To remain canon to the storyline as per my objective in ch 1, I had to rock the rock the boat a bit… sorry. Beckett needs to find the apartment. Apologies for the time taken but this part (the next few chapters) has been a hard slug for me to put together to enable the story to continue.

Chapter 96

"You will be fine." Rick said as he fiddled with the latch of the bracelet she had chosen to wear for the day. He had managed to get the clip open, and murmured, "Quick. Your wrist, Baby."

She held it up between them.

With great concentration, Rick wrapped the Tiffany bracelet around her slender wrist and connected the links. He let go and watched the chain delicately fall to the dip in her wrist below her ulna. A smile appeared as she touched it.

"Its lovely," she quietly said.

"Good day to wear it, being at Court," he said, happy she did wear pieces of jewellery that he gifted her. So long as she wasn't on duty as detective, she tended to wear accessories.

"Mm." She nodded. "My head. God."

"Hurts a bit, huh?" He kept a quiet tone.

"More than a bit." She reached for the mug of coffee that Rick had made. "Thumping headache." Extra strong this morning. "Next time Tommy visits we should make it a weekend," she said and drew a mouthful of cream coffee.

"He won't be back for ages. Unless I go looking for him, it could be a couple of years."

She smirked. "So, next time he rocks up, we could be married with kids running around us?"

He gave her a lopsided grin, unsure of how to go with it. Declared her love of him early this morning and was now talking about kids and marriage. "Slow down, Honey. Don't scare the shit out of yourself."

She laughed, "Would he come to our wedding?"

"Yes, that he would. He really liked you, told me I was batting way above my average."

"Mm." She shook her head, looked at his eyes. "No. I'm the one doing that."

"Remember, it was me who chased you."

"I encouraged you."

His hand touched the side of her face, "Lured me."

"I meant it." She shyly said as she put the mug down.

Rick paused a moment, unsure what she referred to. Then it clicked. "You love me. It's safe for you to say it, Kate. I feel it too."

Again, she nodded a little, "I know I said this before, but I just don't want you to think it was drunk talk." She took his hand and gave his palm a kiss, then a smile spread over her face. It spiked his curiosity.


She placed her palms to his chest. "I'm crazy about you." She looked up at him, smiled, "I don't know how I functioned before you came along."

"You existed. I made life fun. And you deserve to be happy, Kate."

"I hope I make you happy."

"Very. I love being in your presence."

"Me too." She smiled, bit her bottom lip. "When I come home tonight, I will cook dinner."

"Sure." He leaned in to give her a kiss. "Drink your coffee."

She gave him another kiss then grabbed the mug. "I have to get to court. Will you pick me up for lunch?"

"Won't you be debriefing with the lawyers?"

"Probably." She shrugged, "But I still need to eat. I will text you when I know, right?"

"Yep. Do that."

"Not looking forward to this. My evidence will be picked to bits."

"We did well with that case. You'll get him put away, Kate."

"I think so." She walked from the bedroom to the kitchen and disposed of the used mug in the dishwasher. Castle followed and left his mug on the counter. He fetched the coat she had left out with her bag, to wear to court. He held it up as she came to him. With the coat on, she turned about and stood before him.

"Thank you." The bottom lip was momentarily bitten and she smiled, but he saw the smile leave when they heard life from above. "I'll go." She said, gave his chest a pat then grabbed her bag.

"Call me," he ordered.

"I will. See you later."

On the ride in the elevator to the loft that evening, Beckett finally received a text from Castle. He was with his editor and didn't know how long he would be. He anticipated the meeting would wrap up soon as they were working on a chapter. Dissatisfied with that response, she checked the time, gritted her teeth. It was close to 6 pm. She should have waited until she knew he'd be at home, or gone and met him. Hell, she could have met Lanie for an early dinner or had a session at the gym. As the elevator neared the 3rd floor, she texted the doctor to see if she was a willing party for a drink and burger, anything. The doors opened to her designated floor. Maybe she'd ride the elevator back to the ground floor and head out.

She waited patiently in the foyer for Lanie to respond, two minded about what she wanted to do.

It was cold outside, too cold to be wandering the streets, waiting for Castle to come home because she didn't want to be alone with Alexis. Things had become strained between them, spiralled out of control, and the prospect of finding her own place was becoming the most appealing decision to make. Right now, she longed to get out of her boots, the shirt and the suit, and just relax, chill out for a few hours. A day in court being grilled by the defendant's lawyer had left her drained. After court, back in the DA's office, they had revised the evidence for tomorrow. Her Dad regularly helped her deal with the legal side of being a cop. She didn't like it. Would rather be the lawyer than the person in the stand being questioned, having doubt thrown at her police evidence, having it picked to pieces. Her mind was weary. She simply wanted to change into comfortable clothes, relax and make dinner, with a glass of wine to sip on and and a bottle half empty. It had been a long day.

