So a little while ago on tumblr there was akind of sort of challenge to use the song "Falling" by The Civil Wars to write an angsty!Castle fic.

The Civil Wars & angst?

Sign. Me. Up.

Disclaimer - I sadly do not own Castle or this song by The Civil Wars.

Why am I feeling so guilty?
And why am I holding my breath?
I'm worried about everyone but me
& I just keep losing myself.

When he came back into the bedroom to tell her that dinner was ready, her bag was packed on the bed. He watched in confusion as she walked out of the bedroom, dressed in jeans and her heeled boots, pulling a blouse over her head before she grabbed a jacket that was lying on the edge of the bed, shrugging it onto her shoulders and buttoning it up.

She wouldn't look at him.

She stood up straighter, grabbed the bag off the bed and threw the strap over her shoulder, spinning on her heel and moving out of the bedroom, brushing past him without so much as looking up.

He stood frozen in shock until he heard her move further away from him before he broke out of it. He ran out of his study, straight to the living room and towards the door, finding her immediately near the front door. He ran, his feet loud against the hardwood as he reached for her.

He touched her shoulder, sliding the strap from the joint and letting the bag fall to the ground as he turned her around.

"Kate," Rick said, grabbing both of her hands in his. She refused to make eye contact, hanging her head low. He hated it. He hated it more than anything in the entire world.

"Kate, please look at me," he whispered, bringing his hands up and holding them against his chest. "Please," he pleaded.

At his begging, she finally raised her eyes back up to his, and he almost wished she didn't.

Her eyes were dead. There was no spark in them like he was used to these days, no shine that made his heart beat faster. No, her eyes were glassy, the lovely green he was used to dulling to an almost gray.

She was scaring him.

He didn't back away like he wanted to, didn't hide himself from her unseeing gaze. Instead he ignored all of his instinct and moved closer to her. She tried to move back but he held her strong, bringing them flush against each other, their hands caught in between.

He leaned down so he could look at her directly in the eye.

"This isn't your fault, Kate," he said softly, his voice unwavering, "None of this is your fault."

She shook her head, unwilling to listen to what he was saying.

She tried to pull away from him, but he wouldn't let her go.

"Don't go," he said, his voice shaking now, "Please - please don't leave Kate."

Kate pulled her hands away from his chest, moisture forming at the corner of her eyes.

"I have to," she said, her voice scratching against the back of her throat.

"You don't. We can do this together. Don't shut me out, Kate."

She was already shaking her head before he finished.

"We can't," she said, looking up at him, "I can't do this with you."

When she pulled her hands away this time, he let her, the hurt that crashed over him at her words causing his mask of strength to fall off his face as his brow crumpled.

She hated that she had to sink that low, but she had to do it. It was true.

Because to him, she had done nothing wrong.

He refused to see just what she had done.

Just because he loved her.

But she had done something wrong, and the consequences were just too much to bear.

Especially when he claimed it wasn't her fault.

Because it was.

It was all her fault.

She needed to be around people who could see that.

And at this point, that meant she had to be alone.

She couldn't be around the people who loved her.

Around him.

Not until she figured it out for herself.

She turned back towards the door, picking up the bag that she had dropped when he had come to stop her from leaving. But now he wasn't trying to stop her, and Kate was grateful.

It would make it easier for everyone.

She adjusted the strap on her shoulder, putting her hand and doorknob before she heard his voice.

"When are you coming back?" he said, his voice low.

She looked back at him and found his eyes locked on her, frozen in the same place as he was a minute before, his shoulders slumped, his eyes shining.

"I don't know," she whispered back.

He took a deep breath, and she saw the hope fall off of his shoulders.

"Are you coming back?" he said, the pain from his words reaching out and kissing her cheek.

She swallowed hard.

"I don't know."

She watched as he bit the inside of his lip, lifting his eyes to the ceiling before he brought his gaze back down to her.

"I love you," he said, giving her a sad smile.

Kate's lips fell apart as she inhaled softly, simultaneously turning the doorknob. She pulled the door open, stepping across the threshold before looking back at him, eyes wet.

"I'm sorry."

For leaving.

For not being able to stay.

For making you fall in love with me.

