The first week is hell. Having a cocky, jackass of a writer shadowing her for research is not her idea of a good time at work. He's arrogant and full of himself and he thinks he can bulldoze his way into her life just like that.

He does.

The second week isn't as bad as the first. She is able knock him down a few pegs and he starts playing by the rules somewhat. He's still a jerk, though, but he's made her smile a couple of times.

The third and fourth week, she is bewildered that she finds him useful. He's smart. His knowledge, she's finding, is off the charts. He makes connections that most seasoned detectives would have missed. She notices that they become in sync with one another, as if they are operating on the same wave length. It's uncanny.

Last week, though, things took a turn in their… relationship? Details of her mom's case flowed out of her mouth while Castle sat still and listened intently. She had given him so much more than she ever thought she would, and she wondered at the time if she had just made a huge mistake. But then she remembers him cracking a joke about how he liked Nikki being a hooker-by-day, cop-by-night, but that he guesses he could use the heavy emotional angle too. She knew then, that she'd done the right thing.

She finds that she doesn't mind him knowing and is actually relieved to get it off her chest.

God help her, she is starting to like this man. Like like this man. And it doesn't help that he's a wonderful father to Alexis.

It warms Beckett in a way that frightens her. She is seeing sides to him that she wants to ignore but can't. His playboy image is being contradicted by his actions everyday. She realizes it is just a persona he plays to draw in a certain crowd for his books.

If they only knew.

Even though she is having a change of heart for the man, he will never know. Castle would be ridiculously obnoxious if he has the slightest idea that Beckett is in any way interested in him. She has to lock these feelings up before they find their way deeper into her heart.

It's a new week when Beckett finds herself working a case that involves voodoo, or vodou rather. They have a lull in the case and Castle is staring into space cringing with his tongue between his teeth.

He's cute.

Wait, what? Beckett snaps herself out of it.

"What's wrong Castle? Is it finally sinking in that you ate cow's foot?" She laughs and shakes her head as she looks back down at the file in front of her.

When he doesn't answer her right away, Beckett looks back up and meets his eyes. He's just staring at her like he can't quite find the answer to his question. He doesn't seem to care that she thinks it's creepy.

"Castle, what?"

"Uh, hmm? No, I was… I was just thinking that I could've had sex with a deep fried Twinkie a few days ago." He's staring off into space again.

Beckett inhales sharply, her face contorting into disgust, aghast at what he just said. "I'm sorry, what?"

Castle looks back to her while he silently replays in his mind what he just said. "Wha… Whoa, no that's… that's not what I meant. I meant my ex wife. She's a deep fried Twinkie. Gross Beckett, what do you take me for?"

Raising an eyebrow, she gives him the side eye. "You're going to have to explain this to me because I'm not following. Or, you know what, don't. I'm probably better off not knowing." She goes back to studying her file, acting like she doesn't care, but it stings to hear him even suggesting the idea of sex with a woman who isn't her.

Hold on. What?

"My ex wife, Meredith, wanted to have sex with me a few days ago. I turned her down. You met her, she's crazy. I call her a deep fried Twinkie because it's a guilty pleasure that you know is bad for you, so you only do it once, maybe twice a year for the novelty, but a deep-fried Twinkie every day is aghh…" Castle's whole body shivers and he sticks his tongue out in disgust at the thought.

Beckett cuts him off, ignoring the heat that flares in her belly at the site of his tongue. "If it's such a guilty pleasure as you say, why did you turn her down?" Dang it, why did she ask that? She doesn't care.

She does care.

Castle's head tilts to the side, his lips curling ever so gently, smirking at Beckett as he contemplates his answer. "Because she's not who I want."

Swallowing dryly, she looks away from his bright blue eyes and down to her desk. Is he baiting her? She's pondering whether or not he's opening up to her because she did the same to him last week and if he feels like he owes her. Truth for a truth. The only difference is, she was okay when she did it, but when Castle opens up, it is just downright frightening.

