Step one
you say, We need to talk
He walks.
You say, Sit down, it's just a talk.
He smiles politely back at you.
You stare politely right on through. . .

Let him know that you know best. . .
Try to slip past his defense
Without granting innocence
Lay down a list. . .
The things you've told him all along

And pray to God, he hears you.

'How to Save a Life' The Fray

It's strange to be putting on her own coat.

That's what strikes her first, what pings on her radar the loudest, after all those tiny, subtle movements of current and temperature and inflection. It's sliding her own coat on, tugging her hair out of her collar, and him not there to do it with her. For her.

She twists around to look at the elevator and sees his face, both desolate and disappointed, and her heart drops out of her chest.

Kate stands like a stone, staring at the closed doors.

A commotion behind her has Kate moving in slow-motion toward the noise, blinking in blindness until the form resolves.

"Esposito," she croaks. He picks his phone up off his desk, apparently he forgot it, and strolls over to her.

"Yeah? I thought you and Castle were going to get drinks."

"Thought so too. No. Actually, I wanted to ask you. When - when I was interviewing Bobby in the box-"

"When Castle showed up?"

When Castle showed up.

"He - I - did Castle watch?"

"Think so. I told him you were in there."

Oh God.

She sways, twists on her heel to cover that moment of weakness and heads for the elevator, tosses off something to Esposito behind her - a night or thanks - she has no idea, doesn't care, can only jab her thumb into the call button repeatedly but it's being entirely uncooperative today.

Too slow.

Beckett bolts for the stairs.

She catches up to him about two blocks from the precinct; she's been running in her heels, hair bouncing on her shoulders, entirely too out of breath for the shape she's in. It's just - she hasn't managed to really catch her breath since she left Espo in the bullpen.

Castle stumbles to a halt and something flashes across his eyes that he quickly dampens. Concern she thinks. As if he's muffling it, shoving it down.

Her heart pounds as she stares at him, realizing with a start that she's got her fingers wrapped tightly around his elbow. But she can't let go.

He smiles politely at her. "Beckett?"

It sounds so wrong. So very wrong.

"Abraham Lincoln," she spits out, feels the burn in her cheeks, tries to repair the awkward start. "That quote."

A flicker again, but still his mask is presented to her, that smiling, unaffected mask. "To sin by silence," he gives her. This time, his voice doesn't roughen as it did in the interrogation room, when she thought he was choked by the thought of those five innocent bystanders.

That's not what he was talking about. He was talking about her. Her silence.

"To sin by silence when they should protest," she says intently. "Why didn't you protest?"

His eyebrows knit; he's pulling his elbow out of her grip. "What do you mean?"

The words are stuck. She almost said - and then she thought he really was going to say something, going to say it again, and this time she'd have known what to say in return, but he never got the chance.

After the case, they both said. After the case. Only now it's after and he's walking home alone.

She clears her throat. "Lincoln also said, 'I am rather inclined to silence, and whether that be wise or not, it is at least more unusual nowadays to find a man who can hold his tongue than to find one who cannot.'"

His eyebrow quirks; he's interested now, at least. "I believe he also said, 'Leave nothing for tomorrow which can be done today.' Him and many others."

She bites her bottom lip, wonders why the hell he isn't taking his own advice, why he's been so quiet this year, why he didn't stand up and fight for this - why he didn't protest. When has he not pushed her? Only now, in this one thing.

"Well, it's been nice trading Lincoln sound bites with you, Beckett, but I should get home. I want to see how Alexis is doing."




So he's just going to walk away?

He's nursing another Scotch in the darkness of his study when a knock sounds on the door. He levers himself out of the chair, takes the glass with him, likes the way the sky makes the stars unavailable. Stars shouldn't be a part of it, should never enter into view. They're out of reach anyway. Might as well be out of sight.

Castle flings open the door with a wrenching movement, feels his soulsick pride take another battering.

Damn. It's Kate - Beckett. It's Beckett.

She's biting her lip, her fingers hooked into her coat pockets. Same thing she was wearing when he left her, oh, hours ago now. A lifetime ago. Ages. Back when he was in love with her.

He's not now.

Nope. Coupla drinks took care of that.

"Are you - you're drunk?" she says.

"Yes. No. Not quite. I wish I was."

She sets her jaw, steps back. "This wasn't a good idea."

"You're here now. Come on in. Want one?"

She stares at him, and the darkness in her eyes that's always swallowed him up, always invited him inside and then eaten him whole - it does it now. It's there again. It's been a few months since she looked out at him from behind that darkness.

"No thanks," she says finally. Quietly. "My father's drink of choice."

Ah. Damn. Okay, he should-

No. No, why should he? He wants to drink a Scotch, wants to get good and numb on however many Scotches it takes, then he might as well-

Yeah. No. He can't. Who is he fooling? He stares down at his drink, leaves her at the door to pour it out, down the drain of the kitchen sink. "Another thing ruined," he murmurs, sighing heavily.

"Ruined?" she says. "I've . . . ruined it?"

He jerks and turns his head to find she's followed him inside. The front door is open - easy escape.

"Why are you here?" he says bluntly.

She lifts her hands from her coat pockets and laces her fingers together. Such long, beautiful fingers, insightful fingers, cool fingers. She takes a small step forward. "I think there's more to say."

"About the case?"

She gives him a tight flash of irritation before reining it in. "About this."

"This case," he presses. This case, Beckett.

"This. Our - what we - the things we aren't saying."

"You chose silence. Want me to hold my tongue. Fine. I got it." He sets the glass down on the counter, too heavily maybe; the chink against the granite echoes sharply in his ears. He glances at it, but it doesn't seemed cracked. Surprisingly.

