Bonjour, readers. Well, if you've read my oneshot "Heat Storm," which was a guess-fic I wrote a month ago based on spoiler pictures, then you'd know I've been anticipating "Knockdown" for a long time. XD And I absolutely LOVED the episode, it's EASILY in the all-time top five…but I wished really badly that it could've been another hour longer, because there were still some scenes we didn't get to see, and that I would've LOVED to see, personally. Mostly involving the epically epictastic Ryan and Esposito - because let's just face it: those two KILLED in the episode!
So, that's what this fic is. It's going to be a small handful of chapters, and each chapter is going to be a separate oneshot, each centered on a different pairing (romantic or unromantic, NO SLASH) involving the boys. Why? Because they deserve it. ;D
Hope you enjoy my attempts at an episode continuation. ^^ (You can totally disregard "Heat Storm" now.) As always, I do not own Castle. Nor the song "For My Brother" by Blue October, which is where the chapter titles come from.
This first chapter will be Beckett/the boys, borrowing/picking up at the end of the Caskett ambulance scene.
Kate Beckett smiled at the slightly insane writer sitting across from her in the open ambulance, and the smile was truly genuine - she wasn't sure what that said about the eighteen crazy directions this night had gone, but she'd take it nonetheless. Besides her dad and Lanie, if there was ever going to be a civilian willing to stick it out in her corner, she couldn't think of a better one to ask for.
But she there were some fellow cops in her corner, too, and she wouldn't truly be able to rest tonight until she saw them for herself. Her smile turning a little apologetic for ending the conversation - only for now - Beckett slid toward the edge of the metal bench and briefly touched Castle's knee in thanks, not even trying to see if his jaw dropped at the gesture. "I have to go check on the guys," she told him. "I can bring back a coffee, if you want one…?"
Contrary to expectation, his jaw didn't drop at all. Castle only smiled right back, warmly and genuinely, after recovering from half a beat of surprise. "Sounds excellent. Thank you."
"…Sure. Always," she batted back, a light smirk gracing her mouth, her eyes at the reference. Then she was gone, stepping down from the back doors of the ambulance and walking across the asphalt in the blearing light of police strobes.
Her eyes scanned the scene for them resolutely. The last Kate had seen of them, they'd been helped out of their bindings by her and Castle and led straight into the throngs of the emergency response team - Captain Montgomery's doing, no doubt. Then she'd gotten a few rough diagnoses, but she hadn't had the chance to catch the boys personally, not for more than a few seconds. It didn't matter to her which she found first; if they were together, even better. As long as she found them. She still had something to say before the dust was settled, and it couldn't wait until Monday.
Her question was answered in moments, as she instantly recognized the figure sitting in the back of the next ambulance her heels had led her toward. He was clutching an emergency blanket wrapped tightly around his shoulders, his light hair darkened by water, and Beckett increased her pace until she slowed to a stop at his side.
"…You know, I think it went a little differently in the actual 'Dirty Harry,'" she joked lightly, in lieu of 'hi.'
As if he was surprised to be distracted from anything other than his thoughts and shivering, Ryan looked up, and apparently chose to go the traditional route. "Hey."
"Hey," the female detective echoed anyway, trying not to indulge a maternal smile of sympathy. Not that she was having any success with that.
"And, D-Dirty H-Harry d-didn't work with a p-partner. Tech-technically he sh-should've gotten c-captured a l-lot more often."
"Yeah, well, that's the movies for ya." Without thinking, Kate reached to him and gently, repetitiously began combing her fingers through his hair, putting it back the way she knew he preferred it, the way her mother had always done to her after a bath when she was sick. If Ryan found it out-of-character for her, he was too cold to mention it. Or too appreciative, maybe. The gesture alone from someone like Kate Beckett spoke volumes more than the words they left out. "…What made Lockwood isolate you?" she asked softly, serious all of a sudden.
Ryan coughed, looking down at the cement below his feet. "D-don't ask m-me…f-figured I'd b-break s-sooner than J-Javi. …Prob'ly gonna b-be…ask-asking mys-self the same question f-for a while."
Beckett nodded, reminding herself that hate was wasted on the ignorant. Then again, she'd been doing that the whole case. For a few long moments, she couldn't think of anything worth saying, so she didn't. It was only when she'd finished tending to him that she looked down at her hands, pushing beyond her usual uncomfortableness with admitting anything personal. "…You're not weak, you know." When she looked up, she found that Ryan had, too, and was giving her his full attention. "You're strong. …More than a lot of people I know. And I'm included in that."
Ryan scoffed weakly at the flattery. "Beckett. C…c'mon."
