AN: I started this oh, a while ago – around the time I finished 'Courtship'. Needless to say, it's been way to long for me to still be stewing over this piece so I sucked it up and finished it. It's … different. I've not written anything in this style before so I'm flying by the seat of my pants here.

This might be confusing. Actually, I'm sure it will be confusing – but stick with it, or at least go through it and I'll say more at the end.

Takes place throughout the entire third season, with some time jumps in between that you can fill with your wonderful imagination. That being said, it's not really AU, but also kind of is.

Anyway, on with the story!


In the privacy of her own apartment, Beckett didn't bother hiding how much the situation tore her up inside. She stumbled onto her couch, letting her hair float over the arm, hands limply dangling over the edge. Her heart had been laid bare that afternoon and in return, it had been crushed. The unfamiliar tinge of rejection was far more painful than she could have ever expected and she refused to acknowledge the possibility that the issue was with the person she'd been rejected by.

She never once thought that Castle would actually leave. No, he had always been there no matter what she did – he always came back to her, chased after her with the innuendo and the flirting, and oh, how she enjoyed the power she had over him. He'd threatened to go more than once, hell, she threatened him a few times too, but each time they were stretched to their limits, it was as though they were bound by some elastic band that snapped them back together again.

It had made her complacent. Over-confident. Proud. And she had gotten too caught up in her power trip; revelling in the hold she had over him that she'd forgotten the one most important thing.

Richard Castle was still just a man. And men didn't like getting rejected.

She stifled an angry sob, biting into the skin on her forearm as she tried to keep her anguish in check. She had been too late. She'd been so stupid, and selfish and now Richard Castle was –

Suddenly she thought of Demming and what she'd done to him, realising with painful clarity that the world had the most sick and twisted idea of karma, revenge, whatever. She kept seeing him in her mind's eye, his retreating back as he walked out of the precinct, and she was overcome with a sense of hopelessness –



Her mother, her father, Royce, Will, and now Castle. People who claimed to have cared about her, and yet still found it easy enough to walk out of her life. Was she being unfair lumping them all in the same category of people who had abandoned her? Yes. Did she care? No. Not at the moment.

She deserved it. She'd given up a perfectly good man, a kind, sweet, gentle man, for one who decided run away to the goddamn Hamptons with his goddamned ex-wife.

Payback was a bitch.


Johanna Beckett.

The contents of her mother's file were spread out before her, scattered in piles, photos strewn all over her floor, overflowing from the documents already on her table.

She needed a distraction and with the folder lying so temptingly open in front of her, she found it. Warning bells started ringing in her head, reminding her that this was how she'd gotten sucked into that black hole back in her early years as a rookie cop.

She disregarded them.

Forgetting Richard Castle would be easy if she focused on her mother. Her mother, who deserved the best; deserved to have her murder solved; deserved everything she could give her.

While Richard Castle deserved nothing.

Her window taunted her, the light of dawn creeping up along the horizon, the pale blue of the morning sky reminding her of his eyes; blue, and twinkling and always full of surprises. She turned away defiantly from the window.


It had been almost 50 hours since she last slept, but she persevered. She was weary, her body protested against the lack of rest but sleeping meant dreaming. And in her dreams she saw the face of the man who had caused her hours of pain and regret – the man who had innocently wormed his way past her defences and into her heart, only to leave it … empty.

Beckett rose up on her knees and pinned the first piece of paper against the window, effectively blocking out the first rays of sunshine and the mocking blue that rose above the city skyline.

Johanna Beckett. Murdered.

She picked up a thick red marker and circled the word 'murdered', adding a 'why?' after a second of thought.

Yeah, this? This she could do.


Her boys are on her side, loyal as ever, even as they go back to the sweet familiarity of working together again. She notices them initially shunning him and is gleefully satisfied at his cluelessness. He forces himself into helping on the case, and to be honest she's not surprised that he did. He hedges a bet against her, the stakes are high – he gets to come back if he solves it before her.

