She had her chin in her hand, resting on the edge of her desk, eyes avidly darting as they watched him.
They roamed from the crystal blue orbs of his downcast eyes scanning the words before him, to his long fingers as they travelled across the ancient pages of the long forgotten book. He took tender care of the pages as he turned them, precious stories of someone else's life and he cherished them as if they were his own.
His lips were moving rapidly as he read the words from the journal. He absorbed the actual story as he read it, word for word as it was written, before weaving it into his own tale, images concocted from the scribbled ramblings of long ago and she was utterly lost in it.
He was making it all very dramatic, and it was playing in her head like a movie. Love and sacrifice and the undeniable attraction of two people from a time of dames and dolls and, apparently, private dicks.
She smiled, her curled fingertips covering it up just enough that when he raised his eyes from the story he didn't see it clearly and couldn't get distracted. The corners of her lips quirking up again as she played him and he carried on.
He fell back into his tale with such ease and simplicity, it was a beautiful thing to watch, clearly made for the craft he perfected, clearly loving it as he sat and played with the words.
And such words!
They were coming to life for her, she could see it all in her head, the magic of the writer man dancing before her, his voice her guide through the tale.
The way he wrote did this to her often enough, when she was at home curled in bed or buried under a mountain of bubbles in the tub, his echoing voice as she read gave her pictures and images that she tagged along to the story, but hearing him read the words aloud, in person, it was so much more.
It set off a burning heat in her stomach, an ache she didn't understand, or maybe one she understood all too well.
The frenzied smouldering and clench of muscle that told her one day this man was going to read to her in bed, and she would do dirty, naughty things to him, afterwards, maybe at the same time.
She felt the heated blush wash across her cheeks and checked to make sure he was unaware. Satisfied, he was as lost as she had been seconds before, she sunk back into her chair and let his voice wash over her again.
He was weaving the story around her so vividly he had somehow painted her into it.
She imagined herself, hair waving loosely and shining in the way it only could in black and white films. She had a drink in her hand, long gloves covering her arms as she stood bored and alone in some dive of an old timey nightclub, cheesy and ridiculously popular, packed with the hustle and bustle of people having a good time.
She saw herself turn, eyes lift slowly to the bar and Castle would be standing there.
Of course it was him she imagined, who else could fill the role? There was no one else she would ever want to picture waiting for her.
Oh, and he seriously suited the era.
She pictured him with his hat slung low on his forehead, darkly mysterious with an air of superiority. His trench-coat flung back with his hands in his pockets, cocky grin and…
"Their eyes met across the crowded bar and he wondered where she had been all his life."
She looked up, it was like he was reading her mind. The norm, yes, but still shocking, like being caught checking out his backside, or…wait checking out his backside where did that come from?
She shook her head, cleared the thought from her mind, and listened as he carried on talking, weaving wonder in every word.
"But they were doomed…"
She rolled her eyes, he turned just in time to catch the last rotation of her pupils, watched her scrunch her face in disappointment.
Of course there had to be a tragedy, a horror, a scandal, it was him after all, some dastardly deed committed that forced her into his arms, drew danger into both of their lives and threatened to tear them apart. Well not them them, the fictional them…wait…the other fictional them.
Ok now she was just confusing herself.
"Doomed?" She asked, raising her eyes to his, betraying her feelings more than she meant to.
He read the lack of hope that tugged at her voice, saw the twinge of regret that washed over her face, and he couldn't leave it there, had to do all in his power to remove it.
"They thought they were," he adapted, the greatest love stories, after all, were not always the ones that ended in tragedy, in fact love, as far as he was concerned should have a happy ending, it should be magical "they fought hard because they believed their love was worth it, in the end."
"Because they were doomed?" She asked confused now, getting annoyed at him for plonking his feet right in the middle of her imaginings and disturbing the imagery.
"Shh…" he glared at her as he resumed his story. He picked the journal back up, folded the crunchy brown-edged pages tenderly through his fingers until he found his place again, his eyes flitted back to hers to make sure he had her undivided attention before he proceeded, he raised his eyebrows expectantly at her.
She tilted her head forward, looking up at him from under her lashes, he thought if she wore glasses she would be staring at him over the top of them like a school teacher, like he'd been bad…
"Castle!" She said loudly nodding her head "Today." She pointed at the book.
He looked down at it stupidly before muttering "mm'kay" and cleared his throat.
