AN: This One Shot is set during Season 4, Episode 9 'Kill Shot'. What if Castle came over to Beckett's place the night of her breakdown?

Tell me what you think, please! :) Thank you.


MESS


And I know these scars will bleed
But both of our hearts believe
All of these stars will guide us home

-Ed Sheeran


It's too much, it's all too much. The pain is too real. It's in there, it's physical – despite what everyone says. It's dragging yourself out of bed in the morning when you haven't slept in days. It's looking in the mirror not recognizing the person starring back at you. She used to be someone else. She used to be so strong and fierce and now she's... this.

PTSD is real, he tells her every time she sits in that goddamned leather chair, pouring her heart out. But when it's real, shouldn't it get better? Shouldn't she be able to do something, anything to get out of that hole she crawled into all those months ago? Back when that bullet burned a hole into her chest. Back when all she felt was her own life leaving her body, him hovering above her, telling her what she's been afraid to hear for thirteen years.

I can't. Please don't. I can't.

It takes her a while to realize that those words aren't just in her imagination. It's her own voice – hollow, rough. She's going crazy. She's alone. Alone. There is no one here to listen.

She's alone.

She knocks her glass over with her hand, liquid spilling over the table, hitting the floor in steady drops. Like a heart beat. Drop. Drop. Drop. But it's too loud. It overshadows the beat of her own heart and she can't breathe. The pressure on her chest is getting heavier. And the more she tries the heavier it gets and the less she can breathe. She's panicking and she might pass out right here, on her couch.

Wait – is it another panic attack or is she just too damn wasted? Could it be both? She needs to breathe, to think of something else than the fact that there's no air in her lungs. She might just get sick right here over her couch table.

There is a noise; a siren, a door, she doesn't know. But it sends her over the edge. She pushes the table over, the empty glass falling to the ground. Bursting into a million tiny pieces.

She screams, reaching for her gun. Her mind is running a hundred miles an hour. There is not enough air in her lungs for her too fast beating heart. There is no silence, her ears are ringing. She crawls over the floor, something stings her right arm but she doesn't care. She barely notices the thick liquid that runs down her forearm as she hovers beside her door, gun raised, ready to fight. She wouldn't freeze this time, she wouldn't back down.

That's not her. That's not her. That's not her.

That's not me.

She's talking again – or more like pleading. Trying to convince the monster within her body that she is more. More than what she is. More than her bullet wound and the girl with the killed mother. She is more. Except she's not.

That's her life. She has to deal with it. She has to stop being such a lowlife and finally do her job. Do what she knows best. But her life is a mess – she is a mess. And everything is fucked up. And the wall she wants to bring down is only putting on more stones, getting higher and thicker and hires more security guards and no one is going to be able to get in there. No one. Not even herself.

She can't even be honest with herself. Because she has three missed calls but she can't be trusted to answer them. Because then she has to talk, form the words that swirl around in her head, making no sense, except for her. She wants them to make sense for him. She wants him to understand. That she's not worth it. He can use his time better than waiting for the damaged girl. And that all his effort to turn her around won't change anything. Because in the end she will be just that – the damaged.

She's damaged. Broken. Messed up. And she always has been.

And she still sits in the corner, gun in her hand, fighting for air. Her new wound – another wound to add to the ones she already has – is still bleeding but she doesn't care. It shall bleed.

Breathing – The process of respiration, during which air is inhaled into the lungs through the mouth or nose due to muscle contraction and then exhaled due to muscle relaxation.

It sounds easy but why is it that hard to do when your life is falling apart right beside you – when you are falling apart? God, she hates this. She hates the looks that she gets when they think she doesn't see them. She sees them. She sees their fear that she might break every moment. She can't be trusted to have their backs.

The gun slips out of her hands then, falling the to ground. She jumps again, looking around. Shoving the gun through the room angrily. She can't be trusted with a gun. The heavy, cold material feels too good between her fingers. Too daring. Just one moment and everything would be over. One pull of her index finger and – No! She won't go there.

She's drunk. She's bleeding. But she's not one of those cops. She's not. Not. Not. She tries to convince herself that she would never do that. Ever.

When the knock on her door echos through the room she screams again, silently into her hand, pressing her back into the wall behind her. She is sure they're coming for her. They waited until her wounds – her physical wounds – were healed and now they're here, ready to take her out. She's ready to fight. She's not giving up that easily. Let them come, she's ready. Except she's not.

Then she hears his voice. The concern evident in the light tremble of his words.

Beckett- Kate, it's me. Open the door.

It can't be him. He didn't drive here at night. But he did before. Rescue her. He threw himself on top of her, trying to take the bullet that was meant for her; the bullet that bore a hole in her chest. The reason why she's sitting here right now. Afraid, panicking, shaking. But it's not the bullet. It's everything. Every fucking thing. Everything she's been through since the cold night in January back in 1999. Back when everything changed and she became that.

