based on the fan video trailer, Ultimatum, by yamakiluv

"Tell me you need me."

He hears her quick laugh on the phone even over the clap of thunder as he walks out of his publisher's building. It's pouring, and he jogs as quickly as he can with his hands full, slides inside his car, slams the door. He's soaked to the skin and lightning licks the sky.

"Castle, I think your writer's imagination is getting away with you."

"I doubt it," he murmurs, smiling into the phone. "Where are you?"

"Where are you?" she counters, and he can hear the purr in her voice.

"Just picked up a ton of fan mail from Black Pawn, about to head to another meeting at the printer's." He glances to the seat beside him where he threw the carton.

"You read your fan mail? I thought you had someone to do that for you."

"I've been picking it up and going through it for the last few months. Haven't. . .ah, had the time before now," he says, admitting with that sentence that he's been - distracted by her.

She hums. "You get home early enough, and I could help you - ah, read your fan mail." The way she says it, he knows it's something dirty she wants to do to him.

He's got to look like the world's biggest fool, sitting in the car with the rain pounding the roof, his plaid shirt soaked through, water still dripping in his eyes, but a huge smile on his face.

His wife just laughs on the phone; he can hear the beautiful, rich tones of her voice in that laugh. "So who needs who now, Castle?"

"Can we call it a mutual thing?" he says quickly, warm with the thought of her in their place, the one they bought together a year ago, the one they're still working on, room by room.

"Sure," she gives in. "But only because I need your help painting the room."

"Ah, darn. Not what I was hoping to do tonight."

"What were you hoping to do?" she teases.


He can hear the bubble of her laughter, can practically see her rolling her eyes-

"What the hell?" she mutters.


"Hold on."

He can't hear anything over the rain pounding his car, can't hear anything but the faint impression of her breathing, and he strains to make out-

"Oh fuck-"

Her voice, vibrant and loud and panicked, and then he hears the phone clatter to the floor.


She wakes in the darkness to a jolt that has her teeth rattling. A ragged bounce of the metal floor beneath her has her head slamming into the side, tongue bit and bleeding.

A van. She's been tossed into the back of a van.

Kate struggles to orient herself, her shoulders pulled taut behind her, tied at the wrists and looped to her feet, trussed and gagged. Dark. No light through the square window in the back doors, cold metal under her, stiffness in her bones.

Lying on her side, she can't control the toss of her body across the back of the van. She smashes her cheek into something sharp, a corner, feels pain blossom along her ribs as they go over another pothole.

She grunts and squeezes her eyes shut to keep her stomach settled, tries not to think too long about what she can't control.

They crashed into her house so quickly, precise and orchestrated down to the moment. All she had in warning was the creak of the floor in the dining room, the form of a man, and then a hand came around her throat and drove her back against the wall.

After that-

She can still feel the skin under her nails where she scraped his arm, so when her body is dumped they'll have DNA.

Shit. Oh God-

Get it together. Keep it together.

Castle. Castle was on the other end of the phone - he'll know what do. Also, she's relatively unhurt, despite the thickness in her throat, the bruising, and the swollen and split lip.

Kate tilts her head to her shoulder to check, winces at the lancing agony in her cheek. Okay, so the pistol whip might have cracked her bone. She lashed out, got her knee in the guy's nuts, an elbow into his eye socket, and in return, the guy raised his hand and brought it down against the side of her face, the butt of his weapon crushing her cheek.

Paramilitary outfit. All of them in commando gear, professional, faces like stone, eyes flinty.

Kate tries to shift onto her back, her arms behind her and beginning to pulse with pain. But resting awkwardly on her shoulders like this allows her fingers to fumble at the knots around her feet.

She feels the ragged pull of a broken nail, grits her teeth against it. Almost worse than the throb in her cheek. Still, she works at the slick nylon rope, the tight knots, trying to loosen them, trying for anything at all.

She's got to be ready when they stop. She has to.

Because she saw their faces. She's seen their faces. All seven men.

They don't intend to keep her alive.

He called Esposito when her line went dead; a hand grips the steering wheel as he roars through the rain, feels the wheels fishtailing, his car hydroplane.

Esposito calls him back only two minutes later.

"Two unies just arrived on scene, and she's not there."

"I know what I heard."

"I'm saying, Castle, that no one is home and they don't see-"

"Fuck you," he growls, and ends the call, tosses his phone to the seat. It hits the full carton of his fan mail and bounces into the floor.

His heart is thudding so hard that his whole body shakes. It takes entirely too long for him to pull up in front of their brownstone; he double parks and jerks out of the car, slogs through the rain to his front door.

