in the shallows
"If you leave,
When I go,
You'll find me,
In the shallows."
- In The Shallows, Daughter.
Disclaimer: My babies still aren't my babies. Dammit, Marlowe. Also, I could definitely write more for this, if you guys would like for this to be more than a oneshot? Let me know.
Kate thought that some part of him had understood the subtext within her confession about seeing a therapist, just like she had once thought he understood her confession on the swings so many months ago. So when she looks up to meet his eyes after the sufficiently awkward conversation based on how she would one day accept everything that happened that day, and hesitantly asks "See you tomorrow?", shocked is an understatement when he replies: "Well… I- I meant to talk to you about that."
Instantly, Kate knows that something is wrong, a gut feeling rubbing her in the wrong way. Feigning obliviousness, she raises her eyebrows slightly. "Oh? Are you not- I mean, are you shadowing another cop or something?" Again, she thinks bitterly, but leaves the word unspoken and chooses to gnaw on the inside of her cheek instead.
Castle tenses and he seems to be surprised by her question. "No!" He replies quickly, and then coughs to cover his surprise. "Why would you-? No, I just…"
He trails off, staring at the bullpen, and catches the eye of Ryan and Esposito who are blatantly watching them, not bothering to hide it. That stare makes him uneasy, and he quickly looks down at his feet, unable to hold their gaze.
"Just what, Castle?" Beckett snaps, tired of his constant mood swings.
Uneasy, Castle shifts his weight from one foot to another, and then quietly mumbles the words that had been spoken two years previously. "I was thinking this could be our last case."
Without thinking, Beckett steps back. Some part of her brain yells angrily at her for showing her weakness, but the other side can't stop thinking about how Castle is leaving. For good this time. No promises of "See you in the fall" or "I'll call you." What could possibly warrant this? Over this case, she thought that they had been falling back into their usual stride again. That he had grown up and gotten over whatever it was that had been bothering him these past few weeks. God, she had been stupid enough to believe that maybe there was a chance for them after all this time and all these mistakes. That maybe Burke and Lanie had both been wrong and that Castle was actually willing to wait. (Not that there was that much of a long wait ahead of him, if she was honest. Actually, she wasn't quite sure why she hadn't brought it up with him yet- Oh, no wait, she did. He had been behaving like a jackass). So why was he doing this? Never once had Beckett actually believed a day would ever arrive where she would walk into the precinct and Castle wouldn't arrive soon after with coffee and a bearclaw. Never once had she actually believed that she would have to go through a case without his crazy theories and him driving her absolutely crazy. Never once had she actually believed he'd give up. He'd promised her always.
"Beckett?" Castle asks warily, eyeing her as if she was going insane. Maybe she was. Though she then realizes he's staring at her in that way because she has failed to reply within ten seconds.
"Why?" She finds herself asking, the singular word tumbling from her lips before she can think to stop herself. She really did need to start filtering her mouth when she was around him. (Not that he would be around for much longer).
Something within Castle's eyes changed; the bright blue shifting to something darker. But that was only briefly, and he masks it straight away. "Oh, you know, the latest Heat book is due to be in soon and all this crime-solving stuff means I don't really have much time to write." He shrugs it off, as if what they do is unimportant and has merely been a distraction all along. That makes her heart ache. "What with Alexis off to college soon, I figure I'd have a lot of time to myself to write if I were to stop… this."
And the way he says 'this', the way he stares firmly into her eyes, makes her certain that he doesn't mean consulting on cases: He means them. Her and him. Castle-and-Beckett.
Although she knows his writing excuse is a load of crap, she lets it slide. Because to be honest she knows deep down she'll never get a straight answer from him, and honestly she doesn't want one anymore. If he's done with them, then so is she. Why should she bother, after all, if all he had been doing was push her away?
"Fine." She blurts out, and it sounds a lot more clipped and harsh than she originally intended it to be.
"Fine?" He sounds surprised, as if he had expected her to put up a fight. Well, he wasn't going to get one, that was for sure. He clears his throat, toys with the edge of his zombie costume. "Oh. Well. Good. I mean- Good you're fine with it. Not that I expected you to not be fine with it!" He adds quickly, and she feels like she should put him out of his rambling misery.
