Title: What Remains
Fandom: Castle
Characters: Kate Beckett, Richard Castle
Category: Drama, Angst, Romance
Rating: PG-13
Word count: 2,109
Summary: A little post-episode addition for Cops & Robbers. Of course.
Spoilers: Cops & Robbers
Beta: Many thanks to both geonn cannon and Racethewind10 for their help! It as much appreciated!Disclaimer: Castle and all characters and situations associated with it belong to ABC Studios and Beacon Pictures. I'm making no money off this and certainly intend no infringement. None of this belongs to me.
Author's Note: I'll be honest here it feels a little weird to not be writing femslash, or even vaguely femslash related, BUT what the hell? I used to do this ALL THE TIME. Crazy right? And who the hell doesn't love some Castle/Beckett.

They were sitting on the couch and there was a glowy sense of warmth radiating out from the center of Kate's chest despite the day that they had both had. It was probably just the wine. It could be. But more likely it was Castle's arm across the back of the couch, draped lightly over her shoulders.

With her knees curled up beneath her as they sat watching old black and white horror classics, it had seemed like the most natural thing in the world. Especially since his other arm had been around Alexis all evening until she had gone to bed, holding her close and offering her comfort, not just over Castle and Martha's close call but also her breakup with Ashley. They had all had a rough day.

Sitting here, lingering in the warmth of this home had almost taken the edge off the sharp terror of the day, the over-riding rage that had consumed her each time Castle had been threatened. His presence beside her was solid and Kate was doing her best to not think and just enjoy what she had.

"Penny for your thoughts?"

Kate tilted her head slowly to look over at him. His eyes glittered in the soft light and she had the most irritating urge to run her fingers through his hair.

"Oh, they're worth at least a dollar, Castle. C'mon."

"You're right," he agreed with a trademark grin. "What was I thinking?" He fished around in his pocket for a minute, leaning closer to Kate in the process and then pulled out a dollar, holding it out to her between his fingers.

Kate contemplated the dollar for just a minute and then took it from him, their fingers brushing. Her heart sped up and a smile slipped across her lips.

"I was thinking it was getting late. I should head home."

Castle's smile slipped just a little. "Yeah, I guess you're right." Inspiration struck, his eyes flashing with good humor as he cocked his head towards her. "You could always stay here tonight - in the guest room," he added quickly. "You look a little overserved, Officer."

"I do not," Kate protested.

"Did you eat anything today?" Castle asked skeptically.

"I had an amazing dinner." It was a tactic that didn't always work with Castle, but sometimes if he was shown something shiny... "You know it's not like I cant remember my address, Castle. I'll just take a cab."

"I know that, Kate." The soft, even way he said it made more of an impact than if he'd pleaded with her. "Stay anyway."

"Castle..." She drawled out his name, conflicting desires warring within her. "Rick."

"I'm sure it would reassure Mother to have you here."

No mention that Martha had gone to bed hours ago and would have no idea that she was still in the apartment.

"Alexis, too."

"And what about you, Rick?"

He flashed her another grin. "Things are always better when you're around."

Her heart fluttered. She tried to stop the smile the flashed across her face and the glow that was spreading across her cheeks.

"Okay," she agreed before she could think too hard about it. It was totally innocent. After all she'd spent a few weeks in the guest room after her apartment had exploded and that hadn't meant anything. This wouldn't either.

"Really?" Castle's eyebrows shot up. "I mean, that's great. You can have the guest...room. Ah, actually there might be a problem with that."

"A problem? What kind of problem?" The sensible part of Kate urged her to take the excuse and run, but the part of her that had to solve the puzzle, know the answer had taken over. That and she was having too much fun with Castle to really want to leave.

"No, uh, no. I mean, Mother's just been doing some renovations and it's not really livable right now."

"It can't be that bad, Castle," Kate drawled, setting her wine glass down on the coffee table. It took two attempts for her to make it to her feet.

Castle just watched in amusement. It had been a while since he had seen Kate this tipsy. She glanced back at him over her shoulder as she headed down the hall.

"What are you waiting for?"

He grinned but didn't answer. Enjoying the view wasn't what she wanted to hear. And this felt...special. He didn't want to ruin all the things they weren't saying by saying something wrong.

Castle caught up with Kate just in time to see her peak inside the guest bedroom. Another giggle slipped out of her mouth.

"Okay, that is bad."

The entire room was torn up, carpets pulled out and rolled up; window treatments taken down and thrown across the bed; and furniture that was all covered in plastic...which was in turn covered with a fine layer of white dust.

Including the bed.

"Yeah." Castle winced and then brightened again. "Actually I have a better idea."

The first thing Kate registered was the unfamiliar softness of the bed. Not that her bed was uncomfortable, but this was down right decadent. Even if she would never admit that to the bed's owner in a million years.

The second thing she noticed was the scent that enveloped her, sandalwood and something spicy. A hint of classic Old Spice. It made her smile, made her feel like she was wrapped up in Rick's arms. It was something she rarely allowed herself to have, but she remembered the few times she had allowed him to hold her like that vividly.

The scene outside the bedroom door the night before came back to Kate slowly.

