Title: Rock Foundation

Disclaimer: I do not own the Castle characters or their story lines. I just borrow them for fun.

Summary: A Sequel of sorts for my one-shot Rock Solid. Kate and Rick deal with the aftermath of Knockdown and move forward with their lives, learning to balance their partnership with their budding relationship.

Author's note: Due to the overwhelming response to Rock Solid, I've decided to continue this story with Rock Foundation. I didn't want to simply tack onto the other story, because I think it works very well as a one-shot, and want to leave it as it is; so the subsequent chapters will be posted here. I've included Rock Solid as the first chapter of this story, so that it reads as a cohesive document.

Prologue: Rock Solid

"What can I do?" Rick asked as they got into the elevator of the precinct.

Kate considered him. "I'm assuming that going home isn't an option you're willing to consider?" He shook his head. "Won't your family be worried?"

"Alexis is with her mom and has no idea any of this has happened. Mother just left for Boston for a tryout of a new show for a few weeks. I called her while you were talking to the guys."

The elevator stopped and they stepped out. Montgomery was waiting in his office and motioned for Kate to join him. She looked at Rick for a moment. "Food?" she asked quietly.

He smiled. "Of course. What type?"

"Surprise me," she said, laughing at his excited look before she left him and strode to Montgomery's office.

Rick watched her walk away and let out a relieved sigh. Having pummeled the guy trying to kill his partner hadn't completely relieved him of the terror of watching the man actually try to kill her. It wasn't often that he beat anyone up (usually he was the one getting beaten), but you don't mess with his Detective, and you most certainly don't try to kill her.

He quickly got into the elevator, iphone already out and the number for the good Chinese place pulled from the speed dial. He made quick work of picking up Chinese, Thai, Indian, Italian, burgers, fries and mozzarella sticks before he made it back to the 12th. The scramble to acquire the food had kept his mind busy.

He came out of the elevator and found Kate hunched over at her desk with her head resting in her left hand while the right furiously filled out forms.

"Dinner," he said as he sat down in his chair.

She looked up at him and smiled tiredly before she finished off the last line on a form and placed the stack on the corner of the desk. "Done."

"You work fast, Detective," he said. She smiled, but it didn't quite reach her eyes. "You okay?"

"Fine," she lied, reaching up to rub at one of her eyes.

"So I got…" Rick petered off as he caught her expression. "Why don't we go back to my place to eat? Get out of here? It's late. I'm sure anything else that needs to be done can be done tomorrow. I'll even help you."

She considered him for a moment before nodding and standing. He stood quickly and grabbed the food while she put on her coat. They walked silently to the elevator. When they reached the ground floor Kate began searching for her keys.

"Let's take a cab," Rick suggested. "You look dead on your feet, and I'm nothing for driving."

She nodded reluctantly and let him guide her out onto the sidewalk to hail a cab. "Like I'd even let you drive my car, Castle," she joked.

"Someday, Beckett, I'll drive your car, and it'll be the best ride you've ever had," he told her.

They looked at each other challengingly for a moment before bursting into laughter as a cab pulled up. They got in and Rick gave the driver directions to his place before he turned and studied the woman beside him. Kate sat with her head back and her eyes closed, one hand resting on the gun holster on her thigh. He reached over and placed a hand on her knee and she looked at him.

"You can stand down," he told her.

She eyed him curiously. He nodded toward the gun and her eyes widened before she took her hand away and placed it on top of his, squeezing his for a moment before she let her eyes fall shut again. The cab pulled up to his apartment building and they got out, hurrying into the lobby to escape the chill of the windy streets.

"Evening, Mr. Castle, Detective," the doorman greeted them.

"Night, Hal," Rick smiled as he and Kate got into the elevator.

They rode up in silence and Rick let them into the apartment, placing the take-away bag on the counter before trying to extricate himself from his coat without jostling his hand. He managed to get quite twisted up and a frustrated growl escaped him as he tried to maneuver his arm out.

"Big gun men are no problem, but Rick Castle was eventually taken down by a jacket," Kate quipped as she came to stand in front of him, now significantly shorter without her heels.

"Very funny," he grumbled as he turned over again.

"Oh come here," she sighed before helping him out of the jacket and putting it on the coat rack while he took out the take out containers. "Did you get enough to feed an army?"

