each one of us wants a piece of the action
you can hear it in what we say, you can see it in what we do
Kate can't remember why she was so insistent that Castle leave. She doesn't know why she needed to do this alone. She can't remember exactly how she was protecting him by pushing him away. She only knows that she can't do this on her own anymore. Kate doesn't know when visits from both her Dad and Josh translated to on her own. All she knows is she can't do this without Rick anymore.
When Jim comes back after the dinner that she eats alone, she's playing with the cell phone she fished out of the drawer beside her bed. The batteries are drained. Her father asks again if there's anything he can bring in, and this time Kate nods.
"My phone charger."
The ringing phone stirs Castle from his slumber, and he blindly gropes for it on his nightstand. He remembers years ago he used to just need to make sure he was up to get Alexis off to school. Once that had been accomplished, the day was his, and he could write, play or sleep at his leisure. Recent years have seen his sleep punctuated with late night and early morning calls from Beckett, and gradually he's become used to keeping odd hours.
The last week has been the worst- the hard hours without the promise of a Beckett smile or grimace, without the assurance that he'd be pushing his partner's buttons mercilessly. At first he'd leapt to his phone every time it rang, always expecting the caller ID to display Beckett's smiling face. Slowly, slowly, he's become accustomed to Esposito or Ryan being at the other end of the line, usually without an update.
Now, at nine in the evening, he answers blindly. "Castle."
There's silence on the other end.
"Castle," he repeats, taking the phone from his ear to see who's calling. He draws in a sharp breath. "Beckett?"
"Hey," comes her quiet reply.
"Hey. Hey, Beckett!"
"Rick?" she asks, and he thinks she sounds smaller and younger than the woman he saw five days before.
"I'm here," he tells her stupidly.
"Will-" she hesitates. "Will you come in and see me in the morning, Castle?"
"I can come now," he tells her. "If you want." He's sleep bleary, can barely see straight, but he will, he'll get up and go to her if she needs him, it's not in question.
"No," she tells him softly, and something catches in her voice. "Just come tomorrow, okay?"
She hangs up, leaving Castle staring at his phone in wonder. He's suddenly wide awake, but he thinks he'll sleep properly tonight, when he goes back to bed. For now, he gets up and strips the sheets, then finds new ones and remakes the bed freshly. He's disgusted with himself, really, for being this person. Being this turned around by a woman- his ex wives each went weeks on end not speaking to him and it never drove him crazy the way the last week has, never bit at his heart the way a fight with Beckett does.
He heads into the en suite bathroom, turning the shower on hard, stripping out of his jeans and t-shirt. He steps into the spray, just standing still for a minute, leaning on the wall and letting it drum onto his back before he soaps up and then rinses off. He stares at himself in the mirror as he towels off, barely recognising the tired face that looks back at him. Wincing, he flips the side lamps on and the overhead light off. Better.
He picks up the jeans and t-shirt and bundles them into the dirty laundry, along with the other clothes that have been lying on the floor for the last few days, since his housekeeper came by most recently, then wraps his towel around his waist and goes back to the bedroom, pulling on clean pyjamas and discarding the towel.
The loft is quiet when he walks through his office into the living room, but not entirely empty. Alexis is reading on the couch, headphones in, and she jumps when he sits beside her.
"Dad! You scared me." She removes her headphones.
"Sorry, sweetie." He sits quietly for a moment, looking at his daughter. "Are you okay?" He thinks she's been withdrawn this last week, but perhaps that's just been him.
She shrugs. Perhaps not. "It's been a pretty scary week," she says at last, her eyes wide. He sighs and leans in to pull her to him.
"I'm sorry, Alexis. I really am."
"It could have been you, Dad. You could have been shot. You were so close, and when you pushed Beckett down- what if the guy had just kept shooting?"
Castle shakes his head. "I don't know, honey."
Alexis pulls back and meets his eyes. "Why are you doing this? Why can't you just- write books. The way you used to?"
