TITLE: Thunder

SUMMARY: "So bring on the rain. And bring on the thunder". Set a year after 2x24 A Deadly Game. THIS IS NOT A FIX! But it is one full year later, so it is summer again.

RATING: M. For one word in a later chapter. (I could probably change it later, but I want to be sure I don't forget...)

SPOILER(S): Nothing major.

SONG: Thunder– Boys Like Girls (acoustic version)

DISCLAIMER: Me no own. Like always.

A/N: Similar to my other stuff, in that there is a song worked into this. I did it differently this time, though. You'll see.

Round of applause for ariel119. Once again, she has sifted through and beta'd. What in the world I would do without her...?

XXX

Chapter One: Summer

The last of the sun's rays were just beginning to fall below the horizon line, as she sipped her coffee. Her bare feet rested on the wooden bars that ran around the back of the deck, her long brown legs bent at the knee acting as a table for the book she was reading. Though the book was open, she had long since gotten distracted by the waves and the setting sun.

She could feel his presence on the seat next to her. His body position almost identical, except, rather than a book, his laptop sat on his knees. Though, unlike her, he hadn't been distracted by the sight before them.

"I don't ever want to go home." she whispered, turning her head slightly, watching his fingers fly across the keys.

He chuckled lightly. "There'll be other summers, you know."

She sighed. "I know that, but they won't be like this one."

He shrugged, his fingers never slowing. "They'll be better." He replied with conviction.

She smiled and turned her head properly, eyes dancing up and down his profile. She reached out and played with his hair. "I'm glad this happened, Rick."

His fingers stopped and a slow smile spread across his face as he turned to look at her. "Kate, you have no idea."

She smiled up at him, her hair dancing in the slight breeze. "I think I do."

He shook his head and closed the lid of his laptop. "I'm telling you, Kate. You really don't."

Her eyebrow climbed on her forehead, and she let the book fall shut. "Oh and why is that?"

"Because, you have no idea what it's like to wake up next to you."

She shrugged. "But, I do get to wake up in your arms every morning."

He tilted his head, taking her point in his stride. "We're getting mushy." He murmured, scrunching his nose up, as if he'd smelt something disgusting.

She laughed and leant back in her seat, her head still turned to him, fingers still twisting themselves through his hair.

"I do, however, agree." She raised an eyebrow again. "I don't wanna go home." He pouted like a little boy and her heart melted.

If they ever had a son, she wanted their little boy to have that same pout. And his eyes. And his charming grin.

And then she had to mentally shake herself. Since when was she planning on having children with Richard Castle?

"Can I be mushy again, just for a second?" she asked softly.

He nodded.

"I love you."

His face split into a grin. "I love you, too."

XXX

She had stood in the freezing cold at some ungodly hour, teeth chattering as she listened to M.E. Parish tell what little she knew about the victim.

"Female, mid- to late- twenties. No I.D. on the vic, but Ryan and Espo are searching the area. She's got bruising up and down her arms; defensive."

"Any idea of C.O.D.?"

Lanie tilted her head to the side as Castle walked up.

"Whoa! That's just... nasty."

Kate rolled her eyes, but didn't comment, instead she continued to focus on the medical examiner kneeling in front of her.

"I'll know more when I get her back to the lab, but I think it's safe to say C.O.D. was exsanguination." She indicated several stab wounds in the vic's torso and Kate shook her head.

"Thanks, Lanie."

Lanie nodded and watched as the two walked away. When they were out of earshot of everyone else, Kate stopped and turned to look up at Castle, standing less than two feet from her.

"I hate cases like this." she muttered, eyes not quite meeting his.

He nodded and resisted the urge to reach out and grasp her hand. While he knew he could get away with that kind of thing when they were alone, he also knew that now was not the time or place to show affection like that.

The case had slowly broken her, and when it was all over, she had fallen apart in his arms. It wasn't the way he thought that first time would be, but he quickly realised that this was better.

Yes, when they got there, the sex would be fantastic. But, by breaking like this, with him, she was showing him more than just her body. This was far more intimate than a night filled with sex ever could ever be.

He had kissed away her tears, lips lingering on her cheeks. When he pulled back, he could see a determination and naked want that had never been in her eyes before. They studied each other for almost a full moment, and then she bit her lip, letting her eyes fall to his mouth.

