Author's Note: The idea for this was inspired by the song Breathe Me by Sia. If you think about it, this ending doesn't make sense with the way the actual episode ended up, just humor me. I always enjoy talking about Castle and hearing others' opinions, so if you feel like it, I would enjoy if people would tell me thier top five favorite episodes (have fun choosing). This story is dedicated to those who have walls.
Disclaimer: If I owned Castle and its characters, there would be about twelve little Caskett babies running around already. Andrew Marlowe owns the show, but the story is mine.
. . .
He is shivering uncontrollably, a combination of the cold and the adrenaline. Castle can hear his heart pounding as he struggles to drag Beckett out of the water. Why isn't she moving? She has to move, breath, there is simply no option, no alternative to her living. He had tried to carry her, but he's weak. Everything is a blur; the frigid water seems to make everything slow down. It's harder to move, it takes more effort to function. When he gets both himself and Kate out of the water, he collapses on his knees next to her. Rick's hands reach for her face, which is still and drained of color.
She doesn't have a pulse.
He pushes on her chest, counting, tilting her head back and sealing their lips together, pushing breath into her lungs, attempting to put life back into her body.
It vaguely registers in his mind that he's crying, the tears blending with the river water and dripping onto Kate's face. Even now, as she lays here, dead-
No. She is not dead, not dying, not today. The only way she gets to die is wrapped in his arms many years from now, after decades of love and ass-kicking and greatness.
He screams for help until his voice is ragged, and the fear laced through it is scaring him. It should scare him, this panic that grows with every beat of his heart. Fear of his future, the unknown, a future without her.
He ceases putting pressure on her chest, grabbing her hands, holding them, stroking them, moving them over his face and kissing them. Castle leans his forehead down to rest on hers and he awkwardly pulls her limp body to rest in his lap. He rocks her, wrapping his arms around her slender frame, crushing her as close as humanly possible.
Death is not permanent, he thinks, it cannot be. They have survived far worse. This cannot be the end of their story.
"Kate," he calls to her, kissing her gently on her lips and face, trying to coax her back from the abyss "come back to me, Kate. We're not done yet. You aren't done yet. Please, don't leave me. Don't leave."
His voice is sounds utterly small, one of the symptoms of his heart breaking into more pieces than it is made of.
"Kate, I love you. I love you so much. I will always love you, Kate. I always will..."
He can barely breathe. The weight of his world is piled on top of him. As much as he tries to deny it, to push it away, the truth of her death is constricting him, eating his insides and refusing to go away. She never knew how much he loves her. Never will. He would give anything to turn back time and tell her, even just once would be enough. Then he could be sure, positive that while she may not feel the same way, at least he told her and she knows. She has to know. He showed her countless times how much he loves her. Didn't he? Doubt crashes on him, adding to the raging storm of feelings flowing through him.
The vocalization of his love fills the air around them, almost an impenetrable shield against the dark finality of the truth. Almost, because it still hurts. He can feel the misery in his chest and it's like a knife cutting him open and ripping out a piece of him. Katherine Beckett was a piece of him. She is, he corrects himself, and she always will be. Nothing can change that.
Looking into her familiar face it feels like he is the one dying, but it also makes him shatteringly happy, because some days her face, her eyes, her smile, would be the only thing that would make him feel joy.
For a brief moment, he closes his eyes and lowers his lips onto hers, trying to conjure up in his mind what a world would be like with her alive in this moment. A moment in which they love each other.
He chokes on her name, "Kate…"
. . .
The world is black for a moment.
Kate's eyes shoot open and she abruptly sits up and reaches out for Castle, ready to tell him that she is not leaving, that she never intends to. That she loves him.
Her outstretched arm encounters nothing, confusing her, so she blinks rapidly, trying to chase away her bleary vision. Once again, her world collapses on her. You would think that it would be such a familiar sensation to her now, after enough tragedies to last a lifetime, but the pain never ceases. Tears prickle at her eyes and she allows them to fall freely, after all, who's here to judge her? Kate can barely breathe as sobs devour her body because she didn't die.
She was the one who pulled his unmoving body out of the water, the one who tried and failed to resuscitate him, to beckon him back from the darkness. And she was the one who held him while she sobbed, begging him to come back and telling him how much she loved him even though deep down she knew he would never hear her.
She cannot stop thinking about that night. Kate can't help but think that this is worse than her mother's death, because at least her mother knew that Kate loved her. Rick never knew. She can pretend that the subtle hints were enough, but the doubt is like a prison. It traps her, winds around her like a snake and constricts her, squeezing the life out of her but leaving her painfully alive. The only thing left to love is a memory and that will absolutely never be enough. She just wants him.
Beckett clutches a hand to her chest as she fights to draw air into her lungs. She whimpers, a ragged moan escaping from her mouth. Falling back onto the bed, she blindly grabs a pillow and tries to muffle her screams with it. Her back arches as her emotional pain and her physical pain become one. The marred skin in the center of her chest is no longer a symbol of her survival, but rather an accurate representation of everything she has lost.
She remembers all of the missed opportunities; every single chance that they lost. She cannot help it.
It is moments like these when Kate can only recall the bad things. The fights that they had, the jealousy, all of the fear and all of the death. She struggles to push away the bad memories, but then again, was any memory of him a bad one?
Her gaze shifts to her bedside table, her eyes are wild, tears still pouring from them willingly. She feels some weight lift off of her chest when she sees the familiar picture that she has kept there since before he died. She shudders, because even now she has trouble thinking about how he is never coming back with such utter finality. Kate's hand shoots out and she grasps the frame like it's the last connection to life that she has. Sitting up, she sets the photo in her lap and cradles it in her embrace. The picture is of him and her at Ryan and Jenny's wedding. Rick has his arm around her waist while hers rest on his shoulder. He is smiling, the corners of his mouth permanently set in a happy and incredibly amused smile, and sometimes, if she looks hard enough she can even see love, and his dazzling blue eyes are looking at the camera. But Kate isn't looking at the camera. She's looking at him. Even though she still cannot remember what he said, like she can't remember most of the little jokes he told, because she thought they had forever, she knows that it made it laugh. She remembers how hard it was to tear her eyes from him that night. How hard it had always been.
She has this picture at the precinct too. It lies under a stack of papers in her tops drawer. Whenever she needs a minute to clear her head, or when she's at a dead end during a case, or simply when she needs to feel his gaze, she retrieves it from its hiding place. It helps. Especially on nights like tonight, it always helps to chase away the bad dreams and the demons. Looking at him fills her up with wonderful memories; thoughts of laughter and friendship and always.
Kate stares at him for another few minutes, allowing herself to calm down. After delicately placing the picture back on its perch, a place she knows it will constantly be, she settles back into bed. As sleep slowly consumes her, Kate wraps herself in every smile, touch and memory, and for one glorious moment it feels as though not everyone she loves leaves her.