If Lanie responded, she would go in the loft, drop off her bag, freshen up, change into casual clothes and go back out.

The text came back. Lanie was at work and would be for at least another two hours. Castle was the better option.

Beckett wrote Castle that she was at his place and would see him when he came home. She'd have dinner ready. She hoped like hell she would be alone in the loft. She remained in the foyer. The tension gnawed at her. She breathed in deeply, slowly breathed out.


Breathed in. Out.

"Do it, Beckett."

She forced herself to walk to the front door, key in the slot and she unlocked it. The living room and kitchen lights were glowing and the TV was running with an unfamiliar show. The number of TV channels they had access to, it could be anything. Beckett softly closed the door, locked it behind her, then turned about. Hazel eyes scanned the living area. No one was about.

"Hello?" She called with her tone a little too high. "I'm home."

Alexis popped her head up from the armchair and gave a wave.

"Hi, Kate. Dad's not with you?"

"No, he's in a meeting with his editor. He didn't text you?"

"No, not yet anyway."

"Oh," Beckett waved a hand towards Rick's bedroom, "I'll get changed out of these clothes." She smiled. "Long day."


Kate saw Alexis return to watch TV, so she continued to the bedroom, but before she was about to push open the door, Alexis called out to her using her first name. Beckett paused, raised her eyebrows in anticipation as she turned to look at the teenager.

"Have you found a new place yet?"

Kate sighed, briefly clenched her jaw in response to the tone used by Alexis. Uneasiness kicked in as she replied with too much hesitation, "Um, no. Your Dad and I agreed to give living together a try. I've put a hold on it."

Alexis immediately sat up and looked around at Kate appearing quite astounded. "While living a secret life with everyone?"

There was a second in which Beckett was sure her heart skipped a beat. Within the walls of the interrogation rooms, she'd heard defensive, defiant tones many times and barely experienced a flex of a muscle in response. Hell, she'd used insubordination as a teenager, had been a master of it until her mother had whipped her into shape with threats to take away her privileges. This situation with Alexis triggered her nerves to shift into overdrive a few times over. She didn't want this conversation progressing any further without Castle being present. She understood he'd let his family know of their plans, so she was surprised by the reaction Alexis had.

"Yes, while we are secretly together," Beckett breathed in, pressed her lips together. A voice in her head reminded her that Castle had given her permission to be the adult. Voice stronger, she said, "But that decision is between your father and I, Alexis."

"Fine." The teenager slumped back in her seat.

Unable to decide what was best to do, Beckett glanced at the time anxious for this to be over. Man, she needed a drink.

Seconds later, assuming the conversation was over by the body language Alexis haw shown, she pushed open the bedroom door. In her peripheral vision she saw Alexis suddenly stand up as she muted the television.

"Are you going to tell people? I mean, the more people who know about you being with him, the higher the risk that Dad will get hurt because of you."

The door swung closed. Kate stood grounded, unable to find a fast answer. A part of her agreed with the statement. Most of her wanted to object to it.

Then she snapped out of it. She dealt with hardened criminals daily and one teenager had her running scared.

"Alexis, I'm not the enemy here." She pointed towards the bedroom, took a couple of steps closer to the girl, "And your father, he wants me to live here with him, with you."

"I don't want you to, Kate."

Beckett pressed her lips together. Escaping was a great option right now. Then Castle's statement that he expected her to take her place as an adult, in a parental context, in this household, smashed its way back in to her consciousness. Firmly she said, "Then you need to explain your feelings to your father and me when he comes home."

"You're a danger-."

"Stop." Kate cut in. "I'm not." She blinked, feeling like she'd been smacked on the face. She took a step forward, "You're a minor, Alexis. You live in Rick's house. Rick is your father, and he chooses how he lives his life and he wants to live it with me."

Alexis' cheeks flushed. Beckett noticed the teenager was as equally anxious as she felt.

"We all sit down and talk this through in future. This is the second time you've ambushed me, and tonight he's not here." She tried to remain calm but she struggled. This was a new experience with a partner's offspring. Until now, boyfriends with children hadn't been a factor in her dating life.

"You will end up hurting him like they all do. The appeal of dating a charming writer will wear off. And you're just another one of his temporary, pretty girls. He's always after them."

