Rick scurried through the rain to the porch, drenched once more, and with shaking hands opened the door. His heart was in his throat as he stepped inside, looking around wildly when he saw the dim interior.
"Kate? Kate!" Rick called out. Why was it so dark? Moreover, where was Kate? He looked through the door onto the porch, not really expecting her to be out there in the storm. A flash of lightning lit up the night, and revealed the empty rocker. He covered the distance to the door of the bedroom in just a few strides, but the room was empty as well. No point in checking the bath; the lights were off. He turned to survey the living area, his hand running through his hair, wondering where she could be in the small space.
Then, before his imagination could completely take control, he caught a glimpse, in the dim light, of her shoulder just past the end of the couch. Rick felt the tension drain from his shoulders as he walked carefully to Kate and squatted down in front of her. He had never seen her in a flashback, but had seen glimpses of panic attacks. He had researched PTSD extensively upon realizing the affect of the sniper case on Kate. Touching a person in a panic attack was risky, so he just called her name softly and reassured her she was not alone and was safe.
A whispered question came through the dimness, "Rick?" Her voice was thick, as though she had been crying. It was difficult to tell since she still had her head down.
"Hey," he answered in his own soft voice. "What are ya doing?"
She stayed curled up for a short time before she was able to answer, "Loud."
Rick quirked a grin and replied softly, "Yeah, it does tend to get loud here. Much more so than in the city with all the skyscrapers. The storms here just seem to steamroll across you. Do you want to get up? The couch is much more comfortable than the floor." He extended his hand and waited. He knew when she was having an episode she took longer to process. After a few moments, Kate hesitantly put her hand in his. The thunder chose that moment to sound once more, causing Kate to flinch and curl tighter than he thought possible. He recognized the similarity to the crack of a rifle. Even though the sniper had used a suppressor, he was sure she, like he, heard the shot clearly in her nightmares.
With practically no separation between the flashes and the thunder, Rick knew the squall line was right over them. Based on the quick look he had taken earlier he suspected it would be so for a while. He was trying to determine which would be better: letting her sit where she was, or try to get her up and moving, try to get her out of her head.
The answer was taken out of his hands when the next flash and resultant boom shook the cabin to its foundation, causing him to startle as well. He would swear later that he felt the floor shake under his feet.
Kate's head popped up and Rick felt goosebumps pop up as he realized her eyes were staring at things not happening in that cabin. He had always thought, 'Yeah, right' when he read that, but now he was seeing it for himself, and it was unnerving.
"No! No, no, no," she called out. "Castle! Martha! No!" It was then he knew exactly where her mind had taken her. The day a simple trip to the bank had turned into a hostage situation with a bomb blast for the finale. She surprised him when she jumped up and tried to push by him, still calling his name. Rick did reach up to grab her then, not wanting her to hurt herself or run out into the storm. Her momentum almost pulled him over backwards.
"Kate! Listen!" he managed to wrap her in his arms and continued to reassure her. "I'm here. I'm right here. I'm fine, Mother is fine. That was a long time ago. Let it go, Kate. Look at me." He took her face in his hands as he continued to talk her down. The look in her eyes eventually changed and he could tell she was finally back in the cabin with him when she tentatively muttered, "Castle?"
"Yeah. Right here. Are you feeling better?"
"I don't know," she answered honestly.
"Well, why don't we go sit on the couch, hmm? It's got to be more comfortable than the floor." Kate nodded, unfolded from her spot and slowly stood. Her joints creaked- she felt brittle. Ancient. Rick knew just how effected she was when she allowed him to lead her.
She took the armchair perpendicular to the couch and curled her long legs into the seat. The closeness always felt better - safer? - than a couch after an "episode", as Dr. Burke called them.
"You left," she whispered.
Rick glanced away from her eyes, "I, uh, brought you some things from your room. Not all of it! Just some …where did you get that swimsuit, anyway?" Off her confused expression as she tried to make sense of his ramblings he was brought back on point.
