Around the World Book Three
Trouble in the Hamptons
. . . . .
Kate Beckett was content as she sat on a beach towel, head tilted towards the sun and toes buried in warm sand. It had been a long time since she'd been willing to just sit in the late summer sun, staring out in the cascading waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Of course, she'd never really expected herself to be in the situation she was currently in. Three months ago she'd been shot almost fatally. After being released from the hospital, she and her boyfriend – everything in her flinched at the term – had taken a slow three week tour up the east coast of the United States until he'd pulled into his sprawling Hamptons summer home. And naturally, Rick Castle had a summer home in the Hamptons. But, for the first time in a long time, Kate was okay with that.
They'd spent the next two months in the Hamptons while Kate recovered from the shot. Alexis and Martha stayed in the city while Alexis finished school and attended a summer program at NYU for July. But now it was August, and Rick was on the road bringing his daughter to join them in the Hamptons for the last months of summer and, coincidentally, of Kate's recovery.
Because it true Kate Beckett fashion, she'd thrown herself into her recovery with the same determination she showed on cases but with a patience that she knew surprised Rick. However, it wasn't the first time she'd been shot, nor was it the first time she knew of someone getting shot. She remembered the recovery time, remembered how hard she could push herself and she had. It helped that Rick had access to the best facilities and they'd managed to establish some ground rules on their three month trip. He did his best to back off and write when she needed space and she did her best to actually ask him for help when she needed him.
A smile blossomed over her face as she felt two hands rest on her shoulders. She leaned her head back to find Rick crouched behind her. "Hey you."
He kissed her forehead sweetly. "There's someone here who wants to see how you're doing."
Kate was honestly excited for Alexis to join them. She genuinely liked the teenager and the play-by-play between father and daughter was amusing even at the worst of times. It had lightened a number of her days both before her shooting and even after.
"Yeah?" she asked, holding out her hands as Rick strolled around to stop in front of her, blocking her sun and casting a dark shadow over her body.
"Yeah. She was just pulling her last bags out of the trunk and I told her I'd come get you."
She rolled her eyes as he lifted her, the pressure he exerted on her right arm more than on her left. She was so close to being adequately healed and she had almost full motion back in her arm. The muscles weren't back to their complete strength, but having him pull her up wouldn't hurt her.
"She missed you," Rick said, pulling her quickly into his arms.
She hugged him back briefly, before pulling back to press a kiss to his mouth. He'd been even more touchy since the shooting, reluctant to let her out of his sight too long. He'd touch her whenever he could, whether it was cooking dinner, eating dinner or when he passed her from one room to another. He'd run his fingers through her hair, brush the tips of them against the sensitive skin at the back of her neck or stop to press a kiss to the top of her head. He had to keep reminding himself that she was alive.
"Well, we'd better not keep her waiting then," Kate said, shifting in his arms again for the walk up to the house. She grinned wider as they got closer, and almost rushed Rick into the house. Alexis was just racing through the kitchen on her way to the back and she squealed when she saw Kate. She stopped just inches before the detective and Kate rolled her eyes before wrapping Alexis in a tight hug.
"How are you feeling?" the redhead asked against Kate's shoulder.
"Like I'm almost ready to go back to work," Kate replied, squeezing the teenager just that little bit harder to show that she was almost back to full strength and much, much better.
"Really?" Alexis asked.
"Oh, definitely. Too much more time with your father and I may actually do something drastic," Kate said with a smile.
Alexis laughed and Kate realized with a little bit of shock that she'd genuinely missed the sound. Alexis had an uninhibited laugh that reminded Kate that she had yet to be exposed to half of the things she'd seen. Kate's wide grin softened into an affectionate smile.
"Seriously, Sweetheart," the brunette said, squeezing Alexis again. "I'm almost back to a hundred percent. I'm fine."
"Freaked out, insecure, neurotic and emotional?" the redhead asked innocently.
Kate rewarded her with an eye roll. "It's nice to see your summer program didn't stint your exposure to pop culture."
"Of course not," Alexis replied unrepentantly. "Carter and I caught a number of summer blockbusters."
Carter was a boy Alexis had met prior to the summer program and Rick had been a little concerned the more and more Alexis had talked about him. Even now, his eyes narrowed.
"Do I need to have a chat with this boy?"