Castle, in the meantime, waits her out. He knows she'll be curious enough to ask.

She is.

"So who is it that you want then, Castle?" Beckett asks, as her heart rate sky rockets.

Is she really doing this?

He opens his mouth with the words ready to fly.

"Beckett!"

Castle and Beckett both jerk in their seats and turn to Ryan, who has just yelled across the bullpen for her.

"I think we figured it out, Beckett. Baylor's after Diana Edwards, or her purse rather. She purchased one of the knock-offs. He must think the passport is in that purse."

X

Diana Edwards opens up her apartment door to both Castle and Beckett, who shove their way in. "Wow, I know you guys are cracking down on knock-offs, but…"

Castle cuts her off, asking where the bag is.

Affronted by the intrusion, she is slow to hand it over but Beckett paws at the offending material and immediately rips it apart to find what they are looking for. The passports.

Just as she's looking up to show Castle the find, Baylor appears inside the apartment, brandishing his weapon and letting the bullets fly.

Castle doesn't think in that instant, he just does what he's good at and bulldozes his way to an immobilized Beckett, whirling her around, down to the ground.

Beckett has never liked the free falling sensation and this time is no exception. Only this time, though, the sensation doesn't seem to stop and everything goes black, making it much, much worse.

She thinks her side should have crashed into the floor by now and that Castle should be on top of her, pinning her down. Instead, she finds herself steadily balanced in a crouched, ready to attack position, as the blackness finally clears away. Her eyes quickly adjust and Beckett instantly becomes aware that she is no longer in Diana Edwards' apartment.

She knows where she is though. She was just here last week for the first time, and a second time just yesterday when they ate the cow's foot stew. Beckett took in as much detail as she could that evening along with yesterday and now it's all right in front of her again. Only, she is standing where she has never stood before, in Castle's living room over by the wall with windows, between the kitchen and his office.

What the hell is going on?

How did she get here?

Trying to get her bearings straight and shake herself out of a thick fog, she hears Castle's voice.

Okay, so they must have finished the case, got out of the gun fight and Castle brought her here to wind down. But why didn't she remember any of it?

He calls for her. "Hey, Beckett?"

She is about to answer him but a familiar voice answers for her. "Yeah?"

Seriously, what?

He has his back to her but she can see that he has just turned on the stove in preparation for breakfast, she thinks. "If Mason had an incinerator in the basement, why wouldn't he just dispose of Caleb's body there?"

Beckett doesn't understand the question. And she doesn't have time to figure it out because there is a man rushing towards Castle from an unseen room, with his silenced gun already drawn. He aims the weapon at Castle and pulls the trigger with no hesitation.

She hears a puff of air as the silencer does it's job. Castle is already on the ground, blood spatter still lingering in the air, floating down like a heavy fog on a dreary fall morning.

Beckett is searching herself for her gun but it's not there. It must have gotten knocked loose when she was knocked down.

She knows that in about one point five seconds, Castle will truly be dead as this strange intruder is walking over him to make the kill shot.

Running over to help him would be stupid because she's defenseless, but she hears herself screaming for Castle anyway. The screams are not coming from her mouth though.

The gunman stops and turns toward the pained cries as Beckett does the same thing. Her gasp gets caught in her throat when she sees another version of herself stalking towards and firing at the intruder, and then being hit by fire in return.

She must be dreaming. That's what this is. It's a dream. No, it's a nightmare. It can't be real. But she doesn't wake up and it certainly feels real.

The gunman has gone down and the other version of herself, with longer hair and a little more age to her skin, is realizing that she's been hit.

Oh God.

It seems that time has slowed as she watches her other self fall to her knees and then to the ground. Beckett wants to do something but she can't seem to get her feet unglued from the floor.

A shuffling noise reaches her ears. She glances over and sees that Castle is on his back, pushing his feet against the hardwood floor to slide himself underneath the kitchen island, towards her older self. And her older self is painstakingly crawling on her stomach, army style, over to him.