Castle rubs his face. Huh. Stubble. Way too much stubble. He'll have to shave tomorrow, before he goes in to see Beckett. "You know why, Alexis. I was miserable. You were miserable. Heck, I think even Gram was miserable. Over the years- I partied too hard. You know that. This- doing this, helping Beckett- even when it's not helping Beckett- it's worth it, it really is.
"It? Or her?"
"But she still won't see you?"
"Hey." Castle's voice is sharp. "Beckett's not the enemy here, Alexis. She's- I don't know what she is, okay? I am going in to see her tomorrow, and she's not the enemy."
"Geez, Dad. I know, okay."
"Okay. So. What are you reading?" Alexis holds out her book. "Tolstoy? Seriously?"
The lights are low, but he could swear his daughter is blushing. "Beckett was telling me about it a while ago. We were talking about Russian literature, and American literature, and she- she gave me this."
Huh. Okay. His mind is officially blown, because he did not know that Alexis had even seen Beckett recently, let alone discussed literature with her, or borrowed a book.
"Anyway, it's not quite War and peace and I can't exactly read it in Russian like Beckett, but I like it. It's a challenge."
"Yeah." Wait, what? He knows Beckett studied abroad, but he didn't know her Russian was good enough to read the entirety of Anna Karenina in its original. He prides himself on knowing her so well, but maybe she was right when she told him he didn't know her.
He kisses Alexis on the forehead, and stands up, stretching. "Would you like a hot chocolate?"
"Sure. Thanks." Alexis wraps her headphones around her iPod and follows Castle into the kitchen, taking the milk from the fridge while he takes the chocolate from the pantry, and sitting at the counter as he combines the two then heats them. It's not okay yet- nothing is- but he's seeing Beckett in the morning, and he's making hot chocolate with his daughter, so he figures it's a start.
When Kate wakes in the morning, it's to the sound of her own screams for the second day in a row.
She looks over to the chair where Josh was yesterday, expecting it to be empty- he'd never come back yesterday- but is surprised to see her boyfriend in it. She's surprised, too, by the jarring ache she feels when she realises that Josh isn't the first person her mind goes to, not the person she wants to see in the chair by a long shot.
"Are you okay?" he asks her, but there's no particular kindness to his question, which surprises her as she struggles to catch her breath. This is almost the worst thing she's gone through in her life, second only to her mother dying, and she knows how relationships can be ripped apart by things like this. But she likes Josh. She does, she really does. It's just- he doesn't know her, and if the look on his face is any indication, he doesn't really want to.
"I'm okay," she lies.
"I thought I'd come in again- I haven't been here long," Josh tells her. "Do you remember what you were dreaming?"
Kate shakes her head. "No- maybe- yes, maybe the Captain?"
"Do you remember what you were screaming?" There's a cool look in his eyes that she can't avoid, much as she wants to look away.
Kate shrugs. "I didn't know I was screaming something… specific," she says at last.
"His name, Kate. You were screaming his name."
Annoyance passes over Josh's face, and he sighs. "No, Kate."
"Not- okay… who then?" Any remnant of the nightmare is fading fast, and Kate doesn't know, anymore, whether it really was about the Captain or not.
Josh rolls his eyes. "Who do you think, Kate? Castle- you kept screaming Castle's name." Her boyfriend stands up and walks to the door.
"Josh!" Kate's desperate, somehow, that he stay. "Josh- stay. I can't- I don't know what I'm saying. What I'm doing- I just don't know."
"Do you love him, Kate?" Josh has turned back around, and the question stuns her out of her panic.
"Do I- God- Josh. What kind of question is that?" Just like that her panic is crushed by anger. "Josh- you're my boyfriend. How can you ask that?"
"Then let me ask you this- do you love me?"
She shakes her head in confusion. "Josh- why are you asking me this? I thought- I don't know what I thought." That they were okay. That's what she wanted to say. But it would be a lie, they haven't been okay, not for a long time.
Josh leans against the wall by the door, staring at her. "At first it seemed like a good thing, that we were both so busy, you know? It seemed like it gave us the opportunity to take things slow, not get too involved. And you know, one of the things that attracted me to you was your… passion. Your ambition. But- I don't know Kate. You use your job as an excuse, a reason to keep me at arms length."
