Notes: Spoilers for Always. This is going to wind up a bit on the, um, longer side.

Thanks to JillianCasey, for refusing to allow me to delete this after the first scene and for constantly reminding me that not writing is not actually an option, to Cora Clavia, for always being willing to listen to me whine, to Kiki, for pointing out all of my totally ridiculous mistakes and for quoting poetry at me, and to Sandiane Carter and chezchuckles, for constantly encouraging/threatening/cajoling my ridiculous, pathetic flopping self and for feeding me all sorts of fic scraps to bolster me along the way.

The title is from maggie and milly and molly and may, by ee cummings.

If Castle and Beckett were mine… oh. I don't even know what to say here anymore.

Beckett's laughing throatily in his ear, her hand tripping along his chest, her body pressed against the curve of his spine. The condom's in the nightstand and he's trying to feel for it, but eventually he has to prop himself up and away from her to reach into the back of the drawer. Right as he lifts, his phone lights up.

He freezes.

She doesn't notice at first, her hand skimming over the plane of his abdomen, her calf nudging between his. "I'm tired of waiting," she murmurs huskily into his ear, playful. He can barely hear her over the thundering of his pulse, thumping triple time from a fast-dying arousal and an ever-growing fear.

"Kate," he starts, his voice strangled, choked.

She stills instantly, her body going rigid in a beat. He shuts his eyes against it, wishes only for the drape of her loose limbs back against his.

But they need to move.

They need to move now.

"What?" she murmurs, voice low.

He grabs the phone with shaking fingers, thumbs to the text from an unknown number, rolls onto his back, holds it out to her.

The deal is over. Get her out now.

Her eyes darken as she reads. "This could be anything," she tries, desperate and hollow.

"It's not. You know it's not," he says, panic starting to claw at his throat, brutal and desperate, clogging his veins.

She's stone-still a heartbeat more and then she's moving, shoving herself away from him, off the bed, and he can't, he can't, the storm is still going outside and there's a sudden flash that lights up the bare arc of her back, the strong line of her bicep.

She's ready, finally ready, finally here, and now she's being hunted.

She bends, lifts her pants and shirt and jacket from where they're puddled on the floor, shimmies into the jeans with a speed borne from a hundred early-morning crime scenes. They must be cold, he thinks, as she starts to shrug into her lacy black bra. "Your clothes are wet," he murmurs inanely.

"It's still raining outside, anyway," she says, shoving her hair away from her cheek. It's just starting to dry, falling now in damp curls down her back.

He sits, blinks, tries to think, finally settles on at least getting some forward momentum as he swings his legs off the bed. She's in front of him, suddenly, her hand on his shoulder, still in just jeans and a bra.

They need to move. He shifts forward to stand. She presses down, hard, pushing him into the bed.

"Lie down, Castle," she says, quiet, serious.

She must be confused. He stays sitting. "Beckett, I don't know who could have sent that text, but there are a limited number of people who know about this situation and I don't think any of them would see fit to joke about it."

She shakes her head once, a sharp, staccato movement. "I know. Lie down. Go to sleep."

The realization rushes over him all at once, cold and terrible. "You're out of your mind," he growls.

The hand on his shoulder tightens. "You were done. It was over."

"You can't be serious," he breathes.

"Just – go back to that. It's not any different, now."

"It's not any different?" he asks. Yells, maybe, from the stricken look on her face.

"Please," she whispers. "You were right."

"It's not your choice." He's not quite sure whether he's referring to her being hunted or his going with her. It doesn't matter.

Her nails bite into his shoulder. "What about Alexis?"

The image of his daughter's wracked face sways him for an instant, but it's nothing, nothing compared to the thought of Beckett walking back out his door, alone, into the storm. "I'll see that she gets on the next plane to visit Meredith. It's been forever since Mother's gotten out to California. She can go with her."

She's shaking her head slowly at him and her hand is still on his shoulder, but they're losing time, the text read now, they need to go.

He surges up against the firm pressure of her hand, and she stumbles back a step – "Sorry, sorry," he murmurs – and then he's moving toward his closet, stumbling into a pair of jeans as he yanks out a duffel bag and pulls some pants off hangars, tugs out handful of shirts, grabs a few boxers and throws them all in.

"I think – toothbrush. I have a spare. And deodorant? We can, just –" he leans toward the bathroom, but she's grabbing his wrist, staring at him with dark, fathomless eyes, and suddenly it hits him, suddenly he understands. "Oh," is all he can murmur. It's not the combs and the soap. It's cash, fake IDs, used cars ditched roadside. The knowledge tightens in a band around his chest – he's not equipped for this, has barely the slightest notion of what he's doing.

She sees it in him; he's not fast enough to hide it. She's suddenly quiet, gentle, still just in her bra and jeans and no shoes, so much smaller than usual. She moves into his space, so slowly, brushes her lips over his in absolution, rests her forehead on his cheek for the second time this night. "You've done so much for me. Let me do this for you. Go back to sleep."

"I can't," he whispers back, the knowledge clogging his throat. There are only these truths for him: Someone wants Kate dead. Kate wants him. He cannot let her walk out his door alone. "I can't."