"Summertime, summertime, summertime
I gotta get that feeling
Summertime, summertime, summertime
I gotta get that feeling
Nobody loves you
The way that I do
The way you shine through
Gold in the summertime"
- Matt Nathanson
…One year later…
Beckett ran her fingers through her hair with a muted growl of frustration. This week was taking forever in the worst way possible. She'd have to apologise to the boys again, she had been beyond grouchy all week. This morning Ryan had noticeably flinched when she entered the bullpen and she was hit with a wave of remorse. In an attempt to soothe the tension, she'd pushed them out the door for an early weekend with the promise that she'd finish up the paperwork without them.
That had turned out to be a win-lose situation for her. Ryan and Espo left chipper and seemed very forgiving of her wildly unpredictable irritability. On the downside, the paperwork had only settled her into an even more morose mood than she figured was humanely possible. It was the kind of funk that made the sharp summer day seem gloomy and overcast.
The one thing that she was certain of was that she was over the city. She had other places to be. Places that were guaranteed to lift her mood. She scrawled her signature angrily on one final court document and slammed it onto the done pile with a huff of air. Finally finished. She glanced at her watch and scrunched up her forehead with a groan. Great. An hour later than she wanted to be leaving. She'd been too busy to even start the errands she wanted done before she packed. It looked as if she was going to be in for a painfully long evening. Her mood improving was going to have to wait.
Another downcast glance at the time reminded her that she wasting it. She filed the paperwork quickly and rushed to the elevator. By the time she reached street level she had decided that a caffeine fix was the only accessible solution to take the sting out of her atrocious day.
The café door tinkled cheerily as she pushed past it. Her scowl intensified. She sucked a deep breath of ground coffee beans and attempted to mask her current hate for the world. The scent did the trick – somewhat. She struggled to rearrange her expression to politely disinterested as opposed to menacingly standoffish.
The youthful male barista eyed her appraisingly as she fronted the counter. He threw her a megawatt smile. She bared her teeth, finding grimace the closest expression to a smile that she could muster. His smile faulted and he stumbled around asking for her order. She mumbled her regular and gave her name before retreating to a small table nearest to the counter to wait.
The door tinkled again announcing another customer. She listened to the rumble of the man placing his order. He turned away from the counter and his eyes travelled the room. The café was small and experiencing somewhat of an end of the day rush. Most tables were full and patrons chatted chirpily with one another. She felt his gaze drift to her and the empty seat at her table. He caught her eye and offered a friendly smile. He was one of those overly handsome types. Tall, a warn leather jacket stretched over his shoulders, a bike helmet hanging from his hand. He was probably traditionally her type to be honest. Although, her type had changed significantly over the past year.
He strode towards her and gestured at the seat.
"May I?" he queried, his tone laced with charm. She nodded her tacit approval and he slipped into the chair. "Thanks, I'm Josh." He extended his hand to her. She shook it perfunctorily.
"Kate," she murmured.
Castle could feel his daughter and mother becoming increasingly frustrated with him as each day passed. It had been a rough week to say the least. He owned them an apology dinner or two when his foul mood lifted. He knew exactly what would lift his mood, but unfortunately that was still – he checked the time on his phone with a scowl – over twenty-seven hours and forty-three minutes away… and that was allowing seven minutes leeway for traffic.
It was taking much too long, much, much too long. He was going crazy. He'd snapped at his mother over nothing this morning and she'd eyed him in a manner that was both sympathetic and condescending. His daughter had taken to avoiding him and reading sprawled on a towel down by the shore. She usually perched in the beach chair beside him and helped him brainstorm plot points when he got stuck. He was definitely stuck now. Half the point of this week had been additional time to write. Plus, his girlfriend insisted, that despite loving his family wholeheartedly that it might be good for them to spend some quality time together while she remained working in the city. Some quality time that turned out to be, with him sniping and snapping at every available moment. He'd been an arse all week. He owed Alexis a pony. Or at least something equally grandiose in nature.
He checked the time again. He was down to twenty-seven hours and forty-one minutes. He was fairly certain he was going to begin releasing steam from his ears at this rate. He needed a new plan to pass the time. He pouted momentarily about the hopelessness of finding a way to return to his cheery self when inspiration struck him. He would drive back to the city today, stay with her tonight and drive her out to the Hamptons tomorrow instead of sending the car for her. Plus, as an extra bonus, they would be reunited in her family-free apartment without the prying eyes and Alexis' jabs about counselling. Perfect. It was their anniversary weekend and damned if he was going to spend a second of it away from his Kate.
