a "The Time Of Our Lives" story
1. Know You
He woke up to a burning, aching pain in his chest. It hurt to breathe, and he struggled to heave in a single breath before discovering that it was much easier to wheeze and breathe through his nose instead. There were beeping noises all around him, and quite frankly, it was all beginning to freak him out. The sheets were scratchy, starchy, smelling of bleach and antiseptic. He wished he knew what was going on. Fighting against the pain, he blinked his eyes open, squinting in the harsh white light that saturated the room. He took him just a moment to assess the room, and realize that he is in a hospital.
Why the hell am I in a hospital?
The reason was made crystal clear when he attempted to sit up. Shit. A agonizing pain shot through his entire torso, twisting and burning. It almost felt like someone had dug his heart out of his chest with a very, very dull spoon. What the hell happened to me?
"Oh, thank god… you're awake," an angelic voice sighed with… was that relief?
Blinking away the pain, using all his suppresses to stifle it down, he turned his head towards the source of the lovely voice. When he finally saw her, his heart jumped into his throat. Was he in heaven? Probably—no, definitely—the most beautiful woman he had ever seen was standing beside him, gazing down at him with relief and something else in her glazed eyes. It looked like she had been crying. And he desperately wanted to know what had made her cry, so he could somehow make her feel better.
"Am… am I dead?" he managed to croak out.
"No… no," she shook her head, her voice wavering with barely suppressed emotion. Her hand landed on his shoulder, and she squeezed it, comfortingly, as if it was more for her benefit than his. "You're quite alive, Mr. Castle. A complete idiot, but an alive idiot."
"You know me!?" he hooted in surprise, wondering how such an extraordinary beauty would even know a washed-up novelist like himself.
"Well… that depends," she murmured, furrowing her brow contemplatively. "Do you know who I am?"
"An angel?" he spoke without thinking, the medication in his blood destroying his filter.
She smirked at that, shaking her head and biting on her lower lip. "No, I'm afraid not, Mr. Castle. I'm just an ordinary woman."
He scoffed in disbelief, then grimaced in pain. It hurt to huff. She gazed at him worriedly, but he managed to wave off her concern. "I find that hard to believe," he asserted.
"Well, it's the truth," she replied. "And in answer to your question… yes, I know you, and… no, I don't."
"Oh," Castle suddenly felt very disappointed… and confused. "Are my mother and daughter here?"
She nodded. "Yes. They're in the cafeteria getting something to eat. They'll be back soon." She paused, and then continued. "You have an amazing daughter, Castle," she said. "You must be proud."
"I am," he said, wishing he'd been a better father than he has been. Maybe it's not too late to fix that. Maybe it was time to finally be the kind of father—and the kind of man—he had always wished he could be. Castle looked back upon the woman standing by his hospital bed and again wondered why she was there. "Do I know you?"
"No," she shook her head. "No, you don't. But…," she paused for moment, her nose wrinkling adorably. "But… you did," she continued.
"Either I'm more drugged up than I thought, or you're not making any sense."
She shrugged. "Probably a little of both, Castle."
He narrowed his eyes at her, thoroughly confused and intrigued. She said that she didn't know him—that he didn't know her—yet there was such a familiarity about the way she said his name. Castle attempted to sit back up again, but had to stop when the pain in his chest reasserted itself. He groaned, and flopped back down on the bed.
She swallowed, and he couldn't help but watch the enticing bob of her throat as she did so. "We were working a case together," she answered at length. "The suspect was about to shoot me, when you shoved me aside. And…" She left the rest unsaid.
Castle's eyes went wide. Wow. He almost couldn't believe what he was hearing. It didn't sound like him at all. It pained him to admit it, but he was a coward. There were only two people in this world he would gladly lay down his life for, and neither one of them were in this room. If he had been willing to die for this beautiful woman before him, then she must mean an awful lot to him.
She pursed her lips, and he could tell there was something else, but she was holding back. He breathed slowly, more through his nose than mouth as he tried to wrap his brain around the fact he had been shot. It was probably a miracle he'd even survived. Castle flicked his gaze back up to hers, uncertain. He could see something in her eyes, something that could be extraordinary. He wanted to know what it was. He wanted to know who she was. And why his heart seemed to quicken at just the sight of her.
Knitting his eyebrows together, he looked at her in wonder. "So I was working a case with you? Does that mean you're a detective?" he inquired.
"Captain, actually," she said. "I command the 12th precinct."
"Cool," he said, wiggling his eyebrows as he looked up at her. "Must have been some case if it got you out from behind a desk." He let his eyes sweep over her form, unable to deny her model-like beauty, and haunting good looks. He really wished he could remember working a case with her.
"You have no idea," she mumbled, averting her gaze for a moment.
"You've got me at a disadvantage here," he said, trying to adjust to the ache in his chest. It still shocked him that he had been shot. For now, he could live with the discomfort. It may be a long road ahead of him with recovery, but at least he had survived. And he was now acquainted with the most beautiful woman he had ever met. He swallowed and looked at her, feeling an anxiety he hadn't felt in years. "You know my name, but I don't know yours. So… um… what's your name, Captain?"
She graced him with one of the most beautiful smiles he had ever seen. "I'm Kate… Kate Beckett," she introduced herself. "You don't know me, and I don't know you… at least not this you," she added that last part under her breath, before continuing, "but… if it's okay with you, I'd like to get to know you better."
*A/N: Originally published in my oneshot collection fic THERE'S ALWAYS A STORY. But after some thought, I decided the story of Captain Beckett and AU!Castle deserved their own story.