So, like (I think) everybody... I struggled with 5x21, like, a lot. Fix it fic became a necessary evil :) I've never written something quite so angsty before, but it was an interesting experience! There is an accompanying Spotify playlist for those interested (all the angst! all the feels)
Fair warning... this does discuss Kate's PTSD quite a bit. I'm not sure if that's actually a trigger, but better safe than sorry!
Thanks to Em for her beta work :) (and for the hilarious reaction texts to this episode)
Disclaimer: really? its 1am and I'm posting this. Think about it ;)
I dare you to let me be your, your one and only
Promise I'm worthy to hold in your arms
So come on and give me the chance
To prove that I'm the one who can
Walk that mile until the end starts
One and Only, Adele (21)
Kate had felt… jittery, since the Vaughn case. Nothing that she could specifically put her finger on, but she just didn't feel right. It took longer to fall asleep at night, her rest more disrupted. Ryan had called her name at the precinct one day as she studied financials and it had taken an hour to suppress the feeling of somebody sneaking up on her. She knew she hadn't felt like herself since that bullet had whizzed past her head and she'd worked hard enough in therapy to be well aware that bottling up her emotions and not dealing with the fact that the bullet had her subconscious churning wasn't going to do her any favours.
She'd slipped away to the ladies room after she'd realised her shaking hands had left her handwriting illegible on the murder board, dialling Dr Burke's office and making an appointment. In true Kate Beckett fashion, she didn't draw attention to herself. She just wanted her life to go back to normal and if a session with her therapist was what she needed, it was damn well going to happen.
She looked over where Castle was sitting, playing on his iPhone. She suppressed a sigh. She didn't understand. She was asking questions she'd never dared ask and she felt like she was hitting her head against a brick wall. "Hey, Castle," she called out.
He eventually tore his eyes away from the screen in his hand. "I've got some stuff to do this evening and I'll probably be back late, so I'm just going to stay at my place," she told him gently.
Pain flashed across his face and it stabbed at Kate's heart before he quickly masked it. She knew that Eric Vaughn had seriously rocked them, but she was also aware of how she was after a therapy session. Instead of confronting any issues Dr Burke would undoubtedly raise, she would go back to the loft and use Castle to mask her pain (which was pointless on her end and unspeakably unfair to him). "I'll see you tomorrow, though," She reassured him. "I'll cook at your place?"
She watched him school his features into a pleasant expression. "Throw in a bottle of wine and I'm in," he agreed.
She couldn't figure him out. She knew he'd been wary of her guarding Vaughn, but he didn't need to keep acting like she was kicking his puppy. Sneaking a glance over at Gates' office and seeing the blinds closed, she chanced leaning over and kissing his cheek. "Go hang out with Alexis. She's just finished class," she suggested.
"See you tomorrow," he replied gruffly, squeezing her shoulder before heading to the elevator.
Something was off. It was so off and she couldn't explain exactly why. Massaging the bridge of her nose, she looked back down at the pile of paperwork before her.
"What's been happening, Kate?" Dr Burke asked her, his wise brown eyes observing her in the way that always made her think he could see straight into her soul.
"We had a case," Kate began. Before she could stop herself, every detail about Eric Vaughn fell out of her mouth.
"And you're here because of that?" Dr Burke confirmed.
"Ah, no," Kate replied. "There was a sniper. The bullet went right past my head and now I'm constantly on edge."
"And you think it was that incident that has triggered your anxiety?" Dr Burke asked her.
Kate suppressed a groan. Of course he would answer her questions with questions. "What else could it be?" She asked.
Dr Burke only smiled serenely. "Do you still have your journal?" He asked.
Kate sighed. Journalling had been a huge part of her therapy journey (particularly when Dr Burke gave her that look- the "I've figured something out but you haven't yet" look). "I filled up the last one," she answered.
"Pick up a new one on the way home. Go home and write for half an hour. Don't censor your thoughts; don't worry about spelling or grammar. Just write and don't stop until your time is up."
The apartment was bolted shut. She wasn't near any windows. She was completely and totally safe. She'd grabbed the first notebook she'd seen in the stationery store and the crisp electric orange cover of the spiral bound book was mocking her as it sat, unopened, on her desk. The truth couldn't hurt her. Nothing bad could ever come from sitting and writing down her thoughts. Dr Burke had proven that to her time and time again.