Beckett thinks she is witnessing something sacred in this moment, something not meant for her eyes.

The two injured partners arduously reach each other as her other self rolls onto her back. Beckett watches them reach for each other. Their hands meet, grasp and hang on tight. That's when she notices. They are both wearing wedding bands.

Oh God, oh God, oh God.

They're married.

For some reason, it's that realization that kicks Beckett into high gear. By the few seconds it takes her to reach them, Castle has already passed out. She checks his pulse quickly, finds one, notices where the bullet has hit and thinks that he should survive it. She turns to herself - weird - and finds that she is probably going to be worse off than her partner.

Placing her unsteady hands over the bullet hole that has pierced the middle of her other self's gut, she applies as much pressure as she can. The other Beckett's eyes fly open and they meet her own. Neither one of them look away. Something flashes across the other Beckett's eyes that she can't decipher, then it's gone in an instant.

"Help us," she hears herself, but not herself, whisper.

Right.

Beckett reaches into her own pocket and grabs her phone with one hand while the other is still trying to stop the blood from spilling over. She calls 911 and thankfully knows Castle's address from her previous visit. She gets off the phone and gapes at the woman dying beneath the flesh of her hands.

She's staring at herself.

This is so weird. No, more than weird, this is absurd.

"How is this possible?" Beckett knows that it's her own voice this time that just asked that question.

The Beckett below her looks terrified but blows out a breath and grunts like she can't believe it herself.

Thankfully, boot steps from what can only be the police and paramedics can be heard charging down the hall. Beckett knows she needs to get out of sight, otherwise questions are going to arise that she can't answer.

As she's pulling away, she feels a hand wrap around her wrist. The other Beckett's eyes are boring into her.

"He's worth it," the other version of herself gets out with barely any breath left. Then she passes out.

X

Beckett has already found her way into Castle's bedroom when the police breach the loft door. She can see that they are clearing the place methodically while the paramedics rush to aide the two gunshot victims. Luckily there is a backdoor that she can sneak out of between Castle's bedroom and the entryway. It's a close call but she makes it.

No one is in the hallway, so she quickly slides through the stairwell door and down four flights without anyone noticing her. The doorman is giving information to a uniform close to the front door but they are so caught up in the scene that she walks out unnoticed for the second time.

Beckett deliberates on the best way to get to the hospital. She needs to know if she, this other woman who is her, survives. And she needs to know if Castle survives too. Because he's her husband.

Or he's her husband.

She is so confused.

There's an alleyway between the building she just came out of and the one next door. She hides herself away in an alcove in the alley and waits for the ambulances to take off with this reality's Castle and Beckett. She's pretty sure she knows what hospital they'll be going to, so she just has to make her way there as quickly as possible.

As Beckett is waiting, she leans up against the cool brick to catch her breath and calm her senses. Her mind is saying that this can't be real, but the blood on her hands is telling her a different story.

Searching for answers and understanding, she starts to feel light headed. Darkness begins to encroach her vision and nauseousness almost knocks her to the ground.

Beckett blinks rapidly to clear her vision, but then the earth feels like it's moving beneath her feet and she knows she's not taking any steps. She's falling again, the darkness fully engulfing her. The cry of terror she gets free never makes a sound.

X

"Beckett! Beckett, wake up! Come on, Beckett. WAKE UP!" Castle is shaking her shoulders and yelling at her.

She groans and he sighs in relief at the beautiful sound.

"God, Beckett, I thought you were dead. You passed out on us. What's wrong? Did you hit your head? I'm so sorry Beckett." He's rambling but can't stop himself.

Coming fully to, she sits up, covers her eyes and tries to push the lingering vision away with her hands. "What happened?"

"You don't remember me heroically throwing you out of the way? Beckett, I saved you from the gunman. It was awesome!" He's smiling but she knows he's hiding the fact that he's actually reeling on the inside.