And then, she leant in and kissed him.

It was a kiss like no other. They had fully expected their first kiss to come after one mother of a fight, when their tempers were at their highest and their passion was flowing. And, as hot as that kiss would have been, this was a hundred million times better.

When she broke away and wordlessly led him to her bedroom, he knew there was no turning back. Not now. Not ever.

XXX

Six months later, spring had long been sprung and it was coming to that time of year where, historically, they parted ways.

But this time it was different. When he asked her if she wanted to spend Memorial Day weekend with him in the Hamptons, she had only hesitated for a second, before nodding.

She didn't have to feel guilty about wanting to go away with him, because she was with him.

In his mind, he had planned to ask her to take the whole three months off, but he knew it would be a waste of breath. There was no way she would be able to swing it. He wished, with all his might, that things were different. But the fact that she would be there from Thursday to Monday was enough.

They spent hours by the pool. Hours walking hand-in-hand along the beach. Hours with Alexis and hours on their own. It had been the perfect weekend.

But then, Monday afternoon came, and she had to go.

He understood, of course. But he really did want her there with him and his daughter for the rest of the week. Eventually, after watching him pout for a full ten minutes, as she packed her bag, she had relented…

"I'm on call next weekend, but the weekend after that I'm free. My boyfriend's going to be at his summer house... maybe I can come for a visit?"

His face lit up like a kid at Christmas.

"And it's not like you're going to be alone. Alexis is here. And, I'm pretty sure she won't threaten to kill you fifteen times a day."

He laughed. "No, but that number is slowly creeping up. I think she's been spending too much time with you."

Kate smirked. "Girl has good taste."

Castle nodded and stepped forward, his hands automatically falling to her hips. "Takes after her father."

Kate's eyes dropped to his lips, and he was just closing the distance, when they heard feet stamping up the stairs. "You two have gotten awfully quiet up there. Dad, leave Kate alone so she can pack. The sooner she gets back to the City, the sooner the weekend is over. The sooner the weekend is over, the sooner the week starts. And I, for one, would like the next two weeks to fly by quickly."

She and Kate had discussed the possibility of Kate's return in the not-so-distant future. Alexis had agreed readily with a hell of a lot of nodding and a very girly "yes!"

Kate laughed. "Girl has a point. As soon as that's all over, I'll be able to come back up."

With that, Castle started tossing all her clothes in her suitcase.

XXX

That was how they spent their first summer together. Kate going up to the Hamptons whenever she had a free weekend, and Castle and Alexis heading back to the city whenever she didn't.

They called each other at every spare minute. Sometimes she needed to hear his take on a case. Sometimes he just wanted to hear the noises of the precinct; of Ryan and Esposito wagering their way through the day. Sometimes they would talk for five minutes, before Alexis demanded that her father hand the phone over.

And, even if he'd only just hung up with her an hour before, he would always call her after he'd crawled into his bed. If he couldn't fall asleep with her in his arms, talking until ungodly hours of the night was the next best thing.

She lived for the weekends when she could escape the city and just... be. There was no pressure on her to chase down anything or anyone (unless Castle was being particularly annoying). She could stay up late, and sleep til noon.

She didn't have to worry about her hair, or make up, or whether that shirt went with those pants. Most days she would just throw a sundress on over her bikini.

She didn't strain her eyes reading file after file. She sat on the deck with her Ray Bans, reading whatever she felt like. Usually something by Castle himself, sometimes something by Patterson. Always for fun, never for work.

XXX

The first time they had exchanged 'I love you's was at the Hampton house, during one mother of a thunderstorm. Alexis was in the city for a friend's birthday, so they had the place to themselves.

They'd planned to have a picnic on the beach, but one look at the dark thunderheads rolling over had them rethinking. Instead, they'd closed the plastic blinds on the deck and picnicked there, watching as the storm swallowed the whole area.

The sky flashed and the ground shook, and Rick told Kate he loved her. When Kate replied in kind, they'd kissed a slow, sweet kiss, and didn't leave the picnic blanket until the morning after, when their summer had returned to blue skies and warm sunshine.

