So much more to lose
This story takes place during Hunt, hours after the scene where Beckett kicked down the door to get into the ransacked apartment (after Castle takes off for Paris), but before the photos of Alexis were recovered from the hard drive.
It becomes AU from there.
This is rated M because of a graphic description.
Warning- involves a sensitive and possibly triggering subject (miscarriage).
She's so tired that it pulls at her, weighs her down, and suddenly standing in front of the whiteboard has become too much. Kate prides herself on her work ethic, being the last one standing, that she fights with all she has for the victims, for their families. Unfortunately, this time she's fighting for her own family.
Alexis' picture stares at her from its position on the board, mocking Kate's inability to move forward. And while technically her murder case is Hasim Farouk, no-one is standing in her way as she simultaneously works the girl's kidnapping–their waking nightmare.
Hell, even Gates had stressed that this was their top priority. "Do whatever you need to do to get him back his little girl," in an 'all hands on deck' kind of way. Only it's not all hands on deck. Her partner's gone AWOL; he's lied to her, to his mother, and disappeared into thin air. Over twenty-four hours have gone by since Castle went rogue–off searching Paris for his only child.
She understands, or at least as much as she can, given the fact that it's his daughter, not theirs, who was abducted. She knows firsthand the lengths that he would go to; the moral lines he's prepared to cross, for the people he loves. Yet a selfish part of her can't help but wish that he was here by her side, or even better, that he had thought to include her on his escapade to France.
Instead, she stands, staring ineptly at a panel that contains very few clues, with no new information to investigate. She can feel her fellow detectives moving around her in the bullpen, yet her experience is somehow detached. An invisible barrier surrounds her, keeps her apart from them, as she's locked in her own private hell.
Her eyelids shut momentarily against her will, and she fights to re-open them, to take up her vigil again. She needs to push past the exhaustion. Castle is depending on her, hell, Alexis is depending on her, but with every passing second, Kate appears to be losing her own battle, and her eyes close once more.
"Beckett, you need to go home." Esposito's voice slowly makes its way through the fog that surrounds her. He sounds so distant and she wonders if she's starting to lose her sanity. If, after years of being able to compartmentalize and remain strong in front of others, this is the moment where she shatters completely.
"Gates has called a meeting in five." Her words are hollow and her eyes remain shut. A weight seems to have settled in her lower abdomen and her thoughts stray toward the calendar and monthly cycles. But before she's had a chance to start calculating dates, Esposito interrupts her deliberations.
"Do we have anything new?"
His question, while asked innocently enough, rips through her already fragile state and she can sense the bile rising at the back of her throat. She makes a break for it, weaves through the officers as she attempts to reach the restroom in time. Catapults her body into the nearest cubicle, one hand moving behind her head, sweeping the long chestnut strands into a tight fist, while the other braces against the porcelain bowl.
Heave after heave ruptures her thin frame, breaking apart her composure. Her stomach muscles contract repeatedly in an attempt to rid her body of what little it has digested. At the back of her mind she realizes why hardly anything is being expelled; coffee and a just a few bites of cold Chinese is all she'd consumed today. Even before that, there has been little nutritional value to her diet; she has been so absorbed in making progress, in getting the job done, that she hadn't worried about what she was or wasn't eating.
Wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, she breathes slowly through her nose, trying to control every movement as she attempts to halt the vomiting. The wave slides persistently up her esophagus and it leaves her clamping her mouth shut, teeth grinding, as if mind over matter will be enough to stop the process. It's not, and the violent expulsion occurs again, and her head tips forward, acid burning the lining of her throat.
Time seems to pass slowly, but eventually the internal upsurge retreats enough so that she's able to stand. Kate pauses, squeezing her eyes closed as the walls tilt and appear to collide with the floor; white light flashes like lightning strikes, affecting her vision. Letting go of her hair, both hands are forced to grab the toilet wall, her body no longer maintaining its equilibrium, and it takes all she has to not let the sensation overwhelm her. She has to hold on to avoid slumping against the tiled surface under foot.
Forcing her eyes open, Kate pushes herself back, compels her body to stand up straight, places one tentative foot in front of the other, as she slowly makes her way over to the sink. Turning on the faucet, she vaguely takes note of the tremor which shakes her fingers; a constant spasm that affects her ability to make a cup out of her hands. Struggling again, she presses her palms together, before creating a small gap, allows the cold water to enter and fill the space as she lowers her head to drink.
The liquid soothes the fire left from her earlier retching, but as she stands tall again, the loss of balance reoccurs, its intensity increasing, and Kate's forced again to grasp the nearest object to avoid a collision with the ground.