"Their eyes met across the crowded bar and he wondered where she had been all his life." he stopped then lifting his head and looking at her, finding her eyes closed as she listened, he smiled and quickly carried on. "Sadly she belonged to another, a mobster with goons that roamed the city and did his bidding."
He could see her out of the corner of his eye, saw her smile, a small quirk of her lips, her eyes opening and her gaze flashing to Ryan and Esposito, he couldn't help it, he laughed.
"Definitely goons." He smiled as she scrunched her nose again, caught out in her little game, she smiled back at him and nodded.
She scooted closer, her knees brushing his where they slipped past the edge of her desk, so she could peer over the curled pages with him.
He angled his body in response to accommodate hers, moving his elbow onto the desk so she could fit into his side and he could turn the book towards her.
He offered her the leather cover, let it dangle between them, her choice if she took what he offered and drew herself closer. Like it always was, he put himself out there and waited for her to take the answering step towards him.
She looked up at him for a split second before gently taking the book in her hand, trying to hold it as reverently as he did.
She felt his fingers flex under the binding and one of them ran along the edge of her hand, it sent a warm jolt to her stomach again as he touched her.
She kept very still and didn't speak, letting his finger wander lazily over her skin.
The last time he had touched her like this he had bolted and back tracked the minute she said his name, she hadn't wanted him to do that then, she didn't want it now, so she stayed quiet.
He inadvertently laced three of their fingers together as he pulled the old diary more into his line of sight and he started to read again, silently to himself.
She let him do it for a while, watching again as his eyes lit up and he smiled. That wasn't fair, she scanned the page with her eyes, the writing was awful, she couldn't read it and she sighed expecting a reaction, when she didn't get one she poked him.
"You planning on sharing with the class?"
"Read it yourself." He replied smiling as he turned the journal back to her.
"I cant read that," she stated lifting the book with their joined hands for emphasis "the writing is atrocious."
"You cant read that?" He asked laughing and nodding down at the book.
She looked again trying to decipher the words. She twisted her head to one side, scrunched her eyes together and got nothing. She shook her head "No it's awful I cant read anything." She glanced at him and caught him smirking
"Why is that funny?"
"It looks like your handwriting."
"It does not!" She looked again, the slight flick of the *G* and twist to the top of the *S* were similar but that was all.
"Yes it does," he said pointing "look how they join up the letters here." He pointed to a word in the middle of the page that looked vaguely like butterfly.
What the hell did this have to do with butterflies?
"The double *T's* are exactly like yours and here," he pointed to another word "see the curve of the *B* and the *E*." he said pulling her free hand into his, he used his finger like a pen in the palm of her hand as he traced the word he was reading.
"Blue," she said quietly as she felt the word glide over her skin, little shivers of electricity flowing from the tips of his fingers into her hand.
She glanced down quickly almost expecting to see the word burned into her palm, a glowing neon tinge to the word that had them damn near holding hands in the middle of the precinct.
"The *U* flows into the *E* but it’s written fast," he said looking up, slowly, reluctantly, releasing her hand, "makes it harder to read," she nodded in agreement as his eyes found hers "you do that!"
He dropped her gaze suddenly, unable to hold contact with her as she absorbed the meaning behind those words. He was that desperately, madly, in love with her he memorised her handwriting, knew every in and out like a crazy stalker, maybe he was her crazy stalker.
She stared at the page in front of her for a long time before looking up at him and groaning, a noise of frustration but also of acceptance. He had such an affinity with words, it was astounding to witness. She nodded again, she did write like this, she let him have it.
He smiled freely again, her acceptance easing his mind, she kept letting him win, little triumphs she would normally steal away but lately…it was new, it was weird but very enjoyable.
She tipped her head from side to side not quite nodding or disagreeing just acknowledging, then she opened her eyes wider, flashed them at him, a spark of impatience.
"Oh right, reading aloud." He grinned at her before he turned back to the journal "Oh wow." His mouth opening as he observed the story she couldn't.
She slipped her hand silently between them, resting it over his thigh and pinched him "Ok you're doing it on purpose now. You don't have to drag it out Castle I'm already dangling on the line." She smiled widely "I'm hooked Ok? I wana know what happens. So read the damn journal."
He looked at her puzzled before he proceeded "Ok they…wait hooked?"
"Shut up and read." She said still grinning at him.
