To Challenge a Hellcat

"No!" Alexis shouted. Her face was flushed, her eyes watery but unwilling to shed the tears. In all honesty, she reminded Beckett of herself in worse times. "You promised. You promised they would be okay."

"I won't stop –"

"Maybe you should."

"Listen, Alexis. I know it's not easy, but it's not over."

Alexis scoffed. "It never is with you."

Her words were sharp, cutting through Beckett like the memory of the bullet. She would know.

It wasn't over.

It wasn't the first time Beckett had said those words today, but it was the first time she'd said them out loud. When the bank had blown up, her world had stopped spinning. Her heart only beat to the rhythm of those words. It's not over. It's not over. It's not over. It was a moment's respite when they entered the room next to the one where the C4 had detonated.

She'd heard Martha's feeble and pained "Katherine" and only then did she dare to think anything beyond her mantra. It's not over. It couldn't be.

But then her eyes had frantically searched for Castle. It's not over. Martha had told her that Trapper John had taken Castle. He'd dragged Castle away saying that he intended to keep his promise to "kill him last".

"Alexis," Martha's voice held admonition, weak as it was.

"It's okay, Martha," Kate said, trying to bravely meet her eyes. She could take it. Maybe she even deserved it.

"It's not. Alexis, none of this is Katherine's fault," she said softly, even as she was stoically trying to get through the pain of her obviously broken wrist that the paramedics had put into a splint.

There were a few injuries, but thankfully no fatalities in the explosion. Martha had a head wound from a piece of tile falling on her head after the explosion. She'd braced her fall on her left wrist. The paramedics had quickly splinted it for her, but she would need to go to the hospital to get checked out anyway. As soon as the paramedics were done triaging the rest of the injured, they'd take most of the people to the hospital.

"A long time ago, I trusted you with him," Alexis said, her voice tight. But she continued more softly. "He's so sure of you, you know?"

Her words had startled Kate, not that she let it show beyond a gasp that was out of her control.

"It's like you're a superhero. You're his Nikki Heat," she went on, unaware of just how deeply her words were affecting Kate."You're bulletproof and untouchable. Except you're not."

"No, I'm not."

"You're not. You were shot, and you broke, and he broke right along with you."

"I'm sorry," Kate breathed.

Alexis smiled, albeit a sad little smile. "I know. I could see," she said, and quickly shook her head. "I didn't want to. But I could see today, and I felt, for the first time today since the day you were shot, that I could trust you again with him. You of all people should know how hard it is to trust someone."

"I do," she said with a nod.

"So what are you going to do about it, Detective Beckett?" she said, her voice challenging, and strangely bolstering.

"Ma'am? We've got to go," a paramedic interrupted, taking the breaks off Martha's trolley.

"Oh. Martha, I should come with you guys," Kate said, shaking herself out of her deeply ingrained detective mode, trying to be what Castle's family needed.

"Nonsense, darling," Martha said with a smile. "Alexis and I will manage. Go on and be the superhero Richard is convinced you are. Get my son back, Katherine."

But maybe Detective Beckett is what Castle's family needed after all.

Hard as it was to say, homicides had become Beckett's comfort zone. So after half a day of hostage negotiations, and trying to be someone she wasn't (not that that lasted for long), she was now in her element.

She, Ryan and Esposito had figured out that the way to find Castle would be to first find Sal Marino aka Ron Brandt. Ron had a good couple of hours worth of lead on them. They soon figured out that he was heading to Ithaca to get his son who wasn't quite dead, and probably to get revenge on his wife.

She made calls, but hadn't headed to Ithaca herself. Esposito was headed to Ithaca to aid the police there, but Kate had a feeling Trapper John and Castle wouldn't be with them. She was right.

After a harrowing four hours, Castle had been spotted by one of his fans at a gas station. Kate thought she'd never been so thankful about his social media presence as she was then. They weren't too far from the city, but were headed North. Trapper John had been fooled into stopping at a light by police in civilian vehicles. When he stepped out to threatened the fool who wouldn't move his car, he found himself surrounded by guns aimed for all parts of him. Castle was found unharmed, save for a few bruises to his face and chaffing to his wrists from being tied up with zip ties.