"Wait, how did Baylor get taken down?" She asks as she sees that the criminal is on the ground, wounded and in handcuffs.

"That, my dear detective, is the awesome part. When I saw that you were out cold, I grabbed your gun, grabbed a bottle of wine, popped the top one way and I went the other with your gun. My first gun battle." He's proud of himself, smiling smugly.

"Your last gun battle. Castle, you could have been killed," she hisses as she swats him in the chest.

He catches her hand in his and freezes. "Beckett, you're bleeding. There's blood all over your hands."

Crap. How is she going to explain this.

And… Wait, there is blood on her hands. Her blood, but not her blood.

Did that make what just happened while she was out cold real?

Rising from her spot without any warning, Beckett murmurs that she must have cut her hand during the fall and takes off through the front door.

This could not be happening.

Beckett wonders if she is having an emotional breakdown at the age of 29.

It is the only logical explanation.

Except the blood is very real. Castle had seen it too and she has no cuts on her hands or anywhere else on her body.

Since Diana's apartment is on the top floor of the building, Beckett finds herself bursting through the exit and out onto the roof. As soon as she has crossed the threshold, she's bent over at the waist, resting her palms on her knees. Sucking in air as hard as she can, it still won't fill her lungs fast enough. The fast, laborious breathing is causing her vision to blur again. The last thing she wants to do is pass out, when just a few minutes ago she had entered another dimension by doing that very thing.

When she's just about to eat the concrete floor from her exhausting effort, there's a hand pulling at her shoulder in the opposite direction.

"Beckett, are you alright?" Castle is staring at her mortified. He's never seen the detective in such disarray.

"I'm fine. I just need a minute."

"You need more than a minute. You need to get checked out."

"Castle, I said I'm fine." She is standing straight up now, squaring her shoulders to the writer.

Fire shows in Castle's eyes as he steps into Beckett's space. If she ever wondered if Castle had a serious side to him, she is sure now.

"You're not fine, Beckett. You were knocked out cold and you've been bleeding. Just humor me,would you? Since I'm the one that knocked you down."

She acquiesces by a terse nod of her head, then steps around him to go find one of the paramedics on scene. Before she does, though, she makes a short stop in the restroom to wash her hands of the blood, hoping the memories will go down the drain with it.

Once Beckett makes it home after meeting Castle's demand, she puts in a call to Montgomery and says she needs a few days to recoup from the fall. The captain doesn't question her, as she knew he wouldn't.

She stands and soaks in a long, piping hot shower and then falls into bed.

Her mind won't settle. It's telling her that she has actually traveled through time. She wants to cry. She wants to cry because she is actually considering that time travel is real, and because if she has time traveled, then that really was her in the future, that it was Castle in the future and she has no way of knowing if they survived.

And she wants to cry because she knows if she has married Castle in the future, that means that she will truly be in love with him, because Kate Beckett isn't the type to marry just for the heck of it. It would only be for a life long commitment.

She's beginning to miss something she doesn't even have. Yet.

Depression begins to settle over her like a heavy, too warm blanket. She hunkers down in the suffocating bed until her mind finally ceases and her body is able to fall asleep. She sleeps for the next three days.

X

It's a new week with a new case, but Beckett hasn't called Castle. She is purposely putting him out of her mind. Thoughts of him only bring up the gruesome scene that she wants to forget, of things that could not possibly be real. She misses him, though, and that hurts too. The one thing that does help her forget is putting all of her energy into the case, so that's what she does.

She's vacantly staring at the murder board, deep in thought when she hears a throat clear behind her.

Turning slowly towards the noise, she is surprised to see the writer holding two coffees in his hands. "Castle, what are you doing here?" The disappointment is obvious in her voice.

Castle huffs. "Well, since you've been ignoring my calls and texts since our last case, I got worried, so I called Captain Montgomery to make sure you were okay. And let's just say he wasn't very happy that you hadn't called me for this case, Beckett. So here I am, ready to work."