Alexis shook her head. "I let it slip that you were dating an NYPD detective." She looked up at Kate with innocent eyes. "I think he's a little afraid of you."
"As he should be," Kate agreed solemnly. "Even your dad's still afraid of me."
"A little bit of fear is healthy," Rick defended.
"Certainly keeps you in line," Kate teased. Then she turned to Alexis. "What do you say to the beach?"
Alexis met Kate's gaze. "I say it's a necessity! It would be a crying shame to waste a day like this."
The brunette detective nodded sagely. "Most definitely. And I can swim without plastic wrap over my shoulder."
Alexis' smile was blinding and Kate was struck with the feeling that the redhead had been genuinely worried about her and her recovery. Kate returned the wide grin, nudging the teenager's shoulder. "Go on. Get ready. I'll meet you out there."
Alexis scampered off and Rick hooked his arm around Kate's waist, spinning her and pressing a rough kiss to her mouth. "You're so good with her," he murmured when he pulled back. "Are you girls going to be okay for the afternoon?"
"Of course," Kate answered with an arched eyebrow.
He grinned unrepentantly. "This gives me a fantastic idea for Nikki," he answered, kissing her again swiftly. "If I'm not out before, come get me for dinner."
Then, with another kiss, he was off. Kate let out a little bark of laughter at his back, feeling an interesting twist of absolute glee at how domestic and normal it all felt, and the absurdity and fear of the situation. Despite everything, there was still a really big part of her that couldn't believe that of all the people in the world, she, Kate Beckett, detective of the NYPD and jaded woman was blessed with not only Rick, but Rick's daughter.
With another chuckle, she made her way back outside to the towel she'd left behind to wait for her redheaded companion.
After an afternoon of the actual building of a sandcastle and showing Alexis that she was pretty much back to normal, Kate and Alexis were in the kitchen, finishing up the preparations for dinner. Rick still hadn't emerged from his office, but Alexis had seemed genuinely eager to help.
Kate glanced over at Alexis. "Yeah?"
Alexis was biting her lip, a sure sign that the topic of conversation was one that her father would not approve of. "What would you say if I told you I didn't want to go to Stanford?"
Kate was honestly taken aback. Stanford University was all Alexis had talked about for almost four months after Rick had taken her to see the campus last summer. She'd been accepted and Kate had been under the impression that there was no question about where the teenager was planning to go for college. "I'd ask why."
"A whole bunch of reasons," Alexis admitted. "I mean, it's a beautiful campus, and I liked it, but... I'm reconsidering."
"Reconsidering?" Kate asked with an arched eyebrow. "You're set to go in a couple of weeks."
"Okay, so I reconsidered," Alexis amended. "I just... I don't know."
Kate put the knife she was using aside, propping her hip on the counter so she could face the redhead. "Does this have anything to do with the fact that Stanford is across the country?"
The teenager blew out a breath. "That's part of it, yeah," she replied. "I don't like the idea of being so far away from Dad and Grams."
"Your father's in good hands," Kate said slowly. "I'm not going anywhere."
Alexis shot her an appreciative smile. "I know, and I'm glad."
The brunette turned back to her knife and cutting board. "What did you have in mind?"
"Um... I may have accepted Princeton instead?" Alexis winced.
Kate thought for a moment. "Princeton is still a good school and you did like the campus."
"And they're still offering the same degree and I'm still moving out of the house, it's just... closer."
When Alexis had been trying to choose her colleges, she'd gone to Kate for help as much as she'd gone to her father. Kate's only push had been that Alexis stay away from the New York post-secondary institutions, not because they were sub-par by any means, but because she truly felt that it would do both father and daughter good to be separated for some time. It would allow Alexis the chance to get out on her own, to explore the world and be a true college student, to find who she was going to be in the world. It wasn't that she didn't think Alexis couldn't do it from home, but she felt that it would be more effective, and better in the long run for both father and daughter, if she started the next chapter of her life away from her father. She'd been very careful and candid in explaining her reasoning to both Alexis and Rick, ensuring that both of them knew Alexis was always, always part of the family and it had nothing to do with kicking her out.