Kate set down her glass of wine and picked up her favourite pen. Setting a timer on her phone the way she had done so many times before, she got to work.
The alarm scared the shit out of her when it buzzed. Her heart started pounding rapidly in her chest, rattling against her ribcage and threatening to break through. She knocked the glass of wine over as she threw her pen away, shaking.
She stood up and forced her way towards the bathroom, her stomach roiling as dizziness overtook her. She slumped next to the toilet, fearful that she'd throw up as she blindly unlocked her contacts. She hit a number at random, turning her phone onto speakerphone as she curled into a ball on the floor, tears streaking down her cheeks as she fought the chills that wracked her body.
Lanie turned down her stereo (she was having a Beyonce dance off in the comfort of her own apartment, if you must know) when she saw Kate's call. "What's happening, girl? Got some real goss about Eric Vaughn now we have a moment to ourselves?"
Lanie froze when she heard Kate's ragged breathing down the phone. She hadn't had a call like this in, hell, a year. "Kate, what's wrong?" Lanie demanded, all mirth dropping out of her tone.
"Castle," Kate shuddered pitifully.
"Is he okay? Kate, what do you need?"
"Get me Castle," Kate panted.
"On it, girl," Lanie assured her. She quickly hung up the phone and dialled Castle's number.
"Get your ass to Kate's house," she barked by way of greeting.
"Hello to you too, Lanie," Castle replied.
"Did I stutter? Get your ass moving," Lanie said.
"Kate doesn't want to see me. She told me she was staying at her place tonight."
"That's interesting. She called me and she sounds an awful lot like she's having a panic attack and all she wanted was you. If you don't get your ass into gear I'll have the boys kill you and I'll rule your death an accident, capish?"
She had a sick sense of satisfaction when she heard a door slam through the phone and then the dial tone when he hung up.
Castle struggled with the locks on Kate's door before he barrelled through the frame. "Kate?" He called out, trying desperately not to scare her further by sneaking up on her. He instantly dismissed the living room and kitchen, striding towards her bedroom. The bathroom door was ajar. He gently pushed it open.
"Castle," Kate sighed, staring up at him with tearstained eyes. "You came."
"Of course I came," He replied gently, crouching down next to her and reaching for one of her hands. "What happened?"
"Panic attack," she replied shortly, a chill racking her frame. "I felt like I was going to die."
"Oh Kate," he sighed.
"Help me up," She requested. "I need to exercise."
"Exercise?" He asked as he pulled her arms to help her stand.
She nodded. "I've got all this extra adrenaline flooding me. I need to burn it off."
"Okay," Castle agreed quietly. "But first…" he couldn't resist. He pulled her securely into his embrace. "I was terrified when Lanie told me what happening," he confessed.
"I did this so many times by myself. I don't want to have to do it alone anymore," Kate replied, arms tightening around his midsection.
"I'll be here, Kate. You know that."
She shivered slightly, "Can you just… hold me tighter, for a second?" She asked.
He hugged her tight enough to worry he was hurting her. She responded in kind, clinging to him in a vice grip, pressing as much as the surface of her body against him. His overactive imagination, conjuring image after image of Kate falling victim to a panic attack all alone finally shut up when he felt Kate physically relax against him. He couldn't help stroking a hand against her long hair. "I have an idea," he murmured in her ear.
He refused to totally give up touching her. Linking his hand with hers, he guided her towards the living room. "Dance with me?" he asked.
"Castle," she sighed.
"You need to exercise and I don't want to let you go," he responded. "Please, Kate."
She bit her lip and gave him a shy smile, "Okay," she agreed. She hit play on her stereo, the soothing sounds of jazz music washing through the apartment.
"Are you sure you're alright?" Castle asked after a few minutes of gentle swaying.
"I went and saw Dr Burke," Kate told him quietly. She had no idea how much she should reveal. "I was shaken up and I'm tired and I've had too much coffee. I should've known it would happen."
"Thank you for asking for me," he murmured, brushing a kiss against the crown of her head.
"Always," she replied.
He'd lain behind Kate, playing with her hair until she finally crashed. He knew he wouldn't sleep tonight. His imagination would make sure he was plagued with nightmares and he had no business tending to his own fears when Kate had been so terrified she'd hidden in her bathroom, for crying out loud. The last thing he wanted was to be so deeply asleep that he wouldn't notice if she had a nightmare.