Kate's heart sinks.
"So- again- I have to ask you, Kate- do you love me?"
Kate can only stare at him.
"I have my answer, don't I?"
"Josh- it's five in the morning- it's-" Kate hesitates. She's clutching at straws, no idea why. Like Josh is a lifeline. "I'm sorry," she trails off. Her boyfriend- if that's what he still is- shrugs and opens the door, sliding into the hospital corridor and closing the door behind him with a soft click that speaks of finality and quiet despair, leaving Kate alone with her thoughts.
She likes Josh, she really does. And like he'd just said, much like she'd said to Castle months ago, they'd been drawn to each other's passionate natures, ambitions and drive. But two people, each with a foot out the door can't make a relationship, and when Kate had gone home with Josh after being trapped in the freezer she'd known she was making a mistake.
Still, she's tried. She's wanted it to work. It's been easier, this year, showing up to work each day knowing she has a boyfriend to go home to. A safety net, or a barrier between Castle and herself, because whatever attraction was there- watching him walk away with Gina last year was a nightmare she's wanted to push to the far recesses of her mind.
But Castle- what does that even mean, that she was screaming his name? Kate doesn't remember the dream, and she doesn't know whether the anxiety in her throat is from the dream or the fight with Josh. She wants Josh to come back- she wants to have been able to answer his questions. Better still, she wants him to have not asked the questions. If only there was no reason to ask those questions. It's not just LA she hid from him- Josh doesn't know that she and Castle shared an undercover kiss- and wow. That kiss.
It had been fraught with danger, but- amazing. Kate had been prepared to go home that night, tell Josh everything- confess the kiss, explain it away as undercover work- because it wasn't cheating, it wasn't. Kate doesn't cheat, never has, never wants to. But something had stopped her- she'd been unable to lie to herself, even in her head. Much as she'd wanted to justify the moment, assure herself it was meaningless- well, it wasn't. Just thinking about it now has Kate blushing, and she's struck by the absurdity of the situation. It's five in the morning and she's alone, wide awake after a fight with her boyfriend,in a hospital bed, trying to recover from a gunshot wound, agonising about whether or not she should feel guilty about a kiss that had occurred months ago.
Kate sighs, rolling over as much as she can, and trying in vain to get comfortable in the thin hospital bed. She misses her own bed, her own place. She misses her friends. She misses Castle. Kate falls asleep again, a half smile on her lips as she realises he promised to come today.
The light knock at the door stirs Kate from her slumber, and she opens her eyes, expecting yet another nurse- she could swear they've taken her blood pressure more often this morning than all the other mornings combined, and she thinks she'll claw the eyes out of the next person who touches her.
Instead, it's Castle, standing awkwardly in the doorway, his button down shirt freshly pressed, and Kate's first instinct is to fly her hands up to her hair- still in yesterday's braid, and he looks good, and she wants to cry, hating herself just a little for even caring how she looks at a time like this.
"I'm a mess," she tells him, apologetically, and he cocks his head at her, giving her a strange look that she can't quite interpret.
He just raises an eyebrow, and steps closer to her, holding out a coffee, which she takes. "Your usual," he tells her quietly.
"How do you even know I'm allowed to have caffeine?" she asks. God. What is wrong with her. He's here, and it's all she wanted for the last five days, and what- her response is to attack?
But Castle just blinks, and shakes his head before smiling and sitting down beside her. "I can't imagine you without coffee would do anyone any favours," he smiles, and she wants to glare at him for laughing at her- she tries to, she really does, but a chuckle escapes. He grins back until she grimaces. "Laughing hurts, huh?" he asks soberly.
She nods, still wincing. "Everything hurts," she admits. She looks at him a little more closely, and realises he looks tired. She wonders just how much sleep he's had over the last few days, whether every spare second has been down at the precinct with the boys.
He doesn't say anything, just regards her for a moment as she takes an appreciative sip of the coffee. "Why wouldn't you be allowed to have coffee? Did your doctor say something?"