She knows he won't.

She figures out it was about counterfeiting a good two hours before he does.

But she allows him the small victory anyway.


She caught him in her victim's apartment one random afternoon and it felt like the world had stopped spinning and no one else existed in the room besides the two of them. Him, standing guiltily over the dead body, and her with her gun trained on his torso, finger resting at the ready on her trigger.

The rush of hurt and anger hit her like a ton of bricks against her small frame.

She ignored his excited smile and his attempts to apologise. She did tell her boys to stand down though, for fear of adding another dead body to their count. But she continued to pay no attention to him.

She flinched away from him as he walked towards her, stepping over the dead body, over the mess, over the faded memories they'd shared over the two years and she refused to look at him. She was breathing hard, her heart beating irregularly as she was transported back to that damned hallway.

Him walking away from her, his arms around Gina, her heart a tattered mess at the bottom of her ribcage.

She recognised the tell-tale signs of an incoming panic attack – she was no stranger to them, not after the period of darkness after her mother's death. The only difference was that back then, she had no one to turn to. Now, as she held out a shaky hand and let out a strangled cry, her boys were by her side in a flash.

She keeled over and Ryan's arms came around her to hold her steady as Esposito cuffed Castle off by the sidelines.

Harsh words were exchanged between them, but she noticed nothing. She was still reliving that fateful afternoon and somehow the agony she had been able to keep so perfectly repressed over the past three months resurfaced as she stared unseeingly at his face.

The next thing she knew, she was being tugged out of the apartment, pushed into the squad car, and as they pulled up at the precinct, she knew what she had to do. For herself, for Ryan and Esposito, for Montgomery.

She handed the case over to Karpowski amidst her boys' protests of 'you're overreacting, Beckett!' and 'he's not even here anymore!' and took the next three days off. The Captain approved her leave, but she could tell that he was disturbed. She didn't care.

She found out much later that Karpowski had figured out that the case dealt with counterfeiting, but by the time she did, the culprits were already long gone past the border of Mexico.

In another time, she would have at least felt a smidgen of guilt over it. After all, that had been her case. Her lead. Her boys. And she'd let it go voluntarily.


Her window barely allowed any sunlight in anymore. There were photos, statements, reports tacked messily over the panes and she spent most of her nights poring over them. His unexpected re-emergence in her life further fuelled the desire to solve her mother's case, reigniting her desperate need for a distraction. It felt like her world had all but reduced into pure, utter, desolate darkness with nothing but a bare pinprick of light shining through the cracks that had formed in her soul.

She no longer remembered why she was angry with him. The rational part of her brain knew she was overreacting, knew that she should just get over it and face her problems head on. But she was already in too deep. The familiar draw of her mother's case, the very same thing that had redefined her youth and sent her barrelling headfirst through the Academy, the pull of solving the murder, the need, the want, the bloodlust – it was back, and she welcomed it with opened arms. This time though, she was attacking the case with more experience under her belt and with more determination than she could have ever mustered in her youth.

She picked up another photo and pressed it over the last bit of empty window space, engulfing the room in darkness.


"Oh, before I forget, what did Penny say about Alexander?"

"Oh, nothing. Just some silly stuff that didn't make any sense. Why?"

"Because my middle name is Alexander."

"I thought your middle name was 'Edgar'"

"Been perusing the personal section of the Richard Castle website again, have we? NO, I changed my middle name to Edgar for Edgar Allen Poe back when I changed my last name to Castle. My given name is Richard Alexander Rodgers. What a coincidence, huh?"

He turns away and misses the look on her face, the faint smile that graces her features and the slight shaking of her head in disbelief. Soulmates, magic, Santa, chimneys, double rainbows – Richard Alexander Rodgers.

As much as she tries to deny it, she feels the pain of the summer slowly ebbing away.


She didn't see or hear from him for four months. Of course, that was because she'd adamantly rejected every single call he made to her, deleted every email – shut the door in his face when he had the galls to make a trip to her apartment.

