Hey. I know there are loads of post season three stories out there now, but still, I decided to join the almost military effort to get them out with this little one-shot. Nothing too serious, just Caskett and a little bit of closure on Josh. I tried not to make him a complete prick or anything, because I don't really think he's a horrible person. He just isn't Castle. :P Anyway, I hope you enjoy it and I'd love it if you dropped me a review at the end!
Disclaimer – I don't own the amazing Castle, or any of the characters. :D
Four words. They mixed with the intermittent, monotone beats of a medical machine Kate couldn't or wouldn't want to identify. Four words that stayed at the forefront of her mind, that shone through the fog threatening to overtake her senses, glowing in the darkness that was slowly washing over her, burning in the ice cold sensation that slowly trickled through every one of her veins. I love you, Kate. Four words.
Just four words that Kate Beckett clung onto as she slipped into the darkness, just four words that she grasped with all her might as she felt herself falling... Four words that drifted around in her semi-conscious brain, strong enough to rise above the pain coursing outwards from her stomach, powerful enough to stay with her as her eyes shut and the pain meds kicked in.
I love you, Kate.
"I thought you and Detective Beckett weren't together."
"Doesn't she have a boyfriend?"
"Were you and Detective Beckett having a secret affair?"
"Do you still insist that you and your muse aren't in a relationship, Mr Castle?"
"Is it unrequited love?"
"There are rumours that you and Detective Beckett were secretly engaged, is this true?"
"Do you love her, Mr Castle? Someone present at the time said they heard you say you loved her!"
The reporters' questions all merged into one screaming sea of interrogations, of acidic words and desperate cries. He hated them; hated their demanding tones, their excited faces and outstretched microphones, the look of glee in their eyes. How could they be so happy, so eager for information and forget the fact that Kate, his Kate, was lying somewhere in hospital, walking the line between life and death? Between staying and leaving? Leaving the world, leaving her Dad, leaving the job... leaving him. She couldn't leave him, couldn't force him to live in a world without her. A million answers flew through Rick's mind as the massing journalists all screamed out at him, each tinged with sadness and struck with anger.
We're not. Yes. No. I do. I don't know. Of course not... Yes. I love her. But he said none of these things.
"Detective Beckett and I are not together and any rumours you've heard are untrue. Kate Beckett is my friend." He refused to use the past tense. Not yet. She would live, she wouldn't die. She couldn't die.
"She is my friend, my partner, my colleague and my inspiration. In that order. And if I want to spend every waking minute by her bedside waiting for her to wake up, I will, because that's what friends do." He paused and swallowed, looking over the sea of expectant faces, the journalists and reporters who had finally fallen silent. "Before she was shot, Kate said that there are no victories for people like her, only battles. And that the best you can do is find a place to stand. She also said that if you're lucky, you can find someone willing to stand beside you. I am that person, and I will stay beside her for as long as I deem necessary." His voice grew louder, an undertone of anger growing in his words. "And not because we're together, or having a secret affair, or planning to elope and get married. I'll do it because she's my friend, because I care about her and because unlike all of you, I care about whether she lives or not, rather than the story that would follow."
There was a tense, ice cold silence in which Martha and Alexis, stood to one side, exchanged concerned glances. Rick's charged, gritted words still hung in the air, but before anyone could say anything more, the door to the room of the hospital where the press conference was being held opened, and a familiar doctor walked in.
"Come on, Kate, wake up," Josh said, holding his girlfriend's hand lightly as she was wheeled back from surgery. "You've got the all clear, the bleeding's been stopped. We got the bullet out. You can wake up now, Kate." He rubbed his thumb slightly over the back of her hand. "Please wake up, baby."
A few moments later, Josh watched as her eyelids fluttered a little, struggling to open. He sat up a little straighter, taking hold of her hand again. "Kate?"
"Mhm..." a groggy murmur passed from between her lips, her eyelids fighting helplessly again. Josh squeezed her hand a little, biting down on his lower lip.
"Kate? Kate, I'm here. It's Josh, I'm here. It's alright..."
"Mhm..." she moaned again and this time, her eyes opened halfway, her eyelashes droopy as she looked up at his blurry face above her, surrounded by light, the beeping still ringing out beside her, monotonous, signalling that her heart was still beating. But not for him, not for Josh.
Those four words were still clutched in the forefront of her mind, still dancing in her ears.
Leaning forwards slightly, Josh gave her a small smile. "Kate, it's me. Wake up," he said softly, dropping her hand to brush her hair out of the way. "Wake up, baby, I'm here."
She stirred again, her eyes half-opening once more as a moan fell from between her lips. "Castle?"