"I figured it was an everything kind of night," he told her as he grabbed two plates while she found silverware. "So dig in, the world is yours."

"Thanks, Castle," Kate smiled as they sat down next to one another on the bar stools and dug in, elbowing each other as they reached for things and battled over the sauce packets from the Chinese. Rick tried to use the chopsticks with his left hand, to no success.

"How's your hand?" Kate asked as she watched him struggling before handing over a fork.

"Still hurts but it's not too bad. I just can't be that dexterous for a couple days."

"Will that be a problem? I'm sure there's some stuff from the past few days that you're dying to put into the next novel."

Rick put down the fork and turned to look at Kate. "Nothing about your mom's case goes into Nikki's world. I thought you knew that."

Kate stared at him before she nodded and looked back down at her food. "Thank you," she whispered.

Rick nodded and returned to his food. "I might have her go rogue and get kicked off a case now, but not about her mother, and definitely not because a suspect insulted the memory of the most important person in her world."

They ate in companionable silence for a few minutes before Kate looked over at him. "Why would she go rogue then?"

"Maybe the suspect took out one of her Detectives, and she just gets too angry. It'll be a good emotional reason, but not your reason."

"I'll get to read it?"

"First one."

They lapsed into silence until they were done. "Let me do the dishes," Kate told him as he started to get up. "You go pick out a movie or something."


"I'm not feeling like going back to an empty apartment," she replied, looking at him.

He gave her a smile. "Mi casa es su casa." He strode into the living room and went about digging through his collection to find something stupid and fun for them to watch. He settled on "Pirates of the Caribbean," figuring that it was the farthest from what they had just gone through that you could possibly get.

He turned back to the kitchen to tell Kate his choice when he noticed her standing at the sink, her shoulders shaking as she did the dishes. He hurried to her side and took the plate from her, put it in the rack and turned off the faucet. She looked up at him, eyes red rimmed.

"Sorry," she gave a weak laugh. "Just getting them more soggy, I guess."

"Hey," he reached out and wiped a tear from her cheek. "You don't have to hide here, Kate. If you want to have a good cry about this, I'm game. I could use it."

"Worried about your writing career?" she joked as she turned her face to remove his hand and wiped at her nose.

"It's not every day that you see someone trying to kill your best friend, Detective," he admitted.

"I'm just fine, Castle," she said with wide eyes.

"Just fine and a few minutes from death may seem like the same thing, but they're really not," he said quietly, looking her over as if she were about to collapse.

"I won't be going anywhere for a long time," she promised, before a tear made its way down her cheek. "I'll be here forever and she's…she's still…"

Rick reached out and pulled her into a hug, running his hands over her back. "I know. I'm so sorry, Kate."

She found herself succumbing to the embrace and simply let go at his words. She began to sob into his neck, winding her arms tightly around him, anchoring herself to the world through him. He slowly inched them backward until they reached the couch, where he pulled her down and into his lap, grabbing a blanket with his good hand and wrapping it around them.

"S...sorry," she snuffled a few minutes later. She pulled away and looked at him, noting his slightly puffy eyes and pale face. "Are you okay?"

"Me?" he asked, giving her a smile. "I'm great."

"You're lying."

"If one of us isn't being the rock right now, we might just fall completely apart."

She laughed a little and bumped his shoulder with her head. "So pass the buck to me, and have the breakdown I can see coming."

He looked at her for a moment before he squeezed her closer. "I'm good. I'm good just like this."

They sat in silence for a long while, simply being alive. "Wanna watch that movie?" she asked quietly.

"Sure," he nodded. She reached out to grab the remote and handed it to him. "Pirates okay?" he asked.

"Sounds good," Kate replied as she tried to shift off his lap.

He caught her and held her in place. "If it doesn't bother you, could you stay?" he asked softly.

"No funny business," she told him sternly as they looked at each other.

"For tonight, Kate, this isn't about innuendo at all."

She smiled after a moment and settled herself back in his lap while the credits rolled, sighing contentedly as he shifted so that she was sitting against his chest between his legs, his arms wrapped around her middle. For tonight, she could let her guard down and be the anchor and the anchored with him. Tomorrow they would deal with everything else.