With A Twist
#1: What if… the bomb case from Still happened during season 4, while Castle was cavorting with Slaughter?
Castle emerges from the darkened basement with Slaughter, forcing a laugh at the man's raunchy sense of humor while simultaneously suppressing the sense of unease that's settled over him after two days in the rogue detective's presence. The man has no boundaries, no respect, no moral compass, it would seem, and it's making Castle horribly uncomfortable. Especially now that it looks like they're about to arrest the wrong man.
He feels his phone vibrate in his pocket, extracts it to find a flood of notifications coming in after being underground, out of service for the last hour. There's a missed call from Beckett, a voicemail too, and he's about to petulantly ignore it when he notices the five missed calls from Ryan and fear coils like a boa constrictor in his stomach.
Something is horribly wrong.
He hesitates only briefly before swiping to unlock the screen, selecting Beckett's voicemail and raising the phone to his ear. He wants to be angry at her, he is angry, and hurt too. But damn it, he still loves her. And there's no way in hell he's going to sit in ignorance while the woman he loves is in trouble.
Her voice floats through the speaker right away, and he can tell instantly that she's crying as she speaks, the words broken and trembling.
Hey, Castle. I know things are weird between us right now and you're with Slaughter but… Something happened. We were sweeping an apartment this morning and I stepped on a bomb.
Castle's eyes widen in horror.
BDU is here, they're working on disarming it but… They're running out of time. Thirty minutes.
The tears are already pooling in his eyes, the dread settling like lead over his entire body as he abandons Slaughter without a second thought and dashes to the street. He doesn't know where he's going, just that he needs to get there in a hurry.
And I just… I'm sorry, Rick. I don't know what I did to hurt you, but I'm so sorry. You're the best partner I ever could've asked for, and… I love you. I just wanted you to know.
There's a pause, long enough that he's about to hang up, when he hears a sniffle and a sob on the other end of the phone.
He's dialing Ryan before his brain catches up to his fingers.
"Castle, man, we've been trying to get ahold of you all day."
"Where is she?" he demands, voice laced with desperation as he practically launches himself into a cab.
Ryan explains the case to him during his ride to Fosse's apartment, tries to downplay the danger of the whole situation, but Castle isn't buying it. Kate poured her heart out into his answering machine. He knows exactly how dire it is.
The cab screeches to a halt nine minutes later – thank god he wasn't all the way across town – and Castle jumps out and sprints toward the apartment building. By his calculations, Kate left the message twenty-three minutes ago. Which means there's only seven minutes left.
"Where's Beckett?" he bellows to the first uniformed officer he sees.
"Fourth floor, but you can't be in here."
"Like hell I can't," Castle protests, unwilling to be turned away. "She's my partner."
"No." He wrenches his shoulder from the officer's grasp, ignoring his shouts as he dashes for the stairs with only one thought on his mind: She loves him. She loves him and she's standing on a bomb. He has to get to her. Has to find a way to stop it. Maybe if he just pulls out all the wires again.
Castle races up all three flights taking them two steps at a time, rounds the corner and nearly collides head on with the captain of the BDU squad.
"Beckett?" he pants.
"Sir, you can't be here."
"She's my partner," he argues once again, brushing past the man. "You're not stopping me."
He ignores the captain's protests and hurries into the room, stumbling to a halt a few feet from where Beckett stands. His eyes are wide with fear, his jaw tense.
"Castle, what are you doing here?" she asks, equal parts surprised and desperate.
"Ryan called," he answers. It's not untrue, but he really doesn't want to talk about her message right now. Not when she's stuck motionless on a pressure plate and there are only five minutes left on the clock. If it comes down to the wire, he'll bring it up. But not right now.
He motions to a small device on the kitchen countertop. "That the detonator?"
"No luck with the code?"
She shakes her head in resignation, and he can tell she's already accepted her fate. "Ryan and Espo are working on it, but…"
"You shouldn't be here."
Castle's phone buzzes before he can reply, and he swipes to answer, puts it on speaker.
"Castle, are you with her?"
"I'm here, Ryan," Kate answers. "Anything?"
The timer on his phone counts down ominously as they listen to Ryan and Espo, who are talking them through the frantic search for the name of Fosse's son.
"William," Ryan finally exclaims after a seemingly endless silence.
"Seven letters," Castle states.
"Or Willy," Ryan offers.
Esposito snorts. "What kind of mother is gonna call her kid Willy?"
"Guys," Castle cautions. They really don't have time for a silly argument right now.
And then he's following Kate's instructions, carefully typing in B-I-L-L-Y with nine seconds left on the timer. He depresses the Y and silence falls, stretching for seconds that feel like minutes until they hear the mechanical sound of the trigger un-cocking. Kate holds her breath, hardly daring to move for a long moment before stepping off the pressure plate.
They freeze, waiting in anticipation, but the clock runs out and nothing happens.
"She's off," Castle confirms, and the sound of cheers from the precinct floats through the device before he ends the call.
"Castle," Kate chokes out, relief and panic and adrenaline lending an utterly frenetic quality to her voice as she flings her arms around him, burying her face in his neck and clinging on for dear life. He hugs her back, though his embrace is more tentative; but she doesn't move, and he continues to hold her until her breathing steadies and her trembling muscles begin to calm.
"Thank you," she whispers, lifting her head at long last and leaning back just enough to meet his eyes.
"It's what partners do," he offers with a shrug, not quite meeting her gaze.
But Kate is vigorously shaking her head. The brick apartment building may still be fully intact, but the wall around her heart is in shambles, a pile of rubble at her feet. She's done holding back, done waiting. She's almost lost her chance far too many times now, and she's not going to lose him again.
"You're more than a partner, and you know it."
"Do I?" Castle challenges. He drops his arms, takes a step back, and Kate watches as the relief in his eyes hardens over, replaced by the wall she's watched him erect brick by brick ever since the Boylan Plaza bombing case.
He turns, making to exit the apartment. "I shouldn't be here."
"I left you a voicemail," Kate offers, freezing him in his tracks.
"I heard," he states flatly, but he doesn't lift his head, doesn't turn.
"Did you mean it?" The words are out before he can stop them as he whirls around, fixes her with a harsh glare. He should want to celebrate the fact that she loves him too, but he finds himself filled with doubt, finds he's not quite ready to move past the pain she's caused.
Castle sees the hurt cloud the beautiful green of her eyes and his stomach clenches into a fist. Times like this, he hates the strength of her hold on his heart. Hates that he can be so angry at her, yet still so distraught to know that he's hurting her.
"You think I would lie about something like that?" she demands.
He shrugs, gaze focused on the absentminded scuffing of the floor with the toe of his right shoe. "You did before."
"In the cemetery," Castle recites. "You remember everything, and you've been lying about it for months."
"I… that wasn't…" Kate huffs in defeat. She can't exactly deny it. "Okay, yes," she concedes, taking a few tentative steps towards him. "But I never lied about my feelings for you. On the swings, during the bombing case… I was always talking about you. Us."
"Then why lie at all?"
Kate sighs heavily, shakes her head. Disappointment at herself, he thinks. "Because I couldn't face it."
Castle raises a disapproving eyebrow. "Couldn't face the fact that I love you?"
"I couldn't face any of it," she admits, his use of present tense making her brave. "Montgomery, the bullet, you. It was all tangled together in my mind and I could barely breathe without pain, let alone work through everything that'd happened."
"You could've told me this months ago," he points out. "I'd have understood."
She should have. Burke has helped her realize that. "Well, I'm telling you now. And I meant it," she clarifies his earlier question, approaching until she's close enough to touch. He doesn't back away, so she risks the gentle perch of her hand on his forearm. "I meant every word."
Castle reaches for Kate's other hand, catches her fingers between his own and tugs until they're toe to toe, nearly eye to eye as well thanks to her four inch heels.
"I love you," she whispers, lips so close to his own. "And after today, I don't want to waste any more time."
"Neither do I." He closes the gap between them as he speaks, sealing his lips to hers. The kiss is somehow gentle yet fierce, simultaneously filled with the vestiges of lingering anger and the overwhelming strength of his love. Kate kisses him back with equal fervor as she detangles their fingers to rest her palms against his arms, curling her fingers around his biceps. Castle's hands settle low on her hip bones, squeezing gently as they separate at last.
"No more walls," she murmurs, forehead nudging his. "No more waiting. I'm in this, Rick."
He kisses her again in reply.
Their moment is abruptly interrupted by the appearance of the BDU captain, no doubt confused as to why they're still in the unexploded building a full six minutes after the bomb was supposed to have gone off. He clears his throat and Castle and Beckett jump apart, too enraptured in each other to have heard his approaching footfalls.
"Detective Beckett," he greets, glancing around the room and – thankfully – not mentioning the scene he just walked in on. The deactivated remote sits on the kitchen counter, the circle of paint long since abandoned. "I see the bomb has been disarmed. You're, uh, free to go."
"Right, yes," she answers awkwardly. "Thank you," she adds, extending an arm to the man.
He offers a firm handshake to Beckett, a smile and nod to Castle. And then he's gone.
"Hey, are you hungry?" Castle asks suddenly as they too exit the apartment, eager to put some space between themselves and the events that very nearly transpired here. "Because there's this place down the street that has the best goat cheese omelets."
"Are you asking me on a date?" Kate teases, tossing a grin up at him as she rounds the corner of the stairwell.
"I mean, it's not fancy or anything," he answers quickly, already backtracking. "We don't have to. I can make reservations somewhere else, we can get dressed up later and go out and…"
"Castle." She turns, feet on two different steps, to interrupt his nervous rambling with a hand on his chest and a tender smile. "It's a date."
Kate waits for an answering smile before turning away and continuing down the stairs, her partner eager at her heels.
Ryan, Esposito, and Gates have arrived on the scene by the time they exit the building. Kate is careful to keep an unmistakable gap between herself and Castle in the presence of her captain, maintains the distance until she and Castle are on the way to the restaurant, down the block and firmly out of sight.
"Hey, Rick?" She turns as they come to a halt at the next intersection, extending her arms to twine his fingers with her own as they wait for the stoplight to turn. "Thanks for coming to save me."
He squeezes her hands, smiles softly, and she knows what's coming before it even crosses his lips.
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