A/N: Well, here we are, finally at the end of this story. Thank you for the follows, favourites and reviews.
There have been some interesting points made by guest reviewers, but unfortunately I am not able to respond to them. If you would like to have a discussion, please log in, I am keen to explore some of these alternate viewpoints.
Disclaimer: I don't own them, and I make no money from this. Like many others, I just like playing with them for a little while. I will be forever grateful to AWM and TEM for creating this wonderful little world.
He sent the text, and then remembered he had one more onerous duty to perform. If he could get that out of the way this morning, he could regain his good mood by tonight when he saw Kate.
He dialled a familiar phone number.
"Sophie, can you please put me through to Ms Cowell's office."
"Richard" Gina answered the phone, "What's this I hear about you asking for another publishing manager? It's a bit late for April Fools".
"No joke, Gina, I have terminated our business relationship, the signed paperwork went back via Paula last night." There was a stunned silence on the end of the line, so he continued.
"I haven't taken this step before, even after the divorce, because we had a good working dynamic, and while you were harsh about chasing chapters, I respected your role. You, however, showed this weekend that you cannot respect my role or my specific instructions to drop the assault issue. I cannot work with someone who I cannot trust to look after my best interests, and I will not work with you any longer."
Gina was stunned anew by this statement, she had never seen Rick this assertive, or heard the restrained anger in his voice, especially not directed at her.
"But Rick, I am the best publishing manager at Black Pawn, you know that. Why would you risk your future career over a petty little misunderstanding?"
"Petty little misunderstanding? No, Gina, this is just another example of you doing what you think is best for you, regardless of other people. I put up with that enough during our marriage, but I will no longer accept it. What you seem to forget is that I am the author that produced those best sellers, and yes, and you and Black Pawn have marketed them well to bring me success, but still the content is mine."
"Rick" Gina tried to interrupt, take back control of the conversation, but Rick was having none of it. The past weekend had reminded him that he could succeed when he went after something with intent (despite the little hurdle of misunderstanding that was now resolved) and it brought back to him the confident, assertive man he had been. While he hoped and would work for a true partnership with Kate, he had no intention of giving up control to anyone else ever again.
"Now I didn't call to debate this with you, my decision is made. I know we will probably still bump into each other at certain events, and I hope that we can be civil to each other. I figured that after the years we worked together, you at least deserved an explanation direct from me. Now that is done, and I have better things to do with my time. Goodbye, Gina" and with that, Rick hung up the phone.
He still had a few hours before he was due at Kate's, so he lost himself in his writing haze again. He took his laptop into the bedroom and set up against his headboard, surrounded by the smell of Kate in his sheets. That and his memories were enough to inspire him to finish the final chapters of the second Nikki Heat book, and send it for editing to his new publisher.
Kate was grateful that the criminals of New York were still holding off on committing murder, or at least enough that her team had not caught a body yet. It gave her enough time to complete all her outstanding paperwork, and then to plan on what to cook for dinner for Rick. When 5pm came, both she and the boys were in the elevator before the clock stopped chiming. Montgomery looked after them with a small smile, thinking that for the first time, all was right with his little part of the world.
Kate stopped off at the local grocery store on the way home, and picked up the ingredients for her mom's lasagne. She had not made it in a very long time, both because she hardly ever felt like cooking for one, but also because the memories were bittersweet. But now she wanted to share this, and many other things with Rick. Once home, she changed into casual clothes, and started preparing dinner. She was so caught up in the familiar actions, and her memories, that she didn't hear the first time Rick knocked on her door. It was only the second, louder knock that shook her from her daydream and had her almost running to the door.
"Hi" Rick said when she opened it, drinking in his first sight of her today.
"Hi yourself" Kate smiled, and ushered him into her apartment. She took the bottle of wine from him, placed it gently on her kitchen bench, then turned and threw her arms around his neck, and pushed her whole body flush with his. Their kiss was soft and tender.
When they broke for air, Rick looked around trying to guess what Kate was making. Before he had a chance to ask, she spoke. "My favourite recipe of moms' is her lasagne. And for dessert, we have her apple pie." Her face was shy and hesitant, as if she was uncertain of his reaction.
"Oh, wow, Kate, I am honoured that you would share these with me. Thank you, I can't wait."
They chatted about their day while they set the table and plated up. Rick held off telling her about his morning conversation, not wanting to disrupt the casual domesticity of the evening. Finally, when they had both eaten their fill, Rick leaned back in his chair and patted his stomach.
"Wow, Kate that was amazing, and again thanks for sharing your mom's recipes with me. I can honestly say, you can cook for me anytime." The smile on his face made hers wider and brighter. He noticed that her eyes held a glimmer that he had only rarely seen, it was like her whole face was smiling.
