[Author's Note: Hey, guys. So, I really did mean to have this up ages ago, but my schedule got crazy, and then I got sick, and now it's today. But anyway, it's here now. And this is it. This is the final chapter. I hope you've all enjoyed (and will continue to enjoy) reading and will let me know your final verdict—even if you've never reviewed any of the other chapters. Last chance! Anyway, now that it's finally done, I'm quite proud of this one. So, enjoy. It's been an honor writing for you all. :) ]
"Beckett?" Rick calls as he walks through the door to her apartment.
"Bedroom!" comes her voice, drifting from the back of the space.
He walks down the hallway, perusing as he goes the haphazard, handwritten labels on the boxes that line the walls. "Hey," he greets as he steps through the bedroom door.
"Hey," Kate grins from her position seated on the floor amidst a small mountain range of clothing. "Castle, what do you think about this one? D.C. box or Salvation Army box?"
"The plaid flannel?! You're not seriously considering getting rid of the purple plaid flannel!"
Kate laughs, brushing an unruly lock of hair away from her forehead and standing up. "Okay, you're right," she teasingly concedes, wrapping her arms around his middle, "It is nice for walks on the beach."
"Exactly," he murmurs, leaning in for a quick kiss. "Now, what can I help with?"
"You want to pack up the nightstand? I'll go grab another box from the living room." She slips out of his arms and pads down the hall. Rick can't help noting the fact that she drags her feet a little to let her socks slide across the carpet. With an affectionate smirk, he turns toward the nightstand, crosses the room, and pulls its drawer open.
"Hey, Castle?" Rick hears from the kitchen as he begins rummaging through the contents of the nightstand.
"Yeah?" he replies, pulling out a half dozen books, all bookmarked somewhere towards the middle.
"You want a glass of water or something?"
"Sure!" he replies and rifles around a bit more. This time he comes up with a little notebook, some pencils with used-up erasers, and four tubes of the same chapstick. He lets it all tumble unceremoniously onto the floor next to him and reaches back in at the same time he hears the ice dispenser on the fridge start up. Sliding his hand further this time, he feels the smoothness of a piece of paper flattened against the back of the drawer, interrupting the coarser wood grain. He retrieves it at the same time that Kate—two water glasses in hand and cardboard box tucked between hipbone and elbow—reenters the room.
"Okay," Rick begins, standing up and turning to face her, "if this is supposed to be a surprise for later, I'll put it in the box and pretend I never saw it, but my vote is you should let me open it now."
Kate freezes. He's holding—with this panic-inducinglook of triumph—a sealed white envelope, blank except for 'Castle' printed in the center in her neat, little block letters. Rick watches as the color drains from her face and can hear ice clatter against glass as one or both of her hands twitches a little. "Kate?" he asks hesitantly.
"I forgot that was even… I never would have…" she trails off, and Rick tries to decide how he should be reacting. Finally, he crosses to where she's standing, takes the glass from her left hand, and places the envelope there in its stead.
"Then I never saw a thing," he says simply and tugs the box out from under her arm.
Just when he'd resettled himself on the floor and grabbed one of the pencils with which to label the box as 'nightstand,' he heard very quietly behind him, "Maybe you should, though…" He looks up to find Kate inching around him to perch on the edge of the bed. She's holding out the envelope, so he gently pulls it from between her fingers and moves to join her on the bed.
"So, what is this?" Rick asks, smiling softly when Kate tugs his left hand over to her lap and plays with his fingers, bending and straightening them, brushing the pad of her index finger over the nails.
She doesn't look at him. "It's… I don't know. It's stupid. You don't have to read it."
"Kate," he says firmly—though still quietly—and she looks up at him, lifting only her eyes. "Whether or not I want to read something you wrote for me is never going to be a question. The question is whether or not you want it read."
"No, it's…Yeah. Yeah, it's okay. You should read it. It's… Well, the first part explains what it is, so just… go for it, I guess."
"Thank you," he mumbles into her hair before peeling the envelope open. Leaning into his side, Kate feels his breath catch a little as he reads.
I started therapy today. I'm not telling you that just to tell you or because it somehow justifies everything I've put you through in the last few months. I'm telling you because my therapist told me that writing about all this… I don't know what… that's going on inside my head might help me sort it out. I couldn't figure out how to start without an intended reader (so to speak), so I picked you. Not that I'm ever going to show this to you.
Anyway, therapy. I swore I was never going back the last time, but you changed my mind. (That's why I chose to address this to you rather than anybody else.) I decided to go back because you were right about those things we fought about before they killed Montgomery and almost killed me, and then you told me you loved me, and I never told you that I love you back.
