Disclaimer: I don't own Castle… these lovely characters belong to Andrew W. Marlowe and ABC. I'm not that lucky. :P
Spoilers: My predecessor story If. If you haven't read it yet, I'd suggest you read it first. This story will make a lot more sense. Just look for it on my profile page if you haven't read it yet… ;)
Summary: What was going on in the real world while Castle was in the AU world? Beckett's POV. Companion fic to "If" – please read that one first for this one to make sense.
Tagline: Sometimes you don't know what you have… until it's gone. (Credit to touchstonehq (Christy))
Pairing: Caskett (of course) and some Esplanie. :)
A/N: Soooo, it's been a week today since I posted the epilogue to If and as promised, I'm posting Connection today. Of course, this is only the first half. The second/last half will be posted in a couple days. :) And this is random, but some of my friends have pointed out that every time they hear "Connection" they think of that exchange of conversation between Castle and Beckett from Poof, You're Dead where Castle says "Connection" and Beckett says "Conjecture"! :P I hadn't even thought of that when I thought of the title…
After watching the trailer that my friend Christy made (it can be found with the artwork in my profile page), I added a scene and it spilled over to 20 pages. This first half will be a smidge longer than the second (11 pages as opposed to Part 2's 9)… anyway, enough with my rambling, I hope you all enjoy the first half of Connection. Please let me know what you think! It'll be fuel for any Castle stories I'll write in the future: one-shots or serial… ;) ;D
"I'm about ready to tell Montgomery to hand this case over to another detective, I can't look at it anymore," Ryan commented.
"Just be patient, Ryan, I'm sure we'll get to the bottom of it soon," I told him to keep his faith, "We can only hit so many dead ends."
"We've all been pretty useless in this case," Esposito was siding with Ryan, "It's like we lost our groove."
"It does seem like that," I started to agree and paused to take a sip from my coffee, "Sometimes, I feel like we'd get more things done if we didn't have Castle following us around."
"What do you mean? Are you saying we'd be better off if he never came into our lives three years ago?," Ryan sounded like he couldn't quite believe what he was hearing.
"Truth be told, there are times I feel that way," I nodded and took another sip of my coffee. Boy, did that warmth feel good. Looking up from my coffee cup, I finished my thought, "Then there are times where I don't think we'd solve some cases without him. He's become a real asset to our team."
"And a hell of a partner, right?," Esposito smirked at me.
"Yes he has," I nodded once again. Ryan and Esposito were smirking at me. I had to save face, "But if you tell him that…."
I left it as an open-ended threat. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Ryan and Esposito give each other smirks. Thankfully they left it at that. I put my finished coffee/espresso cup down, "Come on. Let's go back out to Castle."
"Yo, Castle," Esposito made the author look up, "Everything okay? Who was on the phone?"
"You answered my phone?," I asked. I wasn't mad. I was just curious.
"It was just Lanie," Castle sat up a little straighter and cleared his throat, "She wanted to know if we were any further on the case."
"Is everything okay, Castle? You look lost in thought," I echoed Esposito's question.
"I, uh," Castle stood up. It looked like he didn't know how to phrase his thought, "I heard what you said in the break room."
"Oh," I was taken aback. Looking over at Ryan and Esposito, I saw them exchange looks as they started grinning.
"Is it true?," Castle started and licked his lips, pausing for a second, "Do you really feel that way?"
"If I'm being completely honest, Castle," I stepped forward, my arms folded in my usual default pose, "Yes, I really do feel that way."
"Yeah and we do too," Ryan piped in and Esposito shot him a glare.
"Really?," Castle sounded like he couldn't believe it, "Well, if that's the case then I think I'll just head home."
"You need a ride?," I asked. Why was he acting this way? Shouldn't he be gloating at the fact that we truly value him? Why was he so agitated?
"No," Castle grabbed his jacket, "I wouldn't want to be any more trouble. See you."
"Castle?," I called out to him as he made his way to the elevators. I could tell by the tone of his voice he sounded hurt.
"Let him be," Esposito said.
"It's probably just this case," Ryan agreed, "It's making everybody a little nuts."
"Right," I conceded and wheeled my chair up to my desk. I turned my attention to the evidence for our case. The way Castle sounded still ate at me, so after a second, I looked back up toward the elevators and saw the doors close on Castle. He looked like I just trampled on his heart. I shook my head, that couldn't be. This case really was making us all crazy.
