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: I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I know it's been over two weeks since my last update. Life's been crazy busy, and I've been trying to keep up with all three of my stories, but this one fell through the cracks. It's partially because I hadn't figured out quite how to end it.
And now, well: I present to you the final chapter of Rock Foundation.
"This isn't the last time we'll be put in danger," she said quietly after a minute of silence. "And it's not even the first time you've been in mortal danger while following me."
"It is the first time I've been shot," he replied.
"I want it to be the last time you'll be shot."
"There's no guarantee of that."
They stared at each other. "Are you working up to telling me to stop shadowing you?" he asked very softly.
She sighed. "No. Yes. Maybe. I don't know, Rick. You've been shot. You've been targeted. You've punched out hit men and been walked at gunpoint. We're lucky. We're so lucky that this time, you get to walk away. But the next time…"
"We might not be having this conversation."
She gripped his hand tightly. "I never, ever, want to look into your lifeless eyes, Richard Castle."
He gave a slow nod and squeezed back. "I don't want to look into yours either."
"It's my job," she repeated.
"I'm the cop. I'm the one they should shoot at. Not you."
"Can't they just shoot at someone else?" he asked, giving her a smile. "Like, bring a dummy and stand it in the doorway, so they always shoot at that."
"That would be pointless, I have you," she deadpanned.
They both laughed. He appreciated the humor, especially since he was fairly certain that this had been his last case.
"I can't do it to Alexis, Rick. You should have seen her."
"Was she terrified?" he asked, his eyes troubled.
"Yeah," Kate whispered. "We all were."
She blinked. "Sorry? For what? It's not your fault that you got shot. Jerry Tyson's the one to blame, and, well, he certainly got what was coming to him."
"Right between the eyes, huh?"
She gave him a soft smile. "No one shoots my Partner."
He brought her hand to his lips. "I'll miss it," he whispered.
They sat quietly for a few minutes, just looking each other over, soothing the fear that somehow, despite the fact that they were in the hospital and everything was fine, one of them was suddenly going to disappear.
"You could still consult," Kate mused.
"You can't come on takedowns, and I think there'll be some fieldwork that you won't come on anymore, but…well, it wouldn't be the same, building theory without you."
He grinned. "I think I could deal with that."
"But if I tell you to stay in the car, you will stay in the damn car," she added.
He frowned. "This is going to keep being a problem."
"No, it won't. I say stay, you stay."
"And if we're facing another insane killer, bent on shooting you the moment you get out of the car?"
"You won't be coming on those trips anymore. You'll be back at the station. Better yet, you'll be at home, writing."
She sighed and stood up, pacing at the foot of his bed. "If you hadn't been with me, none of this would have happened tonight."
"No, he probably would have just shot you and been done with it," he fired back. "He was planning to kill you in front of me, and when you didn't get out right away, he got mad and forgot his purpose."
"Or, I would have gotten out and shot him."
"Don't pretend that my presence is why this happened," Rick said angrily. "You could be dead right now."
"You could be dead right now! Rick, do you have any idea…you lost so much blood, and if you'd been even a millimeter farther over…"
They glared at each other. "Are we even fighting about me riding along now?" he asked after a pause. "Or are we both scared shitless because each of us could have died tonight, and neither of us could do a damn thing about it?"
Kate felt her composure starting to slip. She came back over and sat down next to him, sighing as he took her hands into his. "You almost coded in the ambulance."
"Right there, Rick. You could have died, right there. I know it hurt that I got out of the car, believe me, I know. But Rick, watching your life slip away to almost nothing…I just can't do it again. And then, seeing Alexis, and your Mother…I refuse to watch the lights go out." She felt a tear slip down her cheek, the only one she'd shed since they'd come into his room.
He nodded. "Okay."
"No more ride-alongs, unless it's safe. Vest all the time. And I 'stay in the damn car' when you tell me to."
"I'm sorry you had to go through that," he said quietly, letting go of one of her hands to reach up and brush away her tears.
She caught his hand and squeezed it. "Stop being sorry, you idiotic man."
"There's my girl."
"You gave us a scare, Bro," Esposito said as he and Ryan made their way into the room the next morning.
"Sorry," Rick smiled, looking up from the game of cards he, Alexis and Kate had been playing on his bed. Kate was seated next to Rick, squished up on the bed with him, and Alexis was camped out at his feet. "If it makes it better, I did make an effort to stay in the car this time."
Kate nudged him, happy to be on his good side and he turned to her and grinned.
"What did we miss?" Ryan asked, glancing between them.
"Inside joke," Kate dismissed with a wave. "What's up?"
"We just wanted to come check on our Writer."
Rick smiled. 'Their writer.' "Well, it's much appreciated guys. How's everything going?"
"Agent Shaw's finishing up with everything, but she'll be by in the afternoon. And Montgomery sends his best. He's going to try to come out tonight."