She sank further into the familiar taste of anxiety and despair that she had come to associate with her mother's death. She was aware that Lanie and the boys had been trying to pull her back, but she also knew this time that they would not be able to.

Her therapist had once told her that she possessed a personality akin to that of an addict. Allow her to start something and truly immerse herself in it, and stopping her was virtually impossible.

She finally understood what her therapist meant.

She went through her days in a zombie-like stupor and allowed Ryan and Esposito to take charge of most of her cases. Her nights were filled with memories of her mother, painstakingly examining records and statements from years ago and re-reading everything that had ever been filed on the murder.

She didn't know it yet, but slowly and surely, Kate Beckett was unravelling at the seams and was starting to lose control. She had alienated almost everyone at the precinct; Lanie and her boys had all but given up trying to talk to her and she let them be. She needed to focus on her mother, and justice, and the bastards who took her family from her.

Everything else could wait.


A case took her team downtown into a construction site, chasing after armed suspects through the mess of rubble and stone. She'd been caught unaware. Her exhausted body refused to cooperate and she'd taken a hit in her gut before she even realised the men were upon her. Ryan and Esposito had to double back for her, losing their mark and with it, ten million dollars' worth of next generation weaponry.

That evening, she got suspended and she hardly put up a fight.

A part of her – some sick and twisted part of her that she barely recognised had been waiting for the order to come through. At least with her away from work, she'd have more time to actually solve her mother's murder.



"Clear, he's gone. I'm fine, Ryan needs an ambulance."

She casts a quick glance around, but Esposito seems to have Ryan's situation under control and she focuses back on her partner. Takes in his broken form and loosens the ties around his hands.

"I'm so glad that you're okay," she whispers just for him, knowing that it's something he needs to hear. Needs to know.

Once again, he misses the look on her face, the tear that trails down her cheeks – he's wholly occupied by Tyson and guilt and a myriad of other emotions he does not dare to identify with.

They exit the motel, and she excuses herself to go get him some coffee.

She finds him again, by the pool with the same expression on his face. Guilt. Remorse. Regret. Three words, one meaning. She reaches out to place her hand on his thigh, a gesture of comfort. Tthe warmth of his body – so alive, his pulse beating beneath her fingers as their hands are clasped together – this was what she lived for. To save the day, with him by her side, standing tall as they supported one another.

This was what she lived for.


She had new information in her hands. Raglan. Lockwood. Third cop. Conspiracy.

The folder had been slipped under her door in the middle of the day and she'd spent most of the night going through it. Coupled with what she'd managed to dig up from her own investigations – altered files, perjured witness statements, drug cartels – names, names, more names – she knew she had hit the jack pot.

Somewhere in the recesses of her mind, she knew she ought to have found out who exactly slipped her the folder, but in that moment she was so overcome with excitement and the sensation was too overpowering. She was so very close – that much closer to solving … this. Whatever it was. Justice. Truth. Something.

Whoever had sent her the folder had left a page blank, save for the two words printed in neat block letters. Third cop.

It was small, but it was enough. The compilation that had been left at her doorstep was like breathing in a gulp of fresh air. She had one more week left of her suspension before she reported back to the precinct for a psych evaluation. One full week with new leads.

For the first time in almost a year, Kate Beckett allowed herself to smile.


She bandages his hand again, tenderly stroking the material as she rewraps it over and around his knuckles. She's saying things, trying to infuse a sense of normalcy into the situation, but she knows he knows she's only pretending. Her heart is thumping erratically, adrenaline still coursing through her veins from the confrontation at the warehouse, immensely relieved at the fact that were both still alive.

She knows it had been really close. Knows without a doubt that had Castle not been there, watching her back, she would have been killed. And so she thanks him. Pleads with her eyes for him to understand the things she wants to say to him, without actually saying them.

I couldn't have done this without you. Don't want to have to do this without you.