About a half-hour passed and we were still pretty much at square one. I let out a deep sigh and turned to Esposito and Ryan. They were once again looking through all our evidence and looked just as tired as me, "Do you guys wanna call it a night?"
"Absolutely," Esposito replied.
"You don't have to ask me twice," Ryan agreed. He closed the folder and grabbed his jacket. I got up and put my computer to sleep. Folding my jacket over my arm, I walked to the elevators with my other partners. My mind was still on a particular partner. The way he was acting was still niggling at me, "Do you guys really think Castle's okay? He was acting strangely."
"I told you," Ryan repeated, "It's probably just this case… hey, do you guys want a ride? Save you the trouble of hailing a cab?"
"Thanks, bro," Esposito smiled and I nodded. That was sweet of him.
We all fell in comfortable silence as we headed down the road. Suddenly, we all whipped our heads in the direction of a truck blaring its horn. Ryan headed in the direction of the noise as he voiced all our thoughts, "What the hell was that?"
As we got closer, we saw a figure of a man lying on the ground, his back to us. The truck was still in sight. Immediately, I took action, "Ryan, go after that truck, I'm going to go help that pedestrian."
"On it," Ryan nodded. I leapt out of the car and not a second after I shut the door, Ryan and Esposito sped off after the truck, siren blaring.
I ran to the man on the ground already dialing 911. Miraculously I was able to give the location of the hit-and-run and get confirmation that an ambulance was on its way all before I reached the poor victim losing a battle with a truck. The street was pretty dark except for a street lamp, I couldn't really make anything out. He was out of the light. I knelt down, "Sir? Can you hear me?"
There wasn't any response. I bit my lip and crawled around him to be face-to-face with the man. As gently as I could, I maneuvered him so he would face the light. I wish I hadn't… my heart stopped and I felt sick. All I could manage was a whisper, "Castle."
I couldn't breathe. It was Castle. It was Castle lying on the ground. Castle who might be on the verge of death. He wasn't moving. He wasn't moving. He wasn't moving. That was all I could think at the moment. My heart was in my mouth as I reached out and felt for a pulse. There was one. I closed my eyes in relief. It was weak, but still there. My eyes started to water and I gently cupped the side of his face, some of his blood coming from his cheek and forehead got on my hand. I didn't care, "Castle? Castle, stay with me."
I wasn't sure if I was understandable. My plea to Castle was barely audible to myself. My face was already drenched from my tears. I brushed his bangs out of the blood caked on it. I could hear a siren in the distance. The ambulance was on its way. In an instant, the ambulance arrived and I watched helplessly as the EMTs moved quickly and swiftly to get Castle the medical attention he needed. They cut off his jacket and opened his shirt – more blood.
They started asking me questions and I replied with one word answers. It all went by in a blur as I climbed into the back of the ambulance. My eyes were glued to Castle's bloody face, an oxygen mask covering his nose and mouth. I was still in shock, all I could think was: I can't lose him.
They rushed Castle to surgery. He had some internal bleeding and two broken ribs. And those gashes on his head definitely were going to need stitches. I already called Ryan and Esposito to let them know what happened, who in turn called Lanie and Montgomery. Ryan and Esposito told me they got the son of a bitch who hit Castle then kept driving. They told me there was more to it, but they'd tell me when they got to the hospital.
I knew what I had to do next – call Alexis and Martha. I flipped my cell in my hands, my bloody hands – Castle's blood. I was trying to prolong the inevitable. They needed to know. Gathering all my courage, I hit #4 on my speed-dial: Alexis.
"Hello?," came Alexis' sleepy greeting. She was sleeping – great.
"Alexis?," I started. The composure of my voice surprised me.
"Detective Beckett?," Alexis asked. I could tell she was wide awake now. I could practically see the worried look on Castle's daughter's face, "Is there something wrong?"
That was the biggest understatement of the night, "Your dad's been in an accident…"
"Oh, my God! Is he okay? What happened? Did he get shot?," Alexis started firing off questions quicker than I could answer. I heard her running out of the room, probably heading to her grandmother's room.
"He wasn't shot," I assured her. I heard her sigh in relief. I let out a breath and told her, "He was hit by a truck in a hit-and-run after he left the precinct."
"How bad is it?," Alexis asked.
"He's in surgery right now," I said and told her what I overheard in the ambulance, "There was some internal bleeding and he broke two ribs. Remarkably though, those were his only broken bones, but he will need stitches."
