A/N: This story came about because the day after seeing the season premiere I was thinking about it when Change of Time came up on my ipod. Since then I can't hear the song without also picturing the episode. Given that they have already used another Josh Ritter song for a pivotal moment (Come and Find Me, hotel door scene in To Live and Die in LA) it seemed appropriate so I decided to see if I could make it work for a retelling of parts of Rise. Each verse will preface a chapter and forgive me for the sometimes florid prose as I attempt to work the songs imagery into the story.
Change of Time - Josh Ritter
I had a dream last night
I dreamt that I was swimming
And the stars up above
Directionless and drifting
Somewhere in the dark
Were the sirens and the thunder
And around me as I swam
The drifters who'd gone under
It's only a change of time
Castle stirred slightly in his sleep, letting out a slight moan as his reflexively clutching hand knocked a pen off the desk blotter that was currently serving as his pillow. His sleep was uneasy and not just from the lack of a bed. In fact, he was frightened of the deeper slumber a bed might bring, frightened of the nightmares that bloomed every time he closed his eyes. For three days he had driven himself, spending all his time at the precinct hunting for Beckett's shooter alongside Esposito and Ryan, returning home only to change clothes and get the cold showers and hot coffee that he was substituting for actual rest.
But even the most tortured mind can only hold out for so long and his body had begun to succumb at odd moments, dozing off while riding in the squad car, eyes closing when sitting in the break room waiting for his thousandth cup of expresso to brew, even once, embarrassingly, nodding off propped up against the corner of the elevator and nearly falling down, much to the amusement of the other riders. Now, with the squad room quiet and the leads running out, his body shut down while his brain drifted wildly through the darkness.
It was like an unending newsreel, as colorless and grainy as a Vietnam war era documentary and just as violent. Over and over, he catches the glint of light from the rifle out in the distance. Over and over, he lunges towards Beckett, each time thinking he's been fast enough and each time gasping as he sees the blood spreading across her blouse, pooling dark and inky beneath his hands. Over and over, he relives the fear, the desperation, and then his words. I love you, Kate.
But this was where the dreams varied. Sometimes it happened just as it had at the graveyard, he called to her and then her eyes closed without giving him any indication if she had heard him, no idea if, at that moment, she was even capable of registering what those four words meant. But other times he wasn't quick enough and found himself professing his feelings to a Beckett who had already gone under, repeating them time and again until they became a sort of dirge for what he had lost. Worse yet were the times she did hear and looked away, her drift into unconsciousness an escape from his emotion. And then, as the dream sirens began to blare and his heart thundered in his chest, she died. No matter what he did or what he said, in every dream she always died.
Of course, he knew she was alive. Yes, she was still in intensive care but her prognosis had been improving daily. She would live, but ... and there was the rub. But. Had she heard, did she remember, what would happen now? Why did it feel like the answer to those questions might just be the death of him?
Finally, the ringing of his phone brought him out of his tortured dreams. As he blearily blinked himself awake, not yet sure of his surroundings, he instinctively looked over towards Beckett's desk. Empty. If he had hoped to find reassurance there, it was not to be. Then, with a sigh, he answered the phone.