Title: Take you. Break me.

Author: eyrianone

Rating: T

Spoilers: Through 'Always'.

Disclaimer: (From ViaLethe) – 'Words are mine. World ain't.'

Summary: She refuses to believe it's hopeless.

A/N: Sometimes I hate the 'angst' bug - but it's obviously contagious - so much of it about, and guess I wasn't really surprised when it bit me. Sighs. At least it brought with it the 'muse' and a complete plot line as a side-effect.

I'll dedicate this one to Purplangel - because she once told me she'd pay me for my stories - and to Kimmiesjoy . . .whose been infected with love for the rock band 'Hedley' and given more reasons for her to be up at 3.18am and dancing - love you both.

I follow my heart through it all
Holding on to you
Together we'll never fall
'Cause we are unbreakable

Lyrics by Hedley

Chapter One: All this doubt in my head.

June 2013.

She feels like a fraud for living here – even as she knows only too well that she cannot leave. If he's ever going to come home again – this is the place he'll come too.

It's been five months Beckett . . .

Hunnie – if Rick were alive don't you think . . .

Dad . . . Dad would never do this . . . Kate we have to accept . . .

Girlfriend you know you can't deny the truth about this much longer . . .

The well–meaning voices are loud, so damn loud this morning.

Kate Beckett pushes herself to exit the bed and make her way into the bathroom of Castle's loft, but in the doorway she pauses, holds fast. Reluctantly she looks back into the bedroom behind her, at the spacious California king bed and sighs with a heavy heart to see 'his' side of it looking so almost perfectly 'made' – is it possible she doesn't search for him in her sleep anymore?

Her eyes well with the shame.

The sting of tears, the rawness in her throat, these are nothing new – it's a constant struggle – sometimes a battle waged more than once daily - for Kate to hold herself together and not break down. She should be free to do that she knows - here at least – where there are no prying eyes to watch her – but she cannot suffocate the instinct that compels her to fight them.

Because tears have meaning . . . so no, she will not cry; she refuses to allow herself to mourn him.

Once she starts to mourn him - this will break her.

So - not yet.

Because she still has hope . . . although each passing week softly erodes a little more of it away, like gentle waves against a castle built of sand – its fading slowly.

Kate turns away from the bedroom, forcing herself onwards – and into another day. She reaches blindly for the light switch on the bathroom wall, and flipping it she catches sight of her reflection in the mirrors over the double sinks on the opposing wall.

This bathroom is too well lit she decides– and sometimes, times like now when vulnerability threatens, she hates it.

Drawn by evidence she doesn't actually want to see, the cop pads softly to the sink and rests her hands on the marble surface of the vanity. She looks reluctantly at the woman staring back – looks and this morning – she sees.

And God – does she ever look like hell.

And Kate remembers, because five months ago she'd never looked so radiant in her life.

Life PP - 'post-precinct' as Castle had dubbed it, was wonderful.

The first few months - after the stormy night they finally came together - had passed them both by in a whirl of sex, sun and summer. They'd just lived – they'd loved and discovered a new rhythm with each other in a world where Kate was no longer a cop but Castle was still a writer.

For eight weeks they'd just buried themselves in being together, until Kate had felt the need to insist Castle spend some summer time with his daughter before college, while she re-exerted her independence a little, and finally figured out what the hell she wanted to do, when he wasn't distracting her all the time and the only answer to that question was him.

Castle took Alexis to Europe for month 'three' - touring the capitals of the continent while Kate made the decision that she'd like to go back to school . . . she still wanted to help people – and social work seemed like it would be a good fit for her, so she registered at NYU, and told a laughing Castle he was going to have two students on his hands when he came home.

He'd been so happy for her.

By month four Castle and Alexis were home.

Month five – Alexis began at Columbia and moved into the dorms. Kate began at NYU and moved into the loft.

Months six through eight . . . well when Kate looks back they were perfect.

Month nine . . . God, month nine . . . there are no words for how much she hates January. Month nine . . . everything came crashing down . . . because month nine . . . he disappeared – literally.

Richard Castle – vanished.

Into thin air – and for Kate – well the worse part sometimes – the part she cannot grasp - is that she was with him when it happened.

They were out to dinner. January 9th, the anniversary of Johanna Beckett's murder – and Castle – well Castle wanted them to take the first year they were 'together' for that date, and use it to turn the date around for her. He wanted them to celebrate all the wonderful things about her mother's too short life – instead of letting the awful consequences of that day continue to hang over them every anniversary.

And at first Kate did not agree – she didn't like the idea much at all.

But she was persuaded.

He was just so eager – so happy, so charming - this wonderful man she was living with and the writer had wanted so badly to make it better somehow, so she agreed to at least let him try. And when January the 9th rolled around, to her intense surprise it was working.

Castle woke her early – worshiping her body with his love – reminding her of how very much alive she was – how loved, and of all she had gained since the night she'd walked through the rain - away from the past - in pursuit of him.

Then he insisted on 'meeting' her mother. She'd thought he meant he wanted to go to the cemetery – see the grave, leave some flowers.

But not Castle.

He'd made her drag out all her photo albums from the storage, and over breakfast he'd made her show him all of it. Literally everything - from the faded images of her mother as a child, through to her grad photos from high school – then university – law school – into motherhood.

Then he'd made her take him everywhere in Manhattan that her mother used to love.

He gave her mother back to her in the strangest and most poignant of ways all day – as they did indeed celebrate everything that her mother had been – a mother most of all.

And she fell in love with him all over again that day, until she was just breathless with the emotion by the end of it.

And in that moment of perfection, the closing scenes of a truly wondrous day – that was when it all – somehow – went wrong.

He took her to dinner that night – not to her mother's favorite restaurant – but to a restaurant he knew her mother would have loved – because he said he 'knew' Johanna now – and so he'd picked out a place for them with that in his mind.

And dinner was amazing.

And then afterwards, on the sidewalk Kate's father phoned her.

And Kate turned away from Castle for a little under a minute, and because he didn't want to eavesdrop he wandered down the sidewalk a little further . . . just a little further to give her some space to check-in with her father and see how he was faring on this most significant of anniversaries.

And when she hung up the phone and she looked for him – he was gone.