"That's my Richard for you," I heard Martha in the background. I must've been put on speakerphone. I could hear a small laugh come from Alexis. It was just like them to try to put levity in a serious situation – just like Castle. My musing was broken by Alexis getting back to the matter at hand, "We're on our way to the hospital, Detective. Will you keep us posted if something happens while we're on our way?"
"Of course," I promised. We said our goodbyes and we hung up. I looked down at my hands, at Castle's dry blood. I had to wash it off. I slowly made my way to a restroom and began scrubbing at my hands. The red ran down the drain. My hands were clean, but I could still see his blood on them. I don't think I'll ever not see it. Looking up, I saw my reflection – I looked as if I aged five years. I whispered to my reflection, "Castle, you have to be okay."
I needed somebody to talk some sense into me, someone to tell me it would all be okay, that I wouldn't lose him – somebody who wasn't related to him.
Taking out my phone, I dialed the number I knew by heart. There were a couple rings, but soon enough, they answered the phone, "Katie?"
"Hi, Dad," I greeted.
"What's wrong, sweetheart?," he asked. He must've been able to tell something was wrong just by the tone of my voice in those two words.
"Cast-Castle's been in an accident," I stuttered.
"Sweetheart," he consoled me, "What happened? Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," I assured him, "It didn't happen on a case or anything. He was hit by a truck when he left the precinct… and now he's in the hospital in surgery and I don't know what's gonna happen to him."
"He's going to be all right, sweetheart," he replied, "He's a strong man."
"I know," I sniffed. I cradled my phone, taking a deep breath and voiced what I feared, "Dad, I can't lose him."
I could practically see my dad's comforting gaze at the other end of the line, "Your mother always said life never delivers anything that we can't handle… he'll get through this and so will you," he replied, once again, giving me my mom's advice. That always seemed to make me feel better no matter what the circumstance.
"Thanks, Dad," I let out a small smile.
"Do you need me to come down to the hospital?," he asked, sensing something.
"No," I shook my head, "I just needed to hear your voice. You always know what to say to me when I need it."
"Okay, Katie," He replied, his voice still gentle, "Call me again if you need me."
"I will," I nodded, "Thank you." We said our goodbyes and we both hung up. After splashing some cold water on my face, I composed myself once more and headed back to the waiting room. Ryan, Esposito, Lanie, and Montgomery had arrived.
Lanie noticed me first, "How you doing, honey?"
"Okay I guess," I shrugged. She got up and wrapped me in a hug, "He's going to be just fine, Kate. You know that. He's Castle."
I nodded into her shoulder, fighting back tears. I thought I was all cried out.
"Kate?," Martha called out for me. I took myself out of Lanie's hug and found myself in Alexis' arms.
"Is there any more news?," Alexis asked, muffled. She was asking into my chest, but I still heard her, "No, he's still in surgery."
"What exactly happened?," Martha asked after giving me a hug. We all sat down. I found myself in between Alexis and Martha. Everyone from the precinct was sitting across from us.
"Castle left the precinct before us," Ryan saved me from having to speak. I gave him a look of gratitude and he just nodded as he continued, "We left about a half-hour after him, he was probably just walking as far as he could before finding a cab… anyway, as we were driving we heard a truck blaring its horn."
"We went to investigate it and saw a man lying on the ground," Esposito continued, "We didn't know it was Castle at first. Ryan and I went after the driver as Beckett helped your dad."
"Did you get the driver?," Alexis asked, her voice a mixture of concern for her dad and anger at the man who hit him.
"We did," Ryan nodded and then turned to me, "And there's even more news on that."
"What?," I asked. What more could he have possibly done?
"The truck driver was fleeing town," Esposito said, "His name is John Buns and he confessed to killing our victim Ron Carlton."
"You're kidding me," Lanie voiced my thoughts.
"You mean to tell me that the son of a bitch who killed Carlton hit Castle?," Montgomery couldn't believe it either.
"Yeah, when we pulled him over, he started to confess to everything," Ryan explained, "He's in holding down at the precinct right now."
"Good," Alexis' response was hardened as she grasped my hand and Martha grabbed my other one. We all fell into a comfortable silence as a doctor approached us.
"Family of Richard Castle?," the doctor asked for all of us. Every single one of us stood up. The doctor seemed a little surprised at all of us suddenly standing, but regained his composure quickly, "You all are the family?"
"Yes," Alexis stated and squeezed my hand tighter, "What's the status on my dad?"
