Falling in love with you

was like being tossed off a building: I landed face-first.

And just like the evening news,

there were two casualties.

Meggie Royer, The First Time

Two Casualties

It is five days before Kate Beckett cracks.

Flying back to New York City from Los Angeles, she had allowed herself to feel suspended in time. Outside of anywhere, safe in first class with Castle sleeping next to her. It gave her both the time and the impetus she needed to dwell on her mentor's words. Above the clouds, there was no one to pass judgement on the shitty job that apparently everyone thinks she's doing with her life.

Royce was with her at the precinct for a handful of days, but it was enough for him to see both that she is pathetically in love with Castle and that the prospect of doing anything about it sends terror rattling through her so hard she can feel her bones clashing together.

And then they landed, and for five days the spectre of her mentor's words loomed over her, toxic and suffocating. A quiet, somnolent sort of hum that burst into crescendo the moment Josh's mouth touched hers. If only if only if only pounding so hard in her bloodstream it turned her guts to liquid, made her push out of her boyfriend's grip and brace herself against the kitchen counter.

He had settled a too-cool palm between the stark wings of her shoulder blades and dipped down to rest his mouth at her ear, murmuring to her. Katie, what's wrong and he's sweet, he's a good guy but still it made her bristle.

Made her brave, too. Gave her the courage to turn to him. I can't do this anymore.

It's him, isn't it? Because of course he's known. She assumes that it had been enough for him, being the one who got to share her bed. He had never seemed to care that she shared her days and her heart and a good deal of her laughter with another man.

For that, she's grateful. He made it so easy for her to be selfish, made it so that it is almost nothing at all to peel him away from her heart. It had seemed cruel to lie; she had been careful to meet his eyes for the end. Yes. Him. I'm sorry.

There'd been a nod, and then a last, desperate kiss as Josh drank from her mouth and she did all she could to at least give it back to him. She owed him that much. He left, and the emptiness clutched at her.

Even though she'd known it was coming for a while, it had still hurt to watch him gather up the meagre collection of things he had at her apartment and leave her, standing there at the kitchen island struggling for breath.

She didn't tell Castle. Josh has been the only thing holding him off, his respect for her choice to be with Doctor Motorcycle Boy somehow outweighing how much he wants her. Because he does, she sees it. She's not an idiot.

With Josh around, Castle has been somewhat restrained and so it has been easy to ignore both how he feels for her and how desperately she yearns to have him. Only now, Josh is gone. And there's nothing to stop her falling right into it with Castle.

Except this case. Her mom's case, rearing its ugly head and taunting her again.

Kate paces; the protective detail is glaring obvious outside of her window and she has to force herself not to look every time she passes by. The blinds are open in her living room and through the slats she watches the rush of life through the veins of the city beneath her.

A knock at the door startles her so hard she bites on her tongue and she rips herself away from her sentry post, snagging her gun from the counter top before she heads for her front door. Through the peephole, she sees that it's Castle and her heart thrashes wildly in her chest.

She's strong, she can handle herself, but the little girl in her wants to fall into his embrace and beg him to save her. And maybe she can, in a way. But first she has to open the damn door.

"Can I come in?" He says, quiet and unassuming.

For a moment, Kate remembers the time he showed up with flowers and carefully didn't mention the slippery tear tracks painting her cheeks. "Yeah"

"So, we went over all of Raglan and McAllister's old arrest records and you were right, there was a third cop that was with them on a lot of those arrests." He's in the middle of her living room already, somehow, and here she is flipping closed the third deadbolt on her door. It's New York City, and obviously it pays to be cautious, but this is a little much even for her.

Kate heads towards him, her gun in one hand, and lets him talk. "But then someone went back into those reports and removed their name. So Ryan and Esposito are right now looking into who was running the records room back then."

"Castle, you couldn't have just called me and told me this over the phone?" She manages to grit out, her mouth tasting like ash. She knows exactly what this is. A one-man intervention, a desperate plea for her not to slip down into the gaping maw of the rabbit hole.

