A/N: Wow second story in two days, I'm on a roll. Anyway, this is set at the end of 3x06 because I watched that followed by 3x07 the other day and thought, wow, he got over that quick. Must be a reason. Right? So... Enjoy!
Disclaimer: Nothing owned. If only...
She had come across him in a moment of weakness, unguarded and unaware, their roles seemed to have suddenly reversed, and she was now content to simply watch him. Taking note of the dejected slump of his shoulders as he leaned heavily on his arms, her heart lurched at the despondent look in his eyes, causing her to frown at her bodies' betrayal.
He just looked so broken, and that was enough to bring the worry back full force. She had come so close to losing him. So close to never having him in her life again.
"He's okay," she muttered, interrupting her own thoughts before they could draw her into their darkness.
Running the hand that was coffee cup free through her hair, she let out a sigh. She couldn't blame him for his seemingly faraway thoughts when even she was still trying to comprehend the events of the last few hours. Everything had happened so quickly.
And she had been so worried when they had found out that he was in danger. Fearful would actually be a better word. Sure, she had been upset about Ryan as well, he was her friend, but the depth of emotion over the possibility of losing Castle had been a whole other level.
Something that she could still not wrap her mind around, because that's not what their friendship was about. They existed within layers of sarcasm and genuine affection, but all the time wary of the line that they had forced within their relationship. It was to be uncrossed, never even touched, but lately the line had somehow been shifting, blurring to the point that she was uncertain at times that it even existed.
However, she always pulled back before they went too far, because she couldn't go there. Wouldn't go there. Not again. Not when last time she had made a fool of herself in front of the others. So, she resigned herself to keep him at arms length, but his persistence and constant care of her often broke down her walls.
Instead, she would remind herself that they had people. Both of them had others to share their lonely nights, so they shouldn't rely on each other so much. Only she had now come to the realisation that they were both too stubborn and seemed unable to stay away. She was drawn to him. She enjoyed working with him. And she would never admit it but she liked having him around, he helped keep her demons at bay.
So she let him stay. Even if it meant there was a possibility that someone could get hurt. Which they would. Because someone always got hurt.
A tired yawn escaped her closed lips and she blushed as she looked around, thankful that nobody had caught her own weak moment. It seemed that now the adrenaline had worn off the exhaustion was beginning to creep into her bones, willing her to rest. But she knew her night would be one of little sleep. Nightmares would haunt her and she would remain restless. And she knew why.
Because her mother's words would still be haunting her mind just like they had for the last hour. 'No matter how much you wish it or how hard you try, luck always runs out.' Her mother had lived by that motto and she would eventually be proven right. Because they had been lucky. They always were. And it was with a certainty that she knew that their luck would fade. It had too.
Which was the very reason why when the sole of her boot was making contact with the motel room door she had been sending out a silent prayer to whoever was listening that it was not their time yet. The relief that had filled her upon seeing them alive, seeing him alive, had been so great it had caused her to stumble blindly into the room, her need to touch him for clarification overriding her need to do anything else.
But he really had been there. He really had been okay.
Although looking at him now it appeared that was a false pretence he was giving, because from here it looked like he was cracking.
The voice from behind pulled her from her internal monologue and she did nothing but simply nod in reply, not quite having gained the ability to speak quite yet.
"Ryan's gone off in the ambulance. I'm heading there now." Coming to stand beside her, he continued as he bumped her shoulder with his own. "Thought I'd check on you first."
"I'm okay," she replied, turning her gaze around to her friend.
"Good," Esposito stated, eyebrow raised and a knowing look on his face. He had know her far too long to believe her, but he also knew she would never let her guard down like that. At least not to him.
"Did the paramedics say anything," she asked changing the subject.
"Yeah. They told him to get off the phone."
"The guy is whipped," he stated dryly, before adding as an afterthought, "bad."
A small flicker of a smile pulled at the corners of her mouth, before she tilted her head to regard him carefully. "You alright?"
"Nothing wrong here. Now I know they're okay," he answered, with a shrug.
Turning, they both moved their heads to look at the lone figure on the bench, before Esposito spoke, breaking into the silence. "Him though. He's not looking so good."
"He needs someone," she stated, with a sigh.
"He needs you."
"Me?" She asked, confusion maring her features. She did have every intention of going over there but she wanted to know why he assumed that she was the only one who could.
"I wouldn't cut it for him," he responded with a small chuckle before he gave her a knowing look. "Don't play dumb Beckett. We both know you aren't. You're the one he wants." Watching the protest forming on her lips he held a hand up to stop her as he started to move slowly backwards, every intent of escaping apparent. "Besides. I've already taken care of my partner. Time for you to do the same."
Before she could come up with a retort, he had slipped around the corner and faded from sight leaving her standing there with her eyes slowly narrowing. Making a mental note to have him on the next lot of dumpster duty she turned and began moving towards the bench where her apparent partner was still seated. Biting her lip, she chastised herself for her slow steps and quickened her pace. There was no point in delaying the inevitable and the nearer she got she realised, he did need her.
That haunted look was still etched into his features, and didn't seem to have any intention of vanishing.
Reaching him, she carefully sat down, careful to keep a respectable distance but close enough to be a form of comfort. "Here you go," she said, offering the coffee she still held tightly in her grasp.
"Mm mm." Both hands now free, she clasped them together and fixed her gaze upon the water before them. There was something bothering her and without taking too much time to dwell on the possible reaction it would bring she aired her question. "Tell me something Castle. Why did he let you live?"
She didn't have to wait long for his answer.
"To punish me."
She could feel his gaze on her so she turned her head, meeting his eyes and trying to convey her support by simply giving him her attention.
"Make me pay for ruining his plan."
She heard the break in his voice as he tried to keep himself together. It angered her that this man here had been brought to his knees by such a sadistic killer. Right now, Jerry Tyson was someone she hated with a vengeance. He had done this. He had taken a part of Castle's spirit. She wanted him to pay.
"And I feel so..."
Turning her head back round to watch him as he trailed off, she felt her heart cry out to him. He was usually so strong, he was one of her sources of strength, but he now seemed so beaten. Without putting any thought into her actions, she reached a hand out and placed it on his knee, offering him some form of comfort.
"I know the feeling," she stated softly, because she did. She, herself, had never been able to find the closure she craved. The closure that so many people received when a loved one was taken. Instead, she was left in limbo, unable to complete her mourning until she knew that her mother's killer had paid for what he did. Until she knew he was unable to inflict this tragedy on anyone else.
"I know you do."
Feeling his hand cover her own she turned it slowly so she could entwine their fingers, making it so they could draw strength from each other. Sitting here with him, she realised that this was what she had been searching for. Someone who understood what she had to live with, but never pushed her to feel something she didn't. He let her cry if she wanted, be angry when she needed. He made her laugh and would often be the reason that she knew that at the end of the day they would eventually solve the case they were working on.
He was just... there.
Which was all she needed. And it was enough. For now.
Squeezing his hand, she let a few more minuets pass in silence before she felt a shiver go through him. "Come on," she said, nudging him softly with her shoulder. "I'll take you home."
A/N: I think this is likely to be a two-shot, but I would love to know what you think.