A/N: Hey, everyone. Hope you're having a wonderful holiday season! Anyway, this kind of popped into my head, and has no direction, so I'm hoping it'll unfold to all of us as I go along. I don't have a beta (but I'd love one), so all mistakes are mine.
Disclaimer: I have a Castle Calender, if Andrew Marlowe wants to trade I am more than down.
Restless. Anxious. Unable to focus. Falling fast. Struggling, gasping. Panting, collapsing. Thoughts jumbled, muscles screaming. Blinding flashes, reflected light. Eyes watching, everywhere. Pressure, hard and constant. And then black, endless and forgiving, black.
She woke up in her bathtub, her piece in hand. The pressure she felt now was different, a pounding resonating against her skull. Kate stood slowly, steadying herself against the wall. Blinking, she began to see the damage of her PTSD spell. She decided she'd clean later, her main concern being ibuprofen. She found it quickly enough, having been thrown to the ground along with anything else that had been in her bathroom cupboard. She swallowed down two pills before heading into the kitchen to chase them with water.
Her living room was in a state of disarray, again. Her bookcase spilled onto the hardwood floor. Her mirror laid shattered on the carpet. She'd be cleaning for at least a couple of hours. From the refrigerator in her kitchen, she could see the way the rest of her day was going to pan out. Considering it was bordering on 5 a.m., she settled herself with the notion that the sleep she had gotten after her episode would be the only rest she'd have.
Kate put on a pot of coffee, anticipating that she would need more than her usual par for caffeine, and set out on cleaning. This was the third time she'd blacked out in as many weeks, and it was one of her worst. The last time, she had been in her room when the memories took hold, thrashing in her sheets, and waking up under the mattress. The damage had been minimal, and she hadn't been left with any injuries, a blessing of its own. She still had a scar on her wrist from the first time she'd fallen into whatever trance the PTSD commanded, a permanent reminder of how real her disease was, despite her initial denial.
The apartment was returned to normal, with her in the shower by 7, an hour before she was needed at the precinct. A solace from the rest of her life, she let the water flood over her. Washing away the crippling grief and the rush of emotions she refused to acknowledge. Twenty minutes later, she donned a deep blue v-neck sweater, an onyx blazer, jeans, and black pumps. Applying light mascara and eyeliner, she was out the door by quarter to 8.
Richard Castle was no stranger to nightmares. Being a writer, it was something he experienced frequently, especially since joining the homicide team at the NYPD. But, in the past months, all of his night terrors had been about Kate.
An ambulance siren tearing through the night. Kate face-down in a halo of her own blood. The sharp continuous beep declaring her heart still. Frantic doctors running, screaming, begging for mercy. Kate dying on an operating table, open and exposed. Kate dead, remembered only by a white slab of rock. Him left empty in her wake.
He woke up at 5a.m. in a cold sweat, unable to catch his breath. Figuring he wouldn't be able to fall back asleep, he got ready for the day. Dressed in a black jacket, a navy dress shirt, and dark jeans; he fixed his hair before making breakfast for Alexis and his mother. He set about cooking lazily, thoughts anywhere but in the mundane task. An hour later, Alexis descended the stairs, clad in pajamas, barely awake.
"Good morning, pumpkin." He smiled, thankful for his daughter's ability to brighten his morning simply by walking in the room.
"Hey, you're up early." She sat at the island in their kitchen, head against the table top.
"And so are you. Want to go in late to school, get some extra sleep?" He slid a plate of eggs, toast, and bacon her way before setting about making her a fruit and yogurt cup.
"I wish, but no, I have a major test today in calc, first period. If I miss it, I'll just have to stay after to make it up next week. It's not worth the hassle."
"Well eat up, get some energy. I'm sure you'll put your classmates to shame." He smiled, hoping to inject a bit of silliness into her morning to improve her mood for school. "And if not, you can always just stay here with me for the rest of your life."
"Gee, Dad, thanks for the vote of confidence." Her resolve failed, a slight grin appearing where a faux scowl previously rested.
