". . .the two of us. . .not even people any longer: the two
like two moths, two feathers riding above a hurricane."
-The Unvanquished, William Faulkner
When they came for her, Castle was holding her hand in the lobby of his building.
When they came for her, she growled and clung, for a moment, ever tighter to him before she went willingly. They handcuffed her.
She said, "I didn't do it. Castle. I didn't-"
"I'm calling my lawyer. Don't say a word."
He didn't need reassuring; he didn't need her to try to explain why she didn't have an alibi for that night and why when he'd called her back, she hadn't picked up either.
The Dragon was slain. He didn't care who'd done it.
He didn't need more words from her, or the pleading fear of her eyes, or the way the glass divided them in holding.
He just needed her.
"I'll get you out, Kate. I will get you out."
He was determined to do this. No matter what she might say.
He brought her lawyer with him into the room; she was led inside and the handcuffs taken off. As soon as the guard stepped back through the door, Castle was at her, wrapping his arms around her and burying his nose in the sterile-starched prison-scent of her neck.
She winced but clung tighter.
"Did they move you?" he gruffed, not waiting for her answer before slanting his lips over hers, visceral, the feeling of need like a hook in his guts that was being tugged by the hot reel of her mouth.
"Just today," she gasped back, arching in his arms. And not in pleasure, he knew.
He curled his hand at the back of her neck and kept her close for a moment longer, despite the lawyer who'd already set up shop at the table, files spread out, plan in place.
"Kate," he groaned, kissed her eyelids as he tried to pull himself together. But she wouldn't let go.
"Doesn't hurt that bad," she muttered, pressing her forehead against his with a shuddering breath.
He skated his hands under the white tshirt, past the waistband of her orange prison pants, fingers along her spine. She jerked at the touch.
"Doesn't hurt?" he murmured, desolation making his voice crack. They were going to kill her in here if he couldn't get this moving, get this going fast enough.
"Not - ah - not as bad," she corrected, something in her tone that made him stiffen. "I'll live."
"Kate," he said finally, taking a step back from her to catch her eyes. She was crying; she lifted the back of her hand to her cheeks, swiped at the wetness.
She shook her head at him when he canted forward again; she held him off with a hand at his chest. "How'd you get the lawyer room?"
"I know a guy," he said, giving her a ghost of a smile. But it was hollow. Everything was hollow. "Kate, the prosecution has subpoenaed me."
Whatever small hope he'd brought with him dropped clean off her face; she slumped and raised a hand to her forehead, hiding her eyes from him.
When she spoke, her voice rasped. "I thought they might."
"I'm not going to do it."
She lowered her hand; her face was pale now, so pale he could see the bruises at her cheekbone, the faint mark at her jaw, the scratch just in front of her ear. Fights. She'd had to fight every day.
"You're not - Castle. You have to. They will hold you in contempt of court."
"I won't do it." His fists balled up at his sides, but he took a breath, reminded himself to be logical. Be calm. Or she would never agree.
"Castle, you can't - they'll put you in jail until you do, give you a fine-"
"You think I care about a fine?"
"I think you care about your family. Alexis-"
"Don't start," he said, swallowing hard. "Kate, I won't testify against you."
"Castle," she gritted out, closing her eyes briefly. "Don't put this on me too. Not another thing. I can't - I can't handle being responsible for ruining this too-"
He reached for her then, tugged her into his arms, tried to absorb every shaky, plaintive word, every fear, every sense of hopelessness.
"Kate. Would you marry me?"
Beckett sat stiffly in the chair, staring at the special circumstances license. Her heart pounded, but her body was numb. She couldn't tamp down the awareness of him that crawled through her veins; she needed him in a way that humiliated her, in a way that also pulled her out of darkness each morning and kept her going.
"This is not a good idea," she said, but her voice wavered.
"They can't force me to testify against my spouse," Castle said, leaning in close to her. He'd pulled the chair around to her side of the table, and she knew it was a not-so-subtle way of reminding her she wasn't alone, but it worked. It worked.
"Kate, I'm not testifying against you. Even if you won't sign the marriage license, it's not going to happen."
"Castle. If you just tell the jury the truth-"
"In this city?" He snorted and shook his head. "I don't trust the system any longer, Kate. And without people like you willing to listen, to be open-minded - what chance do we have with the truth?"
Her chest tightened at the jaded catch in his voice. But he was right; she didn't have faith that she'd get out of this. The way the Dragon's organization was set up, the moment he fell, she should've known they'd be coming after her next. Retaliation. Vengeance. Poetic justice.
"Castle," she said quietly, turning her head to look at him. Really look at him, and make him look at her. "This would be a mistake."
"No," he said, reaching out to grab her hand. "Wait. Just listen to the plan." He looked desperate, and she knew he was going crazy because all his money was barely making a dent in the terror their lives had been plunged into. But he couldn't - he couldn't marry her to help her case; he'd put a target on his back if he did.
"First. If we're married, they can't compel my testimony. So I'm not-" He gritted his teeth and gave the lawyer a grimace. "I'm not dragged into a court case. Minimize the negative publicity."
"Second. If something should happen to me, you'd have access to the money you'd need to fight this-"
"If something should happen to you?" She clutched him tighter, suddenly afraid he was planning some crazy scheme, and he couldn't, he really just couldn't do that to her, not when she was stuck in here and unable to have his back.
The lawyer cleared his throat. "Mr. Castle has received death threats."
"What?" She stared at Castle, her heart pounding. "Castle. From - from them? From his group?"
He looked furious; his eyes cut to the lawyer. "I said we wouldn't tell her that."
"I'm her lawyer. This is in her best interest to know."
"Castle," she hissed, squeezing his hand until he looked at her. "Do not keep things from me. God, you can't keep things from me. I have to trust you. You're the only one-"
"No. Not - Kate." He leaned in and wrapped his fingers around her neck, tugged her against him. The guard outside tapped on the safety glass, and Castle had to let go - no hands around the neck. He looked like he wanted to do damage.
"Tell me," she insisted.
"Mr. Castle has been threatened with his life and the life of his family if he doesn't testify against you."
"I'm not doing it," he growled, his hand coming to her knee and squeezing too hard. She felt the pounding of her blood under his fingers and tried to keep from blacking out. She didn't want him to know, but - this - her knee was on fire-
"Castle," she rasped, knocked his hand away, her head bowing to the table.
"Kate? Oh damn. Kate, what-" He crowded in close and brushed his fingers through her short hair. "Your knee? What happened to your knee?"
She shook her head and fought through it. "You first. The death threats. You have to testify."
"Marry me. Damn it, Kate. Marry me."
"No," she ground out. "You have to keep Alexis safe. Yourself safe. You-"
"I'm not doing it," he yelled at her, chest heaving. "You can't - Kate Beckett, I cannot be the one to send you to prison. Don't you know that? The death penalty in on the table, Kate. The death penalty."
"I've already talked to Alexis. She's got security; she's in med schoool; she has her own life - this was her decision too."
Oh God, Alexis. She swallowed hard and buried her head in her hands.
"Can you give us a minute?" Castle said, and she felt the lawyer remove himself, put some distance between them. The best he could do.
She was used to no longer having privacy.
She felt his hand come up to her cheek, the stroke of his fingers. "Kate."
"Castle, you can't ask me to endanger your life either," she whispered, lifting her eyes to him.
"I was going to ask you to marry me. That night. I had the ring in my pocket."
Oh God. Oh God, she could weep.
"I had it all planned out. I didn't do it at the restaurant because you'd said one time that it had to be intimate, not public. And then we walked home and I almost asked you a hundred times, but I thought I should do it at home-"
"Rick," she keened, leaning into his shoulder.
He kept speaking, his mouth at her ear. "We got to the lobby; I put my hand in my pocket to touch the box and all I could do was watch you. I'm so honored you love me, so grateful to love you back, Kate. It was all in my mouth to say - I was about to just chuck the plan and go for it there in the lobby when they came."
She couldn't stop the tears, renegade drops that soaked his shirt. She took in a hitching breath and smelled him - the clean scent, the sharp aftershave, and the sweat. When she closed her eyes she could still feel that night in his lobby, his hand in hers, that beautifully sweet look on his face as his eyes had adored her.
He'd been about to propose.
But she'd been arrested.
"I'm sorry it has to be now instead of then," he whispered. "I'm so sorry. But, Kate, I want to marry you. I've wanted to marry you for years."
"I don't want your life to be in danger," she whispered, even though she ached for it. Ached for him. To have him, claim him.
"Kate, love, my life is already in danger. You are my life."