Like a lot of other Castle fans out there, I saw the promo pictures for Episode 7 (somewhat of a spoiler alert) and did a big OMG! when I saw two specific ones. And like one person predicted on the fan boards, those pictures would most likely be the subject of a lot of new fics. So yes, I got the idea for writing this fic, so I'm jumping on the bandwagon. Now that you know that, hope you still want to read it. By the way, this is a one-shot. A real, honest to goodness one-shot...from me. I even marked it as 'Complete' already. Can you believe it?

Then as I was writing this, I found that the two awesome pictures in question had been removed from the fan sites! Not sure what's up with that, and I seriously hope that scene still airs b/c it has a lot of potential for being a great shipper moment. However, I had the story just about done, so here it is.

There are some references to other episodes and other important moments or pieces of dialog that have occurred. Also, someone made a suggestion on one of the discussion boards and I thought it was a cute idea and tried to incorporate it here.

Disclaimer: I don't own anyone, and if I did, I probably couldn't do them justice anyway.


They were inside. He was inside, and she was out here. That wasn't the way it was supposed to be. She was supposed to be with him, or better yet, he was supposed to be with her. And damn it, if he wasn't with her, then at least he wasn't supposed to go getting himself into trouble when he wasn't with her. And getting taken hostage in a bank robbery definitely counted as getting in trouble.

"Detective Beckett!" Kate heard a faint voice through the cacophony of noise from the milling crowd of nervous bystanders and the police that were trying to coordinate everything. She turned around to see who belonged to the voice and she saw a very nervous looking Alexis Castle.

She rushed over to her and brought her around the police barricades without a word, putting her arm around the girl as she led her behind a vehicle. The girl raised worried eyes to Kate. "Why aren't you in there with him? she asked accusingly. "He's being held hostage! You should be there with him! He shouldn't be helping you out when you're not even there to back him up when something goes wrong!" All of her frustration of months ago seeped into her words and came hurling out at the Detective.

Kate grabbed Alexis' arms and looked right into her eyes. "Alexis, him being in there has nothing to do with any case, or anything else for the department. He told me he had an appointment with Martha at the bank this morning so he wouldn't be at the precinct. I hadn't even seen him yet today. It looks like he was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

"God, Grams is in there too?" Alexis asked, somewhat frantically.

Kate felt a little unpleasant jolt for being the one to tell the girl that basically her whole family was involved in a hostage situation with an uncertain outcome. "Yeah. She is. And I wish your dad was on a case with me because you're right, then he'd have trained backup. Or he wouldn't be in there in the first place." She said the words with frustrated conviction, and she hoped Alexis believed her. Then she had a thought. "How did you know your dad was inside anyway?"

"He texted me-this really short message-and said he got tied up at the bank. But then I saw one of those instant news reports on my phone about all of this, and since this is our bank..." she trailed off, looking toward the imposing building. "And I texted him back a few times and he didn't answer. I called the car service to see if he used them, and he did, and they said they dropped him off here, so then I knew. I just knew."

Kate was impressed with the girl's skill with tracking down her father, even though it was now causing her a lot of worry. "Good work." She took a deep breath. "Look, Alexis, you can stay here, but you have to stay out of the way so everyone else can do their jobs and get everyone out safely. Can you do that?" She waited, and the girl nodded. "I'm going to try to help, but so far the hostage negotiator doesn't seem to really a team player, if you know what I mean." She motioned to a uniform, and the man came over. "Officer Nelson, this is Alexis Castle. She's my partner's daughter, and he's...inside, along with her grandmother." Kate stopped herself just in time so she didn't call Castle a 'hostage'. "I told her she could stay here rather than be out there with the mob. I going to see if I can find out some more information. Can you help her if she needs anything?"

"Sure thing," the officer replied.

"Alexis, I'll be back as soon as I can. But if you need anything, let Officer Nelson know, or you can ask Ryan or Esposito if you see them. They're around here too," Kate told her before walking away.

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That promise of 'soon' turned out to be longer than either of them thought. Alexis had a scary moment when her phone rang and she saw it was her dad, but they were cut off before he could utter much more than her name before there was a lot of incoherent shouting. She turned toward the building and screamed his name and even had the impulse to try to run inside, but she was grabbed by the officer that Detective Beckett had introduced her to. He led her over to a police car and opened the door, urging her to sit down.

