"God, no…no! No, not like this!" Kate grunted as her fingertips scraped on the rough brick edge of the building. Already raw from the friction, the pain was excruciating, but she had to hold on; she had to!
"Somebody! Anybody! Please help! Help!" she called out, but no one was around. The perp she had been chasing was probably long gone—not that he would have helped her anyway—and she'd been chasing him by herself. Even if one of the building's residents could hear her, the probably wouldn't know where she was or how to get to her in time—and her time was quickly running out.
Under the weight of her body, her fingers slipped again, that time her ring and pinky fingers lost purchase and she slid even further. Her feet dangled five stories above the ground and she tried desperately to walk up the side of the building once again in a futile attempt to hoist herself up and over the ledge, but her boots merely slipped on the surface, unable to gain traction.
"No, no, please!" She cried out, tears now clouding her vision as her left index and middle fingers began to lose their battle with the edge of the building. She grunted and groaned, trying to hoist herself up enough to regain a strong grip on the ledge, but it was no use. All the tendons and muscles in her shoulders were on fire as they were strained to their absolute limits. The pain in her fingers was steadily being replaced with numbness and she knew she would only be able to hold on for perhaps another minute, maybe not even that long. Dropping her chin to her chest, Kate cursed herself for being so stupid—so foolish.
Not fifteen minutes earlier she and her colleagues had arrived at a neighboring building to serve an arrest warrant for a man suspected of a home burglary that turned deadly. The man had bolted out a fire escape and Kate had followed him up while the boys went down to ground level for whenever he came back down. Unfortunately he hadn't; he'd gone up and over, jumping to the building beside his. As it was a building that was almost flush with his, Kate didn't bat an eyelash at making the six inch leap and continuing her foot pursuit. The perp, clearly desperate to escape, had sprinted across the roof and jumped, miraculously landing on the next building, which was separated by a full-sized alley. Without taking a moment to second guess herself, Kate attempted to mirror his actions, but knew she'd come up short the moment her feet left the ground. She'd landed hard on the building's edge and for one glorious moment thought she'd be able to hoist herself up to safety, but then her grip had begun to slip and she knew she'd never make it.
"Help! Please!" She groaned, weaker that time, knowing no one was within hearing range. She opened her eyes and for the first time looked down to see the vacant alley below. At best, she'd break all the bones in her lower body, but she feared the drop was too far and she'd end up succumbing to her injuries, even if she survived initially.
Tears stinging her eyes, she cursed herself for being so stupid. Her moronic action would be the death of her and surely break her father's heart and certainly upset both of her partners. Then, as she thought about all the things she'd miss—all the things she would never be able to experience—she thought about the man who mattered most in her life.
"Castle…" She breathed out his name as she shut her eyes and tears dripped down her cheeks. Though he was no longer the reporter assigned to her team, she still thought about him almost every day and missed him dearly. Her feelings for him hadn't changed, if anything they'd grown stronger in his absence. The last time she saw him had been three weeks earlier and they'd fought for she still didn't understand why he refused to give their relationship a real try. They'd parted angry and now that would be their final words to one another and that was something she would regret with her dying breath.
"N-no!" She yelped not a few seconds later when the index and middle fingers of her left hand slipped off the ledge and she was left precariously dangling by only her right. She tried to swing her legs high enough for her left hand to grip on again, but that move only made her right hand feel weaker and she knew it was only a matter of seconds before—
"I got you! I got you! Don't let go, Beckett!"
She gasped when large hands closed around her right wrist and helped anchor her in place. The voice…it sounded like the voice from her dreams but no—it couldn't be! How in the world would he have found her?
"C'mon, Kate—work with me. Give me your other hand."
His word sunk into her brain even though she felt she could barely process them. With her last ounce of strength she lifted her left arm above her head and she felt her fingers contact with his. When she felt her body rise upwards, she pushed her feet against the wall to aid in her rescue. She was able to get her left forearm flat on the ledge and then felt a hand gripping at the belt of her jeans, further pulling her up and over the side of the building. A moment later, she was able to slide down onto the rooftop to safety and immediately sobs overtook her.
As she curled up in a ball, she felt a hand land on her head and her hip and he said, "You're okay, Beckett; you're safe."