He was escorted back to New York, to the hospital where Martha had been taken. Kate had been pacing impatiently at the entrance, still unwilling to let go of her mantra.

It's not over. It's not over. It's not over.

When he stepped out of the car, she finally stepped out of the hole her mind had fallen into. Physically, she couldn't move. She could hardly breathe.

He smiled as he approached her, stopping only as the tip of his shoes touched the tip of hers. "Hi."

"Hi," she replied, her face morphing to beam at him.

Castle didn't think she'd ever smiled at him like that before. If only he save this moment in time.

She reached out tentatively, her hand landing on the collar of his shirt. "You're okay." Her eyes tripped over all of him, landing longer on the bruises peppering his face, traveling everywhere she could and couldn't see, and ultimately settling for his eyes. "You're okay," she repeated, leaning towards him almost unknowingly.

"I am. Thanks to you," he whispered into her ear, pulling her into his embrace. To his eternal surprise, she didn't resist, her arm dropping from his chest to curl around his back instead.

"I didn't do anything," she said, hiding her face in the crook of his neck. If he didn't know better, he'd say she was breathing him in. But he knew better, didn't he?

"Liar," he said, jostling her on his shoulder, delighted to coax out a chuckle. She was full of surprises today. "The lovely Officer Brown told me it was your idea to send in cops dressed as civvies in civilian vehicles. Pretty sure he'd have shot me or killed us both if he saw the cops coming for him."

Castle leaned back, looking down into her face, noticing unshed tears. Were those for him? He tucked a stray hair back behind her ear, his thumb following the curve, down onto her jaw, her neck, the hollow of her throat. He felt her swallow, his eyes tracing back to hers, finding hers closed. Her lips softly smiling at him made her look so free and unburdened.

He leaned in, his breath mingling with hers, and though she hadn't opened her eyes yet, her lips had parted, knowing and welcoming.

A horn blared behind them, startling them both. Kate's face fell back into the safety of the crook of his neck.

"Seriously?" he cried out to the sky, sounding so indignant, Kate couldn't help but chuckle.

"Come on, Castle," she said, stepping back, taking his hand in hers. "Let's get you back to your family.

"Yeah, the rest of it," he muttered.


"Nothing. Let's go."

It was late at night. Martha, who was fine for the most part, save for the rather flashy cast on her left arm, had just excused herself to her room, claiming exhaustion. She was her exuberant self for most of the night, whining only at the fact that she couldn't enjoy wine because of the painkillers she'd been prescribed.

"Oh well. C'est la vie, darlings."

Not long after that Alexis had bid them good night too. Kate couldn't help but feel for the girl. On top of the high drama that came with being a teenager, she was also sucked into the high drama that came with being a Castle, even if unintentionally so.

She did make it a point to give her father an extra tight hug, and a meaningful hug to Kate as well. Her whispered "I trust you," felt both like an onus and salvation to Kate.

Kate just nodded with a smile, not quite trusting herself to reply. She looked at Castle who was beaming at both of them like they'd given him some sort of gift.

Soon, it was just the two of them, the silence of the night, their glasses of depleting wine. Just Castle and Beckett.

"So…" Kate started, her eyes intent on her finger sliding over the stem of her wine glass, while his stared at her. Through her. And she knew it.

"So…hell of a day."

She chuckled, finally finding the nerve to look at him.

"Hell of a day," she nodded.

She didn't know whether she should stay or leave. She was half sitting on the couch, facing him, one of her legs tucked under her on it, the other touching ground, readying to run.

"Kate," he said suddenly, shaking her out of her inner turmoil. He reached out for her glass, putting both of theirs on the coffee table.

"Castle," her voice held trepidation and warning and anticipation.

Such a walking contradiction. Castle smiled.

"Thank you for today."

"I already told you I didn't do anything."

"I already told you I didn't believe that."


"Beckett" he responded, mimicking her.

"God Castle. You have got to stop putting me on a pedestal," she said, suddenly tired. She brought her palms up to press into her eyes till she saw nothing but stars. "I am not Nikki Heat."

He moved closer, his hands sliding into place at her waist, surprising her enough to drop her hands on his forearms, her eyes trained on them, confused and curious.

