a/n: Another older one that I am putting up. Each frame is only 100 words and there are 27 of them!
The first time they meet, she waits in line for an hour.
In front of her, two teenagers gossip. How young does he really like his women? Would he sign their chest?
Kate rolls her eyes.
She's in front of him now.
"Who can I make it out to?"
"Kate." While he signs the outside cover (who does that?) she stands confident. "For detail's sake, DNA testing usually takes 5-10 days, not a couple hours."
He looks up; his gaze is amused, lingering. He smiles. "That's good to know. Thanks."
Triumphant, she walks away.
He never makes the mistake again.
When she presses against him to whisper in his ear, she smells like cherries.
"You have no idea." He can hear her smile before it surfaces.
It's eight seconds after she's gone that his writer's block lifts. The ideas come at him with alarming speed.
For some reason, he can't let her go.
He stares at Beckett until the sunlight causes him to blink. The chill in the air is replaced with heat.
"Nikki," Beckett yells across the alley, "we're heading back to the twelfth."
A smile splits across Castle's face.
He's never wanted to write more.
She realizes she's in love with him right around the first time he kisses her.
Castle walks into her apartment and when she tells him to go home, he vehemently declines. She asks why he sticks around, and it's a challenge, an awakening.
He swallows and stares at her hoping she'll figure it out.
A day later, instead of letting her pull her gun, he kisses her. Despite the circumstances, she wants him more than she should.
It's in the back of the ambulance that night he says always like nothing else matters.
She considers that maybe nothing else does.
For one second, he believes the blinding light is merely the sun.
It's one second too late; Kate crumples to the ground like a discarded paper doll. Castle's hands cradle her head while he silently prays. Three years together filter through him as if he's the one who's dying.
Her eyes are wide, pleading.
Let me go.
The latter isn't an option.
"Stay with me, okay? Kate, I love you." He lets the world spin. "I love you, Kate."
He tries to save her with his words; for once they're not enough.
Her eyes close.
She slips away.
The truth comes out at exactly 8:07 p.m.
Kate sees the photo of her mother, the murder board with more details than she can imagine. He's light years ahead of where she had stopped when he begged her to. She takes it in, processing nothing but his betrayal.
"What the hell are you doing?"
Castle spins, caught. "Kate-"
She feels the rage inside of her burning; the love coexisting with hate. "You have no right-"
"Let me explain-"
"We're done, Castle. Once and for all, we're done."
His pleas fall on deaf ears as the door slams shut behind her.
When he pulls his door open, the last person he expects to see is Kate.
She's winded as if she's been running (from her demons?, he wonders.)
"I lied." She remains rooted in the threshold, fidgeting.
It's so unlike her.
"What you said to me when I was shot. I heard you."
He should be angry, but relief floods him.
They're back on an even playing field.
"No more lies?" He holds out his pinky finger.
"Are we twelve?"
"I'm not pinky swearing, Castle."
"Just do it. Please."
Their arguing resumes as if nothing has changed at all.
The click of the keyboard awakens her.
Kate slides closer to his body heat. "You're writing?"
"Consider it inspiration after I just got you into bed. Nikki is doing some dirty things to Jamie right now."
"Didn't she before we slept together?"
It comes to her then, a question she's been meaning to ask. "You changed how long DNA results took in your Storm series. Why?"
He looks at her like she's crazy.
"Oh. Some fan told me. She's probably captain of a precinct now or something."
Not yet, Kate thinks.
He never does find out it was her.
It takes weeks for Castle to come to terms with meeting his father.
He isn't an astronaut, an inventor. He's never changed the world.
But it's still his biology.
Their inflections are the same. He teaches literature at an Ivy League college in Boston.
He's read every book Castle has written. Twice.
"You okay?" Kate asks.
He wants nothing more than a weekend away with her to forget.
But work is still her priority.
"I told Gates I needed a few days off. I figured we could head to the Hamptons."
Since the moment they've met, she's saved him.
The 300 page manuscript falls in front of her face. One eye opens in protest.
"Good morning to you, too," Kate mumbles.
He grins, plopping down on the bed beside her. "Read it!"
He's like a little boy on Christmas.
"Castle, it's six."
She smells the brewing coffee and groans, grabbing his fifth Nikki Heat novel.
"Why is it so import-"
Her fingers still. A square cut diamond is embedded below the dedication.
To KB. Because I continue to be amazed by everything you are. Marry me?
It's the least flashy he's ever been.
For that alone, she says yes.
He spends the day with his daughter before she leaves for college.
Central Park is warm despite the early morning. The air hums with the impending summer.