Alexis tried to text Ashley, but he wasn't responding. Was he in class now? She couldn't even remember his class schedule at the moment, even though she had it memorized.

When she next saw Detective Beckett, it seemed like hours later. Detectives Esposito and Ryan had both come over and had talked to her, but there hadn't been much to report. Or not much that they could tell her, anyway. There had been a lot of activity, and she'd even seen a group of paramedics going into the building. God, was her dad hurt? Or Grams? That was all she could think about, until she saw the Detective walk in her general direction. Alexis almost didn't recognize her, because the woman was now dressed in uniform, with the FDNY Paramedic designation emblazoned on the shirt. She stood up and rushed toward her, hoping that now she could finally get some answers about her father and grandmother.

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They finally had a clue, some information from inside, and Kate hoped it would be a big one. She'd finagled her way into the bank as part of the 'paramedic' team that was taking away one of the injured hostages. And now she was so glad she'd insisted on going in there. Nobody else would have understood Castle's silent communication; she was sure of that. And right now, she didn't want to think about how utterly relieved she felt when she saw Castle; that he was still okay. She couldn't look at him for very long without giving herself away, but she hoped she could convey her...support for him in those few seconds that she did have eye contact with him. She wanted him to know, somehow, that she was there for him.

When they were strapping the injured man onto the stretcher inside the bank, Kate finally spoke, apparently addressing the unconscious man. "Mr. Reynolds, you're going to be fine. Your daughter is outside waiting with us. She'll be happy to know that you're okay."

Of course, the words were for Castle, not the injured man, who had no daughter as far as they knew. To any of the bystanders, it would seem as if was just trying to comfort the man. But she knew that somehow Castle would figure out that she was talking about Alexis, and she hoped that it eased his worry a little bit knowing that his little girl was okay and she was with them.

When they got the man safely outside and out of sight of the bank, Kate instructed the paramedics, "Step back for a minute. I need to check his pockets before you take him away." She reached into his pockets and came up with breath mints, a money clip, a restaurant receipt and...a folded piece of paper. And even before she had it fully unfolded, she saw her partner's familiar scrawl.

Bingo.

"Thanks. This is what I was looking for." She took the note and bagged it immediately as evidence. She glanced quickly at the note, and she could see that it was probably in some sort of a code; to the untrained eye, the note looked benign. She started walking purposefully over to the truck where the negotiator and the head of the tactical team were based. But before she could get there, she was intercepted by Alexis.

"Detective Beckett, were you inside?" The girl's voice held a tone of disbelief. And before she could ask the question she was almost too scared to ask, the Detective answered it for her.

"Yes, and I saw your dad and Martha. They're fine...unharmed, from what I could see. And I managed to tell your dad that you're with us so he won't worry, at least about that."

Alexis let out a long breath. "Thank you." The words were uttered with such relief and sincerity that Kate really felt for the girl. She wanted to offer more comfort to her, but she was at a loss. And she had a job to do right now-to get her partner and the other hostages out safely-and no matter how much she might want to comfort Alexis, now wasn't the time.

"What's that?" Alexis asked, nodding toward the bagged note in her hand.

"It's a message from your dad. Now I just have to figure it out...decipher it. He probably didn't want to make anything too obvious in case someone else intercepted it. I have to get this to the tactical team." She started to turn away, but turned back when Alexis called her.

"Dad and I always played a lot of word puzzles and games. You know, like the 'Under the Gun' treasure hunt thing last year? So if you can't figure it out, let me know and maybe I can help, okay?"

Kate gave her a little smile. "I will. Thanks, Alexis."

"Just get them out safely. Please?" Her voice was small, worried.

Job be damned; three seconds wouldn't make a difference. Kate walked back to Alexis and gave her a quick hug. She pulled away and looked right into her eyes when she said, "I promise that I will do everything in my power to get them back to you, safe and sound." She said the words with conviction, and the girl nodded and just looked back at her with scared eyes, but said nothing. "I...I don't want anything to happen to them either," she confessed softly, not daring to go into any more detail with the scared teenager. "I have to go now, but I'll let you know as soon as I have some news. Okay?" The girl just nodded again, and Kate squeezed her arm before turning and heading for the tactical truck.