He tells her 'always' and she knows he means it. In the depths of her soul, she knows he means it. That he'll always be there for her, to save her, to love her.

It's scary.

But she deals with it internally, because there's a surgeon waiting for her back in the city who is clueless and will remain clueless about what had gone down that evening. Because she knows that she can't allow herself to give in the Castle's warmth just yet.

Because he's just saved her life, and all she's ever done for him is hurt him.


She'd been trained for situations like these. Controlling herself in face to face confrontations were important in her line of work, and she knew that one wrong move would possibly spell out the end for her. But this time it was different. The man she found herself face to face with was Hal Lockwood. This was the man who had killed her mother, robbed her of her youth and sent her father spiralling into an uncontrollable haze of anger. She wasn't trained for this.

"You look just like your mother."

Her gun had been taken from her when she got suspended, but she wasn't unarmed. In a fit of fury, she leapt at him and in a takedown that would make her training officers proud, she had Lockwood pinned to the ground, choking for air as her fingers squeezed his throat.

"You killed her!"

Beckett didn't even recognise her voice. Hoarse, angry, and she was sobbing. The arm that held him down was trembling in rage, the other clutching a knife poised above his neck.

"And she went down so easily. Your mother was so easy, Detective. But you know what, I'm not that easy."

The man choked out a small laugh and before she knew it, he was powering through her grip, rising up from beneath her and shoving her bodily to the ground. He'd twisted her arm, kicked her and sent her flying into the wall. Her back connected with the solid cement and she heard a loud crack from somewhere within her body.

And then it started hurting.

She heard him pull his gun out and she scrambled to get back on her feet. Her breaths came in short pants, the months of unhealthy eating and the lack of sleep were catching up with her and the world was spinning. She felt weak. God, she felt so weak.

His laugh echoed around her, his smile taunting.

"Not so tough now are you, Detective? See, this is what happens when you play with the big boys."

She reached a hand towards the wall to steady herself and she gazed fearlessly into the barrel of the gun that was pointed at her. She had faced more dire situations before, and she'd come out alive. She gritted her teeth and shook her head.

"Who were you working for?" She hissed out, ignoring the black spots that were forming at the edges of her field of vision. She swayed on her feet, but kept her eyes trained on him.

"Never you mind who I'm working for, sweetheart. Just know that they're not happy with all your digging and they want you out of the picture. So here I am, getting you out of the picture."

She knew what came next. Knew it in her heart, with dreaded certainty that this time she was in over her head. There was no way out, her chest was searing with pain, she was dizzy and dear god, that black spot at the corner of her eyes refused to go away.

She realised belatedly that she hadn't even said goodbye.

The gun in his hand cocked, she let go of the wall and closed her eyes.

The shot rang out, and she felt the impact force her against the ground.

"I've got you, Kate. I've got you."

It's funny that in her last moments of life, she heard his voice. It was like an omen, a last whisper of what could have been if she'd been more forgiving.

Her eyes were still closed and she braced herself for the burning pain from the bullet, but there was no flash of pain, no piercing of the –

Body. That weight on her – it was a body.

She opened her eyes and realised that she hadn't been shot. Someone had knocked her to the ground; that person's body was crushing her against the cold floor and before she knew what was happening, more shots were fired – shouts – a blinding white light. The weight was lifted off her, as quickly as it had knocked her over, it disappeared. There were footsteps pounding all around her as she heard angry shouts, gunfire – and in the distance, a dull thud and then silence.

It lasted all of two minutes before she was roughly pulled up, a hand lightly smacking the side of her face.


Her eyes blinked at the light on her face. But really, she didn't need to see to recognise that voice.


She was whispering, anything louder and she felt like her throat would split apart. A hand hauled her up and she managed to focus her vision on the man in front of her.

"What the fuck were you doing here without back up, Beckett?" Esposito asked. Off to the side, she could see Ryan and some uniforms canvassing the scene, almost twenty cops randomly wandering through the warehouse.

