The sequel to "An Odyssey to Us".
I would strongly recommend that you read that story before this one. A word of warning though - it's gonna get angsty. Just sayin'.
1. Fix You
"Detective Beckett, why are you here?"
Kate glances out the window and exhales slowly, her hair crowned with rays of sunlight. Why was she here? She looks back at the man in front of her and shrugs, her lips pressed into a thin line.
"Honestly? I don't know." Her voice is strong and her eyes hard, glittering diamonds of defiance. But there are cracks in her mask and Dr. Burke sees right through it.
He cocks his head and regards her for a few moments, his dark eyes narrowing slightly.
"I think you know exactly why you are here, Kate," he replies, his voice rich and smooth; a deep rumble that threatens to lull her into calmness, into openness.
She folds her arms across her chest, trying to keep everything from bleeding out of her heart. She's not going to cry in front of this stranger.
He crosses his legs and sits back, hands folded in his lap; his expression calm and unassuming.
"Why don't you tell me about that day?" Her heart trips. No. No. No-
"About what happened at Captain Montgomery's funeral?"
There's the question she feared the most.
It cuts straight to her thumping heart, freezes the courage in her veins. She clutches at her arms, suddenly feeling cold, her eyes prickly with unshed tears. The memories of that day have since haunted her every waking moment.
Silence envelops the room for what seems like an eternity; the faint, rhythmic ticking of the wall clock and the sounds of New York outside the only noises discernible in the quiet room.
Finally, Kate lifts her head, her eyes wet and teeming with tears, her well-constructed self-control teetering on the brink of destruction. When she speaks, the words are expelled in a quiet, broken exhale.
"My partner almost died and I had a miscarriage."
Three months earlier...
The sky is clear and blue, birds are singing and the grass is green with life. Everything seems to be in its right place. Except for the coffin standing next to the gaping wound in the ground and the mourners dressed in bleak, depressing black. They stand out in their sorrow, arrested by their grief while everything, everyone else drinks in the beauty of the sunny day. She takes a breath and closes her eyes for a moment. When she walked past his wife and children earlier, the tears scratched against her throat, stung her eyes, but now she feels eerily calm and in control. Her voice is strong as she starts to deliver the eulogy.
"Roy Montgomery taught me what it meant to be a cop," she pauses, takes a moment and then continues. "He taught me that we are bound by our choices. But we are more than our mistakes." The words reverberate throughout her heart as her thoughts drifted back to their fallen hero.
A man who was more than his mistakes.
"Captain Montgomery once said to me that for us, there is no victory. There are only battles. And in the end the best you can hope for is to find a place to make your stand. And if you're very lucky, you find someone willing to stand with you." She glances at her partner, solid and strong and stoic beside her. He's the light keeping her away from the rabbit hole, keeping her away from her own darkness.
"Our captain would want us to carry on the fight."
Rick tears his eyes away from her feeling overwhelmed and looks at the vast array of white headstones of fallen heroes spread out over the surface of the green grass. He's about to return his attention to Kate when something catches his eye; it's a glint in the sunlight. For a moment he thinks someone is playing with a magnifying glass, but then the realisation hits and cold dread washes over his limbs.
They're here for her.
"And even if there is-"
"Kate!" He lunges for her, his body smashing into hers as the shot rings out.
They crash to the ground, the full weight of his body heavy on top of her. Around them there is chaos; she can hear Lanie calling out to them, Esposito yelling orders and Alexis screaming for her father. For a moment, she just lies there, paralysed with confusion and fear. Then she realises that Castle is still on top of her and not moving. Her stomach twists, anxiety rises in her throat.
"Castle." She pushes on his shoulder, but the only response she gets is a strangled moan.
No, no, no.
"Rick!" She calls out, pushing him up and off of her onto his back. Her gloves are stained red and she sees the sticky blood slowly pooling on the grass beside her partner. The panic crashes over her, her thoughts tainted with the sudden fear of losing him.
Kate wedges a hand underneath his right shoulder blade where the wound is, wet and warm with blood as it pours out of his body. Her other hand goes to his face, stroking his already pale cheek.