"Great," he smiled.
"Processing going well and everything?" Kate asked.
"Yeah," the boys nodded.
"They'll need your statement, when you get a chance," Esposito added. "Though, there's no hurry. Tyson's...well, you know."
"Right," she nodded. "Can we do it over the phone, or do I need to go back to the city?"
The boys exchanged grins. "I think you can do it here. In fact, Montgomery said he'd do it with you tonight. And then…um, how do you feel about some time off, Beckett?"
She raised an eyebrow. "Why?"
"Well, we're sort of here to, uh, tell you to take the next month off."
"A month?" she and Rick exclaimed.
The boys grinned. "Yeah. Montgomery says there's no use in you being in the Precinct, worrying about Castle, here, so he wants you gone while the man recuperates."
"Yep," Ryan grinned. "And don't worry, we'll hold down the fort."
Kate just stared at them. A week, she could understand. But a month? An entire month?
"Beckett," Esposito prompted. She looked up at him. "We just dealt with your Mom's case. And now, your Partner's been shot. In anyone else's situation, it would be a longer break, and you know it." She glared at him. "Just helping you see reason," he shrugged.
"Anyway, Montgomery will be out tonight, and Shaw will be by later," Ryan interjected as Kate and Esposito had a glare-off. "And Castle, I think we'll need to have a Madden weekend sometime soon."
Rick grinned. "Oh, definitely."
"You guys are such children," Alexis said, breaking the tension that had fallen since the guys' announcement.
"I agree," said Kate.
"Fine," Esposito huffed. "We'll just get out of your way. Enjoy your vacation, Beckett."
They left, grinning as Kate crossed her arms and let her head fall back against the pillows.
"Kate," Alexis said timidly. "Is a break really that bad?"
Kate felt Rick snickering and she nudged him. "No, it's not," she said, lifting her head to meet the girl's eyes.
"Kate doesn't like to take time off," Rick supplied.
"I've never said that," she scoffed.
"Right, because asking for a day so you can sleep isn't paramount to the apocalypse for you."
"Shut up, Castle." She turned back to Alexis. "I have nothing against taking time off. I just…I wasn't expecting to be ordered off the force for your father's entire recuperation."
"Oh, so you're more worried about having to put up with him for a straight month," Alexis nodded sagely. Rick gasped in outrage and Kate laughed.
"Yes, Alexis, that's exactly it."
"You know, I'm in a hospital bed right now. This is hardly fair to me," Rick pouted.
"I think you should be glad that we've let you win the last few hands, and quit while you're ahead," Kate laughed.
"Fine," he groused. "Tease me all you want. But, know that I can be even more unbearable than I'll be already while recuperating, and you'll have to deal with it."
"Did we say let you win?" Alexis amended quickly. "We meant, you should be glad that you've beaten us."
"Good try," Rick laughed. "But really, Kate, if you don't want the time off, I'm sure you can get Montgomery to make it shorter. I do think you should take some time off though."
Kate sighed and let herself sink back into the pillows. She didn't really have anything against taking some time off. She just hadn't ever taken that much time. And really, how would she fill it?
"If Montgomery wants to get rid of me for a month, I'll let him," she said after a moment. "Maybe a month will do me some good."
Alexis smiled. "Awesome."
"I agree," Rick said, lacing their hands together.
Kate gave Alexis a soft smile. "I mean, it's only fair to you. It would be cruel to leave you with your father all the time."
"Exactly," she grinned while Rick huffed.
"Detective?" Agent Shaw poked her head through the door and then blinked, adjusting to the sight before her.
Alexis had gone back to the Hamptons house with Martha to gather their things, so they could head back to the city. Alexis needed to be in school the next day, and so she and Rick had said their goodbyes. They'd come back to visit in a day, when the weekend hit.
Rick was currently asleep, his head resting on Kate's shoulder while she read a beat up copy of Storm Season Martha had brought back from the house upon her request. She had her hand on Rick's thigh as she read and she didn't realize it, but every few seconds, she glanced down at his head, checking to see that he was still there.
"Beckett?" Shaw said, moving into the room.
"Oh," Kate looked up as she came in. "Sorry, Agent Shaw."
"No apologies necessary," she smiled. "Can we talk, or will it wake him?"
Kate smiled. "Don't worry. One of the nurses just changed his bandages and he didn't even snuffle."
"Is he usually like that?" Shaw asked, drawing a chair up to the side of the bed.
"Sometimes. But he's drugged, so he's more out of it than normal," Kate laughed.
Shaw sat down and considered her. "You guys really know how to get into those perilous situations."
Kate nodded. "It's part of our charm."
Shaw laughed. "I'm glad to see that you're still smiling."
"It's not easy, but he's alive, so there's something to smile about in that."
"I'm glad you see that."