After a minute of crying, Kate collected herself enough to open her eyes and gaze up at her former partner; she felt as though she was looking at an angel. She gripped onto his shirt sleeve and then the collar of his button down, slowly clawing her way upright until she locked her arms around his neck and clung onto him as though her life depended on it. He rocked her back and forth for another minute until her crying reduced to sniffles.
"What—how—what are you-?" She stammered out, gazing at his face.
"I was saving your life. By the way: are you insane?" he accused sharply. He gripped her cheeks a bit firmer than he ever had before and demanded, "What were you thinking? Jumping that building? Are you out of your mind?"
"I don't know." She sniveled a bit dumbly.
"You would have died, Kate."
"I'm sorry," was all she could think to say in response.
His grip softened and he used his thumbs to brush away the tears on her cheeks. "Don't do it again, alright?" He requested. She nodded silently and moved her hand to grip onto his wrist, but when doing so caused pain, she hissed.
Concern crossed Castle's face and he grabbed onto both of her hands, turning them so her palms were up and he could see the abrasions on all of her fingers. "Are you okay? Do you think you broke anything?"
She shrugged and shook her head. She didn't think so, but with all the adrenaline still coursing through her, she couldn't be certain.
"Well your hands are scraped up pretty good, but—oh, so is your chin." He reached out and tapped the underside of her jaw and she winced, having not realized how much it hurt until he touched it. "But I think you-"
Castle's comment was interrupted by shouts of, "Beckett! Beckett!" and the sound of thundering footsteps. Kate slid away from the arms of her savoir so she could turn around to see her partners, Ryan and Esposito, racing towards them. They both began slowing their run to a walk as looks of confusion crossed their face.
"Are you okay Beckett?"
Ryan nodded and then turned to Castle. "You pulled her up?"
"How?" Esposito asked. "Thought you left us for good."
Castle grunted as he pushed himself up off the ground and brushed off the dirty knees of his black pants. "I did. Don't worry—this was just a one-time reappearance."
Kate pressed her lips together tightly as the four of them stood in silence. She hated that the animosity between Castle and her other two partners was one of the reason's he'd transferred to another precinct. Though Esposito would never have liked Castle due to the unfortunate combination of him being a Defect and a reporter, he and Ryan had gotten along well enough until Ryan figured out that he and Kate were sleeping together. Then it became not so much about the fact that they were two different classes of people, but the fear that Castle would always paint Kate in a more positive light during his reports, even if that was slightly irrational.
After giving him a glare for good measure, Esposito turned to Kate and asked, "You didn't happen to see where our perp went, did you?"
She shook her head. "No, I only knew that he kept running. Probably went down the next fire escape and now he's in the wind. Sorry."
He shook off her apology. "We're just glad you're okay." Then, he turned to Castle and said, "I think you're done here, aren't you?"
Castle gave the man a rather snide look before quietly walking off towards the building's stairwell. Kate chased after him though her legs were still wobbly and grabbed onto his arm just before he began to descend the stairs. "Wait. We need to talk. Later—I'll call you, okay?"
Though he looked a bit reluctant, he did ultimately agree, but before he left he looked at her seriously and said, "No more jumping off buildings."
She nodded firmly. "Promise."
Hours later after she'd written a full incident report, been scolded by her captain, and then returned home to have yet another cry in the shower, Kate was standing in the middle of her kitchen sipping a mug of tea when she heard a knock at her apartment door. Glad her invited guest had finally arrived, she hurried to the entry way and opened the door to reveal her tentative looking former partner. She stepped out of the way and swept her arm out to invite him in and then said, "Thank you for coming; I know you didn't want to."
Instead of calling him like she promised, she texted him to and asked him to come over to her apartment. He told her he didn't think that was a good idea, and they'd gone back and forth several times before she'd politely asked again saying that she just wanted to talk about what happened that day and he ultimately agreed.
"I wouldn't exactly say that."
She nodded and shut the door behind him. "But you're angry with me."
"For jumping off that building? Yeah, I am. What the hell were you thinking?"
"I wasn't," she said honestly, "but I definitely learned my lesson—and that's not what I was talking about. I…when I was hanging off that ledge I was thinking about the last time I saw you and how angry you were."
He sighed and leaned back against the doorway to her kitchen. Kate's skin tingled at the memory of six weeks earlier when he'd stood in that exact spot and broken up with her. "I wouldn't say I was angry…frustrated, definitely. I just…getting over you has been a lot harder than I thought it would be."