"You saved me?" She asked, ignoring his question.

"Wha – no. We found you lying here, Beckett. Blood everywhere, but I don't think it's yours. We must have spooked him when we got here. Heard a car peeling away the moment we entered. You have a gun, Beckett? We heard shots."

She closed her eyes again, feeling the bruises, the aches – the soreness that was quickly becoming too much to bear.

"He got away," Ryan announced as he approached them. He held out his hand and Beckett slung her arm around his shoulders, giving Esposito some relief from carrying her entire weight. "We were seconds too late."

She was confused. No, they weren't too late. They saved her, didn't they? Pushed her out of the way, shoved her to the ground – bullet barely missed her because of it. But it didn't make sense. She knew she heard fighting before the thundering of the cops' footsteps coming through the warehouse. Heard gun shots, scuffling, door slamming shut before the tyres squealed away.

"Someone else was here," she said as realisation dawned upon her. "Saved my life. Someone was here."

She could tell Esposito was getting frustrated by the look in his eyes, but she needed to tell him. She opened her mouth to form the words, but the agony was too overwhelming. She doubled over, wheezing between the two hardened detectives and she fought to remain upright. The pain was shocking, spreading through her broken body like wildfire and she couldn't –

"Hurts," she mumbled before she blacked out.


It took three hours for Beckett to muster up the courage to call him.

Her fingers hovered over the number two – she hadn't bothered removing him from her speed dial – as she weighed her options. The doctors had checked her over, declared two of her ribs bruised and that all her cuts and scrapes were superficial. She was severely malnourished, extremely exhausted, but when it came right down to it, she had to know. Her boys had taken her statement, but remained sceptical about the fact that someone other than a wounded Lockwood had been there. There had been no sign of a third person besides the blood on the floor, which they said could have been Lockwood's – it was still with the lab being processed. They chalked it up to hallucinations and she was inclined to believe them, if not for the lingering memory of the warmth over her, the protective embrace he'd held her in – his voice in her ear, soothing her.

She sucked in a deep breath, and for the first time in almost a year, she pressed two and waited.

He did not answer.


She snuck out of the hospital; her pain numbed into a dull throb by the medication and hailed a cab to his apartment, although she still can't for the life of her figure out why. There could be a thousand reasons why he didn't answer, among them the fact that she had practically cut off all ties with the man, but there was this nagging feeling in her gut that she couldn't ignore. The doorman fixed her with a weird stare as she entered and she flashed him her small smile. He averted his eyes and gazed back down into his book. She figured that he remembered her from a year ago and she made her way to the elevator without much fuss.

Her knocks went unanswered for a few minutes, but just as she was about to give up, turning away to walk back to the elevator, it flew open and she was pushed violently against the wall opposite the door.

She almost went for the knife she'd hidden under her belt, and if not for the familiar red hair she would have incapacitated her assailant.


"They took my father!"

The girl was in hysterics, tears streaming down her face and trembling uncontrollably against Beckett's torso. She was shocked and dumbfounded, but her hand reached around to try to hug the younger woman.

Alexis flinched away.

"He's gone! He's been working on your stupid case, and now he's gone! They're going to kill him, because of you!"

Beckett shook her head in confusion, but she couldn't get a word in edgewise until she felt a sudden chill go down her spine.

Working her case.

Her mother's case.

That folder under the door. Lockwood. That body crashing into hers, shoving her to the ground.


The girl shoved Beckett again, unknowingly sending shocks of pain through Beckett's body. "Don't even … they called. They have him. And they want you. They want you, so they took my father!"

Her worst fears were realised and confirmed. Panic was starting to set in as she remembered hearing shots being fired, too many for a single shooter. Esposito said there'd been blood on the floor. That she'd been lying in blood. But she hadn't bleed enough to –


She pushed Alexis out of the way and her phone was almost immediately against her ear.


He has saved her again. Not intentionally, she supposed, but saved her nonetheless. Her, and the entire city.

