Disclaimer: I do not own these characters; I just like to put them into difficult situations sometimes.


Fun and uncomplicated. Those two words had been pounding through Kate's head since Castle threw them at her two nights ago. They were two things she would never be – maybe before her mother was murdered, she may have been those things, but certainly not for the last 12 years, and judging by the fact she was still in therapy, not any time soon. Every waking moment, when she couldn't distract herself with murders or even paperwork for the D.A., she would relive that moment when her broken heart shattered into a million pieces as Castle spat those words at her and turned his back.

Her buzzing phone brought her back to the present, and she noted the bullpen was almost empty. No surprise, it was after 6pm. The reminder on her phone was for an appointment she really didn't want to keep, but it was part of her therapy, her recovery, so she gathered her things, put on her coat and headed out. As she waited for the elevator, she pulled her Beckett armour around her, and by the time she reached the street to hail a cab she was wearing her legendary poker face.

Dr Carter Burke had spent long months working with Kate, helping her to recover from her shooting, from PTSD, and from walling herself off from anything that could cause her more pain. One of the things she still had trouble with was recognising that bad things happened to everybody, and it was OK to ask for and accept help. Kate didn't have to do everything on her own, but the habits of a decade were hard to break. Dr Burke's wife, Yolanda, ran a Crisis Call Centre and Dr Burke thought it may help for Kate to listen in on some of the calls, to appreciate that reaching out was not a weakness. She had been twice before, and both times sat with Yolanda, so there were less explanations required. This would be her third and possibly last time, as Kate really didn't believe it was beneficial to listen to stranger's problems.

She was buzzed into the office and left her bag and coat in the locker room, and was met by Yolanda who smiled at her and asked about her day. Yolanda's voice was a softer version of her husband's, but just as smooth and relaxing, and she gave off such a motherly vibe that Kate felt a pang for her own mother, and surreptitiously wiped a tear from her eye as they sat down. Kate donned the training headset, which didn't have a microphone, and watched as Yolanda make herself comfortable and logged into the phone system. It seemed to be a quiet night, as there was no call waiting, so Kate took the opportunity to ask Yolanda about how she got involved with crisis counselling in the first place.

Yolanda was a great story teller (don't think about him, Kate) and they were in the middle of a particular funny story involving a family holiday, when their headsets beeped with an incoming call. Yolanda's face was instantly transformed to quiet attention, and she turned towards her computer screen.

"My name is Yolanda, how can I help you tonight?"

"I … I just need to speak to someone. Someone who doesn't know me." The voice was male, hesitant, and clogged up. Kate thought he sounded like he had been crying. There was something familiar, but she couldn't place it, and when Yolanda spoke again, she lost the trail.

"Of course, you can speak to me about anything. What can I call you?" Kate noted she didn't ask for a name, obviously the person wanted to remain anonymous, based on their last comment.

"R- Alex. You can call me Alex." The man spoke again, but it was still halting, cautious. Kate's brain was ringing alarm bells she was currently ignoring in favour of listening intently to the call.

"OK Alex, what do you want to talk about? I can listen, or I can ask you questions, which would you prefer?" Yolanda's voice was still calm, but now she was putting inflections onto the end of her sentences, to encourage her caller to speak. Kate wondered how many of these calls Yolanda had taken.

"I …. Um…. I have been having some dark thoughts." Kate's breath caught, because the voice was more than familiar, although what he was saying was the last thing she would have expected.

"Dark thoughts like self-harm, Alex? Have you been thinking about suicide?" There was no judgement in her voice, just gentle comfort, and Alex continued.

"Yes. A few days ago, my world came crashing down around me, and I don't think I can continue living in this world. If it weren't for my family, I don't know what I could have done already."

"It's good that you have family that you obviously love, Alex, have you tried talking to them about this?"

"No, I haven't. Not really. My mother knows what is going on, but her advice is to just move on. I can't bear to tell my daughter, she…. She doesn't need to know. I have to protect her, as much as I can. I just ….. I need to know how I can move on, pretend everything is still all right."

"I can understand wanting to protect your children, especially if they are young. You didn't mention a partner. Did this thing that happened affect them?"

"No. Well, not really.(sob) I don't actually have a partner, although I thought we were close to something. (sob). That's the trouble. I found out that the person I wanted as my partner, the .. (sniff) love of my life…. Doesn't feel the same way. Probably never felt the same way, but didn't know how to tell me they didn't want any more than just a friendship." There were no more words for a little while, just sniffing like he was trying to hold back his tears again.

