for Laura

who loves it so much that I just had to watch it


Kate's brow is a storm-tossed painted sea, her skin like some Gordian tangle never to be unwound. She sits at her desk and drags her teeth across her lip, sawed and salted and saliva-ed, but the sting has long since faded. Her hair hangs limply, clothes rumpled like she's been there two days and a night, but she doesn't care, never cares. Something's not right, but she doesn't know what.

"Was Castle here?"
"Yeah, he was earlier. Said he had to go."

Phantoms mist her thoughts, snaking wet and dripping fingers down her mind, trailing out to her skin, across her neck, waltzing along her back. She can't think hard enough, far enough, long enough, is just trying to remember…

Remember.

"Seemed like amnesia was the better route."


The misting snake-like thoughts turn to rain, and Kate stands at her mother's grave, umbrella closed and forgotten, rejected for the cold plashing rainfall of heaven. She stands beneath the tears she cannot cry; stands as murky pools of water gather around her feet and climb up her boots; stands as they slip inside her socks and prickle her skin with their cold clammy fingers that make her shudder and clutch her coat more tightly about her.

"That's what your friend Jesse would call sinning by silence."

And that's all she can do – shudder.


Home again, Kate stands under the scalding spray and weeps, tears unloosed by time, by exhaustion, by anything, everything. The shower needles into her raised arms and dripping skin, plastering her hair to her neck, her nose, drilling it down over her closed-tight eyes and flat-lined lips. Her arms sink down, down to cradle her ribcage, thinner now than a year ago, rent with the scar that hasn't quite whitened, that cursed scar that brought about this whole mess.

Her body curls into itself until she's huddled on the porcelain floor, toes trying not to slip on the curved wet sides and failing. She falls.

Only an inch, but she falls.


"Where were you?"
"Clearing my head."

But he wasn't really. He wasn't clearing his head. He was running. From what?

Don't be ridiculous, Kate. Castle wouldn't lie to you.

But you lied to him.

No I didn't. I just… I didn't say anything.

"It's not smart, it's not brave."

It's just cowardly.

Coward. He'd looked at her when he said that. Why had he looked at her? What had she done?

What did he know?


Turn off the water, pull down your towel, dry your skin of those dripping, turned-cold tears. Wrap yourself up, step out, twist your feet on the mat so you won't slip, not again.

Kick the dirty clothes to the hamper, walk to the bedroom, open the drawers, pull out pajamas. Something loose, something shapeless, something that won't show off your body because you feel scared and dried and ugly and all you're going to do is drink and go to bed.

"How did you find…?"

She runs through the motions in her head to remind herself she's still alive.

It's all there's left to do.


She drinks because it's easy. Not because she wants to remember (though she does), or because she wants to forget (though she wants that, too). She drinks just to drink, because it's there in her cabinet, and she might as well pretend that a bottle of the cheap stuff and a migraine at work tomorrow is the cure to life. Isn't that what everyone else does? Why can't she be like them?

She doesn't have to be the story he's written. Not tonight.

Not ever.


In bed, the tears haunt her. Why had she been so weak? Why had she given in? It will only be easier now, easier to slip, to slide, to let her curtain drop and show the precinct her true colors.

Colors? Who is she kidding?

She is clear. Clear and salted.


The rain drenches her dreams, crawling down her skin in rivulets until she's shivering and icy cold. Alone and stick-like at the grave she stands, not knowing why she's there but unable to leave. Her eyes are closed, but she can still see it, the headstone, with Johanna Beckett staring back at her from the bone-white marble. Stark, unadorned, and seamless.

Dead.


In her apartment, Kate tosses in the sweat-soaked rain-soaked sheets. Why had she gone? What did a tombstone have to offer?

Nothing.

Just like her heart.


And in her nightmares? His eyes.

"So I guess it's just us."
"Yeah."

So flat – why had he sounded so flat? They'd just solved a case, a big one, and Gates had even complimented him. So why was he…?

"You know…" heart pounding. Palms slick. Maybe now she could… maybe… No, Kate, swallow your heart. Make it easier, shut up and – "now that the case is over, what did you want to talk about?"

He'd been so… so stuck. So startled. As if she shouldn't have remembered, or… or as if she didn't care. (Never cared. Not anymore.)

A swallow. Was that his heart, returning home?

"Nothing. Nothing important anyway."

And then he was gone. Gone, just like everyone else in her life. Gone.


She wakes up with tears on her cheeks, room black and clock display glittering numbers she can't read because they're too bright and her eyes are too full. Too full of tears, of sleep, of him.

But mostly him.

Him.

"I swear, I didn't know there was a bomb in it. I would never hurt anybody."

I didn't know, Castle. I wouldn't… wouldn't have kept it if… if…

It's still dark outside, so she rolls over and closes her eyes, ignoring the tears rolling off her nose and onto her pillow, and falls asleep.


When she wakes up, her face is oddly stiff and her head feels stuffed of cotton, but the tears – had they ever been there? – are gone. And so is the night.


Kate Beckett walks into work.