She's experienced enough panic attacks to recognize that she's on the verge of a nasty downhill spiral, that she needs to get ahold of her thoughts and emotions, before her body drags her mind down with it.
She needs to breathe.
A loud blow against the bathroom's outer door leaves her knuckles white, as she squeezes the basin with a fierce determination. She will not wind up in a heap on the floor. Swallowing drily, Kate inhales through her nose before attempting to clear her throat. Her first go is ineffective, so she tries again, creates enough of a channel so she can growl, "What!"
The pause that follows provides enough time for her to wrench herself back together. She drives her unwanted feelings into the internal partitioned boxes that they normally live in; her trembling fingers run through her hair, shoves it away from her face as she calls out again, more gently this time.
Ryan's voice is low, timid as he finally responds to her question. "Gates is wanting an update."
It all crashes over her again; Alexis. Castle. The kidnapping. Paris. Her body's desire to shutdown became all that she was focused on, and for five hellish minutes, she had forgotten why she was here in the first place.
Moving slowly toward the bathroom's exit, Kate shoves her hands into her pockets in the hope that she can conceal their tremble from her team members and the Captain. The last thing she needs at the moment is to be sent home, banished from the precinct, to become even more inadequate than she currently is.
Walking through the door, she avoids Ryan's questioning gaze. His concern for her wellbeing covers his features, and she wishes that he would stop looking at her like that. As if she's about to break; as if she's already broken. Strolling with a purpose she doesn't feel, Kate stands to one side of the whiteboard as the ten or so members of their squad turn to face her. Sorrow encompasses the group, sadness over what has occurred, a sense of pity for the detective who has been left behind to scramble for clues which are heart wrenchingly absent.
As Gates' begins, rehashing all that has happened in the last few days–God, has it really only been that long–Kate's mind begins to drift, slipping back to the last time the three of them had been together, their uncomfortable little pseudo family.
Sitting curled, held lovingly in his lap, Kate trails a single fingertip along the edge of his ear, curves it enough so that the hard flat nail digs into his skin, and a shudder breaks across his body. Castle's sudden movement causes his office chair to squeak loudly and her giggle escapes over the noise.
A distant thump can be heard outside their happy bubble, located somewhere from the living room, and Alexis's voice breaks through their moment.
"Dad, have you seen the old photo albums?"
Tensing at the intrusion, Kate pushes her hands against his broad shoulders, and she manages to lift herself modestly off his lap, before his broad hands span her waist, pulling her back down, as he yells his reply.
"We're in the office."
Castle continues to make the task of removing herself before Alexis enters even more difficult, as he lowers his voice to whisper in her ear, "Stay. We're not doing anything indecent."
She knows in part that he's right; they are both fully clothed and cuddling in front of the desk–while he took a short break from writing–is hardly the stuff of X-rated fantasies. Yet, she can only imagine, doesn't want to imagine, what it would be like to come across her own father in this position, so she's hardly going to–especially given her tentative relationship with his daughter–put Alexis in that situation.
Leaning in, Kate brushes a light kiss across his lips and skillfully slips out of his embrace, standing as the young redhead enters through the doorway.
"Oh. Hi, Detective Beckett." Alexis seems to come up short as she realizes that her father's not alone, and Kate manages to resist an eye roll at the use of her formal title.
"Kate is fine, Alexis." She thinks she does quite well at keeping the exasperated tone to a minimum, this after all, is not the first time they've had this conversation. She has to hope at some point, it will one day be the last.
"Sorry, Kate." Alexis tone remains neutral, as if reading from a takeout menu, not giving anything away, as Kate discreetly kicks Castle's shins under the desk. A bit of intervention at this point would be appreciated!
"Did you say something about photos?" At long last, his voice interrupts the awkward tension that circulates around the room, and both woman can almost be heard releasing a pent up breath.
"Yeah, Dad. I need some of my baby pictures for a class thing."
Nodding, Castle raises himself out of the chair and moves toward the bookcases beneath the windows. Squatting down, he begins pulling out several large, faded albums, carefully placing them on the floor, as both girls walk to stand behind him.
As he glides a hand over the top folder, he pauses as if in contemplation, before flicking open its cover. Almost instantaneously, he slams it shut, obscuring the photos within.
Pushing that one behind him, his abrupt actions catch Kate's interest, and she slides down beside him while reaching back, and as her hands grasp the concealed album, he stops her, shaking his head.
"Ah, no. You don't need to see that." His hands push hers away from the secrets inside almost forcefully, causing her curiosity to rise. Speculation over what could possibly be hidden runs rampant, and she gives his side a sharp poke.