XXX

Eventually, summer started to draw to a close. The days were still sunny and warm, but the nights were beginning to get a cool bite to them. Homicide's case rate slowly fell, and they were no longer running two or three (or, at one stage, four) cases at once.

She could feel herself running on empty. The long, hot summer had been tough without Castle's constant presence. It wasn't nearly as bad as the summer previous, but it wasn't great, either.

She had taken to sleeping in one of the button down shirts he'd left at her place, rationalising that the shirt had been there for months, and he hadn't missed it yet. Besides, if she couldn't be in his arms, smelling his unique scent, this was the next best thing. Maybe one day she'd switch it for a different one.

But, she really did love the light green colour.

XXX

The third weekend she'd spent in the Hamptons, she'd tossed it in her suitcase, thinking she could swap it. Rick had been sitting on their bed, watching as she made her way around the room, unpacking, and spotted it. With a grin, he'd wrapped her in his arms and kissed her soundly.

And, yeah, maybe that was all she was wearing the night of that thunderstorm.

XXX

"So, summer officially ends in a week and three days. Are you ready for me to be back, following you around all day?"

She nodded, even though she knew he couldn't see her through the phone line. "Yeah, I think I'm forgetting how to give the good glares. Ryan and Esposito just smirk at me now."

"Ouch!" he replied, laughing.

She let out a light laugh, imagining the look on his face. "No, in all seriousness, I am. As much as I'm going to miss our weekend getaways, I'm looking forward to being able to see you pretty much whenever I want."

"You know, Kate, we can always come up here the weekends you're not working. Same as now."

She sighed. "No, I like that it's our special, summer thing. I just wish I were able to spend more than a couple days here and there with you."

"We can change that."

"Mmm?"

"Yeah. How do you feel about spending the last week of August here?"

She sighed. "Oh, that sounds wonderful."

"Really?"

"Yeah. A whole week of doing nothing? I don't think I've spent a whole week doing nothing for my whole career."

"What about when you were shot?"

She waved her hand dismissively. "Doesn't count. I was forced to do that. And, I had rehab."

He chuckled. "So, tomorrow, go in and ask the Captain for a week off. You've been working hard all summer. You definitely deserve it."

So, that was what she did. Captain Montgomery had given her the week off, and she left straight from work on the Friday night, not wanting to waste one minute of her vacation time. Their week was similar to the other times she had been there, only she went to sleep every night knowing that when she left, Rick and Alexis would be leaving, too.

-…-

As the sun had fallen, they'd moved from the deck, to the beach. Over the summer it had become their ritual. When the sun was setting, they would sit wrapped in each other in the sand.

Her back was pressed into his chest, her head resting lightly on his shoulder as he hugged her from behind. She sat in the vee his bent knees made, her hand idly drawing patterns in the sand. Alexis was at the movies with the group of friends she'd made years ago, on their first vacation to the Hamptons. They weren't kids she would usually spend time with, but he knew the importance of having diversity in friendship groups.

"Hey, Kate. Can I ask you something?"

"Mmm, you just did." His fingers dug into her side slightly, and she squirmed. "Okay, Castle. Okay, I give. What did you want to ask me, Rick?"

He lowered his head, so his mouth was near her ear. "Well, you know how we're going home tomorrow?"

She sighed and nodded. "A fact that I still hate, I assure you."

He hummed his agreement. "Well, what if, instead of unpacking in that apartment you occasionally sleep in, you just unpack at mine."

Her breath caught in her chest and she turned her head to look at him. "What?"

He nodded. "You heard me."

"Alexis?"

"Cornered me yesterday. It seems she likes waking up knowing you're there, too."

Kate smiled. "Are you going to ask me properly?"

He chuckled. "I thought you liked the I'm-saying-it-without-saying-it game."

"I do, when Alexis is around and you're trying to be dirty without her radar picking up on it. It's just us here, Rick." She reminded him.

He huffed out a breath. "Fine. Kate, I would very much like it if you were to move in with myself and my daughter. And my mother, when she's there. I want you to move in immediately, as in tomorrow night when we get home."

She smiled and lifted her sandy hand to cup his cheek. "Of course, Castle."

He grinned and kissed her softly.

"Your voice was the soundtrack of my summer. Do you know you're unlike any other? You'll always be my thunder."