Because I've been thinking about this for days.
What if everything's just the way that it will be?
Could it be that I am meant to cause you all this grief?
My war ships are lying off the coast of your delicate heart
And my aim is steady and true as it's been right from the start
They're standing on opposite sides of the kitchen. Rick is leaning against the island in the center, his hands gripping the countertop with white knuckles. Kate stands with her back against the fridge, her arms crossed protectively over her chest. It strikes him that she looks absolutely exhausted, the bruises under her eyes dark, dulling the beautiful irises he had grown to love so much.
"Why didn't you tell me?" he said, staring at his fists against the counter. It's late, or early depending on how you decide to look at it. Rick wearing sweats and t-shirt, Kate's in a pair of yoga pants and an oversized, threadbare, NYPD sweatshirt that drowns her slender frame. Kate takes a shuddering breath and decides not to lie to him.
"I don't know."
He chuckles, the kind of disbelieving laugh that falls from your lips when you can't believe what you've just been told, before he brings one hand up to his face, shaking his head.
"I needed to deal with it," she continues.
"And you couldn't do that here?"
"I needed space," she says, stiffening her shoulders.
"I could have given you space."
And he could, he has. When she needs to separate herself from everything for a moment, he's always been willing to leave her be, go get some writing done, call Alexis or his mother and talk to them while she curled up in the tub or in bed with a book until she found him again.
"I needed to do it on my own."
"So you just disappeared?" His gaze snaps up to hers, his eyes alight with a fire that she has never seen directed at her before.
She flinches slightly at his gaze and hates herself for it immediately.
"I needed to deal with it," she repeated.
"And I would've let you deal with it. Here. Or at the gym. Or even at the Old Haunt if that's what you wanted. But my god, Kate. We're in a relationship. You don't just get to run off anymore."
She opened her mouth to argue, to tell him that just because they were together doesn't mean that he gets to control her life. He didn't let her.
"Kate, I woke up in the middle of the night and you were gone. You got a death threat a week ago. Whoever was behind it trashed your apartment two nights ago. And then when I wake up, the sheets are cold, your phone's here, and you're not. What the hell am I supposed to do, Kate? -"
He keeps talking, but she tries to block him out, letting her head fall forward, squeezing her eyes shut, trying to fight back the emotion.
It didn't work.
" – checked the entire loft. I was so worried I almost called the Ryan and Esposito. And we wouldn't even know where to start looking –"
The tears that slip down her cheeks make her angry. She's not sad, she's frustrated. Frustrated at herself because she's not good at this, she's never been good at this type of thing.
Being with people, loving people, not hurting the people she cares about in some way.
She's awful, absolutely terrible at letting people love her.
" – Don't you know what it would do to us if we lost you? People are killed in this city every night. People are out there that want to kill you right now. And you decided that leaving, at 3 in the morning, without your phone, was a good idea? -"
She always hurts people, hurts him.
She doesn't know how to stop. She doesn't know how to not look at a relationship like it's a temporary thing because in the end, everyone always leaves. Whether she's the one that steps away or not is debatable.
" - in a relationship now! There are other people involved here who actually care if something happens to you –"
But he wants forever. She wants it, too. Really, she does. She wants to give him the forever he deserves.
And it tears her apart because she knows she is probably the most undeserving person to try and give it to him.
She's put him through so much already – parading boyfriends around him, shutting him out of her life when she knew how much he had to be hurting – it feels like she never stops dragging him through the mud.
It feels like she's killing him slowly when he's saved her in so many ways.
More frustrated tears spill from her eyes and she hopes he doesn't notice, prays that if she doesn't acknowledge them then eventually they'll just dry out.
He does notice. Of course he notices. He's devoted the past four years of his life to noticing her, writing about her, of course he sees the tears fall from her eyes.
She knows the exact moment that he does notice, because his words stop, the yelling stops. He takes a deep breath, the terror and regret quickly flood into the spaces that were filled with anger only moments before, and she hates it. She hates it so much.
"Kate…" he breathes, taking a step to move towards her.
She shook her head at him, holding up a hand in front of her, a skin colored stop sign to try and make him stop.
She knows what he's thinking, knows the exact thoughts that are running through his head.
And no, god no, this isn't because of him. This isn't his fault.
No, it's not you, it's me, she wants to say. You're not the reason I'm crying, you didn't make me cry.
Please keep going, she wills him with her eyes, I need to hear it.
She doesn't want to, but it's necessary.
All she ever does is hurthim.
He doesn't listen to her though, keeps moving towards her. She feels his arms wrap around her, pulling her off of the refrigerator, locking her into his embrace, her forehead resting on his collarbone, her stop sign pressed against his chest.
"I'm sorry," he whispers, "I'm sorry."
She shakes her head against him, her arms folded awkwardly between them as his rock the two of them from side to side.
"I love you," he says, "I love you and it makes me worry because I can't lose you –"
She shakes her head again, and she realizes her entire body is trembling.
She berates herself internally, huffing out an annoyed breath that she can't control herself.
He hugs her tighter to his chest and her heart clenches in her chest.
She doesn't deserve him.
She doesn't deserve his love.
"I'm sorry," she mumbles into his now damp shirt, "I'm sorry."
He shushes her, but she ignores it.
He thinks she's apologizing for leaving.
She's sorry for the way she handles things.
She's sorry that not even over a year of therapy can crush her overwhelming instinct to run.
She's sorry for not being enough.
For not knowing how to express herself to him with the words she knows he needs.
She's sorry for being damaged.
Sorry for being so selfish.
Sorry for not loving him the way a man like him - a man with a heart the size of New York that he doesn't bother to cover with his shirt sleeve whenever he's around her now - deserves.
There's a degree of difficulty in dealing with me
From my haunted past comes a daunting task of living through memories.
- "Little Hell", by City and Colour