"They're pictures, Castle. I don't think the earth will stop turning if you let me have a look." Kate's statement is spoken with an air of confidence, yet underneath a thread of uncertainty coils around her soul.
What is he trying to hide?
He appears to ignore her, as he continues to sort through the other albums, coming across the ones Alexis needs, he hands them to his daughter, before turning back to face Kate.
His eyes search hers, and she remains steady on the outside, meets his stare, and holds it, in spite of the trembling inside her heart. The moment stretches on, before Castle seems to come to some sort of conclusion, nods slightly as he pushes over the debated album, until it bumps into her thigh.
Turning over the cover, she examines the first set of pictures; she takes in a baby lying on a mat, the faded nature of the old-fashioned photo, the dated décor of the room and it hits her. This baby is Rick.
Her eyes snap to take in his face, but his are fixated on Alexis, who appears oblivious to what has transpired between the two adults in the room. The redhead lazily skims through her own images, searching for what she needs for her assignment, and Castle continues to avoid her scrutiny.
Leaning over the sacred memories, she gently places a hand against his bicep, squeezes the hard muscle underneath her hand, and waits for him to look to at her.
Time appears to extend between them, yet finally he elevates his eyes, makes contact with hers. Embarrassment seems to cloud his normally cheerful features, and she does her best to express her love, her appreciation about being let in to a side of him that she rarely sees, with a mere look. Lifts her hand to stroke the worry lines that have formed on his face, aims to erase them with the touch of her fingers.
"You were a beautiful baby." She so desperately wants to lean forward, reinforce her words with actions, but knows now is not the time, not when they have company.
"Ohh, are those Dad's baby pictures?" Alexis manages to catch her declaration, and shifts so that she is now facing the pair of them, the album centered within their triangle.
Letting go of Castle, Kate moves the photos so that they are facing her and his daughter, leaving him with an upside down view. Slides her empty fingers back over to his, so that they can interlock, her skin pulling tight as she weaves them between his large ones, and she enjoys the solid feeling that is him.
"Oh, look at your little bubble butt, Dad." Alexis' mirth over her father's naked image is contagious and they all share a chuckle, as they look at the poor boy, not even a year old, with his bare bottom displayed for the world to see as he clings onto the edge of a ratty sofa. Rick's impish smile is situated across his adorable features, even back then.
Kate lets go of his hand discreetly and drops it down into the space between them. She moves her fingers, giving his ample rear a gentle pinch. His eyes widen in surprise and latch onto hers, amusement radiates through his body as he closes the distance to bump his lips briefly against her forehead, reading the silent statement on her features. She appreciates his curved ass as well, although for much more mature reasons.
Alexis giggles loudly as she continues inspecting her father's early days, remarking with glee, "Thank goodness genetics were kind and you didn't pass that feature on to me!"
As Kate hears the words, her thoughts begin to drift dangerously; her mind morphing her appearance with Castle's until a new persona is created. A little child with her determined eyes, and his mischievous smile, and her heart skips a beat as she pushes the idea back into the box with all her other daydreams. Engagements. Weddings. Always.
She's thankfully saved from the images, as her phone begins to ring, signifying a body drop.
"Detective Beckett!" Gates' words are loud and sharp, indicating that this is probably not the first time she has called Kate's name. The Captain's voice pulls her away from happier times, back to now.
"Ahhhh?" Kate's uncertainty over what she's being asked bleeds through her incoherent question, leaving everyone in the room mystified by her hesitation.
Her eyes dart around the bullpen, as she tries to focus on something, anything, but as she continues to jerk from one face to the next, she begins to realize that not all is right. A line of sweat breaks out along her hairline, and she sluggishly hauls one hand up to wipe the moisture away. A cold clammy vice threads its way around her body, resulting in a tightness across her chest and a heaviness within her limbs, and Kate is forced to lower her hand which has become too weighted to hold aloft.
As a sharp, knife like pain replaces the dull ache that has been residing in her abdomen, Kate pushes all ten fingers into her body, kneads her stomach as the severe pain surges in time with her increasing heartbeat. Stumbling forward as her frame attempts to fold in on itself, Kate notices for the first time, a stain spreading along the inside of her grey pants. Hears her name being shouted, but the thumping in her ears makes the sound seem so very far away, and she comes to the conclusion that something has gone very wrong, just moments before she hits the floor. Her blood pools in front of the murder board, and as her body gives in, her mind blacks out.
A.N. This is turning out to be about 8/9 chapters long and will slowly work towards a happy ending.
Thank you for Kimmiesjoy for sharing your thoughts
Thank you to honeyandvodka and your ability to take my disjointed ramblings and make the into the story before you xoxo
Your comments are valued!