A one shot based of of the end of Knockdown. Spoilers if you haven't seen it yet. I use quotes from the episode. I don't claim them. I know its been a while since the episode, but the inspiration just hit me, so I had to write it.
Kate Beckett hesitated, trying to find the right words to say to the man sitting in the back of the ambulance. The man who had just saved her life, not for the first time. Her partner. She smiled as she saw him start to unravel the bandage on his hand and stepped up into the ambulance, taking the seat across from him.
"Hey there Chuck Norris." His laugh turned into a wince of pain as he kept unwrapping the bandage. She reached over and took it from him, gently starting to rewrap it.
"How's the hand?" She asked quietly.
"Hm." Neither of them looked at each other; instead they both watched her rewrap his hand. He finally looked up at her.
"How's Ryan and Esposito?"
"Ehm, mild hypothermia. Wounded pride. Guess which one will heal first?" She raised both eyebrows and smiled at him as she softly smoothed the edge of the bandage down. He smiled back at her and sighed. She still wasn't sure what to say to him. The case had been a whirlwind of emotions and he had been there with her, every step of the way. She swallowed, then looked up and met his eyes.
"Thank you." A look of confusion passed over his face and she smiled. "For having my back in there."
He smiled back at her, holding her gaze.
"Always." His voice was thick with emotion and the sincerity, both in his eyes and his tone of voice, made her breath catch in her throat. She swallowed hard, not really wanting to ask him what she was about to ask him, but not wanting to do it alone either.
"There is one thing…if you wouldn't mind-"
"Anything." He cut her off and spoke with just as much sincerity as when he had said always. She tore her gaze away from his; afraid of being lost in the emotions that were threatening to overwhelm her. She continued quietly.
"…coming with me to the prison tomorrow…I want to talk to the son of a bitch that shot Raglan. He needs to know this is far from over."
Castle glanced sideways across the car at Beckett. They had just pulled into the parking lot at the prison and the tension was etched on every line in her face. He could see it in the way she was sitting in the drivers seat, staring blankly out the windshield. Her brave front could fool a lot of people and she was an expert at shielding her emotions; but he could see them. He wanted nothing more than to reach over and take her hand, but he knew he couldn't. He knew how difficult her decision to ask him to come with her had been. So he waited. She parked the car and took a deep, shaky breath. Her voice was soft when she spoke.
"Castle…I don't know if I can do this."
He hated it when she doubted herself.
"You can. I know you can. You want to know why?"
"If you say its because I'm tall…I will hurt you."
He smiled at her attempt to use humor like he had done so many times before; but the emotion in her voice made it a weak attempt.
"No. Because I know that no matter what that son of a bitch does or doesn't say, you will find out who hired him someday. If anyone can take him down it's you. And he needs to know that. That's why you'll do it. You don't back down, and you're not going to now."
She felt a burning at the back of her throat and fought hard to keep the tears from forming in her eyes. He was right. She wouldn't stop until she figured it out. Especially now that they had come so close.
"You're welcome. Now go. I'll be right here waiting for you when you come out."
"I know you will."
She got out of the car and walked towards the prison. Shoving all emotions aside for the moment she focused on what she had come to say.
Inside she sat at the table as she guards brought him in. Her eyes locked icily on his as soon as he looked at her. She didn't break the gaze, even as he sat down, and neither did he. When she spoke, her voice was cold.
"We booked you as John Doe. You sure as hell aren't Hal Lockwood. Who hired you?"
He started back at her, silent. She knew he wouldn't speak, but it didn't matter. She raised her eyebrows briefly and rolled her eyes as she let her gaze trail slowly around the room they were in before coming back to him. She smiled smugly and shifted in her seat so she was leaning towards him, her voice still cold and quiet as she spoke.
"I've put a lot of people in this place. Some of them want to kill me. Others never been treated so fairly in their lives. So they form this…attachment to me. Its like I'm their favorite school teacher."
Her voice had dropped to just above a whisper and her gazed settled back on his, unblinking. He met her stare dead on as she continued.
"Some of those people might visit you while you're in here. Like the ghosts that visit scrooge. And after some time with them…you might find yourself a changed man." She couldn't stop the slightly sadistic smile that played on the edge of her lips, so she didn't try. If she looked slightly crazy, so be it. "So I will be back here …week…after…week. To ask you who hired you. Until that miracle occurs."
She slowly stood up from the table so she was looking down at him. The silence was deafening and neither one of them looked away from each other. She knew he was testing her; looking away would be a sign of submission, and she wasn't about to give him the satisfaction. He finally blinked slowly, then turned his head away from her as he summoned the guard. She smiled in satisfaction. She had won.
Castle was leaning against the passenger door of the car as she walked through the parking lot. He could tell she was shaken by the way she carried herself. She walked up to him and stopped a few feet in front of him.
"Well?" He asked tentatively.
"He didn't speak. I knew he wouldn't." Her voice was shaky.
"Did you say what you needed to say?"
"Are you okay?"
"I'll be fine."
"That's not what I asked. I know you'll be fine eventually. What I asked was are you okay? As in, right now."
"Yea." She said it softly, without looking at him. He took a step closer to her, closing the distance between them to inches instead of feet.
"Are you lying?" He asked softly, fully expecting her to say no or push him away, so he was shocked at the tears that filled her eyes as she nodded yes. He wasn't exactly sure what to do. He knew what he wanted to do, which was wrap his arms around her. But he also knew that would probably get him shot.
"Do you want a hug?" He asked, expecting to lighten the mood, or at least irritate her and give her something else to focus on. Again he was shocked when she hesitated, then slowly nodded yes. He opened his arms and she sighed, then stepped closer and let him wrap his arms around her. She wrapped her arms around him with a tightness that surprised him. It was then that he realized she was shaking. He ran his hands up and down her back the way he used to with Alexis when she was upset.
"Shhh, I'm right here. You're okay."
Her body shook as she sobbed silently against him. All of the emotions of the case finally catching up with her. They weren't just emotions about her mother either, though those were the majority of them. The case had made her think about how much Castle meant to her too. So had the kiss; which had started as part of their little undercover act but had turned into so much more. She was surprised when she found herself relaxing under his touch. He was whispering something into her hair but she had been crying to hard to hear. Her sobbing slowed, then stopped and she sighed against his chest. She knew she should let go, but couldn't just yet. He felt her stop crying and loosened his arms around her. He figured she wouldn't let him hold her like this for very long. She felt his grip loosen and she tightened her arms around him, wordlessly telling him not to let go yet. He slid his hands down to her waist and just held her. She swallowed thickly and struggled to find her voice.
"Thank you Castle. For coming today."
"Hey, you know I'll be here for you. Whenever, and where ever you need me. I'm you're partner."
She laughed softly and leaned back in his arms so she could look in his eyes as she said the only word she could think of that would come close to conveying how much that mean to her. The word he had taken her breath away with the night before.