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Hey everyone, I hope you're all keeping safe and well out there. Sending so much love and strength to you all, wherever you are in the world. We are very fortunate down here in New Zealand - at our peak we had less than 1500 cases and now there are only 8 remaining active cases. I know other countries have not been as lucky as us, and I really feel for everyone around the world.
I hope this story can be a little bit of nice distraction for those of you who are going through a lot right now. I really enjoyed writing this one.
Peace and love,
Before the car even reached the cabin, Duncan and Tracy were racing out the door to greet them as they pulled up.
“Hello, hello!” Tracy squawked excitedly, jumping on the balls of her feet and grabbing Stana in a bear hug as she climbed out of Nathan’s car.
“Let them get their feet on the ground dear”, Duncan laughed at his wife as he approached the driver’s side of the car and reached out a hand to shake Nathan’s.
“Dunk, how are ya?”
“Excellent now that you two are here. Can’t believe we’re about to begin this thing. It really is such an honour to have you both onboard.”
Nathan smiled genuinely at the man, he could truly see how much this meant to him. “It’s a pleasure.”
“Come on, come and meet the crew. We’ve managed to keep it very small and intimate so the two of you hopefully won’t feel too uncomfortable.”
“And you will be there for all the filming, Tracy?” Nathan asked, with a pseudo serious expression.
Tracy looked slightly crestfallen. “Oh well, I-I’m the production manager but I suppose I don’t have to…”
“He’s kidding”, Stana assured her with a slight eye roll in Nathan’s direction. Nathan’s face broke out into a grin. “Of course I am. Seeing the two of us in action? How could we deprive you of that?” He gave Tracy a wink and a noise fell out of her mouth that was half giggle, half whimper.
The surrounding land of the cabin had been turned into a camping ground. Four motorhomes flanked the house. A group of people were sitting in a circle, around an extinguished campfire, drinking brewskies and laughing.
Duncan cleared his throat. “Everybody, these two need no introduction but please say hello to Stana Katic and Nathan Fillion.”
The group stood up. There were three men and one woman. Duncan grasped the shoulder of the nearest man to him first. “This is Berndt Miller, a good friend of ours, we all go way back. He’s going to be assistant director on the shoot now that I’m going to be playing the role of Jock.”
Nathan shook Berndt’s hand and Stana gave him a friendly hug. Berndt was a man in his early-mid fifties, with greying hair that only accentuated his very handsome face. “An honour to meet you both”, the man spoke with a Swedish accent.
“These are our cable and camera guys, Dave and Dan”, Duncan introduced two good looking men, both in their thirties, Dan was slightly taller than Nathan, and very lean, while Dave was shorter than Stana, still quite fit but with a broader chest.
“Dave and Dan, huh? OK, you two are henceforth going to be known as “The Two D’s”, alright?” The two young men laughed as they shook Nathan’s hand and stepped forward to hug Stana.
“Would it be inappropriate to call you big D and little D?” Nathan asked jokingly.
“Probably depends what you’re insinuating”, Stana shot back at him, surprising everyone. The two other women screamed with laughter and then the men joined in too.
“Well I have no problem with it”, Dan shrugged with a slightly wicked grin.
“Nor do I, as long as I can be known as the biggest ‘D’, Duncan chimed in. His wife swatted him with a stunned look, and everybody else burst into laughter again.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, and this is Jill, our A/V wiz”, Duncan motioned to the woman who looked like the youngest of the group. She was quite beautiful, and had very trusting and kind eyes.
“Basically I’m here to tell these ‘D’s’ what to do”, she winked at Stana and Nathan, who laughed again. “They’re just my minions.”
“So you guys all know each other?” Stana asked the young woman.
“We all went to film school together”, Jill answered Stana with a smile. “I was kinda coming in as they were going out, so they mentored me a lot.”
“And by the end of our year together the student had become the master, and she still had a couple years to go”, Dave praised Jill.
“Wow, it sounds like you’re a very talented young woman”, Stana said to Jill.
“Mm, in more areas than one I’ve been told”, Jill responded, giving Stana a heated once-over. Stana’s eyebrows shot up in surprise and she grabbed on to Nathan’s sleeve, turning to him to see his reaction. He looked just as stunned as she, and probably even more red in the face. Both of them were trying to figure out if the young lady had really just made a pass at Stana.