His mother and daughter shared a knowing smile as he hustled out the door with a rushed promise that they'd be back tomorrow (and an unspoken understanding that he'd be much less grumpy by then).
He texted the Ryan from the outskirts of the city who confirmed that Beckett was likely still at work. He was almost heartened to hear that she had been as testy as him all week. She was secretly a massively hopeless romantic just like him. She hated the space as much as he did. Something he never would have guessed about her initially. She was such a sweetheart.
Castle was almost at the doors to the precinct when he paused. He should bring something. A peace offering of sorts for showing up unexpectedly when she was trying to get her work squared away for the weekend. He hoped that she was mad like him over being apart, not mad at him for leaving early for their summer vacation. He knew exactly what he needed to come bearing. It was customary after all. He swung around and hurried down the block to a little coffee shop that he frequented regularly.
Josh was leaning towards her keenly. She settled back in her chair to widen the space between them. She caught a flash of the blue of scrubs beneath his jacket as he ogled her without pretence. She felt her hand instinctively rise to cover the small slip of cleavage that her shirt revealed. He was giving off the air that she should be flattered because he was showing interest in her. Honestly, in another life she may have been. He seemed like a genuine enough guy. He noticed her gaze catch on his uniform and shrugged.
"I'm a surgeon," he smiled proudly. "What did you do?" Clearly he was eager to continue conversing. Beckett was eager for her coffee to come. Still, couldn't hurt to be polite, albeit with an air of disinterest.
"I'm a detective. Homicide." She thought about flashing her badge, but couldn't be bothered. Who really cared if he believed her or not.
"Woooow," he released a slow whoosh of breath. "Noble line of work, I like that," he added with an enthusiastic nod. She smiled curtly in reply.
"Beckett," called the barista, sloshing a takeaway cup onto the bench.
"That's me," Beckett nodded towards the caffeine screaming her name and rose from her chair. "See you," she added with a soft smile.
"Wait – " the doctor panicked, clearly running out of time to pick her up, deciding his best option was following her to the counter.
"Josh," the barista bellowed, startling the man who was now practically right in front of him. He grabbed at the coffee impatiently and turned to find Kate's back to him, quickly adjusting the lid of her drink.
Beckett turned, planning to gracelessly reject any advances and found him in much closer proximity than she realised. His hand was raised to grab her arm and gain her attention. Her precious, precious coffee connected with his outstretched arm. The lid still loose. It spiralled and Beckett watched it fall to the floor in slow-motion like agony. It splashed her blouse as it went, patches of coffee stinging her skin. Josh's face crumpled.
Beckett plucked a handful of napkins from the counter and dabbed at her shirt. She huffed a very contained frustrated breath of air.
"Let me buy you another one," Josh pleaded. Beckett shook her head.
"I don't have time," she sighed.
"Here, take mine," he insisted, extending it to her. Another shake of her head.
"No. Thank you."
Castle loved this café. It was a coffee haven. Steam billowed as you walked inside and the scent of fresh coffee overpowered his senses. The little tinkle the door emitted alerted the barista to his presence and their eyes met in a smile.
Before he could make his way to the counter to order a call of, "Beckett," captured his attention. He swung his gaze to the far end of the counter and there she was. His girlfriend. He felt himself puff with pride and he beamed. The first genuinely happy emotion he had experienced in a week.
He felt his smile slip as a tall, dark and handsome man followed his girl to the counter. The tension eased as the man collected the next order and Castle figured maybe he was wrong about him pursuing Beckett. That thought was short lived though, when the stranger managed to throw Beckett's coffee all over her and the floor. Castle wondered with mild interest if she would throw her cuffs on him for that. Seemed like a legitimate course of action.
Castle figured he better swing into action. He hurriedly re-placed Beckett's order with the barista and strode towards her.
He stepped within earshot just in time to hear –
"Please, let me give you my number and I'll buy you another coffee when you have the time then," from the life juice – coffee – wasting man. Castle snorted derisively at that. Unlikely buddy he thought. It seemed Beckett echoed his sentiments as she began to refuse him.
"No, really it's fine. Goodbye, Josh," her tone was firm yet kind. He opened his mouth to protest, but the barista beat him to it.
