Separation of Church and State


"You okay." Just the white tips of her fingers in his peripheral vision as she asks.

He turns his head, panting, can't catch his breath, sees her beside him, equally breathless, sprawled out.

"Huh?" he grunts, his voice raw, throat ravaged. Turns his head, closes his eyes.

"Castle. . ." She trails off, he feels the slap of her hand at his chest, a grip in his shirt.

He blinks, feels wide and expansive and heavy, and looks at the overcast sky above them. Overcast. Cloudy. Sunless.

"Castle."

"Cold," he stumbles out, feels his words like blocks of ice.

"Gotta move," she says back, agreement in her tone. "Get up."

"Yeah." But he can't. He's encased in ice. Worse than last year, this is a wet cold, leached into his veins and running like freeon through his heart. Every breath an agony.

"Now. Get up now, Castle. Get up."

"Yeah," he mutters agian. His body is sodden; he lost his coat underwater. He's bleeding probably, somewhere, he had to roll down the window of the Crown Vic, and he remembers hacking at the crank with his hand when it got stuck; it gashed him. Never in his whole life has been so grateful that her windows were manual, that the police department is cheap and over-budgeted, that she refused to let him buy her a Batmobile.

"Castle. Up. Get up."

"You first," he grunts.

There's a long, wet silence. He drifts, so heavy, and solid through and through. He almost can't feel the cold anymore. After dragging his ass and hers out of the water and then-

"Alexis."

He groans and feels his stiff fingers clawing into a fist, helpless still.

"Working with Lanie. Don't make her find your frozen carcass-"

It takes a superhuman effort to sit up; his visions blackens and he sways, his shirt frozen to him, his legs ice, his arms just chunks of frozen meat and worthless.

He gasps, every breath a jagged razor's edge in his lungs. He can't take a deep breath, can't-

"Kate." He wrenches around, breaks every rib to do it. She's prone on the concrete dock, eyes closed, her skin that deadly and soul-quenching white. Tinges of blue in her cheeks, black in her lips. "Kate."

Her mouth parts. "Yeah."

"Get up," he grunts at her, tries to aim one of his nerveless, numb hands in her direction. "Get up."

"Gimme a sec."

"No. Up. Now." He breaks his knee to bend it, breaks his body to lean over her, hunched. His elbows won't lock; he can't feel them; he keeps falling into her trying to get an arm under her neck.

She grunts and her eyes flutter open. "It's cold."

"It's agony. But you have to move."

"Moving, I'm moving," she says, but she's not, she's not moving.

"Beckett, now. Get up now." He crooks his elbow, heaves backward, pulling her up with him.

She cries out, ragged and broken off. Her eyes squeeze shut. Every movement sends daggering icicles through his body, shards of glass all, but he gets his feet in position, sees more than feels that he's got it, and stands.

She drags at him, can't get her feet under her, can't find purchase. He feels her scrabbling at him.

"Up, get up," he mutters, his hands thick and clumsy against her shoulders.

She leans against him, but neither of them are shivering. Bad sign. "Need to get help," she says, her voice thick and slow.

"Find a phone," he agrees, slogs through the dense field of ice that is his own body to get going. He takes a step towards the warehouse on the pier but his legs won't hold him yet, won't feel to know when to hold him, and he staggers down to one knee.

Kate comes with him, her body crashing into his; they fall back to the ground, his arm wrenched under him in a graceless twist that he does feel, now he does.

"Sorry," she groans and he can feel her pushing against him. He realizes she's still got her sodden coat on, that it drags at them both, and he lifts his other arm, slides it past the collar, over her shoulder. His body starts to shiver violently, making it infinitely harder.

"What-"

"Get this off," he chatters, teeth bouncing so hard together that he bites his tongue. But that's good. Good.

She's struggling against his ribs, her legs are tangled with his, the shoulder he's lying on is really starting to throb, but he gets his hand down the sleeve of her coat, lists to one side to get it off her arm.

She lays her head against his shoulder and pants; he can feel her mouth gulping air at his throat. He can feel that, can feel it burn.

"Don't stop," he gasps back. "Don't stop."

She starts shivering now; relief pours through him like hot water. Her teeth chatter, her body vibrating with it against his. He helps her get her wet coat off, finds he's shivering uncontrollably now too, feels the burn of warmth leaking back into his thighs, his armpits, his knees.

Peculiar places, but he can sit up now, get off his side. She rolls away from him, huddled against the concrete, then puts a hand under her, pushes up.

They stand together, listing, and she shakes her head, brings her hand up to her lips. He sways, stunned and dizzy with cold, watches the tips of her fingers disappear into the wet heat of her mouth.

"What are you-?"

She slides her fingers out slowly, her body quaking so hard that he can barely hold on to her.

"Frozen. I can't feel my fingers," she says.

"But you're getting them wet," he says inanely, and reaches out to grab her other hand before she can do the same. He brings her towards him, slides her fingers under his arm, squeezes her into his side.

Her teeth are chattering as she says. "You're wet too."

He growls at her and pushes on her. "Have to get to a phone."

She nods, but her eyes slip shut again. He shakes her by the shoulder and she reels back, but he's got her now, he holds her up.

"Kate." His hands aren't numb any longer; they're on fire, the burn so hot and debilitating that he thinks he's squeezing her neck too hard. "Kate."

"Phone," she says finally, and her body steadies under his touch. "Yes."

"Tiger didn't get us. We're not dying of hypothermia after all this," he says, and starts pushing on her, nudging her around, trying to get her moving for the warehouse.

"No. Not. . .we're not." It's affected her more, the cold; he can tell by the sluggish way she responds, the heavy droop of her eyelids. She rouses when he gets her walking, her hand still under his arm, her head falling to his shoulder from time to time.

