Title: Very Very Frightening
Disclaimer: Nope, not mine.
A/N: Cleaning out my 'Completed but Not Posted' folder. This takes place after the events in 'Tick, Tick, Tick' and 'Boom!' (2x17 & 2x18).
She was on the phone with him…that's how it started. That's how it always started.
She could hear him shouting at her, warning her, but she couldn't move. Even when she looked over and saw the bomb; she tried, but she couldn't get her body to obey. She just stood there.
She just stood there and she watched the time count down the last few seconds left, Castle still shouting in her ear.
0:03… 0:02… 0:01…
There was a brilliant flash of fiery light, and the heat hit her a split-second before she heard the sound.
Beckett woke up with a gasp. Her whole body shook as she tried to get her heart rate down and breathe evenly, her eyes darting around the room.
Her room…Castle's guest room.
Not her apartment. Not her bathtub.
She was safe, she was in her bed, nothing was exploding or on fire, and Dunn was in prison.
Every night since the explosion, though, she'd had the same dream. And now…
She nearly jumped out of her skin when a loud 'BOOM!' shook the apartment, barely suppressing a shriek. It took her a minute to identify the source.
There was a thunderstorm.
She looked at her alarm clock…2am. Sometimes, after the dream, she managed another hour or two of restless sleep. Another peal of thunder echoed through the loft and she flinched. This wasn't going to be one of those nights.
With a sigh, she dragged herself out of bed and pulled on the robe Castle had loaned her. A drink of water might help. At least that's what she told herself.
As Beckett stepped into the hall, she was surprised when she discovered that she wasn't the only person awake.
"Hey," Alexis greeted quietly. "You okay?"
"I could ask you the same thing," Beckett said wryly. "How come you're up at this god-awful hour?"
Alexis shrugged, looking slightly embarrassed. "Thunderstorm," she said finally. "I was on my way to Dad's room."
Beckett was puzzled, and it clearly showed in her expression.
"I, uh…I'm still afraid of thunder, a little," Alexis admitted. "Dad lets me sleep in his bed when there's a big storm like this."
Another crash of thunder echoed through the loft, causing both women to jump.
"You too?" Alexis asked Beckett when she saw her reaction.
Beckett cleared her throat. "The uh…the explosion…"
Alexis's eyes widened in understanding, and before Beckett knew what was happening she was pulled into a tight hug.
"C'mon," she said, pulling back and taking Beckett's hand. "You can stay with me and Dad."
"Alexis, I don't know if that's such a good idea…," Beckett protested as the teen dragged her along, trying to tug her hand free.
"Of course it is," Alexis argued. "The thunder is clearly bothering you tonight, but even I can tell you haven't been sleeping well for the last week. You've had nightmares every night, haven't you?"
Beckett was loath to admit it, and had been taking pains to hide her exhaustion from the Castles, but it seemed that Alexis was just as observant as her father. She nodded tiredly.
Before she could come up with any other argument, Alexis was pushing open the door to Castle's room.
He was awake, propped up on his elbows; the covers were pulled back on one side of the bed.
"Hey Pumpkin…I was just about to come check on you," he said, concern evident in his voice.
"I found someone on my way here," Alexis explained, tugging Beckett into the room.
"Beckett?" he asked, not sure what to make of her presence.
Alexis spoke up before she could say anything. "Kate had a nightmare, and the thunder is bothering her too."
Beckett braced herself for one of his obnoxious comments, sure he would be unable to resist saying at least something about trying to get into his bed. Nothing came. Instead, he just scooted more towards the center of the mattress and flipped back the covers on the other side of his bed in clear invitation.
The teenager released her hand, crawling in on one side of her dad and curling up against him, her head resting on his chest when he settled back.
"Look, I…um…I should just go back to my room…I'm fine, really," Beckett tried to sound convincing, but it was ruined when she flinched at another crash of thunder.
"Kate," he said gently, "you and I both know you haven't been sleeping. Just come to bed."
Alexis said nothing, just held out her hand expectantly.
Beckett was wavering, still right on the edge of being able to bid the two good night and go back to her own room when the entire room was lit up by a spectacular crack of lightning, worse than any that she'd heard that night. She paled and moved to the empty side of the bed as quickly as she could without being totally undignified.
After a moment's hesitation, she curled up against Castle, mirroring Alexis's position as she took the girl's hand. Castle wrapped his arms around both of them, pulling them closer.
"Go to sleep, girls," he whispered. "I'll keep you both safe tonight."
The words flowed in such a way that Beckett suspected they were a ritual of sorts between Castle and Alexis on these stormy nights. And now he'd included her in that.
As Beckett drifted off to sleep, she couldn't help but think that she really did feel safe in his arms.