"Order for Castle," he trilled. Beckett's head whipped around so fast she practically got whiplash. Her eyes locked onto his, the confusion quickly morphing to joy. She lunged at him and he took the last few steps towards her. He opened his arms and she moulded into them, her face lighting up. He gripped her tightly and felt her entire body relax.
"Hi Beckett," he murmured into her hair. She pulled back so that she could look at him.
"Castle," she sighed, relief colouring her tone. She tipped her face towards his and chastely pecked his lips. He couldn't help himself, his hands rose to knot through her hair and he pulled her back in, kissing her soundly. PDA be damned.
"That coffee's yours," he nodded at the counter. Beckett gazed at him in pure adoration.
"I love you. So much," she clutched at the coffee desperately, taking a slow sip. "Mmm."
"I know," Castle chuckled. "Come on, I'll help you pack."
"How'd you know I hadn't even started," Beckett grumbled, allowing Castle to lead her away with interlocked hands. As they reached the door, Castle threw a sympathetic glance over his shoulder to the stranger standing beside the spilled coffee, seeming at a loss. His expression perplexed at the sudden turn of events. Poor guy, Castle thought, a year ago he might have had a shot. But now, not a chance.
Packing turned out to be a difficult feat for the pair of them. Castle seemed much more adamant at taking clothes off her than putting them into her suitcase. She wasn't really in the mood to protest about that either. They were both a little more than counterproductive.
"Happy anniversary weekend," Castle murmured as he held her in his arms, sated and more than just mildly content.
"One year," she smiled, he could feel the curve of her lips pressed into his chest.
"Remember our first time?" he chuckled.
"Not something I ever plan on forgetting," she replied dryly. She traced the planes of chest and giggled. "I remember the second time too… and the third… and the fourth…"
"I get the picture," Castle laughed.
"Admittedly the fifth time's a little blurry," Beckett teased.
"What?" he mentally calculated. "Oh, with the whisky. That one's seared into my brain. You don't remember it?"
"The whisky," she agreed.
"Yeah…" he reiterated, a touch confused.
"No, I mean the whisky is why it's a little blurry," she grinned.
"I think attempting a shot for every case we'd ever worked together was probably foolish after two years worth," he mused.
"We should try for three," she smirked.
"As I recall, you were the one struggling to hold your liquor, Beckett," he gaped at her. She grinned deviously.
"It doesn't hurt to try."
"I think it could hurt very much the next day," he reminded her. She winced, flashing back to the memory. Lucky Martha was a more than competent Bloody Mary connoisseur.
"Look at you with the logical points. That's out of character," she simpered.
"Very funny," he rolled his eyes, apparently he'd adopted some key Beckett's traits over the time they'd shared together.
"I thought so."
"Beckett?" his tone edged at exasperated, all an act, he could never be fed up of her.
"Rick-k-kk," she teased out the k, clicking her tongue slowly over it.
"Our first time?" he prompted, drawing the conversation back to his earlier question.
"Would you like the play-by-play?" she entreated him, mock solemnity lacing her voice.
"Uh… Yes," he replied breathily.
"Oh," she laughed, clapping a hand over her mouth as it dropped open. "Okay," her jaw set with a determined grin. "You know, we might as well go full re-enactment if that's what you're in the mood for," her eyes set with a wicked glint.
He felt his throat dry and he gulped nervously. He managed a ridiculously exaggerated nod. Her replying smile was dazzling. He was momentarily blinded by it and lost the majority of his cognitive functioning. All non-essential really, when his lower brain, the one below his waist, was technically doing all the key thinking in this moment.
Beckett pushed back the sheets and climbed from the bed. If they were going to re-enact this right, then the bed was nonessential for the time being.
"Castle," she beckoned. "We need to start this by the door," she nodded.
"Oh, right. Right." More nodding. Castle, with all the grace of a car crash, rose from the bed, catching his ankle in the sheets and tipping precariously floor-wards. Thankfully, the most delicate bone in his wrist caught his fall and a flash of pain ricocheted up his arm. "Ouch," he grumbled. In an even more precise movement, that took his earlier grace from small ding to several car pile-up, he tried to save his wrist from even more pain and pulled it out from under him. This resulted in the crown of his head coming to meet with the floor instead. Definitely akin to a multiple car smash. Such coordination. He pulled himself together as Beckett struggled to rein in a cacophony of giggles. Silent tears streamed down her face and she swallowed her laughter. Oh Castle. He managed to right himself and shot her a goofy smile as he self-consciously ambled over to her. "Whoops," he chuckled, embarrassed. He ran his hand through his hair as if to smooth down his shame.