I'm sorry. I love you, too, and I'm so sorry, Castle. I wish I could say that to your face, but I can't figure out how. I lied to pass my psych evaluation. (I've been lying a lot lately, huh?) But now that he knows, this therapist guy (that I guess I've committed myself to going to regularly) spent the whole session implying that he thinks I have PTSD. I would've liked to tell him how ridiculous that is, but he never actually said it outright. Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that I'm scared he's not actually wrong. What if he is right, Castle? What if that's why I can't think straight anymore?
Well, I guess it doesn't really matter. I've probably lost my chance anyway. You'll find somebody else, and I'll still be alone because you were right about everything. You were right that I hide behind my mom's murder. You were right that I don't know who I am without it. I don't know, and it terrifies me because I'm nothing without it. Without that, I'm just some cop, and I'm definitely not worth your trouble. And I want to be worth it because I don't know what I am without you either, Castle.
It's really, really not fair that you can make me cry like this with something you said four months ago. You were right about the fact that I hide from all these things I should be dealing with, and you're right that my mom's death is one of them. I never really got over it, and now I'm just lonely and trapped, and all I can figure out is that I'm less lonely when you're here. You're right that I hide from the people I should be trusting, and I use a bunch of pointless relationships to do it.
I'm going to tell you a secret… Or maybe I'm the only one who thinks it's secret. I guess you already know it. I was only ever with Josh because I was lonely, and I felt betrayed and… replaced, I guess, by Gina. I know it wasn't your fault because I was with Tom when you guys got back together, or maybe you weren't in love with me back then. (I wasn't in love with you, but I kind of had a little bit of a crush on you…) I was never in love with Josh. I was just trying to avoid getting hurt when you never loved me back. I'm sorry, Castle.
I'm not explaining any of this right. I just want to call you right now and tell you how much I love you and that I'm sorry for lying to you, but I can't because then you'll ask me out (or whatever it is one does in our situation), and then when I say 'no,' you'll think I was lying again, and that's not it. I can't do it, Castle. I can't drag somebody else into all of this stuff. I would ruin it. You would find out that I barely sleep, and I don't really eat anymore, and I spend hours and hours crying. And then you would leave because that's so not what you signed up for. You'd be right to leave, but I would never be okay again. So it's easier like this. You can't miss what you never had to start with, right?
Look, you're never going to see this anyway, but I should thank you for saving my life. The doctors told me that I died while I was in the ambulance. I asked Lanie about it, and she said that even after I passed out you held my hand the whole time. She said you stayed right by me the whole time until I had to go back for surgery. Thanks for that, Castle. I wish I'd been awake for it… Oh, and the hangar. I've read that letter you wrote me over and over again, and I guess this can be my official response to it. So, about the hangar, thank you for protecting me not only from a group of highly trained gunmen, but also from myself. I can't figure out what it says about me that I'm so willing to die for the sake of getting justice for my mom. Every time I ask myself that question I just end up thinking that I wish I still had a mom to talk to about things like that. I guess that gives you some idea of why I'm as messed up as I am.
Castle, everybody's said at some point that you've been waiting for me for all this time. (I don't know how long exactly, but I know it's been quite a while—long enough for me to ruin everything, at least.) I know I'm a horrible person to ask this—even knowing you won't ever see it—but… Do you think you could wait a little bit longer? I'm going to get better. I'm going to figure out how to trust people and stop running from my problems and not be paranoid about anything that moves or flashes. Really, I'm going to fix myself, and then I maybe I can fix us.
Why did I write in ink? It's getting all smeared because I'm still crying. Look, what I'm trying to say is that I really, really do love you, and the whole, giant mess that we are now is my fault. I want to fix it, but I can't do that if you're not interested anymore. You told me in that letter you wrote that you understand the idea of needing time, and you would've given me that without my brushing you off the way I did. So, is it completely horrible to ask you to keep being as wonderfully patient as you've more than proven you are for a few more months? Please. Please, Castle. I want to be good enough. I'm just trying to make myself good enough for you…
I guess this writing thing worked. I now have a much clearer understanding of how royally I've screwed up. And how hard it's going to be to undo all of that. You know what, if I keep going with this right now, I'm going to make myself even crazier than I already am. So, I'm going to go take you up on that offer of coffee on you. (I've been saving up those gift cards from your letter for really bad days like this when I need a little Castle-style encouragement.) I guess I could always call you, and we could actually go for coffee together, but that's guaranteed to add another layer of complexity to things. This way will do for now. (Until someday.)
Because there still is a 'someday' for us, Castle. I promise. But for now there's just this, so I'll close the same way you did: