Addicted by AndromedaMarine

Author's Note: Just for general information, this fic is established Kate/Castle flirting and can be viewed as borderline Caskett. Or even established Caskett. :)

"Give me the coffee."

He shook his head like a five year old unwilling to part with a delectable bar of chocolate. A character smile spread over his lips. "Come and get it."

"Hand it over now, Castle." Kate stood with her hands on her hips, a grin itching to conquer the immobile muscles of her face. "I do have – "

He tsked. "You can't use the gun excuse more than once every three days."

She stared at him. "Fine. While I still have a gun, I have a knife too."

"Ooh, detective. Are you really threatening my life, when your job is to protect the innocent?" He stepped left to cut her off. She almost ran into his chest.

He smells like peppermint and coffee beans, she mused. "The innocent, Castle."

"I am innocent!" he insisted, cutting her off again. She bumped into his well-muscled chest. "Though not to be held responsible for anything I do when within four feet to zero inches of you, my dear."

She let the smile win, and the corners of her lips tugged upwards. "It's a mutual feeling, Rick," she whispered just loud enough for only him to hear, and she brushed her way past his paralyzed form to stand before the espresso machine.

----

"Don't do anything stupid, Castle," she commanded as she exited the drivers' seat of the SUV. "I don't want to have to handcuff you again."

He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively at her. "Ever?" he asked, his tone deep.

Shivers went down her spine. "Just wear the stupid vest and stay behind everyone else." He opened his mouth. "And no, I'm not giving you a weapon."

Castle's gaze fell. "Are you sure? I promise I've gotten better since last time!"

She shot a genuine smile at him, one not even Ryan has seen make an appearance. "I'm sure you have. The paperwork will be overwhelming when you kill the suspect before we can question him. Got it?"

He pursed his lips at her. "Yes, dear."

She stepped within a foot of his body. "Come on, Kitten. Let's go catch the bad guys."

----

"Get the medics!" she screamed out, her hands trembling as they kept pressure on the cloth stemming the blood flow coming from Rick's shoulder. "Call the damn medics!" she screeched again, fighting the tears back from eruption. She turned her gaze to Castle's limp form beneath her, her breath catching as she assessed his injury. If she moved her hands he would bleed out, and he would die, and she had to stop thinking like a freaking pessimist. She felt Ryan rest his hand on her shoulder.

"They're coming, Kate," he said quietly, but she heard the concern, the worry, in his voice too.

She closed her eyes, and immediately the image of their suspect firing his gun at Castle burned into the backs of her eyelids. She shuddered and forced herself to open her eyes, to look down at Castle, and to memorize his features. She was hunched over him, her face barely two feet from his, as she kept the cloth over the clot.

A medic knelt beside Kate and calmly placed her hands over Kate's on the deep red cloth. Reluctantly the detective's hands moved from Rick's body to hang limp at her sides, as she was shunt from her partner. "Don't leave me," she breathed to herself, willing Castle to know her words and to obey her command, for once.

Her fingers itched to pull the trigger of a hypothetical gun conveniently pointed at the suspect's head. He would pay. And if she lost Castle, she would make sure to get Biblical. An eye for an eye, so is written. Well, she would take a life for a life. Murder, after all, is legal when in self-defense. Just release the bastard in gang territory and let her at him.

Distraction, they say, works to stem the immediate flow of emotions when in a taxing situation. But as Kate Beckett watched as the medics moved Richard Castle onto a stretcher and carry him away, she found that distraction would never work in her case. She vaguely recognized Esposito at her side, his arm around her shoulders and his hand around her wrist as he led her towards the ambulances and the SUVs they'd arrived in.

"Will...will he be okay?" she asked in a small voice unfit for a prestigious detective such as Beckett.

Esposito crouched in front of her as she sat in the back of another ambulance. He looked her in the eye. "I don't know, Kate. But I know he'd want you at the side of his hospital bed when he wakes up from surgery. And don't make me tell Ryan I know you want to stay with our favorite author." No touch of a smile rested on his face; no hint of humor. His tone portrayed a powerful degree of seriousness, and she couldn't overlook it.

She nodded, just nodded, not trusting herself to say anything other than her only five words, and realized her whole body was shaking as Esposito straightened, clasped one hand on her shoulder, and hopped into the back of the ambulance to ride to the hospital with her.

Kate stiffened. Alexis. Martha. Rick's family. He couldn't leave her, or them.

----

Esposito forced a cup of pure Starbucks coffee into Kate's limp grasp. She looked as haggard as she felt, sitting at the side of Castle's bed, watching his bandaged chest rise up and down too slowly to be healthy. The detective took a long look at his boss, then followed her gaze to Rick. He shook his head slowly, and left her alone with the writer, content to sit outside the room with his own coffee in hand. He tipped his head back and closed his eyes.

When Castle blinked his eyes open several hours later, he awoke to find Kate's head on the bedspread, her hand curled slightly around his where it lay, and as his gaze moved across the room he noted the fiery red blurs of his mother's and daughter's hair in chairs near the wall. All were asleep, but as the author gathered more of his lost senses, he moved his hand to twine his fingers with Kate's.

She stirred, and awoke to see her partner blinking down at her. She coughed. "Don't ever do that to me again," she whispered, not wanting Martha or Alexis to wake. "I love you too much."

Castle pulled a small smile onto his features. "Ditto." He squeezed her hand, and closed his eyes again, falling back into slumber. Kate stood and shakily pressed her lips to his forehead.

"Don't leave me..."

----

"I'm so sorry, Detective," the doctor said in hushed tones too early the next morning. "Foreign body embolisms are hard to detect, especially when the object is a bullet fragment. I can't give you any consolation other than he went in his sleep."

She cried. And when Alexis's arms wrapped around Kate's middle, she cried even harder.

"I loved him," she breathed to Alexis.

The daughter nodded against Kate. "I know..."

----

Detective Kate Beckett didn't bother wiping away the tears. More would come, more would streak her cheeks, and as hard as she strained to imagine it, his fingers would never wipe them away for her. The horribly empty, wrenching feeling at the back of her stomach was the feeling of unwillingly going cold turkey. Castle, Richard Castle, had been her addiction.

She drew the scent of the glistening white rose into her lungs, and forced herself to take the four steps forward. Kate, her hand trembling, placed the flower atop the polished cedar lid.

"Goodbye," she whispered.