"You know what, Castle?" she practically drawled. He eyed her speculatively, daring her to make fun of him in his moment of ill-functioning gross motor skills. "I am so impressed with your dedication to this re-enactment… You've really nailed that initial nervousness you had going on the first time we slept together. You're a real master of the craft." He stared at her stunned.
"Oh, ah. What can I say? I'm dedicated alright."
"I'll say," she beamed.
"I plan on remaining as dedicated to the rest of the performance, Beckett," he growled, finding the moment. He crowded her towards the door, only stopping when the soft oomphf indicated her back was flush with it. He gazed at her momentarily before pressing his lips to hers, attempting to convey that original sense of awe and tentative affection that marked their first date.
Her hands made fast work of his belt. Desperate and oh so needy as that had been that first time, but he could sense the familiarity that came with time. She no longer fumbled around, trying to work his button. It came easily, her focus entirely on his lips, she didn't have to pull back and glance down at her hands with a huff of frustration. It was seamless, a movement of muscle memory.
It was the same for him, his hands deftly unbuttoned her blouse, pushing it back over her shoulders without pausing. Their first night, he kept dragging his mouth away to mutter a request for permission for every item of clothing that he removed. It seemed that was no longer necessary. It was natural. He could unclasp her bra without hesitating. Despite the regularity of it all, he still marvelled at her beauty at every available moment. He gently tugged the lace from her breasts, making no secret of his admiration. He tugged his lips softly away from hers with pop. He drank her in, unashamedly, his hands following his eyes to brush across her chest.
"The staring is creepy," she teased.
"You love it," he husked.
"I love you," she amended, pushing his jeans to pool at his feet and raking her hands over his arse.
"I love you too," he sighed, mirroring her move and sliding her pants down her thighs.
"Mmm," she smiled, jerking his shirt impatiently from his torso. Clothing no longer an obstruction, he pressed her tighter to the door as she locked her legs around his waist. They moved messily together, saving the foreplay for round two. Their first time had been rushed, the need to finally have their way with each other the driving force. It hadn't mattered, the following rounds had come in quick succession. She had a feeling that this night would be a repeat of that.
Sunlight pushed softly through the window and Castle stirred, tightening his arm around Beckett with a grunt. His movement dragged her to life and she opened her eyes. The bleariness that had characterised the entire week was gone, replaced with a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed feeling of relaxed elation. She was on vacation. Finally. She didn't want to waste another second in the city. She wanted to get to the Hamptons and his – their – family.
"Ca-aa-stle," she poked him playfully. Nothing. She added a little more grunt to it, shoving more than poking now.
"Ouch," he grumbled, his tone heavy with sleep. Beckett found it undeniably sexy. The things that man did without even trying. Not that she'd tell him, his ego could do without the inflation.
"Time to go," she nuzzled his neck affectionately, before turning her attention to nibble on the lobe of his ear as he steadfastly clung to sleep. She bit him again, laving her tongue over the injured flesh as she went.
"Oww… ouch," Castle muttered again, swatting his hands towards her, eyes still closed. "Pest," he hissed. Beckett rolled her eyes despite knowing full well that Castle couldn't see it. He was killing her vacation vibe with all this sleeping in… She knew he would argue the opposite, that sleeping in was conducive to vacation time, but in this instance he would be wrong. After all, they weren't truly on vacation until they were at the beach feasting on marshmallows. Fact.
"Ca-aaaaaaaaa-stle," she whined. "Get up. It's time to go. I want to show you my new bikini." His eyes flickered open with that.
"New bikini?" he repeated. She bit her bottom lip and nodded, letting her hair frame her face. The classic look of seduction when it came to Richard Castle. "Oh," he gasped. "Okay. I'm awake. Let's go." He shuffled from the bed and she heard the shower start moments later and steam begin to billow from the door. She trailed in his wake, finding the glass door still ajar in anticipation of her following him. She kissed him sweetly before reaching for her toothbrush. Morning breath was never a turn on.
