title: one hundred kisses (at least)
chapters: 1 of 20(+)
character/pairing: castle/beckett, alexis, espo, etc.
word count: 3824
summary: "You need this, but I don't. I don't need to see this guy gone. I need to see you, Kate. Every morning, I need to see your face. I need to -" He steps towards her, watches her lips. "-need to kiss you. Need to know that you're safe. And if I owe you one hundred kisses, you better damn well be alive for them." Castle/Beckett. Sequel to One Hundred Coffees.
author's note: I know you all probably hate me for disappearing this summer, but I come bearing a new chapter and a renewed inspiration when it comes to the best OTP on television. I'd been worried about what the new season would bring, and I think that made me weary to commit to anything when it came to this story. Now, though, after the episode, I'm ready, and I sure as hell hope you guys are too because I've got four (five) new kisses for you. I posted the first kiss in here as well, even though it's the 'Always' kiss and you might've already read it. Skip it. Read it again. Do what you will, and I hope you enjoy it. Welcome back guys.
lightning fast recap: This AU was pretty season four compliant except for the fact that in it Castle and Beckett got together before Always! So they're a couple and everyone knows.
one through five
She also knew that this day would come. The day when she would have to make a choice. Castle or the case. Castle or her mom. Castle or...
What is there without Castle? Because she has a really hard time saying that there is anything else. It's been too long. Too long of being around him and loving him to imagine anything but misery if he were not around. He's part of her. He is her. And to hear him now, to hear him roaring in her apartment that she has to stop, it's like she's fighting with herself. She's listening to that part of her that has been saying to let go for years. For thirteen years. But that's a long time to ignore something, too long to just listen. She can't listen. She wants to. She wishes that she had the strength to listen and leave and just go to Alexis's graduation and write this off as something simple. But she can't. She can't.
"I love you, Kate, and if that means anything, you won't do this."
If that means anything. It means everything. It means... Gosh, "Castle, I could never have made it this long without you. I-I need you. I need you more than I can even say. But I need this. I have to finish this. I'm not losing this lead."
"Then you lose me," he says. It's light but it's enough to physically hurt her. Enough to make her choke a bit in her throat, to make her tears slosh in her eyes, to make her break.
"Please don't say that. Please, not-"
"You need this, but I don't. I don't need to see this guy gone. I need to see you, Kate. Every morning, I need to see your face. I need to -" he steps towards her. His eyes caress her lips. "-need to kiss you. Need to know that you're safe. And if I can't have that, I can't - I just can't."
A chuckle escapes her. A bitter, mangled laugh. This is what they come down to. Castle and Beckett, cans and cants. Dreamers and doers. Writers and cops. A writer can close a book. Can walk away from a story. Sure, it eats at them. It pricks at their mind when they let themselves relax. It's there, waiting, but they can force themselves not to write it. And Kate, well, she's no writer.
"What does that mean?" she asks him. She expects him to look away, to debate it. He keeps his eyes locked on hers, pure steel driving home his point. He opens his mouth and he speaks, but she doesn't hear it. Not over the sound of herself crumbling. She doesn't even see the way his lips move. It's too bright. Her apartment is too bright. It's too cluttered. Too messy. Too hard. She breaks. She just... breaks. And in the silence that leaves behind, she feels the words that her mind will not accept. Feels it in every single inch of her body, every spot, every nerve and cell and it doesn't matter how small she goes because it's over. They've only just begun and they're over. So much for making a choice.
Kate creeps along the edge of the roof, her gun in hand as she looks for him. Looks for her sniper. This is the man who nearly killed her. This is the man that traumatized her, that tore apart every bit of her control and strength. Now, she's going to do the same to him. Then she's going to find out who hired him and bring that son of a bitch down. She can almost taste it. Taste the air on the outside of the courtroom as the Dragon gets sentenced. Taste the freedom.
She winds up tasting her guy's breath. Feeling it on her skin as he grapples with her, sends her tumbling, sends her to her death. A million thoughts go through her mind. Who are they up against? Her? The mystery person in the photograph? Who is that guy? Is it the one talking to Castle? Oh. Castle. Damnit, Castle. Where is he? Why isn't he here? No matter how many times they fight, no matter what, he always comes to help her. He helps her.
Damnit, this cannot be how it ends. "No." Not after all that she has been through and fought for. "Come on. No!" She cannot die like this, not dangling over the edge of some building. She survived a bullet. Survived being frozen. Survived a bomb. Survived her mother's murder. This will not be the end of her. Not this. Damnit, where's Castle?
