State of the Union
Kate sank into the corner of her couch. Her legs curled up under her even as her eyes stayed trained on the television, phone propped against her shoulder.
"I can't believe this. Katherine, is this true?"
Kate breathed out. Slow, calculated. "Yes, mom. It's true."
"Then why isn't he in prison?"
Kate pressed the heel of her free hand to the healed bullet wound in her shoulder. "Friends in high places and a long reach. No one will name him. We have money trails but we need more."
"And the press got wind of this how?"
Kate's teeth sank into her lower lip, eyes rolling up to study the smooth plaster ceiling. "Anonymous tip?"
"Katherine. You didn't…"
"If aconcerned citizen, not employed by the government," Kate interrupted, "happened to go to the press with information alleging a connection between a prominent Senator, drugs, and kidnapping they couldn't be held responsible for what the press did with it. Hypothetically, of course."
"Of course," Johanna mused. "And that being said, how is the unemployed life treating you, Katie?"
Kate shrugged. "It's fine. Been spending a lot of time with Alexis and Rick."
"How is Alexis?"
"She's okay. Better each day, but sometimes she still just stops and stares off into space. She insists she's fine, but Rick made an appointment for her with a therapist."
"That's probably a good idea. If she's not talking to either of you she needs to talk to someone."
"Yeah. I just wish none of this had happened. If I had just—"
"This is not your fault, Katherine. You saved her. You can ask yourself 'what if' and 'if only' until you are blue in the face but it won't change anything. This is Bracken's fault, no one else's, especially not yours." The conviction in her mother's voice sent a shiver down Kate's spine.
She nodded despite the fact that no one was able to see her. "Yeah."
"Now, how's President Ruggedly Handsome, and when do your father and I finally get to meet our future son in law and granddaughter?"
"Mom…" Kate groaned at her mother's teasing, her head flopping back on the couch. "We haven't even been on a real date yet."
Or had a real conversation in the past week. They were strongest in their silence, talking with touches and looks, but not words. Kate sighed into the phone. Maybe she should make an appointment with a therapist too. Maybe they all should. The family that psychs together…
"Yeah, mom. Fine," Kate murmured back, still dazed. "I, um, I gotta go though."
"Oh, okay. Love you."
"Love you too. Tell dad I said hi."
"I will. Bye, Katie."
Kate slid down until she was lying on the couch, legs slung up over the back cushion. When had she started to think of Rick and Alexis as family, and why didn't it send her into a blind panic?
Her fingers came up to massage the crease of her brow. This was the first time she had spent any time in her own apartment in the past week, other than to pop in to gather clean clothes. Even when Meredith had come teetering through the doors of the residence, Kate had stayed in her position cuddled up on the couch. Castle's arm had tightened around her shoulder, pulling her into his side, while Alexis had heaved herself to stand, back rigid when Meredith hugged her.
"I'm okay, Mom." Alexis murmured, her eyes still focused on Kate and her father from where her head was resting on Meredith's shoulder. "Kate found me."
Kate forced a smile onto her face in reassurance while Castle's hand remained, warm on her arm.
Meredith pulled back from her daughter and shot Kate a look over the girl's head. Gratitude, jealousy, disgust- it was all there, painting Meredith's face. Yes, Kate had brought the girl home but if she had been there to begin with, if she hadn't been fired for falling for the president...
No. She hadn't failed, she had brought Alexis home. Bracken's men would have taken Alexis regardless of who was outside that bathroom door. Rick had reassured her of that time and again over the past week, his lips pressed to her ear, murmuring the words of comfort for only her to hear– holding her in the shower when she broke down. And she had done the same for him, his head cradled against her chest.
With a shake of her head, Kate clicked the volume button on the remote until the reporter's voice floated through the apartment once again. Getting copies of the evidence to anonymously leak to the press hadn't been difficult once she had handed her badge and gun back to Kennedy. It was good to have friends in high places. Now, three days later, the media world was still abuzz. Given time the FBI and Attorney General's Office could bring Bracken down, but nothing was ever simple when politics were at play. The media though, had its own set of rules, and while money and strong arming could silence some lips they couldn't silence the world.
Kate smirked at the screen. One way or another Bracken was going down.
The phone buzzed again. The lyrics to Blondie's One Way or Another blared through the space and Kate let out a small laugh even while her eyes rolled. She was never leaving Rick alone with her phone again.
Her brow wrinkled at the unfamiliar Manhattan number and she straightened in her spot when she pressed the phone to her ear.
"Kate, it's Melanie Carmichael. We should talk."
Kate Beckett walked the halls of the White House in a daze, a visitor pass clipped to the lapel of her casual white button down.