She prodded him to shower quickly, eager to hit the road. He trudged down the stairs behind her, recognising that time spent waiting for the elevator was time she was not willing to waste. The drive passed by seemingly quickly, Beckett revelled in the sunlight bouncing from the dash and warming her skin. No sooner had the tires crunched through the gravel, the front door was flung open and a flash of red hair erupted.
"I missed you, Kate," Alexis squealed into her ear, engulfing her in an enthusiastic hug. "Dad was incorrigible all week," she added with a sigh. Beckett laughed and tightened her embrace momentarily before releasing the girl so that she could peck a kiss on her father's cheek.
"Missed you too, Lex. Believe me, I've been no better than your dear old dad this week either," she grinned.
"Oh I know," Alexis giggled. "Lanie has been texting me."
"Of course," Beckett shook her head with a wry smile.
"I've made you guys brunch," Alexis added, tugging Beckett through the door. Castle slung her bag over his shoulder and followed his girls inside. He found them on the patio, a generous spread covering the table. He pressed a kiss to his mother's cheek and sat down beside her.
"Richard, Katherine, lovely to see you kiddos," Martha articulated. "Has Alexis told you about our unexpected encounter from yesterday evening?" The redhead jangled as she spoke, the jewellery lining her arms dancing with the movement of her hands. Alexis released a steady groan, lowering her head into her hands momentarily.
"Not yet?" Castle replied. "Should I be concerned?" he eyed Alexis inquisitively.
"It was a terrible moment of déjà vu," his daughter sighed in response. Castle prompted her to continue with an arched brow. "Grams and I went for a walk along the beach around twilight…" she paused, a slight shudder rippling through her as she prepared to relive the memory. "It was last year all over again," she cringed. "Guess who we ran into?"
"Who?" he replayed her words. "No…"
"Yes," Alexis nodded solemnly.
"What is she doing here?" Castle groaned.
"Entertaining," Martha snickered.
"What does that mean, Mother?" he glared.
"Remember that young up and coming author?" his mother grinned.
"No," Castle gasped.
"So, what you're saying is that Gina is staying in the Hamptons with Alex Conrad?" Beckett clarified knowingly.
"Yes," the Castle clan answered in unison.
"As long as you didn't invite her, I'm happy," Beckett smirked.
"I'm not ever making that mistake again," Castle growled. "You know what, I have a story from the city for you two," he beamed at his daughter and mother.
"Go on," Alexis nudged.
"I interrupted a meet-cute between Beckett and some smug doctor," he groused teasingly.
"Oh Rick," Beckett shoved him playfully, a little embarrassed he'd decided to share her awkward encounter with his family. "He didn't have chance," she laughed.
"Don't I know it," he beamed glowingly.
It was true, there never was a chance. Not for Gina. Not for doctor motorcycle boy. No one else had a chance. It would be the two of them. That was it. Beckett piled a heaping of scrambled eggs onto her fork and smiled at the scene before her. The ocean stretched out in front of them, every shade of blue and green more picturesque than the last. The salty air caressed her skin, reinvigorating her joy. The man she loved sat beside her, his hand resting on her thigh, tracing meaningless patterns as he talked and laughed with his family. The young redhead she considered part friend, part daughter sat to her other side, shooting her a knowing look every time her father mentioned something verging on ridiculous. The mother figure she so valued, but didn't fully realise how much she needed sat across from her mercilessly ribbing her son as they chatted. She was happy. Truly content. Happy anniversary weekend indeed. There was no feeling like summertime with the Castle's, it was golden.
"The city streets glow
Gold in the summertime"
- Matt Nathanson
AN: I realise some of the timelines in this chapter are a little off, but just go with it! Thank you for joining me that on this journey that turned out infinitely larger and longer to complete than I anticipated. I would highly recommend checking out the song that this story is inspired by (and all Matt Nathanson's music for that matter).
If you enjoyed this story, please check out my older stuff. I would particularly recommend 'Sealed Lips' and 'One Writer Girl'. I have a few one-shots in mind that I'd like to get out someday soon(ish) as well as another multi-chapter fic in the works (given how atrociously I updated this story I may try write that one in completely in advance before publishing so it could be a while before it's up).
Once again, thank you all for sticking with me on this story! I appreciate you all for reading, reviewing, etc. I'm still mourning how all this Castle business went down this year so your support has been especially meaningful. Thank you!