A/N: I wrote this initially to fill in the gap in Linchpin between Kate drowning and her being suddenly fine (and honestly because I'm a sucker for a heroic rescue). As I started to type, I was fascinated by the whole linchpin concept and I soon developed an arc that became the backbone for Bated Breath. I created and followed an outline so even though this is 60+ chapters long, have no fear! Each chapter was crafted for a purpose with the end in mind.
There are 3 parts to this story:
Part I (the first 23 chapters) is the rescue and relationship building.
Part II (chapters 24-34) is a series of significant one-shots to bridge the stories in Parts I and III.
Part III (chapters 35-64) is a the revelation of Castle's father, and the resolution of Johanna Beckett's case.
Even though this has been complete for a while now, I'd love to hear your thoughts so I know this story is still alive and kicking.
I don't own the show or any of the ABC characters, etc. so on with the story . . .
February 15, 2012
Detective Beckett never imagined it would end like this. There were no violent flesh-tearing bullets or instant explosions, just water, common filthy river water. Castle had submerged seconds ago, maybe it had been half a minute? Time was distorting. She had tried to suppress her outward signs of panic for her partner's sake but he was out of reach and her mind raced in tempo with her erratic pulse.
Her thoughts jumped to her father. The only consolation she felt on his behalf was that her death would be in the line of duty, which would be somehow more palatable than if it were as a result of her obsession with her mother's murder. Kate knew that he would blame himself for not stopping her if that were the case.
Where was Castle?
Her teeth chattered. She was cold, but she should be able to control the annoying spasms. She shook her head, determined not to waste precious time with idle concerns.
What should she have been thinking about?
Her father. Right.
She prayed he would be able to recover, that he would not fall back on self-destructive coping mechanisms because this time there would be no one else to pick up the pieces. She wished that she had made more of an effort to throw him together with Martha. The actress' fun-loving nature would have made her a good friend for her introspective father. Maybe through the loss of their only children they'd be able to cope . . . no . . . she couldn't stomach the thought of their combined grief.
She writhed in a vain attempt to free herself.
Lanie. Kate rolled her eyes. Lanie would have to see them on her slabs. Gates would make someone else perform the autopsies but Lanie would never abandon them. She would watch over them, keeping their bodies close together, probably placing Kate's cold hand in Castle's one last time. It wasn't rational but the thought was oddly comforting. She knew Lanie would offer consolation to the others, saying that drowning would have been relatively painless. Kate sighed ruefully at that thought. In the final moments she might be numb but what she was living through before that point would be anything but peaceful.
She tugged violently at her seatbelt.
Ryan. The loss of both Beckett and Castle might actually cause Ryan to become jaded. She didn't want that for him. Through the years she had counted on him to keep them human. He idolized Castle, who might as well have been another Irish brother. She was so thankful that she got to see Kevin Ryan happily married. This would crush him but he had Jenny. He would be okay, right? He would help Esposito?
The water crept higher.
Esposito. Without him she would still be scanning for snipers with her sweaty palms and shifting eyes. Without her he would be down a sister. They never needed to say much to get each other. He would smile less without Castle. Maybe this would bring him back to Lanie. Would anything good come out of their demise?
She elbowed the unrelenting glass.
The water lapped her neck.
She remembered freezing in Castle's arms. She longed for those arms. If they were to die together it was a cruel irony that he was out of reach.
She licked her lips then wondered why she bothered.
Could he already be lost? She didn't want the gun anymore, she just wanted him to be with her, holding her as they took their last breath together. She had a sick feeling that he had already taken his last breath. She searched for the memory that she had tried for months to suppress, or at least to rationalize.
Kate, I love you . . . I love you, Kate.
She had never given herself permission to savor the memory, but now she would give anything to hear her name spill from his lips one last time. Whether he had uttered the words prematurely or not, he had meant them then and they had rang true ever since. She looked up in a useless attempt to stem the flow of tears. The water overtook her. She had lost her chance.
As she held her breath she was securely fastened to her fate. Her thoughts raced faster.
Alexis. Oh, Alexis. The girl who smiled sunshine into Castle's world was Kate's reminder of why she served and protected - so that people could grow up like Alexis Castle - secure. No, she had been secure. Her dad would be lost in the course of a muddled conspiracy and what's to keep Alexis Castle from turning into another avenging crusader like Kate Beckett?
No no no. She didn't want that to be her legacy. Kate didn't want to imagine Alexis' dimpled smile yielding to wild determination while the CIA tossed her in a well-sculpted circle as she tried in vain to find the truth of why her father was murdered.
Kate Beckett released her final breath with all her regrets. Her mind swam with a montage of consequences for those whom she loved but most of all with the severe sense of loss for the man who she knew had just died trying to save her. Her salty tears mixed with the disinterested river as she prayed that there was an afterlife. Maybe she would see her mom. Would Castle be waiting? Would she just fade away and cease to exist? There was no point in wasting any more thought on it. She focused on Richard Castle, remembering his infectious smile and how her stomach fluttered when she brushed his fingers when he gave her coffee each morning.
Kate, I love you . . . I love you, Kate.
She filled her lungs with water hoping that her fictional version of Lanie was right and that at least it would be painless.
As she drifted out of consciousness, she felt a strong arm around her. Maybe she wouldn't die alone after all.
A/N: Now, who's up for the heroic rescue?