She nodded, completely understanding the sentiments as she found getting over him practically impossible. "Well thank you for coming then. I just…I just wanted to t-thank you for sa-saving my life," she said, her voice trembling a bit on the end.
With a rather sad expression, Castle stepped forward and pulled her against his chest. She fell against him, locking her arms around his back and slipping her head into that perfectly-made spot at the crook of his neck. She breathed in a shuddered breath when his arms closed tightly around her and then relaxed against him, feeling safe for the first time almost two months. As his hands gently skimmed up and down her spine Kate held on a little tighter, having not realized just how much she missed him until that moment.
For the prior six weeks, Kate had gone back to spending her evenings alone and came to the sad realization that she had not appreciated her partner enough when he was in her life. Of course she continually complimented his between-the-sheets activities and was all too happy to thank him in a physical sense as well, but in his absence she noticed more. She missed decompressing beside him in the evenings, particularly after a rough case. She failed to realize just how comforting his embrace was until it was no longer there.
After feeling another onset of the upheaval of emotions Kate snuggled her face further into the collar of Castle's shirt and breathed in the remaining scent of his aftershave. Rubbing her nose against the stubble on his neck, she lifted her head enough to press her lips into the hollow of his throat; she felt his body shudder beneath hers.
Lifting her head even more, Kate pressed a kiss to the underside of his jaw, and then to the very crest of his chin, but before her lips could move further north he stopped her with, "What are you doing?"
"Thanking you," she breathed out before hovering her mouth just above his. She parted her lips, poised to move in, but he stepped back, shaking his head.
"No. Please don't."
His painted voice caused her heart to clench, but she stepped along with him, not wanting to let him go. "Why? Why can't we just-"
"It'll make it harder, Kate; you know that."
She did know that, but in that moment she didn't care. "But I almost died and I thought about you and how we…I just want you." She confessed, leaning her face in and brushing her lips against his. Moving them to his cheeks she kissed her way over to the shell of his ear where she whispered, "Please…please…"
Again she felt his body shiver, but that time he didn't step back. Instead, he turned his head and captured her mouth with his. She let out a whimper as he surged into her, pressing her against the opposite wall. She thrust her hips forward, grinding them against his and he tore his mouth away from hers cursing, "Shit Kate…this is a bad idea."
A smile played on her lips at the memory of their very first conversation on the subject. "Probably…but we're going to do it anyway."
He smiled too, clearly remembering, and then bent down to scoop up her legs to hoist her up. She jumped up, locked them around his hips and wound her arms around his neck to secure herself as he carried her back to her bedroom. She needed him then more than ever, even if it was for the last time.
Kate groaned when she felt her pillow sliding out from beneath her. She had just begun to drift off into a peaceful sleep when the bed began shifting. To his credit, Castle had attempted to swap out his body for a pillow, but she stirred nonetheless. She hoped he was simply getting up to use the bathroom, until she heard the clink of his metal belt buckle and her eyes popped open. He stood beside the bed and she could tell his back was to her despite the dim evening light. He was wearing his t-shirt and boxers already and was about to step into his pants when she said softly, "Don't go."
He froze and his shoulders dropped a little as he said, "I have to."
"You know why."
With a resigned sigh, he stepped his right foot into his pant leg, but before he could step in with the right, Kate slid over to his side of the bed, reached out and tugged on the back of his shirt with enough force to knock him off balance. He sat hard on the bed, huffed out a breath, and gave her a pointed look. "No," she said, curling her hand around his elbow. "Not until you tell me why you were there today. How did you even know where I'd be? How were you there in time to save me?"
He let his pants fall down to his ankle as he twisted his torso so he could look at her. "I…" He dropped his eyes to the mattress before confessing, "I might have been following you a little bit…"
He looked back up at her with sad eyes and said in a barely audible voice. "I missed you."
Kate shut her eyes and drew in a breath, clutching the sheet a bit tighter to her chest. As sweet as his words were, they were equally upsetting because of their current situation. Once again, they were at an impasse that even yet another around of incredible sex couldn't cure, but she had almost died that day, and wasn't just going to lay back and let him walk away—not without a fight.
