A/N: I told myself no. I really did. And then this came out anyway. Gah, I can't wait until Monday.

Warning: This is NOT your typical "Always" fic. If you've ever read "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce, this is similar to that. All you literary nerds out there, you have been warned. Everyone else...don't cheat by looking it up on Wikipedia! You can do that after you finish reading this.

Spoilers: Both USA and Canadian promos for "Always" 4x23.

Disclaimer: If Andrew Marlowe and company actually did this, I think I would be the first to be up in arms. So no, Castle and all affiliated people, places, and events are sole property of Andrew Marlowe and ABC Studios.

when the world dangles by a thread

They lied when they said that your life flashes before your eyes when you die.

In reality, you see only him.

I love you, Kate. If that means anything, just don't do this.

Your fingertips strain to hold your body weight, but the concrete ledge of the roof is more slippery than you would have thought.

The scar dancing across your ribs pulls, and the pain, it burns. Finger by finger, your life slips from your grasp.

You will die.

And all you see is the desolation in his eyes when he emptied his soul for you, and you…you—coward that you are, stubborn, reckless fool that you are—you trampled his bloodied heart beneath your feet.


You have to stop this investigation. They will kill you.

You cut a deal for my life? How could you?

Because I love you.


No hesitation that time. Only tears in his eyes that you'd put there.

Your death will devastate him, will break him.

You are selfish. You didn't want to see his pain because you're too wrapped in the possibility that this time will be the time you finally break your mother's case.

It's only now you understand that her case is nothing but a perpetual circle leading nowhere.

But it's too late. You can't fix this.

You've lived for the past for so long that you've forgotten what it's like to live for the living. He tried to teach you, but you pushed him away because beneath the confident front you put on for the world, reality is that you're still just that scared little girl whose world was shattered when a murderer coiled up in a conspiracy judged your mother to be too great a threat.

You're afraid of living.

Now you will die without ever having lived.


You're not in this alone.

I know.

Your whole body aches from the beating you'd received at the hands of Cole Maddox, and you know that you were a fool for going after him alone.

Resigning? Tossing your gun and your badge on Gates' desk in a statement of what? Rebellion? Taking a stand?

Foolish, idiotic move.

You separated yourself from Espo and Ryan, separated yourself from Lanie, separated yourself from Castle only to have everything end with a fall off the roof of a ten-story building.

There will be no miracle this time because you took that right away from every single person close to you.

There will be no one desperately calling you on the phone to warn you that "Ben Conrad isn't the killer"; no one holding you close as your body shuts down its functions one by one in response to the frigid temperature; no one to grab your hand and tell you with a thousand words in a long stare that he's so happy his last moments will be spent with you before he chances everything by yanking the wires; no one to hold his breath longer than it should be possible for a human being to dig for a gun needed to free you from your stuck seatbelt and blast the windshield open for escape; no one to banter with and learn to compromise with when cuffed together and facing a gruesome death at the jaws of a tiger.

There will be no one cradling your stunned and bloodied body like it's the most precious thing in the world and keeping you fettered to the world of the living with those beautiful words I love you, Kate.

I'm more than a partner.

Your last finger slips, and all you see is him.

All you see is what could have been.

Her soaking clothes pierce her to the bone, but she doesn't care.

She needs to see him.

She shuffles restlessly from foot to foot as she waits for him to open the door.

She needs to see him so badly. She needs to tell him that it matters, that it means everything to her. That she can't put down her mother's case on her own, but maybe together, they can.

The door opens, and all the words she'd come prepared to say lodge in her throat.

She reaches for him instead, and when their lips meet, she knows that this is where she's supposed to be, what she's been working toward.

"I love you, Castle. God, I love you so much."

She thinks he responds in kind, but she can't really hear his mumbled words of love against her lips past the roaring of her heart and the mad rush of sensation that threatens to overwhelm her. Her chilled body warms immediately wherever it's pressed up against his, and the heat of his hands and mouth and tongue elicit pleasant shocks that make her shiver for an entirely different reason.

She needs him. She needs more of him.

She whimpers when he pulls back, and she tries to follow with her lips, but he holds her firmly at arm's length. He studies her with those too blue eyes, and for once in life, she doesn't hold back. She lets the depth of her love, her utter adoration for him, her unreserved devotion to them, shine through without any filters and God, it feels good.

It feels good to show him that she's in this, that she's committed to her one and done.

He's stunned for a moment, taken aback by the intensity of her emotions, and then the corners of his eyes crinkle with that familiar joy and God, she always thought that people were exaggerating, but he glows. And she knows that she does too.

"I love you," and for a moment she doesn't know who said it. Then she realizes that they both did and that they're as in sync with this as they always were. They just had to give the universe a chance to work itself out for them.

She doesn't try to hold back the radiant smile when he lets out a loud, enthusiastic whoop of joy and wraps his arms around her to swing her in a wide circle.

This is what it was always supposed to be.

The world ends with the image of his blue eyes watering and so full of love for you.

You smile.

A/N: I'm just...gonna go over there now. And hide.