She shakes her head even as he reaches for his phone, no doubt intent on googling the effects of caffeine on gun shot wound victims. "No. It's nothing. It's fine. I can have caffeine."
He puts the phone away, then, and leans into her. "Are you okay, Beckett? Because- I kind of thought for a few days there that you weren't going to call and I wouldn't see you until you got back to the precinct after the summer."
Kate bites her lip, shrugs. "I needed some time, Castle. I needed to be alone- I-" she hesitates, not sure what to say. How much to spill, how much of her soul she should bare. How much she can bare. "I need- I do need time, Castle. I need to be alone, but- yeah. I did want to see you. I didn't like where we left things." She quiets, turning back to the coffee and valuing every sip. She raises the paper cup at Castle. "This is good. Thank you."
"That's why you really called, isn't it? You wanted me for my coffee- I'm not sure if I should feel offended or grateful." He chuckles again, and she's grateful for the levity. Castle stands again, checking out the room. "Your view's pretty crappy," he tells her. "But I guess you can't even see it from the bed."
She shrugs. "At least I have a window. And my own room."
He nods. "Yeah, I can't imagine a caffeine free Beckett would be any fun for anyone unlucky enough to have to share with you."
Kate wants to stick her tongue out at him, but she settles for rolling her eyes.
"What's this?" Castle's picked up the Patterson on the side table.
"Relax," she tells him. "My Dad brought me some things."
"Good. I'll bring you the good stuff next time."
"Sure. Thanks." Kate purses her lips at him, and he grins.
"I'm serious, Kate. I'll bring you the whole collection. After all, you're a one writer girl, right?"
She closes her eyes. She's missed this. The banter, the fun that he brings with him. "I don't think that means I'm never allowed to read anyone else's work ever again," she tells him.
He opens his mouth, no doubt to tell her that no, he'd prefer she didn't read anyone else's books, but a nurse comes in to take her vitals again. Eliza. She had this nurse yesterday, a young blonde woman. "Should I go?" Castle asks, and she can hear in his voice that he doesn't want to.
"No- just- wait on the other side of the curtain, okay?"
The nurse draws the curtain around the bed, and smiles at Kate. "Your boyfriend is worried, huh?" She's just making small talk, Kate knows that, but she clenches her jaw when she realises the nurse means Castle, not Josh. Huh. She'd figured the whole hospital would have known she was dating Josh, all the other nurses had teased her and she'd seen the signs of envy in a few of them. Evidently Josh is popular here.
Kate just sighs, but Castle pokes his head around the curtain, covering his eyes as he does so. "Not her boyfriend," he announces, and Kate wonders why that stings. Damn. She's getting more messed up by the minute.
"Get back around the other side of that curtain," she hisses, and he does so, grinning.
Eliza is quick, her fingers deft as she unwraps the bandage and checks the wound. "Already looks better, don't you think?"
Kate nods. It looks awful.
"It's good," Eliza assures her. "I know it looks bad, but see- no infection, no nothing." She rewraps Kate in fresh bandages, and takes her blood pressure, smiling as she records the figures on Kate's chart. "Bad morning?" she asks.
Eliza shakes her head. "No, nothing. Just these numbers here- looks like you were a bit stressed when they looked in at you this morning."
"Nightmares," she offers quietly, hoping Castle's wandered off far enough to not be able to hear this exchange.
Eliza nods, and sweeps the curtain back, revealing Rick with his ear to the curtain.
"Nightmares?" he asks. She doesn't want to have this conversation. Not here, not now, probably not ever.
She's quiet for a moment, counting to ten in her head, because she just got Castle back, and if she says anything right now, it will be to ask him to leave- it's on the tip of her tongue to kick him out then and there. Instead, she exhales slowly, and nods. "I don't remember them," she says, cutting him off before he can ask about them.
"Okay," he says, looking at her with that funny look of concern again, that has her heart in knots and her stomach in her mouth. "Okay," he says again, and he sits beside her, putting his hand over hers in a way that is all at once too familiar and just not enough.
Castle leaves after the lunch trays come around. He watches Kate pick at her lunch, and eventually she glares at him. "Go. Don't you have someone else to annoy? Maybe Alexis? Go see if your daughter needs someone to stare at her while she eats."
