*A/N: Based off a prompt from lousiemcdoogle. Prompt placed at the end, so it won't give away the story.


In Need Of Some Action

Castle trotted behind Ryan as they walked down the sidewalk. The other man was jabbering away about his upcoming wedding, and Castle was working at zoning him out. Wedding planning… it brought back memories that he'd rather keep buried. But he couldn't fault the younger man for being so glowingly happy. Being in love and having that love returned was a wonderful feeling. He sighed, wishing that he could share Ryan's mood. But things between him and Beckett were still far too complicated for his liking. He'd been hoping that after that little incident with the cuffs and tiger things would improve. But alas, nothing had happened. Just more of the same. He could only survive off small looks and subtext for so long.

He needed some action… and soon.

"I was surprised when you offered to come with me," Ryan said, snapping Castle out of his brooding thoughts.

"Huh?"

"Not that I'm complaining, I enjoy your company," Ryan assured him with that easy going smile of his. "I just didn't expect you to jump at the chance to come out with me to interview some bank manager, especially after what happened last time you were in a bank."

Castle just shrugged his shoulders, still a little lost in his thoughts. They walked on for a little while like that, before Ryan stopped and glanced at him worriedly.

"Hey," he said. "Are things okay between you and Beckett?"

"What!?" he shook his head in disbelief. "Nah, why'd you ask that? Everything's fine."

"Just… I don't know," Ryan shrugged uncertainly. "There just seems to be more tension between you two than is normal."

Castle eyed Ryan curiously, wondering just how much the boys suspected about him and Beckett. They'd been teased in the past about being 'Mom and Dad', but that had been a long time ago. Things were different between them. They were all friends now. Good friends. There wasn't anything going on that suggested otherwise.

"Okay… I was bored," Castle put forth with a sigh, lying through his teeth. Well, it wasn't really a lie. He had been bored. Sitting around the conference table and going through piles of financial records on their suspect wasn't exactly very thrilling. But it hadn't been the main reason behind his offer to accompany Ryan to the bank. "I just needed some action."

"You do know I'm just going to question the bank manager on the accounts, right?" Ryan asked.

Castle shrugged. "Perhaps, I just needed a change of scenery."

Ryan shook his head, unconvinced. "Whatever you say, Castle, but I'm not buying it."

They arrived at the bank soon after, and Ryan left Castle by the withdrawal slips while he went off in search of the bank manager. Castle fiddled with the pens and paper slips as he waited, growing bored. This case wasn't all too exciting. He was beginning to regret accepting Beckett's call at 4:32 that morning. Raising a hand over his mouth, he suppressed a yawn. He pulled is phone out of his pocket, and glanced down at the screen, checking the time.

Where was Ryan?

Shaking his head, he opened up his contacts, deciding it would be fun to annoy Beckett a little while he waited. Annoying Beckett was one of his most favorite things to do. It was highly entertaining to watch her get all riled up. Smirking, he pressed her name in his contacts and brought the phone up to his ear, listening to the ringer, the anticipation of hearing her voice sending a slight shiver down his spine.

Yeah, he had it bad.

XXX

"Beckett," she snapped into her phone, annoyed with the interruption. She and Esposito had just started to make some headway into the stacks of financial records, finally making some connections between the victim and their prime suspect.

"Miss me yet?" came an all too familiar voice.

"Castle," she sighed, suppressing a smile and carding her fingers through her hair as she glanced up at Esposito, who gave a slight nod, knowing that she'd be out for the count for a while. Pushing her chair back from the conference table, she stood up and walked out into the hall. "What's up?"

"Nothing much," Castle said. "Just standing here by the withdrawal slips waiting for Ryan to return with the bank manager."

Kate bit her lower lip. She could just imagine him fiddling around with those loose pieces of paper. "If you're so bored, what are you doing calling me? I thought you said I was boring."

"I didn't say you were boring, I said the work was boring," he proclaimed in a whiny voice, like the little boy she lo—liked. "My mind turned into a numb nothingness with all those endless numbers. It was driving me insane… and not in a good way."

"So let me get this straight," Kate said, leaning against the brick wall opposite the break room. "Having to sit in the conference room, watching me do a proper and thorough search on a potential suspect's financials wasn't sexy enough for Nikki Heat, eh?"

"I didn't say that," Castle asserted, backpedalling quickly. "But, come on, Beckett, even you must acknowledge that such a scene would be a dreadfully dull read."

"Good thing you don't write non-fiction, then," she said with a smirk. "It would be too boring."

"Hey, now you're just being... Oh, looks like Ryan finally found the bank man—"

Castle's playful voice was abruptly cut off by a rapid burst of gunfire… and then a devastating silence.

XXX

Not again. Not again.

Those words were on repeat in her mind as she and Esposito rushed to the bank in her department issued Charger, desperately praying to whatever higher power that might be up there that luck would once again be on their side and Castle—and Ryan—would emerge unscathed as Castle had the previous time he'd been trapped in a bank with armed gunmen. That horrible image of the New Amsterdam Bank and Trust exploding, sending dust and debris into the air, flashed again and again through her mind, tormenting her.