They cleaned up, again side by side, Kate marvelling at how comfortable it was to work together like this. Then they took their wine glasses, after Rick filled them again, and sat on the couch, Kate curled into Rick's shoulder. They enjoyed this closeness for a while, before Rick decided to speak.
"I spoke to Gina today" He started, and felt Kate tense next to him. He smoothed his hand up and down her shoulder and arm as he continued to talk, and felt her slowly relaxing again.
"I asked for a new publishing manager from Black Pawn on Tuesday, and formally terminated my business relationship with her. I put up with a lot from her during and even after our marriage, but this latest incident was the last straw as far as I am concerned. Maybe it's something I should have done sooner, but it's done now." He paused, looking into Kate's eyes, and saw understanding there. He then continued in a softer voice.
"And I was so inspired by the sight of my messy sheets, and your smell throughout my bedroom, that I finished the final chapters of the book and sent them in for editing. I fully expect them to come back for some revisions, but I am now mostly free to continue solving murders with you for the rest of the summer!"
"Geez, Rick, you have had a busy day, haven't you?" Kate teased. "And have you spoken to Alexis today?"
"Yes, she called early this afternoon, still excited and full of beans. I would like to tell her about us soon, you know I don't keep anything from her. And I think my mother is starting to become suspicious, she hasn't actually said anything, and that's unlike her, but I have seen the looks she has been giving me these past couple of days especially when she asks me about 'Dear Katherine'."
Of course, Rick, I would never want you to lie to your family. I just think we should keep it quiet at work. Technically you are not a cop, so the fraternising rule doesn't apply, but I don't want to put any noses out of joint. As long as we can be professional at work, I think Montgomery will cover for us."
"Montgomery? What?" Rick asked, a little taken aback by her easy confidence in that statement.
"Roy is like a second father to me, you know that. He spoke to me last night, as I was leaving, making sure I was OK after the events of last Friday. He seemed happy when I agreed you would be back to work some cases with us over the summer."
"Well, I am very glad of that, Detective, because there is nowhere I would rather be than at your side at work and play." He gave her one of his special smirks, but then leaned in and kissed her to punctuate that statement. They continued kissing and snuggling, sometimes speaking quietly, until Kate's eyes started drooping.
"OK, I think both of us have had a long couple of days, why don't we get some sleep?" Rick asked, standing up and extending his hand to help Kate up as well.
"Good idea, I am on call as of midnight, and I would like to get a couple of hours sleep. I seem to sleep better when you are here." Kate's filter was obviously off while she was half asleep, but she wasn't going to censor herself, didn't need to with Rick.
"So do I" whispered Rick, and led her to the bedroom.
Kate's phone beat her alarm by twenty minutes. Even in her half asleep state, she reached over to the bedside table and answered, her crisp 'Beckett' belying the fact that her eyes were still closed. She listened to the instructions as she made her way to the bathroom, then threw the phone onto her dresser and jumped in for a shower to fully wake up. By the time she was finished, Rick was up and in her kitchen, making her a to-go coffee and kissing her on the way out the door. She wrote the address on a slip of paper, and he said he would be there shortly. Once he locked the door behind Kate, he jumped in the shower and was on his way just 5 minutes later.
The crime scene was in midtown, so he stopped off at their favourite coffee shop and brought them both a coffee and a bear claw each. He walked past the police cordon, nodding at the uniforms there. Kate was talking to Lanie next to the body when he arrived, while Ryan and Esposito could be seen interviewing potential witnesses.
"Good morning, Detective Beckett" he said, handing her the coffee. "And good morning to you, Doctor Parish." Lanie looked at him hard, but then, seeing that Kate was quite Ok with him being there, she decided not to comment. She would get the details out of Kate later.
After the scene had been processed, they both hopped into Beckett's cruiser for the trip back to the precinct. Before she drove off, Castle handed her the bear claw, and she smiled while she ate it, thanking him. I can really get used to this, she thought, putting the car into gear.
When she parked back at the precinct, she took a moment to reach across and take his hand in hers, look him in the eye and smile. They didn't need words to know what each was thinking, so he smiled back at her.
They were the only ones in the elevator, which was no surprise as it was still quite early, and Ryan and Esposito were still out canvassing the area. Just before they reached the Homicide floor, Rick reached out and pushed the stop button, then leaned in and kissed Kate, storing up until they could be alone again. Then he pushed the button again, and the doors opened onto the mostly empty bullpen.
As they stepped out and walked towards the whiteboard, ready to set up for the new case, Castle caught Beckett's eye, and said quietly, so only she could hear-
"I think I really like elevator rides."