"Well, I guess this is it then," Jim said, hauling the last of his daughters bags out of the car. "Would you believe it, my little Katie bug all ready for college!"

"Stop it, dad," Kate blushed, ducking her head.

"Oh sweetie, you know we're just so proud of you," her mother supplied with a warm smile, "we know how hard you've worked to get yourself where you are and going to Stanford is a huge deal - and you're our only child, this is the only chance we're going to get to drop our kid off at college you know!"

"I'm going to miss you," Kate whispered, raising her head just enough to meet her mothers eyes. "And you too," she added, glancing over at her dad.

"We're going to miss you too, honey," her father said, "but we're at the end of the telephone if you want to call and New York is only six hours from here on a plane, we can be here in an instant if you need us."

"Which you won't," Johanna interrupted loudly, with a reprimanding look at her husband. "You'll be absolutely fine, you're going to make some amazing friends and have a brilliant time - just don't get too caught up in the partying, your classes are important too!"

"And no boys," he dad added, which was met with eye rolls from both his daughter and his wife. "Right, well I guess we better leave you to it, let you get settled into your room."

This was the moment Kate had been dreading, the goodbye to her parents, she wasn't going to see them again until thanksgiving and right now that seemed like ages away. But she was eighteen now, needed to learn to stand on her own two feet and make her own way in the world. It's why she had chosen Stanford, not only had she worked her ass off to get the grades, it was a far enough distance for her to make her own life and not be constantly looked over by her parents. She loved them to pieces but being an only child had made her a little spoilt, always having the attention of her parents and it was time she got used to not having them there 24/7, she was an adult now.

"Bye daddy," she whispered as she wrapped her arms around her fathers neck. "I'll call in a few days, okay, when I've settled in and found my way around a bit." Her father gave her one last squeeze before handing her over to her mother.

"Bye honey," Johanna whispered and the hitch in her voice almost sent Kate into tears. "Be safe, okay? And call when you can, and make loads of friends and work hard and-"

"I get it, mom," Kate laughed. "Now you two go, spend your last night in California celebrating the fact that after eighteen years you have your house back!"

"We'll see you in a couple of months," they promised before heading back into the car and driving off with one last wave.

Right then Katherine Beckett, time to stand on your own two feet and find out where the hell you're supposed to be going right now.

"Hey," a voice said from the doorway, "I'm Lanie Parish, it take it we're roommates?"

Kate looked up to see a young woman entering the room, probably around the same age as Kate herself. The room had been empty when Kate had arrived, but there were two beds so Kate knew she would be expecting someone else soon. "Hi," she smiled warmly. "I'm Kate Beckett and if you're in room 247 then yeah, looks like we're roommates."

"Cool," Lanie replied, hauling her stuff into the room. "Man, this is crazy, I can't believe I'm finally at college!"

"Me either," Kate agreed, "it's all so surreal. You from around here or have you've flown the nest, so to speak?"

"Nah, I'm from Brooklyn, New York, wanted to get as far away from home as possible - and here I am! What about you?" Lanie was piling clothes from her suitcase onto her bed now, preparing to get them put away. Kate had just finished and was wondering what she could do when Lanie walked in.

"Manhattan," she laughed, "crazy, we live in the same city and yet end up meeting on the opposite side of the country!" It had only been ten minutes but Kate was sure she was going to get on well with her roommate already, which was good, the last thing she wanted was a pageant queen who always stunk the room out with hairspray or something. "What're you studying?"

"I'm pre-med," Lanie said with a grimace. "My momma wasn't best pleased, if she had it her way I'd be married by the time I was 20 and have three kids by 25. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course but ya know..it's not me!"

"Wow, pre-med and at Stanford, your mother must be proud, right?"

"Oh yeah, I think she is, first in my family to go to college but I still think she would have preferred it if I chose Columbia or somewhere a little closer to home. Now, I would ask what you're studying but with an accent like yours and knowing you're from Manhattan I'm going to take a wild guess at pre-law?"

"Got it in one," Kate laughed. "You want some help?" She offered, nodding towards Lanie's remaining bags, she felt a little rude sitting there and not helping.

"Oh er..yeah..if you want," Lanie shrugged, "thanks."

"No worries, it'll get done quicker if there's two of us. So, are you one of those that's going to be at parties every night or do you prefer quiet nights in?"

"A bit of both I guess," Lanie replied as they folded her clothes into drawers. "I mean, with my course I'm going to be pretty busy and that's my main priority - can't have my momma saying 'I told you so' when it all goes wrong! But it's college after all, you've gotta party sometime!"

Kate was relieved, she loved a party as much as the next person but she was serious about her studies too, she was determined to make her parents proud of her. "Same," she admitted. "And I'm happy to have nights in with a pizza, watching a sappy chick flic!"

"Oh girl, I can tell now that this is going to be just right!" Lanie exclaimed as the finished her unpacking. "Now what do you say we go and have a look around, see what talent this place has to offer?" She said with a wink and Kate laughed, breathing a sigh of relief that she wasn't completely alone in this place.

A whole week had passed since Kate had arrived at Stanford, she couldn't believe how quick it was going. She'd had introductions to some of her courses during the week and she could tell she was going to enjoy the majority of them immensely, she always looked forward to expanding her knowledge and learning new things. Her and Lanie had become fast friends, meeting each other for lunch in their free time and spending the evenings together too, sometimes with the company of some of the others from their dorm building - the two girls next door were lovely and the two guys from across the hall seemed friendly enough too.

Kate had called home on Thursday, reassuring her parents that she was perfectly fine and that she was enjoying herself. She'd told them about Lanie and a couple of the people she'd met in her first few days and they seemed relieved that she was making friends. Honestly, you'd think she hadn't had any back in New York the way her parents seemed to be worried about it.

