Kate watched Rick with his daughter and mother for a moment longer before walking over to them. No longer able to only witness their moment, but needing to be near them as well. Near Rick mostly, too much time spent without him these past months, and the short moment they had after she took down Mason Wood, before they realised they had to call for backup, secure Mason and help Espo and Ryan, had not been enough. And then they went straight to the precinct and she had to be the Captain for a bit longer.
But now she needed her family.
Martha looked up when she heard her footsteps approaching them, drew back from her son's embrace and turned towards her with a thankful smile, before pulling her into her arms. Kate closed her eyes and lowered her head to the older woman's shoulder, breathing in the scent of her that had become so familiar over these past years, the scent of home, that stayed even after she had moved and into her own place to give them more space.
"It's over now?" Martha whispered and Kate nodded into her shoulder, before lifting her head to look her in the eyes.
"Yes it is," she confirmed right before getting swooped into an embrace by her stepdaughter.
"Thank you," Alexis said, "for keeping my dad safe."
"I - anytime," Kate answered slightly confused. She hadn't really managed to keep him safe today. No, he had been the one keeping her safe, arriving just at the right moment, to prevent a tragedy.
"But next time, try doing it without the whole being separated part."
Oh right, Rick had told them everything about LokSat, and they hadn't had a chance to talk since then.
"I hope there won't be a next time, but I will try to remember," she answered, drawing a small laugh from Alexis.
Eventually they had all left the precinct. Martha and Alexis deciding to take Hayley out for breakfast as a thank you for keeping them company in the P.I. Office. And managing to keep them calm.
Castle and Beckett had declined the offer of joining them, both too tired to do much more than going home and getting some sleep. Enjoying the comfort of their home with only each other as company.
Rick opens the door to the loft, holding Kate's hand, his jacket thrown over his arm.
"I feel like I could sleep for a week," she says and turns towards their bedroom.
"How about some breakfast first?" he suggests, while closing the door. "Best way to start off our hibernation."
Kate stops in her tracks and turns back to him, considering his offer for a short moment. "You know what," she starts, "why don't we order in. You don't have to cook." It had been a long day - and night - for both of them and he shouldn't have to stay in the kitchen to prepare some breakfast for them.
"I love cooking for you," he calls over his shoulder, and a smile spreads over her face. She knows he does. And she loves his cooked meals, the way he always makes sure it's more than just food. Always puts a little addition on her plate that brings a smile to her face. Sometimes it's just arranging the fruit into a smiley face. Usually it's a heart in the foam of her coffee, but it's always a signature of his love.
"And I love when you cook for me," she tells him. snaps her fingers and turns around to walk into the bedroom "I'm going to get changed."
Castle grabs a pan, ready to start - or rather end - their day with some pancakes. But when he turns on the stove and watches the blue flames flickering in the morning light, he pauses, a thought crossing his mind.
"Hey, Beckett?" he calls into the bedroom.
"Yeah?" she answers while taking of her shoes and putting them away.
"If Mason had an incinerator in his basement, why didn't he dispose of Caleb's body there?"
Kate stands up from the bed, takes off her jacket, throws it on the bed, and walks back into the kitchen, a few inches shorter without her shoes, and he can't help the smile spreading over his face.
"I don't know, babe," she tells him while walking around the kitchen island and joining him next to the stove. Running her hand down his back she thinks for a moment, before she continues talking. "Probably because he wanted us to know Caleb was dead. I mean how else would we have known?"
Castle shrugs. "Him not showing up at the drop off, could have been a give-away."
"But that did happen, and without Espo calling to tell me Caleb was our victim, we wouldn't have known."
"Yeah but if we hadn't known, Mason could have easily killed us and wouldn't that make more sense for him?" Castle argues. He knows trying to understand the motives isn't easy and sometimes even impossible. What makes sense for some person could seem completely senseless to the next. But he also knows he won't be able to stop thinking about it, if he can't find an answer.
"I don't know why he did what he did, Castle," Kate's replies, her soft voice brings him back from his thoughts and he looks up to her. "But by doing it this way, he gained our trust. I mean he was at the right place in the right moment, to save our lives."
"I trusted him already."
"I know," she says and drops a kiss on his shoulder, "but I didn't know him. So he had to give me a reason to trust him."
"Yeah …," Castle nods thoughtfully. "I'm sorry about that."
Kate furrows her brows in confusion. "What are you sorry about?"
"I told you we could trust him. So it's my fault."
"Rick, no," she takes his hand in hers, tugging gently to get his attention back, makes sure his eyes meet hers before she goes on. "I would have trusted him either way. He saved our lives. Why wouldn't I trust someone who does that?" She squeezes his hand. "Don't blame yourself for any of this."
"I just feel so stupid," he admits, his voice so soft, if she wasn't standing that close to him, she might have missed it.
Kate sighs. "You couldn't have changed anything today. Mason planned this for who knows how long. It's not your fault, you didn't see it. Neither did I."