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They had a brief warning from one of the team that was monitoring the perimeter, just something odd that the man noted, but it was enough to make some of them come out of the van for a better look. And then the explosion blew through the front of the building. Kate could only stare, as she vaguely registered the screams of disbelief and the prayerful cries of those watching. She could feel the blast percussion even at her distance, and she hoped that somehow the force of it was directed outward, rather than inward toward all of those innocent hostages.

Toward Castle.

She glanced over to where Alexis stood, staring at the smoke now emanating from the front of the bank. She was expressionless, and she looked almost like she was in shock. She walked over to her and put her hand on the girl's shoulder. "It could all be for show, you know," Kate told Alexis, as much for her own benefit as the girl's. "To try to catch us all off-guard. I don't know about you, but I think your dad is fine. I'd almost expect him to come walking out of that door with a cocky smile and some coffee, you know? So you and I...I think we should just keep thinking thoughts like that, and then maybe it'll happen." Did her voice really sound as shaky as she thought it did?

"Tha...that sounds like something Dad would say. 'Just believe it and it'll come true,'" Alexis told her shakily.

"Yeah, well...sometimes some of his crazy beliefs and ways of doing things aren't really so crazy after all. So I think it couldn't hurt to keep positive. He'd say the same thing in your shoes, right?" The girl gave a little nod and tilt of her head to acknowledge what Kate said. "Look, Alexis, some of the best people in the country are here right now, overseeing this situation. And we're going to get them out." She hoped she sounded convincing. "And then I suggest that we never allow your Dad inside a bank ever again."

The last comment had the desired effect, and a little laugh bubbled up and escaped Alexis' mouth. "Go get them out, Detective."

Kate reached for her hand and gave it a quick squeeze. "I will. And it's Kate." And then she was gone, back to the tactical truck.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

They finally deciphered the note, mostly due to Kate methodically poking through her memory for clues as to what Castle may have meant. Ryan and Esposito, who had come late but were trying to assist however they could, tried to help, but ultimately, it was on Kate, because she was the one who Castle had in mind when he wrote it; it simply wouldn't make sense to anyone else. So the team had discovered the number of captors, their relative locations in the bank (at least how they were back when he wrote the note), and most importantly, they found that he alluded to something else happening six blocks away, in Grand Central. The negotiator and the head of the team had wanted to dismiss her hypothesis, but she argued with them that she knew Castle. He was a writer. And he wouldn't bother to write something down unless it had meaning. She was further vindicated by the simple fact that when she was inside, she'd picked up on Castle's subtle clues to look in the injured man's pockets, and it had led them to the note in the first place.

And no, she told them that she didn't know exactly what it meant, but she knew that it was something about Grand Central. And then she got the idea from his note that this whole bank holdup was only for show; to drag the attention away from something else. They didn't know what it was, but if the small distraction was this bank, then the other thing had to be big. The head of the tactical team got into a territorial dispute with her, but in the end, she won, challenging them to take her badge if she was wrong. Castle went to a lot of trouble to get that message to them, so they'd better listen, she told them.

And in the end, they did.

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While the SWAT team entered the bank, she was part of the team covering the back alley. The takedown went down with one hostage getting shot, but luckily, it wasn't a life threatening injury. But still, they heard all of the shots and it was enough to make Kate feel just a bit faint, but she kept talking to herself and imagining Castle's voice in her mind telling her that it would be okay, that she had this. And that calmed her down enough to let her do her job and mind the alley. But she still couldn't relax fully until she knew that Castle wasn't the injured party.

They were bringing some of the hostages out the back way to keep them from being accosted with flashes from news cameras in the front of the building. So she waited there, wondering if she'd see a glimpse of Castle. Since Alexis was already inside the police barricades, Kate hurried to the corner of the building and caught her eye, and then motioned her over. It seemed as though all of the other hostages came out first, but then as they waited not so patiently, they saw a familiar redhead with a flair for the dramatic walk out into the waning light of the day. Alexis saw her and gave a startled gasp, but seemed to be glued to her spot. But then a man appeared behind Martha, and Kate could see his incredibly blue eyes scanning the scene before him, seemingly looking for someone. And then he saw her, and his face lit up. And that was enough for Alexis to free her feet from their spot, and she ran to her father and practically jumped into his arms.

Martha joined their embrace, and just rubbed her hand up and down the girl's back as Alexis hugged her father and sobbed out her happiness that he was safe. Kate walked a little closer, not wanting to intrude on the family moment, but still not being able to look away, or walk away.

