Holding on Tonight

Chapter 1

She did it.

Kate Beckett shut down her computer and leaned back in her chair, releasing a long, slow sigh. After a moment's rumination, she stood up and arched her back as she stretched her arms up above her head.

Yes. She did it.

She had made it through her first day as captain of the Twelfth Precinct without any issues. It wasn't the same as when she was a detective; for one thing, there was a lot more paperwork. It was more political than she liked, though she'd known that coming in. And she couldn't run down leads with the boys like she had before. But, at the end of the day, there was still that satisfaction of a job well done.

Now it was time to go home.


That gave her pause.

Kate Beckett stood frozen in place, her stylish overcoat halfway on. Her brow furrowed as she mulled over that thought. Home. There was nothing really exciting about that thought. Frowning, she tugged her coat fully on and shut the lights off before departing her office. That was going to take some time to get used to. Even though it had been a couple of years, she still thought of it as Captain Montgomery's office. Captain Gates had served well, but Roy Montgomery had been her friend and mentor. He, more than anyone else, had helped shape her into the cop she was today. He'd taught her so much.

Closing the office door, Kate cast a lingering glance across the bullpen—her bullpen—before making her leave. She rode the elevator down to the lobby, waving to the desk sergeant as she strolled past, pushing through the door to exit out into the street. A nice breeze blew through the night air, warm and comfortable for an early autumn evening. Kate took in a deep breath, and paused, tying her hair back into a high ponytail.

Her heels clicked against the cement as she set off down the sidewalk, not really heading anywhere in particular, just ambling. Kate was in no real hurry. There was nothing waiting for her back home, just an empty apartment. She frowned, tucking her hands into her pockets as she stopped at an intersection, waiting for the light to change.

Ducking her head down, she considered the possibilities. She could order takeout and just crash on the sofa, as she did most nights. Or not. Following her normal routine just didn't feel right tonight. She didn't want to finish her first day as captain with something ordinary. This was a big deal. She felt like celebrating the milestone in her career with the NYPD.

Kate raised her head as the light changed, and joined the other pedestrians as she made her way across the crosswalk. There was a bar nearby that should fit the bill for what she was looking for tonight. With the decision made, Kate nodded to herself and leisurely walked towards her destination.

The bar had a decent crowd for the late hour, mostly yuppies and couples. She didn't mind. It beat an empty apartment. And she found it rather nice to be surrounded by the noise. Kate made her way to the bar, and perched herself on a stool, draping her coat along the backrest.

The bartender came over and she ordered a beer. She leaned on her elbows and looked out at the dancefloor, watching as the younger couples laughed and mingled. She sighed, remembering when she was that age, and wishing it were still that easy to just be so free. Though she kept herself in good shape, Kate was in her mid-thirties, and felt a little out of place amongst all the twentysomethings. Still, Kate noticed as she gazed out at the rest of the bar that she wasn't the only one, there were a handful of people her age clustered here and there around the tables and dancefloor. That made her feel better.

Her cellphone buzzed when her beer arrived. She glanced at the text message as she took a swig, not at all surprised to see it was from Lanie. For a brief moment, Kate contemplated inviting her friend to join her, but then shook her head, thinking better of the idea. Inviting Lanie came with certain strings attached that Kate did not want to deal with at present.

Lanie Parish had been her best friend for a long time, and wasn't afraid to be blunt with her. Whenever they went out for drinks, Lanie would inevitably bring the conversation around to men, and the lack thereof in Kate's life. Her last steady boyfriend had been Dr. Josh Davidson, and that had been several years ago. And the last actual date she'd been on had been rather disastrous.

In retrospect, she should have listened to Esposito's warnings about Eric Vaughn—the man was a notorious womanizer—and she should have heeded her own qualms about mixing business with pleasure, but Lanie had pressured her to 'just go for it, girl', constantly reminding Kate—in the middle of the case, no less—that it had been way too long since she'd had any action.

Vaughn had been suave and handsome. He was charming, and brazen in his actions, openly flirting with her from the start, despite the serious threat against his life. He was extremely confident in himself, and not afraid to assert how much he was attracted to her. She was ashamed that she let the flattery get to her. But it had been a while since a man had been so bold with her.

Much to her chagrin, Kate succumbed to his advances after the case had been wrapped up, believing his pretty and flowery words that he was interested in more than just a fling. But it had all been lies. All she ended up being was another notch in his bedpost. She even caught him bragging to his one business associates how easy it had been for him to nail her. It pissed her off. She'd allowed herself to open up and be vulnerable with him, and he'd just used her. That wasn't the woman she'd been or the woman she wanted to be.

