Spoilers for "47 Seconds".

He was home for all of five minutes before he downed a third of a bottle of Scotch.

It was harder than he thought—working beside her after he knew that she'd heard what he said. He'd gotten so good at putting aside his feelings, at waiting. And what's love in the name of justice, anyway?

His mother finds him with the bottle of scotch next to him as he fights every urge he has to end Nikki and Rook's relationship in Frozen Heat. All it takes is a few keystrokes. His finger hovers, shaking, but he picks up his glass instead, lets it burn his throat instead of the page.

He's turned over the pictures of her, of them, that line his desk. He can't stand to look at them. He knows if he stares hard enough—long enough—he'll be able to see the truth in the recesses of her eyes.

Stupid, foolish man.

"Richard, you're a mess."

"I'm fine."

"You really think you should be writing right now?" She glances anxiously at his laptop.

"Seemed as good a time as any," he says, sitting the glass down forcefully.

"Why don't you go talk to her, hmm?"

"There's nothing left to say."

"The hell there isn't. Fight for her, Richard."

"There's nothing to fight for if she doesn't feel the same way."

She shakes her head. "You don't know that. She could have her reasons. Foolish reasons, certainly, but reasons nevertheless."

He shakes his head furiously. "If she's got them, I don't wanna hear them."

Martha's eyes flick to his murder board in the corner and back to him. Her silence says it all.

"It's not the same thing, Mother."

"Sure it isn't, dear. Sure it isn't." She sighs and her gaze falls to his empty glass. "If you wanna drink yourself into a drunken stupor, I'm not gonna sit here and watch. Alexis and I are going out for a movie, get her mind off things for a bit."

She falters at the doorway. "You need anything while we're out? I'm sure Beckett's just a phone call—"

He glares.

She waves him off with her hand. "All right, all right. Good night, dear."

His hand flicks over the keyboard once again before he slams his laptop shut, running a hand through his hair.

He wants to stop showing up, out of spite. He wants to make her wonder where he's been—wants her to feel every bit of the knife sticking out of the middle of his chest.

She got off easy, though. He thought about telling her, but the thought of her sympathy, her embarrassment—not just for him, but for her, for them—made him nauseous.

But now…

He wants to talk at her. Needs to yell. Needs to see the color drain from her face in person when she realizes what she's wrecked, what she can never get back.

He's pissed.

He throws back another sip of Scotch. He winces, but it's just good.

He goes to her apartment first, knocking his fist obnoxiously against her door, but there's no movement. He pounds a few more times, loud enough so that a few of her neighbors open the door to throw him a few passive aggressive glares before slamming their doors behind them.

He groans, slamming an open palm against the door before giving up.

He's in a cab, his address on the tip of his tongue, when he remembers what she said about the Old Haunt. She'd never go there alone, but…

His fingers curl roughly against the worn leather as he bites out the location of his bar.

He throws a few bills at the cabbie (singles or hundreds, he can't really find it in himself to care) and steps into the bar on a grimace. At least he can get a scotch here.

He finds her at the edge of the bar, nursing a margarita across from Lanie. He clenches his fists at his sides, watches as Lanie's eyes find him. The corners of her mouth curve slightly, as if she's about to smile. But then her eyes trail the length of his body—his posture, his face—and it dies on her lips.

It isn't long before Kate sees him, too.

It's all he can do to keep from doubling over as a smile lights up her face. Unlike Lanie, she doesn't take in his affect, seems to only notice that he's there and nothing else.

Her detective skills could use some work, he notes sourly as he stalks toward them.

"Hey, Castle. Change your mind?" She grins, placing a hand on his arm.

"Not exactly," he grits out. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Lanie shift uncomfortably.

"It's late. I should really get home."

Kate frowns. "Just another round?"

Lanie hesitates, flicking her eyes to Castle. "I don't think that's a good idea." She finds Kate's eyes again. "Call me tomorrow."

Kate's brow furrows. "'Kay."

She brushes past Kate, throws Castle a threatening look that would send a shiver down his spine under ordinary circumstances.