"How are you?" Kate asked, desperate to get out of the spotlight. "How did everything go once we…once the ambulance left?"
"Standard protocol. Nice shot," she replied.
"Everything's squared away. I know Montgomery will be here to take your statement. We can get Castle's later, when he's less drugged."
"He's been pretty aware all day," Kate smiled. "But that's probably for the best anyway."
"How are you holding up?" Shaw asked.
Kate shrugged. "As well as I think I could be."
"I hear you're taking a vacation."
She snorted. "Forced leave, actually. But it's not so bad."
"What I wouldn't give for a month of forced leave," Shaw replied. "Enjoy it. The only other time you'll probably get it is for maternity leave, and believe me, the desk duty before that takes a bit of the sweetness out of the break."
Kate felt her eyes widen. "Uh, right."
"Don't tell me you haven't thought about it."
"More since I worked with you last year," Kate replied easily, the honest answer surprising her.
Shaw smiled. "It's worth it, Detective."
"I may be starting to see your point," Kate nodded.
"When can I eat solids again?" Rick asked as Kate set down the tray with a pudding and smoothie for him, and a burger for herself.
"Four more days."
"It's not fair."
"You get to eat a burger."
"I want one."
"You're a child."
"Takes one to know one."
"Shut up, Castle."
He glared at her while she made a show of enjoying her burger. Yes, he was injured, but teasing him was much easier than focusing on that.
"You'll regret this the next time our situation is reversed."
"I'm not planning to get shot anytime soon," Kate remarked, raising an eyebrow at him.
He waved her off. "No. I meant, when you're recovering from delivery and all you can eat is ice chips when all you want is coffee, you'll regret this moment."
They looked at each other. Had he really?
"Uh, I mean, when you're um…you know, I don't really want a burger all that badly."
Kate snorted. "Good save, Casanova."
"Shut up, Beckett."
She laughed. She couldn't really hold that one over him, since all she'd been able to think of for the past few hours were little bundles of Castle-Beckett joy, squirming, laughing, playing, smiling; she'd had children on the brain since Jordan had left, and odd as it was, she wasn't particularly phased by it.
"So, when's Montgomery coming by?" Rick asked some minutes later.
"Soon," Kate shrugged.
"Where are you staying tonight? Do you want a key to the house, I know Mother left hers incase you wanted it."
Kate just rolled her eyes. "I'm not leaving."
"I didn't leave last night."
"I thought you said you were…"
"No," she laughed. "I said I was going to find Alexis when you started to drift off."
"Where did you sleep then?"
"Seriously?" He looked appalled. "You slept in the waiting room?"
"Are the meds affecting your hearing?"
He glared at her. "Kate, you can't sleep in the waiting room."
"It worked just fine last night," she shrugged.
"If you keeping sleeping in the waiting room, you'll never get enough sleep, and soon enough, you'll be in here hooked up to an IV just like me."
"Rick, the melodrama's not really cute."
"I'm not trying to be cute," he countered. "I'm serious. Go sleep at the Hamptons house, and come back in the morning."
"Captain Montgomery hasn't been by yet, and no, thank you, but I'm not going to go sleep at your house."
She took a deep breath. "Because that's where we were going when you got shot yesterday morning, it's where you took your ex-wife last summer, and it's a strange house with no security."
"And, furthermore, Rick, you're here."
"I'll still be here in the morning," he said gently, his eyes wide.
"I'm just…I'm not ready to go yet, okay?"
He considered her for a moment. "Okay."
Rick watched as a Kate and Montgomery stepped out of the room, Montgomery with a jovial grin, and Kate with a put-upon expression. Rick, personally, couldn't be more excited that Kate had a whole month off, ostensibly to play with him. Play with him—that sounded dirty.
He shook his head. Now was not the time to be thinking dirty thoughts, least of all because he couldn't even hope to act on them. He sighed and leaned his head back into the soft pillows. He was tired, but he knew that if he fell asleep before Kate got back, she was likely to go and spend the night in the waiting room again, and he just…he wouldn't accept that.
Suddenly, an idea occurred to him and he pressed the nurse call button. He smoothed out his hair and put on his most charming smile. A minute later, a nice young nurse opened the door, and Rick caught a glimpse of Kate's surprised and concerned face on the other side. He smiled wider, hoping she would see and then turned his gaze on the young woman.
"What do you need, Mr. Castle?" she asked.
"I was wondering if it would be possible to get…I'm sorry. What's your name?"
"That's a very nice name. It has a good sound. Maybe I can use it in a book. Anyway, Nurse Hutchins."
"Oh, you can call me Sally," she smiled.
"Okay, Sally. You see, I was wondering if it would be possible to get a second bed in here for that woman in the hallway."
"Oh, well, that's not really Hospital protocol, Mr. Castle."
