A Dash of Summer

Kate wakes to the phone vibrating on her bedside table, her neck knotted from falling asleep half-reclining. Castle is still sprawled over her thighs, lying on his stomach and pinning her to the mattress. She reaches awkwardly for her phone and snatches it up, but Castle is awakened by her movement.

"Beckett," she answers, already forgetting what the caller ID said. He's squinting one eye at her and looking adorably disgruntled.

"Beckett this is Shaw. I don't know what you did, but we got everything back. Intact."

"You got ev- oh, the laptop? Everything?"

Castle shifts up to lean against the headboard, yawning so wide Kate can hear his jaw pop. She draws her knees up to flex her sore hips, rotate her feet.

"Everything," Jordan confirms. "Whatever you said or did - it worked."

"We asked for help," she says. Her back is knotted from the strange position, and Castle keeps nudging her, mouthing what is she saying. She tilts the phone towards him and he leans in, their heads knocking together.

"What kind of help, exactly?" Jordan says, her voice clipped. "Because I don't need more people - more agencies - sticking their noses into this."

"Not that kind of help." At least, not technically. She wraps her hand around Castle's head and grips his ear, tugs him away so she can hear Jordan. "Castle and I hired private security. They looked into it for us."

"Well that's some pretty amazing private security," Jordan says over the phone. She sounds skeptical and Kate can't blame her. It's pretty flimsy.

"They have connections," she hedges. Castle is rubbing his ear and giving her a mournful look; it makes a smile flicker across her face.

"Did they find out who it was in your photo?"

"Yes," Kate answers, hesitating as she meets Castle's eyes. "It's - actually, it's his security firm. The man we hired."

"Oh?" Shaw sounds like she completely isn't buying it. "Why would you not know what he looked like? What was he doing there?"

Kate rubs her temple with two fingers, closes her eyes to think. It's too early in the morning for this. "He showed up at Allie's wedding to - to check us out. Before he agreed to the contract. When I started flashing around his photo, he had to get it back. He needs his anonymity for his job."

"Ha, must be retired CIA," Shaw says easily. "At least that's cleared up. The case is back on track. We didn't lose too many hours to it either."

"Do you need me to come in today?" Kate says, bracing herself for leaving her family.

"No, your part is finished for now. When the grand jury hears testimony, I'll call you in again. But it's not - I can't allow you to have a large part in this actual work of discovery. You know that, right?"

"I'm biased," she murmurs. Castle stops messing with her, sits still. He studies her a moment and then his hand comes out and wraps around her raised knee. Kate sighs. "I understand. I'd rather the case go forward without my influence tainting things than - than nothing at all."

"I just wanted to be sure we were clear," Shaw clips. She talks fast; she has things to do, a day's worth of work to catch up on, most likely, and this is one of those calls that Kate herself has made. A call to the victim's family, necessary but not the easiest. She continues. "I don't doubt your skills or your integrity, Kate. And your husband - Castle can more than hold his own. But we can't afford to have even a whisper of improper conduct on this one."

"We're clear, Jordan. What you're doing for me... I really can't thank you enough for taking on this case. This is a lot. A lot of work and I - we - just appreciate so much what you're doing. After what happened a few months ago - and you're already up and back at it."

"The senator sent out a hit squad to ambush us, Kate. I don't take that lightly. I won't give up on this. I am committed - I am all the way."

Kate doesn't say it, but it's her fault Jordan was there in the first place, taking that meeting with Montgomery, the meeting where her Captain and his wife were murdered even as Roy tried to confess everything. But even without Kate saying it, they both know she's the one who set this all in motion.

Because Kate couldn't bear to disappoint her mom.

"Anything you need from me, you let me know," Kate finally says. "I want justice for my loss, but I also want it for the Montgomerys."

"I know you do - and I know I can count on you. I'll keep you updated. In the meantime, be safe - be careful - but don't worry too much. This thing is a lock, and Kate? You're on the other side of it now. So brace yourselves for the media circus once this gets out."

"We will," she says, and then she ends the call as Jordan hangs up.

Castle is watching her, but she looks down at the phone, studying it for a moment. He takes it out of her fingers and leans over to drop it on the bedside table, and then he comes back to her.

"You okay?"


"The case is okay?"

"Jordan thinks so. She says it's a lock. Be ready for the media." Kate lets out a slow breath and rubs her hands over her eyes, trying to wake up. "It feels strange to have - nothing. Nothing to do. To help."

"I thought the same thing when you left yesterday. I did laundry because I didn't know what else to do."

She gives him a look, her lips crooked but smiling. "You do laundry so well."

"I know. I'm really awesome at it," he says, preening a little. Making her laugh. His fingers twitch over her knee. "You know we can handle the media."

"I know."

"We've had a plan in place for years now - with the kids - and the preschool will help us keep their faces out of it."

"If we grant interviews to a select few," she muses, "then we might have less of a clamor."

"A hue and cry."

She smiles.

"The trial will be when?" he asks.

"Next year, most likely. Dash will be finishing up kindergarten. Oh. We need to talk about that. Does he stay at the preschool and attend their kindergarten? Or do we put him in public school?"

"Good public school here. Good district. I thought we already talked about this."

"No, I mean. If there's a trial going on..."

"Oh, and him in public school."