"I know very well who you are, thank you very much. I didn't need Nikki Heat today, I needed my partner. I needed Kate Beckett," he said, steeling himself at what she knew would overwhelm her. "Like I always do."

"Rick," her voice broke, pleaded without pleading.

"I don't put you on a pedestal. I like you right here, where I can reach you." His grip on her tightened, trying to pull her towards him though she resisted.

"And I'm not just talking about saving my life, I'm also talking about what you did for my family."

"I was being selfish, Castle."

He angled his head at her, eyes wide and baffled, looking like she'd suddenly grown too heads.

"I wasn't saving your life," she said, her voice so grave and sad, her eyes scrunched shut.

"You're kidding, right? Not only did you save my life, you probably saved everyone in that bank. I'm pretty sure Trapper John took your threat to heart. That was the only reason the hostages weren't in the same room as the bomb. This seemingly fearless mercenary was afraid of whatever it is you said to him. He was afraid of you."

"No. Castle. You don't get it. I wasn't even thinking of all those lives you think I saved. I told you I was being selfish. I wasn't trying to save anyone's life –" she said, her eyes opening, landing on his. "-except mine."

"Kate," he choked out, pulling her into him, this time meeting no resistance. She came to him willingly, her mouth open on his, taking and giving. Giving him life. Claiming his. How could she ever think she was selfish.

They pulled apart after minutes that felt like hours, starving for breath, and each other.

Once he'd caught his breath, once he'd peppered Kate's face with butterfly kisses till she was smiling again, he laughed. He laughed, his smile stretching wide, his eyes watering with it.

"I'm usually the one in our relationship saying the stupid things," he managed between the laughter; missing the hitch in her breath at the word 'relationship'.

"Excuse me?"

"I shan't! Kate Beckett, selfish," he huffed in amusement. "Honestly," he said, shaking his head.

She pushed him away jokingly, seemingly embarrassed, pretending to take offense, and moving away from him.

"No, don't do that. Come back her," he said, grabbing her wrists and pulling her back to him with a force enough that she landed in his lap. He promptly wrapped his arms around her to trap her in his embrace. "I like it."

"You like what?"

"That you're selfish about me."

"Oh my God. Of course you would find a way to inflate your ego."

"Hey, you said it, not me. Besides, it's nothing to be embarrassed about. They're my favorite character flaws as far are you're concerned."

"Character flaws," she said in a disbelieving yet flat tone.

"Uhuh. You can be so territorial sometimes."

"What the hell?" she said, trying to pull away from him, only for him to further secure his hold on her.

"Don't bother denying it."

"Jealous Beckett is my favorite."

"I do not get jealous."

"Sure, tell that to Serena Kaye."

Kate growled in his ears.

"Ooooh. Even bringing up her name makes you all growly. It's sexy. But you don't have to worry about her."

"Oh yeah?"

"Mhmm. She doesn't steal things that belong to others."

Kate's own grip on Castle tightened.

"He called you a hellcat of a girlfriend, you know?"

"What?" she asked, confused by the turn of the conversation.

"Trapper John," Castle clarified. "He said my girlfriend is a hell cat. He was awed. You even charm the bad guys, for crying out loud. If anyone should be jealous, it should be me."

"Already told you, Castle. I'm a one writer girl."

"Then you should know, I'm a one detective guy."

"That so?"

"It is."

"You sure?"

"Surer than anything."

"Why are you still talking?"

"Prolonging the scene. Writers do that. Builds anticipation."

"That's what she said."

There was silence for a whole minute.

"Kate Beckett, you're a woman after my own heart."

"Thought I already had it."

"All yours."

"All mine?"


There wasn't much talking for the rest of the night.

AN: See? Cheese. Can't stay away from it. I don't think I've quite done justice to this prompt, but hey, it's been a while. At least there's mush in the end. P.S. Title is kind of stupid, but it kept making me laugh, so I kept it.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for supporting Stana!

Prompt by caffinate-me: "Cops & Robbers AU ending. Instead of dying in the explosion, the robbers get away with Castle as their hostage. With Castle gone and Martha injured in the explosion, Beckett is left with the responsibility of taking care of a very angry Alexis and trying to find Castle."