His knees ache so badly he could cry. His back is seized up. He had to kick at the manual lever to roll down the window, kick and kick at it to get it going, even while the last of his oxygen burned in his lungs.

As it burns now. Burns and makes the whole thing too hard to keep doing-

He takes a long, gasping breath and blinks through the black that tunnels into his vision. Kate is clutching him now and he looks over at her, sees the flame of panic licking her eyes.

"Castle. Just make it to the warehouse. Okay? I can't carry you-"

"I'm good. I'm fine." He realizes his knee won't lock, tries to force his body to do his bidding. "I got it."

She stays plastered to his side, the two of them alternating between being the crutch and needing the crutch. When they get closer to the building, Kate pushes at him, leans him against the wall.

"I'm okay," he says, blinking to keep her in his sight, to keep seeing.

She's still shivering so hard, so often, that he doesn't think she could answer even if she believed him. Her fingers work at the door, but he can tell every flex and bend is excruciating.

"Let me," he says, and slides towards the door, his knees refusing to help. He catches himself on the door, on Kate; she is half holding him up as he curls a claw around the knob, yanks on it.

"Locked," he growls. "Locked." Oh God.

"Wait." She pants against his shoulder, her body leaned into his to keep them both propped against the cold metal of the wall.

Wait for what? He feels his legs giving out, feels himself sliding down the wall, and Kate comes with him.

He sits down hard on his ass, rattling his teeth; she knocks into him, falling, her body sprawled over his. She's still shivering, but she doesn't move.

Got to be a way. Has to be a way. Think. Locked door. Warehouse. Cold. Wet clothes. Should get these clothes off, get warm. They should get warm, get her clothes off.

She grunts and rolls off him; the metal of the warehouse wall rattles and shakes with the force of her body meeting it.

"You didn't - didn't happen to -"

"No," he grits out, feels his hipbones snapping as he draws his knees up, tries to get warm. "No panic button. On that phone. No-"

"Yeah," she says, her voice too light, breathless again. "Yeah, I didn't think so."

But he hears the crunch of tires anyway, thinks he hallucinating, turns his head against the wall to look. "Still. What'd I say 'bout hope?"

"Huh?"

"Looks like-"

Beside him, Kate's head hits his shoulder, her hand at his thigh. "Castle."

He glances back at her, then to the cars pouring down to the end of the pier like a black wave. "Kate?"

She's struggling at his side; she's getting her feet under her. He turns his head back to the SUVs bearing down on them, feels Kate's hand on his shoulder as she shoves herself upright.

"Kate?"

"Gonna at least - at least be standing - for this. Girlfriend to the rescue. Damn it."

If she's gonna stand, then he-

The SUVs scream past them though, towards the end of the pier; he sees men scrambling, sees Sofia, watches them run to the body of Blakely. Oh.

And then an agent grabs at Kate's coat, wet and sodden at the edge of the pier; Castle lurches forward, tries to call out. In a flash, the CIA agents move as one, guns up and at the ready; he can't even raise his hands in surrender.

And then they're surrounded.


The back of the van isn't comfortable, her ass aches, but the windows are completely blacked out, which must be a requirement for this 'secure location' they're getting hauled back to.

His damn girlfriend saved them. Shit. She's freezing cold and her ass is numb and her teeth are chattering so hard that her jaw aches.

Kate burrows her nose into the emergency blanket, the crinkling sound of its reflective lining loud in her ears. The pocket of heat it creates is almost too much, but she can't move her fingers or arms to loosen it.

A spasm wracks her body and a jolt of the van causes her to fall against him. She can't struggle up fast enough, but feels her knee, her hip, her shoulder come into contact with his. Sudden flares of heat that break open the icy grip on her muscles.

She curls up tighter and tilts her head back against the side of the van, then goes ahead, gives up, lets herself stay leaning against him too. She immediately feels the heat of his cheek along the top of her head, the hard and shivering line of his body pressed to hers.

"Beckett."

"Here," she sighs and opens her eyes.

"She's not my girlfriend."

Kate blinks, her body flushed now but still clammy, feverish. She might need to throw up; she's close to vomiting. The Hudson is filthy and polluted; she doesn't know how much water she accidentally swallowed when the force of the impact knocked the breath out of her.

"She wasn't either. Wasn't ever."

A year of hanging out. Nothing like four years of insinuating himself into every aspect of her life. Nothing like this.

Kate clears her throat painfully. "Yeah."

He nods, shifting; his fingers come out and slip under the edge of her blanket, find her hand. She shivers at the touch but doesn't dislodge him.

"Talk about two worlds," she mutters instead.

He tilts his head at her, but she closes her eyes again, still so tired. Shivering takes up too much energy, but she can't control it.

She managed to roll down her window halfway before the car plunged into the water, but it meant the Hudson had roared inside, knocking her around even as she tried to claw at her seatbelt. Too busy gunning the car's gas pedal, trying to go in reverse, too busy to think about that part before, and then the water filled up-

It'd been his fingers on the release button, when she finally felt the belt loose tension. His fingers first. She'd never have-

"Two worlds," he says finally, and tugs on her, trying to rock her towards him. But she won't go.

Resisting, Kate swallows painfully and opens her eyes again. "So which is this?"

"Huh?" He's gripping her hand too hard, but she's not sure if it's the downside of adrenaline or that he can't feel his extremeties either. Or if he knows it was almost too late, he was almost too late-

"Which is this, then, Castle? Church or state?"

His hand slacks against hers, but she feels his fingers at her collarbone instead, the light and silky brush of skin against skin, heat melting ice. Castle slides his hand up along her neck and then buries it in her still damp hair, making a fist as if he has to hold on.

"You're the church, Kate."

And the way his eyes worship, she has no doubt anymore.

She has faith.