"Castle!" Her relief. Her joy. Her shock. They mingle with her disappointment. She did this. She's the reason he's up there. Her sniper could be waiting. Waiting to toss him off. To kill them both. Her anger roars. She's so stupid. She's putting this above everything else, and there is too much to give up. Javi, Kevin, Lanie, Alexis, Martha, Rick, everyone. They're more important than this. They deserve more than her leaving them. They care about her and she loves them. Loves every one of them. More than anything.
The hands grip hers, and she's up. And it's not Castle who saves her. It's Ryan. And backup. And Gates. Fuck.
The ride back to the precinct is quiet. Kate finds herself watching the time. The graduation will be starting soon. She was supposed to be there. Alexis had asked, had even gone to Kate's apartment to tell her as much in person. Kate's gonna miss it. Miss the whole thing. Alexis probably looks great. She wouldn't show anybody her graduation dress. It's special, she had said. They'd see it there, her own incentive to make sure that they came. As if the promise of seeing Alexis all grown up isn't enough. It's more than enough.
Alexis has changed a lot in four years. It might be as obvious as her change, or Rick's, but she's different. Older. Freer. Happier. She doesn't have to worry about anything but herself. She's not raising two parents anymore. She's being raised. She's going off. She's instilling wisdom and hope into hundreds of people as valedictorian. And Kate's going to the precinct to be yelled at. Suspended most likely. She'll have to give back her gun. Her badge.
That badge. She feels empty when she doesn't have it. It's her shield, her protection from a world that seems bent on crushing her. It's her city. Her job. Her life.
She stares at the numbers in Gates' office.
That's her number.
That's who she is.
Who she has been for years.
And now she's resigned. She's said her goodbye. Closed the book.
She packs her stuff. Looks at Rick's chair. And she walks away.
She goes to those swings they sat on eight months ago. She waits. For something. An answer. A sign. She doesn't have a book to hold onto this time, and Rick is not going to come and get her. If she wants him - since she wants him, she has to get him. She has to stop waiting for the shoe to drop. She has to stop looking. Stop swinging and rise. And get out of the fucking rain and into his arms.
"Beckett, what do you want?"
The question grounds her. She meets his eyes from where she stands in the doorway. Holds them. Says the obvious answer. "You." And she kisses him. "I'm so sorry, Castle. I'm so sorry." Her voice breaks. She says it again and again. She kisses him. He tastes the rain, the salt.
"He got away and I didn't care. I almost died and all I could think about was you. I just want you." She kisses again, traces his lips, feels the wood of the door as it slims in time with the thunder.
Feels his kiss. His touch. On her skin. On her bullet wound. On her heart. She smiles into this and takes his hand and then she leads him to his bedroom. This is her choice. He is her choice. And she plans to make sure that everyone knows it. All night long.
They're in his bed when his phone rings. The first sound it makes goes ignored, lost somewhere between her pants hitting the floor and his hand going much lower than before. The vibration increases as a voice breaks through the room.
"You better not be doing anything illegal," the voice says. The two freeze on the bed, eyes snapping to the phone on the bedside table. The screen's blinding with the one name that could break the moment. "Dad, answer the phone. Come on, Dad. Answer it," goes the ringtone. Groaning, Rick moves away from Kate to snatch it up.
He grumbles, "You'd think her graduation night she'd be too busy partying to call me." He hits the button to answer. The party comes through loud and clear. People cheer in the background, screaming over music that's too sleazy to be Top 40. His stomach churns in a different way at that. This is not where he expected Alexis to be. Oh, no, she must be in trouble. No, she couldn't be; this is Alexis. Her idea of a wild night is doing AP practice exams before playing laser tag with him.
He clears his throat. "Yeah? Alexis, what's wrong?"
"I-I'm sorry. I thought it would be fun to try, but now I think - I know I'm drunk, and I need you to come get me because everyone else here is too and-"
Rick kind of feels a bit like his head is about to explode. Alexis is drunk? But the laser tag, the books, the valedictorian! She's not supposed to be getting drunk at parties. That's his job. This better be a one time thing. Sighing, he cuts her off, "Text me the address, and we'll be over in a minute."
Alexis sighs too, though hers is a happy one. "Thanks, Dad."
He nods and clicks off the line. He stares at his phone, watching as the picture of her innocent smile fades away. She's growing up. She graduated and now she's drinking and what's next? Where does that leave him?
"We?" Kate repeats. He turns at the sound of her. She's still on the bed, propped up on her elbows in nothing but her bra. He really likes that bra. He likes everything about Kate, clothed or unclothed. She had a party stage. She turned out fine. Alexis will be fine.