She still feels cold, even being wrapped up in her thick blanket, hands around a steaming cup of cocoa. Still cold, still jittery, and still focused on the utter disappointment in his face as he left the precinct that afternoon. She feels like she hasn't done enough to thank him – and honestly, she knows she hasn't.

The man stood by her when she got called off the case, ran theories with her, kept her warm as she froze to a near-death. Saved her. Again.

Josh is tinkering around the kitchen, trying to make something from the very few things she had in her fridge. She shivers. Oh, how she wished it was Castle with her, shovelling down pizza, or Remy's burgers – anything, anything warm and greasy that would possibly erase the chill that ever so often creeps up on her. But Josh is here. And he's making some dish to celebrate her being alive.

She wants to tell him that Castle deserves to celebrate too. Wants to tell him that her partner's family is at the Hamptons and he was alone at home. Wants to tell him to go back to the hospital so she can be with her partner and the two of them can reflect on being alive together.

But she doesn't.

Because she's still afraid and he's still her boyfriend.


Castle knew that he couldn't hang on much longer. His face was partially numb and he had lost at least three teeth. His hands were pulled so tight around his back, tied roughly to the chair, that it was as though one slight push and his arms will fall out of their sockets. A piece of cloth had been crudely tied around the bullet wound on his thigh, though his blood was still slowly trickling from it. The pain was still there, but he suspected his body was going into shock – it was hardly noticeable anymore.

"Tell me what the detective knows!"

If he could move his mouth, Castle would have laughed. But as it were, even blinking his eyes was excruciating so he just swallowed. The metallic tinge of his saliva brings to attention to the fact that he was bleeding. Profusely. Everywhere.

His silence earned him another punch, so hard that he heard his jaw crack upon impact. He sucked in a deep breath as he turned back to his attacker. Derrick Storm would have been able to weather this sort of abuse. Nikki Heat would have charmed her way out of it – but he was neither. He was Richard Castle, and all Richard Castle had was his love. For words, for Alexis, for Kate, for magic and destiny and fate. He swallowed again.

"K- Kate's gonna ki-kill you."

The fist connected with his face again, the last thing he saw before he succumbed to the darkness.


The precinct quickly became the home of orderly chaos. Multiple murder boards were set up, phone lines were busy and almost all available personnel had been tasked to find Lockwood and Castle. Beckett felt the dark, heavy feeling starting to pool in her gut and suddenly she was afraid that she'd been too late. She tried his cell once more, but she knew it was in vain. She was helpless and she hated it.

They pulled her off the case the moment she relayed all that she knew to them. They'd placed her in the break room with Alexis, isolating them from everyone else. The girl still refused to say a word to her, but she understood that. She would understand if Alexis never spoke to her ever again.

She'd refused to go back to the hospital and because none of them wanted to deal with her when they had bigger fish to fry, they called Lanie in to make sure Beckett was physically still alright.

Their conversation was short and to the point. Lanie checked her wounds, declared them to be no more threatening than they had been before she left the hospital, and left the room. It was clear Lanie still hadn't forgiven her for falling off the radar like she did, and frankly at that moment Beckett didn't care. She just needed Castle to be okay, both for herself and Alexis.

Half an hour of awkward silence later, Ryan burst through the door.

"We got 'em."


It ends with her standing on the podium, her eyes darting from face to face, cataloguing the range of emotions on the faces of those in attendance. She avoids looking at Evelyn and her children, not quite ready to feel the guilt that will undoubtedly wash over her as she does so.

She clears her throat. She doesn't want to be here but she is out of respect, and she's agreed to give a eulogy. Castle remains steadfast next to her, so out of place without a cop's uniform, yet everyone knows he belongs there. With them. With her.

She begins with Roy's own words. She's no word master so she steals from him. Somehow, she doesn't think anyone will care. Eventually she does turn to the new widow and the two girls and she remembers being in their position, burying a parent, feeling as if there was nothing worse that can possibly happen to her.