"I know," he said sheepishly. "But you see, she's been through a lot and we're from Manhattan so it's pretty far, and all the good hotels around here are booked for the night, and I just want to make sure that she's comfortable."
"She's really a special woman, and she saved my life yesterday. I would do more, but, well…" he gestured around himself. "I'm sure you can understand. You look like someone who always wants to do the best for the people they care about."
Her face cracked and he internally whooped. "Well, alright. I'll go find a cot for you. But don't tell any of the other nurses I broke down after you buttered me up, alright?"
Then she turned and flounced from the room, leaving Rick a bit flabbergasted in her wake. Must be the drugs. He didn't usually get caught out.
A minute later, Kate came back in, and Rick saw Montgomery wave before striding away.
"What did you need a nurse for?" she asked with concern, sitting down on the edge of his bed.
"Here's the cot, Mr. Castle," Nurse Hutchins said as she wheeled a bed in, complete with a stack of sheets, pillows and a blanket.
"Thank you, Sally," Rick smiled.
Hutchins turned to Kate. "Keep that man around, dear. He's not as smooth as he thinks he is, but he cares about you."
Kate stared after her as she left. Then she looked at the cot and sighed. "You sweet-talked a cot out of that nurse?"
"Attempted to sweet-talk," Rick corrected. "Apparently, I'm not as suave as I usually am when I'm doped up."
"Maybe you're just not as suave as you think on a regular day, or smooth, was it?" she asked with a grin.
He gave her a tired glare. "Will you at least sleep on the damn thing, so that my ego isn't completely demolished?"
Kate patted his knee. "I suppose I could."
She leaned in a pressed a gentle kiss to his lips. "Thank you, Rick."
"I just want you to be comfortable," he smiled.
"You're the one we should be worried about," she said as she ran a hand through his messy hair. "All hooked up to tubes and beeping."
"Yeah, well, taking care of you makes being in this bed more bearable," he shrugged.
Kate smiled and pressed her forehead to his. "I love you," she said quietly.
He blinked. "Oh, Kate, I love you too. So much. So very much." He wrapped his arms around her and they sat there holding each other for a long moment.
It hadn't been flashy or bold or earth shattering. But sitting there with him on his hospital bed, both of them covered in two days worth of filth and grime, Kate couldn't imagine a more real way for them to be. He ran a hand through her hair and she smiled and pressed another soft kiss to his mouth.
"We'll have fun this month," he murmured against her lips.
"I hope your definition of fun includes a lot of bed rest, Rick."
"As long as you're in the bed with me, it'll be fun," he replied.
She smiled and felt her heart warm. He wasn't talking innuendo, or joking or anything. He was serious. "I guess a month of lazing around the house could be kind of fun."
"So you'll stay at the loft?"
"Come on, Kate. Move in with us."
He smiled and rubbed circles on her back. "Move in with us."
"Does…does Alexis know you're suggesting this?" she asked, breathless. She loved him. She loved Alexis. She loved Martha. And true, she'd barely spent a night away from him in weeks, but moving in? So quickly?
"Alexis mentioned it earlier and I know Mother will be thrilled. Come on, Kate. Let's start our life. Let's build a foundation and then a house, and fill it with kids and take vacations and build theory and find our happily ever after."
"Double rainbows and magic and all?" she asked.
He grinned. "Exactly."
"You won't get sick of me when I'm still a skeptic, or don't come home for hours after we close, or decide that I want to wait to…to do some of that foundation building?"
"Never," he said seriously. "I won't ever get sick of you, Kate."
"Really? I get sick of you all the time."
He gave a dramatic sigh but pulled her closer. "There you go, ruining a perfectly good moment."
She laughed quietly. "Oh, don't worry, Rick. I'm sure you'll find a way to sweep me back off my feet somehow."
They were quiet for a minute before he met her eyes, their faces still only inches apart.
"You'll move in? You'll spend your life with me?" he asked.
"Those are two different questions."
"One and Done, Kate," he whispered. "You're mine."
She took a deep breath and bit her lip. She'd known this for a while. Those three little words were powerful, both sets of them. Slowly, a beatific smile stretched across her face. "You're mine too, Rick."
"Good," he said, leaning in to press his lips back to hers. "Then let me spend the rest of my life helping you find Santa Claus."
Thank you to everyone who has stuck with this story, read through, and reviewed, favorited and alerted. Your support has meant more to me than anything, and this story is special to me, because it was the first Castle story I ever posted. Thank you all for coming on the ride with me.
There may be a sequel (I certainly could go on and on), yet untitled, that may appear at some point later this summer. For now, however, our story has come to an end.
I'd love to know what you thought, of the story, of the chapter, of anything. I wish I could mind meld with all of you, but that sounds like an undertaking that would be just too big! Your input has been so immeasurably valuable. It has helped me become a better writer, and I can't imagine writing these stories without it.
So, thank you, dear readers. You're amazing, always.