A/N: I can't get this story out of my head. I'm in the middle of another fic and I keep thinking about this one. So, I'm going to get it out of my system. Let me know if you like it. Set at end of Watershed. No idea about spoilers, since I'm in no way associated with the show.
"Katherine Houghton Beckett, will you marry me?"
He had slipped unnoticed by her from his swing to the ground. On one knee, he knelt before her, fingers clutching his offering that glimmered in the sunlight. Stunned, speechless, she could only gape at him, at the beautiful prism he held in his strong hands. She'd thought he was breaking up with her, had been sitting there internally screaming her pain at his little speech and now he was asking her to marry him? Un-freaking-believable.
No, still speechless. How could she answer a question like this? She'd not prepared, had had no warning. For weeks they'd been more distant with each other, unable to speak about what was really going on. She thought he was losing interest in her. It had hurt no end to know she wasn't enough for him. But she'd been fooling herself. He was rich, famous. What could he possibly want with a crazy woman who was damaged in so many ways? He was better off without her.
"Kate! Please, will you marry me?"
He was still kneeling in front of her. What the hell was happening? He's got a ring. A ring for her. He's been married twice before. Why is he asking her?
"Rick, are you sure? Do you really mean it?"
"Of course I mean it. I love you Kate. I want to spend the rest of my life with you."
"What if I take the job?"
It doesn't matter to me what you do. I want you. Not Beckett the cop or the future agent. I want Kate the woman. I love you and I intend on spending the rest of my life making you happy."
Oh God, he knew just what to say to make her knees buckle and her head spin. Suddenly, she stood up and grabbed his arm to pull him up beside her. He's so tall, so large next to her. He always made her feel safe. She knew she loved him, had for years if she was honest with herself. She'd held her heart in protective custody, afraid for it to be exposed to the intimacy of a committed relationship. She'd never been in love until she'd met Castle. And despite her love for him and his for her she'd still held back a little, convinced it was all going to come crashing down at some point. She didn't want to hurt as deeply as her father had when her mother had been killed. Jim had sought comfort in being pickled by ethanol, losing part of his daughter along with his sobriety. He'd never been the same person, even after he'd fought back from the demons that had taken him so deep.
So, Beckett had kept parts of herself at an arm's length, watching Castle like a hawk for signs of disinterest or apathy. She'd critically examined everything he said to her, trying to find his tell that it was all just a big cosmic joke at her expense. He was her favorite author, the man who had helped keep her somewhat sane in the months following her mother's death by allowing her to get lost in his books. What could he possibly see in her, the barely functioning cop?
"If you don't want this, I'll understand Kate. I love you so much; I just want to move forward together. But if you aren't ready…or if you don't feel the same…"
His words snapped her back to the situation at hand. He was asking her to marry him. Richard Edgar Castle wanted to marry her. Wow.
"Yes" she whispered.
He was still talking, hadn't heard her. Typical for Castle. Gets an answer to the most important question of his life and misses it because he's too busy talking. So, she answers him in the best way she knows: a passionate kiss that finally gets him to shut up and squares his attention back on her, where it belongs.
"Yes" she repeats again, staring into his eyes. All the love and excitement evident in her hazel eyes. "Yes."
The sound of her alarm startled her into the day at the usual time: 4:45 am. What a godforsaken time to be getting up, but she needed to do some cardio and the earlier the better. For a minute she couldn't remember where she was; the apartment was so new still and she wasn't used to the quieter sounds of her new neighborhood in D.C. compared to the city where she'd been raised. She felt Rick stirring next to her as she shut off the alarm. His hand caressed her shoulder as she leaned back into the bed for a minute, not ready to leave his warmth for the colder air of the air conditioned bathroom.
"Morning" he whispered.
"Morning. Sorry I woke you."
"I'm glad you did. Got a flight to catch bright and early, remember?"
She had remembered, but was hoping he hadn't. The last month had been a whirlwind. They'd gotten engaged; she'd quit the force and accepted the job with the Attorney General. They'd found and apartment in D.C. and moved her stuff down. He'd had to spend a lot of the month in New York due to obligations with Black Pawn and a new contract. He'd also needed to spend some time with Alexis and Martha while Kate got everything settled in Washington. This had been their first weekend together in several weeks and they'd made up for lost time, not even bothering to get dressed either day. And now she was about to begin her training and he was leaving on a long book tour. She knew it was going to be hard, but the reality of their separation after missing him so much for the past month was hard to imagine. He must have sensed her distaste, as he pulled her closer into his warmth.
"I have to go, you know that."
