Disclaimer: The only part of Castle that I own is the TV on which I watch the show.

It's Beckett v. Beckett in Family Court: the kitchen in a cabin in the woods, two hours' drive north of New York City.

"Dad," Kate Beckett says, perched on a stool with her elbows on the counter, trying to steady her voice. "I really can't stand to go over this again."

Jim Beckett looks and sounds exasperated with his daughter, who is insisting that she heal on her own and that he return to his law practice in the city. "Maybe that's because you can hardly stand at all, Katie. You can't even walk from here to the fireplace without having to stop."

Anger nudges away her little vestiges of politeness. "Well, then, you don't have to worry about me running away, do you, Dad? Something you're always accusing me of doing."

"Look, let's not argue about this—"

"Good, we agree. We're not arguing anymore. I'm thirty-one years old and can take care of myself. And there's enough food here—and what did you put in the freezer, anyway, half a cow?—for a year."


"Please. Dad. I'm so grateful for how much you helped me in the last couple of weeks, but I want to do the rest on my own. I can change my bandages now. I can eat." She picks up her phone from the counter and waves it at her father. "And you and the doctor and anyone else I might need are right here."

He puts his hands up. "Okay, okay. You win. But I'll be back on Saturday morning, and stay the weekend."

"Fair enough, counselor," she says. She wants to send him off on an optimistic note. "Maybe you can bring the other half of the cow when you come back."

Not long after she's waving to him from the porch, gripping the door jamb to keep herself upright. She waves until he's nothing but the dust his car tires kick up as he drives down the dirt road. When she's certain that he's out of sight, she slumps against the door and breathes as deeply as her not-fully-mended wounds allow. "God, I need some coffee," she says, and totters slowly inside.

She's not yet allowed caffeine in what she considers sufficient quantity, but found that if she mixes decaf with really good high-octane beans, her coffee is at least potable. Limited activity, fresh air, and the tray load of meds she has to take conspire to make her sleepy, and she hates it. Her brain feels like sludge. Bad enough her body is so weak, does her mental acuity have to be zip, too?

She's indulging in this early evening bit of self-pity when punishment arrives. She has just taken out the bag of coffee beans when she knocks it over with her elbow and the contents scatter on the floor. They skitter under the fridge and the sink, carom off the sofa and the bookcase, and wind up under a table and two chairs. Some shoot all the way across the room, barred from a journey to the out-of-doors only by the threshold. "Damn it," she says. "God damn it."

Castle had given her five one-pound bags of those very pricey, heavenly beans a few months ago, after they'd closed the case of a juror who had been poisoned with cyanide-laced coffee. "Have to get the awful taste out of your mouth, Beckett," he had said as he presented the coffee to her. When she had pointed out that she hadn't been the one who ingested the cyanide, he'd said, "Doesn't matter. This case could have poisoned your mind against coffee. When you think of it now, I want you to think of this Jamaican Blue." She'd asked her father to fetch two bags from her freezer and bring them up to the cabin, and he had. Just told him she wanted them, not the source.

She definitely can't crawl on the floor, but she gets the broom and though it takes a long time she makes a reasonably good job of it, brushing most of the beans into a rounded pyramid next to the stove. It's when she bends to move the pile into the dustpan that she realizes her mistake, as she screams in pain from the effort. Now she's in agony, so intense that she drops the broom, which sends hundreds of beans all over the floor again. Jenny Bemis, the nearest neighbor, is dropping by on Tuesday morning in case Kate needs anything; but that's 36 hours away, and the coffee will have to stay where it is until then.

It takes several minutes for the pain to subside enough for her to move at all. She surveys the area as she hangs on to the counter. "These fucking beans. I'm going to slip on them and break my fucking leg or my fucking arm or my fucking neck and then I'll never fucking get well, ever." She tries nudging a few out of the way with her foot, but it's an unsatisfactory exercise. They just roll to a different place where they can trip her up. Walking across the floor will be like navigating a mine field. She's trying to keep her mind clear. She hasn't the strength to stand on only one leg, either, which makes moving one foot like that almost impossible unless she has an immovable object to hang on to.

Immovable object.