He couldn't sit still. He had to do something. Scooting of her bedroom, he padded quietly into the living room, hoping to find something to occupy himself with.
Kate was usually borderline anally retentive about the tidiness of her apartment (she insisted that she came home to relax and she couldn't do that if she had to sit in a mess), so he was quietly amused to see a few pairs of ridiculously high heels scattered around the apartment, a basket of clean laundry sitting on the couch. He slowly began tidying the apartment, hoping Kate wouldn't freak out when she found out he'd been folding her delicates.
He moved over to her bookcase to place a few of her books back on the shelves (mentally cringing when he placed one of Patterson's novels back) when he spotted the mess all over her desk. A glass had shattered, red wine all over Kate's solid oak desk. He made quick work of cleaning up the glass shards (making a mental note to find a way to buy Kate more of those bucket-like wine glasses she liked so much), mopping up the wine before it could damage the wood.
He paused when he saw the notebook on the table. Wine had soaked into the pages and he made haste to pull the out the pages that had been written on to dry (he'd made the same mistake with coffee once in his early career), eager to save the pages that seemed to be so important to Kate.
He knew. He knew so much better than this. He should put the pages down and walk the hell away. Curiosity had always been his greatest weakness though and before he knew it, he was seated on the couch, reading.
I almost died today. Again. A sniper's bullet nearly took me out, again. I nearly died and I would have died with this wall of stuff between me and Castle. Stuff that I've never said, but always wanted to. I don't understand. I worked so hard to be ready. To be the person I should be, the person I wanted to be, to be ready for Castle. I feel like I took a free fall into the unknown. I was so scared to take the plunge, but I did and the rush has been amazing. It feels good to open myself up to somebody, to let them be there for me and to be there for them. It feels so amazing to let somebody love me and to love them. I thought this was it. I'm flying free fall and I'm about to hit the pavement without a parachute. I stopped caring about protecting myself, about keeping a wall up, but I'm about to hit a brick wall.
I never dared dream that I'd get to have this. I never dreamed about anything other than solving my mother's murder. That was all I wanted to do. Put that case to rest. Then I would think about having a life. Then he came along with his rugged good looks and fancy coffee making skills and he got under my skin. Suddenly, solving that one case wasn't enough. It wasn't thoughts of justice that kept me up at night, clutching the sheets. It was him. It was always him. I worked my ass off for him, to be ready to have him. I'm asking questions now that I never thought of as important. I'm ready for forever. The idea of one person for the rest of my life doesn't scare the crap out of me anymore…I'm excited. I want something I've never wanted before and…maybe he doesn't.
Did I do all of this for nothing? I fought to be ready for him and does he even want me back? Are we going anywhere at all, or did I fight so that he could have his plaything and move on when he was bored? What does he want?
Castle scrubbed a hand over his face, disgust settling deep in his belly. He'd done this. He'd been pushing her away. He'd worked for years to get her to come around to the idea of him and now that she was on the same page he was pushing her away. He needed to fix this. He needed to fix this now.
Kate woke up the next morning to the smell of coffee and pastry. She'd managed to get a decent night's sleep, only waking a few times, to be lulled back to sleep by Castle's hands running through her hair.
She gave him a sleepy smile as he walked into her room, a tray in his hands.
"We need to spend more time here," he informed her quietly. "Your milk was solid."
"Your coffee machine is nicer," Kate replied with a yawn. "Thank you," she said quietly as he placed the tray on her lap. Clearly, he'd dashed down to the Italian bakery on the corner to get proper coffee and the delicious icing sugar covered pasty she loved so much.
She raised an eyebrow at him when she saw a bundle of papers neatly folded on the tray, the edges curling and stained mahogany with wine. "Castle…" she began.
"Please, just read it," he requested quietly.
I owe you an apology. I actually owe you several apologies, but let me start here. I'm sorry that I read what you wrote. I shouldn't have. I'm also sorry that I'm a coward and that I can't say this to your face. Words are what I'm good at, but I'm just not brave enough to say them to your face.
Kyra Blaine was my first love. She was there before the success, before it mattered how many copies I'd sold. Her parents were divisive. We argued based on what they had to say. Then she threw out those words. Those words that I knew couldn't spell anything good. "Where are we going, Rick?" I didn't have an answer, she asked for time and I never saw her again.