Finally, Alexis quieted a bit and she pulled back, only to realize that her grandmother was there and she hadn't even acknowledged her yet. "Grams!" Alexis all but yelled, and next grabbed onto her grandmother. That left Rick standing there alone, staring at the two ladies. But then something shifted his eyes behind the embrace of his daughter and mother, and he saw his Detective standing there beyond them just a little bit. Once he found her eyes with his, they never wavered from each other. He walked a few steps toward her, and she did the same.

They just stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity. But finally, Castle spoke. "Hey, Beckett?" he asked in a different type of voice than she normally heard from him. Was there a shakiness that she was hearing? "You know, after what I went through today, I think I could really use a hug. Do you think you could maybe help me out here?" His voice also held a very slight whining quality to it, but she knew that in this case, it was just one of his endearing Castle-isms.

At the end of his question, his lips quirked up a little bit. And she was lost. He was alive, and he was here and okay, and he was joking with her. And he'd asked for a hug? Hell, yeah. She could definitely give him a hug.

She walked forward until she stood right in front of him, and she just looked into his impossibly blue eyes. One second. Two seconds. Three seconds. Then she could stand it no more, and she raised her arms and threw them around his shoulders, pressing her face side of his, hugging him tightly. She closed her eyes, and just relished the feeling of being able to do this, and of being able to feel that he was indeed alive and unharmed. And she felt his arms close snugly in a returning hug around her, and all she could think of was that she felt so relieved, and that this just felt so...right.

She just shut her mind off for a few seconds and let the relief that he was okay wash over her. She felt tears of that relief pricking the back of her eyelids and she willed them away; she was still on duty and she couldn't be seen like that, essentially breaking down. But she still took those few moments to hold him, letting him hold her, reassuring herself that it was all okay once again, that he was whole and unharmed. And knowing what she knew from all of those months ago-words that she tried not to think about, but still found herself remembering when she was alone in the middle of the night-she now knew a bit of what he must have been feeling after she'd been shot in front of him.

Neither of them really wanted to let go of the other, but they registered the sounds of more and more people in the alley as the emergency workers and other police swarmed the area. They reluctantly broke apart, although she left one of her hands on his arm even though she pulled back. They were still looking intently into each other's eyes, saying so much even though they weren't verbally saying a thing.

"Kate..." he said, finally breaking the silence.

"I'm really glad you're okay," she interrupted, and the strange feeling of deja vu washed over her as she realized that they were just about the same words she'd spoken to him when she found him after he'd been tied up by the triple killer. She was feeling so much more, but she didn't know if she could formulate any of that into words, much less formulate those words in a back alley with all sorts of other people milling around.

He put his hand on top of her hand that still rested on his other arm. "Me too." He smiled. "Kate..." he started again.

The way he huskily spoke her name spurred her back to the real world, and she became fully aware of their surroundings. "Yeah, well, I have to...uh...there's going to be paperwork," she said by way of an explanation. She backed up, and let her hand slip off his arm. But she quickly gave his hand a squeeze before she severed their contact completely. And with one last look at him, she turned away, just as she saw the hostage negotiator and the head of the tactical team hurrying over to talk to Castle.

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Kate didn't hear very much of the interviews with Castle, but she suspected that he was being asked similar questions to her, namely asking him to explain in more detail about the note and how he could be certain that Detective Beckett would receive it, and that she would even know what he meant.

"I didn't know if she would ever receive it, not until I saw her come in with the paramedics. But I had to give it a shot because I knew that our best chance of getting information out of there was me getting a message to Detective Beckett. I'd been writing the note clandestinely while the suspects were busy. When I saw the man get injured and the lead guy was negotiating to have the paramedics come in, I figured if I put it in his pocket it would be found at some point, and hopefully in time to make a difference. I knew it was a longshot, but I thought it was our only shot. And when I saw Detective Beckett come in, I did some...signals, and I hoped she'd catch onto them."

"The note itself was...not exactly obvious though," the Tactical Team Officer stated.

"Well, duh! I couldn't very well just say, 'Hey, you'd better get to Grand Central before they blow up some bigwig politicos', now could I?"

"But how did you know that Detective Beckett would even know what you meant?"