He's still standing on the other side of the door. She can hear him pounding on the door, desperation leaking through his voice. She just wants him to go away. She can't be trusted, especially not tonight. And she can't let him see her like that. Her vulnerability more than even she can bear. How can she project that all on him? She can't. She's hurt him enough. Hell, she's lying to him every day. And not just the I am fine. That's a lie he knows, he understands. But she's lying to him with the I don't remember. She does. And she can't keep doing that to him. He deserves more; more than she's ever going to be able to give.

That wall inside won't be there forever.

But it will. How can she bring this down? How is she able to burst down a wall when she's not able to fix herself? She's not even able to do her job. She's always been able to do her job. No matter what life threw her her – her job always had been a constant. Something to rely on. Something- somewhere, a place, to hide. To crawl into and put everything else in boxes to forget.

And he is still here. Calling for her.

Kate. Please, just- , she hears him sighing. Gathering his emotions from the other side of the wooden surface.

Open the door.

And she doesn't want to. She wants to tell him to go. But she can't trust her own voice anymore. Afraid of what might come out when she starts talking. His hands are sill making contact with her door. She just wants him to be gone. But then her body tells her otherwise because she's slowly moving towards the door. She pushes herself up, supports herself with her hand flat on the wall.

She feels herself stumble over something, and almost hits the floor again. And then she is at the door, fingers pressing flat against it. She can almost hear his breaths radiating through the heavy material.

"Let me in," she can hear him more clearly now. Not just a voice in the dark. He's really here. He's here.

She wants to answer him. To tell him she's fine, to tell him to go home, to tell him she's tired and just wants to sleep. Oh, how she wants to sleep. A night of rest. Not that sleepless tossing and turning. But again; her body isn't cooperating. She's never cooperating when it's about him. That's the thing; the deal. That's why he's still here while everyone has already run away. That's why she slowly turns her safety locks to open the door when she's never let anyone see her like that.

Her hands are shaking and it takes her a while to crack the door ajar. His eyes are there. They are blue like always. Something she knows, something familiar.

"Kate," it's just a breath leaving him. And he's saying more – talking to her – but she can't make out any of his words. It's his eyes. He's watching her with his not judging gaze that always seems to calm her down; and somehow crushing her at the same time. He always knows. She doesn't know how he does it, but he knows.

He's reaching for her arm, bringing it up to him. Oh, the cut. She totally forgot about that. He's asking her something but she doesn't listen. Shaking his head he puts his hand on the small of her back; the other supporting her bicep as he walks them through her apartment, to the bathroom. She sees him looking around the mess she's created. It's embarrassing but she doesn't care. Right now. She can deal with that later. Because somehow his presence helps her get air into her lungs. Just a little to not make her want to pass out anymore.

And he keeps on talking and she knows he's just trying to keep her with him and she realizes she hasn't even said anything. She must look horrible. And she couldn't care less at that moment because she's drunk and a mess and-

What is he doing now? Right, he's cleaning up her arm. Taking care of her wound because she's a mess and he probably doesn't know how to deal with her. Trying to fix her physical damage – that sounds like an easy thing to do.

It stings when he applies something to her wound. It's a good sting, making her feel something for the first time in what feels like weeks. Where did he get her first aid kid? Doesn't matter. He gently wraps her arm in a bandage. Too gentle. His fingers are soft on her skin, his eyes watching her, understanding. And oh god, what is he doing? His hands land on either of her shoulders and he's breathing. He's taking deep breaths and she feels the air around her face. He's trying to get her attention.

But he has her attention. She just can't make out what he's saying and she starts to wonder what's wrong. Despite everything. Everything's wrong.

His eyes.

Concentrate on his eyes, Kate, she tells herself. She has to start somewhere. And he's taking deep breaths, running his hands up and down her bare arms. Gooseflesh rises on her skin underneath his fingers. And somewhere in between this horrible nightmare she finds that this is calming. That his presence, his stares, his touches, make her open her mouth, drawing in more air than her lungs held all day. The sensation of air within her almost knocks her over as she crumbles. His hands steady her, keep her from falling over.

She breathes. Slow and painful, but she breathes. Her chest cracking open and she sees just the breeze of a smile on his face before it's gone again.

"Let's get you out of here," he mumbles and pulls her up from the toilet seat. His arm is around her, supporting her. Still. And she feels him hesitate against her for a moment, the muscles in his arm contracting for a moment before he guides her into her bedroom. And she knows; he's scared taking her to the living room will trigger another panic attack. That the mess breaks her down. She's a mess. She's the mess.

