So this was bound to happen, amazing episodes always make me want to write and Kill Shot was nothing less than extraordinary. Pretty easy to work out where this would fit in.

I don't own anything you recognize and many thanks to Jaime for reading!

Tell Her Always

He sits in his usual spot. Waiting. He knows she is safe. He knows Esposito saved her life. He now knows he owes that man one hundred cold beverages of his choice. Gates informed him of the outcome of the case a few moments ago and at this moment all he feels is relief. Gates has now disappeared, he didn't follow her, or ask any more questions of the information she gave. This captain is not like the last. You don't ask questions, you are simply told. But maybe after today she's slowly warming to him. They did work side by side for a few moments and he's pretty sure that he was helpful.

He won't lie, staying at the precinct instead of going with her was tough. Hell, staying away from her since this case began has been tough. He wanted nothing more than to make her pain go away. To make the pain that clouded her eyes in the street disappear. But he didn't know how.

He can pretend that he knows what it is like to be a cop, to truly be a cop. He won't deny that he does feel like a cop on the odd occasion. He goes to crime scenes, he makes breakthroughs, and he can sometimes even solve a case. But he doesn't have the badge. He isn't Detective Castle, he's just Castle.

He can write one hundred scenes about someone close to one of his characters dying, about his characters being shot, about the pressure of being a detective. But he's never going to truly know what that is like. He can write about spinning out of control, but writing and actually helping someone who is spinning out of control are two very different things. So he asked the one person he knew would be able to help. And he did.

When she'd joined them at the coffee shop he was able to see the change in her. She'd put the broken pieces back in the metaphorical box and she'd even smiled. A real smile. A smile that said for the moment she was okay. For the moment, she had it all under control.

He's starting to wonder about the metaphorical box that Esposito mentioned. He's starting to wonder if she does remember the shooting. And he's starting to wonder if that means she remembers something else too.

Suddenly she's beside him. She looks almost surprised that he's still there. He doesn't know what to make of that. She questions him and he gives her his most honest answer, but he doesn't look at her directly. He's waiting for his partner. His partner who has been missing for the last few days. She retorts with a statement about her being a handful and he cannot help but agree in a bantering kind of way. Because that is what they do. It's how they communicate. He tells her that his partner owes him coffee, because that's also something that is just them, another form of communication and then he stands. He's seen she's okay for now. He still doesn't want to push.

But she calls him back. She thanks him, and he knows that no matter how much it hurt to leave her to her own devices for the last few days, and it hurt. He knows he made the right choice. He asks her a question and he gets an honest answer. So he says the one word he knows means more to them than all of the others. He tells her always, and then he leaves.

He's never going to be able to push her into anything, she'll make up her own mind, but he will tell her always. Because he knows one day, she'll tell him the same, again.

She steps out of the elevator and walks towards her desk. She stops for just a moment as she notices him sitting beside her desk. Waiting. Did she expect him to be waiting for her? She doesn't know. Her head is still foggy over the confrontation with Lee, foggy because she thought she was going to take another bullet and that this time there would be no second chances.

She sits down beside him. He doesn't look at her. He speaks about her in the third person. As if he's talking about one of his characters, maybe even about Nikki Heat, but not her. She wonders if that means he's upset at her, she thinks she might be at him if he'd acted as she did over the last few days. She is a handful. Maybe he can't deal with her anymore, but then he lightens the mood like only he can. Something between banter and a joke. About coffee.

He stands and begins to move away, but she feels she has to say something. So she says his name and he turns back to look at her, she thanks him for leaving her alone and when he asks why she tells him the truth. Because he's right, they are partners, even when she does try to carry the weight of the world alone on her shoulders.

His response is short, he tells her always, and then he's gone. She watches him leave. She doesn't call him back. He told her always, exactly what she needed to hear. One day, when he needs to hear it, when the circumstances are different, she'll tell him the same, she'll tell him always, again.