"I'm glad she was worth waiting for, Dad."
Castle snakes an arm around her shoulders. "We should probably tell your mom I'm getting married, huh?"
"Mom, Gina, all the bachelorettes lying in wait."
He laughs. "I can't believe you're old enough to leave me."
"Beckett's there. Someone has to supervise you since Gram moved out."
"When has Gram ever supervised?"
"Good point. You'll be okay?"
He doesn't know how to let her go.
She drinks half a bottle of vodka the night her mother's murder is solved.
Her engagement ring captures the light and she clenches her fist. The alcohol has made her hazy, but the master of this nefarious plot stays front and center.
When Castle sits next to her, she hands him a shot. He takes it; scrunches his nose (he never did like vodka.)
"I thought this would feel better."
He strokes her hair; she breathes.
"Lollipop?" He holds one out to her. "You can dip it in vodka if you want."
She can't help it. He's won.
"Shut the front door! You're pregnant? And you tell me so nonchalantly? Where's the surprise? The guessing games? The pee stick on my nightstand?"
Kate rolls her eyes. "I'm not you, Castle. But if you want my pregnancy test for a keepsake it's all yours."
He kisses her, nearly bouncing on the bed. "We have to name her Nikki."
She raises an eyebrow, fights a smile. "If we have a girl, I'm not naming her Nikki. Isn't that a little meta even for you?"
He grins; he's quite literally never been so happy.
She stands at her mother's grave, nearly six months pregnant.
Fifteen years feels like minutes.
Behind her, Castle's footsteps are quiet. He silently lays a peach rose on Johanna's gravestone; her mother's favorite.
"She should be here for this, Castle." She leans against him, his hand rubbing her stomach absentmindedly. "I hate that she's not."
Silence comforts in ways words never can.
"She would have loved you."
Castle grins against the crown of her hair. "I know that too."
It makes her smile.
"Give me a minute, okay?"
She's left alone with the memories of what could've been.
"Don't kill me."
The light on Kate's side flickers on. "What did you do?"
"I didn't do anything. Yet."
"I'm quitting the precinct."
Her lips quirk into a smile. "How will we ever make it without you, Castle?"
"I take offense to that!" The silence lingers a beat. "Wait, why don't you sound surprised?"
"You'd never let a nanny raise our child. I had $60 on you quitting this week. We're $400 richer."
She shrugs. "We're cops. What do you expect?"
"You better not make Ryan your new work husband."
"Never." The light goes out. "Maybe Espo."
Her daughter is the most perfect thing she's ever seen.
Soft skin; alert, beautiful blue eyes.
On the bed beside her, Castle holds their child. Fingers laced with five tiny ones.
"Okay," Kate says, quietly.
"Let's name her Nikki."
His eyes widen in excitement. "Really?"
"Nicole Johanna Castle."
Her head slips onto his shoulder.
"I knew you'd cave."
"Castle," she warns. "I might have just had a baby but I'll still kick your ass."
He bends down to whisper in Nicole's ear; a secret. "See how violent your mommy is, Nikki?"
She falls in love all over again.
It's after midnight when he returns home from his European book tour.
The house is dark, familiar.
Nikki peers up at him from the couch, grinning.
"Daddy, you're home!"
She jumps into his arms, all flailing limbs and excitement.
"Shorty, you've grown!"
He kisses her forehead, smooths back her hair. "Mom's going to be maaaad if she sees you're up."
"I told her she could," comes a mumble from the couch. "Welcome home, Castle."
"You're not even getting up to greet me?"
Kate smiles, eyes still closed. "Missed you."
Book tour or not, he's never leaving them again.
The crashing waves of the Atlantic overshadow her moans.
The heat of the hot tub, of their fast paced rhythm drives her closer to the edge.
In the darkness his hands tighten in her damp hair. His mouth is all over her. Her breasts, neck, lips.
She kisses him hard when she comes. The words are a whisper, an instinct. "I love you. I love you. I love..."
He follows behind her, less than a minute later.
Kate rests her head on his shoulder, catching her breath.
Castle moves her hair, lips pressed to her ear. "Me too."
She's never been this mad at him. (Well, maybe once or twice.)
"You're not Peter Pan, Rick." She grabs her bag. "Sooner or later, you're going to have to grow up."
He spends the rest of the day giving her space. He tries to write.
After four hours of a mocking blank page and a blinking cursor, he gives up.
She comes home after nine, slips into bed beside him. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have stormed out."
"I'll try to grow up. At least enough to stop pissing you off."
For the moment it's enough. "How's the new book coming?"
Once a week (or every other week if work is too much), Kate meets her mother-in-law for lunch.
