This is for you, reader of these lines. May your life be spared the meaningless fights; may you always win your inner battles.


His face was charged with beauty as a cloud

With glimmering lightning. When it shadowed me

I shook, and was uneasy as a tree

That draws the brilliant danger, tremulous, bowed.

She sits on the swing, brittle like a twig, her head bowed under the weight of her life, the darkness of this day; lets the gathering wind rock her to and fro as it pleases, deciding on her trajectory in a mocking choreography.

Beaten. The word is impressed in her aching ribs and in the shape of a murderous hand on her collarbone, the dark beads of a ghastly necklace tattooed on her skin.

Gone, the familiar numbers of her badge, the strength lent by her service piece, the comfort of her team. Gone is the job that she clung to like a lifeline and used to investigate her mother's murder until she stopped looking – until it caught up with her and overtook her life. Gone, gone, gone. The chant imparts a rhythm to her heart, desperate and fast and she suffocates on it. She chokes on a breath as she sways slowly, tries to force her lungs to comply, but the air is thick, fraught with electricity, regrets and missed opportunities.

Castle. If there is a word for what she did to him, she has yet to learn it. Born of a jumble of silence and dissonance, it echoes in her head in strident agony. It has the jagged edges of a blade, its end sharp and cruel, made to hit target – oh, the irony – and the salty taste of unshed tears. His, when he bared his soul to her and begged her to choose life; hers as she finally raises her head, contemplates the unforgiving sky and the mess she has made of their lives. Hers. Castle's.

Her body's integrity, her family, the man who loves her – forfeited all. Her everything. And she sits on the swing, defeated and cold because she has lost her life to a mirage, a beast without head or tail that she thought was justice but lost its meaning along the way. She was so enticingly close to it as it hovered just there, just out of reach, entrancing brightness and bewitching chimera. But it moved like the wind and she flew too near to the sun, singed her wings and took the fall.

So must I tempt that face to loose its lightning.

Great gods, whose beauty is death, will laugh above,

Who made his beauty lovelier than love.

I shall be bright with their unearthly brightening.

She should go home. The sky is ravaged with lightning, bright and menacing, and she really shouldn't stay here, transfixed by the dance of lights against the elaborate material of the night. But she feels a strange kinship with the storm, like her destiny is intricately linked with it, so she waits it out, delays her walk home to hear its final reveals. The show is hypnotic; her home, on the other hand, is lonely and void of any hope for a knock on her front door and the blue warmth of caring eyes.

Castle was right all along of course. There's no winning the war that's being waged here. Even if her one-woman crusade could end in anything but her death, she's facing an empty life without the man who has come to mean so much to her.

As the sky opens up and cries out in pain, Kate finally feels her own tears slide down her face. She lets them run their course unhindered, tastes their bitterness on her lips. The rain that drenches the earth and pelts her skin mingles with her tears, washes them away with the misery of the day as she lets it cleanse her wounds, lets herself be reborn.

Her mother is dead, and as painful as it may be, it's time to let her go. It won't take her another miraculous save to take that outstretched hand and move on. She won't let herself down. She won't let Castle down. The real victory is to take this bright new chance at life.

Kate stands up, leaves the swings behind and draws what seems to be her first clean breath since this whole thing resurfaced, since her shooting, since she was nineteen and was sharing a meal with her father, waiting for her Mom to show up and join them.

She fishes her phone from her leather jacket, trying to shelter it against the rain while she dials his number.


Dropped call.

She won't fix this with a phonecall anyway.

Instead of going to her apartment, Kate heads for Castle's loft. If he will still have her, if he is home.

Wherever he is, there also is her heart.

Home is where the heart is.

And happier were it if my sap consume;

Glorious will shine the opening of my heart;

The land shall freshen that was under gloom;

What matter if all men cry aloud and start,

And women hide bleak faces in their shawl,

At those hilarious thunders of my fall?

Four knocks and Castle opens the door.

She stands there in silence because all the words have deserted her and how does she even start explaining, how can she begin to make it up to him? Kate yearns for him but she sees his face fall under the weight of her presence, the hurt, angry look he doesn't bother to mask from her. She longs to remodel the thin line of his mouth into a smile, color his eyes with the radiance she misses so much, but she can't, she can't, so she waits him out, lets him decide the outcome as she silently bares her heart to him and wills him to perceive its resolve.

What does she want? She wants him. She throws herself at him with a simple, straightforward and desperate plea, translates the short word into a single kiss, infuses it with meaning. She feels his shocked intake of breath against her lips, the conflict in the hands that won't hold her against him because he has given up – she is giving him everything he has ever wanted and he has given up.

Her apology pours down her lips in free fall, an unstoppable stream of regrets and a request for absolution as she tries to convey her remorse with another kiss.

She's risking her life here, she's risking it all, he's got to see it; but he pushes her from him – Castle – the man who's hurting and wants words from her. She will give him words then, she will give him anything he needs, and after that, if it's not enough, she will even give him up, if he demands it of her.

I didn't care… All I could think about was you… I just want you.

Suddenly, he bangs the door closed with her body, pinning her against it on a rumble of thunder. There's no more hesitancy in his movements, no more holding back. He crowds her with the strong line of his body, brands searing kisses on her skin, learns the geography of her mouth with his tongue, his teeth, and her mind goes blissfully blank under his ministrations, and she gives in, gives in to him that she resisted for so long. His clever writer fingers scorch her skin everywhere he touches her, worshipping the lines of her face, the hollow of her neck; he trails fiery caresses on her shoulders, down her vertebrae and wraps his hands around her waist when he reaches it, moves in time with the storm to finally, finally align their bodies to surrender together to the incredible heat they produce and that can no longer be denied. He catches her when he kisses her chest and her knees buckle; it's intense and overwhelming and Kate moans at the delirious onslaught of sensations his body submits hers to, and it's not enough and it's too much, she wants–

– Castle seems to sense what she wants and he slows her down, brushes the back of his hand down her chest, tapers off until he finds her blouse. His digits snap the top button open and find the scar that nearly finished them a year ago; they pay homage to it, gentle and reverend against her sensitive skin while he rains unbearably tender kisses on her mouth, consumes her soul in absolution and redemption.

Four years they have waited for this. Four long years and the only battle that was worth fighting for is finally won.

Kate lets her love for him shine through, resplendent and absolute, as she leads him forward with their fingers laced together to celebrate the glorious opening of her heart.


A huge shout-out to Nic, inspirational writer and beta extraordinaire.

I took a few liberties with the storm for narrative purposes. May the weather and the reader be clement and forgive the outrage.

The poem quoted above is Storm, by Wilfred Owen. He was killed at the age of twenty-five during the battle to cross the Sambre-Oise canal at Ors in France, a week before the WW1 fighting ended.