He sits her down on her bed and her gaze wanders around the room, trying to find something to hold onto. But there's nothing. Except for him. But he rushes into the kitchen and comes back with a bottle of water just moments later. And he squats down in front of her again, just like he did in the bathroom. She finds his face and he looks hurt, desperate and she hates herself for being the one who put that look on him.

She still doesn't trust herself to speak but she has to say something. Anything.

"Kate-," he starts but she interrupts him.

"I'm fine, Castle," and her voice is low and raspy and doesn't sound like herself, "I'm fine. You can go now," and it's not what she wants but it's what she does. Because she runs. Because she always runs. Running is so much easier than facing what has to come. She runs because that's all she's ever done. She won't look at him now, to afraid of what to see in him.

"The hell you are," he says and his voice is louder than she expected it to be. She jumps, the water bottle slipping through her fingers, hitting the ground. She lets her eyes wander to his for a second before they fall back to her hands. He is mad and he has every right to be. But he needs to understand that she's doing that for him. She's too damaged. Too broken. Too messed up. And certainly, she's not enough. Not for him. He deserves so much more.

"You are not fine, Kate," he says again, anger lingering in his words, "And stop lying to me. No one expects you to be fine. You can stop putting up that act-"

"I expect me to be fine!" she's yelling at that point, locking her eyes with his. And he's stepping closer, she can feel his breath on her skin.

"But you're not! And that's okay. You just need to let the people that lo- care about you in. What would have happened if I didn't show up here tonight? Can you tell me that? Because I don't think you can, and Kate-," he's crumbling now and she sees the emotions wash over his face and again she hates herself that she's the reason, "I don't want to see you throw your life away. You deserve... so much more than you think. I'm not- I won't- I don't want to carry flowers to your grave because you're too afraid to let people help you."

And then like he switched a button she starts crying. Uncontainable sobs wrecking through her body. Painful, hyperventilating cries ring through the room. She trembles and there's no way of stopping the tears running down her face, the pain, so much deeper than physical echoing through her. She falls forward and he's there, he catches her as she falls; literally and figuratively. She wants to stop but she can't and she doesn't want to stop. Because it's real. Everything is real. And he holds her up, because he always does.

"I'm sorry," it's her voice. She's stumbling over her words as sobs contract through her, "I'm a mess. I'm a mess."

His hands are around her back and she's grabbing onto his shirt, desperately holding onto something. She can feel his cheek on top of her head, his face buried in her hair. He tries to calm her down and she keeps on repeating how much of a mess she is.

"I'm a mess. I'm a mess. I'm a mess."

And he tells her that she'll be okay and that they'll get through this... together. And she can't believe him because she doesn't know how to get through this. But she decides to still believe him, even though she can't. Because he's holding her against him and she can feel and hear his heart beating. And this seems to be the only thing that calms her down. The only thing that keeps her alive.

She doesn't know for how long they've been sitting like that. But after a while he pulls back the covers, making her crawl underneath and she realizes she's falling asleep against him. He runs his fingers over her cheek and she sees the tears in his eyes and she knows she's the reason. His hand is in her hair and she wants to keep her eyes open but he's lulling her to sleep and she doesn't even listen to what he says anymore.

"Stay," she says before she registers her words, "please, just stay tonight." She doesn't know why she asks him to, or how she gathers the strength to ask him because that's not her and she doesn't know who she is anymore.

And he stays. He kicks off his shoes and crawls in next to her and she feels his arms closing around her once again, the rough denim of his jeans brushing her own. She hides in the crook of his neck, dried tears raw on her cheeks.

She's scared because tomorrow yet has to come and the nightmare is her life and it'll continue. And she's a mess and she ruined him.

"I'm a mess," she mumbles against his skin and he grabs her, pulling her closer.

"Yes you are," he says gently, "but so am I," he squeezes her arm and she knows a big speech is coming because that's who he is, "and so is everyone else. Nobody is perfect, Kate. And everyone has baggage and is messed up in their own way. But that doesn't mean that we have to shut out the world. We can be happy, despite the mess. And maybe the mess it what makes it great," she feels him breathing into her, collecting his thoughts, "don't get me wrong. You will get through this. You just need to accept that just because you're not perfect you still have the right to live. And that the pain will go away. But I won't, I'm not going anywhere. You don't see this, but I don't care about your mess. You're so much more than the bullet wound or your mothers murder. Trust me, Kate."

And in the dark of the night she decides to trust him. Because what else is left to do?

He's mumbling more comforting syllables into her hair and she doesn't listen, because tonight she's here, and he's here. And she's still a mess and he's a mess. But she's breathing and she's alive. And tomorrow he'd still be here and they'd be still a mess. And maybe in some time they can be messed up together.


END