"You chose silence first," she says suddenly.

He lifts an eyebrow, opens his mouth but finds nothing to say. It's patently not true, but what can he say to blatant and woeful misperception on her part? Not just misperception, but willful and blind delusion? I don't remember a thing, Castle.

Like hell.

"Sorry," she mutters, and those pale hands come apart, one pushing back through her hair, scratching the top of her head. "What I mean is. What if the words - what if there aren't any words? What if the words won't come?"

"You don't have to say anything. Really, I'd rather you didn't. Save us both some dignity, will ya?" He walks away from her, heading for the front door, opens it for her.

She stays back at the counter, but her hand falls from her hair, her mouth dropping open.

His mother warned him it would be impossible. It is. No, it's not. He can do this. He'll flip the switch. It will just take - a day or two. A couple more hours. Just another minute, that's all, really.

She makes her way towards him, carefully, slowly, and he just wishes she'd hurry up and get out of here already so that he can lick his wounds in private. Really. Have some decency, Beckett.

Well, she does, doesn't she? She's said nothing all this time, has let it just slip right down into the darkness, where it belongs, just to keep from hurting his feelings. Well, that's nice. Really, it is. He'll start feeling grateful for that consideration any moment now. He will. He really will.

Shit, it hurts. It hurts.

She's killing him.

"Just - just go," he manages, and he knows he sounds bad, he sounds bad, but he can't manage much more than that, not with four glasses of Scotch in an hour and a fifth he was halfway through. Not with Kate Beckett - untouchable, heartbreakingly beautiful Kate Beckett - only a foot away and staring back at him from behind that darkness, further and further from him, form what he wants, he wants, God he wants her-

He wants her, he wants her-

His eyes slam shut, and he hears a noise like keening, like grief-

But it's not from him.

His eyes startle open just in time to see Kate turn, the brush of her hand over her cheek, hair in a curtain over her face as she leaves his apartment.

He's still holding the door open in silent command for her to go, and she's already halfway down the hall.


Wait a second.

"Kate?" he chokes out, shuffling out the door, clumsy in his free-floating panic.

She's stopped in the hall, shoulders hunched, hands in her pockets.


When she turns, her eyes are suspiciously bright.

"What are you - what were you saying - did I miss something?"

She ducks her head; he can see her opening her mouth to say, It's nothing, Castle. And once again, he can actually see their moment slipping away from them, their chance, all those rose-tinted visions of the future dissolving in the air between them and he knows, he knows this is it.

To sin by silence.

"Wait," he says, holds up his hand to her and comes closer.

She closes her mouth; the images start to reform, slight and frail substance.

"I missed it," he murmurs. "I don't know what it was - but I missed it." He takes her hand from her pocket, tugging her by the wrist, closes his fingers around that thin protrusion of bone.

She's got all that darkness in her eyes, but lately, there's been such light. Hope.

God, he's nervous. He's crazy nervous. He's crazy to do this all over again, knowing that she knows, but that broken sound as she left makes him do it, makes him do it all over again - even though he doesn't expect different results, not one bit, so maybe he's the worst kind of sane.

The sanity of having nothing left to lose.

"Kate, I love you."

Her lashes lift, her mouth turns, twists up into slow-dawning brilliant. Her fingers are suddenly clawed around his hand, so very tightly.

"You. Yeah," she says, her words stopped by the very smile breaking wide across her face.

This doesn't look like embarrassed.

"Uh. Kate?"

She bites her bottom lip, as if trying to contain that smile - oh no, please don't, it's my one and only reassurance at the moment, and holy God, Kate, you have to say something here-

She steps into him, breaking his hold on her wrist with that neat movement, but her fingertips come to his chest, just the pads of her fingers, a light touch as if to keep her balance, and she's regaining control of that smile, and he has no idea. He has no idea-

She lifts into him, a sudden press of lips, the hard ridge of her teeth before her tongue does obeisance at the seam of his mouth.

He struggles for air and finds her wrapped around him in his hallway, his fist in her hair and gripping, her hand at his cheek and rhythmic, stroking skin and stubble, and her mouth tastes like heat and relief and desperately of mint.

She nibbles at his lip as she untangles, panting puffs of breath against his nose, her lashes flickering against his skin.

He has such a tight grip on her, he's not sure she can move much farther than this anyway.

"'Talk, talk, talk,'" she murmurs, her voice knocking him right back to his bedroom, and her, in his bed, speaking low to him in the dark and starless night.

"Talk?" he grits out past the all-too-clear and fervent vision.

"'The utter and heartbreaking stupidity of words,'" she finishes. "William Faulkner."

Damn. She has brain power to quote Faulkner and all he can do his clutch at her hip, dig his thumb into the hard ridge of her pelvic bone, drag her a little closer.

He sucks in a breath, presses his cheek to hers. "I could - could use some more words, no matter how - how heartbreaking."

Her mouth tilts to his ear, her tongue traces the outline, makes his knees give way so that he's like a slowly-felled tree, swaying in her slightest wind.

"No need for breaking hearts," she hums. "That say enough?"

"'Cruelest - cruelest lies are told in silence,'" he says back, knows that half that sentence was a groan he just couldn't control, not when her fingers are trailing under his shirt at his collarbone and stroking.

She pauses, her thumb slides up his neck to his chin, strokes back along his jaw so that he suddenly can see her, see all the myriad colors in her eyes - the absorption of all wavelengths - the black turned beautiful.

Her thumb is a kiss to his mouth, closing his lips again even as he wants to say more.

"Castle," she protests intently, fiercely. "I love you."