Opening her eyes, she scooted towards him until her knees bumped up against his hand. She placed her hand on his shoulder and said in a slightly desperate tone, "We can make this work."
"No, we can't."
Though he moved to stand, she held his shoulder down firmly, preventing him from doing so. "We can, Rick. Listen, please." She requested and he nodded tersely. She held her grip firmly on his shoulder as she continued to speak. "I almost died today and when I was up there, thinking it was the end I thought about you. I miss you—I miss you so much. I want to talk to you and kiss you and I want you to hold me as we fall asleep at night. I—I love you."
Though a tear rolled down her cheek, she wasn't done with her speech yet. "The way we found each other—there has to be a reason for that. I know you're usually the one with the theories that aren't rational or logical, but I know deep down there's a reason we met. I know—I know—it will be hard, but I'm the one with more to lose here, right? I'm at a greater risk of facing fallout from our relationship, but I don't care." She slid her hand down his arm to grab his bicep as she pleaded, "I swear I don't care. I just want you."
A pained expression crossed his face and he shook his head. "But look how much good you do. They'll shun you Kate—you colleagues, your bosses. What if they find a reason to fire you? Then look what the city would lose…all those criminals you put away…"
"We put away." She corrected immediately, for being on the job certainly hadn't felt the same for the prior month after he'd left. Yeah, they were still able to solve some cases, but she no longer felt the drive or the satisfaction, and it probably took longer as well.
"You're the detective, Kate," he reminded her.
"So what are you saying? I'm supposed to doom myself to a life of loneliness so I can…keep the city safer? Any other cop could do my job."
His gaze turned sharp as he said, "No, they couldn't. Not just anyone, Kate, and you know that. You're extraordinary and you care far more than most. You are good at your job because of who you are, and not just anyone has those qualities—very few do. And I never said you had to be lonely; you'll find someone else. I imagine it won't even be hard."
"That's not true," she rebutted immediately. She may have been uniquely qualified for her job, but he was uniquely qualified to own her heart. "It took me twenty-eight years to find you and replacing you wouldn't be easy—I don't want to!"
He shut his eyes and dropped his chin. "Kate…"
"No, look at me." She grabbed onto his chin and gently tilted his head in her direction, waiting until he opened his eyes before speaking again. "I love you and you love me. That should be the only thing that matters."
"You know that it's not."
Her heart searing with pain, she leaned in towards him until her forehead connected with his. Looping her arms tightly around his shoulders she whispered, "What's going to make you say yes?" Never in her life before had she been the one to beg a man to stay with her. On the rare occasion she was not the one ending things she almost immediately adopted the, 'Oh well; good riddance,' attitude, but she knew with certainty he was her one shot for lifelong happiness and she wasn't giving up, no matter what it took.
"I don't know, I don't know." He sighed. They held each other for almost a minute before she tugged his body further into hers. He briefly leaned down to push his pant leg off his ankle and then reclined back in bed with her once more. She curled her body around his and nestled her head in the crook of his neck knowing she'd hold onto him the whole night if that's what it took to convince him to stay.
"I'm scared," he finally admitted after several minutes of silence. "I don't want you to end up resenting me after you lose your friends or your job or-"
"I won't; I would never." She promised. Her friends, what few she had, she didn't care about that much. If they could not accept the man she loved then she knew she was better off without them. If she were to lose her job and thus source of income, things would certainly become more difficult for them, but she wasn't ready to write off happiness on the off chance that might happen. Maybe they'd need to move away, out of the city to the suburbs were Normals were more accepted, but whatever the case, she knew they would proceed together; she knew it.
"Okay." He finally agreed, his voice rough with emotion. "Okay. I won't leave and we'll—we'll try, but Kate if you ever feel-"
She cut him off with a sound kiss before promising. "I won't; I won't. I love you."
"I love you too," he replied, then they both shared a smile and another kiss. Snuggling closer to her, Castle sighed out, "I never ever thought I'd find someone like you."
"Neither did I," she sighed before relaxing against him once more and shutting her eyes knowing they were going to be okay.
A/N: Thank you all so much for sticking with me through this bittersweet revisitation of this AU world
Up next I'm going to do a brand new and admittedly slightly strange story called Being Human. It's got a touch of sci-fi in it (not too much, though) but it's M rated! See you Saturday :)