"Rick," she calls out brokenly, her voice shattering, her eyes swimming. "Rick, baby, please open your eyes for me," she pleads, tears rolling steadily down her cheeks. "Please." His eyes flutter open, unfocused and dazed. She gives a strangled, relieved laugh, her heart hammering in her chest.
"Rick, stay with me, okay?" At the sound of his name, his frantic eyes find hers. She gives him a teary, broken smile. "Stay with me. Don't leave me, please," Kate says around a sob. She gently caresses his face, her glove-clad fingers linger against his parted lips.
"I love you." She leans down and presses her forehead against his, her tears dripping onto his face. "I love you so much."
All he is aware of is her her fingers stroking his face, her voice soothing him, her green eyes boring into his. He tries to hold onto her, hold on for her, but it's all too heavy. It's dragging him down and he feels like he's drowning. The darkness wraps around him and eats away at his consciousness until there is nothing left but a black abyss.
"Come on, one more."
He grunts, sweat dripping into his eyes. "If you are going to say that again, I swear to-"
Emily, the lanky, blonde physical therapist arches her eyebrows and points a finger at a panting Rick. "Don't talk back to me, Mr. Castle. You know what happens if you do."
He straightens and grins at Emily. "You wouldn't dare."
"Try me, just try me," she says with a grin, her blue eyes sparkling. She's pretty and he notices. He notices her long legs, slim body and lovely face. But-
But. . . she's not Kate. She simply can't compete with Kate.
Stunning, fierce, bad-ass, vulnerable, beautiful Kate.
Rick is about to respond when another voice interrupts them.
"Still being difficult, Castle?"
He whirls around and can't keep the absolute joy off his face in seeing her; it breaks open in his eyes, spreads to the wide smile on his mouth. Kate lets out a breath, surprised at the relief she feels in seeing his reaction to her. To say the last few months have been difficult for them, would be a monumental understatement.
And a pretty, eager, flirty physical therapist is not helping matters either.
But he forgets all about Emily and comes to her, hair flopping over his forehead and grinning like a fool. Kate feels a stab of possessive satisfaction at that and grins, bearing her teeth. Rick Castle is hers and she's not above staking her claim.
"Hey. You're early," he says before dropping a kiss to her smiling mouth, a hand wrapping around her arm.
She shrugs, her hand splayed on his chest, his shirt damp with perspiration. "Yeah, thought I'd come and surprise you."
He smiles, eyes bathed in tenderness and kisses her again. "I love surprises," he murmurs against her mouth.
She pulls back slightly and bites her lip, dark eyes twinkling knowingly. "Mm, I know."
"Well, I guess our session is over then," Emily interrupts, standing by awkwardly.
They pull back from each other. "Yeah, it seems so," Rick answers.
Emily smiles and points a finger at him. "You still owe me a sit-up, though."
He grins. "Yeah, yeah. We'll see."
Kate turns her attention to the other woman. "I hope he's not giving you too much of a hard time."
The woman glances at Kate and smiles tightly, clearly uncomfortable in the detective's presence. "No," she says, cutting her eyes back to Rick. "I can handle him."
Oh, I'm sure you want to.
"You ready to go, Castle?" When she turns her attention to the man in question, he's giving her an adorable smile and she melts a little.
He nods. "Uh, yeah. Let me just grab my stuff," he says before trotting off to the bathroom.
The two women are left alone in awkward silence. Call it female intuition or her skills as a detective, but Kate senses how. . . fond the other woman is of her writer. And it irritates her a little.
But Emily is the best and Castle has improved significantly since he started physical therapy six weeks ago. Before that, he was struggling badly. He could barely lift his right arm due to the damage the bullet caused and the effects of the surgery. He was miserable and they were constantly at each other's throats - she felt guilty and he felt frustrated.
"So, how's he doing?" Kate asks once Rick is gone.
Emily glances at her. "Great. He's improving every time I see him."
"That's good," Kate says with a nod. They slip back into uncomfortable silence.
"Let's just hope he doesn't have to go through something like that again," Emily comments softly after a few moments.