"Even when you're no longer a secret service agent, you insist on dressing like one."
"Huh?" Kate turned on the spot to find her boyfriend leaning against the wall right behind her. Jumping back, she pressed her hand to her chest. "Jesus, Castle! How long were you following me?"
"I wasn't," Castle replied, pushing himself off the wall with a smirk. "You walked right past me. What's got you so out of it? I haven't seen you this dazed since the night we…"
"Hey!" Kate's eyes flitted to the two secret service agent standing to the side. "A little discretion."
"Why, Katherine Beckett, I was referring to the time you, Alexis and I turned the Grand Ballroom into a strobe-light laser tag course. We were all zombies for an hour after that. And what exactly were you thinking about?"
He sauntered closer to her, his hands shoved in his pockets, his body leaning into hers. His warmth and scent cocooned her. She hummed against his neck, causing his throat to bob. "You know what night I'm thinking about."
"I'm not sure I do, but I do know I would be up for a repeat performance."
She leaned back to smile up at the impish gleam in his eye, her own eyes darting down and up again with a raised eyebrow. "Oh, you would, would you?"
"Yeah, I would. Tonight. But right now I want to know why you're wandering the halls of the White House looking like you just saw Abe Lincoln's ghost."
Her fingers twined through his, and she tugged him closer, sinking into him, revelling in the feeling of his solid weight against her. She had missed this.
"I got a call from your girlfriend this afternoon," she murmured, the volume low enough for just him to hear.
"What?" He yelped in surprise. Her hand reaching out to catch his tie when he rocked onto his heels and she pulled him back into her. "Beckett? I don't… I promise…"
"Will you hush?" She chastised in response, a laugh escaping her lips. "Melanie Carmichael called me. She offered me a job."
"Melanie?" He repeated, eyebrows shooting to his hairline. "She called you? About a job?"
"Yes," Kate drew out the word, her teeth worrying her lower lip while she studied the wild, calculating expression that had painted his face. "Security consultant and federal liaison. She feels my former positions with the FBI and Secret Service, along with my more recent, more public appearances would make me an asset."
"But that's… that's great!" Castle replied, wrapping her in a vise of a hug. "You had me thinking there was something wrong."
"Well…" Kate hedged, causing Castle's arms to slip from around her, his warm hands gripping her biceps when she pulled back to stare up at him. "There is one caveat."
"Most of their main offices are in New York." She winced when the smile slipped from his face. "But there would be frequent travel to DC. Meetings with federal agencies, trainings at their satellite offices here. I would be here all the time, and I would be happy to come down and stay with Alexis when you're out of the country or she could come stay with me. And I promise, I will be here for your birthday even if I have to call Presidential-adjacent Privilege to make it happen. I know that it would be rough and I'm sure the press will have a field day but-"
Her words were cut off when his strong arms wrapped around her, pulling her hard against him. "We'll work it out." Castle promised. "I am so proud of you, this is a fantastic opportunity."
A smile split open on Kate's face and she pressed it against his neck, revelling in the feeling of the perfect moment.
"But Alexis," Kate continued.
"Alexis will be fine. She knows you can't work here anymore. She understands, and she'll understand that you're still here if not full time. Plus, I'm sure she'll love weekends in New York City." Castle interjected before she could even form her thought. "I also heard something about Bracken's name being leaked to the media. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you?"
Kate shook her head and allowed the smile to flirt with her lips once again. "I heard all that information was anonymous. Who knows where it could have come from."
The White House had settled back into it's normal routine of chaos. Alexis was doing better every day, and Kate, wrapped in the arms of the love of her life, had just been offered the job of a lifetime.
"I love you." The words flew from her lips, needy and urgent.
His answering grin lit up his face, crinkled at his eyes. "I love you too. Now, I feel like this is an occasion that calls for ice cream, Chinese food, and some sort of marathon."
"Some sort of marathon, huh?" Kate teased when they turned toward the residence, Castle's arm slung around her shoulders, hers anchored at his waist. Together.
"Yes. Movies, distance running, sex. Your choice. Though maybe not a drinking contest for this celebration, we don't need you drunk dialing Melanie Carmichael."
Kate's answering laughter reverberated off the walls, causing heads to turn but none of it mattered. Nothing but him, his kid, this moment and all those to come.
"You don't have to get back?" She asked instead, happy to keep the sappy thoughts confined to her own head for now.
"Not tonight. The state of the union is looking pretty great."
A/N: Thank you all for your love and support for this story. It has been such a fun ride. Thank you to Kate Christie, Airbefore and Fembot77 for the edits, cheerleading, tough love and unwaivering support. I couldn't ask for a better team.
Until next story. Xx