One of the responding officers is already coming back out, a hand up ineffectually to block the pouring rain. Castle shoves past him, into the entry, dripping wet, ruining the floors she'd say, and comes to a halt in the kitchen.

There's nothing.

Already the rain is beginning to let up, late sunlight breaking through the grey clouds, making the sky that strange, urine-colored yellow through the floor to ceiling windows of their breakfast nook. He can taste blood in his mouth and he realizes he's bit his tongue at some point.

The kitchen is empty. Dishwasher is running, he notices, his brain tripping over that information.

Dishwasher is running.

He spins slowly-

"Mr. Castle, I presume?" A man in a dark, rain-limp suit is approaching him from the back hallway that leads to the office. He holds out a hand. "Detective Rockman. I was the second car here, favor to Esposito. Worked in the 54th together."

Castle shakes the man's hand, but nothing is making sense.

"You want to tell me why you had us responding-?"

"I was on the phone with her. My wife. We were talking and then she said Hold on, and then she cursed and the phone dropped, and I heard. . .there were - I swear I heard Kate getting - I don't know. God, I don't know. I thought - I envisioned broken dishes and the drywall smashed through and - it sounded bad. Oh God-"

He scrapes a hand down his face, buries his eyes behind his fingers. What did he hear? What-

"It looks like a lot of nothing right now, Mr. Castle-"

Well, shit. It's not nothing, it's something. "If it was nothing, Rockman, she'd have called me back."

"She's not here," Rockman says, and there's something in his eyes that Castle can't read, but thinks he probably should. "She's not in the house, Mr. Castle. No sign of her phone. Some empty hangers, missing places in the drawers-"

"The fuck you say," he growls, pushing past the detective and heading for the stairs, taking the steps two at a time. Once inside their room, he stops short, astonished.

Things are missing. The box she keeps her mother's ring inside; the tube of chapstick that was resting on her bedside table. The book he remembers last seeing on the bed.

Castle yanks open the door to the walk-in closet - used to be the room next door, but he lobbied hard to turn the space into an excessively large wardrobe.

Her suitcase is gone.

"Her suitcase is gone?" Rockman echoes.

Did he say that out loud?

Castle turns and sees Rockman in the doorway, standing politely, an eyebrow raised.

"Mr. Castle, if her suitcase is gone, her phone - we found no trace of a purse or ID, I noticed a few empty slots where I assume she had shoes - a gap in the cosmetics drawer in the bathroom-"

"God," he grunts, twists on his heel to run for the bathroom. He feels a beast clawing at his chest, making his lungs ragged. "Her stuff is missing." Perfume. Yeah, cosmetics. Toothbrush.

Oh God.

"I heard a man's voice. On the phone. She cursed, and I heard a voice, the sounds of - a fight, struggle, a body hitting something." Her body. He's certain of it.

"Sir, if you did hear a man's voice, it looks like she left voluntarily. No sign of a struggle, no forced entry. And actually, the responding officers had to break down the door to get in. It was locked."

"No," he whispers, pressing the heels of his hands into his eye sockets. "No, that's not right. If she could, she would call me."

"Maybe she-"

"No," he growls, jerking his head up to look at Rockman. "Something has happened to her. Someone kidnapped her-"

"My hands are tied," Rockman says quietly. "She's an adult - she's packed a bag. There's nothing here, Mr Castle."

And then Rockman turns and leaves Castle in their empty bedroom.

He's hollow, his voice dried in his throat and sticking, unable to call Rockman back; he's a shape without form, shade without color.

The shaky edge of panic rolls in her stomach, comes up her throat.

She bites down on her tongue to keep from throwing up; she can't, she can't. The gag. She can't. Not right now. Not right now. Hold on a little bit longer, please.

She wills her body back under her control, grips the rope tighter. She keeps in a low crouch at the back doors, shifting side to side to keep her feet from going numb. She finally got the ropes off and she's ready. She has one shot; she can't fuck this up.

Oh God, oh God-

The van lurches to a sudden halt; she gets thrown forward and then back, smacking into the doors with a groan. She scrambles back to her feet, but it was just enough to throw her.

The van doors snap open just at that moment and Kate gets a sense of darkness, underground garage, and then she's jumping the guy with the gun, bringing him down easily.

The rope is already looped around his neck and she goes straight to lethal force, snaps his neck with a twisting jerk of her hands. He slumps, and damn it, her leg is trapped under him.

Already the team is on her; she has the gun. She fires point blank, catches the guy in the gut but he doesn't go down. She fires again, but she's too late - the blow comes from behind, one she didn't see coming-

She blacks out.