For Kaitlin (kclemente21), who told me on tumblr that if anyone should write this, it should be me. I don't know what I did to deserve that responsibility, or even if this is where you thought I would go with it, but I hope you enjoy it, dear.

Inspired by Poison & Wine, by The Civil Wars

Your hands can heal.
Your hands can bruise...

He wouldn't look at her.

Every time she tried to catch his gaze, he looked away. The few times she did catch him staring, he looked as though he was in agony, staring at her shoulders as if it was his penance.

But it wasn't his fault.

She'd told him that much. He'd saved her life.

She tried to tell him how much she loved him, how grateful she was that he was there and looking out for her. She'd tell him anything to get that haunted look from his eyes.

She was fine.

Really, she was.

But he wouldn't look her in the eye.

"Castle," she hissed, "be quiet."

"Sorry," he whispered from behind her, "but this is exciting! It's not every day that Ellen Degeneres wants me to come be on her show!"

"Castle," she said, stopping, spinning on her toe, dropping her gun to her side but shining her flashlight in his face, "I'm excited for you, I am. But we are looking for our suspect in an abandoned warehouse. Can we please talk about this later?"

She holstered her gun and pulled out her cell phone, intending to shoot a text message to Esposito to see if he'd found anyone on his side of the warehouse with Ryan. She unlocked the screen and went to her messages.


She felt herself being pushed back roughly, her phone flying from her, crashing on the floor, her shoulder jumping with the force of the blow before her back slammed into the wall, her head cracking back into the concrete with a thud.

She thought she heard gunshots as she crumpled to the floor.

The paramedics cleared her at the scene because they knew she wouldn't go with them to the hospital. They told her to watch for her head, if she felt nauseous or dizzy to immediately get to a hospital immediately, and expect a killer headache for at least the rest of the day. Her shoulders were sporting impressive bruises from where they hit the wall, and they recommended ice to reduce the swelling.

Ryan and Esposito had their suspect, the one that shot at them, already back at the precinct. Gates had been informed of the incident and had ordered Kate to take the rest of the day off, and if she caught her in the precinct the next morning, she would just be sent home.

She didn't care.

What she cared about was her partner, who was crumpled on the floor against the wall, his head in his hands, his shoulders rising and falling heavily as he tried to control his breathing.

She'd called for him and he simply shook his head.

He'd pushed her out of the way of a bullet.

He'd pushed her into a wall.

He'd saved her.

He'd bruised her.

When the paramedics let her go, she stood up as steady as she could, made her way slowly to Castle until she was close enough to touch him. She reached down, tugged lightly on the top of his ear to get his attention and he sprung away from her as if she'd burned him, the movement making Kate's head spin.

They took a cab to his place, and he tried to get her to go back to her place for the night and call Lanie but she was already greeting his doorman with a small smile before he even managed to pay the cab fare. They rode on opposite sides of the elevator on the ride up, his hands shoved forcefully in his pockets as Kate cross her arms over her chest, trying hard to control her breathing.

The loft was empty when they made it to his floor. He helped her out of her coat, his fingers expertly avoiding any contact with her skin before he hung both of their jackets up. Then, he moved into his study, closing the door behind him.

Kate bit her lip, trying not to cry.

She moved through his bedroom into the master bathroom, not bothering to shut the door behind her as she started up the shower, turning it up as hot as it would go.

Anything just to try and take away some of the tension.

She was standing in the bathroom in only her underwear, using her towel to dry the ends of her hair, lips pressed together to keep from whimpering at the protest in her shoulders.

She sensed him there before she saw him. Kate closed her eyes, scratching her towel along her scalp, her head falling to the side with a sigh before she opened her eyes. She held the towel in front of her as she met his gaze in the partially fogged up mirror, and he spoke to her for the first time in hours.

"Do they hurt?" he said, his voice hoarse as he looked pointedly at her shoulders.

She swallowed, considered lying to him but she could tell by the look in his eyes that he already knew the answer.

"I could've used your help washing my hair in the shower," she said. She smiled at him softly, aiming for humor and failing miserably if the way his face fell was any indication.

"I'm so sorry," he breathed out on an unsteady exhale.

"Castle –"

He took a step further into the bathroom, moving closer to her and she turned to face him. He looked her up and down and she knew what he was doing. He was looking for more bruises, any cuts or scrapes he could blame on himself because he was torturing himself in his mind and she could see it happening behind his eyes.

Her heart lurched for him as she stepped towards him.

He took a step back.

She continued towards him, moving out quickly and grabbing his forearm, ignoring the protest in her shoulder as she tugged him towards her. He fell into her, trying to keep himself upright as he stumbled over his own feet, his thoughts miles away from where they stood in his bathroom.

She could make him forget.

