I apologize for any mistakes in this as the idea struck and I hurriedly poured it all out on paper.

A little scene insert for 8x11

An Echo Of The Past

The crowded room erupts into a roar of chaos, but Castle's heart pounds so loudly against the wall of his chest that it's all he can hear.

It's all he can hear until the sound of Kate's voice, the shouted warning of a sniper, has the flashback blooming so vividly behind his eyes that it brings him to his knees before he can make it to her side.

He clutches at the empty air beside him, reaches for the rigid line of her body that he imagines, but isn't there. He listens for the pained gasp of breath, waits for the warmth of her blood to seep from her body onto his fingers, but it doesn't come.

He reaches out again, confused, and feels the palm of his left hand connect with the softness of hers, tries to focus on the sweet sound of her voice, but something isn't right, she shouldn't be talking.

"Castle," she tries softly at first, unsure of what's happening until she sees the panic set in stone around the deep indigo in his eyes.

It only took her a full minute to focus in on him, watch him fall to the ground as she lifted her head from the place where she landed, crawling to him as quickly as she could manage.

He's reaching for something, her, mumbling words that she can't make out, and a sniper just took a shot into the room full of people, but her uninjured husband's reaction is scaring her more than anything else.

"Rick," she tries a little louder this time, fisting both hands into the material covering his chest, attempting to shake him out of whatever's going on inside his head.

But as soon as she has him up against her, his lips close enough to her face that his rapid breaths wash across her cheek, she realizes that he's whispering something, and it becomes all too clear.

"Kate, I love you. I love you, Kate."

Her heart stutters violently before pounding out a shaky rhythm against her chest, the faded scar between her breasts burning with the phantom memory of the bullet that left it there.

She swallows hard against the wave of emotion, pulls her husband tighter against her chest, and glances down at the paleness of his skin.

Four and a half years later and a sniper's shot has him reliving the events of her shooting, and she can't help but wonder if the same PTSD that controlled her for months afterward, might have taken a toll on him that he never told anyone about.

She slides her arms around him as best as she can, shifting until his ear is pressed over her heart, the best proof that she can offer him that he didn't lose her that day.

"I'm right here, babe. I'm right here, and I love you too," she whispers so that only he can hear, attempting to bring him back to her enough to get him out of there.

And even as his breaths start to slow, the rapid rhythm of his heart returning to a normal one, she can't help but think that maybe he needs her more than he lets on.

Espo helps her get Castle to his feet once the chaos has calmed and he seems a little more himself, but she sees the embarrassment that blooms across his chest, slides her hand into his and gently guides him to the side.

It's not exactly what he needs, what they both need, but it'll do, for now.

"Hey," she calls softly, just loud enough to get his attention when he looks anywhere but right at her.

It does the trick, and she can see the way the memories from that day in the cemetery still burn brightly in his mind, even when he's faced with the reality that she survived.

"Rick, this isn't that day, babe. I'm fine and so are you. We weren't in the crosshairs this time," she assures him, reaching out to feather her fingers over his jaw as she steps closer, sighing in slight relief when the warmth of his palms spread over her back as his arms comes around her.

"This time," he repeats her words, the panicked twinge in his voice causing the healing cracks in her heart to split back open.

She tries and fails to come up with the right words, the ones he needs to put his worry to rest.

It has her pressing her head against the solid wall of his chest, sighing her remorse for everything that she's forced their marriage, their love, to endure.

"Come home," he murmurs against her temple, a plea that has her heart aching miserably in her chest.

She lifts her head, finds his eyes, so desperate for the answer that she knows he needs her to give him, and this really isn't the place for this conversation, but then again, they both know what her coming home could mean.


He glances away before she can get any other words out, and she bites her lip against the wave of emotion, because she's been coming home to him for several weeks now, but she knows exactly what he means.

She wants that too. Home.

"I don't want to have nightmares that crazy serial killers have taken you and wake up to empty, cold sheets beside me," he says so softly that her brow furrows as she leans closer to him so that she doesn't miss his words.

"I don't want to spend hours staring out the window wondering when I might have to accept the fact that your need to chase after danger will eventually take you away from me for good," he continues, his eyes finding hers again as he tightens the hold he still has on her.

"I don't want to go home to an empty loft and force myself to deal with the fact that four and a half years later, I still feel guilty for not getting to you before that bullet did," he chokes out, swallowing hard as he starts to turn away from her, but it's her who tightens her hold on him this time.

"You have nothing to feel guilty about, Castle," but he's shaking his head, forcing a frustrated growl from her throat.

"Look at me," she demands, waiting until he forces himself to find her eyes again.

"You saved me. You. I know you weren't there through my recovery because I wouldn't let you be, but Richard Castle, you've been saving me since the first time I picked up one of your books."

Something familiar flashes in his eyes, and she's pretty sure it's awe, and something else she can't quite pinpoint, but she doesn't care when he's pulling her closer, tangling his fingers in her hair and pressing a devastating kiss against her lips that has her legs trembling.

It's too intimate for their current setting, too emotional for an audience that she's sure they'll have when they part, but she doesn't care, because he's all that matters to her.

And when he's taken what he wants, the assurance that she's alive and his still tingling against his lips and flowing through his veins, he pulls away only enough to rest his forehead against hers, their breath still mingling as he keeps her close.

"I'm coming home," she whispers, setting the words free against his lips as she lifts up on her toes enough to kiss him again.

It causes his breath to stutter, has a smile stretching across her lips that she can't resist staining against his cheek.

"I love you, Rick. I love you," she breathes softly as he guides her to the exit of the building, ignoring everything around them but her. It's an echo of the first time he told her, a combination of words that heals the final fissured cracks of their marriage.

And it could be dangerous, more dangerous than anything they've ever faced, but they'll face it together. Because fighting with the love of her life by her side, is so much better than fighting alone, unsure of when she'll get to come home.

He's her home. He always has been. He always will be.