She sighed, let her hand trace his face, jawline as if to commit it to memory once again.
"I know. I don't like it though. How long again?"
She groaned in protest. How had she ever thought this was a good idea? Had she been drunk when she'd agreed to this? Nothing else explained how stupid she'd been to accept this separation.
"You won't even miss me. You start your training today and you're going to be so busy you won't even notice I'm out signing autographs all over the country."
"I'll miss you every second of every day."
"I'll miss you too. But you will be doing long days and you'll need to rest. If I'm here we don't tend to do a lot of sleeping. And just think of the incredible sex we're going to have when those eight weeks are up! It will make this weekend pale in comparison."
"Ha, leave it to you to come up with that."
"We'll talk every night. And I have some surprises for you."
She bounced up in bed at that. "What surprises? Tell me!"
"That's why it's called a surprise. You don't know what it is until it happens."
"You going to punish me Beckett?"
"I'm supposed to be getting up to run."
"Well, I have an hour and a half to finish packing, shower and get ready before the cab is here. I guess I can do all that…alone" the last words were uttered with such a serious tone and look of innocence that she had to laugh. His hands were doing some wonderful things on her abdomen and chest. It was getting harder to remember why she needed to run.
"Well, I guess it is your last few hours with me for a while. And you are being a bad boy. Maybe I could get in some other type of exercise this morning."
"Why Beckett, what kind of exercise could possibly keep you in the apartment and replace running?"
She was now running her hand up and down his chest; felt her breath hitch in her chest as the flames of desire roared once again into her loins. Even after all the time they'd had together he could still make her respond almost instantly to his touch, his look. Only he had ever had this effect on her. With her other lovers she might have reached release, especially when she took control and took what she wanted (and let's face it, she rarely let someone else control her). But with Castle it was like she'd never really had sex; had certainly never made love with someone. The difference was undeniable; she knew she'd never be satisfied with any other mere lover. It had to be him; he knew just how to make her body fly apart with a hundred different touches/kisses/words.
"Rick, shut up and kiss me."
He did as he was told and they both forgot about his leaving for the bliss of their joined souls.
The ringing of the phone penetrated her exhausted haze at 11 pm. As she thumbed the touchscreen to answer, she knew it would be Rick without looking at it.
"Kate, are you alright?" He sounded quite concerned.
"Hi Rick" she whispered, eyes still closed. "I was sleeping. I'm so tired."
"I've called you like five times and kept getting voicemail. I was getting worried about you."
"Sorry. I guess I just crashed again." It had been four weeks since she'd started her training and three weeks since he'd started the tour after spending time with Alexis and Martha in New York. Her days had been remarkably similar after the first few of orientation: physical training, weapons training, and lots and lots of book training. The hours were exhausting; both physically and mentally. Kate had found herself barely able to keep up. She wasn't sure if it was because she was on the wrong side of thirty or if the program was simply that hard. Everyone else starting with her was younger, though none had the experience she brought to the table. It frustrated her that she seemed to be a step behind them at times, so she drove herself even harder. She found that she had no time for anything but work and then a few hours of exhausted sleep. Knowing this now made her grateful Rick had gone on his book tour. She would have had absolutely no time for him and she was so exhausted he would have been the target of any of her frustrations, unfair as that was.
She finally opened her eyes and realized she hadn't even made it to the bedroom; she remembered sitting on the couch for just a minute to take off her shoes. Everything else after that was a blank.
"Did you get this week's surprise yet?"
She smiled into the phone. Castle's surprises had been revealed to be special coffee blends one week, some beautiful flowers on another, thoughtful cards and lotions. He was so attentive. He was too good to her. This week had been some delicious fruits in a basket, most of which were devoured by her new coworkers before she had even put down the card that accompanied it. He'd never even met any of them and they were all smitten with Rick and how much he loved her.
"Kate, you're still eating and taking care of yourself, right?"
Honestly, she couldn't remember if she'd eaten that day or not. She knew she'd lost weight, but wasn't about to confess that to Castle. He was liable to hop the next plane to come baby her.
"I'm fine Castle. Just tired. Four more weeks and I'm done with this part, then things will get much better. I've officially requested I be assigned to New York" she knew that would get him excited and off the topic of her health.
"When will you find out?"
"Well, I finish my training in four weeks, and then I'll be assigned a veteran partner here for a few months. Once I'm past probationary status, they'll assign me to my post. And I hear I've got a good shot at New York, since they know I'm familiar with the city and with the NYPD."
"I'll follow you anywhere Kate, you know that. But wouldn't it be cool to be back in New York?"
