This is the last chapter. I'm not sure if I'm happy or sad about that. But here it is, all the same.
We've skipped on from all those flashbacks in the previous chapter, so we're somewhere in the future...
Thanks, once again, to ariel119 for her wonderful beta work (I'm pretty sure I got everything...)
Chapter Six: Thunder
He sat at the end of the bed, legs spread and leaning back on his palms, watching. He could watch her for hours, and over the years had proven it. Hours at the precinct. Hours in the car. Hours at home.
While he knew after a time she would eventually snap at him, this was the one place she never did. Here, in their bedroom, was the one place he could actually get away with it. And he loved it.
He loved how she never bothered with clothes, just a bra and panties as she fixed her hair and makeup. His eyes always followed her hands as she slowly rubbed the cherry scented moisturiser into her skin. He never missed the way her eyes scrunched at the corners and her nose wrinkled as she twisted the curling rod, or snagged a strand of hair with her straightening irons.
He appreciated every single inch of her creamy white skin. He loved it, and her, and he knew that she knew. And he loved that most of all.
"Do it again, Dweeb, and I'll kick your ass so hard you won't be able to sit right 'til your hundredth birthday." Muttered words floated across the lounge room of the loft, eyes deftly focussed on the book inches away, in her lap.
A dark-haired boy smirked, his hazel-green eyes alight with mischief. He fingered the laser gun and aimed away from her. He let his finger rest below the trigger, knowing it wouldn't make a sound without his other hand in position, anyway.
Out of the corner of his eye, he watched as she relaxed back into the chair. Her legs hung off one side, her back pressed into the opposite arm, her head casually resting on the back. She was completely lost in her book, once again.
What was so special about Harry-bloody-Potter anyway?
He bit his bottom lip and slowly swung the laser gun in her direction. If she looked up now, he'd be busted and he wouldn't have this last shot. Lining the gun up single-handedly, he waited. He watched her turn the page, sent up a quick prayer, and shot.
The sudden whirring made her scream in shock and she dropped the book. With her eyes narrowed, she looked up to see him halfway across the room.
"Ooh, I am going to kill you, Dweeb!"
"Gotta catch me first, Becks!" he called back, taking the stairs two at a time.
"Urgh!" she growled, picking the book up and placing it on the coffee table. She knew exactly where he would hide, the theatre room upstairs. He would squirm in between two of the reclining chairs for a good hour or so, when he knew the fight would be out of her, and revenge would be petty.
But not that night.
They had plans. And they were leaving in fifteen minutes. Besides, if there was one thing their mother had taught her, it was patience.
Smirking, she picked the book back up and sank back into the confines of the chair, and Harry Potter's fight for survival in an overgrown maze.
When the loft was as quiet as it was now, she knew something was 'up'. There was no music coming from down the hall. No conversation floating up the stairs. The sounds of gun-games on the PS3 (that usually drove her crazy) were suspiciously silent. Not even the TV in the lounge was on, providing soothing background noise. So she had an inkling, which historically proved her right, that a quiet loft meant something was 'up'.
"Honey?" she questioned, body and face still pointed at the mirror, mascara wand in hand.
"Yeah, Babe?" An answer from the bedroom meant that he, at least, wasn't involved in whatever schemes the other two were cooking up.
"Can you please make sure Max's okay with his suit?"
"Sure." He didn't move, thoroughly enjoying the view in the bathroom.
"And that Becks is getting ready, and not lost in a book?"
He nodded. "Mmm-hmm."
She glanced at the corner of the mirror where she could see the end of their bed. She rolled her eyes. "Honey?"
"Yeah, yeah. I'm enjoying the view. Far more important than making sure those two monkeys are where they're supposed to be."
She turned and shot him a look.
"Okay, okay. I'm going." He pushed himself off the bed and took two steps toward the bedroom door. He paused, turned, and ran his eyes over her body. "Please don't get dressed before I get back."
She rolled her eyes again, but nodded. "Hurry or we'll be late."
He gazed at her for a second longer, and then pulled the door open.
"Hey, monkey children!" she heard him call. "Mama's nearly ready, so you two better be. If you're not-"
She heard his voice trail off and imagined him walking down the stairs.
Rolling her eyes for the third time in as many minutes, she leant toward the mirror to finish applying her makeup.
"Hey Munchkin, where's your brother?"
She didn't even bother looking up from her book as she shrugged. "How should I know where the little dweeb is?"
"Don't call him a dweeb."
"Why? It's true."
"'Cause, it's like calling me a dweeb!"
In a perfect imitation of her mother, she rolled her eyes. "But, Daddy, you are a dweeb," she replied.
He nodded. "Well played. Don't let your mother hear you calling him that. I can protect you from many, many things. But I think I'm more afraid of her than you are."
She smiled and turned her blue eyes to him. "I think he's in the theatre room, practicing with his stupid gun."
He smiled. "Like he's witnessed his older sister and mom do a hundred thousand times."
"Shut up, Dad." She kicked him gently.
"Mmm-hmm. Just waiting for you and Mom." She held up the book, to which he nodded in understanding.
"Suited up and looking very dapper… when he puts the gun down."
He grinned. "We'll be leaving soon. Mom's just got to put her dress on. Make sure you've got everything – including your brother – while I go help her zip."
She pulled a face, but closed the book. "Only 'cause I love you, Daddy."
"I love you too, Munchkin."
He kissed her forehead and followed at a leisurely pace as his daughter raced up the stairs, calling for her brother.
"Do we really have to walk the red carpet?"
"Yes, honey, we really do."
"Will Gram and Lex be there?"
"Gram, yes. Lex, maybe. She wasn't sure if she could get the night off."
"Boss works her too hard." Rick mumbled.
Kate rolled her eyes and swatted his chest. "Castle!"
Rick opened his mouth to retort, but Max spoke first. "Mama, why do you call dad 'Castle'? It's his last name, like us." He waved at the gap between himself and his sister. "Not his first. His first name is 'Rick'."
Rick's eyebrow raised and he met his wife's eyes. Rebecca smirked. She knew the answer to this, like she knew the answer to how many books her father had written (57, in case you were wondering).
"Because, baby, when your dad and I first met he used to follow me everywhere and annoy me."
"Everywhere? Like the bathroom?"
"Once," she answered with a nod.
Kate looked to Rick as he answered. "Because, Squirt, your mama was so beautiful, that I just couldn't take my eyes off her."
"Was? Dad, have you looked at Mama tonight? She is still beautiful," Max informed him as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
"And you still can't take your eyes off her," added Rebecca.
"Oh, thank you, baby." Kate kissed her son's cheek and shared a look with her daughter, before her gaze shifted to her husband, waiting to see what his retort would be.
"Mama is always beautiful to me. But if I look at her too much, she gets embarrassed and tells me it's creepy."
"Mama?" Max turned his big blue eyes to her, a cute questioning expression on his face.
Kate nodded. "It's true, Maxie-boy. Would you like it if dad stared at you all the time?" She smiled as Rick leant forward, his eyes wide, and gazed at their son.
Max shook his head. "No. Dad, stop! Mama's right, it is creepy."
Rebecca nodded. "Mom's always right, isn't she dad?"
Rick squirmed in his seat. "Mostly."
Rebecca smirked. "Lex says that if Mom had a dollar for every time she was right, she'd be able to buy you out."
"Your sister needs to watch what she says."
Rebecca shrugged. "Gram agrees."
"Of course she does."
"Hey, look, we're here."
The limo pulled up to the exclusive club where the most recent (and final) Nikki Heat book was being launched. When Kate had fallen pregnant with Rebecca, he took time out from shadowing and writing until their little girl was 8. But he had always known that he would have to finish the story; he knew his readers needed closure. As it turned out, this book averaged the number out to one book for every two years he'd known Detective Kate Beckett. He knew he could have written a million more, but as much as he loved Nikki, Rook and Roach, it was time to move on.
Nikki and Rook had finally settled into a somewhat steady relationship. They weren't married, far from it. But there was a distinct 'when' flavour. And while Rook may have gotten the girl first, Rick had captured her inspiration's heart long before Heat and Rook steamed up the pages. Rick liked to think their alter-egos would get the happy ending they had, but was content with the fact that it looked likely.
Besides, he could always revisit Nikki and Rook's New York to write it, if he saw fit.
He stepped onto the red carpet, one hand firmly clasped in his wife's, the other resting on his son's shoulder. The dedication he had emailed through a week ago was still fresh in his mind, as if he had only just written it. Kate didn't know what it said, but he knew she would love it. Just like they loved each other and their family. Together, they made their way through the crowd of photographers and journalists as lightning ripped and thunder rolled across the sky.
"To my wife, my lover, my best friend and muse. To my partner in crime and in life. Here's to the next chapter."
"And bring on the thunder."
Thunder – Boys Like Girls
A/N: And there we have it, kids. Thanks for taking this journey with me. I hope it wasn't too confusing for you‼