She thinks about Johanna a lot during this time; if she would have joined them, what she would have thought of Martha's vivaciousness.
Over seafood and glasses of wine, Kate worries. "He's not writing, Martha."
"Oh darling, he will. He's spent the last eight years writing about the love of his life. He needs some time to get over that."
"What he needs is a new muse, something."
"It doesn't matter who or what he writes next. You'll always be his inspiration."
On Thanksgiving that year, Alexis announces she's engaged.
Castle congratulates his daughter and her fiancée (if Alexis has to marry someone, he begrudgingly approves of Jeff) but pouts for a good thirty minutes after the news.
He's grumpy. "At least I still have one daughter who won't leave me."
Nikki looks up from her pie, rolling her eyes. "I'm going to college in seven years."
Across the table, Jim laughs. "Nikki, sweetheart, you are definitely a Beckett woman."
Next to him, Castle notices the flash of sadness that crosses Kate's face.
Underneath the table, he grabs her hand and squeezes.
She walks into Castle's office just past three in morning. The lamp is on. It's silent.
"You should be asleep."
Their daughter looks up, folding the book over her hand to keep her place.
Kate curls up on the couch, stifling a yawn. "I was your age the first time I read your dad's stuff."
"Skipping over some of it. Too many intimate moments I definitely don't need to know. He's actually like really good."
"Please don't tell him that. You'll inflate his ego."
"Like it's not already."
At fourteen, Nikki is the perfect blend of her parents.
Thunder breaks, lightning strikes.
It's the appropriate dramatic flair in honor of Martha.
He stands at the window, watching the rain. In the reflection, his wife stands behind him, feet bare.
"What can I do?" she asks, but she knows more than most that there are no answers.
"How did you do this at nineteen?"
He feels the loss of his mother so deep in his gut he almost can't breathe.
Kate presses a kiss to his neck. He clasps her hand, fingers intertwined.
"Thank you," he whispers.
She wishes she didn't.
Kate tightens her grip. "Always."
The smell of coffee has her leaving the warmth of bed.
Heads under the Christmas tree, Alexis and Nikki gossip; despite their ages (and a husband for one), they act like sisters only years apart.
"Merry Christmas, Kate." Castle hands her a steaming mug, the edges of her fingers warming.
She's on her toes, kisses him. "Merry Christmas."
"Girls, breakfast is ready. Who wants a panushi?"
"Dad," Alexis whines.
"It's a pancake wrapped in lox-"
Nikki holds out her hand. "Told you it would involve fish," she gloats, taking her sister's money.
In the moment, Kate couldn't love life more.
He finds his youngest daughter on the couch, silently crying.
Nikki glances up and wipes her tears; she looks remarkably like Kate.
Castle's heart breaks.
"I'm never dating again."
"I think I can handle that."
She rests her head on his chest. "Seriously. I'm so sick of this. When does it work out?"
Upstairs, he hears Kate rummaging around. "When you marry your best friend."
"Life isn't one of your books, Dad. Most people aren't like you and Mom."
"You wait, Shorty. You settle for nothing else."
"What if it takes too long?"
"It'll be worth every second. I promise."
On their 25th anniversary, he hands her a wrapped gift. It shouldn't surprise her when she pulls out a silver bullet (no, not thatkind.)
The cylinder is engraved.
KB - For helping me unravel your mystery and reminding me what life's all about. I love you. Always.
Even after all this time, she's blown away by the romantic in him.
In bed that night, she's tangled between the sheets and his body. "Thanks for waiting for me, Rick."
"You're really hot. I wasn't letting that go."
"So that's all I've been?"
The grin threatening his lips breaks. "That's all."
He's cleaning out his desk when he finds it.
The pages are yellowed and worn, the handwriting is still illegible, but he'd recognize the notebook anywhere. It's filled with notes from their first cases together, ideas about Nikki, information about Kate before he'd fallen in love.
He flips to the middle, remembers where he was when it was written.
B beat me in poker for gummy bears. – Nikki and Rook, strip poker. Both naked.
He's older now, more of an adult, but he's still the child he's always been (much to his wife's dismay.)
"Beckett, you're gonna wanna see this!"
The week after he dies, Black Pawn Publishing releases a fortieth anniversary edition of Heat Wave.
On their deck in the Hamptons she reads the first chapter of their life for the hundredth time. The dedication remains after all this time. She recalls how she felt the moment he called her extraordinary, like it was a word he created solely for her.
She reads until the sun rises and the memories come alive, until he's there and she remembers all the reasons she fell in love.
In the morning breeze, she can swear she hears him respond.