Josh froze, his eyes focusing fully on her face. "No, Kate. It's me, Josh."
Letting out another small moan, Kate shifted backwards in the bed as though trying to sit up, before giving up as her eyes struggled open, the pain meds still preventing her from waking up completely. "Where's Castle? Where is he? Is he...is he okay?" Her words were slurred, but still Josh could hear the worry in them, the desperation, the need to be comforted. And not by him. He stared at her silently for a few more moments, not knowing what to say.
"Castle..." she moaned again, her eyes opening fully this time as she stared, bleary-eyed up at Josh before her eyes moved to look around the room. "I want Castle...Where is he?" she murmured, looking back at Josh with tired, falling eyelids. "Need to...need to tell him..." Her eyes closed again, a muffled murmur coming from in between her lips. "Four words..."
The breath was stuck in Josh's throat as he stared at her, still not fully awake, struggling against sleep as she murmured the author's name, caught up in worry and need. He couldn't take it any longer, couldn't stay there. He had wanted to be there when she woke up, had wanted his to be the first face she saw, had wanted to say he loved her, that everything would be okay, that he wouldn't got to Haiti or Africa or anywhere like that anymore because he was needed by her. But it seemed, Josh thought as he looked at his girlfriend, that perhaps she didn't need him so much after all. Because she didn't want him there when she woke up, his face wasn't the first she wanted to see. She didn't want him to tell her everything would be okay, and that he wouldn't leave her again. She wanted Castle to do all that.
And so, with a resigned sigh, Josh stood up and made his way from the room, defeated. At the end of the day, it didn't matter what he did for her, or what he said... And he wasn't even angry at her, he didn't even feel cheated or lied to. Because deep down inside, Josh had known all along that it was Castle she wanted. It had always been, and always would be Castle. Always.
Rick frowned as Josh approached him, a serious look on his face. There was also something in the doctor's eyes that he couldn't quite fathom – loss, defeat, acceptance? Something along those lines. Ignoring the reporters and crowd of waiting journalists in front of him, Rick stepped away from the microphone and headed towards Josh.
"What is it, what's happened? How's Kate?"
Josh sighed. "She's fine, Castle... She's woken up." He forced himself to give the author a small smile, but there was sadness in his eyes and the smile was bittersweet. "She's asking for you," he said.
Rick paused, taking in the look in Josh's eyes. Quietly, things clicked into place in his head. "Josh, I-..." He sighed. "I'm sorry."
"Doesn't matter." Josh replied a little too quickly, giving a small shrug as Castle looked towards the door, desperate to go see her, to see with his own eyes that she was awake, that his Kate, his Beckett, was okay. "I kinda knew... You know, that it was you she really wanted." He shrugged again. "I think deep down I've always known."
The two men stood for a moment; a look of apologetic understanding passed between them. And in that moment, Castle saw Josh, not Motorcycle Boy anymore, and Josh saw Rick, and not the rich playboy writer. After a few seconds of silence, Castle nodded and turned to head for the door. "I'm...going to go see her...I'm sorry..."
Josh shook his head. "Like I said, doesn't matter. You better go."
He nodded. "Right..." And with that, Rick turned and headed for the door as fast as his feet could carry him, his mind set on seeing Kate as soon as he could.
"One more thing, Castle," Josh called from behind him. He slowed slightly and turned around, biting his lip.
Swallowing, Josh fixed him with a hard glare, the resignation in his eyes still clear. "Don't you dare hurt her, you hear me? Don't hurt her."
Rick nodded, sincerity all over his face before he turned and left the room without another word, practically flying down the hospital corridors to find the room that Kate was in.
Kate heard the door open and turned to watch him come in, a weak smile lighting her face as Castle entered, peering round the door almost tentatively before coming in quickly. And suddenly, nothing mattered, and she wanted to say it before he could come any closer, before he could say anything that might ruin the moment. Suddenly, the person who had shot her didn't matter; the hurt look in Josh's eyes didn't matter... In that one moment, only four things mattered. Just four little words were important. Just four.
She smiled almost sleepily, her eyes still struggling to stay fully open as she looked up at her friend, her partner, her colleague, her Rick Castle.
"Just want to say..." she said, her words still slightly slurred, but more awake than they had been; there was a little more life to her tone. And then they came, the four words that were suddenly so much more important than any others.
"Love you too, Castle."
Well, I hope you all enjoyed that! Just a little something I decided to write up when I should have really been revising. :P Thanks for reading, and reviews are more than welcome. And if anyone has any sort of time machine that can take us to September, I'd be extremely grateful! :P