"No, just…shut up a second; I mean that. What just happened…" Beckett trailed off, not wanting to give their endurance a name just yet. "…You guys…it's my battle you were fighting. You shouldnt've had to…"
"Beckett," the Irish detective interrupted her; "If you're g-going where I th…where I th-think you're g-going, you do not have to th-thank m-me. Us. That b…bastard Lockwood could've p-played violin with our v-vocal chords and he st-still wouldnt've gotten an-anything from us. If-f anything, I sh-should be thanking you f-for dropping that asshat th-thug before he m-made sure I didn't w-walk again."
She couldn't help but roll her eyes at that one, smirking slightly. "How about we not get into the endless thanking cycle?"
"F-fine by me," Ryan agreed. Then he looked up at her from where he sat again, serious. "H-how's Esposito?"
"I don't know," Kate replied honestly. "I haven't seen him yet." At the reminder, she looked her still-shivering teammate over, concern etching into her features. "What about you? What'd they say the damage was?"
Ryan exhaled, trying to force the shake out of it as best he could. "Em…emergency response guys s-said that th-the mild hypothermia's a pretty s-strong bet."
"F-for the n-next few days I'm gonna b-be p-pretty s-susceptible to pneumonia, so th-they want to k-keep me at the h-hospital for a f-few hours f-for observation. Jenny's on-n her way." He looked up at Beckett after that, his usual brotherly concern almost comically overshadowing his own condition. "Y-you holding up? Castle?"
"Me?" Hm…God. She almost had to laugh at that one. She didn't, but, almost. What a difference just a few days could make on so many people. "…Yeah. I'm okay. Castle, he's...he's good. Probably be telling this story for a long time."
Ryan nodded, then asked, "You m-mind d-doing me a favor th-then?"
"Sure," Kate promised. "Anything. What?"
"F-find out how Espo's d-doing. I'd d-do it m-myself, b-but they won't let me move."
With her own nod and a resolute "Yeah. I will," Beckett moved back, already scanning the commotion again for her next destination. But, not before she allowed a small, forever grateful smile toward her teammate, resting a brief, warm hand on the blanket covering his shoulder. "Thank you, Kevin."
His eyes showed clearly that he appreciated her thanks, and that he'd do it again for any one of them a hundred times. He wouldnt've been him, however, if his tone didn't contradict that a little. "Th-thought we weren't gonna g-get into the 'thanking' crap ag-gain?"
Smirking, Beckett appreciated the little strides toward 'normal.' She turned away with a "Be that way - I might just remember that, you know," and once again weaved her way through the thinning crowd of emergency responders and uniforms.
The second charge of her mission took only seconds to find. She located him a few cars away, standing beside yet another ambulance with a Styrofoam coffee cup in his hand, leaning his least-sore shoulder against the steel cab. He appeared to be focusing on something distant and nondescript, but, unlike his partner, he at least saw her coming.
"…Hey," he said, once she was close enough. "You all right?"
"…Yeah." Kate was well aware at this point that, between the two of them and herself, she could easily get into an endless cycle of 'I should be asking you that question' tonight. Castle would probably join in on that any time now, what with Raglan's shooting and his heroically-injured hand and all. She folded her arms as she regarded Esposito, wondering just how much of him was behind a wall right now, like her. They'd had 'trying to be tough' in common for a long time now. "…You?"
Esposito looked down into his cup of coffee, absently swirling the contents a bit. "…Rewinding a lot," he said simply. "Definitely rethinking mouthing off a couple times." He shrugged halfheartedly. "It's in the past."
Beckett considered that. "…Is it?" she questioned. She'd been in his shoes - wondering what could've been done differently - too many times; hell she was in his shoes right now. The difference was that tonight, she was the one with greater perspective, if only slightly.
"Does it matter?" Esposito looked almost ready to laugh, yet never further from it. "Can't change it."
"…No," Beckett had to admit. Then she smirked. "You know, you really do make sense, when you try."
"Who says I'm trying?" countered Esposito, unconsciously adopting a half-grin.
Following suit, she granted, "Oh, touché." They shared a pathetic laugh, but, when it dissipated, Kate fleetingly glanced down, and she grew serious, her voice quiet. "Javier…can I…do something that might freak you out?" she finally managed, shaking her head at herself, still not entirely satisfied with her wording.
Esposito practically snorted. "Nothin' freaks me out at this point." Obviously, because the rare use of his first name went right past him.
Kate only nodded, saying nothing else. Less awkwardly than she expected, she cut to the chase, stepped forward, and caught her detective in a hug.
For the first of the few seconds it lasted, Javier blinked, caught by surprise, but quickly recovered enough to wrap his free arm around her back until she pulled away. When she did, she looked at him sheepishly, as if she felt the need to explain herself.