"If you're in, you can come with," he says. It's casual, but he means a lot more than if she wants to join him. He means that what they said, to him, means this is happening completely. No holding back or losing themselves to their demons. If something happens to one, it happens to both. So, if Alexis needs a ride, she should be there. "Besides," and he smirks just a bit, "I don't want you finishing anything without me."
Kate rolls her eyes, and he leans over and kisses her before moving to get dressed again.
"You know I could do that in the car," she says easily.
"Haven't you had enough near death experiences for today?"
Despite the serious message, Kate laughs. "This one would be worth it."
Kate forgets how much she loves seeing Rick being a side of him is such a huge part of who he is, and not a lot of people see it. They don't see the way he spends five minutes in the kitchen picking out the right food to feed Alexis or how he grabs the coldest water bottle he can so that she can re-hydrate herself. They don't see the way his knuckles tighten on the steering wheel as they get close enough to hear the loud music and see the drunken teens falling over themselves. Kate sees obviously. She takes it all in, from his steady march in to the house to the arm around Alexis's shoulder on the way back out. He's an amazing dad.
Alexis gets in the car quietly. She notices Kate in the front seat and her face falls even further into this shamed, sad puppy sort of look. Kate's not really sure what to say about that. She keeps quiet. Rick buckles Alexis in and hands her the stuff from the seat next to her.
He says, "Eat up. Drink. It'll make you feel better. When we get home, you're drinking some more and you're sleeping. How much did you drink?"
Alexis peers down at her hand. There's four marks. "Four drinks. It's not bad. Please don't yell at me." She sounds so small, so young. Kate was younger when she did this for this time. Had she sounded that afraid? That lost?
"I won't yell at you," Rick tells her, "for now, but tomorrow, when you have a hangover, I will be talking extra loud to get my point across. Tonight, though, I'm just glad you called me instead of staying here, or trying to find another way home. I will always be here to get you if something is going wrong."
Alexis gives him a small smile. "Thanks, Dad." She turns her gaze to Kate. "Sorry for ruining your night."
Kate chuckles. Leave it to Alexis to feel guilty even when drunk. "Honestly, getting you is probably the least stressful thing I've done all week." Rick quirks an eyebrow, wiggling it playfully. Kate's lips upturn a bit. Okay, that was pretty stress free too.
"Still, you shouldn't have to do that. I'm supposed to be growing up. I'm supposed to be responsible. I was valedictorian."
Kate turns a bit more in her chair so she can face Alexis properly. It's dark in the car, but there's enough light where her eyes can be seen and she wants them to be. "Everyone makes mistakes, Alexis. You should be glad you've got a great dad who can get you out of them like this. My dad was not so lenient when I showed up drunk in high school."
Both Castles seem curious then. She thinks back to how she tried sneaking back in to the house. Her friends were already headed to drop off the next person, and she couldn't exactly be too subtle when she was drunk enough that she barreled through doorways. Her dad caught her before she had even managed to lock the front door.
She says, "He yelled, a lot, and he called my mom at her conference in California, and I couldn't even think of seeing my friends for a month."
Alexis's face pales a bit. She glances to Rick. "Dad-"
"We'll talk punishments later. For now, let's try and make sure you don't spend all of tomorrow with the hangover from hell." He closes her door and moves around to his. "I am disappointed in you, but at the same time, I've been waiting for this moment. I even have a speech prepared on my computer." Kate laughs. He buckles himself in. "I do! There's also one for the first time you're high, and, my personal favorite, the day you get arrested."
"I'm not getting arrested." Her eyes flick to Kate. "I'm not getting arrested, right? I know drinking underage is a crime. You're not taking me to the precinct, are you?"
"You can have a warning this time. But next time," and Kate's face turns a bit more serious. Alexis nods.
"There won't be a next time. Not for another few years."
Kate shrugs, "If there is, you can call me too. For anything. Don't think just because I'm a cop that I'm going to lock you up."
"You're welcome." Kate turns back forward in her seat and catches Rick's gaze out of the corner of her eye. She flushes again and looks out the window.
Later, once Alexis is sipping away at more water in the kitchen, Rick pulls Kate aside and up against the wall like he had her before. He tells her how amazing she is, not just with Alexis but with everything. She's so amazing. He kisses her. Keeps on kissing her too until they hear Alexis say she's going upstairs. Then the kisses in to a bit more. They never did finish earlier.
They're standing there in 523 with the debris falling around them and the sirens in the distance, and Espo seems to figure then's the right time to repeat himself.
"So, uh, what should you have done four years ago?"