Kate freezes, her heart suddenly twisting painfully in her chest. Of course, the other woman doesn't know the full story; she just knows Rick was shot. She's not aware that he almost died because he jumped in front of a bullet meant for her.
The detective closes her eyes in an effort to regain to control of her emotions. She already feels raw - too raw - after her session with Dr. Burke and now this might just push her over the edge.
After a few moments of regaining her self-control, she glances briefly at Emily. "Believe me, I'm going to do everything to make sure that it never happens again," she assures quietly, steel in her voice.
"Make sure what never happens again?" Rick asks when as he approaches them, bag slung over his uninjured shoulder.
Kate turns to him and smiles softly, curling a hand around his elbow. She's been more tactile ever since the shooting little touches to ground her in the knowledge that he's still there, he's still with her. He's alive.
"Make sure that you don't skip any exercises," she tells him while the smile stretches wider over her face, touching the corners of her eyes.
He looks unconvinced, but grins. "Oh, I'm sure you will, Detective," he murmurs, waggling his eyebrows.
Kate only rolls her eyes and shakes her head. "Yeah, yeah, Castle. C'mon, let's go." She gestures to the physical therapist. "I'm sure Emily would like to continue with her day."
The other woman only returns a tight-lipped smile. "I'll see you next week, Rick," she says softly, cutting her eyes to the writer while her whole face, her whole demeanor softens.
It doesn't go unnoticed by the detective.
"Yeah, see you next week," he greets - oblivious - before taking Kate's hand and walks out.
"So? Any grizzly murders to solve, Detective?" He asks after a moment.
Kate laughs softly and shakes her head. "Uh, no. Sorry to disappoint you, Castle, but I've only being paperwork the whole day."
"Ugh, boring," he whines.
She laughs as they step onto the busy sidewalk, hands still intertwined. "Yeah, well, we're not all about car chases and gun battles, Castle."
"It's too bad. You're particularly hot in gun battles," he comments.
She rolls her eyes at him, her smile widening. "Well, I'm glad I'm able to fulfill one of your many fantasies."
"Well, you are my inspiration - on so many levels," he adds with a leer. She laughs and shakes her head, the blush tinting her cheeks.
At least they're still them.
After a few moments, Rick speaks again, his eyes painted with concern.
"So, how was your session with Burke today?"
She stiffens beside him, her mind skidding back to her conversation with the therapist. Rick, sensing the change in her mood, squeezes her hand.
She flits her eyes to his, her lips briefly lifting into an unconvincing smile.
He can see it all over her face; he knows her tells by now - the way her jaw clenches, the way her eyes flit away, the way she purses her mouth.
Finally, Rick just nods and says: "Good."
She's hiding something from him, but he's not going to push her into spilling her guts.
He has his own secrets to hide from her.
Two months ago...
"Hello," he grunts in greeting, everything still hurting like a sonofabitch every time he just makes the slightest movement. Seriously, who the hell is calling him at 7am in the morning?
It wouldn't be Kate.
He had the feeling that he wouldn't be getting a call from her today, not after the previous evening's blow-up. Especially, not after he lashed out and called her a-
He rubs a hand over his face, feeling like a train has hit him. "Yeah," he sighs wearily.
"I'm a friend of Roy Montgomery's. Calling about Detective Beckett."
His head snaps up that, suddenly feeling wide awake. He sits up, wincing at the sudden movement; his heart thudding against his ribcage. He can literally feel the blood rushing through his veins.
The voice on the other end continues to talk despite the silence. "We need to talk."
Rick swallows, his throat feeling clogged and dry. "W-what about?" He manages to croak out.
"About Detective Beckett's safety."
Oh God. Kate. No, no, no. Oh God, no.
Panic crashes over him, his hands starting to tremble. "What are you talking about? S-she's suppose to be safe. Montgomery said that it was over-"
"It's not over."
Rick closes his eyes and drops his head in his hand, the pain making him feel dizzy and exhausted.
He can't lose her. He would never survive if-
"However, there is a way to keep her safe, a way to keep them at bay. But I'm going to need your help."
"Anything. I'll do anything to keep her safe," he manages to choke out.
He would take another bullet if needed. Just-
Just as long as she's safe.
To Be Continued.