A cup of coffee in each hand, Richard Castle entered the 12th Precinct with a smile and short nod for the officer at the main desk. Where most people felt frightened, or intimidated as a civilian in police quarters, Rick felt at ease. It was as much his home as the loft, with the added benefit of Kate Beckett.
His eyes were drawn to her, automatically finding the gold strands in her hair, dancing in the light. He strode toward her desk, placing her coffee above her paperwork before dropping into his chair.
And it was his chair. As much as Kate may have initially denied his help as 'assistant junior homicide detective,' he'd long since found his groove within their unorthodox family. Esposito and Ryan were her brothers in arms, in life. They supported her, and she trusted them with her life. But, Castle. Castle was anything but fraternal. Warm and constant, he was her partner. Always.
She offered him a smile in thanks that was returned in kind, "Morning."
"To you as well, Detective. Any bodies?"
"Not yet, but it's still early. Until then, there's always paperwork. Care to pitch in, for once?"
"If I do can we get an early lunch?"
"It's barely eight-thirty. How can you possibly be thinking about lunch?"
"Early lunch means a longer lunch, and a longer lunch means less time at the loft."
She eyed him curiously, not needing to actually ask him to communicate her question.
"Alexis and Mother are leaving tonight to go on a tour of New England colleges until Sunday night. Spending extra time in a soon to be permanently empty apartment isn't exactly high on my list of priorities."
Kate watched his face gradually fall, inch by inch. His lips curved downward slightly. His eyes followed, darkening and dropping to the floor. He drew into himself, collecting his thoughts. Bottling up his fears and doubts concerning Alexis and her forthcoming graduation. She'd seen enough, afraid that if she let him think too much, he'd be lost for the day.
"Well then I guess that means dinner is on you tonight." She raised a playful eyebrow and Castle cracked a smile.
Their slow morning transcended into a slower day filled with paperwork mountains and flying birds of destruction. Stretching out her work load for his benefit, Beckett didn't reach the end of her pile until close to 8.
Castle watched as she signed off on the last file, her elegant strokes of the pen dancing across the signature line. She closed the file with a relieved sigh, pushing it to the side before stretching. She rolled her head back on her shoulders and hung her arms in the air, fingers interlocked above her head.
He'd been observing her for so long, now, that Kate found his attentiveness endearing. His skill for capturing details in his writing was mirrored in reality, constantly picking up on small habits or behaviors she wouldn't even think to acknowledge. So when his eyes flicked towards her while her arms were extended, she didn't realize he had locked onto a small line of pinched flesh, pink and newly healed, puckered against her otherwise pale wrist.
His mind reeled. It was obviously a fairly new scar, but he couldn't get his mind past not having seen it sooner. It must have been deep when she first got it, deep enough to still be raised against the rest of her skin, anyway. She couldn't have done it more than a month ago, considering how dark it was. But what had she done? How had she gotten hurt and him have not noticed? It obviously wasn't while she was on duty, otherwise he surely would have seen it, right? He racked his brain, trying to think of a time where he would have seen it before, or at least have asked her what had happened. Each time, he came up blank, and disappointed in himself for doing so.
"Ready to go?" Her voice snapped him out of his thoughts, bringing him back to reality where she was already standing up from her chair, shifting things around on her desk. He gave a short nod and stood, shrugging his jacket onto his shoulders before holding hers out for her to slip on. "Remy's sound okay?"
He mumbled a short "mmhmm" in response, trailing behind her to the elevator, oblivious to whatever she was saying. He was too focused on the scar, its implications, his failure to notice it.
Rick dragged his eyes from where they had been downcast and locked them with Kate's. Blue diamonds immersed in fields of green. His gaze was loaded, but with what, she had no idea. And then she saw his eyes shift, flicking toward her hand hanging limply at her side. Her eyes glazed over in confusion, unable to make a connection between his suddenly meaningful eye contact and her hands.
"…What happened to your wrist, Kate?" She almost didn't hear him ask. She almost missed the way his voice trembled as he whispered her name. She almost didn't have to admit that she wasn't merely broken. She almost didn't have to face the truth that she was irrevocably, completely, shattered.
She took a deep breathe, unsure of how to escape her predicament, "Can we do this somewhere else?"
Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Concerns? Please leave something, I need the motivation.