Tracy did not seem to pick up on the vibes they were getting as she waved them all into the cabin. “Come on, let’s get you two settled upstairs and then we can all have dinner.”
Duncan and Nathan retrieved their bags from the car and walked upstairs with them. Stana and Tracy went after them, the other four staying downstairs, but Stana did not miss the way Jill looked at her as she ascended the staircase to the loft.
“Well whaddya know, there’s a bed in here now. That wasn’t here before”, Nathan smirked at Duncan and Tracy who both looked suitably embarrassed.
“Will you ever forgive us?” Tracy asked him with a puppy-dog expression.
“Hey, the experiment was about pushing us beyond our personal boundaries, right? Knowing how close and intimate we were going to have to be for the movie, you wanted to know if we could go there, didn’t you?” Nathan asked the couple.
“Well, yes, that’s the main reason”, Tracy smiled coyly.
Stana chuckled. “Was there an ulterior reason?”
Tracy pursed her lips, blushing.
“Well whatever the reasons, you guys were creative enough to make alternate sleeping arrangements, right?” Duncan asked them, steering the heat away from his grateful wife.
“Yes”, Stana nodded. “I slept on the couch up until the last couple of nights.”
Nathan’s head whipped around quickly in her direction. He wasn’t sure if she’d said that intentionally or if it was a slip of the tongue.
“Wh-where did you sleep the last couple of nights?”
“Actually we both fell asleep outside on one of the nights, right?” Stana smiled knowingly at Nathan.
Instantly he was reminded about something he’d said in an interview with her long ago about mixing a little truth in with a lie so that people think you’re being honest.
“That’s right. That was the night after we had our picnic and went swimming.” The two of them shared a secret smile.
“You fell asleep together outside?” Tracy asked with an emotional tone. “Wait, you went swimming after all?”
“Oh yeah, and it was cold
”, Stana shivered, just recalling it.
“Yeah, I bet it was”, Duncan raised his eyebrows, looking quite surprised that they’d even tried it at that time of year. “What uh, what led to you two falling asleep outside?” Duncan wasn’t as fanatical as Tracy, but it didn’t mean he wasn’t curious.
“The stars”, Stana answered wistfully. “The stars were just so magnificent, I wanted Nathan to see them and we stayed out just looking up at them and then evidently fell asleep right there.”
“In each others’ arms”, Tracy swooned, then blinked. “Sorry, that was presumptuous.”
Stana and Nathan shared an amused look. “Well”, Nathan shrugged. “It was a chilly night, there may have been some arms around another person, you know, for warmth.”
Tracy made a sound similar to the one she’d made earlier when Stana had talked about her seeing them in “action”.
Duncan nodded slowly. “Well, that’s fair enough I’m sure.”
Stana and Nathan looked at each other again, they were beginning to have fun with this.
“I’m going to go down and prepare dinner, we’ll let you two get settled. You are still OK to share the room, aren’t you?” Tracy asked them trepidatiously.
Stana smiled wryly. “Well considering we shared the bed downstairs for the last couple of nights of the experiment, I don’t see how it should be a problem.”
Tracy’s eyebrows shot up into her hairline. “Y-you slept together...in our bed?”
“Well yeah, I mean the point of the exercise was to bring us closer together again, yeah?” Nathan shrugged. “I mean sharing a bed is hardly the most intimate thing we’re going to be doing over the next few weeks, am I right?”
There was a mixture of elation and embarrassment on Tracy’s face. Duncan just looked like he was ready to leave the room. “Yes, that’s true, and we appreciate how professional and mature you’re both able to be about all this. We knew we could count on you two.” He took Tracy by the shoulders and led her out the door. “We’ll see you down at dinner when you’re ready. Come on dear.”
Stana and Nathan waited a few minutes until they were sure Duncan and Tracy were out of ear shot, then Stana walked forward and jabbed Nathan lightly in the ribs. “You little monkey, are you trying to get us found out?”
“Hey”, Nathan put up his hands to block her, a grin crawling onto his face. “You’re just as bad. “Oh yeah, we fell asleep out under the stars”, I mean come on!”
Stana rolled her eyes, shaking her head. She bit her lip. “Speaking of come ons.” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “Am I imagining it, or was Jill kinda hitting on me before?”
“Uh, ya”, Nathan chuckled as if it were the most obvious thing. “She has got the major hots for you.” Nathan waggled his eyebrows.
