So, in "Lean On Me" I know that some of you were asking to see Rick and Kate's reunion scene. I hadn't originally planned on writing this, because I wanted the one-shot to be focused on the RyanxEspositoxBeckett friendship (I feel like I never really venture outside of Caskett). But then I saw the scene in my head so I wrote this out, and 3,000 words later I have you this. I'm posting it as a separate one-shot, but this is the companion/sequel piece to "Lean On Me". If you haven't read that one, I suggest you go read it first for this all to make sense.
Disclaimer: I don't own Castle. Nor do I own the song "Beside You"
Kate wasn't sure how long she had been sitting in Rick's office, clutching Heat Wave between her chest and her knees.
Kate, Ryan, and Esposito had sat on the break room floor for nearly 45 minutes before she had made a move to get up. Ryan and Esposito were immediately standing up in front of her in the now dark room, each offering her a hand to get up. She hesitated only a moment before grabbing both of their hands, allowing them to pick her up off the floor. As soon as she was steady on her feet, they told her to go home and get something to eat, maybe take a shower or a short nap before Castle got home.
Translation: You look like hell, and we know you don't want him to see you like this.
She squeezed both of their hands a little tighter, and they smiled at her before nodding slightly, letting go of her hands and walking out of the break room and back towards their desks, intent on finishing the paperwork before heading home. For her.
She knew they wouldn't tell anyone about what happened. This was going to be their little secret.
Deciding to leave before she embarrassed herself further, she took their advice. She walked over to her desk and grabbed her bag and her jacket, shrugging it on as she shut off her computer. As she walked out of the precinct, she had called out a quick goodbye, hearing Ryan call out a "goodnight, Beckett" and Esposito answer with his own "see you in the morning, boss" as if they hadn't just spent the past hour holding her as she broke down in front of them.
Despite the fact that she knew her eyes were still puffy and her chest still ached, she allowed herself a small smile as she walked into the elevator. Her boys really did have her back. And she loved them for it.
Those feelings faded the further she got away from the precinct. When Kate had let herself into the empty loft, the clock on the wall said it was just after 8:30, meaning she had three and a half hours to kill before she had to face Rick. She dropped her keys quickly into the familiar dish next to the door, taking her coat off as she walked over towards the kitchen. She opened up the fridge, rifling through it for only a moment before deciding on the take-out from a few nights before (man, she really did eat terribly when Rick wasn't there). She quickly dumped it on a plate and threw it in the microwave, heating it up for a few minutes. In the meantime, she grabbed a glass from the cabinets and filled it with water, knowing that what she really wanted was a large glass of wine, looking around the loft that had essentially been her home for the past 4 days. She wasn't sure how he managed to do it, but Rick had convinced her that she should stay at the loft for the week he was gone (he just had so many plants that needed to be watered and someone had to get his mail and the paper for him, right?). She had argued at first, saying that it really wasn't appropriate, but almost as quickly as the argument formed on her lips it died, because this was all inevitable. She eventually said yes, and he had given her a key and thanked her with a huge smile on his lips.
In all honesty, Kate knew that Rick had asked her to stay at the loft because he knew her so well. He knew that she was going to miss him, and she knew that he was going to miss her, so her staying at the loft was a win for everyone. With Kate at the loft, Rick knew that she had had access to anything she needed to survive a week in his absence, including a fridge full of real food, a supply of quality coffee, his office stocked with plenty of new reading material to keep her busy, and a tub that had so many massaging jets that Rick swore it could turn melt tension. And Kate liked being in the loft. It felt like him and smelled like him. It was warm and inviting.
It felt like home.
The sound of the microwave timer going off had ripped her from her thoughts, and she ate her food quickly not even bothering to taste it before walking towards the bathroom and turning on the shower, heating up the water as high as it would go, trying to rinse the day away. When she got out, she paused at the mirror, looking at the nearly black bruise that painted her chest. Her fingers reached out to touch it, but as soon as her fingertips touched the purple patch she flinched away, anticipating the pain. She quickly pulled the towel back up around her chest, walking out into the bedroom and over towards the dresser.
Tonight wasn't about looking nice, and she had taken all of her clothes back to her apartment that morning to do laundry, so she rifled through his drawers, finding one of his superhero t-shirts and pulling it on over her head, before sliding on a pair of his boxers. She knew he wouldn't mind. She left the towel in the hamper, not bothering to dry her hair before making her way back out towards the living room.
She had started out on the couch, wrapped up in one of the blankets from the bottom of his bed, hoping to fall asleep. She knew he would wake her up to check on her before he did anything else, and she also had a hunch that it was probably better for everyone involved if he didn't have to go running through the loft to find her.