"I'm so sorry."

She closed the door between them.

As she closed the door between them, she had to forcibly keep herself from wrenching the door back open and moving back to him, wrapping him up in her arms just to take the pain away from him.

The pain she had caused.

She had hurt him.

She knew she did.

And she wanted to take it all back.

But she couldn't.

So she pushed off of the door and walked quickly over towards the elevator, her heels stabbing the ground, the carpeted hallway mocking her weakness.

She was running.

She wanted to pretend it was different.

That this time she wasn't running.

From life.

From him.

From love.

But she was.

She wanted to pretend that she wasn't losing it, that the elevator that she was about to step into wasn't the rabbit hole that would take her to another world where nothing made sense and nobody knew what she was but everyone knew why she was there.

She wanted to act like this wasn't the worst thing she could be doing.

That she wasn't ruining all of the progress that she had made with Dr. Burke and her father and Rick.

That she wasn't caving in on herself.

The walls knew better.

The first week she's gone, Rick's frantic.

Not even two minutes after she had shut the door between them, he had wrenched it open again, ignoring the fact that he was barefoot and running down the hallway as his front door slammed back into the table behind it, shaking it violently. He sprinted down the steps hopping down them two at a time and bursting through the door into the lobby. He ran over to the front door where his doorman was standing looking at him sympathetically and trying not to make a point of his state of undress. He clutched the man's shoulder's, begging him to tell her where she went, which way she had gone, anything at all that would help him bring her back. The man told him that she walked outside and hailed a cab, heading west.

Rick was about to run out the door when the doorman pointed out that he wasn't wearing shoes, and Rick almost said to hell with it before he realized that he didn't have his phone.

He ran upstairs, pulled on the first pair of shoes he could find, grabbing his keys and his phone off the counter before running back down the steps to lobby, where the other people in his building were waiting for him to arrive. Waiting to see what he would do next. He ran through the front door that his doorman was already holding open for him, sprinting along the short expanse of street that was bathed in the setting sun, running into the parking garage and getting in the car that he rarely drove that was parked next to hers. It took him three times to get the keys in the ignition before he managed to start the car, pulling out as quickly as he could, almost slamming the car into the concrete wall behind him.

He wasn't going to let her get away.

He had his phone pressed up against his ear, calling her for the third time since he had made his way down the steps for the second time, but her phone went straight to voicemail.

No. No. No.

He arrived at her apartment building that she never spent time at anymore 10 minutes quicker than he normally would if he had been obeying traffic laws, parking illegally on the street in front of the building before shutting off the car and sprinting inside. He immediately went into the service stairwell and sprinted up to her floor. He found her door quickly, following the familiar path that he used to take nearly every day before he had convinced her to essentially move into the loft. He stopped and pounded on the door, calling to her within but she didn't answer. He pulled his keys out of his pocket and found hers, his hands shaking as he forced it into the lock, opening it quickly and running inside, calling her name.

He looked around for a moment, looking at the thin layer of dust that had settled onto the surfaces of her apartment, the stillness that came with a space being uninhabited for a long amount of time.

She wasn't here. She hadn't been here.

So he kept looking.

He checked everywhere he thought she might go. He called Lanie and Ryan and Esposito and her father and asked if they had heard from her, had any idea where she may go if she needed to get away but they didn't know. He checked the cemetery, Remy's, the coffee shop that she liked to go to because she said it reminded her of a wool scarf on the coldest day of the year. He went to the precinct, asked every officer on shift if they had seen her, but no one had seen her since the few days before when everything had fallen apart.

They hadn't seen her since the funeral.

Rick kept calling. Everyone. He called her therapist, his mother and Alexis, hell, he even called ex-boyfriends, hoping with all his heart that she wouldn't have gone back to them when she couldn't even go to him but wanting to cover all of his bases. They hadn't seen her, hadn't even talked to her in months, and the sigh that escaped his lips was half relief at her faithfulness (which he knew he should never doubt), half anguish that he still hadn't found her.

And he called her. Over and over and over again. Left message after message, sent text after text, but she never responded.

She didn't pick up.

He eventually made it back to the loft and collapsed onto the couch in the living room, his head in his hands as he let his phone drop onto the cushions before he let it all out.

