This is a companion piece of sorts to The Haunting, because I'm still convinced that's the greatest thing I've ever written.
If you remember it, you'll recognize the title.
And I'm sorry.
It was too quiet.
Kate couldn't tear her eyes away from him, staring unblinkingly as he stood a few feet away from her. She could feel the cold hardwood of the kitchen floor seeping through the thin material of her socks under her yoga pants, one of his oversized shirts hanging off her frame.
"I can't believe you did that," she whispered, crossing her arms over her chest.
He sighed, running a hand through his hair.
"You know why I had to."
His voice sounded hollow, so empty that she couldn't stop the shiver that ran through her at the sound.
"You shouldn't have."
"Kate –" he sighed.
"You shouldn't have been there," she insisted, shaking her head.
"You shouldn't have done that."
"You shouldn't have done that!" she screeched, finally looking away from him as she felt her face crumple, fighting to get the air down into her lungs, her arms tightening around her chest, her voice coming out on a whisper.
"You shouldn't have done that."
The boys looked up, thoroughly exhausted, at the sound of the elevator door opening.
Lanie walked out of the elevator, her sneakers from the morgue squeaking across the floor of the precinct, her phone clutched in her hand. She made her way over to their desks.
"She's not picking up," she said frantically, "She won't pick up her phone."
"Beckett," she said, answering the question that wasn't and didn't really need to be asked, "I've tried calling her ten times over the past half hour and she won't pick up her damn phone."
"Maybe her phone's on silent," Esposito suggested.
"Kate promised she would call me after Little Castle and Martha left, and she hasn't," Lanie responded, shaking her head, "Alexis told me they left the loft 45 minutes ago."
"Maybe she just needs some time alone," Ryan said softly, "She hasn't been the same since –"
"I know that Kevin," Lanie snapped, "that's precisely why I'm worried about her."
Ryan and Esposito looked at each other for a moment, before Esposito reached out a hand and grabbed his phone.
His appeasements and pacifications were only making her angrier. She refused to listen to them, couldn't stop her voice from ripping itself from her throat as her eyes filled with uncontrollable tears.
"You had no right!" she screamed at him, "you shouldn't have even been there!"
Castle shook his head slowly, and it only made her angrier.
"I'm your partner, Kate. Of course I was going to be there."
"You should have stayed back like I told you to!" she cried, her eyes so filled with tears that she could hardly see him.
"Then you would have been by yourself. It would have been you!"
"Who cares?!" she screeched, the tears crashing down her cheeks like a landslide, "It shouldn't have been you!"
"I'm not going to apologize if it saved your life," he said again, his hands clasped behind his back in their living room, "I'm not sorry for that."
Esposito sighed, letting his phone make the short fall from his hand to his desk onto the stack of paperwork that was taking four times longer to complete.
"She's not picking up."
He hadn't even finished his sentence before Ryan was picking up his phone.
"You're not sorry?" she asked incredulously, "you're not sorry, Castle?! What about your family?"
"They understand –"
"The hell they do!" she yelled, her hand flying out, connecting with the crystal bowl on the counter. The pain shot through her knuckles, and Castle took a step towards her, but she ignored it, holding up a shaking hand between them, "They'll never understand why you did this, Castle. They need you!"
"They still have you," he mentioned.
"And that's not enough!" she screamed, her eyelids so heavy, "It's not enough!"
"How could you do this?"
"I was only trying to protect you, which I did."
"Castle you never think! I needed you to think about what you were doing!"
"I always thought –"
"I knew exactly what I was doing, Kate."
"Then what about this?" she said, spinning around and picking the black velvet box off the counter where she had left it.
She watched him start as she held out the box to him, his eyes wide.
"Where did you find that?" he murmured.
"I can't get her either," Ryan said, shaking his head as he put his phone down, "I tried 4 times."
Lanie looked at the two of them, her brow furrowed, and Esposito picked up his phone.
"Who you calling?" Ryan asked.