"Hmmm," he isn't convinced. She knows he's not and it will take a while for him to accept that there was nothing to be done differently. "I could have maybe not told mother and Alexis."
"But you had to." Sure them not knowing about it, would have been easier, but she knows they would have demanded an explanation as to why the had to stay at the P.I. Office. Otherwise Castle wouldn't have told them.
"I know there was no other way, but then he made me tell him, Kate. And I couldn't do anything but tell him everything he wanted to know. And he was going to kill them too. And Espo and Ryan. Just because we told them all about the investigation. And I can't stop thinking that if we hadn't told them, if we had waited a bit longer to tell them, he wouldn't have had a reason to go after them"
Kate slides her hands around his waist, and drops her head to his shoulder, pressing her body as close to his as she possibly can.
"Maybe that was also part of his plan," she suggests. "Make sure we tell them, so he can torture you some more with the truth serum. I guess he didn't really need a reason to go after them, did he?"
Rick shrugs, takes her hands in his and squeezes gently. "I guess he didn't," he agrees silently and she presses a kiss onto his shoulder.
"Don't beat yourself up about trusting him, Rick," she whispers and drops another kiss on his shoulder. "Spending your life in the what if's is not worth it, trust me."
He nods with a sigh and squeezes her fingers one last time. "I'll try."
"That's all I'm asking."
"Now I did promise you breakfast," he finally says, his voice a bit lighter than just a moment before and she smiles.
"Yeah you did," Kate confirms, lifts her head from his shoulder and dislodges her arms from around his waist, before taking a step back. "Do you want some help?"
"Nah, I'm good. As long as you're here I have everything I need," he replies with a smile, his eyes follow her while she walks around the kitchen island and drops down on one of the barstools at the other side of it.
With a soft smile on her lips she watches him cook for her, his hands deft as always, while the scent of breakfast fills the loft.
"I love you," she tells him and he lift his eyes to hers, almost burning the last pancake when his attention shifts for a second too long.
A soft smile spreads over his face, when he blindly turns off the stove and pushes a plate of pancakes in her direction. "I love you, too."
She wakes with a gasp.
The echo of a gunshot still ringing in her ears. The phantom pain of a bullet piercing her skin vivid in her mind. And she can't breathe.
There is an arm around her waist and she clings to it. It takes a few seconds to register where she is. At home. In bed. With her husband. Who is alive. He's whispering things into her hair, words she can't understand. But she knows he's talking, knows he is here and it calms her down, slows down he ragged breaths until she actually registers the words, the repeating of 'you're okay, Kate.'
And she knows it's true but it's not what woke her up. It's not what her dream was about.
"I know," she whispers into the darkness of their bedroom, the light of the day shut out for now. "It's not that," she manages to say after a moment of silence. "He said -" she stops, tries to take a deep breath. "I thought -"
She turns in his embrace and burrows er face in his chest, unable to say it out loud.
His fingers travel up and down her spine, the touch calming her down and she is able to breathe again
"He said you died."
The words are muffled by his shirt, her voice so low, Castle can barely understand her.
He tightens his arms around her body and presses a kiss on the top of her head.
"I am alright, Kate."
She nods but doesn't lighten her grip on his shirt at all.
"I believed him because he was so sure you were dead. He wasn't lying. He just didn't know. I didn't know-"
Her voice dies out, she's unable to find the right words. doesn't want to find the right words for this. But he still understands her, knows what she is trying to say.
So he keeps brushing his fingers up and down her spine,
A few moments later she draws back to look at him. Her eyes red from crying, shining with unshed tears. He frames her face with his hands, uses his thumb to wipe away the tears, like he wants to wipe away the pain but knows he can't.
"In my dream you were dead," she whispers, and he has to close his eyes a suck in a breath. He remembers the moment he burst into that room, had seen the gun Mason had pointed at his wife, and the image that floods his mind is unwelcome. He knows it's not what happens, knows it was just a dream, one he might have later, too. But the distance she had put between them right before she said it, is too much, and he pulls her close again.
She comes willingly, nestles her head on his chest, right under his chin and closes her eyes. Takes a deep breath, the familiar scent of him filling her senses, keeping her calm.
She knows it was just a dream, but she also knows how close it came to be their reality.
"You didn't come to distract him and the shot woke me up," she finishes her thought. Has to put it out there, knows it's better for her to tell him now instead keeping it inside. Instead of pretending that wasn't part of the nightmare as well.
"It's okay," Castle whispers, "It was just a dream, Ryan and Espo arrived just in time. I'm alright."
He's not just reassuring her, he's doing it for himself as well.
She lifts her head, reaches out and drives her fingers through his hair.
"I know you are," she sighs, "I just … have to remind myself. Open my eyes and look at you, right?"
He smiles at the words he said to her just over a year ago, and nods.
"You'll be here?"
"I won't move an inch.
She nods and settles down again, rests her head in his chests, lets the comfort of his heartbeat lull her to sleep.
He waits for her breathing to even out, signaling him she fell back asleep, before he allows his eyes to close as well.