Wrap Your Words Around My Heart

"And just remember, that there is greatness in loving when you are expected to hate, when you are gentle when you could be hard, and when you continue to share your heart even when it has been broken."

-Dave Wise

A season 8 New Year's Eve story.

It's nearly midnight.

Less than ten minutes until the new year rings loud and demanding through the city.

The crowd of family and friends that they invited over are gathered in front of the television, chatting excitedly about plans for the new year.

Castle smiles to himself as he glances up from pouring the final glass of champagne, but the frown is already pulling down the corners of his lips when the spot Kate occupied just a few moments ago is empty.

He eases the nearly empty bottle onto the counter, leaves the glasses where they are in favor of finding where she's slipped away to.

Worry creases the smooth skin on his forehead when every room he checks is empty, and he can't help but think that maybe he shouldn't have pressured her to be there.

They agreed that he'd be in on everything now, that she'd still stay away as much as they could stand, but that he'd be in on every plan, on every move she made.

They'd spent Christmas together, so he had promised himself he wouldn't pressure her into staying for New Years.

Except he couldn't stand the thought of bringing in a new year without her in his arms, and so he'd shown up at the precinct the night before, shamelessly begged in needy whispers against her skin until goosebumps had freckled over her body and she'd breathlessly agreed to come to the loft and to stay the night with him.

It was selfish of him, but after too many nights in a too cold, empty bed, he ignored every thought except the need for her.

And she stayed true to her word, showed up an hour before the party started and helped him get things ready, made it feel like she was home again.

But maybe it was all too much, maybe he shouldn't have pushed, because now he can't find her and she didn't say goodbye, and the uneasiness is building rapidly in the pit of his stomach.

He slips out into the hall while no one is paying attention, not wanting to make a big deal out of her sudden absence unless he feels like he needs to.

The cracked door at the end of end of the hall catches his attention immediately. It leads to the rooftop, which has always been one of her favorite places to disappear to when she needs to think.

And that's where he finds her, elbows propped on the concrete ledge she's leaning against, the curled strands of her hair whipping around her face each time the cool breeze catches them.

He can tell before he ever gets to her that she's been crying, the way she holds her body all tensed and defeated afterwards.

The final winds of December whip harshly around them and he wraps his arms around his frame as he steps up beside her, noticing that she's not wearing a coat either, though she doesn't seem to feel the cold that he knows is settling along her skin.

"It's not the same," she whispers before he can say anything, and he nearly misses the words.

There's an answer on the tip of his tongue, a reassurance that it will be, but though she doesn't look at him yet, she continues before he can speak.

"So many times I've sworn to myself that I wasn't going to hurt you again. Every near death experience that we've been through, I made a promise to myself and to whatever higher being was listening, that I was going hold you closer and appreciate every moment with you."

She pauses to take a shuddered breath, and he's sure that her lungs burn from the cold air, but she clears her throat, shakes her head against the burn of the tears that he knows are there without even seeing her face, because he can hear them in the slight twinge of her voice.

"I made all those promises to myself, to you, and yet, here I am, hurting you all over again for reasons that I thought I was justifying to myself," she swipes angrily at a tear as it escapes down her cheek, finally turning to face him and there's so much regret and remorse in her eyes that he can't even find the anger that's been burning inside him since she walked away the first time.

"Kate…" he soothes, but she shakes her head, presses her hand to his chest to stop him and he feels the way the wind rumbles through her frame, fights the urge to wrap her in his arms.

"Don't," she chokes out, keeping her hand where it is, holding him away from her as if she can read his mind. "Don't tell me that you forgive me and that everything is going to be okay. Don't excuse the way I treat you like it's something that you have to accept."

She turns away again after that, face turned up towards the night sky, though he doubts she's looking at the way the stars twinkle above them.

He's gentle when he reaches out, soft when he turns her back towards him, in spite of the fierce determination on his face.

"Stop it," he growls, gripping her shoulders with both hands, fingers digging into her tense muscles as his eyes burn with the love he has for her.

"I told myself that I was done being mad at you the night you came back to me, and I am, so stop punishing yourself. Stop pushing me away as if that's what you feel like I should be doing to you. Just stop it."

Her eyes widen, searching his as he speaks, watching as he softens after that, his hold on her shoulders easing so that he can slide his hands down her arms, splay them at her waist and draw her even closer.

"I do forgive you, Kate. Not because you walking away and shutting me out didn't hurt like hell. Not because what you did was justified by you thinking you were protecting me. And not even because the choices that you make are a part of who you are. I forgive you, because I love you."

He slides his hands around her, pressing her against him, letting the warmth of his body seep into hers, burning away some of the cold.

"This thing between us? We've described it as extraordinary more than once. Do you even know why?" he asks, holding her tighter when she shivers for the first time since he found her up there.

When she realizes that he's waiting for an actual answer, one she can't give him, she shakes her head, knowing that he already has one for her.

"It's because there's been hurt, but our hearts still beat for one another. There's been anger, but we've remained soft. And there's been love to overcome the things that should make us hate. You may not believe in fate, but Kate, look at how far we've come after every single thing that could have broken us."

When the next tear slides down her cheek, he intercepts its path with his lips, lingering against her skin when he feels her eyes slip closed and hears the faint gasp of her breath.

"I love you more today than I did yesterday and that's something I'm going to remind you of every day for the rest of our lives, Kate," he assures her when he eases back, keeping one arm wrapped around her as he lifts the other to her face, feathering his fingers over her jaw.

She tilts her head up until her lips brush against his, whispering her love into the hot press of his mouth, letting the heat between them burn away the rest of the chill.

"When this is over…" she murmurs a few minutes later, her words painting across his neck where her face is pressed.

"I know," he assures her, but she shakes her head, pulling back so that she can see him.

"I'm going to make it up to you. All of it. Be your wife, love you, celebrate our anniversary and holidays with you like it should be…"

He won't tell her, but he doesn't need to, because she gives him those promises, lets them wrap around his battered heart and start to heal the fragile places.

"Kate," he breathes, tightening his hold on her. "You're here right now, and that's all that matters to me. So, kiss me as the new year starts, and let that be our promise that no matter what 2016 brings, you and I are the constant."

Somewhere between the kiss and the way he lifts her into his arms, it starts to snow, and by the time he's carried her back inside, her hair is peppered with evidence of it. But it doesn't last long, because as soon as their guests are gone, he wraps his arms around her, carries her to bed, and whispers words of love until they're wrapped around her heart, fighting away all of her doubts.