He turned away still feeling confused, he let his eyes drop back to the book and he pretended to read as he contemplated the infuriating mess that was Kate Beckett. The woman was a mystery, a constant source of bafflement, sometimes so closed off and defensive, sometimes wide open and eager to play.
And then lately…something more. Something he wasn't able to pin down and analyse.
She cleared her throat, patience seeped away to nothing, her fingers poised to pinch him again so he blurted out "Clandestine meetings in the bar."
"What?" she leant over his lap staring at the journal as if that would make it any easy to understand.
"That's all that's written."
"Clandestine meetings in the bar? That's not much detail, how do you get any information from that?" She scoffed in the general direction of the words, seeming to take personal offence at their inability to provide escapism.
"No detail," he admitted "I may have been…err adding it in."
He waited for her to say something negative about what he had done, something about corrupting evidence, spinning wild theories. He waited for her to sound angry, or contradict his approach. He didn't expect her to curl further into his side and sound engrossed.
"Well do that again then." She said moving closer, any closer and she might as well be sitting in his lap, if she wanted to she could rest her head on his shoulder.
Did she want to?
She lifted her head to look up at him, her hair tumbling in a wavy swirl as she moved, it fell over his shoulder and engulfed him in the aroma undeniably her. The shock and the intensity of it made him suck in a shallow breath, inhaling more of her as he was instantly transported, the images came to him so quickly, his unfailing muse providing inspiration as ever.
He wasn't even looking at the journal this time when he started to speak...
She was standing across the room, with her hair twisted, curled loosely to one side. Draped in fur and surrounded by shifty looking men, she stood apart from the rest, an air of detachment, aloofness, mystery, surrounding her.
She was pretty, he gave her that, a certain something indefinable, but it wasn't until she turned, fur stole slipping from her shoulders as she raised her glass in a toast, and their eyes connected, locked, that he realised how truly breathtaking she was.
They stared at each other for a moment, her forehead crinkling as she caught sight of the stranger across the bar, his lips moving into a steady grin as he looked her up and down.
He perused her body, with a cheeky look of appreciation before he glanced back to her face, refusing to drop eye contact until she gave in and flashed him an answering smile, a sly wink of her own.
A man appeared at her side, burly and unattractive, he watched as she rolled her eyes at something the man said before dropping her drink to the table and her hands to her hips. He shook his head leaning into her closely, his finger wagging in her face before he reached for her arm and roughly pulled her away, as she went she turned and looked over her shoulder.
Their eyes caught again, burning, searing contact across the room, some pitiful sense of dignity flashed across her face, she didn't like him seeing her like that, which was silly when they didn't even know each other, but there was already something there.
She had the innate sense that no matter what, he would do anything for her.
He saw her startle in the other man's grasp, and unable to stop himself he pushed away from the bar and started to stride towards her. She held up her palm in a silent plea to stop, let her handle it, another smile, this time one of gratitude, crossed her face.
She was being yanked backwards then but she fought so hard the man stopped dead, staring at her in shock.
She pushed his hands away with a shallow laugh, but he caught hold of her wrist yanking hard, tearing the soft white material of her gloves. She let out another hollow laugh and said something.
It was loud in the nightclub and he only managed to catch the tale end of a word that sounded like 'over' they had words, a heated discussion…he was about to cross the bar and step in, punch the guy in the face for manhandling her when she reached out her hand and slapped him, hard and loud, across the face.
A sense of pride rushed through him at her boldness, her determination of will. It was ridiculous, he didn't even know this woman, and yet...
The noise dropped away to shocked silence as the people all around him
stopped their chatter, knives and forks poised above plates, glasses raised halfway to lips. They all stared, some open mouthed, some trying to be subtle, at the woman holding her head high, walking away without looking back.
The man behind her still clutched his hand to his face, glowering with rage and humiliation as he watched her go.
Then she was in front of him, and, though she was holding it together for the sake of the prying eyes around them, he could see the tremor forcing its way through her body. Her hand darted to his arm, fingers squeezing the muscle above his elbow.
"Get me out of here please." She whispered, the words barely there but enough to stir him into action, her eyes lifting under heavy lashes to meet his gaze as his hand slipped down and clasped hers. They turned, leaving a trail of shocked faces behind them.
They strode fast, hearing the voice of the man, the mobster, the slap-ee as he yelled across the room "I'll see you dead before I see you with someone else."