He smiled a wry smile. "I knew," he said simply.

"How?" the Officer inquired again.

"Look, I can't explain it. I just knew she'd know. I've been watching her solve cases for several years. I know how her mind works, and she knows how mine works. I had every confidence that if she got the note, she'd be able to figure it out."

Although he didn't understand it fully, the Officer didn't see any point in detaining Castle for much longer after that. He had a successful outcome, after all. And that was the important thing. He just wondered how the hell he was going to explain Mr. Castle's 'I knew' in his report, especially when Detective Beckett wasn't even supposed to have been there in the first place.

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Martha had long since gone home with Alexis, and now Castle couldn't wait to follow. But first he had to see Kate. He found her right where he expected her to be: sitting at her desk, engrossed in a file. So he sauntered up to her and sat down in 'his' chair, just as he'd done many, many times before. She looked up when he sat down with a loud sigh.

"Hi," he said with a tired grin.

"Hi," she acknowledged. "Did they cut you loose?"

"Yeah." He looked at her, and she could feel his eyes boring into her. "Thank you. For everything. For taking care of Alexis, for letting me know she was with you, for understanding my note. For getting us out. And most of all, for giving me a hug when I really needed it." He said the last words with a smile, and although the smile lightened the intensity, she still could understand the spirit intended behind the words.

"Not a problem. It was my pleasure," she told him, thinking that one thing in particular on his list that definitely fell into that category.

He looked at her as if he was trying to figure out if there was more meaning behind the oft-used response, but then he just closed his eyes and ran his fingers through his hair before opening his eyes and looking at her again. "Hell of a day."

She smiled. "Hell of a day," she agreed.

He cocked his head to one side as he looked at her before taking a breath and saying, "You know, I was thinking..."

When he didn't say anything else, she said, "Yeah? Well, thinking is a good thing."

He was getting a feeling of deja vu, and before he could stop himself, he glanced behind her. But seeing just the regular bustle of the bullpen, and feeling some amount of relief at seeing just that, he pulled his eyes back to her and smiled. "I have a really good Ch√Ęteauneuf-du-Pape at home and I thought maybe...do you have any plans tonight? I could really use some company and we could celebrate a reasonably happy ending to this ordeal. And then you can also tell me about what was going on the outside while I was on the inside."

"Oh, Castle," she chided, shaking her head. "You always want to be in the thick of things, and then the one time that you really are, and you're the only one of us who is, you're still not satisfied."

"It's just...I..." he stammered. "We can order some Chinese," he offered in a further attempt to get her to agree. "Chinese and a good wine, not to mention great company...we could both be satisfied then."

She looked at him, unblinking, for several moments before she smiled. "Oh, really? You think that's enough to satisfy me?" she asked with a sassy tone to her voice, enunciating each word deliberately as she leaned toward him just a bit. When the smile left his face and his mouth dropped open a little bit as the implication of her words hit him, she laughed before deciding to take pity on him. "Sure, Rick. Chinese and a good bottle of wine do sound pretty good right now."

"And the company?" he prompted evenly, even though his stomach did a little flip inside when she called him 'Rick'.

"Well...you know, the company doesn't sound so bad either," she confessed with a smile and a light in her eyes that told him that she thought the company he was proposing was a lot better than 'not so bad'.

-End-


Those of you who have seen the pictures know that there's (hopefully) a bit more. But I liked ending it here. I had a good idea for how I wanted my version of the story to go up to this point, but then it gets a little fuzzy if I think about anything further. I couldn't really surmise anything eloquent about how the later sequence would go, especially with other characters and I tried to keep it in canon for how the relationship is at present. Hence, the ending now.

I know a lot of people are hoping for Alexis to start warming up to Kate after this episode, including me. I tried to keep them true to their characters-Alexis not liking Kate because she thinks Kate puts her Dad in danger, and Kate being concerned about Alexis but above all else, having to do her job and get Castle out. But I tried to allow a little of that understanding over a common purpose-getting Castle and Martha out of the crisis safely-to show through.

Hope you all enjoyed it, and if you made it this far, thanks for reading. I'd love to hear your comments!

PS-I am getting ready to post a chapter of Blizzard soon. That story has been giving me some fits with exactly what to write and how far to go, but I'm almost there...promise! So though I know it's been an insanely long time since the last chapter, please don't give up on it yet.