"It's fine, Castle. I know what you mean." She cuts him off, then shoves her hands in the front of her jean pockets, deciding to look anywhere in the room but at him. "You should, uh… Tell the guys. I'll just…" She doesn't finish that sentence, because she's not really quite sure what the hell she is going to do.
Castle doesn't comment, instead nods a dozen times and shuffles slowly towards Ryan and Esposito. She watches them from afar, studies the slouch of Castle's shoulders and his sincerely sorry eyes as he breaks the news to Ryan and Esposito. Judging by the already-pining look on Ryan's face, this is something that they most definitely do not agree with. Some part of her feels guilty, knows that somehow the reason Castle has been acting so strange and is now leaving is a result of something that she has done. She's just not sure what.
Later on, she'll make sure to tell Ryan and Esposito it's perfectly okay for them to see Castle outside of work, as friends. Just because her and Castle are parting on bad terms and 'what if's' doesn't mean that boys can't talk to him. She knows how fond they are of him.
With final handshakes, Castle smiles at the pair and begins to move away and heads towards the elevator. Some reason, she just has to smile, because despite the seriousness Castle is still wearing that ridiculous zombie costume and that lets her know that somewhere, deep down, her Castle is still there.
Suddenly, she realizes that he isn't going to say goodbye to her. He's already at the elevator, pushing the button and waiting. Instantly, she hurries towards him, and when she's behind him she forgets all the bad feelings between them and taps him on the shoulder. In an amused voice, she asks "Hey, where's my goodbye, Rick?"
He turns, and she's not sure whether he's surprised that she's demanding a proper goodbye or the unfamiliar use of his first name. Either way, he doesn't comment, simply replies smoothly: "Sorry, detective. Places to go, people to see."
Inside, she wants to curl in a ball and forget everything to do with Castle because he makes her feel so god damn unimportant and it hurts too much. But on the outside she simply smiles brightly, as if nothing is amiss. "You sure you don't ever want me to call you if we get a really weird one?" She asks, despite what she really wants to ask is: We can still talk like friends, right? I can still turn up at your loft after a bad case for your jokes, right? We're still friends aren't we, Castle? I can still count on you, can't I?
Castle smiles, but it doesn't reach his eyes. "I'm sure." Then he holds out a hand for her to shake, "Goodbye, detective. Thanks for the inspiration."
Whatever she was going to say in reply, some prepared line that would make her appear perfectly okay, dies in her throat at that. She needs to stop this. She really needs to stop this. In all honesty she really needs him here, can't let him leave, can't let this be the last time that they ever speak; with bad blood between them and unspoken words. But if he doesn't want to be here, if he doesn't want her, what is she supposed to do? Some part of her urges her to say something, anything, but she can't. Her mouth has gone as equally dry as a desert and she can't form the words to say don't go. Another part of her urges her to explain everything through actions. To kiss him so senseless that he doesn't remember the reason why he wants to leave anymore. But she can't do that, because the fear of rejection lingers within her and she's so scared.
And this is goodbye.
Instead of expressing her protest through the art of speech or kissing, or even shaking his hand, she finds herself saying goodbye by trembling like a leaf as she tentatively reaches up to wind her hands around his neck, hiding her face at the hollow of his throat. Quietly, she sighs "Goodbye, Castle."
Surprisingly, he wraps his arms around her waist tightly, anchoring her to him and burying his face in her hair. Again, he repeats "Goodbye, Kate.", although slightly more wistfully this time.
She's not sure how long they stand there like that, long enough to be inappropriate and gain looks, but she doesn't care. Honestly, she really doesn't care. Let them stare: For now Castle is here and he's in her arms and everything is fine. But then he presses a gentle kiss to her hair and disentangles himself from her, and she closes her eyes, refuses to watch him leaving. She knows that if she does it will haunt her dreams over and over: Him walking out of her life for the last time. Never to return.
When she re-opens her eyes, he's gone.