Title: Before I Die
Summary: There were lots of things that Kate wanted to do, but none more than this.
Rating: T
Warnings/Spoilers: none
Disclaimer: I own nothing. All rights for the characters and the world go to their owners. I, in no way, believe – or would lead others to believe – that I own Castle. Though, I would have no objections to having some time with this cast.

Author's Note: This is short, but whatever you've got Of Finding Innocence to read today anyway :)

before i die || rick/kate

The carpet scratches beneath her toes. It pulls and tickles the bottom of her feet until she is almost hopping with every step. She sort of resents her decision not to put on socks. She could turn around and put them on, but she doesn't want to. She needs to be there when he gets to her door. She has to see the moment his eyes take in the sign. She's never been as open as she is today. Today is the day.

Part of Kate feels like a coward for putting it on the door. She should say it, shouldn't she? She should puff up her chest under her tanktop, take a deep breath, and spit out the words that have been clawing at her insides for years. She should take his hand in hers and let the inquisitive blue of his eyes take her to that sea of hope she needs during a long day. She should kiss him.

She has the bucket list on the counter. Her messy second grade handwriting barely goes along with the lines of the page. Johanna's added notes are perfect and beautiful, no surprise there. Everything about Johanna was. She had always encouraged Kate to do what it took to be happy. Number one on the bucket list was to make a list of all of the little things that make Kate happy. Johanna used to say that if Kate could do that nothing would stand in her way. Today, Kate takes that advice.

Maybe Kate's imagining it, but she can swear she hears the small ding of the elevator down the hall. She hears his footsteps, forcibly level and harsh against the ground as if the wait is killing him. She hears them stop, then she hears him gasp. Hears his lungs fail him and his body start to give out. He holds himself up with a hand to the door, the first thing she truly and physically hears. Time slows to a halt. To a breath. No going back now.

In an odd flip of moments, she knocks on the door. Again, Rick gasps, but he clears his throat after and grabs the handle. She steps back just as the door comes inward. For the hundredth time that day, she takes in the sign.

At the top of the door are the words The Little Things. From there, all sorts of words and phrases in different colors stand out. Catching the bad guy. Getting my coffee at just the right temperature. Ryan and Esposito. Roy's last stand. My dad. My mom. Martha. Alexis. And, right in the center, loving you.

She hesitates when she sees it. Of course she does. The words are there. In the air. In her apartment. In his eyes when she looks up. His love wraps around her heart, and she honestly isn't sure if her chest is exploding or just completely still. Rick stares through her. He normally does. Only, for once, she has nothing to hide.

He steps forward with a small point towards the door. She answers him with a nod before he even asks the question. He points to himself. Her nod is slower, sadder, because she isn't just saying that she loves him. Somewhere on the board, near Roy's last stand, are the words remembering what came next. She figures he knows even if he didn't spot it on the sign. He probably has known for a while. She expects him to blow up, but he just shakes his head. It's not the time to talk about that. It's time to just be.

His face is centimeters before hers when she does finally get the words out:

"I love you, Rick."


Any thoughts?