Title: Difficult Times

Author: digitaldesigner

Beta: hazel_eyes_86

Word Count: 541

Rating: PG

Spoilers: A spoiler-free zone.

Pairing: Castle/Beckett

Summary: Difficult times were ahead.

Disclaimer: If you recognize them, they belong to Andrew Marlowe. Otherwise, they're mine.

Author's Note: Written for castleland.

Castle came into the precinct just in time to see Beckett drop the phone in her hand. He knew something was wrong instantly. A moment later Beckett broke into heartbreaking sobs and his feeling was confirmed. He put down the coffee and danish he carried in his hands on the nearest desk and hurried over to her. "What's wrong, Kate?" he asked softly, worry coloring his every word.

His worry continued to grow over the next several minutes while Beckett continued to sob. Castle hated seeing her in so much pain. He felt helpless so he did the only thing he could; he pulled her into his arms and held her as tightly as he could. He knew she would tell him what was wrong when she was ready. Until then, he would comfort her in the only way he knew how.

The moment Castle wrapped her in his arms, Beckett curled into them, wanting to be as close to him as she could possibly get. Several minutes went by like that with Castle holding her and Beckett clinging to him until Beckett was, at last, able to control her tears. She looked up at him with the saddest expression he'd ever seen. "What is it?" he asked softly.

"My dad," she told him in a voice so sad it broke his heart all over again. He hated to ask, but he knew he had to.

"What happened?"

"He-" she started, feeling the sobs well up inside her once again. She took a deep breath, finding strength from the love she saw in his eyes. "He had a heart attack."

"Is he going to be okay?" Castle asked softly.

She shook her head sadly. "No," she whispered so softly he barely heard her. "He didn't make it."

For the first time since he could remember, Castle didn't have the words to adequately express the sorrow in his heart. "I'm so sorry, baby."

He pulled her closer still as they sat there in silence, remembering the man they had both loved. Jim had been many things to Castle-one of the guys, a friend, someone he often asked advice from, but above all else, he gave the woman he loved life. He could never thank him enough for that gift. Jim had only asked one thing of Castle-to love Kate and never let her forget how much he adored her. It was an easy request to agree to. To Kate, he was simply her dad.

Castle looked down at the woman in his arms, loving her more than he could ever express with words. She looked up at him, love shining in her own eyes. Somehow, she knew the depth of his love anyway. "Come on. Let's get out of here," he whispered. When she nodded, he stood and held out his hand. She slipped her hand in his as they made their way out into the bright New York City sunshine, a physical contradiction to the sorrow in their hearts.

As they hurried to the car, Castle knew the next several days would be incredibly painful and difficult, but he also knew they'd get through them together. Just as he knew they'd love each for the rest of their lives.