Caught Cold: a boxing term used to describe a fighter knocked out early in a fight, who was not mentally prepared or warmed up properly.
It scares the shit out of her.
She's never heard Castle raise his voice like that in the years she's known him. Before she even has time to dwell on it or ask why he's screaming, she's on the ground and then everybody is screaming. The first sight she registers is Castle's handsome face, so dangerously close to hers, the bright blue sky behind him complimenting his gorgeous, gorgeous eyes.
Something must've happened, but she isn't sure what, just knows the man on top of her is looking at her like she's dead and tears are forming in his eyes and what is going on? Don't cry, Castle.
"Shh, no. Don't speak. Just stay with me, okay? Kate, stay with me. Stay with me. I love you. I love you, Kate."
She doesn't know what to say, the words get lost coming up her throat and the air is suddenly so thick she can't breathe. Somewhere in the distance she hears her name being called.
Beckett! Beckett's down.
Beckett's down? What?
Was there a shooter?
Closing her eyes, Beckett waits for the burn of a bullet, but there's nothing, just the warmth of Castle's body on hers.
"Castle," she grits out, opening her eyes and hands coming up to push against his chest. He has one knee between her legs and she can't maneuver around him. "I'm-I'm fine. I wasn't hit."
Relief flashes across his face, his entire being deflating with it, shoulders sagging and eyes wide. He runs his hands down over her chest and stomach, making sure there are no entry wounds. And when he finds nothing, he smiles and it's brighter than the sun beaming down on them.
"Get off of me, Castle," and she tries not to sound hostile, but it comes out bitingly anyway. The way he makes her feel…she can't deal with it now. He makes her want to drop everything and live in the strength of his embrace. But someone just tried to kill her and as much as she wants to stay with him, she can't. She needs to make sure she's alive for their inevitable conversation.
His words are spinning around in her head, throwing her off balance.
"Beckett? Beckett, you all right?" Esposito asks, coming to stand next to her and Castle at the podium.
"Yeah, yeah it missed me. We know where the shot came from?" She pointedly doesn't look at Castle, who is drilling a hole in her head next to her. At the moment, she doesn't think she can handle it...him… his words.
The words that touched her heart.
After the funeral she was going to pull him aside, finally talk about all the things they don't talk about, but now maybe they won't have to. It's just not the right time now.
Ryan comes running over then with a couple uniforms, a little out of breath and angry as hell. "We heard the shot come from over there," he explains pointing across the cemetery. "But no sign of him. It's like he didn't even want to see if he hit you or not."
"He would have, had it not been for Castle," Esposito points out, gestures towards her partner with a nod of gratitude and this is when she allows her eyes to drift to him.
He's staring at her already when she turns and from the intensity of his gaze, he's not letting go. He's not letting go.
"Richard!" Alexis and Martha shout out at the same time and Kate steps away to let them talk to Castle, but it takes them yanking on his arm to get him to break his gaze with her. She's relieved just as much as she is disappointed. After they fought, she couldn't stop thinking about what he said about them, and she started hoping that maybe they could give 'them' a try. But now she knows how far over the line he's crossed and it's thrown her off guard.
He knows he's exposed. He's played his hand and now it's her move.
Castle makes it so hard to focus, her feelings for him distracting her in every way, but she can't think about that, him, them right now!
This case is far from over and it's just gotten a whole lot more complicated.
Her heart and her mind are at war and she isn't sure which side she wants to win. It's game of tug-of-war and she's the flag in the middle, getting jerked around in the mud.
"Beckett, we're gonna get more uniforms together. And back up is on the way. We'll find the bastard who took a shot at you," Ryan says before running off in the direction of the shot.
After that it's just chaos over the next few hours; her father wants to take her home, Lanie wants to check to make sure she isn't going into shock, Castle sends her a thousand and one texts asking to talk after she sent him home with his mother and daughter, couldn't risk his life in case the shooter returned to finish the job. She wants to go to the precinct. If there's nothing left to do out here, then at her desk is where she needs to be. If someone is trying to kill her, then that's the safest place for her now.
He insisted on seeing her home when he showed up at the precinct a few hours after she sent him off with his family, and she didn't have the energy to protest when he got in the back of Esposito's cruiser. It's been a hell of a day and she needed the presence of her partner.