Beckett stewed on that, breathed, then replied, "We're way beyond temporary, Alexis." She stopped, noting her voice was high and defensive. Calmer, deeper, she said, "I'm not trying to take your Dad away from you."

"I will lose him because of you." Her tone was high. She swallowed nervously, all things that Beckett captured, observed.

"You won't." Kate's tone softened.

"You know that you're one of his flings," Alexis shot at her.

"No, I'm not." Kate's heart pumped faster. "That's just mean to say that about your Dad." She struggled to keep calm, realising Alexis was flailing, "No, I'm not a fling, Alexis. We are in this for…"

"Until he tires of you or he dies because of you," Alexis flatly said. "Please don't kill him."

A sudden restriction in her throat caused Kate to force herself to inhale. Deeply. "Alexis, can we please sit down and talk about this? We used to get along really well."

"When things were different."

"Or because I went home," she realised aloud. "Are you jealous of my being here?" She already anticipated the answer.

"I hate-"

"Alright." Kate nodded once she understood Alexis had cut herself off. For what seemed an eternity she stared over the room at the subway photo by the stairs, trying not to choke up in front of the teenager. Then the anger surfaced, and she heard Rick telling her to take her place as an adult. Boldly she responded. "Well, sweetheart, you either hate me, or hate my being here. I'm going with you don't want me here. Fine. You can explain that to your father when I move out."

She glared at Alexis who seemed to be planted to the floor. Unable to stay there any longer, Beckett turned and proceeded to walk to the bedroom, remaining as quiet as she could. Alexis didn't move, didn't make a sound.

"Oh my God," Kate whispered as she fell against the closing door. She turned the lock to the secure the door ensuring privacy for a while. A hand unconsciously pressed to her throat trying to ease the restriction. Her stomach rolled. The phone started to ring in her suit jacket pocket. She began to tug at her clothes, to strip herself as she rushed to the bathroom fearful she was going to vomit. The phones were thrown to the bed on the way.

In the bathroom alone, only in her underwear, Beckett plonked herself on the closed lid of the toilet, and folded over in despair. Making sense of the argument with a teenager was an impossibility. It was so out of character of Alexis to provoke an argument but it was as though she'd waited for her to come home. Would she had behaved the same had Rick come home at the same time? Kate realised she had foolishly fled the scene, leaving Alexis in the living room. Everything was not only unresolved but had escalated into a whole new level of unfamiliar territory. Bickering, teasing was a daily thing, but to argue without a good reason.

The burner phone started to ring again. It was in the bedroom.

Kate stilled. She looked towards the doorway. Had Alexis contacted her father? He had tried a few times. Perhaps he wanted to meet somewhere for dinner.

She swiped beneath her eyes, angry she was upset. Fighting with a jealous teenager was not something Kate had planned to do. Fight criminals, physically overcome them, but fight with her boyfriend's daughter? No. She was ashamed of herself: for letting it happen and for being a part of it again.

The secret phone began to ring again.

"Stop it," she moaned disheartened. "Just stop."

With frustration on the rise, she stood off the toilet and shifted to the vanity that she always used. The blend of scents from her collection of perfumes and deodorants caused her to look down over the bottles and cans. The smells made her feel she was at home. Overhead, footfalls sounded. Alexis had gone to her bedroom. Kate opened the shower faucet. Stripped of her clothing, she stepped beneath the steaming water, put her back to the wall and slid down it until she was sitting on the floor the shower cubicle, beneath the water, her knees to her chin.

It was a surety that Castle would blow this off as a one of the many challenges of raising a teenager, and he would surely talk to them separately about it. It was his nature to not take it seriously. In Beckett's mind, it was a pivotal moment in her relationship with Castle and his family. Martha had moved out and Beckett had noticed the absence of her support. Martha was the one person who helped her navigate her way with Alexis and to buffer the tension. Martha had made life bearable since Beckett had moved in with Castle.

The phone call was returned to Castle using the secret phone after Beckett had showered and dressed. He picked up immediately.

"Where you been?" His tone was concerned, maybe on edge, which wasn't like him. She dropped the towel to her side of the bed.

"Shower," she replied. "I took a shower."

"So, you're at home?"

"Yes." She cleared her throat.

"Are you okay? You sound upset."

"No. I'm okay." She closed her eyes. He was worried. "When will you be home?" She hated the tremble in her voice.

"In about twenty minutes."

"I'll see you then, right?"

"Of course."

"Soon," she responded and disconnected the call. She dropped to the edge of the bed, discarded the phone, placed the damp towel to her face and cried. She had never missed the sanctuary of her own home like she did right now.