Before he let himself fall apart.

Because she was gone, and he didn't know where she was.

And this time, it seemed like a very real possibility that she wasn't coming back.

The first time Kate turns her phone back on, she's in a motel room hundreds of miles away from home, curled up with her knees tucked under her chin in a shady motel room.

She had taken a cab to Grand Central Station, bought the first ticket that was going to anywhere other than New York, and had ended up on train to Trenton, New Jersey.

She had made it there within an hour and as soon as she arrived she found the next train to somewhere else.

It was too close. She needed to get further away.

She ended up in Delaware, at a train station in a seedy part of the city by the Delaware River. She found a tired cab driver waiting in a row on the side, the green cab a sharp contrast to the golden yellow cabs that lined the streets of New York. She asked him to take her to the cheapest, closest hotel he knew of and in 20 minutes he was pulling up to a motel and dropping her off. She booked a room, paid in advance for at least a week before she finally made it to her room, the woman behind the counter barely sparing a glance at the woman booking a room at nearly midnight.

She pulled down the covers and crawled into the small bed in the small room with the paint peeling off the walls, not even bothering to take off her jeans or her boots as she curled up onto her side.

That's when she grabbed her phone, taking a deep breath and turning it on.

She had 52 missed calls, 22 text messages, and 49 voicemails.

She closed her eyes and bit her lip, before lifting the phone to her ear and listening to the voicemails.

Three from Lanie, four from her father, two from Ryan and Esposito, one from both Martha and Alexis.

And then 36 from Rick.

For the first time in a long time, Kate cried herself to sleep as she listened to his voice.

By the second week, Rick's still looking for her around every corner, hoping that she'll walk out of the bathroom in the morning, towel drying her hair as she rolls her eyes at him for still being in bed. He always looks at her favorite chair in his office that used to sit in front of his desk but he had rearranged so it sat closer to the window because he knew Kate liked to feel the sun on her skin or see the reflection of the rain as it slid down the window and the pages of her book, thinking that maybe he'd find her asleep in the chair like he had so many nights after coming back from late meetings with his publisher when she tried to wait up for him.

He tries to keep going to the Precinct, says that he would use Kate's absence to get a better understanding of Raley and Ochoa's characters. Ryan and Esposito (and Gates for that matter) saw right through his act, but they allowed it. Rick even ventured down to the morgue on occasion, staring blankly ahead as Lanie performed an autopsy, asking questions that he already knew the answers to but needing a reason to stay down there.

He still made enough coffee for the two of them, knowing that if she walked through the front door at 6:30 in the morning she would need her caffeine.

He just needs that normalcy.

He checks the loft every morning, checks the guest room and his study and the bathrooms, looking for the spaces that she may have crawled into and hid herself in.

He has this vain hope that she hadn't gone far. That she was really just staying at her father's or a friend's house for the weekend. That she's hiding in one of the closets, sitting in the dark and just waiting for him to find her.

So he looks.

But she's still not here.

She thinks it would be easier if he didn't have a daughter.

Two weeks ago everything had been fine, and she had been happy, such a stark contrast from the woman she had been before she had started to fix herself.

It was a long morning at the precinct, a rough case filled with nothing but dead ends that had left Kate frustrated and tired. Rick was in meetings all day, and hadn't come in. They decided to go back to the crime scene, looking for something she missed. She brought along the uniforms that were originally called to the scene to see if they noticed anything different from their initial sweep.

She thought it would be routine, didn't for a moment think that there would be a crazy gunman hiding on the other side of the door, waiting for them.

But there was.

She had led them all into the room, under the crime scene tape that was still hanging around the door to the apartment and leading the two other officers inside. They searched for only a minute before she heard the distinctive creak of someone stepping on hardwood, and she spun around, pulling her gun out just as the officers around her did.

But she was too slow.

And before she knew what was happening, there was the distinct sound of gunshots being fired, and she felt hands against her side as she fell to the ground, shortly losing her breath as something heavy fell on top of her.

The other officer took down the gunman with a shot to the shoulder while Kate tried to save the officer who had pushed her out of the way, the man who had jumped in front of bullet for her when he barely even knew her.

