A Better Fate

since feeling is first
e.e. cummings

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
—the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

co-authored by Sandiane Carter and chezchuckles

Beckett is forced to her knees on the warehouse floor, the crack of her bones reverberating up her body and out into the cold air.

She opens her eyes, meets Castle's across from her. God, he looks terrified. It makes it hard not to panic.

The gun is snug against her ear, and the man in black behind her shoves at her with the barrel. Beckett winces, made off-balance by the push, and the blood stinging her eyes doesn't help either. Castle makes a noise and she glances up to see him leaning towards her, unable to go far, hands duct-taped behind his back.

There has to be a way out of this. Get the guy talking, get him distracted.

"You won't get away with this. There are cops on their way right now. You let us go and maybe the judge looks more favorably on you when it comes time for sentencing."

The man in black says nothing. Has said nothing this whole time. And that scares the shit out of her.

Methodical, uninterested in them, doing his job. Shit.


She knew she was stepping out into the deep end; she knew she should've made Castle stay at home.

His eyes are on hers, telegraphing things she doesn't want to hear right now, things he shouldn't be saying because this is not how it ends.

The man in black steps around Beckett and heads for Castle, only a few feet away, but entirely too far. She goes rigid when the man puts the gun to Castle's forehead, her heart pounding, her mouth dry.

"No." Oh God, he's not kidding around. She tugs at her bound hands, tries to get up. "Please. Please. Please don't-"

The gunshot deafens her.

"God - no!"

Castle's body drops heavily to the concrete.

She keens, gasping, sinking down, her forehead touching the ground as it swallows her up, the desolating, gaping nothing.

The gun is at her temple in the next instant; she struggles up. She will be upright when it comes, she will be-

Her eyes linger on his body, his face towards her, the sightlessness of his eyes.

This is how it ends.

I'm so sorry. So sorry. If I could change things, Castle - God, I'd change everything.

The man pulls the trigger.

A rush of sound assaulted her; clamoring and crunching. A shove at her shoulder and she groaned, felt her body roll onto her back, but she couldn't move.

A hand checking for her pulse, the scurry of movement; shouts. Factory equipment. The rumble of a forklift. The beep of a truck backing up.

She opened her eyes and the world swam into focus, the warehouse ceiling above her, every light on, and then the shadow of a face.

"You okay?" it was yelling. "You okay? We called an ambulance, lady."

She struggled to orient herself. "I'm-" she licked her lips, tried again. "I'm a cop. Detective."

"Detective? Shit. What happened? Why are you passed out on our warehouse floor?"

Their floor? No, no, it was abandoned. It was - was it - there was nothing here, there was-


"Naw, it's not a castle."

"My partner." She groaned as she raised up, her head pounding as she turned to look for his body-

Shelves. Full shelves. With product wrapped in plastic on pallets; the rumble of the forklift passing her, treads running right over where Castle should have been.

"No one else is here. You're the only person we found."

She sat up, everything swimming, slightly out of focus. "I was here with my partner. There was-" She shook her head, wincing, tried to think.

The guy was holding her by the shoulders, as if to keep her from moving. "Look, the ambulance will be here in a minute and you should just-"

"I gotta get - get out of here." Here? Where was here? Had the man in black dragged her body somewhere-

She lifted her hand to her temple in a jolt of awareness, but there was only smooth skin, her hairline, no bullet wound.

What the hell?

She was in the ER, struggling to keep from freaking out, when she heard his voice down the hall.

Kate jerked her head up, heart pounding, confusion like a maelstrom in her body, swirling up her chest, her head pulsing with a strange and eager fear.

She saw him shot. She saw his blank eyes, the life gone-


She stared at him, mouth dry, as he came into the room, hands in fists at his sides.

"Ca-Castle," she croaked out, tears swimming up in her eyes.

"What happened to you?" he whispered. "I left you at the precinct. How'd you end up at that warehouse? Why are you crying?"

She shook her head and squeezed her eyes shut. What was real anymore? Things looked strange, the whole world seemed slightly faded, but he was alive. He was standing off by himself over there, but he was alive, vividly so.

"Castle," she gasped and wriggled her fingers at him to come closer.

"Beckett?" But he stopped at her bedside, took her hand with a slight squeeze.

She tugged him in and drew her arms around him. She could feel him stiffen in surprise, but she didn't let go. Yeah, she wasn't good at initiating but she needed his strength right now. She pressed her lips to his neck and breathed in. "Take me home."

She just - she needed home.

She kept her eyes closed while he drove, tried not to think. A fugue state, the doctor said, accounting for the strange memories. An order to see a neurologist when she could get an appointment. She rubbed at her chest and tried to calm down. Whatever it was - they'd figure this out, just like they had before.

He said he'd left her at the precinct? That just - it just didn't make any sense. They'd been on stakeout last night, nowhere near the precinct; they'd been chasing after the last of the conspiracy and why-

Okay, okay, obviously she was wrong. Her memories were - they must be faulty. More dreams. Or hallucinations? Had she been drugged?

God, it didn't make any sense. She knew she'd been on that stakeout with him; against protocol, they'd been doing their own thing, a good lead on the organization behind her mother's murder and so she hadn't told Gates - shit, Gates was going to absolutely rain down hell on her for that, for doing that again - and Castle had come with her, not liking it, but-

But then they'd gone inside, following the guy, and someone had gotten the drop on them, and then-

And then Castle had been shot.

But Castle was right here beside her.

Kate slid her eyes open, just to check, the image of his blank eyes burned on her retinas, but no. No. Castle was parking his car right in front of-

"Why are we here?" she said, grunting as she looked at the building. "Castle-"

"You said to take you home. Look, I don't think you should be by yourself, Kate. Let me stay with you until - let me just - I mean you had some kind of episode and you shouldn't be alone."

She stared at him. "Why would I be alone? Why didn't you take me home, Castle?"

What the hell was he doing?

Castle's mouth dropped open. "What?"

She gestured to the building and rolled her eyes, discovered that the movement made her head pound. She squeezed the bridge of her nose, trying to breathe deeply. No concussion, the doctor said, but she seriously didn't feel good, and he was messing with her for some reason she couldn't fathom.

"Castle," she gritted out. "I can't handle whatever this is you're doing. Not right now. So just. Drive us home. I want to crawl into bed with you and not leave for a while."


She opened her eyes at the sound in his voice, the serious shock that laced his tone. His face was pale. "What?" Why did he look like she'd just rocked his world?

He blinked, his mouth opening and shutting. "This is your apartment. You - you don't remember that?"

She growled at him. "I know I used to live here, before my apartment blew up. What the hell, Castle? Stop kidding around and take me home."

Castle rubbed a hand down his face, and when he finally looked at her, his eyes were wary and - and hurt?

"Blew up," he said dumbly, and then his face took on a look she couldn't identify.

He reached out suddenly and tugged at the rubber band in her hair, the one she'd borrowed from a nurse because she desperately needed a shower. He pulled the rubber band out and her hair spilled around her shoulders, limp and dirty with whatever the hell she'd done last night. She winced and scraped a hand through it, caught the way his eyes flashed - awed and overwhelmed.

Like he'd never seen her before.

His face drained of color, his mouth worked for a time before his voice scraped out. "Beckett. What happened to your hair?"