"He's better," the doctor replied truthfully, "Everything went pretty smoothly in surgery, there was a brief little scare, but he recovered quickly. We fixed up any and all internal bleeding. We stitched up his gashes and set his broken ribs… but…"
My heart stopped at the doctor's pause. A million thoughts ran through my mind. Was there more damage? Was he paralyzed? Was he in a coma? Would he ever be the same Castle I came to lo-… know again?
"But what?," Martha prodded.
"But we had to put him in a semi-conscious state to give his body a chance to heal on its own," the doctor continued.
"How long will he be out?," Ryan asked.
"That all depends on him," the doctor replied truthfully, "Hours, days, weeks… it's all on him now. When he does wake up, he may be a little out of it."
"Can we see him?," I asked, barely recognizing my own voice.
"He's in room 810. Only a few at a time for the first couple of hours, please," the doctor nodded and started to walk away. He put his hand up, most likely remembering something and turned back to us, "Oh, because he's in a semi-conscious state, he should be able to hear you. Talking to him could be beneficial."
"Thank you, doctor," Martha thanked him for all of us.
We all looked at each other, silently asking the same question: Who would go in first? Luckily, my friends came to the rescue and answered. Ryan spoke up, "I think I should head down to the precinct and get all the paperwork done for our case and Castle's hit-and-run."
"I'll help," Esposito nodded.
"And I'll make sure we don't get a media circus coming at us," Montgomery said, "Right now, I'm sure the fact that Castle is hospitalized isn't public knowledge and I'm going to make sure it stays that way."
"Thank you," Alexis smiled at the captain. He gave her one in return and followed Ryan and Esposito out.
"Alexis," Martha started, grabbing her granddaughter's attention, "Why don't you and Kate go in first?"
"All right," Alexis nodded, our hands still clasped together. Silently, we made our way to Castle's room.
As we entered the room, we could hear the beeps of the machine reading his heartbeats. Never in my life had I heard such a beautiful sound. His face and hair was clean of any of his blood from earlier, stitches closed his gashes, and he had a breathing tube in his nose. He looked like he was just sleeping – maybe even dreaming.
"He looks pale," Alexis observed.
"Yeah," I agreed. Alexis walked up to his bedside and grabbed his hand, "Dad? Daddy, can you hear me?"
She grabbed his hand, his hand with the IV in it, and gave it a small squeeze, "Dad, if you can hear me, can you squeeze my hand?"
I watched his hand just as intensely as Alexis. No sign of movement. My heart broke at the sight as Alexis' eyes started to well up with tears. We stood there in silence for a few moments, Alexis at his side and me at the foot of his bed.
"How's he doing?," Martha came in with Lanie. I looked confused at their entrance. The doctor said only a few at a time. Lanie must've read my expression because she answered it, "I told the doctor that I was a doctor and he gave us permission to come in too."
I nodded and let out a sigh as she put her hand on my shoulder and I started hugging my arms, looking at Castle in the bed.
"He looks like he's dreaming," Alexis commented. It was true, we could even see his eyeballs moving below his lids – he looked to be in REM.
"Come on, kiddo, let's get something to eat and we can come back later," Martha said, the beginning of her sentence coming out in a small choke. I could tell she was holding back tears as well. I watched them leave, leaving Lanie and I alone in the room with him.
"I've never seen Castle so still," I commented, hugging myself tighter. Lanie gave me a sympathetic smile and picked up his chart. I furrowed my eyebrows, "You allowed to do that?"
"What? I'm a doctor, aren't I?," Lanie smirked at me and turned her attention to Castle's chart. I smiled as she read through it, "He's stable… that's a good thing. How'd he manage to get hit by a truck and come out of it with just a couple broken ribs, some internal bleeding, and some cuts and bruises?"
"He's Castle," I shrugged, emitting a small smile and Lanie reciprocated it, putting his chart back on the foot of his bed. Lanie patted my shoulder and told me she was going to get something to eat. I told her I didn't need anything yet and she left me alone in the room. Continuing to stare at him, I walked to his bedside and sat down in the chair next to him. I finished my thought to Lanie's rhetorical question, whispering, "He's the extraordinary one."
I sat there for a few moments, the only sound audible was the beeps of Castle's heart monitor, still such a beautiful sound. I looked down at his hand and put my hand into it, clasping his – such a perfect fit. A few minutes passed by, I just watched Castle. Then came a smirk. He must really be dreaming something. I put my other hand on the one I already held – warmth emanated from it. Tears once again started to well up in my eyes, I really wasn't cried-out yet. Gathering some courage, I decided to follow the doctor's suggestion and spoke to him, my voice cracking a little, "Castle, you've got to come back to me."
