"This is the end, hold your breath and count to ten."
"I never thought it would end like this," she croaks, unable to meet his eyes. Her fingers reach out, only to curl back again within her empty palm.
"Neither did I," Castle hums, voice low with emotion, staring straight ahead, not sure where else to look.
Kate wafts a hand in front of her face to clear a little of the smoke, steps away from it, conscious of the repercussions.
"What do we do now?"
She asks it quietly as Castle's fingers find her own. Some sort of peace offered up in the strength of his grip. He couldn't stand by and leave her hand out there, reaching, with nothing to hold on to.
"We go on," he replies with determination, "start over." He hears how gravely she's taking it and squeezes her fingers. Offer sincere in the moment, "I can buy -"
"It won't be the same," she mumbles, interrupting quietly, taking in the smoking remains, the debris that litters the ground at her feet. She doesn't want to shut him down, wants to be open to the reassurances he knows she needs, but today of all days, it feels like one of those signs from the universe he's got her believing in.
Her last day and it explodes.
Pulling Kate into his arms, wrapping his wife up in his embrace, Castle feels her shift into a somewhat awkward side hug, a little reluctant before she lets out a breath and melts into his chest.
Her fingers creep up and under his jacket, splay over his back fitting against him with easy familiarity. Nose nudging against his neck Kate breathes deeply, his hands low on her back, soothing at the ache he knows has settled there.
Around them people clean up, side glances going unnoticed as their co-workers give them a wide berth. They've long since learnt there are some bubbles that only the captain and her husband belong in.
"I know it sounds ridiculous -"
"No. It doesn't."
"It's just -" she sighs, lifts her face to his to find his eyes. "I think I fell in love with you right here, in front of that machine."
She points to the smoking remnants of the precinct coffee maker, the hisses and pops of run down, broken machinery drawing the attention of the entire bullpen.
Mourning is the wrong word, castle thinks as he surveys the room, but there is an element of melancholy that has fallen since the loud bang had drawn them from their meeting. No one was hurt, thank god, he wouldn't want that on his conscious.
It had stood the test of time, all these years and not one bad espresso, cappuccino or latte to its name. And now it draws as many stares as it had the first day it arrived. No longer shiny and new, smouldering lightly, the remnants of a spent fire extinguisher dripping from the walls.
She turns in his arms, their hug easier on them both when she faces away. Castle drops his chin to her shoulder, smiling against her cheek.
"This is where I realized how frustrating you could be." He presses his lips to her skin at her little huff, taking away any of the hurt before it could reach her. "How much I enjoy annoying you."
"Made you laugh right here too," he grins proud of himself, their history, nudging her, taking note of the fact he's still doing it.
She leans back into the support of his arms, the broadness of his chest holding her steady. "More than just the funny guy in this room, Castle," she whispers, fingers tangled with his over the rise of her stomach, "you were my support."
"Always that." He squeezes her just tight enough within his arms that he can feel his words sinking in. She knows, they both do, but a little reminder now and then never goes amiss.
"We don't need this," she mumbles quietly, thoughtfully, the steam nozzle giving up its last pathetic whine. It falls away from the body of the machine and Kate pushes away, turning to Castle. "I was just looking forward to - with you at home with -" her words fall into nothing, dying with the movement of her fingers over her stomach.
"You wanted coffee from our machine because you'll miss me. Miss us," he fills in for her.
"I'll have a new one installed before you're back," he promises, "while you're out on maternity we can pick it together, keep you from getting cabin fever." She laughs, "and we'll make new memories right here. The three of us."
He grins and she smiles, stepping into him as he tips her chin, "Start a new tradition," Kate agrees.
"We're good at that."
Clearing her throat, Kate forces herself away from the safety and comfort of Castle's hug. "You know this is all her fault right?" She pokes at the bump between them, too gently to be anything other than loving, "She's driving me crazy."
Castle raises an eyebrow, catches the narrowing of her eyes and laughs.
"Like her father."
"Whatever you need to tell yourself, Beckett," he grins again, knowing she needs it, needs levity, a pigtail tug to get back on track. "You could always keep a souvenir for your desk, Captain's prerogative?" Taking her by surprise as he drops to one knee in front of her.
She laughs, one hand sliding back and forth over their baby as Kate's wavering emotions seem to wake her up. "Daddy's silly," she whispers, watching as her words stir him in response.
He has to clear his throat before he can speak, offering up the broken nozzle, "In life and in coffee?"
Kate pulls the nozzle from his hand with eager fingers, slipping it into her pocket. She turns on her heel and throws a look over her shoulder, you coming, Castle in every step.
He beats her to the door and throws it open, "You do make my existence richer."
"Yet your puns leave a bitter aftertaste."
Castle circles the desk, holds her chair so she can lower herself heavily, groaning when she finds an awkward comfort. Kate catches his eye, tipping her cheek into his hand as she lowers the nozzle into the drawer with her little stick man. An end and a beginning wrapped up in both.
A reminder of love beside her token of joy.