Several patrol cars were already on scene when they arrived. Kate barely had time to show her credentials to the uniform setting up the yellow tape, before she was demanding to speak with the officer in charge. Esposito grabbed her arm, trying to hold her back and contain her desperation, but it was futile. Nothing was going to stop her. She couldn't live through this again.

Not again. Not again.

XXX

It had been a short, yet tense and emotional, twenty minutes. Apparently their suspect had anticipated their interest in his financials. He'd gone to the bank to threaten the bank manager into silence, hoping to delay them so he could get out of the city without the cops on his tail. What he hadn't counted on was Ryan unknowingly interrupting his attempted intimidation. A brief gun battle had ensued, resulting in two fatalities… their suspect, and Castle's phone.

When the news had finally reached her, via Esposito, Kate had had to grab one of his shoulders for support as she worked desperately to hold back a sob of relief. There had been so many different scenarios that had passed through her mind as they'd waited. Kate was beside herself with a mixture of fear, worry, and regret. All those emotions she'd felt during the events at the New Amsterdam Bank and Trust came flooding back.

There were still so much left unsaid; so many things she'd wanted to tell him… to show him… to do with him. She clenched her jaw, working hard to suppress the rivers of tears that wanted out. She had to be strong. It had been her strength and determination that had allowed her to survive the last time this had happened. Kate just had to hope that they'd meet with the same outcome and that this time—bless Martha, she loved her dearly—there weren't any interruptions.

Movement by the front doors to the bank caught her attention, snapping her out of her thoughts. She watched as the SWAT team prepared to storm the building. But before they could even enter, the double doors were opening, and a shell-shocked Richard Castle was rushing out to wave them in, shouting for the paramedics.

Beckett and Esposito didn't need to be told twice, both pushed forward, following the EMTs up the small stairs and into the building, Castle leading the way. With shaking hands, Castle directed one set of paramedics to the bank manager's office and the other behind the teller's counter, where Ryan was leaning against a cabinet, one hand pressed firmly against his shoulder as blood oozed out around his fingers.

"Hey, guys, what took you so long?" Ryan wheezed out through gritted teeth as he forced a weak smile onto his face. Most of his concentration seemed to be on working at suppressing the pain. Esposito immediately knelt down beside his partner, his eyes and face displaying just how concerned he was for his friend.

Kate turned towards Castle, who was slumped against the wall, catching his breath and wiping the sweat from his brow. The heart palpitations in her chest eased as the worry slowly ebbed away as she took the opportunity to see that he was safe and sound, at least physically unharmed by the day's events.

She went to him without hesitation, startling him by wrapping her arms around him and pulling him into a hug. It took him just a second or two before he relaxed into her embrace, his own arms wrapping around her body in return. Kate squeezed her arms tighter around his torso, dropping her head and resting it against his solid chest, needing to feel the reassuring proof of his beating heart.

When she pulled back, she gave him a watery smile. "God, Castle, when the phone line went dead… I… I thought I'd lost you."

"Oh, hey… no, no… I'm right here," he reassured her, bringing his hands up to caress her shoulder and face, brushing her hair back. She flushed a little at the unexpected intimate touches, but forced the tension in her back to relax, allowing herself the freedom to bask in his warmth. "I'm not going anywhere." He pulled her back into another hug, and Kate sighed, letting the relief wash over her. There were still things that needed to be said, but she could wait. For now… she just wanted to relish the feel of being in his arms.

Biting her lower lip, Kate leaned back, and ducked her head self-consciously as she wiped at the wetness around her eyes. Her cheeks flushed a rosy shade of pink, and she let her hair fall down to hide her embarrassment. Kate couldn't believe she was being so emotional. She struggled with an internal battle to either run and hide or finally just admit to him how important he was to her. If there was anything today—and previous life endangering moments—had taught her, it was that life was too short and precious to waste holding back on something that could make her happier than anything had ever made her. And falling in love with Castle, it was one of the best things that had ever happened to her.

But before she could pluck up the courage to tell him, Esposito came over and gave Castle a 'manly' bear hug. "Damn, dude, for a moment there I'd feared the worst," he said, pulling back. "How you doing?"

"I'm okay. I'm fine. My phone, on the other hand… I think it's a goner. Struck down before its prime. It's a pity too, I just installed a new app I was looking forward to trying out."

"At least it was just your phone, Castle," came Ryan's voice as the paramedics tried to get him to sit down on a gurney. He resisted at first, insisting he could walk on his own, but both Beckett and Esposito managed to convince him it was for the best not to argue with the paramedics when he had a bullet stuck in his shoulder.

As uniforms and various emergency personnel maneuvered around the rooms, securing the scene and assisting those that needed help, they followed Ryan and the paramedics outside, grouping around one of the ambulances, its lights still flashing, unexpectedly reminding Kate of that other day when she'd thought she had lost Castle in that explosion that rocked the New Amsterdam Bank. Kate and Castle stood quietly beside each other watching the activity around them as Esposito called Jenny to let her know what hospital to meet them at. Kate resisted the urge to reach out for Castle's hand. They didn't do that, even if she wished they did. After Esposito hung up and climbed out of the ambulance to join them on the street, Castle turned to him with a beseeching expression.