Yolanda glanced at Kate, sensing there was something going on with her, but all she saw was Kate staring straight ahead. Kate was in fact lost in her own mind, trying to convince herself that the man on the other end of this call was not Richard Castle. Everything he had said so far made sense, and his voice was unmistakable to her. She had heard him speak softly, loudly, in pain and anger, she had heard him whisper his love to her in a cemetery, she had heard him laugh at a funny movie, she had heard the joy in his voice when they caught a weird case, she had heard despair in his voice when he thought they were going to die in a freezer. She knew that voice. But the content, the words he was saying, didn't make sense to her. Richard Castle was not someone who would even consider suicide, he had such a great life, a great family and friends, and he had so much to live for.

Yolanda was speaking again when Kate came out of her zone.

"Alex, what happened two days ago? Can you describe it for me? Take your time"

"I .. I work with the woman I love, I get to follow her every day. It's how we met, she …ah, she had to ask me some questions for her job. I was watching her question someone, and she didn't know I was there. She confessed to him that she remembered a … a traumatic experience we had together, when I told her I loved her. She had been hurt, and she was losing consciousness, but I told her. I thought it was the last chance I would have. When I asked her about it later, she said she didn't remember anything from that day, that … some things were better not remembered. Obviously she was embarrassed about my feelings for her, but didn't know how to let me down gently, how to tell me she didn't feel the same. She … I … the work we do is very important, and I love what we do, but I don't think I can face her again." By now he was openly sobbing, and Yolanda gave him a few moments to calm down.

Kate was torn between butting into the conversation, telling him he had it all wrong, and running to the bathroom to throw up the contents of her stomach then running out the door and continuing to run as far as she could get. It was her fault that he was having these thoughts, her fault he had considered suicide, her fault that this good man didn't think he could face her, or the precinct again. Yolanda was speaking again.

"Alex, I can understand that you are upset right now, that you feel betrayed by this woman. But your daughter needs you, and your feelings will ease, things will get better. It all just takes time."

"I don't know. Last time I felt like this, it only took a few days. I went out, I drank, I picked up women, and I partied. This time, I … nothing seems to work, I am not interested in other women, even touching or kissing them revolts me, I feel like I am cheating on her, even though we were never together. And I can't go back to that behaviour because my daughter will notice, and I think I have done enough crazy things in my life for her to be ashamed of.

"My daughter .. I raised her almost by myself, her mother was never around enough. That is one relationship I am proud of. She, uh, she knows this woman, and after that traumatic experience she didn't think much of her, but she seems to have softened towards her of late, and I .. well I had hopes they could be good friends. I fear that my daughter won't forgive her for this, even though it's not really K…. the woman's fault. She didn't ask for me to follow her, she didn't ask for me to fall in love with her, in fact I think I put her in danger by looking into something she asked me not to."

"Alex, you should be proud of raising a daughter by yourself. And this woman, it sounds like you just need a little time away, to gather your bearings, to remind yourself what is important to you. It's OK to look after yourself, to do the things you need to bring your life back into balance. Talk to your daughter once you are back in control, and you can use this as a lesson in unrequited love, and placing expectations on other people, when we can't control their reactions. You can call us any time, just to talk, or to ask questions. You might also consider speaking to someone in person;" For the first time, Alex cut Yolanda off in the conversation, with what could almost be classed as a chuckle.

"No, I don't do therapy well. I just needed to talk to someone who would listen without judging. My mother and my daughter only want the best for me, but they don't know the whole story, and despite what's happened, this woman does not deserve their anger. She has had enough tragedy in her life, and I just want her to be happy, even if it's not with me."

Alex's voice was almost back to normal now; he had stopped sobbing, and seemed to have come to terms with the situation. Yolanda was more comfortable that he would not take action on his dark thoughts, so she prepared to end the call.

"Great, Alex, as I said, we are here whenever you want to talk, and I do hope things work out for you. Good night."

"Thank you Yolanda." Then he cut the call.


A/N: this was supposed to be my entry for the summer Castle ficathon, but Reparer exploded and I never got a chance to post this for that event. In part, this is inspired by RedGrayBall's story Down, which I am hoping he will finish soon. Please let me know what you think.