She was wrong.


They found him alone in the room, tied up, battered and bleeding. He was unconscious and before anyone could stop her, Beckett ran to him, collapsing at his feet as she struggled to maintain her composure.

The cops spread out around them, checking in every dark corner as she worked to untie his hands. She couldn't contain the tears that streamed down her face, and she sobbed into the night, willing him to open his eyes. It was the first time she has seen him in a year and she couldn't help but wonder if she'd been less stubborn, less angry, less stupid – if they would even be here. Both broken, both on the verge of giving up.

As if her whispered pleas to wake up had reached him, she noticed his eyes shifting beneath his lids. She clutched his unbound hands tightly, leaning up towards his face even as her knees protested against the pressure she'd placed on them.

"Castle," she sobbed. "Wake up."

His eyes opened, but instead of the relief that she expected to see in them, she only saw fear.

"Cas-" Beckett started but he interrupted her, shaking his head vehemently.

"Sn..r," he managed to choke out. ""

He was agitated and desperately needed to tell her something – she could tell from the way he was trying to push her away. She held on tighter to him though, being the stronger of the two and she forced him to look at her.

"Oh, Kate."

He smiled at her then, as if he was noticing her for the first time. She returned his smile.

"I'm right here, Castle. Stay with me, 'kay?"

And then his features crumpled and he broke free of her hold on him. He shuffled his feet against the floor and lurched forward towards her, in a move that almost looked like he was about to fall on her.

He blinked at her furiously, swallowed and grimaced before he spit out a single word as he toppled over her.


The word was barely out of his mouth before the shot rang out.


She's sent flying backwards, Castle looming over her as he tries but fails to push her out of the way. All around them, chaos ensues. Cries of panic and fear echoes around her, but the only thing she sees and hears is him.

The one man who had stood by her, through everything, despite everything, because of everything. His face is a mask of sorrow and fear and pain and all she wants to do is reach out to ease him into the familiar smile that usually graces his features.

But she can't move.

She feels the liquid heat of her blood oozing down the side of her chest and his hands trying desperately to stem the flow. In her mind, she thinks of the past year and all the times she's been wrong about him, about herself, about them.

She regrets it all.

He's whispering in her ear, but she can't register a thing he's saying – she's trapped in memories. She's unsure if they're her real memories or if she's seeing figments of a very realistic dream, but it's of him, and her and of the choices that she's made in the last year.

She takes a moment to wonder if she would have ended up where she was if things had gone differently when he returned from the Hamptons. She ignores the pain in her chest and focuses on the memories. Good memories, bad ones too – but all just as significant.

Because, she realises with a start as she hovers between living and … almost dying, because despite the jarring differences in the scenes she's remembering, in the end, she still falls and he still jumps in front of her.

That is all that remains. It's the last thing she sees before she gives in to the inviting darkness, the one thing that resonates through the core of her very being even as she stops feeling his hands pressing down on her chest.

Nothing changes.

Not really.

He was still there. With her. Always, like he'd promised he would be.

And she was still dying.

I love you Kate.

And a white light blooms in the corner of her eyes, just as his face fades out of her sights.

She smiles.


AN: So. That's it. I"m stupidly unsure about this story :( If you were really confused, the ! signified a break in reality while the / just meant a normal break within that one reality. I know Beckett seems really 'dark' here, but I was playing on the extreme side of her stubborn-ness and her addiction to her mother's case - hopefully that came out alright.

I would absolutely love to hear from all of you, whether it's to yell at me for writing such a crazy-ass confusing story, or to clarify certain points or just to say you've read it and enjoyed it (or didn't enjoy it). Feel free to PM me with I don't know, questions or whatever :)

If you hop on over to my tumblr account (http :/ /griever11 . tumblr . com), I've put up 'cover-art' for this story (only because I'm so bored and have nothing else better to do during my holidays).

But yes. Feedback would be appreciated and in any case, thank you so much for reading!!