He laughs, and leans in, and she wishes he would brush his lips upon her cheek. Instead he squeezes her hand and smiles. "It was good to see you, Detective."
Kate flinches. She doesn't feel much like a detective at the moment, doesn't feel much like Beckett either. "You too, Castle," she mumbles, not meeting his eyes.
"When can I come back?" he asks, when he reaches the doorway, and she shrugs.
"Maybe- maybe tomorrow. Maybe." She bites her lip. "I'll call you, okay?"
He leaves with a smile that looks a lot like a promise. "Until tomorrow, Kate."
Kate stares at her tray of food a little longer, picking at it for a bit until she pushes it away with a sigh. Castle brought her coffee- she should ask him to bring her a burger next time. Castle. She feels like a teenager- completely out of control- but somehow glad, and she settles back into her pillows and falls soundly asleep,
Josh comes back in during the afternoon. Kate's awake again, and feeling more rested than she has in days. She's surprised to see Josh, in a way. She hasn't given him any thought since Castle was mistaken for her boyfriend, and their fight floods back to her.
"Hey." He leans in to kiss her, almost automatically, and she supposes it has become a habit. She lets him, but flashes to the memory of Castle's mouth on hers, months before, and she ducks away so Josh can only peck her cheek rather than meet her lips. "So- I heard Castle came by before."
She shrugs. "He's my partner, Josh. He gets to be here."
"Shouldn't I be that person? Your partner?"
"It's not like that- he's my work partner."
"But he's not, Kate. If it was just a work thing, I'd be okay with it. I would," he insists. "But it's more than that, and you know it. You keep screaming his name-"
"Once," she interrupts him.
"More than once," he retorts. "The last two days, and yeah, after LA too, for that matter. You dreamt something then, and I heard you talking in your sleep-"
Wow. Kate's stunned. She had no idea her subconscious was betraying her like this. "So what if I have nightmares? I'm with you, Josh- what does any of this even matter?"
"So what? He's your partner, the one you jump into things with? He's the person who gets to work at your side, see you day in, day out. Tell me this, Kate- did he know you were going to LA to avenge your ex-boyfriend?"
Kate ducks her head and averts her eyes. "I didn't ask him too, but he- Castle- came with me," she whispers at last.
"Fuck!" Josh's curse makes her jump, and she looks up in time to see him smack at open hand at the wall. "Shouldn't I- I should be that person, Kate. The one who runs to LA with you, the one who you jump into things with." He shakes his head. He looks angry, but not furious, she thinks. Defeated, maybe, and very tired. Well, that makes two of them. Exhaustion is rolling over her like a wave, and sitting upright in the bed is taking a lot more effort than she'd like.
She can only nod, a lone tear spilling over and rolling down her cheek. Finally she whispers. "You should be. But you're not. Josh- do you love me?"
The question surprises him, she thinks. "I- I think I could, you know. If you let me. If you'd let me in. You know, it's his fault you're even here, Kate. That's why you were shot, why Montgomery was killed. He pushed you into this whole thing, started it all. If he hadn't been messing with you in the first place, you wouldn't even be here."
"You're wrong. But you're also right. I wouldn't know who killed my Mom." Kate shrugs. "I can't explain it."
Josh is watching her, with what? Sympathy? "I thought it was cute, at first," he tells her. "A writer following you around. I thought it was kind of cool, that you'd inspired an entire series of books- but now- I just think- we never had a chance, did we?"
And Kate can only shake her head. "I'm not sure," she admits. "Maybe not."
Josh sighs, leans in to her again and kisses her on the forehead. "Take care, Kate." She watches him walk toward the door, and he pauses and leans against the door frame. "I really do wish you all the best," he says at last. The look in his eyes is kind of familiar. He looks- Kate thinks he looks like she felt when Will left her. Sad and tired, yes. But heartbroken? No.
"You too," she whispers. The tears trickle down properly after he leaves, but it's more cathartic than anything else. She feels relieved. Like she's taken the first step in living one less lie.