It was an officer's instinct. Protect. No matter what the cost.

By the time the Paramedics got there, he was already gone.

She had only spoken to the man a few times, no more than 10 outside of a crime scene. She knew that he was nearly her age, decided later in life that he wanted to be a public servant, working as hard as he could to pass with high marks. He succeeded. He was married, had complained to her one time about forgetting to take off his wedding ring before working out and how his knuckles swelled around it. And he had a daughter. He had pictures of her on his desk. Kate bought Girl Scout cookies from her a few times.

And now he was dead.

She should have known. She should have suspected that it was the brother, the brother who clearly had the connections and the money to fake an alibi and kill his brother for his share of his father's will.

But she didn't, and now one of her people was dead.

An officer was dead.

A husband was dead.

A father to a little girl was dead.

All because she messed up.

All because she was too slow.

He died pushing her out of the way of a bullet.

She had to explain to his wife while the woman held their confused 7 year old daughter in her arms that her husband was dead because she was still alive.

But he died a hero.

What difference does that make?

He was still dead. He still wouldn't be there for Christmas, or birthdays, or ballet recitals, or soccer games.

And yet people still think she did nothing wrong.

How could Rick think she had done nothing wrong?

Because of her incompetence, she had let a little girl lose her father.

Because of her selfishness, she could very well force Alexis to live without a father.

Because Kate knows that if it hadn't been the officer, it would have been Rick.

Rick would have pushed her out of the way.

If Rick had been there, he would be dead.

And that's not okay with her.

The Paramedics said that she did everything she and the other uniform, a rookie straight from the academy, could do to try and save him. They said he was dead before he hit the ground.

But he wasn't, because he had looked up at Kate as she held her hands over his chest, the bullet lying centimeters over from where a bullet had entered her own chest. He had looked up at her with terrified eyes because he knew he was going to die. And then he did, as his blood seeped out of his chest through the spaces of Kate's fingers.

Gates had put Kate on leave for a mandatory two weeks, with an optional two more, demanding that she pass the psyche evaluation that was mandatory for every officer who watched someone die before being able to return to active duty.

She had gone to the man's funeral, dressed in her blues, stood in a row with all the other officers of the twelfth in a line during the salute. After his casket had been lowered into the ground his daughter had come up to her, her eyes red and wet as she asked Kate if she was a police officer like her daddy. And when Kate had said yes, his daughter had told her that she wanted to be just like her when she grew up, wanted to protect people like Kate does.

Like her daddy did.

The young girl's words had haunted her every thought.

Rick calls her every night.

He doesn't expect her to pick up, but he at least hopes that she's listening.

He used to tell her about his day when he still went to the precinct, tell her about something crazy the boys had done or something sassy Lanie had said. He would tell her about how Alexis is doing at Oxford, occasionally about one of his mother's play. Sometimes he would bring up her father. But now they all seemed to follow the same pattern.

Hey, it's me.

I love you.

I miss you.

Please come home.

Kate doesn't know if he realizes it, but she took one of his shirts with her, stuffed it at the bottom of her bag. She takes it out when she feels the emotions bubbling to the surface. She pulls it up over her shoulders, wraps herself up in it and lets the scent of him envelope her senses.

If she closes her eyes, she can almost pretend like he's holding her.

It calms her down.

She thinks that's the most selfish thing she's done.

Taken a part of him to comfort her when she left him nothing in return.

She misses him. She misses the way his hands feel against her skin and the way his lips caressed hers. She misses going to crime scenes with him and reading his books and surprising him. She misses his coffee, his laugh. She misses the loft and the bed she shares with him.

She misses him.

She misses home.

She misses everything.

One day she wraps herself up in his shirt and realizes that it doesn't smell like him anymore. It smells like her and sweat and salt and suddenly she doesn't understand why she's sitting in a motel in Delaware, when she could be with him.

Because she loves him.

She cries.

She hopes that he can still love her.

By the third week, he doesn't think she's coming back.

He wants to be mad. He wants to scream and rage and go down to the gun range at the precinct and go through a hundred targets, aiming straight for the heart as if that would keep his own heart from falling apart, aiming straight for the head as if it would keep her from thinking.