Only, she's teetering right on the precipice, she wants to yell at him. If he pushes, even just a little, she won't be able to keep her balance.

"Well yeah. . .I thought that-" He's stuttering, his face ripe with a compassion that feeds the vicious anger in her gut. Suddenly she is pissed. At him, at herself, at her whole fucking life. This isn't how it's supposed to be, isn't at all how she pictured her future when she was young and her mom was still alive.

A scream ripples in the base of her throat and she sighs instead, refuses to bleed out in front of him. "Castle if you got something to say just please say it."

His face hardens against her and he shifts his weight, hesitation carved into every line of him like an age old truth. And really, hasn't it always been this way? Castle too scared to call her out on anything, and she so relieved at not having to spill her guts that she never offers anything up to him voluntarily.

"Beckett, everyone associated with this case is dead. Everyone. First your mom and her colleagues, then Raglan, then McAllister. You know they're coming for you next."

"Captain Montgomery's got a protective detail on me. Wasn't that hard to spot." She shrugs, heading for the window. To check on the detail, yes, but also because she really needs to not be looking at him right now. Absolutely doesn't trust herself if she has to meet his eyes for this.

His eyes are hot on her, tripping along the length of her spine, and she sets her gun down on the end table next to her couch before turning to him again. The vulnerability of not seeing him is so much worse than the alternative, she's quickly realising.

"That's not gonna be enough to stop Lockwood, you know that. Think about what they're up against, professional killers? Look I've been working with you for three years, you know me. I'm the guy who says we can move that rubber tree plant but you know what Beckett? I don't think we're gonna win this."

He's somehow closer to her, those few careful steps not nearly enough to breach the chasm between them, but yes. Definitely enough to make her nervous.

Anger flares, hot and all-consuming, and it's all she can do not to let it swallow her whole. "Castle, they killed my mother. What do you want me to do here?"

"Walk away."

Her mouth opens but absolutely nothing comes out, incredulity gagging her as she stares at him. Has he lost his damn mind? He knows what this case does to her, how vitality important it is that she pour all of herself into it. She can't walk away. Not from her mother.

"They're gonna kill you, Kate. And if you don't care about that, at least think about how that's gonna affect the people that love you. You really wanna put your dad through that? And what about Josh?"

"And what about you, Rick?" She fires back at him. The rage is snarling in the pit of her stomach now, pushing at her to push him. See if he'll be truthful for once.

And okay, thank you. She knows it's not fair to do this to him when he thinks she's still with Josh. But she wants to hear it. Wants him to admit what they have, because God knows she can't do it herself.

"Well of course I don't want anything to happen to you. I'm your partner. I'm your friend."

"Is that what we are?" Guilt and grief war for her attention but she holds them carefully back, projects an exterior that is almost deadly in its calm. It's not fair of him to put this all on her. She's not the only one who holds things back, damn it.

It seems to have gotten to him; he sets his face against her and sucks in a breath, squaring his shoulders as if preparing for battle. "You know what? I don't know what we are. We kiss, but we never talk about it. We nearly die, frozen in each other's arms but we never talk about it. So no, I got no clue what we are. I know I don't wanna see you throw your life away."

"Yeah well last time I checked it was my life, not your personal jungle gym. And for the past three years I've been running around with the school's funniest kid, and it's not enough." She spits at him, rage frothing up and it's so bitter, so not at all what she wanted when she opened the door to him.

He looks pissed, and she can't remember him ever looking that way before. Not at her. Kate stalks away from him, towards the door, her heart trembling like a captive bird and the rest of her body quickly following suit.

"You know what? This isn't about your mother's case anymore." His words make her falter on her way to throwing him out, a strangely blissful sort of calm washing over her. Like the eye of the storm. "This is about you needing a place to hide, because you've been chasing this thing so long you're afraid to find out who you are without it."

"You don't know me, Castle. You think you do, but you don't." Even as she says it, she knows that it's total bullshit. Of course he knows her; no one else has ever come close to seeing the spill of raw truth out of her in the way that he has.

He's stalking towards her again and for a tremulous moment Kate thinks he might touch her. When he stops a couple feet away she has to slam the lid down on her disappointment so it doesn't unravel across her face for him to see.

