Inspired by discussions after the amazing episode that was Target.

Thank you to the lovely brookemopolitan for being my sounding board.

Dedicated to my lovely friend tadpole24, happy early birthday.

Three Words

He sits facing the board, she can't see his face and for a small moment she's grateful for that. She just wants to stand here a moment, and just watch him there. Nothing that she says seems to be right today, she can't promise that she will bring his daughter home because it isn't certain and if she promised something she couldn't deliver then that would be the end. He'd never forgive her, or himself and she'd never be able to look at the man whose daughter she failed to save.

Her eyes close for a moment, a wave of fresh emotions filling her heart and mind. Today she'd learnt just how far a father was willing to go so he could save his daughter. And if she's honest she doesn't know how she feels about that. She's always seen Castle as the light inside her world of black; that day a little bit of black crept towards him. In some moments that little bit of black scares her and then in others it makes her realise what a truly wonderful man he is and how much he loves those around him.

She takes small steps until she is close enough to him and bows her head, taking a deep breath and trying to compose herself enough to speak. She then too stares up at Alexis' face. She can be honest with herself now and admit that she has never spent much time with Alexis one on one and in this second she regrets it greatly. But what she does know is that her partner's daughter is intelligent and brave, like her father.

She wants to reach out and hug him, but she doesn't. She simply tries to reassure him that what has happened is a good omen, but he doesn't turn to look at her. He answers and his voice is broken and everything she said he can rally against.

She moves to stand in front of him, to show him that she isn't going to give up. He's never given up on her, car accidents, bombs, gunshots, being frozen alive; they've made it through all of them. This is just something else that they have to face, another case to solve with limited information. Eventually he looks up at her, and their eyes meet. Her heart almost skips a beat, the instant feeling of love he'd described to her so elegantly before constricts around her heart. Of course it isn't the first time and it is certain it won't be the last and when her heart does start beating correctly, it seems to beat in patterns of three. Three words that want to be said.

But it isn't the right time; this isn't the memory she wants to have forever. It isn't the moment she wants to tell Lanie about or her future children. So she suggests that he goes home, home to his mother who is guaranteed to be as worried as Castle is. And when he looks unsure that he can go she reminds him that she is here at the precinct, and so are his friends, and none of them ever give up.

The coffee cup that has been warming her hand is then passed towards him and still he seems reluctant to take it from her, but she tells him it is time to leave and eventually he nods and takes the coffee from her hand.

His broken voice thanks her and three little words burn deep inside her chest, they want to be said, they ache to be said. But she can't say them to him, not now, it wouldn't be right. He turns and walks away from her, and for a moment she watches him go and then she has to turn away. Her throat catches and she has to compose herself.

She closes her eyes and says the three little words she cannot hold in any longer, "I love you." She tells the precinct floor as her heart thunders inside her chest. She then turns to face the board and Alexis' smiling face and whispers "I promise I will find you."

No-one will ever need to know about this promise, and in the second that she makes it forgiveness from anyone doesn't seem to matter. Nothing will matter if Alexis never comes home. The man she loves would be broken; her team would be broken and so would she. But this too doesn't matter, because Kate Beckett doesn't break promises.