Kate huffs. "Not the time, Espo." She doesn't want to think about the missed opportunities. There's a lot of them, a lot of moments where she could have cut those ties to this case and dove in to a relationship with Rick. Giving herself over to something new is what should've happened four years ago. Then Montgomery wouldn't be dead, none of this would have happened, and they could be safe. This was supposed to be over.
"We got nothing else to do," Esposito says, "unless you want to try and run before Gates gets here." He leaves the sentence a bit open but only Rick seems a bit interested in the option.
Kate says, "We can't. Us fleeing the scene will only make us look guilty. As far as I'm concerned, we heard the explosion and came inside."
Esposito chuckles. "What? We were just on a walk in the neighborhood."
Rick jumps in, "You have your car. We were driving. Going out to get something to eat since you both have a lot of free time now."
Both Esposito and Kate narrow their eyes at him. He clears his throat. His gaze goes to what he spots of Maddox. At least that guy's gone. One less person to go after Kate. Only the file is gone. Sheets are scattered everywhere, some are singed, even more are practically illegible. Once Gates gets here, it'll become evidence, and there's no way they could get all the scraps themselves before that happens. What can they do?
"We'll wait," Kate declares. Her tone is tense, strained under the force it takes to get that out again. Her life is waiting. Her life is sifting through the debris to find the few things left once the storm clears and the explosions stop. And his life is holding on for hers. At this point, straws probably aren't enough. How can they be?
Esposito exhales. "Y'all can wait here. I'm going to grab those zip ties so your DNA isn't found five floors below where we would've gone." He walks off, and Kate calls her thanks behind him. She doesn't look away from where the key to her safety is still floating in the air. She can't look away.
Rick reaches out a hand to touch her arm. It's a small touch, but she turns in to it. She walks into his opening arms and puts her chin against his shoulder. She's shaking a bit, not enough where it could've been noticed looking at her, only enough for him. She lets her guard down just a little and the ragged way she breathes tears at his heart even more. With little to say or do, Rick places a kiss on her forehead. He can feel the small way her body relaxes and he tightens his grip to make up for it. If they're waiting, they're going to do it right.
Kate almost goes to her mother's grave after the precinct. Almost drives over and drops to the ground to sit with her feet in the dirt and her hair in the wind. Almost stares at what's left and whispers, finally, "I got him, Mom. I finally got him." But she goes home with Rick instead. She sits on the couch that she likes to think of as his. He sits behind her, technically under her, since her back's to his chest and she's on his lap a bit. It's comfortable. Natural. Quiet.
"What are you thinking?"
Even his question is quiet, soft. She answers much the same.
"Everything. The case, Bracken, just everything."
His hand comes up to rub her arm. He tells her, "I'm proud of you, Kate. I know you didn't do it for me, or anyone else, and you might not even see how big of a thing you did today. A few years ago, you never would've been able to walk away. You would've gone in there and pulled that trigger and spent the rest of your life behind bars. That wouldn't have been the justice you needed. It wouldn't have been enough."
Like shooting Coonan. She takes that in, thinks of when she let Royce's killer get arrested instead of taking him down. She has grown. At the same time, "Is it enough? Will it be enough when he's running for vice president while we're watching Alexis graduate, or when we're at Jenny's baby shower without Roy there? Will it be enough?" She stops herself from mentioning their wedding without her mom. He hears it anyway.
"I don't know. Maybe some days it will be, and others... We'll find out when we get there." Not if, when. She nods. He cracks a grin. "Jenny's baby shower? Do you know something I don't?"
She says, "Have you seen the two of them lately? It's only a matter of time before Jenny gets Ryan a tie that says 'Future Dad'."
"Ooh, maybe it could be as awful as the last tie she got him."
Kate gives a small frown. Shakes her head. "I don't think that's possible."
"No?" He leans down, checks her face playfully for any sign of weakness.
It could be possible. It wouldn't even matter how ugly the tie is because Ryan would wear it with pride. Any guy would. Rick would. He starts getting visions of a pregnant Kate. Her eyes glistening with tears at the first sound of the heartbeat. Her fingers resting on the baby bump as a soft smile plays on her face. Her sweaty hand in his as she pushes. He's quickly as breathless as he would be in those moments. As he will be. One day, they'll have that, and he thinks it will be enough. Because Bracken has that nasty scar that he'll see every day, and they can show up to every one of his speeches, stand in the front row with their family and smile at him to remind him of the lives he nearly destroyed. He can drown in that guilt the same way Kate used to. Then they'll walk away and he'll do the same thing he's doing now. He brings his lips to hers and whispers, "I love you, Kate."
"Love you too."
End Author's Note: And so ends the first five kisses. What are you thinking?