It was Kate's turn to raise an eyebrow and giggle. "Are you hitting on me, Castle?" The sardonic way she said it took the sting, the urgency out of the question. Nothing to see here, just a usual part of their banter. Nothing out of the ordinary with Castle leading her from the guest room to his master suite. Nope.

"What? No!" Castle countered a little too quickly. "Since the guest room isn't available right now, I just thought I would offer my room instead." He dramatically held a hand over his heart and slipped into his best high court voice. "You aspersions wound me, Fair Lady, when I was but acting as any gentleman should."

Another laugh slipped out of Kate, a smile tugging at the corner of her lips. "Gentleman?" The laughter died in her throat as Castle met in her gaze. There was no longer anything joking in the way that he was looking at her.

"Always. Nearly. I mean, gentleman? Rogue? What's the difference, really."

Kate let out the breath she had been holding. For a moment there she had been afraid he would say something that would made her face things she still wasn't ready for; she still didn't want to leave. So Kate smiled and reached up to pat his cheek.

"Never change, Castle. Never change."

Kate heard the faint cough and her eyes snapped open. Rick stood in front of the closet at the opposite side of the room looking like a kid who'd just gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. With more terror.

Kate shot straight up in bed. "Castle!"

"I...Kate...this isn't...I mean...it is...but I just..." He pointed behind him at the closet. "I had an early morning meeting with my publisher and I needed to dress to impress. My favorite suit is in here..."

"Oh." She sank back into the pillows, feeling a little disappointed and yet relieved. She pulled the blanket up higher around her shoulders. "You startled me. You should know better than to sneak up on a cop, Castle," she said, with more than a little irritation. Her hands were trembling beneath the covers.

"I knocked," he said with a timid smile. "I did."

"And when I didn't answer?"

"I knocked again." This time the smile was apologetic. He had so many. Not what she should be thinking about, Kate decided. Not now. She was trying to be upset.

"Hey, Dad-" Alexis bursting into the room unannounced. She froze mid-sentence at the sight of Kate in Rick's bed and Rick standing by the closet it pajama pants and a thin white undershirt.

"I-um...I'll just..." Alexis gestured over her shoulder and high-tailed it out of the room almost as quickly as she had come in, her eyes flicking back and forth between Kate and her father as she backed away.

Kate buried her face in her hand and gave some serious thought to slipping beneath the covers and not coming out until Alexis had left for school. Unfortunately she had to be at work before then. Hiding was not an option.


"I'll explain," the man in question jumped in quickly. "It was nothing. Innocent. Just a misunderstanding. I'll make sure she knows." He looked like he was panicking and Kate almost felt sorry for him.

Or she would have if she weren't close to panicking herself. Trying to breath was hard enough. She wouldn't hyperventilate in front of Castle. She wouldn't, couldn't come apart.

"I have to go."

"Kate..." Castle sounded scared and sad; it made her heart ache.

Kate rubbed at the scar tissue absentmindedly as she threw off the covers, trying not to get tangled in them as she hopped out of bed.

"It's okay, Rick." She let herself use his name, just this once, because he needed it and she could. If she could just leave soon, maybe she could hold herself together that long. "I just don't want to be late."

She pulled on her jeans without looking at him, but out of the corner of her eye she caught a glimpse of his head whipping around, looking away like she was Medusa and about to blind him. She wasn't sure whether to swallow hard or smile at that, so she just kept her head down and kept moving. She had slept in the loose top she had worn to Castle's the night before, so it was just a matter of quickly tugging on her boots. And then she could go.

Kate shot to her feet, took a lurching step toward the door and found herself face-to-face with Castle. She bit her lip and looked down. She didn't want to cry or plead or fight with him.

"Alexis likes you, you know?"

Kate nodded; she knew. Somehow that didn't make it any better either. "It's not that." Short, simple words. She could do that.

"I know."

And somehow that was more terrifying to hear.

Castle took a step back, enough to allow her to slip past him and out the bedroom door. Just that small gesture was enough to let Kate feel like she could breathe again. So she did, sucking in a deep breath, plastering on a shaky smile.

"I'll see you later? After your meeting?"

Castle nodded. "I'll bring you coffee." No mention of a murder needed to summon him; he would come anyway and they both knew it.

"Right." Kate nodded back. "I should go." She was almost babbling, nerves and unspent energy, all mingling with the too-fresh terror of loosing him. The bubbling stew of emotion grated on already frayed nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard. Glancing up at him though all she could think was how happy she was that he was alive. Kate couldn't imagine her life without him. She was almost ready to deal with that thought, just a little longer to put herself back together again.

Kate rocked forward onto the ball of her feet, her hand coming up to touch his shoulder, needing that little glimmer of contact as she brushed past him. Like the way she had clutched at his hand the day before. And then she acted, letting herself feel without thinking just this once, using her hand on his chest to push up on her toes and press her lips against his.

She caught the faint hint of minty-freshness on his breath, felt the faint chafe of chapped lips and then she was pulling away, almost running out the door.

Kate didn't let herself stop until she was in a cab, doubled over in the backseat, panting like she had run a marathon, almost hyperventilating, the smile on her face impossible to remove and growing wider by the second.

It felt like relief. It felt like drowning. It felt like the most important thing she had ever done.