"I know you crawled inside your mother's murder and didn't come out. I know you hide there, same way you hide in these nowhere relationships with men you don't love. You could be happy, Kate. You deserve to be happy, but you're afraid."

"Josh and I broke up, you asshole." She spits at him, her fists rhythmically clenching and relaxing at her sides. God, she hates him.

And yes, okay, she loves him. So much that it makes her hate him even more.

He looks surprised, takes a stumbling step backward and stares at her. "You- you did? When?"

"After LA." She scowls, wanting to shove at him. Wanting to throw him out, but she doubts he'd leave her. Not now. "I wasn't being fair to him."

There's maybe a half second of total stillness and then Castle's hands are either side of her face, his grip tight but not at all unpleasant. Staring down at her, he opens his mouth but says nothing at all. She watches his thoughts swim in his eyes, watches him decide fuck it and then his mouth is crashing down against hers.

Arching up onto tiptoe, Kate bites into his kiss and pushes the length of her body against his, refusing to let him bend her backward. Like hell is she submitting. His tongue slicks into her mouth and he groans, his hand palming her ass to drag her hips against his.

Kate tears her mouth away from his and gasps for breath, staring at the kiss-smudged invitation of his mouth. One hand still kneading her ass, Castle ghosts the fingertips of the other over her cheekbone and carves out a moment of tenderness.

Right now, she can't do tender. Can't do love. She just wants to fuck him.

It's probably a terrible idea. There's no way he'll let them not talk about it, not after the conversation still ringing in her ears. And it's not like fucking him is going to give either of them any clarification as to what they are. But she doesn't care.

Going for his mouth again, Kate shoves his jacket off of his shoulders and throws it towards the couch, bruising him with the force of her kiss. His hand comes away from her ass and she moans in protest, but then he's peeling her shirt up, up, right over her head and coming back to kiss her again as he fumbles with her bra.

When he gets it unhooked and peels it off of her she thinks he might stop, might try to take her in, but he doesn't. Instead he's palming her breasts, pinching at her nipples and it's all so much harder, more aggressive than she'd expect from him but fuck if it isn't completely doing it for her anyway.

Kate takes either side of his shirt collar in her fists and yanks, ripping the whole thing open and sending buttons flying everywhere. They clatter all over her hardwood and Castle rips his mouth away from hers, whining at her. "I liked that shirt."

"Shut the fuck up." She growls, shoving the ruined scrap of material off his shoulders and arching so her breasts flatten against his chest, bare skin to bare skin and it's so fucking good she might come apart right here.

Castle's hands clutch at her hips and he spins them around, walking her backwards towards the kitchen island. He pops the button of her jeans and drags down her zipper, his hand inside of her underwear so fast she barely has time to draw breath in preparation.

Three years, she's imagined him touching her, and now his fingers are quick and intoxicating through the slick heat of her and he's choking her name into the curve of her neck, biting down at the thunder of her pulse. "Fuck, Kate. You're so fucking wet."

He strokes a finger over her clit and she chokes out a sob, palming the hard bulge of him in retaliation. Even through his jeans, it makes him falter and he groans, loud and entirely unashamed. He's still sucking on her neck and the dual sensation of that and his fingers teasing her makes her head swim, takes her close to the edge.

When he pulls his hands free from her pants she doesn't even have time to voice a protest before he yanks them down her hips, two fingers hooked into her underwear to bring them with her jeans. Both garments pool at her feet and she steps out of them, gloriously naked and entirely unashamed in front of him.

Castle growls, something low and vicious all in his throat and then he's shoving his own pants and boxers down, toeing his way out of his shoes and shoving the whole mess of their entwined clothing out of the way. He kisses her again, hard and desperate and it's so fucking good to have him like this.

His erection presses against her stomach and Kate grins, letting it spread slowly across her face as she wraps her fingers around him. He jerks, kissing the smirk right off of her face and dropping his hand back between her legs. For a desperate moment, she thinks he's finally going to push his fingers inside of her, but he's careful not to let the rocking motion of her hips distract him from rubbing hard at her clit.