She quickly realized, however, that her mind was spinning too much for her to be able to fall asleep. After a half an hour of tossing and turning trying to get comfortable, she stood up and walked into his office. She walked over to the bookshelf lined with all of his novels, picking up Heat Wave and curling up into one of the spacious leather chairs, hoping that reading his words would help her calm down.
In reality, it did the exact opposite. Reading how he thought Nikki Heat would handle stressful situations with Rook made her stomach twist. Her words would never be able to compare to Nikki Heat's. Nikki Heat wouldn't have fallen apart on the break room floor, and if she had, she certainly wouldn't have needed Raley and Ochoa to get her through it.
What on Earth was she going to tell him? All words seemed inadequate. How could she possibly make it seem like she's alright when her eyes still felt puffy from earlier and she could barely even breathe without flinching. Her memories from the shootings, both the first one that nearly killed her and the one that had shaken her to the core only hours before were front and center in her mind, and no matter what she did, the images wouldn't fade.
Because what it came right down to is that she wasn't okay. She hadn't been really okay since the shooting over a year ago, and every other thing that happened since that moment had only broken her a little bit more. Yes, therapy and Dr. Burke had helped immensely, and while they had talked about her shooting and all of the emotions that went along with it, she had never talked about it in detail with the people who really mattered. The scars were still too fresh. She was still here, breathing and very much alive, and that's what really mattered right?
But that didn't change the fact that she still wasn't okay. And he knew she wasn't okay. Which is why he was flying home to her: to try and make her okay again.
Nikki Heat wouldn't have needed Rook to come and kiss her boo boos.
Nikki Heat wouldn't have let Rook cancel a book tour and put his job on hold for her.
Nikki Heat wouldn't be as weak as Kate Beckett clearly was.
She heard the front door open and shut quickly. Taking an unsteady breath, she placed the book she had been holding onto desperately on the ground, curling her knees closer to her chest and hugging them tightly.
She heard Rick move through the loft, trying to be as quiet as possible, no doubt hoping that she had somehow managed to fall asleep. That maybe everything that happened today was enough to for her body to give into exhaustion.
She watched as Rick walked frantically into the office, his hair sticking up at odd angles from running his fingers through it, his eyes wide and the sleeves of his button down rolled up to his elbows, heading straight for the bedroom.
He paused as he reached his desk, deciding quickly that she could very well be in the study or if she had been staying in the loft she probably would have been staying in the guest room upstairs (she had been). Or perhaps he just sensed her presence in the room with him. He lifted a hand back to his hair, running his fingers through it again before scanning the room.
When his eyes locked on her, Kate saw his shoulders relax.
"Kate," he breathed. He stood there for a moment before he all but ran over to where she was sitting across the room, immediately cupping her face in his hands. He ran his thumbs underneath her eyes across her cheekbones, quickly looking her over to make sure that all of her pieces were still there. Then he leaned down and placed a gentle kiss to her forehead, letting his lips linger there. Kate's own hands reached up and wrapped around his wrist, desperate to touch him herself. She felt her eyes start to burn with the tears she refused to let fall again. Rick slowly pulled his lips away from her forehead. He shifted her in the chair, positioning her so her legs were draped over the edge of the it with him kneeling on the floor in between them, his hands on her thighs.
"What happened?" he whispered.
She realized that the boys hadn't given him any details. The guilt settled back into her stomach again. He must have been so worried. He knew nothing about what had happened, but Esposito (and possibly Ryan as well, she wasn't sure) called him and told him that he needed to come home.
She broke eye contact with him, pursing her lips before answering his question, her voice low and raspy.
"I got shot."
He inhaled deeply and nodded. Maybe Esposito had told him what happened. Maybe he was looking for a little more detail about what had happened before she had gotten shot. She was about to open her mouth to try and give him more but he beat her to it.
"Where?" he asked, his voice unsteady.
She bit her lip, and matched his tone, "my chest."
She saw his eyes cloud over and knew that he was having flashbacks of that beautiful day in May that had gone horribly wrong and changed everything. She could almost hear his thoughts as his eyes went unfocused, the guilt painfully obvious in the crumple of his brow.
I wasn't fast enough to save her then, and I wasn't here to protect her now. If I had been faster then, I could have stopped it. If I had been here now, I could have stopped it.
Not knowing what else to do, she slowly reached out a hand to touch his face, running her thumb across his cheekbone.
His eyes came back into focus, immediately meeting her gaze with shining eyes.
"May I?" he whispered.
Kate took a deep breath and nodded once, lifting up her arms up for him.
He grabbed the hem of the shirt and pulled it slowly over her head, leaving her dressed in only a pair of his boxers.
This isn't how she imagined it would be the first time he undressed her. But he didn't ogle her, not when she was so obviously in pain and broken. No, he was focused solely on seeing what had clearly shaken her, what had him jumping on the first flight back home just to see her and make sure she was alright.