At that, I saw him furrow his brows. Did he hear me? Was he waking up? That hope was dashed when I saw his facial expression go back to neutral. So much for that… but I continued to sit there, my hand in his, at his side.
More hours passed, the sun was ready to rise, and after some persuasion methods I learned from Castle, I was able to stay in Castle's room way past visiting hours. The nurse that allowed me to stay, Christy Schatzie came in, "How's he doing, Detective?"
"Same," I sighed, "Though his lips are starting to look a little chapped."
"Put some ice chips on his lips every so often, they should soften them up," Christy told me, "You know, honey, I know you said you want to stay in here, but you should really get some rest."
"I'm not tired," I replied, rubbing my eyes, contradicting myself.
"Or get something to eat?," Christy tried.
"Not hungry," I said again and looked up at her, "Thank you for letting me stay in here."
"No problem, hon," Christy replied and gave me a look I couldn't quite decipher as she looked back and forth at me and Castle. As she left the room after checking his monitor and morphine bag – it looked half empty to me, but what did I know; there could've been enough in there to last a long while, Alexis and Martha came into the room.
"Still no change?," Alexis sat on the arm of my chair. I still held his hand.
"No," I shook my head. Alexis leaned over me and gave her dad a kiss on the cheek. Martha came up behind her, "Don't worry, Alexis, you'll see. He'll get through this and he'll be back to his normal self."
Alexis nodded, a small smile appearing on her features. She put her hand on top of mine in her father's and said, "You can get through this, Dad. I know you can. You're strong."
A small smile appeared on Castle's lips. Alexis looked hopeful, taking her hand off mine, "Did he hear me?"
"I think he did," Martha nodded and I smiled with a nod too. Martha looked to me, "Kate, you need to eat something."
"I'm fine, Martha," I repeated.
"No you're not," Martha saw right through me, "Come on, you need to get out of this room. If you don't eat, at least get some fresh air."
I took one last look at Castle and nodded, reluctantly letting go of Castle's hand – the air feeling cold to my warm hand.
"I'll stay with him," Alexis said as I followed Martha out of his room.
"How did you manage to stay with him all night past visiting hours?," Martha asked as we started walking down the hallway.
"I used some persuasion tactics Castle taught me," I replied. I saw a flash of pride cross Martha's features. She wrapped her arm around me as we continued to walk. It wasn't long before we reached the hospital's entrance and stepped outside for a moment. I took a deep breath of the fresh air.
"Now, doesn't that feel better?," Martha asked, her arm still around me.
"Yeah," I admitted. I paused for a moment before turning to the older woman, "I still can't believe Castle is up in that room."
Martha tilted her head as she let me continue, "I've always been worried that Castle would get hurt shadowing me… not that he'd tell you, but there have been some close calls."
"I know," Martha nodded, giving me a look of wisdom.
I continued once again, "Never did I think he'd get hurt, not by shadowing me, but by just… a-a random wayward event."
"Honey," Martha started, "This is New York, crazy things like this happen every day and they're all out of our control. My son is lucky to have you in his life."
"And I'm lucky to have him in mine," I grinned. Martha once again gave me a look I couldn't quite interpret.
"Castle doing any better today?," Ryan came jogging up to us. I could see Esposito and Lanie slowly walking up to us too.
"He's still pretty much the same," I answered, "Though he has been giving us different facial expressions… either he's hearing us or it's from whatever he's dreaming."
"He really dreaming?," Esposito asked.
"He's not really in a coma," Lanie answered, "He's in a semi-conscious state which means he can still hear us. It's like he's half here and half somewhere else."
"Can we see him now?," Ryan asked.
"Yeah, I'd say it's about time for our shift," Esposito said before I could even get a chance to answer. We all headed back into the hospital.
To Be Concluded in Part 2
Well… that was Part 1! What did y'all think? Is it living up to expectations so far? This is my second attempt at writing anything in first person. My first attempt was with Clark Kent from Smallville and it was only 4 pages, so this 20-paged first person story was a bit of a challenge. Please tell me what you think! The second part will be posted in a couple of days – that way it'll give you guys a chance to let everything settle and have it brew. ;)
Thank you to those of you who are simply just reading this story. You mean a lot to me too. :D
Clois and Caskett Forever! :)