Stana’s face turned red and she leaned forward, burying it in Nathan’s chest. Nathan braced her sides with his large hands. “Hey, I certainly can’t fault her, she’s got good taste.” He squeezed her gently.
Stana raised her head slowly and Nathan quickly stooped down to steal a kiss from her lips. Stana moaned against his lips. “We are so going to get busted. I am ninety-nine percent sure Duncan and Tracy can already tell something’s going on between us.”
Nathan nuzzled her nose with his. ”Well, we can write it off as ancient history. Maybe we should tell them about our time on Castle, about our affair. We don’t have to tell them we’re back together now.”
“Mm, maybe. But not just yet, ok? I’m still feeling kind of, I don’t know...ashamed I guess”, Stana sighed.
“I understand. I love you, and I know you love me, but I also know that when we were together during Castle, and when we were together last week, both times you were with another guy and it’s going to be super hard for you to tell people that you cheated on him.”
Stana stiffened, pulling away from Nathan. “I’ve never heard you word it like that before. You know, that makes me feel really shameful.”
“Stana, I didn’t mean to…”
Stana held up her hand to silence him. “You don’t know the internal battle I faced, knowing that I was being unfaithful to my husband to a legal obligation, but feeling like I was being unfaithful to my heart.”
“I appreciate that, Stana. Look, I’m not trying to make you feel bad about this. I would never want to do that, I’m so happy about the choice you made because it means we can be together”, the pitch of Nathan’s voice got higher, he was panicking about making her upset.
“Yeah and it’s so easy for you to just be happy. I want to just be happy, but I have so much else going on too. Guilt, shame, grief, and yes there’s some happiness in there too, but it’s not the only feeling for me.”
Nathan closed his eyes, and said solemnly. “I know, I know it’s not.”
Stana looked down at her feet, trying to calm herself down. She didn’t want to fight with Nathan, especially since they’d only just got here, but she really did feel like he didn’t quite understand her needs right at this moment.
“Look, I’m going to just unpack my things and go down to dinner. It’s important that we get our heads in the game and focus on the movie now.”
She didn’t say anything further as she pulled things out of her suitcase and began storing them away. Nathan followed suit, remaining quiet, though he desperately wanted to say something to fix things. He had been so looking forward to the next few weeks, to spending time with Stana, sharing stories of their time together with the crew, reminiscing and getting even closer. He couldn’t wait to start building a life with her but he knew that she was going to need some time to be ready to fully invest in their relationship.
Stana walked out of the room they would be sharing for the next six weeks, without even uttering another word. Nathan hung up his coat in the wardrobe before joining her downstairs. Some light old time jazz was playing on the record player in the corner and the crew were all sitting at the table chatting and drinking wine. Tracy was in the kitchen, serving up hot stew, Duncan placed a plate of buttered rolls on the table and then brought the bowls of stew over. Nathan sat down next to Stana as it was the only vacant spot left at the table, given the choice, he probably would have opted to sit away from her, just to give her some space.
“Wow, this looks and smells delicious. You’ve really got the knack for the old way of life, haven’t you Tracy?” Stana remarked.
“Oh thank you, Stana. Yes, I just adore this era. Such a romantic period of time, fraught with devastation and sadness of course, but I don’t know, I just feel like that lends itself to such possibility for beauty.” She beamed brightly as she took her seat at the table next to her husband. “And you’ve said something similar about that in the past if I recall, when you did the Blue Butterfly episode on Castle.”
Stana smiled, remembering the episode. “My, you really are a fan, aren’t you Tracy?”
“You don’t know the half of it”, Duncan murmured through a mouthful of bread.
“Hey I think I remember seeing that episode. I think I watched it in the dorm rec room in my last year of college”, Dave said, before spooning some stew into his mouth.
“Oh great, that makes us feel so young”, Stana laughed in his direction.
“Well, you’re young to me. When I graduated college, this was still the most popular device on which to play music”, Berndt pointed to the record player. Stana smiled at the Swedish man, her cheeks flushing as he gave her a wink. Nathan noticed the exchange and immediately became intimidated.
“I think I’m going to stay well away from this conversation”, Jill joked, making the rest of them laugh.
“That’s very wise”, Nathan said to her and she bit her bottom lip while smiling at him, which Stana took note of too.
“So, how did you all get this gig?” Stana asked the members of the crew.