The result had been a further entrenchment of the fortifications around her heart. She wouldn't let herself be used like that ever again. Which was why she was presently sitting alone at a bar crowded with people. Three men had approached her, but she quickly shut them down, not in the least bit interested, even if her heart—and body—craved companionship. The last man had been rather handsome, and she'd considered taking him home with her for a night of unrepentant passion, but beneath the beautiful surface was a frat boy mentality that Kate found very unappealing.

Kate ordered another beer and moved to a table in the back, content to just observe and people watch, living vicariously through the lives of others. As she nursed her latest bottle of beer, for the first time in a long while, Kate found herself thinking of Richard Castle.

At the start, he'd been just like Eric Vaughn, a self-absorbed, arrogant jackass. But unlike Vaughn, she hadn't given in to his charms. Now, with hindsight, as she thought back on the mystery writer, and in light of her experiences with Vaughn, Kate's opinion of her former shadow had changed. He really hadn't been that bad. Yes, he made it no secret that he wanted into her pants, but there had been more hidden beneath the playboy persona he projected. There was substance there, and to her endless regret, she'd been too scared to act on it when the opportunity had presented itself.

Not long after Heat Wave, which had a main character loosely based on her, Castle had received an offer he couldn't refuse. However, it meant Nikki Heat would be a standalone book, which he'd insisted hadn't been his initial plans. She had mixed feelings about him departing. Over their brief time together, Kate had grown accustomed to his presence. And, though she'd never admit it back then, Castle had been very helpful with the cases they worked. So, when he left for London, to write about a certain British secret agent, it had been a rather bittersweet.

"You should've jumped him when you had the chance," Lanie had said the night after he'd left for good. Kate hadn't even tried to deny it, agreeing as she consoled herself with a generously filled glass of red wine.

Presently, Kate took a sip of beer and gazed out at the mingling twentysomethings, considering her options. What was she doing here? She didn't fit in with this crowd anymore. She'd much rather be back home, curled up on her sofa, watching an episode of Temptation Lane. Kate sighed, and drowned the last dregs of beer from the bottle before standing up, intent on leaving.

But as she did so, one of the men who had approached her earlier in the evening caught her wandering eyes and waved enthusiastically, obviously hoping that she'd changed her mind. The alcohol she had consumed had helped relax her, and she was more inclined to dance than she had been earlier. She still had no plans beyond that, but getting up and moving to the pulse of the music would be a pleasant diversion from her sad and lonely life. Besides, she had come here to celebrate. She might as well have some fun.

The man—Greg was his name—grinned when she joined him out on the floor, his expression showing that he was surprised. She smiled politely, a little surprised herself, and swayed her hips to the music. Taking her motions as permission, Greg placed his hands on her hips, his fingers tentatively brushing along the curve of her backside. Kate allowed it, draping her arms around his neck as they moved to the drumming beat of the music. He attempted conversation, but Kate wasn't interested in that. All she wanted to do was dance. It took him three songs to get the point, but eventually he shut up and just moved with her to the rhythm thumping out of the speakers.

After three more songs, Kate had had her fill and politely extricated herself from Greg's clingy hands. During the last song, he'd got a little bolder, palming her ass and squeezing it. When she stepped back when the music transitioned into a new song, he got angry, accusing her of leading him on. She flashed him a glare, the kind she used on suspects in the interrogation box, and he backed off, holding up his hands in apology at the misunderstanding, insisting it was all his fault.

Kate moved off the dancefloor, a little irritated by the way things had ended. It nearly soured the entire evening. She weaved through the mass of bouncing bodies, heading back in the direction of the bar. She pursed her lips, deciding to have one more drink before heading home and crashing on her sofa. This little trip hadn't exactly gone how she'd expected it would when she'd decided to 'celebrate' her captaincy, but oh well. At least she hadn't sulked home immediately afterwards.

There was a surge of revelers, and Kate smiled, finding the cheerful and happy attitude of the younger crowd infectious. The bodies parted for her, and she arrived at the bar, squeezing between a bubbly blonde and her would-be sugar daddy. The blonde pouted and made a whiny objection at being cut off from her catch, but Kate ignored her and ordered another beer.

"Beckett!?" exclaimed the prospective sugar daddy.

Her ears burned in recognition and her heart lurched in her chest. No. No. It couldn't be. She turned her head, and her mouth dropped down in a silent gasp as she came face to face with the busty blonde's mark. Out of all the places to run into him, it just had to be here.