I - well - it gets really dark around here - no street lights, you know. And when it storms like this, the roads are treacherous with the curves and standing water. Rick fidgeted with his shirttail, "I just didn't want you to get hurt trying to get back to your motel room. Not that you couldn't drive in the rain, you are quite capable,…I just meant…Shutting up, now."
Kate felt like she was talking to Robbie Green back in seventh grade when he asked her to the Junior High Spring Dance. But with things so strained right now she didn't dare laugh, or even smile, at Rick. She took the olive branch for what it was and thanked him for his concern since he was much more familiar than she with the area.
"Yeah, I, uh, I went to your room and got you stuff."
"So you said," she prompted.
He waved the comment away, "Never mind. Anyway, I got you a change of clothes, and your toiletries bag, and… Isawyourpillbottles," he finished in a rush.
She had only started to open her mouth when he jumped in, "I wasn't snooping! Honest! I just saw them by accident," he ran down finally. "What I'm trying to say is, do you need anything? I know you told me once you still had something to take if things got rough, like the sniper case, so…."
"Yeah," she answered as she tried to focus on Rick.
"Yes?" Well, that was a surprise.
She nodded in reply. "And water."
As Rick scurried away, Kate dropped her head into her hands. Mortified didn't even begin to cover it. Castle had seen her in the midst of not only a panic attack, but also a flashback. This day just got better and better. What did it matter if he knew she was on meds. Again. In for a penny, in for a pound.
Rick realized his hands were shaking as he reached for a tumbler to fill with water for her. He had to stop just a moment and take a deep breath, or three. The past 24 hours or so had been horrific, what with the newscast that had resulted in one of the worst drinking binges of his life, the resultant hangover, and then Kate showing up (he didn't even realize he hadn't said Beckett). He shook his head as he dropped a couple cubes of ice into the glass. Reading about panic attacks and flashbacks was totally different from seeing them in person, that was for darn sure. He even realized that what Kate had gone through tonight was relatively mild compared to what it could have been.
Grabbing her toiletries bag from the pile of things by the door, Rick hurried back to Kate. As she dealt with the bottles he snapped on a couple more lamps, chasing away the gloom. "Much better," he thought. He did love the warm glow the room seemed to have in the evenings. Maybe it would help sooth her frayed nerves. Finally realizing the cabin was nippy with the temperature drop from the rain, he closed the porch door and turned on the heat, just a couple of degrees to knock the chill off.
He looked over to Kate; she looked so small cured up in the chair. Forlorn, even. What was it about that woman that – that – hell; he was all tangled up inside. The last thing he wanted was for anything bad to happen to her, even considering how furious he was with her.
Kate looked up when his legs came into view. "I'm gonna grab some of that soup – I don't think I can handle the burger yet. You want something?"
"I," she cleared her throat, "Yeah. Some soup, if there is enough. Thank you."
"This is just all kinds of awkward," Rick thought as he dumped the soup into a pan and turned on the stove. On the one hand, he was mad as hell with her, hurt, and disappointed. On the other hand, he was worried about the attack, her PTSD resurgence, and general physical condition. "And if I had a third hand," he thought in a burst of dark humor, "I am dying to know the rest of the story. What happened after I left New York?"
Rick handed Kate a bowl of soup and a bottle of water. When he returned with his, he took a look at Kate, noticing the stiff set to her shoulders. The white knuckled grip on her knees. He sat on the couch and quietly began to eat. As he glanced at her from time to time, he saw her line ease, her grip loosened, and she began to eat. He assumed her medication was kicking in, or maybe it was just being together? His overactive imagination began to wonder if she would need her meds if he had stayed. Confronted her about the whole proposal thing.
"Oh, crap. Crapcrapcrapcrap." This sounded suspiciously like when he had heard Kate from behind the glass during the bombing case. Of course, this was a bit different… Before he could follow his thoughts any further, a small, miserable voice came from the chair.
"Why?" he asked, a volume of questions compressed into one word.