He wanted to throw glasses, walk into his office and rip every single page of the Nikki Heat books from their spines and throw them in a fire to watch the flames devour all the words he wrote about her.

He wants to hate her for leaving. He wants to call her and tell her that he doesn't need her.

But he didn't, he doesn't, he can't.

Because more than anything he just wants her to come home.

Instead, he stops sleeping in their bed at night, choosing to camp out on the couch in the living room.

Occasionally he ends up in his office chair.

Sometimes he sleeps on the bathroom floor.

The bed was too big without her in it with him.

He can't write anything. Scenes where Nikki opens up and lets Rook into her heart make Rick angry, and scenes where Nikki walks away from everything make his chest ache.

He stops eating, watching as his cheeks hollow out in the mirror and his shirts hang looser around his stomach.

He stops going to the precinct, stops pretending like it doesn't hurt that she picked up her life and left him. That she told him she loved him and then could just walk away like everything they had meant nothing at all.

Because it did hurt, and he was worried sick, because he calls her every night and he has no idea where she is, or what she's doing, and he just wants to help. He tries to believe that she's taking care of herself wherever she is, but he knows she isn't, hates that she isn't because it drives him insane.

He could be helping her. He loves her. The only thing he wants to do is help take the pain away her, to keep the darkness away.

His phone rings on the counter in the kitchen and he walks towards it slowly, dragging his feet across the hardwood floor, not looking forward to a call from his mother or his daughter or, even worse, Kate's father, because he knows that he's worrying them but he just can't stop until he knows she's alright.

He picks the phone up off the counter without looking to see who is calling, answers the call with no enthusiasm.

"Castle," he sighs into the phone.

There's a pause on the other end that he's not expecting. He hears someone breathing softly, can almost hear the person thinking on the other end.

He pulls the phone away from his ear to check the caller ID, his heart beating quickly with the audacity of hope and he tries to stifle it but he can't control it. He squeezes his eyes shut for a moment before blinking them open quickly, checking to see who was on the other line.

He immediately put the phone back up to his ear.

"Kate?" He speaks into the receiver, "Kate? Are you there?"

He hears a shaky breath on the other side of the line and he knows she's there and just wants her to say something back, just wants to hear her voice even if it's to tell him that she wants him to ship all of her things to her.

Because that would destroy him, but he just wants to know she's okay.

He's about to prompt her again, ask her if she's hurt or where she is but she beats him to it.

"Always?" she whispers into the phone.

It takes him a moment but he realizes what she's doing, the assurance that she's asking for.

That she was still welcome.

That he still wanted her.

That he still loved her.

"Always," He whispered back.

Because she was, he did, he always would.

He hears her stifle a small sob on her end of the phone.

"Rick, I –"

"Come home," he cuts her off, "Please come home."

He hears a click on the other end of the line and he nearly cries out in pain, his fingers fumbling to call her back again, until he hears a knock on the front door.

He doesn't want to answer it. Doesn't want anyone to see him like he is right now, torn apart and open and bleeding his heart out onto the floor. Doesn't want anyone to know that Kate is -

The phone drops from his hand and clatters onto the counter. He slips in his haste, his socks sliding against the hardwood floor as he made his way to the front door as quickly as he possibly could. He rips the front door open, afraid that if he left her outside a second longer, she would disappear into thin air again and he'd never see her.

But she was there, standing in front of him, looking probably about as bad as he did.

Their eyes locked, and Rick bit back a sob, pulling her into the loft and wrapping her up in his arms. She held him back just as tightly, shaking against his chest.

He could be angry in the morning.

He could scream and yell and cry to make her understand just what she did to him later.

He held onto her tighter, burrowing his face into her hair.

She came back.

And he still loved her.

And she was home.

And the light was back in her eyes, shining dimly but there nonetheless.

They sank to the floor, a mass of limbs, clinging to each other desperately, both letting their tears bleed onto the other's skin.

Because perhaps they were still falling, and it was going to take a while for them to fix what she'd done, but this time they were holding hands.

They can put the shattered pieces back together again.

They can.

And they will.

Tell me it's nothing.
Try to convince me
that I'm not drowning
Oh, let me tell you I am…