and whispers. He replays quickly what was just said. Something about... oh, crap. Speaking up or holding one's peace.
He stares into the crowd and spots the only standing figure easily. Everyone is staring as Alexis clutches her small purse in her hands. Wait... Javier should be sitting there. They were sitting together, weren't they? Why is she standing? Where's Javier? Is Javi okay?
Castle curses and gestures at his daughter, she ignores it, and Kate whispers something to him and holds him down on his seat.
There's a painful beat in Kevin's chest.
The priest looks at her. “Miss? You wish to speak?” he prompts when she doesn't make a sound.
He can hear the muttered 'no, no, no, no...' from the first row where Castle is sitting.
Instead, she takes a deep breath and sings. “I hear the preacher say, "Speak now or forever hold your peace". There’s the silence, there’s my last chance. I stand up with shaky hands, all eyes on me.
Horrified looks from everyone in the room, but I’m only looking at you.” Her eyes flicker to her dad and back. “I am not the kind of girl who should be rudely barging in on a white veil occasion. But you are not the kind of boy who should be marrying the wrong girl.”
There's a beat of silence when everyone just stares, and she holds his gaze. He tries this time, he gets that this is important, so he really... really listens.
Then people are whispering again, hissing at each other, and giggling like it's a teenager with a crush. She doesn't pay attention, there's a tear at the corner of her eyes and she summons a smile for him. She clearly is heartbroken, but she's brave, encouraging. She takes a sidestep and picks up a jacket from the back of the bench next to her. Then she leaves. Esposito's jacket.
And suddenly... “Oh.” He's struck, blindsided. All the pieces click together suddenly and... oh. He gets it. Now. Now, of all times. Why?
He looks up at Jenny's little laugh. “I honestly thought you knew.” She looks genuinely surprised.
She gives a sad little smile. “I thought you both knew and you'd decided against it.”
Kevin gapes. “You knew?”
She lays a hand on his arm. “It's hard not to.”
“I...” He looks at her, at the priest, at the murmuring assembly. At Beckett, keeping Castle from coming over. He looks back at his fiancee. God, fiancee. “I don't know what to do.”
“Yes, you do.” Jenny says softly. “You know what the right thing is here.”
Obviously, he does, because the next thing that comes to his mouth is: “But I can't do that to-...”
“Alexis is the one's that's right. Don't do that to yourself.” She jerks her head towards the priest with a sad, but trustingg smile. “Don't do it to me.”
Kevin looks at her, really looks. It feels like the first time. And he might love her even more now. He smiles at her, wistful and loving, leans in to press a kiss to her cheek, trying to not hate himself at the tear that meets his lips and he walks off.
By the third row of chairs he's running like a madman.
It turns out, you shouldn't listen to what songs tell you, because you have to be a priest to access the back doors in churches. Still, Kevin runs around the building, hoping, kind of knowing. That's the perks of knowing someone like your back pocket. It keeps you alive on the job. And out.
He finds Esposito alone leaning against the back wall. He obviously hasn't heard him. He's got one foot propped up against the wall, his shirt sleeves are rolled up, his head resting against the stone and Alexis is nowhere to be seen. “Javi?”
Javier's head snaps back down, as he quickly wipes at his face, pretends to rub it awake. However, now that Kevin listened, he can't unsee what's there. Even right now, in Javier's fake smile. “Hey, bro... Sorry I wasn't feeling so hot. Is it over?” he grimaces at his choice of words. “I mean, did you guys say yes and all...?”
“No.” Kevin says, and doesn't break stride until he's pressed up against Javier, sandwiching the ex Special Forces operative between his smaller frame and the wall. “No, I didn't.” he breathes out and finally gets to kiss the man he's loved in silence all this time.