The last thing Kate wanted Alexis to think was that she was being shoved out of her home and the lives of her father and Kate. That hadn't been the detective's intention in the slightest. Kate and Alexis' relationship had blossomed since she'd started spending more and more time at the Castles and Kate considered her as much family as Lanie, Esposito and Ryan. She loved her relationship with Alexis, glad that it was more like sisterhood than parental. She had one parent and Kate had never wanted to step on Rick's toes. That didn't mean Kate didn't subtly steer Alexis into decisions that would make both father and daughter happy.
They lapsed into silence, both of them working on their part of the meal for a few minutes before Kate spoke again.
"I think that your father is going to be confused," she said, "but when it comes to college or university I think you need to pick the right school for you."
"I liked Stanford," Alexis admitted. "But Princeton seems more practical. You're only an hour and a half away instead of five hours on a plane."
Kate reached out, wrapping Alexis in a quick side hug and pressing a kiss to her temple. "You will always have a home with us, Sweetheart, no matter where you go to school."
"I know," Alexis said with a wide grin. "I just hope Dad has the same reaction."
"He wants what's best for you," Kate replied though on a heavy sigh. "I think he was just as set on Stanford as you were."
"Do you think he'll be mad?"
"Of course not," Kate chuckled. "In fact, I think a part of him is going to be really happy that you're closer than across the country. And there's probably a part of you that's extremely happy to continue to live across the country from your mother."
Meredith had come up in a number of Stanford conversations, to the point where Rick and Alexis had simply proposed not telling Meredith that Alexis was going to be going to school close by. The last thing they needed, and the one thing Alexis dreaded above all else, was Meredith storming the school to spring her daughter from class.
"God yes," the redhead agreed. "I love Mom, but distance is best for us."
Which was the same theory Kate had been trying to ingrain her about her father too.
"You know, having you around does make me feel better about leaving," the teenager said softly. "Dad... well, you know Dad. He gets into trouble. And he gets mopey sometimes. He's like a puppy, where you can't leave them by themselves for too long. With Grams gone... It makes me feel better to know that he's going to have you."
"Well, I promise you, I will keep a good eye on him," Kate replied, her face serious despite her dancing eyes.
"I can't believe it's less than a month away," the teenager admitted quietly.
"You know, your dad said the same thing to me last night," Kate answered with an affectionate smile. "He says you grew up so fast. One second he was playing in the park with you and buying ice cream and the next, he's asking me to do background checks on the boys you meet." She paused for a moment, considering her next words carefully. She'd never lied to Alexis and she usually treated the teenager as one of her girlfriends instead of a teen. It was their relationship and it was what kept them on even keel. "There's a part of your dad that's going to be really lost with you gone, even though I'm around."
They fell silent for a few minutes until Kate heard Alexis sniffle. She immediately dropped the knife she was using and pulled the young woman into her arms, hugging her tight. Alexis latched on, fisting her hands in Kate's t-shirt and burying her face in Kate's shoulder. The brunette shushed her softly, running a hand up and down her back.
She couldn't imagine being in Alexis' position. Her father was the center of her world and she was going to be walking away from that. Kate stood by her thought that it would be good for them both, but that didn't make it any easier to watch both of them realize that there was about to be one of the biggest shifts in their lives. They'd been through their own fair share of heartache over the years with Rick's marriages and divorces, but they'd always had each other through it all.
Eventually, Alexis stepped back and raised a hand to wipe at her eyes. "Sorry."
"No reason to be sorry," Kate replied, wiping a thumb under the teenager's eyes. "Why don't you go clean up and I'll throw this together. You can grab your father on the way out."
First and foremost, biggest thanks to Gayle who told me it wouldn't be a terrible thing to include the conversation between Kate and Alexis in the kitchen. Apparently I took your advice!
So, as I said in the last chapter of NY, the two stories are inches from meeting up again. Which means it's time to start posting!
I have a good news-bad news. Good news: most of this is written. After months of having the chance to work on it, for the most part, it is finished. However! Bad news: there are still pieces missing, one of which is the entirety of the next chapter. I'm not sure when I'll get it up, especially since I'm about to go dive head first into Criminal Minds land.
This will not be just a completely fluffy story about the end of Kate's recovery. Alexis is in the Hamptons for a reason and keep in mind she hasn't been around for two months. But that is all I will say on the matter!
In the meantime, what did you think of the first chapter? And how excited are you that I'm finally getting around to the third installment! Because I'm pretty much over the moon about it!