There's an immovable object for you. A massive, immovable object. True, he has trouble sitting still, but in one way, one all-important way, he's immovable. He's stuck by her for three years. He's completely steadfast. He's in love with her. He'd said so. He'd said so right after he'd tried to push her out of the way of a bullet. There was no chance, not when that projectile was traveling at 2,300 feet a second, but he'd tried. He'd told her to stay with him. Told her not to leave him. His blue eyes, a more beautiful blue even than the sky behind him, were the last thing she'd seen when she'd closed hers. But she remembers that, and remembers the warmth of a tear that had fallen from his eye and landed at the corner of her mouth. She'd wanted to taste it, but she couldn't. Couldn't move. That was the last thing she'd known, his tear on her lower lip and the horror in his blue eyes.

And the next morning she'd told him not to call, that she'd call him, and she hasn't. What kind of a coward is she? She'd divested herself of Josh 48 hours after her shooting and spent another week in the hospital before coming up here. It's been 24 days since she's seen or called or emailed Castle. Twenty-four miserable days.

She must have looked like death when he'd seen her the morning after her surgery. Of course she looked like death, she'd died in the ambulance on the way from the cemetery—how weird is that, dying after you leave a cemetery?—and again in the O.R. If she were a cat, she'd be down to seven lives, but she's not a cat, she's a human, and how many more chances is she going to get? She's pretty sure she's down to one life, and she really, really, really wants to spend it with Castle. There. She's said it. Well, not out loud, but in her head. But it's going to take a while before she can give voice to that thought, because she's a mess. Her head is mess and so is her body. She can't give him a messed-up head or a messed-up body.

She can't believe the pain that's stabbing her in the side now. She was supposed to be getting something to eat, she'd promised her Dad that she would. She can't. Everything hurts too much. She needs her meds. If only she could have some coffee to wash them down, if only it weren't all over the floor. She can't call Jenny Bemis and ask her to ride to the rescue. "Hi. Sorry to bother you on Sunday night when you're probably in bed, but it's an emergency. Could you please drive over here and pick my errant coffee beans off the floor since I'm incapable of it?"

Her hands are trembling a little, but she gets the bottle open. The pain is so ferocious that she can't read the label well. Two, right? Her Dad had been taking care of this, but it must be two. She's pretty sure she can remember feeling two pills on her tongue every evening. She fills her wish-it-were-coffee mug with some water, and swallows.

Thank God this stuff kicks in fast. It takes her a quarter of an hour to inch across the kitchen and living room to her bed, but by the time she gets there she's feeling much better. She brushes her teeth, gingerly takes off her yoga pants, and lies down. Huh. She's feeling remarkably well. Why is she here by herself? She needs company. If she had company she could have coffee. They could have coffee. Her company could get the beans off the floor and put them in the grinder that goes whirr whirr whirr and then put them in the pot and then the water would get hot and turn into coffee. It's a miracle! A miracle drink.

Who would be good company? Who would come get the beans? Who makes the best coffee on the whole planet Earth and the solar system and probably the universe? Castle! That's who! She'll just call him. Oh, maybe he doesn't want to be disturbed. It's very late. She said she'd call him and she hasn't. She's bad. Bad bad bad. What if she texts? That's a great idea! That's not a call. Where is her phone? Oh, right here. Here it is. She can type. Type type type. Castle Castle Castle.

There are two mugs and two glasses—one wine, one tumbler—on Castle's desk. All of them should be in the dishwasher. He should be in the shower. He's been moping around in the same tee shirt and pajama bottoms for two days, but he's all alone, so what difference does it make? He's sort of playing a game on his computer, but his heart isn't in it. His heart hasn't been in anything for 24 days. Twenty-four miserable days. His phone chirps. He'd like to ignore it, but he's a parent, and parents can't ignore their phones, especially when their children are away at a college prep summer program.

He picks it up. It's not his daughter. Jesus, it's Kate.

"Hey, Castle, guess what? I am all by myself at the cabin and I spilled the beans. That sounds like I told a secret but I didn't, even though I have a secret! I spilled the coffee beans you gave me. I can't pick them up. I need coffee. I need company. Can you make me coffee and keep me company? Oh, this is Beckett."