The shooter got away. Ryan's back at the precinct combing through traffic cams, but there were cars going in and out of the cemetery all day and who's to say it wasn't a cop?
A group of dirty cops is how this all started, whoever was holding Lockwood's (and Montgomery's) leash could have more cops in his arsenal and paid them to take her out.
The shooter could be hiding in plain sight. After taking statements, a couple of uniforms spotted a grounds keeper taking cover just before the shot, but they interviewed all the employees there. No one was scheduled to be in that part of the cemetery.
Thinking about this is giving her a headache. Already her mind aches from all the running around she's been doing: taking statements, comforting her father, checking traffic cams, avoiding Castle and the disappointment drooling off him, and talking with CSU. This is not to mention the body pain she's felt since her partner tackled her to the ground.
But it seems like he's the only one who can soothe that ache too.
Kate leaves her apartment door open so Castle can follow her in. It's weird having him back here. Just this morning he was here swearing to keep Roy Montgomery a hero in the eyes of the people, and before that they fought. About everything they never talk about. A can of worms opened and spilled for them to see, no secrets.
And now that he's back and they're alone, he's going to want to talk about the second can he spilled this morning.
She's not ready.
It's real, it's too real. How did they go from having simple feelings to…to love? Those words caught her so off guard, he nearly snatched the air from her lungs.
"Beckett," he says closing her apartment door and she can tell from his tone of voice that she's not going to like what he has to say. He tried to get her to stop investigating again at the precinct, but she quickly shut him down.
Kate sighs, walks into the kitchen to pour herself a drink. She shoots it back, pours another, and another to dull the pain.
Still in her uniform, she tosses her hat aside and lets her hair out of its bun, the strands falling freely at her sides. Bowing her head and leaning against the counter Kate exhales, loud enough for Castle to hear, hoping he'll give her a day, just a day before reality has to come back crashing down on her.
"I'm not really in the mood for a lecture, Castle."
"And I'm not about to give you one." She turns to face him, knows she's looks awful from the day's events, and self-consciously smooths her hair down. If he notices what she does, he doesn't let on. "I wanted to see how you were holding up. Can't be easy, knowing someone tried to kill you."
Kate shrugs, and maybe it's the fatigue finally settling in her bones, but she makes a noncommittal sound that shows she's annoyed. She wishes he would just get to the point of this and stop beating around the bush. They both know why he's here.
"And he'll keep coming until the job is done."
"What's your point, Castle?"
He shakes his head, shoves both hands in his pockets so she can't see that he's clenched them. "My point is, is that you just buried your captain over this case-"
"Yeah, I did!" She takes a threatening step forward, ready to fight him on this all over again. But then his face softens and a little bit of that adorable boyish face returns, instead of that hard, cold front he puts on. "That's someone else," she says sternly, talking through her teeth, "who deserves justice."
"That's another person sacrificed for this case. Tell me, was it worth it?"
"Are you saying Montgomery dying was my fault?" And she takes another heavy step forward, the anger swelling up inside her chest so hot it's boiling her blood, making her skin red and blotchy, her eyes hard as steel.
"No!" Castle shakes his head, but doesn't let go of her gaze, takes a step closer to her as well. "I'm asking, is nothing more important to you than this case?"
"She was my mother!"
"I saw the way your father looked at you when he saw you were alive," he says, not missing a beat. "You're killing him, Kate, every day you work this case and put yourself closer to the grave. Does your life mean nothing to you?" he fumes, crowding into her territory, but she doesn't back down, keeps her eyes locked with his. "What about your family, the boys," he rattles before something like realization passes over him. "Your life," he says, voice barely a whisper and it's then she notices he's on the verge of tears. "Means so much. Find something to live for, Kate."
Kate takes a step back finally, breaking their eye contact when she looks away and warns, "Live for who, Castle? You? I have a boyfriend." Cheap shot, but she can't control herself when she's angry.
"Oh, don't feed me that bullshit! You and I both know why you're with him so let's cut the crap, huh?"
"Oh you wanna talk crap?" she growls, swinging around to face him. "Let's start with why you're really here!" she yells.
"I'm here because I don't want you to throw your life away!"
