(untitled) (the obligatory post-"Always" Caskett fanfic)

By Kate Carter

A/N: I actually just watched "Always" today for the first time and EHRMAHGAWD I understand what everyone is talking about now...

If anyone has a decent title idea please feel free to let me know! I'll come back and edit it. The muse, after doing a Kermit flail and a lot of running around squealing, told me what to write and then wandered off before getting around to titling the damn thing so I'd appreciate some help.

She'd always loved to swing.

It calmed her, soothed her in a way that nothing else could. When she was an infant, her mother had joked that the baby swing was the most used piece of furniture in the house. As a young child, whenever she'd gotten mad at her parents, she'd stalked off to the nearby playground.

The night of her mother's funeral, she'd been at the local park until three in the morning, when a patrol officer had spotted her, hollow-eyed and pale, and encouraged her to go home.

Now, she sat, not noticing the rain that poured down around her - but still missing the familiar weight of her sidearm, the small piece of metal in her jacket pocket, the two things that had come to symbolize who Katherine Beckett was.

Who was she now? She didn't know. She might not have been dangling from the literal ledge anymore, but she'd been saved from that only to be left dangling from a metaphorical one.

And she didn't have Castle to save her from this one.

She'd expected him to be there. Even though she and Esposito had gone into that situation alone, she had expected Castle to show up. Because that was what he did.

So she clung to the ledge, thinking that when he saved her, she would tell him. Would tell him all the things she'd come so close to saying before, all the things she'd been too scared to say. As one hand slipped, she clung on desperately, and the feeling of futility began to creep over her. This was it, this was the end. All the times she'd nearly died had one constant to them - Castle had been there.

As she had felt her cramping fingers slip, finally give way, as the weight of her own body had been pulling her down, she had hoped, prayed, that he would save her. She called for him. She needed him, needed to talk to him, needed to tell him...

And for a brief second, her hand had been clear of the ledge and she knew she was about to fall to her doom, before Ryan had grabbed her. They'd hauled her up and he'd looked at her, the fear still evident in his eyes, mingled with pity. He'd known what she was looking for, given a brief shake of his head. No. This time, Castle wasn't there.

Whether it was nearly freezing to death, drowning, being shot, or thinking the unseen killer of radiation would do it, Castle had been with her in every near-death experience in the last four years. His arms had held her, his words had comforted her, his strength had helped her find her own. Her partner. Her friend. Her would-be lover. And now he was gone. She was left to fight on her own.

As she sat there, the rain mingled with the tears on her face, the hot and the cold, the pure and the salty. His words - were they really only from the day before? - haunted her.

"Four years, I've been right here! Four years, just waiting for you to just open your eyes, to see that I'm right here! And I am more than a partner! Every morning, I-I bring you a cup of coffee just so that I can see a smile on your face because I think you are the most...remarkable, maddening, challenging, frustrating person I've ever met. And I love you Kate, and if that means anything to you, if you care about me at all, just don't do this."

She felt so empty now. So lonely, without him by her side, without him to put an arm around her shoulder, to warm her up with just a smile, to sit quietly with her while she struggled with the emotions roiling inside. He was right - he was more than a partner.

He was breath. He was humor. He was light. He was hope. Everything that was good in her life had become linked to the person of one Richard Castle.

What had she done?

Her mother had always taught her that it did no good to dwell on the past, to focus on things you couldn't change. Ironic, since it was doing exactly that which had shaped Kate's life to such an extent. Johanna had always said you had to live for the day, and focus on what you could change to make the future better. That's why she'd loved law - it was a way to make a better future for everyone.

Kate looked up, suddenly realizing where she was. When she'd left the precinct, she'd been so distraught she'd simply walked, not paying attention to where. The thunderstorm that had moved in had made visibility almost nothing, but she saw enough landmarks to recognize where this was. She was in the park about a block away from Castle's apartment.

And she knew.

She knew what she had to do, knew what she needed, knew who she needed. She stood up quickly, sending the swing bouncing on its chains. And she ran.

Puddles splashed, the lights of a lone taxi briefly illuminated her, thunder rumbled. She let herself into the building. The doorman, sitting back and reading a book, looked up at her entrance.

"Hey, Detective Beckett! Bit wet out, isn't it?" he greeted her cheerfully. She ignored him, darting into the stairwell, not wanting to waste the time to take the elevator. She raced up the stairs, then skidded to a stop at the stairwell door.

Her breath caught, shuddered. The memory of his face the last time they had spoken, the hurt in his eyes as he left her apartment...what if he...?

As she closed her eyes, the memory flashed over her, the memory that had haunted her for almost a year now. Reflexively, she rubbed the spot through her shirt where the small round scar rested on her sternum.

"Kate...stay with me, Kate. Don't leave me, please. Stay with me, okay? Kate...I love you. I love you, Kate."

She hesitated. Her cold fingers fumbled, drew the phone out of her pocket. Leaning her head against the stairwell door, she touched the screen, listened to it ring, listened to it go to voicemail. She ended it before it could leave a message, stood there for a moment.

It was perfectly clear. Her world, her crazy, turmoil-filled world, the strange new world where she didn't know who she was - all would go back to order as soon as she was with him.

She opened the door, stepped out of the stairwell, strode with purpose towards his door. She raised her fist to knock, then stopped. If she did this, everything would change. Her world would be entirely different.

It already had. Life as she knew it was no more. She knocked.

She watched as he opened the door, the open curiosity of his face giving way to the lowered eyebrows and pain-filled eyes of hurt and wariness. "Beckett, what do you want?" he asked abruptly.

What did she want? She knew. For the first time in four years, she had finally realized what she really wanted. "You," she said simply, and she stepped forward, pulled his head down to her, kissed him. He resisted at first, still hurt, still upset. She ran her hands across his skin, feeling his warmth spreading through her cold hands, through her cold soul.

"I'm so sorry, Castle." Sorry for thinking you would betray me, sorry for thinking you didn't really care.

"I'm so sorry." Sorry for denying what I felt, sorry for pushing you away.

"I'm so sorry." Sorry for pretending I didn't remember, sorry that I didn't realize you were the most important thing in my life.

He pushed her back as she kissed him again, still hurt. "What happened." The words were a statement, not a question. He knew something had happened. Must have happened.

"He got away, and I didn't care. I almost died, and all I could think about was you. I just want you."

In my life. In my bed. In my world. Always.

A/N 2: Now that that's out of my system, I'll go back to rewatching "Castle" in order to keep adding on to "The Bedroom Chronicles" - which you should totally read. But before you do, leave a review? After a two-year long bout of writer's block this is my third fic in a week, which is surely a huge achievement worthy of the thirty seconds it would take to review this.