"Hey, Espo, can I borrow your phone? Mine… got killed."

"I don't know, bro. How many phones is that now? You're like a walking curse or something." Despite his teasing, Kate could see Esposito's relief in his eyes. He'd been just as worried as she'd been over the safety of their friends.

"Ah, come on, I just want to call Alexis, and let her know I'm okay," Castle whined.

"Here, Castle… you can use mine," Kate asserted, pressing her phone into his palm, letting her fingers linger longer than was necessary.

"Thanks," he flashed her a smile that made her insides flutter like she was some young girl finally attracting the eye of her first schoolyard crush. After ten minutes, Castle handed her phone back to her with a grateful smile. He thanked her again.

"Always," she just said it, not even thinking. It just came out of her mouth. Their word for things yet to be said.

Castle's smile grew wider and his eyes twinkled as he gazed down at her. Kate felt a wishful kind of hope flare up inside her, and she tugged her lower lip under her teeth as she contemplated her next move. Stop stalling; tell him how you feel. No. Words weren't her thing. Besides, actions spoke louder than words. Right? Before she could lose her nerve, Kate reached up and grabbed his face, pulling him down until she could claim his mouth with hers in a glorious kiss that said everything that hadn't been said, but would be… soon, later… when they were alone and it was just them and no one else. That was her vow, her promise to herself. She wasn't going to let any more time slip past without expressing her love for this crazy man.

"Wow!" he gasped when they broke away for oxygen.

Esposito was staring at them with a slacked jaw and wide eyes, clearly stunned speechless. Kate ignored him and focused all her attention on Castle. She smiled shyly and ducked her head, biting her lower lip as Castle chuckled.

"Just… wow," he beamed. "Earlier when I said I was in need of some action, that's not exactly what I meant."

"Oh really?" she purred, raising an eyebrow as she narrowed her eyes at him in one of her patented glares.

"No complaints!" he asserted quickly, grinning happily at her. "So… is… is this happening? I mean… are we…?"

"Yeah," Kate confirmed with a nod, surprised that she wasn't feeling overwhelmed by all this. She had been so worried about starting something with Castle before she was ready, she'd never stopped to consider that maybe she didn't have to wait, that she was already ready for this, ready to love him and be loved by him. But first, she needed to come clean.

"I heard you," she said before she could lose her courage. There was no need for her to elaborate; he knew exactly what she was talking about. His features grew cautious, so she continued before he could interrupt. "I'm sorry, so sorry for not telling you the truth. But… I wasn't really in the proper place to reply, no matter how much I wanted to. I… I needed to heal first, to fix myself… make myself better, more worthy of your love."

"Kate," he sighed, shaking his head at her, gazing at her with such tenderness that it melted her heart. "You didn't have to do that. All I want is you, just as you are. That… that's the woman I love."

She nearly choked on a sob of joy at hearing him say it again. It was a balm to her troubled soul, and Kate would spend the rest of her life wanting to hear him say it and never grow tired of it. She looked up at him, gripping his face in shaky hands. "Today reminded me of the fragility of life. I don't want to miss another opportunity with you, Castle. I… I love you."

His beaming face was like a thousand suns, banishing away any darkness that threatened to invade her world. Kate leaned forward and pressed another kiss to his lips, savoring the taste of him on her tongue as they shared air and space.

"God, Kate, I love you, so much… so very much," he breathed out, tenderly running his hands down her face and shoulders, almost as if he couldn't believe this was real and needed the sensation of touch to confirm it wasn't a dream.

"Me too," she agreed with a wide smile, feeling giddy and happy, as if a tremendous weight had been lifted off her shoulders. Kate hesitated for a moment, before deciding to throw caution to the wind. The hard part was over. Now it was time to enjoy herself. "Would you… I mean… I… Do you want to come back to my place for a drink?" Kate asked, fumbling over her question. She glanced up at him, praying she hadn't made a complete fool of herself in her almost desperate desire and need to get him alone and all to herself.

"Yes, that sounds perfect," he grinned.

"Good," Kate replied with a small smile. "I know we probably have a lot to talk about, but maybe… um… if after all that you're still in need of some action, we can find it together."

His eyebrows shut up, and Kate pursed her lips, smiling demurely, rather pleased with herself. Judging from his excited expression, she guessed he had properly interpreted her statement. Castle gaped at her for a moment, before then spinning her around by her shoulders and pushing her in the direction of her car. "Then what are we doing standing around here talking!? Let's get going!"

Esposito called after them, but both were so utterly absorbed with thoughts of finally giving in to their mutual feelings—not to mention the four years of verbal foreplay—that nothing else in the world seemed to exist except each other and their love.

THE END


*A/N: Prompt from lousiemcdoogle: Castle and Ryan are checking a lead. C's on phone to B when there's sudden gunfire & his line goes dead.