Esposito looked between the two of them, his lips pressed together in a tight line.
"Someone who I think can help."
Kate took an unsteady breath, "In your nightstand."
He raised an eyebrow at her.
"You were snooping?"
She felt her face crumple, "Don't do that. Don't give me that, Castle. If you knew what you were doing, why did you, knowing that you had this?"
The loft was silent as he looked at the ring box clenched in her hand, her knuckles a stark white around the black velvet. He looked back at her, his gaze gentle.
"I can't marry you if you're dead," he whispered.
A sob burst out past her lips and she felt her knees begin to quake underneath her before her voice came out on a painful cry.
"And I can't marry you now that you're dead!"
She felt her knees give out from underneath her, welcomed the pain she knew would come when she finally crashed down on the floor. She felt his arms wrap tightly around her as she fell, but the pain still glanced through her shoulder as she hit the ground.
She curled up into a ball on her side, the sobs hiccuping through her chest and she couldn't breathe, couldn't do anything but scream out in agony as her fingers clutched desperately at the box in her hands.
She could feel him holding her, could feel his fingers glancing through her hair as he whispered nonsensical things in her ear, brushing barely there kisses against her skin as she felt every ounce of strength and fight leave her body, her head pounding as her cells cried out for the oxygen she couldn't get into her lungs fast enough.
The only word that left her lips was his name.
He was dead.
He was gone.
And he held her through the pain.
He used his emergency key to slip quietly into the loft, the apartment far too still for his liking. He let himself in quickly, shutting the door behind him with a soft click as he surveyed the large living space, trying to figure out where she was.
It didn't take long to find her.
She was alone, curled up into a ball on the kitchen floor, her body shaking with the aftershocks of sobs. Her breathing was unsteady, her eyes staring blankly ahead of her, one hand clutching something tight against her stomach, her other curled into a barely there fist, brushing against her mouth as she breathed in and out, wearing one of his shirts.
"Oh, Katie," he breathed.
He didn't know what he'd expected to find.
She didn't move as he took a step closer, only shut her red eyes slightly as he made his way around her spot on the floor, sinking down to sit beside her.
She shuddered when he ran his fingers through her hair, the comforting gesture he had done so often that had always seemed to relax her, and he withdrew his fingers, instead letting them fall onto her shoulder, squeezing lightly.
He's not sure how long they sat there, his hand softly on her shoulder, Kate fighting to get every breath of air into her lungs as if it were a battle to keep breathing.
He knew the feeling.
He barely heard her when she finally spoke to him.
"How did you do it, dad?"
Jim Beckett closed his eyes, letting the agony of when he realized that Johanna was gone - that he's never gotten over but rather shoved into a box in the recesses of his heart - wash over him for a moment before he looked down at her. She was still looking straight ahead, and he finally tried to see what she was holding onto so desperately.
He felt his heart break in his chest. He knew a ring box when he saw one, and since his daughter wasn't wearing a ring, he knew that Rick hadn't asked her before he died. She must have found it on her own.
"Not very well," he admitted.
He felt her shudder against his hand, her body curling up into itself even more, and he rubbed his hand along her shoulder.
"I loved him so much," she whispered, and he didn't have to see her to know she was crying.
He nodded, his hand never ceasing the comforting circles on her shoulder blade, "I know you do, Katie. And he knows it, too."
He watched her nod against the floor, her hair a moving puddle across the hardwood as she sniffled.
"I don't know if I can do this," she murmured a moment later.
He shook his head, though she couldn't see.
"Don't be ridiculous," he said, his voice firm, "Of course you can. You're a Beckett. You can do anything. And you're going to be okay. You know why?"
He didn't wait for her to respond.
Instead, his hand moved from her shoulder to squeeze her hand still clutching the ring box, taking a deep breath.
"Because you're a Castle, too."
Tell me that you're going to save me.
That everything is gonna be okay.
I'm screaming but nobody can hear me
Can you save me from myself?
Happy New Year. May it be infinitely better than the feelings this story may bring.