If looks could kill, Castle would have died a hundred deaths from the one glare she gives him in that moment.

"Fine, Castle." She's angry. But she is also so happy and relieved to see him. Even if seeing him brings up the memories of that day, him being there is like a cool balm soothing her burned flesh.

After she catches him up to speed about finding Joanne Delgado's murdered body stuffed in a safe, it is, of course, Castle who finds a link and puts the common denominators together.

Unfortunately for Beckett, that link is the reason she is now dressed to the nines in a ball gown, twirling around the dance floor in the arms of a very dapper looking Castle.

Why did it have to feel so right?

"Beckett, talk to me. What's been going on? You've been trying to avoid me ever since you walked out of Diana's apartment the other day."

Beckett won't make eye contact with him. "Just leave it, Castle. There's nothing to talk about."

"I thought we were getting close, making some progress,"Castle whines.

She is somewhat surprised that he would so blatantly make that kind of declaration. She meets his eyes for a second and then looks away. She hopes he didn't see the longing in her eyes in that split second.

Luckily, it's then that Castle notices the way a young man is taking pictures of the women's jewelry with his phone. From there, the case is blown wide open.

X

Beckett dreads returning Martha's necklace but it has to be done. She decides to show up to the loft first thing, that way she can make a quick exit with an excuse about having to get to work.

Of course, as Beckett is being led into the loft by Martha, Alexis is leaving for school and Martha is saying her goodbyes, letting them know she's meeting a potential suitor for breakfast.

Once they are out the door, Beckett turns back to make her way over to the kitchen where Castle is cleaning up.

Realization hits her and she is frozen in place. Beckett is standing in the spot that the other Beckett and Castle had held hands as they both bled out on this very floor.

Noticing her lack of movement, Castle comes from around the island cautiously and stops just short of where she's standing.

"Beckett, are you okay?" He reaches out to tug on the arm of her leather jacket. "Beckett, hey, look at me. You're shaking."

"Castle…" It's barely a breath.

The next thing Castle knows, he's holding a distraught Beckett in his arms. She has literally leapt into his arms with a death grip around his neck.

"Hey, it's okay. You're okay." He soothes as he tightens his arms around her back.

"It's not okay. It's not going to be okay, Castle," Beckett cries as she leans back to look into his eyes.

Castle has never seen this side to Beckett, so he is clueless as how to handle her, but he does the best he can.

"Just talk to me. You can tell me anything, Beckett." He says as he smoothes some hair out of her eyes.

"I can't, I can't. You wouldn't understand." She shakes her head as she pulls away from him.

Castle grabs her hand before she can get too far away and doesn't let go. "Try me, Kate."

Her first name rolling off his tongue doesn't seem fair. It causes her heart to flip. Words tumble out of her mouth before she can stop them.

"Castle, what if you knew what the future held?"

Castle is stunned and she knows he is not following her train of thought.

"I mean, what if you had a glimpse into the future and it was horrible, but at the same time beautiful. What would you do?"

"Uh… I… What exactly are you asking me, Beckett?" He still looks confused. Kate Beckett is not one to talk about hypotheticals on something that could never happen.

Beckett turns her back to him in frustration and takes a few steps away.

This was a bad idea.

She needs to get out of the loft. Pronto.

"Wait, Beckett, hold on. If you're asking me if I'd change the future, I think I would have to say no. I mean, I love believing in the fantastical, but I also believe in the universe, fate or destiny or whatever you want to call it." He has her full attention. "I think that whatever is supposed to happen will happen and there's not much we can do about it."

His answer eases something inside of Beckett. It is almost as if the pressure to fix a problem that she has no way of fixing falls away .

Wiping her eyes she musters the best smile she can for him. Richard Castle is a good man. It is so clear to her now. "Thanks, Castle. That actually… that helps. I should get going."

Surprisingly, Castle stays quiet while he escorts her out of the loft.

