She doesn't do this. Not usually. Sure, maybe sometimes work bleeds a little too much into her personal life. Sometimes she identifies with the victims families a little too much. Sometimes she crosses lines. But this is different.
Rebecca. 19-year-old NYU student. Raped and smothered to death with a pillow in her dorm room.
It's not like she hasn't dealt with cases of rape before. She has. But the details of this one are so startlingly familiar that she can't stop the feelings bubbling. And she's never been one to talk about these things all that openly, even with Castle, the one person she trusts implicitly.
It doesn't help that he catches on to her discomfort moments after he arrives at the crime scene. He's giving her that look that says Kate, are you okay? and all she wants to do is slap him. She knows he means well and usually she loves that he pays such close attention to her every detail but sometimes she just wishes he weren't so goddamn intuitive.
He asks again in the car (Kate, what's wrong?) and she deflects, talks about the case. They build theory for a while and she thinks she's got him distracted enough that he won't ask her anymore difficult questions.
In the afternoon, he asks if he can have a minute with her in the break room. She tells him she's busy but Ryan and Esposito are out following a lead and they really don't have anything else and she can't think of any other excuse so she agrees.
He closes the door behind her.
"Are you okay?" He's got her elbow cupped lightly in his palm and he's being nothing but sweet and gentle but she can't help her annoyance.
"Castle, I'm fine. I don't know why you keep asking."
"You seem a little off. I wanted to check in."
"I said I'm fine." She lowers her gaze but she can feel his eyes on her, unconvinced.
"You know, you can probably just head home for the day. I've got some paperwork I need to do anyway and Ryan and Espo won't be back for at least an hour."
"Are you sure?" He looks surprised and she hates herself for just a minute. She just wishes he wasn't so nice.
"Yeah, it's probably better that way."
"Are you upset with me?"
"No, Castle. Just—nothing exciting is going to happen today and you might as well go home and get some writing done."
"Can I come over later?"
"Uh, yeah. Sure. Pick up some Chinese?"
"You got it."
He kisses her forehead and she manages to smile, relieved to have some time alone for a few hours.
She makes herself some coffee and dives into paperwork.
She gets his text as soon as she gets home.
Is Hon Wong okay?
She considers telling him she's too tired, she has a headache, she has to stay late at work. But she knows how much he needs their alone time, how much he looks forward to quiet dinners at her place. She usually looks forward to them too but she feels all wrong tonight. She doesn't know if she can open up to him about this.
Well, realistically, she knows she can open up to him about anything but she doesn't want him to make this into a big deal. She's been through the healing process. It's been over a decade. She really doesn't know why this case is making her feel so fragile.
He lets himself in carrying two bags, smiling tentatively.
She's on the couch, pretending to read. "Hey, Castle."
He brings her a plate and then goes back and dishes some food up for himself before sitting at her feet and moving them into his lap. She's avoiding his gaze and she knows he can probably tell but she doesn't care.
"Food's great, Castle. Thanks for picking it up."
"Kate, look at me."
She does, reluctantly, her face schooled with a perfect expression of obliviousness.
"What's going on?"
"You've been acting strange all day. Kate, you know that you can tell me if something's going on, right?"
"Castle, nothing's going on."
He sighs and leans back into the couch. She knows he's onto her. She can practically see the gears turning in his head, knows he's getting closer and closer to the truth.
"I'm worried about you, Beckett."
He won't drop it. He just doesn't know when to shut up.
"Rick, I'm fine. Relax." She's been more harsh than she needs to be but, goddamn it, why can't he just leave it alone?
"Castle! I said drop it! Can you please just shut the fuck up for five seconds?"
He looks shocked, his jaw dropping slightly at her outburst. She hadn't meant to yell at him. God, she knows he doesn't deserve it. Hell, she's never treated him the way he's deserved.
"Do you want me to go?" he murmurs, defeated.
"That would probably be best."
He gets up, taking his plate with him to the kitchen. He scrapes the remaining chicken and broccoli into the takeout container and places it in the fridge. He washes his plate and leaves it to dry in her dish drainer.
She can feel tears welling up behind her eyes, her whole body screaming at her to stop him.
He grabs his coat off the arm of her couch and slips his shoes back on before turning around and heading for the door. He's a foot away from the doorknob when she speaks.
"Castle." It's quiet and unsure, nothing like her.
He doesn't even turn around.
"I'll see you tomorrow, Kate."
She gets up, suddenly feeling like she might die if he leaves her here alone with her thoughts.
"Castle, don't go." She's kissing him, wrapping her arms around his broad chest but she feels nothing but resistance.
"Castle, please." She doesn't care how pathetic she sounds, she needs him. And then she's shoving him into her door, running her hands through his hair, down over his chest and she finally, finally feels him respond, his big hands circling her waist and his tongue in her mouth.
Then he's spinning her so it's her back against the door, his kisses becoming more forceful. He's grinding his pelvis into hers and she can feel his erection but she's not sure about this, if she can handle having sex right now. And then he circles a wrist with each of his hands, pinning them on either side of her head. Usually, she loves when he does this, makes her feel out of control, but tonight is different. All of a sudden she's tearing her mouth away from his and panting Castle, no, stop, get off me.
He releases her wrists and steps back, panting. He looks confused, horrified even.
And she can't hold the tears back anymore; they're gushing from behind her eyes before she even has the chance to process all of it.
He immediately takes her into his arms and she grabs at his shirt, lets it muffle her sobs.
"Shhh. It's okay."
He wraps his arms tighter around her torso, lifting her up, and she wraps her legs around his hips. He carries her toward her bedroom, whispering words of comfort and affection into her ear while she continues to sob quietly.