"And that is the biggest piece of crap you've said so far," shouts Kate, pointing her finger directly at his chest. "Why don't you just say it?" Taking a step closer, she says it again, adding more taunt to her voice while their eyes connect. "Why don't you say it, say it while I'm on two feet and not being shot at!"
"Agh!" he exclaims, brow furrowed and he runs his fingers through his hair, leaves it a spikey mess on the top of his head. A part of her wants to smooth it back down. He turns away from her, taking one step back into her living room before letting his hands fall at his sides, "You know what?" He faces her again but only stares for a moment before he's charging after her, his stride never wavering.
Both his hands come up to cup her face in his palms and Kate only has time to take one small step backwards before his mouth is descending upon hers and he's bending her back, walking until her back hits the counter and he has her cornered.
It's scary just as much as is it is hot. It's raw and needy and fast. He tastes like freedom and relief and power; he feels like sunshine, warming her body. She's not sure who's moaning more, all she can register is his hands on the back of her neck and on her waist, traveling down to cup her ass.
God, it's so good, he's so good, filling the parts of her that have been empty for too long, warming her lonely bones. It's been too long since she's been touched liked this, loved like this.
It's everything she's ever wanted, everything she's been waiting so long for.
But then he's pulling away all too soon and she doesn't like it, turns his head to recapture his mouth, but he pulls away again, this time taking several steps back. She's about to ask him what's wrong when she hears the sound of a key in her front door, but before she has time to react Josh is marching into her apartment looking as pissed as she's ever seen him.
"A sniper? At a funeral? What the hell, Kate? You couldn't even call me to let me know!" he roars. "I had to find out about it on the news."
Josh hasn't noticed Castle and the situation is making her so uncomfortable that she cuts her eyes to Castle repeatedly, who is watching them with cautious eyes. Her boyfriend follows her line of sight until he sees her partner standing just a few feet away.
Turning back to her he mouths, "What the hell is he doing in here?"
Kate puts her hands up in defense while also trying to placate her boyfriend. "He came to make sure I got in safely."
"Really? And how long has he been here?" He says, pointing for a second in Castle's direction.
"He's my partner, Josh," Kate explains. "He always makes sure I'm safe."
Josh sighs, annoyance bleeding through his skin. "That's all?"
"That's all." She lies easily. She's been lying to him since their relationship began.
Josh glances up at Castle to make sure he's watching then faces Kate once more. "I have to head back to the hospital, but I just wanted to make sure you were okay."
"I'm fine. Castle actually saved my life," she gestures towards Castle, but Josh pays him no mind. He leans in, takes her shoulders in both hands and kisses her. Hard. Mouth open and wet against hers and he pushes their faces so close together their teeth graze. He's never kissed her like this before, and it hurts. Kate's not sure if it's physical or emotional, but it hurts, it's too much. Her eyes open, find Castle's staring right into her while Josh assaults her mouth.
He pulls away a moment later, making their mouths part on a loud pop, and then glares at Castle as he backs away. "I'll call you later," he informs her before walking out her apartment, his glare never wavering from Castle.
Kate doesn't know what to say; her mouth hangs open from shock, and she stands inert in the middle of her kitchen, breathing heavy, afraid to flick her gaze towards the other man in the room.
"-don't worry about it," he says, hands back in pockets, and from his tone of voice he's pushed his emotions back. Glancing back up, Castle's got his head bowed, his shoulders slumped over. She's hurt him, she's broken him. That was never her intention.
"I'm gonna go." Castle walks over to her front door without giving her another glance. "But you shouldn't stay here. Someone's trying to kill you," he says with his back turned. "You need to go somewhere safe. Like a hospital," he spits before walking out of her apartment and slamming the door shut.
Kate's overcome with a sense of déjà vu, remnants of their last argument echoing in her empty apartment. This time it feels so final, as if he's not coming back.
She pushed him, she pushed him into saying things he couldn't, into doing things he shouldn't, and then treated him like he meant nothing. Josh ruined another potentially beautiful thing between them just by showing up.
Why did she let Josh kiss her?
She can't lose her partner, not now, not after everything that's just happened.
She needs to go somewhere safe? Well, Kate knows the perfect place.
Thank you Amy for your wonderful help on this. You are truly an amazing beta, I'm so happy we found each other :)