"Me. This. Thought I was better. Dr. Burke warned me. Hell, your dad warned me. But I just had to find you. You don't deserve this disaster," she said, pointing to herself. "As soon as the storm is over, I'll get out of your hair. Sorry."
"Nope. Not happening. Wait. What? My dad? You met my dad?" Rick's voice rose an octave at the end. "And what's with your motorcycle? Not that I don't like the new look, but it's not – exactly – factory standard? What on earth convinced you to change the paint job? You don't have to tell me if you don't want to. That's okay."
Kate sighed inwardly at the questions, not that she could blame him after all that had happened between them. Most of which, she admitted, could be laid squarely at her feet. She had a LOT of bridge building to do. She had started with Martha and Alexis. Rick, however, was another story. For tonight, maybe just the barebones of the story would do. "You're right," Kate huffed, "She was. But, I was over-ruled. They assured me the skins will come off and not damage the paint," her tone promised bodily harm if they were wrong.
"They? Who are 'They'?" He asked, shocked she had agreed considering how she felt about that motorcycle. "Baby" indeed! He could easily imagine her cooing at it as she put on the dust cover.
"Jordan and Jackson," came the short reply. She had started calling them that, like an 80's rock group. Both agents would roll their eyes whenever they heard her.
"Wait. What? Jordan? Jordan Shaw?" Kate nodded. "She was there, too?" Kate nodded again. Rick breathed out a huff, running both hands through his hair. He didn't know what to think about that. "Kate, I…couldn't tell you ab-"
Kate broke in, "I'm not angry, Rick. He's a Spook; that's just par for the course in his line of work," she finished with a shrug.
"Hang on. If you talked to him, he was back in New York? I know he isn't allowed to operate in the U.S., not that it's stopped him before," That last was added under his breath, but not quite softly enough for Kate to miss.
"He was more of a - liaison. Since Bracken had dealings with people the CIA had been gathering intel on for years. Well, he was working with the FBI, working to shut down the various operations. Drugs, gun running, human trafficking, you name it. All that money funneling right into his election coffers, not to mention off-shore accounts. Shaw was there acting as a profiler, helping identify possible associates and actions. The 'psychology' of the whole convoluted mess. "
Rick dropped his head to his hands. It was just all too much, too much. Kate, his Father, the news report of the shooting…he was overwhelmed.
All Kate could do was look at him and ache inside. Before, she would have wrapped her arms around him, maybe even taken him to bed to sooth his heartache. Maybe they both had used sex to cover their problems rather than actually use their grown-up words, trusted to subtext and looks to hope their thoughts were getting to the other. As she stared at him, these thoughts running through her mind, she was drawn to times she and Rick worked together, times when they were in sync.
"Look. It's getting late. I should be getting back."
"What? No. You just had one of the worst episodes I have seen you have in months," though the thought did skitter through his mind that he might have missed some since he had been away. "Not to mention you have taken drugs I'm sure you are not supposed to use machinery with. Yeah, I know, ended with a preposition," he joked, getting a small smile from Kate. "Then there're the roads. With rain like this there will be standing water everywhere. They shouldn't be out, but deer and black bears are common here, too.
"Rick…" she started only to stop at his raised hand. "I was raised to be a gentleman, even if I forget from time to time. You stay here tonight and we can talk in the morning."
Kate nodded thoughtfully as she considered his words. He made a good argument. "Okay. Do you have an extra pillow and blanket?"
Rick gave an eye roll worthy of Becket. "Gentleman, remember? You will take the bed; I have some work to do and it will be easier out here. Not to mention my mother would kill me if I let you sleep on this thing."
A few minutes later Kate was in the bed, staring at the ceiling, trying to relax into sleep. The scent of the sheets didn't smell like Rick, not surprising looking at how he had changed so much. Frankly, it was much like sleeping in the motel room. Eventually the lateness of the hour caught up with her and she drifted into a somewhat restful sleep. The fact she imagined herself at the loft and Rick in his office typing had nothing to do with it. Not at all.