She pressed her body flat against his, her towel dropping somewhere between them and he groaned. Her lips attached to his neck and she sucked hard on his pulse point, her hands moving to grab his own that were fisted by his side as he stood refusing to move.

"Kate…" he murmured, the pain and want clear in his voice. His hands gripped her hips tightly, his body unconsciously rolling into hers as she moved against him. "Kate, I can't –"

"Don't stop," she whispered, her fingers raking down the front of his shirt, fingers tugging at the buttons as she pushed herself up onto her toes against him. He shuddered, one arm winding around her waist to keep her steady, the other leaving her hips and landing with a loud smack against the bathroom counter to keep himself upright. He burrowed his head into her neck as she nipped at the line of his jaw, her hips rolling roughly against his own, "… Please don't stop."

He growled against her skin, the vibrations running straight through her as he tried to pull away.

"I pushed you," he whispered, shining eyes looking straight into her own, "I hurt you."

"To save me," she said quietly, her hands moving to cradle his cheeks, "You saved me."

He tried to shake his head but she held him hard in her hands, so he lowered his gaze.

"I never meant to hurt you," he whispered.

"I know," she assured him softly, her fingers running along his cheekbones, heaving chests still pressed together, fighting to get air back into their lungs.

"I didn't know what to do," he continued, "I saw Montez at the last second and he had a gun and I just had to get you out of the way," he looked up at her, his eyes pleading with her, "and then your head hit the wall and you fell to the floor…" a tear slipped past the corner of his eye onto her thumb, his breath coming in quicker.

"I thought I killed you," he managed to choke out, his shoulders heaving as a sob burst past his lips, and Kate felt her heart breaking for him.

She took his shaking hand, placing her fingers over top of her racing heartbeat.

"I'm still here, Castle."

He let out an unsteady breath as his fingers touched her bare skin, staring at her breast as it rose underneath his palm.

"Why?" he whispered, his gaze trailing from her heartbeat and up to her eyes, "How can you even look at me?"

She took a step away from him and he let his hand fall away from her, taking a deep breath as his fingers curled against her skin before she broke the contact completely. She leaned over the counter, opening his medicine cabinet to look for something she knew he had to have. A moment later, she pulled out a tube of Arnica cream and uncapped it before handing it back to Castle.

"Help me?"

She turned around in front of him, giving her a clear view of her shoulders as she ran a finger through her drying hair, bringing it forward over her chest.

She caught his gaze in the mirror again, watching as he looked at her shoulders, horrified, the lotion forgotten in his hand.

"Please?" she whispered.

He caught her gaze in the mirror, staring at her intently for a moment before nodding, his eyes narrowing with determination. He put some lotion on the tips of fingers before he took a deep breath, stepping towards her so her back was nearly pressed against his chest. He moved slowly, his fingers barely touching the center of her bruise on one of her shoulders as he gently spread the cream over it. When it was covered completely, he did the same to the other side, his fingers gently working the cream into her bruises, trying to heal them.

When he finished, she felt him pause against her back. He leaned down, his lips feathering lightly over the spot on her scalp where her head hit the wall, pressing a gentle, barely there kiss on her hair.

He moved around to stand in front of her and she opened her eyes, not realizing that she had closed them as she looked at him.

He unbuttoned the rest of his shirt from when she had rucked it up earlier, the blue oxford slipping over his skin as he tugged it from his wrists. He took her hand once he was shirtless, taking her hand in his own. He slid the sleeve over her wrist, doing the same with the other sleeve before he pulled the navy blue shirt up and over her shoulders. He fastened three of the buttons in the center, staring at her as the dark blue swallowed her up, her black lace underwear peeking out past the cotton of his shirt.

She fought back a shiver at the look of intense concentration on his face; the lines of his brow making him look so much older than he really was.

Kate took a step towards him, pushing herself on her toes again, her chest to his chest as she pressed a kiss to his lips. He didn't fight her this time, his hands finding a home on her hips as he accepted her kiss, reciprocating the gentle touch with a soft intensity and soon she was dizzy. She broke the kiss, resting her forehead against his as eyes opened slowly to look at her.

"Thank you," he whispered, the gratitude pouring out of those two words and washing over her skin.

For letting me help.

For not hating me.

For being okay.

Kate felt the words flutter in her chest as the made their way up her throat, her stomach tightening with nerves as she looked at him. She tried to swallow them but they couldn't be forced down and in that moment she realized that she didn't want to.

He deserved to know.

She took a deep breath as the words tumbled from her lips.

"I love you."

She's not sure which of them spoke first.

Your mouth is poison.
Your mouth is wine.

If at this point in your life you have never listened to The Civil Wars in your life, go do so now.

And please, let me know what you think!