Nothing To Lose
AU for 3x17, "Countdown"
He hears the words through her phone, despite the deafening blare of city traffic, despite the distance they're standing apart.
'I can't see anything. I'm sorry.' The regret in Fallon's voice, the abject helplessness. 'I'm sorry.'
His heart won't stop racing. This can't be the end; this just cannot be it. Panic is clawing at him, ripping at his heart, tearing apart his ribcage. There's so much… He can't breathe, gulps for air. So much he still wanted to do, experience, so much he's wanted – for her, for them. This can't be it!
The numbers tick down, glowing red and furious and inevitable, and Castle can't look anymore, tries to swallow past the boulder that's clogging his throat. He turns away instead, turns for her. The woman who's made him come alive, with whom he'd hoped to someday spend his life, the woman he—loves.
He loves her, and she's staring back at him, and he knows the desperation is written all over his face; apologies for not being able to save her; sorrow for everything they'll never be.
She looks at him and he marvels at her strength; determination set to her features despite the imminence of their death, as if she's gathered inhuman strength to see both of them through this by sheer willpower. So beautiful in her resolve, with her hair tousled and her cheeks flushed and her chest rising and falling rapidly.
He aches with it. There's no time to cry, to rage and scream and rattle the cage of this injustice, there's only this, these last few precious desperate too-short seconds, with her.
Castle gathers strength from her tenacity, like he always has. Pushes down the panic and faces the inevitability of their situation, breathing through it, in and out. He feels the blood racing through his veins, hyper-aware of the throbbing in every pulse point, the tingling in his fingertips, of every second as it ticks by. He reaches for her hand because if he's going to die – if he has to die - dying with her is the only way to go. He reaches for her, and she folds her fingers between his, squeezes tightly, and the words well through him, crash over him like a tidal wave, fervent and unstoppable and he doesn't want to stop them because what is there to lose – what does he have to lose by not saying them? If this is it, if it's all over then at least she'll know. She'll know.
His voice is raspy, raw with desperation. She's looking at him with those wide eyes, that piercing intensity; swirls of color like a nebula. Her lips fall open, no sound in the gasp that falls from her mouth, and he squeezes her hand, means it with every fiber of his being, forlorn and urgent and hopeful in spite of it.
"Kate. Marry m-"
It's more breath than voice, shocks him more than the malevolent countdown ticking inevitably next to him. He stares at her, her wide eyes and luscious lips and the sculpted beauty of her face, the wonder of her.
The word echoes between them. He barely knows what he's doing; his heart leaping against his ribs. He doesn't think, doesn't analyze the futility of his action because there's only the whisper of a yes and the screaming of his heart and the glowing amber, 0:03, 0:02; the desperate need to do something, anything, even if it's the last thing he'll do because it can't be over, this can't be it, not for them, not now, and he grabs the thick bundle of wires, his fist tight around all of them–