She must've, because it was the next thing out of her mouth. "…I don't tell you guys enough. That I appreciate…how you always seem to…look out for me, even when I act like I don't need you to. …So." In ways, she'd never admitted anything more difficult in her life; in others, the confession was surprisingly easy. Like releasing a lead balloon she'd been holding all night. It felt good to have it off her chest. Finally, she could breathe.
Esposito seemed to understand entirely, even what she hadn't said, because something in his nod said more than 'you're welcome.' If you looked closely enough, he almost even smiled. "We know," he said gratefully, simply. Right now, simplicity was what was needed most.
Beckett appreciated that more than he knew, and she kept up her end of the unspoken bargain, comfortably changing the subject. "Ryan asked about you."
Javier didn't seem surprised. He nodded into his coffee cup, and found Beckett with an insistent gaze. "How is he?" Then, elaborated, giving the side of the ambulance a cavalier rap with his knuckle, "Jackasses don't want me 'wanderin' around the scene.' Like I wasn't just part of the scene. As if I'd mess it up." He shook his head.
"He'll be fine. A case of hypothermia from the temp of the water, but, they're calling it mild."
"Yeah, put them through it and see if they still call it mild," Javier groused.
"They plan to keep him just for a few hours to see if they can't stave off any chances of pneumonia," Beckett finished, eyeing him as he shook his head in disgust; "but, that wasn't the question."
"Did I miss a question?"
"Yes, Esposito." Beckett's look said that he wouldn't get out of answering. "If I'm going to let Ryan know how you are, at least give me an honest answer."
She waited. He cast her a grudging look, but, he was smarter than to think she'd give up. He exhaled tiredly, leveling with her, his voice gruffer than usual from everything that'd happened. "I'm no more beat up than he is. Nothin' permanent. I'm bein' sent to the hospital too for the final word, but I'm fine. I'll live. Happy?"
"He should be," Kate granted. "And I know. The hospital thing's Montgomery's orders. Castle and I are being sent there too…though I think in my case it's just more to get rid of me." She couldn't help but smirk a little at that part, and in a beat, he joined her.
"Yeah, well, I wouldn't be surprised…" Back to those 'surprises' again. Another somber wave fell over him, and he glanced down, then off into a vague distance, much like he'd been when she'd first walked up. Shifting into concern again, Kate watched him, and, after a few moments that way, he spoke. "…Knew how to get me, you know. …Lockwood." Regret tinged Javier's words, anger lingering behind them. "…Physical pain I can take; they can't touch me… It's watchin' them go aft - " He stopped himself; started again, pushed through. "…After Ryan. Right there, and nothin' I can do to stop it." Pausing once more, his next words were an admission that, a week ago, he wouldnt've believed. "Too much longer of that, and…I could see myself breakin'."
Kate hadn't expected it either. In the past nearly four years, she'd never seen or heard him admit weakness. Curiosity bit at her, though blaming him was the farthest idea from her mind. "…Would you have?"
Those few words, and Javier's decision was final, shaking his head once and once only. His reply was strong and immediate. "I'd' have taken the bullet first."
Somehow, hearing that - Ryan's similar reply fresh in her mind - Kate didn't need anything else. Her smile, rare as it had a habit of being, came naturally and instinctively. She was silent; then began, "…You know…I asked my mom for a brother once, when I was a kid."
Esposito stopped and stared at her, surprised to hear her reveal so much in one night, as if wondering where she was going. Yet the budding expression on his face hinted that he might have an idea or two.
"…It's funny… She always managed to find me twice whatever I asked for."
Adding a wink to her smile that was decidedly more Katie than Detective Beckett, she turned, leaving Esposito and his slow-growing grin behind as she walked back across the pavement, chin held high against the night.
All around, the ambulance crews returned to their tasks, preparing the injured for departure. The only difference was that now, even psychologically, Kate didn't count herself injured. Oh, yes, she'd always been a woman who prided herself on strength; that wouldn't change - but she had brothers. They would always there to be strong for her when she couldn't be.
She'd make sure of it.
^_^ To me, the team's brother-sister relationship is the best part of the show (aside from Caskett, of course). So, I hope I did it justice from Kate's perspective. (I tried my damnedest to keep her in-character while still allowing her the small indulgence of a moment to just be Kate with them, keeping in mind that emotions are running high after those events, of course. I also tried to give the boys equal face-time with her. Just FYI.)
Anyway, as I say on every chapter of all my new stories: if there's anyone (ages 14 and over) interested in joining a free, writing-based Castle roleplaying forum, check out the bolded paragraph in my profile; thanks. ^^
SO! Reviews are absolute love. ESPECIALLY ones that get specific about what you liked best or whatever. I really do love those, so please, don't hesitate to take a second and leave one. The next chapter promises a 'ship reunion! ;D