She had moved off the couch and simply stripped to her underwear. Not bothering to do anything else, she crawled into bed and made some noised agreeing with him. She couldn't keep her eyes open.
"Kate, get some sleep. I love you." She thought she said it back to him, but was already sliding into unconsciousness as he hung up the phone.
Kate had hoped the next few weeks would get better as her body became stronger with the constant physical training. She could not have been more wrong she reflected as she hung her head over the toilet once again. She'd gotten a stomach flu; she was sure it was thanks to Agent Murray. Not directly, but Abby Murray was married with a toddler and said husband and toddler had visited them three days ago. The baby was so cute and such a vision of normality in an otherwise stressed out day that everyone had fussed over him, including Kate. She'd bounced him in her lap briefly while his parents got a few minutes alone and that was apparently enough to transfer this god-awful virus to her.
She'd started puking this morning and at first blamed the bit of leftover Chinese she'd found in the fridge. It had looked ok, but she couldn't remember exactly how old it was. She'd been too tired to really care, figuring a microwave probably killed most everything. When the puking continued into the evening she knew it wasn't simple food poisoning. She'd struggled to keep down any water and the thought of food was revolting. She had made it through the day somehow; luckily most of the hard physical training was over, so it was easier to hide her nausea.
She crawled into bed, praying her stomach would be settled in the morning. She hoped she'd avoid the diarrhea portion of the illness. That would be hard to deal with at work. She texted Castle she was going to sleep so he wouldn't call and wake her later and smiled sleepily as he texted back a quick "I love you"
Things were not better the next day or the next. She still couldn't keep much water down and was beginning to feel dizzy when she stood to walk. It was getting harder to go to work and she was sure they were noticing she was really struggling to keep up with everyone. Her conversations with Castle had become a few mere sentences. She knew he was worried about her, but she felt so horrible that she couldn't do much to put him at ease. Thankfully it was now Friday night and she could spend the weekend in bed resting. She'd prepared by bringing several water bottles in to the bedroom and the ever present bucket she used if she couldn't make it to the toilet in time. She'd gotten some crackers and was really hoping she'd keep them down. She'd been sent home early by the team. It made her feel a bit uneasy; they felt like she couldn't pull her weight. However, she was getting weaker each day and the unrelenting nausea and vomiting was really taking its toll on her body. Monday would be much better she vowed. Saturday and Sunday would be all about rest and relaxation.
Saturday had sucked. She'd actually awakened puking. Who does that? Thank god for the bucket. Once the dry heaving ceased for a bit, she'd made the mistake of opening the cracker package. They must have gone bad as the smell made her heave for another 5 minutes. She'd thrown them across the room in disgust and disappointment. She was feeling dizzy just lying in bed. Any movement set her head spinning even more, but when she had to puke she had to move a bit. The bucket wasn't too full as she had very little to bring up. Her lips were feeling chapped and dry and her throat was constantly on fire from the acid she brought up and the lack of moisture. She'd tried sipping some water, but it all came back up and made her feel worse. She tried napping for a while but continued to be woken up to dry heave. She knew it was time for medical help; hell past time. Unfortunately, she'd somehow lost her phone at some point Friday night amidst all the puking. She'd still been able to stand at that time and thought the phone must be in the bathroom. It might as well have been on Mars; there was no way to get to it in her condition. Her one positive thought was that Rick might decide something was wrong and call someone to check on her. She hadn't talked to him in two days as she'd missed his call on Friday.
Saturday was a cakewalk compared to Sunday. Well, she thought it was Sunday. She was now spending most of her time either dry heaving off (and later on) the bed (she'd lost the bucket at some point) or blacked out. Her throat felt like the Sahara Desert, dry and gritty and burning with an indescribable pain, especially when any bile made it past her pylorus and up her esophagus. She was hoping she would die at this point; survival was an animalistic urge that she'd lost hours ago. Her entire being ached and burned and she knew she was spiraling rapidly past a point of no return. She had no idea her phone had been ringing intermittently for hours. She couldn't distinguish sounds anymore. Had no idea it was late morning; she couldn't really see anymore. Her eyes were sunken into her head and opening the lids felt like she was sandpapering them for varnish. She couldn't feel the dampness of the bilious fluid she occasionally brought up between bouts of dry heaving. She couldn't move enough to keep it off of herself, was too far gone to care. If she could have seen it she would have known it was covering most of the bed and was all over the floor. Her skin puckered and was red and irritated where it came in contact with the emesis. Kate Beckett was dying and she couldn't have cared less.