A short one-shot, my first attempt at Castle Fanfiction. The sudden transition to this fandom can be blamed on the absolute heart-stopping amazing-ness that was Knockdown. Spoilers for that episode. I don't own these characters, nor do I control them. :)


Always

He's not exactly surprised when he opens the door to find her standing there. After a day like they had, it's natural to seek people, and with Josh away saving the world, he's not surprised she turned to him. He is surprised, however, to find her dripping wet from the downpour outside. And he's even more surprised at the first words that come out of her mouth.

"You kissed me."

She doesn't sound angry, thank God, but she doesn't sound thrilled like he hoped she would be. She just sounds lost. So lost. The blind gratitude from before has given way to an almost palpable wariness.

"Come in, Kate." He ushers her into the loft, a protective hand on her back and not a hint of his usual jocular manner. "Why are you all wet?"

She shrugs. "It's raining."

"Oh Katie," He whispers, and then he repeats something Alexis says all the time, but that he finally understands. "You're gonna catch your death out there."

Kate sits down on his couch, shaking her head fiercely. "Mom always said that the rain… it's the purest thing there is." She attempts a sad smile, "straight from Heaven."

His heart aches for her. For the decade spent without closure, the agonizing back and forth between holding fiercely to something so painful and relinquishing what keeps you going, and the thoroughly heartbreaking story they'd uncovered today. He doesn't know what it's like to carry that around, can't even imagine it.

So he says the only thing he can think of.

"It's over, Kate." In vain, he tries to catch her eyes. "It's over now."

She takes in a deep breath and her hands curl into fists on her lap. He can see her shaking with the effort of holding herself together and he wishes she would just stop, so that he can hold her together.

Eventually, after what seems like much much too long, she looks up to stare into his grey eyes, with the specs of blue and gold that mesmerize her. What she sees knocks her back for the second time in the same day, and all of a sudden it's much too much. For today, it's too much.

So she gets up, breaking the delicate silence, and starts for the door, her heels clicking on his floor. "I shouldn't even be here." She mutters, "Thank you, Castle, for your help today."

He's panicking, racking his mind for any way to keep her there. She's safe here, in his loft, where her demons aren't as strong, where he can protect her. He remembers the first thing she said to him, and he's struck with inspiration.

"It wasn't just to distract him." He calls out desperately.

Her hand is already on the doorknob, one foot poised to walk out the door, but she stops. "What?"

"That kiss. It wasn't just to distract some stupid guard."

She hasn't yet dared to turn around, preferring the scene of his door to the emotion she might see in his eyes. But before she can convince herself to, she hears his hesitant footsteps coming toward her.

His hands hover above her shoulders, longing to pull her into his embrace. Anything he can do to help, he would. Absolutely anything. And he remembers that the one thing Kate loves more than any other is the truth. She'd been deprived of the truth about her mother's death for all those years. And now, his heart and his pride and his fear be damned, Richard Castle would not deprive Kate Beckett of the truth.

He leans in so that his head is right above her shoulder, and he whispers. "I kissed you, because I love you." This time he's brave enough to wrap his arms around her waist, without hiding behind a deadly situation. "I love you so so much."

"Rick…" She places her hands over his, leaning back just a little.

"Every time you run into a dangerous situation, I get scared." He confesses. "I literally stop breathing until I know you're safe again. And that's why I can't leave, even if I have to play the role of the trusty sidekick who winds up dead in the movies. It's not about the books. Hasn't been for a long time."

She didn't think it was possible for this man to take her breath away, at least not again, for the second time in the 4 hours. But he does, and she decides in a rare moment of vulnerability that she owes him the truth as well.

"I know," She breathes.

Kate turns around so she can see him. "I know, Rick, but we just solved my mother's murder, and… you probably wouldn't be allowed to work with me, if we were involved. And I'd have to talk to Josh and…" She speaks slowly, with a quiet conviction that has always impressed him.

He gathers her up into his arms and breathes in deeply. He understands what she's trying to say. That even after all of this, after all they've been through, what he's confessed, and what she's as good as confessed, they are still at square one. There's still such a long road in front of them. Still so many roadblocks and obstacles that they have yet to tackle.

For tonight though, he doesn't need to discuss that. Because he knows that by giving her the truth he's helped, and that's all he wants. That's all he wants to do for the rest of his life. "It's okay, Katie. I'll wait."

"Yeah?" She sniffles, tiptoeing a little so she can rest her chin on his shoulder. He can tell she's crying by the drop of warm fluid on his shirt, but he pretends not to notice.

Instead he squeezes her tighter, holding on like there's no tomorrow.

"Always."


I'd love for some feedback. :D