"You okay, Castle? You seem a little…out of it."

"I'm not, actually."

She raises an eyebrow. "Anything I can do to help?" She smiles, almost flirtatiously, and—

God. She can't seriously be teasing him, can she?

"You can tell me why you've been lying to me for the last eight months," he spits.

She closes her mouth around her smile and shakes her head once in confusion. "What?"

"I heard you interrogate our suspect, Kate. I was behind the glass."

"Castle, you're gonna have to be more specific. I don't—"

"Damn it, Kate!" She jumps at the timber of his voice and he looks around to realize that he's drawn attention.

"What the hell is your problem, Rick?" she asks quietly, jaw set.

"Just forget it. Just—God, forget all of it. I'll see you around."

"Castle, wait," she says, exasperated.

He stops in his tracks and turns around, stares at her coldly. "No, Kate. I'm done waiting."

When he arrives home, it's three hours later and he has no idea where he's been. It's all a blur under the clench of his heart and the haze of the alcohol.

He finds her sitting next to his door, eyes closed, head leaning against the wall. She looks up when he shuffles towards her, but he refuses to acknowledge her presence. She scrambles to her feet as he shoves the key so hard into the lock that it jars his hand.

She folds her arms across her chest. "You gonna at least invite me in?"

"Why? You'll do what you want. You always do anyway," he says as he steps into the loft. He closes his eyes in resignation when he hears her follow him in, closing the door behind her.

"I never had you pegged as the passive aggressive type, Castle. But I gotta say, you're really blowing me away right now," she says aggressively.

He shakes his head, trying to drown her out. "How hard is it to tell a person that you don't love them, Kate? Tell me. It's sure as hell got to be easier than perpetuating a lie for almost a year."

Her face is white as a sheet and it really doesn't bring him any satisfaction at all. She opens her mouth to speak, but nothing comes out.

He shakes his head, waving her off with his hand as he leaves her for the solace of his office. He almost makes it when she finds her words, hoarse and raw.

"Rick, wait. I—" He hears her take a deep, shuddering breath and it rips his insides apart. How could he think that this would make him feel better? He steels himself, placing a hand against the wall, ducking his head.

"That's all I've been doing, Kate. That's ALL I've been doing. Waiting. I thought that's what you wanted from me. I thought we…" he trails off, shakes his head. He swallows hard. "The least you could have done was have the courage to tell me that I've been wasting my time for the last four years."

"I just needed some time, Castle. I—"

"Where have I heard that one before?" he laughs bitterly. "You ever notice how whenever you need time, I'm the one who gets clobbered? I think I deserve just a little more respect from you."

"Castle, nothing I say is going to make this better." She sighs, swiping a hand across her cheek. "I can stand here and tell you how unbelievably sorry I am, but I don't think it would do any good. I can't change what I've done, okay? It was stupid and—and selfish."

"Why have you bothered to keep me around for the last four years?"

She stares at him, long and hard, folding her arms across her chest. "You're seriously asking me that question, right now?"

"Considering the circumstances, I think it seems appropriate."

She drops her arms, laughs in disbelief. "Castle, I didn't string you along these last eight months for nothing. I didn't lie to you because I was embarrassed or because I didn't have the guts to tell you that I don't…" she trails off, takes a deep, heaving breath.




"Don't what, Kate? Just say it. Please."

She sighs and the tears fill her eyes again. "Love you."

She closes the distance between them, grabbing his face roughly between her palms. "I love you, Castle," she rasps before crushing her lips to his. Her mouth is hot as her hands run the length of his chest frantically.

"God, Kate. I love you," he growls between kisses, crushing her body to his. Her tears (or his?) are wet against her face as he slides his hands roughly into her hair, angling her face.

"Please, Castle. God, tell me this isn't over," she whispers as his mouth slides over the curve of her jaw before claiming her hungry lips again.

"Just started, Kate. Just started," he mumbles against her lips.

Not so original title, but I literally listened to the song on repeat while I wrote this.

Damn that episode.