"Turn around." He grunts against her cheek, and she doesn't hesitate. Turning away from him, she lets him crowd her up against the counter and braces both palms flat against it, choking out a gasp at the feeling of his body right up against her back.

She feels ragged, torn open, and then he slides inside of her and all the scattered edges of her fear and panic and guilt coalesce into this one perfect, blissful moment. "Oh fuck, Kate."

Sucking in a desperate lungful of air through her teeth, Kate pushes her ass backwards against the cradle of his hips and grunts when he sinks even deeper inside of her. His hands come between her body and the counter, rolling her nipple between the pads of his fingers with one and splaying the other wide at her stomach to keep her somewhat still as he thrusts.

It's hard and filthy and he's chanting her name against the sweaty skin of her neck and she's sure her hipbones are already blooming with haematomas like a purpling sky, but she really doesn't care. It has never, even been like this for her before.

So fucking good; already she's shaking with it. Kate turns her head and catches his bottom lip between her teeth, tugging at him. He's smiling into their kiss even as he fucks her against her kitchen counter and honestly? She's not even surprised. Of course it would be like this.

"How close are you?" He grunts, taking her earlobe in his mouth and sucking at the tender flesh.

Shivering, Kate manoeuvres until she can rest her weight on one forearm, her head bowed as she snakes her other hand down to stroke over her clit. Her fingertips brush Castle and he grunts out a curse, her eyes slamming closed at the sensation.

The coil of release tightens low down in her belly and Kate growls, half wishing she could see his face. Panting hard, she turns her head to see a shard of his face and grins at him, brushing a kiss to the hard edge of his jaw. "Really fucking close."

He beams at her, bringing his other hand up so he's cupping both of her breasts and dropping his mouth to her neck again. "I want you to come. Right now. Come for me, Kate."

The release is suffocating, washing over her and dragging her right down so she can't do anything more than jerk against him, her body a marionette with the strings cut. He follows right along behind her, groaning a litany of curses threaded through with her name until he collapses half on top of her, pinning her to the counter.

"Holy shit." He laughs, their skins sweat-slick and plastered together. Somehow, he still has the strength to stand up and he does so, smiling softly at her when she turns to face him.

There's half a beat of silence and then he cups her cheek in his palm and leans in to kiss her, soft and gentle and so tender she almost wants to cry. "Castle. . .you understand, don't you? Why I can't walk away from this?"

"I know. I know, Kate. I just don't want you to die." He chokes out, burying his face in the crease of her neck. For a fleeting moment, she thinks perhaps it shouldn't be so fitting that they're having the most honest conversation of their relationship so far while standing naked in her kitchen.

And then she feels the pooling warmth of tears at her collar bone and cradles the back of his head, fingers carding through his hair to gentle him. "I'm being safe. I won't die."

"You don't know that." He moans, pulling away so he can kiss her again. It's desperate, somehow more so than when he was inside her.

She hates herself for it, but she can't promise him she won't risk her life for her mother's justice. And she prays he won't ask her to choose, won't ask her to make that decision. Because she won't choose him. "Maybe you should go home."

"Are you throwing me out?" He chokes, his grip bruising at her biceps.

Kate arches up to kiss him again, tries to gentle him with the touch of her mouth. "No, I just think we both need to get some sleep."

"We could sleep here. Together." She raises an eyebrow at him, purses her lips and he manages a breath of laughter. "Right. That's dumb."

Yeah. If he stays, they're not going to get a lot of sleep. He dresses quickly, zipping his jacket closed to hide his ruined shirt, and Kate tugs on her own shirt and her underwear, not bothering with her pants. He kisses her softly at the door, stepping over the threshold and then leaning back in to kiss her one more time, like he can't ever have enough.

"I'll call you." He promises, and then he heads down the hall for the elevator and Kate closes her door, resting her forehead to the wood.

Shit. Shit. What has she done?

A/N: This is a three shot. I think.

Tumblr: katiehoughton

Twitter: seilleanmor