Berndt placed his fork down on the rim of his plate to speak. “As Duncan mentioned earlier, he and I have known each other a long time, and as a trusted friend and colleague he approached me to come and assist on the film. He was really excited about it, and I was very happy to be asked.”
Stana nodded engagingly, the man was quite captivating when he spoke.
“How did you two meet?” Nathan asked Berndt, in an attempt to break eye contact between him and Stana.
“Well initially we met in Stockholm at a party. We must have been only...nineteen?” He turned to Duncan who nodded. “Something like that.”
“We got to talking about films and art and discovered we both had a passion for these things and we spent a lot of time together in Sweden, I showed Duncan around my country. This was before he met Tracy. Then a few years later I moved to the States to develop my own film career and of course one of the first things I did when I arrived in L.A was to look him up.”
“How wonderful. True lasting friendships are the best kind, right?” Nathan smiled genuinely at the Swede. Berndt raised his glass of wine. “I’ll drink to that.”
Nathan felt Stana lean in to him a little as if to silently acknowledge their own lasting relationship.
“And you guys, how did you get involved in this?” She asked the younger crew members.
Jill licked some gravy off her lips before answering Stana. “I’ve worked with Berndt on a few projects before and he told me about this, said they were looking for a small, specialized crew who knew what they were doing and I was honoured to have been invited. Especially knowing the talent I was going to be working with.” Her sparkling eyes flicked between both Stana and Nathan.
“Thank you”, Stana smiled graciously, feeling again the intensity of the young woman’s gaze.
"And Jill called us up, managed to rope us in too", Dan smirked.
Tracy made a noise of indignance. "You make it sound like such a boorish chore!"
"Joking of course. It is an honour to be working on such a well-written film."
"Alright, alright that's enough schmoozing", Duncan chuckled at the young man.
Tracy patted Dan on the hand to thank him for the compliment before turning to Nathan and Stana. “So, we haven’t really had the chance to talk to you guys in depth, and I’m sure you know I have a lot of questions”, Tracy basically bounced in her seat.
Nathan swallowed his food before asking her, “What do you want to know?”
"What's the real story?" It was a bold question, fueled in no small part by the wine she was drinking.
Nathan glanced over at Stana who gave him a small nod.
"The real story is, I was employed to be the lead on this new pilot. About a hundred actresses were auditioned to play my counterpart but not one of them had the same incredible spark that Stana had. I think it's fair to say we liked each other from the start. We had a fair bit in common and I think it's no secret that we were more than a little bit attracted to each other."
He paused to gauge Tracy's reaction - as expected, she looked about ready to burst.
"Obviously our chemistry was great for the show and we were having a blast making it. We had a lot of times of real closeness and there came a point when that closeness became...physical." He pursed his lips.
Tracy's eyes could not have been any bigger. She gasped loudly. "You mean…"
Stana spoke then, wanting to take some control of where the revelations were heading. "This has never been shared with anyone, but yes, Nathan and I had a secret intimate relationship between two thousand and eleven and two thousand fifteen."
"Four years?!" Tracy squealed.
Nathan and Stana both nodded quietly.
"And no one knew that whole time?" Jill chimed in. The whole table was now listening with interest.
"Not a soul", Nathan confirmed.
"Two thousand and eleven...season three?" Tracy calculated, her eyes squinting in thought.
A small smile came to Stana's face as she affirmed with a nod.
"Before or after episode 13?" Tracy questioned them, with an almost suspicious look.
Nathan's mouth twisted into a sneer and Stana let out a snort. "Yes", was all Stana would say, her face turning scarlett.
"I'm sorry, I've been intrusive enough. Some things deserve to remain private, sacred between the two of you", Tracy apologized, though there was no tampering her joy.
"So all those rumours about the two of you not getting along are absolute bull, then?" Duncan inquired.
Stana's expression became somber. "Nothing changed between us. We knew that unless we wanted our relationship to become public, we would have to end things before the show wrapped, but what we had was over well before our last season."
"It was the public, the pressure from them and what that placed on Stana's relationship with her partner." Nathan said softly, not wanting to speak Kris's name.
"Did he know?" Tracy probed.
"As we said, no one knew, but I guess, like a lot of people, he had his suspicions", Stana swallowed thickly.