His breath caught audibly as he saw the bruise for the first time.
"Oh Kate," he choked out, his hands moving to settle on her sides.
Kate immediately felt her vision go blurry, bringing a hand up to her face to try to stifle a sob.
As soon as Rick heard the sound, he instantly lifted himself up off the ground, wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her gently towards him. Her head immediately found the familiar crook of his neck, her arms wrapping around his shoulders to ground him to her. His head fell forward onto her shoulder, exhaling unsteadily as she trembled in his arms, trying to control herself.
She had hardly spoken since she had given her statement hours before, but the words suddenly wouldn't stop falling from her lips.
"I was… doing… so well," she choked out between shuddering breaths, "I… didn't even flinch… when… when he pulled the… gun…" she felt Rick's arms tighten around her, but she couldn't stop, "… he confessed… and he was… putting the gun… on the ground… when there was a bang… and then he…"
She trailed off and tried to burrow her face even further into Rick's neck. He held her tight against his chest, rocking her slightly from side to side and speaking softly into her ear. She focused on his words, hoping they would be able to calm her down.
"Shh, it's okay. It's alright. I got you. I'm here. I'm sorry. God, I'm so sorry."
She shook her head against his neck, "It's not your fault."
She felt him swallow, taking another deep breath, "If I had been here –"
"It would have happened anyway." She finished for him.
He was quiet for a moment before he spoke again, his voice rough with emotion.
"I'm your partner," he said, shaking his head, "I'm supposed to be here for you…" he took another deep breath, and Kate swore she felt a tear fall onto her skin, "… I'm supposed to protect you."
Kate felt her heart break.
"What do you think you're doing right now?" she murmured, praying that he understood just how much this – he meant to her.
She felt him place a kiss against her collarbone, letting his lips trail across her skin until he reached the outside of the welt on her chest. Then he placed a kiss right on the center of it, his lips ghosting over it so lightly that she barely felt his touch at all.
He took advantage of her arms still wrapped around his shoulders, moving his hands to her legs. Rick pulled at her knees and she immediately wound them around his waist. Ignoring the discarded shirt on the floor, he lifted her up off the chair, standing up to his full height before walking them slowly towards his bedroom.
As he approached the bed with her clinging to him, he let go of her with one hand and tossed back the covers, before laying her down on the sheets. Rick immediately moved over to his side of the bed, pausing only momentarily to kick off his shoes before crawling into bed beside her.
They each turned so they were facing each other, locking eyes in silence.
"I love you," he whispered first, "I know I said I would take this slow… but I can't help it."
Kate took a deep breath, the words causing her heart to beat a little bit faster. She knew he loved her. And she knew that she loved him, too. She wouldn't have agreed to stay in the loft if she didn't love him. She wouldn't have let him take off her shirt, kiss her bruise, and hold her so close if she didn't love him. She wouldn't be lying in his bed, half naked except for a pair of his boxers if she didn't love him.
But she did. She loved him more than she had ever loved anyone else. She trusted him. She trusted him enough to show him her scars when she could barely look at them herself. She trusted him enough to know that he would never intentionally hurt her and that he would never take advantage of her when she was clearly struggling with everything.
"I love you, too," she finally whispered back. She paused for a moment, as she watched his eyes lock onto hers, the love and hope burning behind them palpable. She gave him a small smile, "I really do."
Rick leaned over the pillows of the bed, his hand reaching out to rest against the side of her neck. He tilted his head slightly and she closed her eyes as his lips touched hers tenderly. Neither of them made any move to deepen the kiss, and when he made a move to roll away from her, she rolled right along with him, snuggling into his side.
He reached down and grabbed his comforter, bringing it up and placing it over them before wrapping his arms back around her waist. She put her head on his chest, listening to the sound of his heartbeat.
Kate brought a hand up and placed it on his chest, lying across the buttons of his shirt.
"I'm so happy you're here," she whispered against his shirt.
Rick tilted his head and pressed his lips into her hair.
"I'm so glad you're okay," he whispered back.
In the morning, they would have to talk about this. When the emotions had settled she would have to sit down and tell him everything that had happened because he deserved to know. She would probably be embarrassed because she had slept nearly naked curled around him all night and he would probably make some inappropriate comment about how good she looked in his clothes and while she would probably hit him for it then, she had no doubt that she would be waking up in his clothes (or nearly naked curled up into his side) again sometime in the near future. In the morning they would have to sit down and define exactly what they were and while the thought terrified her, she couldn't bring herself to worry about it.
Because now they were here: together, both a little worse for the wear but still breathing.
And for now, that was more than enough.
If your heart wears thin I will hold you up
& I will hide you when it gets too much
I'll be right beside you
I hope I did it justice.
Love it? Hate it? Let me know what you think?