Terrible Love

I sailed a boat into the past except

It takes an ocean not to break. . .

It's terrible love and I'm walking in.

-Terrible Love, The National

Richard Castle takes another swallow and replaces his glass on the side table with numb fingers. He blinks past the effort of tears and lets anger crash over him instead. Again.

He wants to break something else.

The darkness is an enemy. He watches the lights in the windows across the street from his apartment, plays his old game to take his mind off things.

That one there, with the blue, mercury tinge to the light, that one is the home of an older woman who walks to work, uses those canvas produce bags, never misses a farmers' market. And that one, with every light burning in the apartment? That's the fresh-faced kid from Iowa who moved to the city thinking he'd wow the Broadway producers on his first audition, but the song flopped, and now he's up at night with the lights on to keep the roaches in hiding and his nightmares from being conjured up wholecloth.

Richard wants to smash something.

He makes a fist, insists on the game once more.

That one there, a couple in love. Still up, the candles flickering low, nearly burnt out, the soft hum of jazz from the stereo in the living room. A woman, passionate and a little uncontrollable, now finely tuned to him. A man with his hands filled with her. They are one. Different but the same.

This is no good. No good. He wants to destroy things. He wants it all to crumble, the entirety of the earth wiped out, the whole city in shambles just like his relationship with Kate.

Ruined. All of it.

The violence in him needs an out. He needs it out. He needs-

The insistent grind of his phone interrupts his seething. Castle answers the sudden call if only out of surprise, the darkness at his throat, ready for the kill.

"Captain Montgomery?"

"Castle. I've got a job for you. You're not going to like it. But someone has to keep Beckett from destroying herself."

And, just like that, the violence is gone. The night retreats.

"I can't fall asleep," she says. "I won't."

It's not, Please stay, but he doesn't go back to the door. Castle watches Beckett wander her living room, both of them on the perilous edge of shock. He can tell that the blood is beginning to rush in, the feeling coming back to their numb senses.

She hasn't asked him to leave this time. The lights are off and the shutters closed; no unsolved case staring back at them, no dead woman's eyes watching them.

Castle wonders if his hands will stop shaking soon.

"You should. . ." His voice fails him. She turns to look at him, as if in slow motion, her eyes blank.

Castle gestures to her clothes, the red-black knees of her jeans, the crusted sleeves of her black turtleneck. Even her hair; the ends dragged through blood and stiff like paint brushes left out.

He remembers the way he walked up behind her in the hangar, his guts hollowed out at the Captain's confession, uneasy at the role he must play. He remembers seeing the SVU approaching, the urge to keep her safe warring with his need to follow Kate to the ends of the earth.

"Blood," she says, detached.

He remembers her begging. Her sobbing. Her breaking.


"I can't."

Castle stands forlorn in the middle of her living room, halfway to the door, halfway to her side. He doesn't know what to do. He has no words anymore.

The silence and the night are between them, a distance uncrossable. Her black, blank eyes are fixed on nothing; the nightmares of the room manifest in dark corners. He hears her begging with him in the silence, hears her sobbing in the cracks between the silences. He sees her face, her awful, ruined eyes.

It's terrible.

He wants to break something. He wants to smash the place, smash her, brittle her bones and crush them into dust just to make her stop. Stop. Stop what?

He remembers the way he manhandled her out of the hangar, the hard pounding of his heart as he forcibly removed her. Remembers the wild panic racing through his body as he pressed her against the car, the smell of her hair and his fear as he silenced her with a hand, shushing, hushing, crushing her. Anything to keep her safe.

He remembers, with a terrible clarity given to last moments, the boneless way her body sagged against him, her hand coming up to his face in tender pleading, desperate and uncontrolled.

He remembers denying her even then.

Let me. Let me, please.

"C-Castle," she stutters and her hands are shaking when she raises them to brush back her hair.

He erases the distance between them with a jerky stride, wraps his arms around her back, shaking as well, still shaking.

"Castle," she keens, and he feels her open mouth against the thin material of his shirt, her teeth hard ridges at his collarbone, a frozen bite of grief.

He crushes her to him.

She doesn't cry, no tears. Just that closed-eyed, open-mouthed mourning, soundless and bewildering, her breath coming in ragged rhythms, her hands clenching fistfuls of his shirt.

His tears he keeps careful control of, as if he will have to account for them later. He doesn't let her feel them; instead, he blinks them away when he can, swallows them down his throat, swipes at his face when it is too much.

Everything is close to breaking.

I want to love you.

Everything in her body tells him no, tells him not to, tells him she doesn't want that.

"I said I would, but I won't," he whispers.

Her forehead presses against the skin at his neck; he feels his own pulse push against her skull, feels the shudder of her breath, the shiver that comes from her bones.

I just want to love you.

"I said I would, but I won't."

Her stuttered breath, the inhalation of a word: "Won't?"

"Won't follow you to your death. I won't."

Her knees give way, but he has her, he has her; she's breaking, but he has her.

"I can't stop now," she moans through a raw throat, her funeral keening like a phantasm out on the moors. "I can't stop. I can't."

It's terrible. Walking into this at her side, knowing full well the sleeping dragon has awoken and roams the earth for her. Looking to devour her.

But he has her.

Castle has her.

Just let me love you.

And even though he's said he won't, he knows he will. He'll walk into it with her. Walk anywhere with her. Everywhere.


This will never be over.