Tracy let out a long, shell shocked sigh. "You guys, if we had known about this…"
"Would it have changed anything? I mean, it obviously didn't affect our decision to take on this project, right?" Nathan interrupted her. "As previously mentioned, our feelings for each other never changed, only our circumstances."
Stana's eyes met Nathan's. She reached over and placed her hand on his knee.
"But does doing this film, does it make it better for you or just more painful?" Tracy grimaced.
Stana almost wanted to reveal their current relationship status just to assuage the uneasiness Tracy was undoubtedly feeling, but then Nathan spoke up. "Whether we are destined to spend our lives together or spend them apart, our time on Castle was a blessing to me. My life was touched forever by this beautiful woman, my colleague and companion."
Stana's eyes lit up at his use of the title they had come up with for their relationship at the beginning of the previous week.
"The opportunity to work with her again on this movie is yet another gift to me, one which I am exceedingly grateful for."
He could see the emotion brimming in Stana's eyes, and before the moment became any more dangerous, Nathan picked up his wine glass and raised it in a toast. "So here is to Tracy, and to Duncan and to "In the heart of the woods", for giving me this most precious gift once again."
After a second of stunned silence, everyone else picked up their glasses and raised them with words of cheers.
The topic of conversation was shifted to other things after that, much to Nathan and Stana's relief. They and the crew talked late into the night until Duncan reminded them all they had a movie to start making the following day.
"I'm not going to be too cruel. Let's say 8am start, ok guys?"
"Sounds good boss", Berndt clapped him on the back. "Goodnight everyone", he held up a hand in farewell as he stood up and left the table for his trailer. The other three crew members soon did the same, Jill bidding both Stana and Nathan a good night with a hug and a kiss to their cheeks.
"Well, I guess that's our cue too", Nathan shot Stana a short smile, still unsure of how she was feeling about him after their argument earlier. "I mean, for me at least, don't let me rush you." He touched her shoulder with his fingerprints and Stana reached up to cover his hand with her own. "No, I-I'm coming." She rested her chin on their joined hands for a moment.
Duncan and Tracy watched the exchange which now looked a whole lot different to them than it had done before dinner. Stana and Nathan could tell there was so much more they wanted to ask them, but they felt they had revealed quite a lot already and the writer and director seemed to be respectful of that.
"I hope you're comfortable up there, you two. Let us know if you're not, or if you need anything. OK?" Tracy said, a mixed look of hope and concern in her eyes.
"Thank you Tracy, see you in the morning", Stana gave the woman a hug and Tracy held her tightly, conveying several different things into it. She did the same for Nathan and the actors then went upstairs.
Nathan closed the door of the loft room and exhaled deeply, leaning back against it and allowing Stana some space.
"Stana…" he croaked softly, not really sure what he was going to say to her.
"Shush, just shush", she saved him the trouble of speaking, moving right up to him and taking his face in her hands, kissing him soundly.
When their mouths separated, Stana kept her hands on his cheeks. "I'm sorry for how I reacted earlier. I'm way too sensitive sometimes, but you were right. It's an ugly truth, but I did cheat on my husband. I don't think I will ever forgive myself for that but it's something I just need to come to terms with, and I will I promise, but please don't think for a moment that I regret a single second of our time together. I. Love. You, and the most stupid and dishonest thing I have ever done is denying that."
Nathan shook his head. "Don't say that, you've never done anything stupid. You only did what you thought was right." He kissed her forehead. "I love you too."
They held each other for a few minutes before they both started to feel the effects of the very long day they'd had.
They both changed their clothes and got into bed together. Nathan held out his arms and Stana immediately snuggled into him.
"You're a blessing and a gift to me too, you know", Stana muttered to him, smiling into his warm, broad chest.
"Well I think we definitely answered some of Tracy's burning questions anyway. I hope she's not disappointed."
"Are you kidding? I'll bet she's ecstatic. And don't forget, the best is yet to come for her, she doesn't know we're together yet."
Nathan hummed happily. He'd never grow tired of hearing her say that.
"By the way, did you see Little Miss Jill giving you the eye at dinner?" Stana teased him with a giggle.
"Giving YOU the eye at dinner!" Nathan countered playfully.
"She might fancy us both", Stana suggested.
"Well good for her. I quite like the thought of both of us as well." Nathan smiled sleepily, pulling Stana into him even closer.
Stana nuzzled him as he yawned. "Yeah, I like us too." ( Collapse )