She shifts under his hand, leans into him. "I like that the preschool is so closed in, self-contained. All those kids know him already. The teachers know our story. We wouldn't have to explain and they'd be looking out for us, for him."

"But that means he goes to first grade at public school with kids who all had kindergarten together, time to form cliques without him. We're putting him at a disadvantage and he's already got issues."

"Yeah," she winces. She doesn't know what to do.

Castle squeezes her knee. "Look. We'll just have to see how it goes. We can always withdraw him from public school if the case gets - or if there's too much exposure. Are you okay with that?"

Kate snorts. "Am I okay with it? What about Dashiell? He does not like change. Add in the fact that he might end up at a different school, that he might not know what's going on... no. I don't think he'll be okay."

Castle is already shaking his head. "We'll keep Dash flexible, tell him one of those social stories. Tell him that school might be in two places, that he might finish it at the church's kindergarten if works out better for our family. We can explain that you've got a case everyone knows about and that people might ask questions. He'll know that much and it should alleviate his anxiety."

"Alleviate," she murmurs, the word catching her, pleasurable and distracting. She rubs hard against her forehead, trying to think. "So we're saying we stick to the plan? Dash in kindergarten at the public school, Ellery at preschool?"

"Yes. Stick to the plan. We can be flexible too. If something happens, we'll switch him back to the church. Ellery will love having him- Oh, no. Oh, no, we forgot."

She drops her hand. "Forgot?" She stares at him as he tilts his head back against the padded frame, his eyes closing as he groans, and then she remembers. "Ellery's karate. Oh, no. I didn't even get a chance to pick up her uniform. Did she say anything? No, I guess not or else you'd have said. I'll have to take her Friday to the make-up class. It'll be fine. She's not rigid about her schedule like Dash is."

"Isn't the one on Friday filled with a bunch of way older kids?"

"Yeah. So?"

"Ella won't want to take her first karate class with kids older than her brother," he says.

"Why not?"

"Would you? Think about how many chances for failure - think about how Dash cried his first day because he kept getting it wrong."

Kate narrows her eyes and scrapes the hair off her face. "Well. Ella is a bit more coordinated than her brother. And yes, she doesn't like to fail in front of people, but I think I can make it work with her. A social story, Rick."

"What story can possibly make it okay?"

She huffs at him, cards her fingers through his hair now, rubbing his eyebrow, still stuck on alleviate and how it sounds coming out of his mouth. "You're the writer and you can't come up with one measly social story? I'll just tell her that it's my fault we missed her class yesterday and that it means she gets to be in the advanced class to make up for it. So it will be tough, and she won't know what's going on, but do her best. Then it's okay if she fails - and it's even better when she learns a few moves."

Castle leans into her touch and smiles. "Ohh, smart woman. That should work. She'll be so proud of herself when she manages to follow any of it."

"They are pretty advanced on Fridays," she admits. "But they'll take the time to show her. She's little and cute - the sensei will work with her."

"Yeah, you're right. She is little and cute. You're right."

"Mm, music to my ears," she grins, letting go of his hair to crawl over him and out of bed. No more fantasies about his mouth and the words he whispers in her ear. Time to seize the day.

But Castle catches her hips and drags her back, suddenly ruthless and wrestling her down under him, pinning her to the bed. "Where do you think you're going?" He lowers his head and nips her bottom lip.

She laughs, choking on her surprise, feels his fingers digging into her right above her hipbone, where she's ticklish. "No, no, no. Castle - Castle, no!"

He's merciless, like he is with the kids, and she's gulping down air and fighting him off, made weak by laughter and the weight of him over her and alleviate - why does that get to her? -and then suddenly he stops. Stops and she opens her eyes, staring up at him.

She's jolted by the furious want tightening his face, and she throws her arms around him and drags him down into her. He kisses her hard, roughly, sends her heart racing and her blood roaring in her head.

"We're nearly done with this," he growls into her mouth. She has no idea what he means, can't fathom where he's coming from, but he nudges his knee between hers and drags his hand down to the hem of her t-shirt, and oh, yes, yes she knows where that is coming from. "It's almost over, Kate. The case. It's almost done. How many years?"

Oh. Oh, it is. Closure.

"More than fifteen," she whispers, her throat tightening.

He frames her face with a hand, but there's no tenderness, just an infinite and brutal need that she feels echoing in her bones and throbbing in her scars. He wants her; he's claiming her. More than fifteen years since her mother's murder twisted up her life, but he's been here, in it with her, for so much of it. He's made it - salvageable. Good again.

She gulps down his kiss and lifts up for more, panic and equal parts arousal skittering through her. What does she do without her mother's case there in the background, what is she without it?

"Shower," he growls in her ear.

Oh, yes.

"Hurry," she murmurs, shoving on him to get him moving. He's dragging her up and then into the bathroom and she realizes -

this is what she does.

This is what she's been doing. All along. It started the day she hauled him into the interrogation room and asked about flowers on their eyelids, asked about bodies posed like the victims in his books, and it's been going on ever since. She knows exactly what she does when her mother's case is closed - she lives her life.

Their life.

"Kate," he calls, sounding urgent. "Before Dashiell comes looking for you."

This is their life together.

This is their story.

A/N: Thank you. From the depths, thank you. You've encouraged me on the journey. I hope Dashiell, Ellery, and their parents have done the same for you.

To read their story all over again, browse the bookshelf on my tumblr at writingwell . tumblr (.com) (/) library