Along came Meredith. She was light and fun. I was heartbroken and I had more money than sense. We had some great times… three months later, she peed on a stick. I panicked. Everything got shockingly real. My upbringing was incredible fodder for a mystery writer, but it wasn't something I wanted for my kid. So I went to Tiffany's and bought a ring. Watched movies for inspiration for my proposal because what the hell did I know? I was a kid.
At first we were okay. Alexis was… perfection. I was enthralled. Meredith got bored playing house pretty quickly, but I was so enamoured with my baby girl I didn't notice.
She cheated on me, Kate. I never told you that, did I? There I was, playing happy families, content to be the stay at home dad while she was off screwing anything and anybody who gave her the time of day. It was our anniversary. I'd dropped Alexis off with my mother and I had plans to spoil her rotten. Instead, I walked into our apartment to find her on her knees in front of a director (one who, all bitterness aside, reminds me quite a bit of a certain British entrepreneur). I threw the guy out on his ass and we had it out. Insults were thrown. We screamed the place down until somebody called the cops. And there it was. "Rick, where are we going?" she never wanted any of it. She didn't want to be a Mom. She didn't want to play house. She just went along with it. So we split up and that was that.
Gina was… I don't know what she was, really? A cure for my loneliness, I guess. We made sense on paper, the writer and the editor. I always admired her dedication to the job and she's an attractive woman. She made the empty spaces inside of me… feel not so empty. She was a companion, nothing more. I proposed because it was the "right" thing to do. We'd dated for so long, moved in together. It was the next natural step. Then she slowly realised Richard Castle the mystery novalist was the persona and Rick Castle, dorky dad was the real deal. I didn't let her get close to Alexis, because on some level I knew she wasn't the right fit for me. I was content to let her break my heart, but not my daughter's. One night, out of nowhere, she asked the same damn question. Where are we going? And I had no idea. I proposed because I was lonely and craved somebody and I was willing to take the first person who came along. We fought and we were miserable. So we ended on fairly amicable terms.
Then there's you, Kate. You, who wouldn't fall for my charms. You, who fought me tooth and nail when I tried to figure you out. You, who finally, finally let me in after all those years. The most remarkable, maddening, challenging, frustrating person I've ever met whom I love more than anybody.
Nobody has ever fought for me. When it gets too hard, people throw their hands up and walk away. I'm just waiting for you to do the same. Every time I reveal something from my past, something I'm ashamed of, I wait for you to curl your lip in disgust and walk away. And that would shatter me, Kate. I would be a broken man if that ever came to be.
I love you, Kate Beckett and I dream of forever by your side. And I'm a coward because I'm terrified to say all of this to your face. So when you asked where we're going the other night, I knew damn well what you meant. I heard those words and I panicked. In my experience, no good has come from those words. Those words have only ever been a harbinger of my heartbreak. And Kate, if I were to lose you, there would be nobody else. I wouldn't recover. You're it, Kate.
So I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I treated you like you don't matter. Because you do. You matter more than anybody has mattered to me (except maybe Alexis). And that terrifies me and excites me in the same breath. I want to put a ring on your finger and wake up next to you every day. I want to argue because I get too attached to gaming. I want to spoil you to make up for it. But most of all, Kate, I want to love you for the rest of my life, if you'll let me.
Kate looked up at him, her eyes watering slightly. "I'm not mad you read what I wrote," she told him quietly. "Castle, walking through your door, soaking wet and muddy was the best thing I've ever done. It scared the living shit out of me, but I'm so glad I did it," she dropped the letter and grasped his hand. "Richard Castle, I will never stop fighting for you. I will not give you up. You're my one and done." She brushed a kiss against his knuckles. "Sounds like we're on the same page anyway," she added shyly.
"That we are," Castle agreed.
"Get into bed with me, Castle."
She curled gratefully into his side after he shucked his shoes and jeans, tugging on a pair of cotton sweatpants from his drawer. "You know, you could wake up next to me every day," Kate mused.
Castle swallowed a sip of coffee before placing it on his bedside table, his arm slipping around her, fingers brushing against her ribcage, eliciting a shiver from her. "Detective Beckett, are you asking to move in with me?" He asked.
"Why Mr Castle, I do believe I am."
Any thoughts? I'd love to hear them, even if they're an episode rant :P (stay tuned... I may churn out a post Still one shot :P)