Tonight was Saturday and Lanie had told her about a party going on just down the street, some frat boy having a celebration for another year at college or something, they weren't really bothered about the reason but it was a good opportunity to meet some new people and figure out what was good around here. Neither of them had had a chance to get to any parties during the week, both of them so exhausted at the end of the day that they'd collapsed into bed and spent the night talking and laughing until they fell asleep.

"Which top?" Kate asked, exasperated. She'd done her hair, applied her make up and pulled on her favourite jeans, but couldn't for the life of her decide which shirt to wear.

"The green one," Lanie said, sparing half a second to look at the choices before returning to her make up.

"Lanie, you didn't even look!" Kate whined.

"Yeah I did," Lanie argued, "and the green one will bring out your eyes."

The green one it was then.

"That's Rick Rodgers," Amy, one of the girls from the room next to Kate and Lanie shouted into Kate's ear to be heard above the loud music. "I've heard about him, he's a senior, always with a different girl every week, sometimes three or four at once. Famous for flirting with anything with a pulse and the worst thing is the girls just don't seem to care that they're not the only one he's seeing." Amy sounded disgusted with this Rick's behaviour and Kate made a mental note to stay away from him. The last thing she wanted was to end associated with the college Hugh Hefner.

The party was everything Kate and Lanie had expected a college frat party to be, loud music, girls stumbling around drunk, drinks being served in red cups and guys trying to get the attention of as many girls as possible. But still, it was all about the college experience and this party had it in spades. Kate had lost Lanie about half an hour ago, her roommate disappearing with a cute guy to the corner of the room somehwere.

Plenty of guys had tried their luck with Kate but she wasn't looking for a quick hook up, especially not one that wouldn't really be worth her time once the guy fell asleep or puked up due to too much alcohol. Still, she drank and danced the night away, enjoying letting her hair down and having a little fun. She'd not really done this much back home, not properly, anyway. Sure, she'd been to her share of college parties but that was usually with the grunge rocker she'd been dating at the time and they weren't really her kind of people, more of a rebellious action to get at her father. So this was fun, this was what it meant to be young and carefree and not have to worry about curfews or being too loud when she made herself a cheese toastie at three in the morning.

"Do you wanna dance?" A voice came from behind her and she whirled around to find herself face to face with a rather impressive looking chest, what she could make out of it from behind the t-shirt it's owner was currently wearing, anyway. Her eyes darted upwards towards the face of the voice and she had to suppress a grin - looked like Amy had been right, Rick Rodgers was currently stood in front of her, looking at her with a cocky grin on his face, ignoring the rather obvious 'come and get me' looks from plenty of other females in the room.

"Er no, thank you," she replied, turning to walk away from him but he caught her arm.

"Hey," he called, frowning slightly. "What did I do?"

"Nothing," she replied, ignoring the butterflies that had appeared low in her abdomen when he looked at her with those incredibly blue eyes.. "Just..I wouldn't want to keep you.." She told him, pointedly looking around at the various girls waiting for their turn with the famous Rick Rodgers.

"Sweetheart, with a body like yours you can keep me all night."

Ugh, cocky bastard. "All night?" She repeated. "Sure you can go for that long?"

Rick just stared at her, a mixture of confusion and admiration on his face. She'd hazard a guess that he wasn't used to being so blatantly turned down by girls, they probably fell at his feet as he walked through campus.

Kate resisted the urge to pull away as he leaned in closer to whisper in her ear. "Honey, I'll have you know my stamina is more than up to the job."

Jesus Christ who did this guy think he was? "I'll take your word for it," she muttered. "And if you turn around, you'll see that there's more than enough girls just waiting for you to prove to them that you can go all night so why don't you trot on over there and leave me alone."

"You haven't even told me your name," he protested, not moving an inch.

"And I'm sure you can sleep tonight without knowing."

"Kate!" Lanie called, "there you are! Just letting you know that I'm heading- oh, hi," she smiled, realising that Kate was currently mid conversation. "I'm Lanie," she introduced herself, holding out her hand to Rick.

"Rick Rodgers," he announced, "a pleasure to meet you."

"You too," Lanie smiled. "Kate, I'll see you tomorrow," she added with a wink before disappearing into the crowd of people.

"So, Kate, huh?"

Perfect timing, Lanie. "Yes," she sighed.

"Hmm..never would have pegged you as a Kate..something more exotic would suit you I think..."

For crying out loud, the guy had at least ten girls just waiting for him to flash his million dollar smile at them and yet he was stood here contemplating what she should be called.

"Yeah..anyway..I'm gonna go.." She announced, turning on her heel and heading for the door. She made it as far as the end of the driveway before a voice called out to her.

"What, I'm not even going to get your number?"

She turned back and saw Rick stood on the doorstep, a grin on his face. "Apparently I don't look like a Kate but do I really look like an idiot?" She replied before sauntering away, failing to keep the grin off of her face.

Rick was confused and intrigued by Kate, she was different and as he watched her ass as she strode away from him, he knew for sure that he wanted to get to know her just a little better.

A/N: couple of factual issues about this fic: the year is 1998 and Kate is 18, 19 in the November. Johanna is still alive, and I can tell you now that she will not be dying in January of 99, however it may come at a later date. Castle is 22, so only four years older than Beckett, compared to the 10 or so that's between them in the show.

I'm pretty excited about this fic and I hope you all enjoy it, I've planned out a good few chapters so it's looking to be a fairly long one - let's see how we go!

Your thoughts and questions will always be welcome :)

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