Riding the elevator down to the first floor, Beckett contemplates everything that has happened, and will happen. She sees now that no matter what, she won't be able to change the outcome. Sure she could just push Castle away and choose another path for her life, but as soon as those thoughts enter her mind she feels a grief so strong take hold of her like a vice, she almost can't breathe.

It's then that she decides to live her life to the fullest and not waste any more time, because if she and Castle only have a few more years left on earth, then she wants those years to be the best they can be.

X

It's a struggle, with no small effort on her part, but as a couple more cases are worked together, Beckett is finally back to normal and able to do her job. Castle is by her side as usual.

Except Castle isn't by her side because she has sent him home and now Will Sorenson is encroaching her personal space as he leans down to kiss her.

At the last moment, she ducks her head and pushes herself off the wall away from Will. When she looks up, Castle is standing in the kitchen with a smirk on his face.

X

The kidnapping case is finally over and Will says goodbye to Beckett. Castle nonchalantly makes his way over to her desk.

"So, why didn't you let him kiss you?"

He's nervous and Beckett thinks it is adorable. "Well, Castle, I didn't let him kiss me because he's not who I want to be kissing."

Castle squawks and chokes but quickly regains his composure. "Who do you…" He clears his throat. "Who do you want to be kissing then?"

Beckett smiles to herself. This conversation is mirroring the one they had just before everything went to hell for her. "What do you say we get out of here and grab some dinner. There's an awesome burger joint just down the street."

Castle beams. "Remy's? I love that place. And they have the best shakes too."

X

Seven years go by and Beckett, for the most part, is able to put certain future events out of her mind.

Until now, as she lies bleeding out on the floor of their loft. She can hear Castle's ragged breath and feel his fingers grasping hers with everything he has. She knows this is it.

As her vision darkens and the life drains out of her, a face pops into her field of vision. She knows that face. It's her. Her past self.

Beckett grunts from the pain of hands pressing down on her midsection. She's fading in and out of consciousness as the darkness tries to take hold. But even as scary as death is, she feels at peace in this last moment.

She looks at her younger self and tries to conjure up a smile. Grabbing onto the terrified Beckett's wrist in front of her, she breaths her last breath. "He's worth it."

And in her mind she knows that he is. Even if she has known all along that this was coming, she knows she'd do it over and over again because Richard Castle is the love of her life and he would be worth it every time.

X

The darkness is still there but it seems to be getting brighter, less black. Faintly, she can hear a beeping noise and feel a soft tickling sensation on her skin.

"Kate? Kate, come on honey, wake up," he whispers.

She knows that voice. She wants to hear it again.

Coming into consciousness, she finds the man that the voice belongs to. Her husband.

He is alive.

She blinks a few times to clear her eyes, then finds him sitting in a chair next to her bed. Her hospital bed. She's in a hospital. That must mean that she survived too.

She did.

"Castle… Rick."

"Hey, Kate, I'm here." He smiles and holds onto her hand. She doesn't miss the tear that escapes and runs down his cheek.

He informs her that they both had been shot but that her two bullet wounds had required much more extensive surgery than his and after a few days of her sleeping off the medications and anesthesia, he was already up and able to sit with her.

She's astonished to say the least. All these years she had feared the worst. She accepted long ago that one or both of them probably didn't survive the shooting.

But oh how happy she is to be wrong.

She pats the bed beside her, getting Castle's attention. "Hey, Castle. Come up here and let me tell you a story for once."

He's surprised at her words but more intrigued than anything.

"Remember that case a couple years back with the time traveler, Simon Doyle?" She emphasizes the words as if they are silly.

"Of course, Beckett. How could I forget that? He said we would have three kids."

She chuckles because of course he wouldn't forget that. "Well, let's just say he's not the only time traveler you've met before."

End.

A/N: I couldn't get this story out of my head so I had to write it out. A HUGE THANK YOU to supermandy77 for all of the help and guidance on this story. I'm grateful for your insight.