Spell a Loss
Teach our bodies; haunt the cause
I was only trying to spell a loss.
Bon Iver, "Calgary"
The green-hued horizon of grass just beyond the crowd of black-clad attendees seemed to cut across the grey-blue sky above like a fissure. Were it not for the bill of her dress uniform's hat, the reflecting sun against the perfectly-manicured earth might have been too bright for the detective. Her eyes scanned the crowd, took in the tear-stained cheeks and battle-hardened faces of the members of this unfortunate club. The club of people who had lost someone they loved and respected; a club Kate had long since been a member of, but never wanted to initiate others into. She knew what it did to someone, what it would do to Montgomery's children, his wife. She knew the corruption that rooted inside someone whenever they were forced into membership.
"...and in the end the best you can hope for is to find a place to make your stand." She dropped her eyes to the cue-cards she'd prepared, taking the opportunity to strengthen her resolve to finish. Her eyes glanced over the following words, and she felt her heart tighten in her chest. "And if you're very lucky," she continued, her attention momentarily lost to the memory of a parking lot outside a helicopter bunker, against the side of a car, tightly locked in the arms of an unlikely savior. "You find someone willing to stand with you."
Her gaze settled briefly on the eyes of the man standing next to her, his blue irises in sharp relief against the expansive grey around him, like twin lighthouses in the tumultuous sea-sky. What a shitty day for a funeral.
"Our captain would want us to carry on the fight," Kate continued, her attention finally returning to the crowd before her as she concluded her eulogy. "And even if there is one -"
The weight of him lands heavily atop her, knocking the breath from her lungs and making the edges of her vision blur. When her vision corrects itself, and she shoves uselessly at the man prone across her body, she feels her anger broil to the surface.
"What the fuck are you doing? Get off me!" she demands, shoving at his shoulders. He felt heavier the longer he lay atop her, and she wrestled from beneath him. When her torso was finally free, she angled on him and shoved him violently. "Are you insane?!"
When he didn't respond, her anger immediately dissipated. He barely huffed a breath when she pushed him onto his back. The sticky patch on his black collared-shirt visibly bloomed before her as the clouds above reflected off its shiny surface. She touched a gloved hand to the spot, and the white cotton came away crimson.
She might have swore then, for the second time in as many minutes, but she doesn't really recall. All she remembered was crowding over him, trying to draw his dwindling attention to hers, calling his name and stroking the side of his face. She heard the maelstrom of panic swell behind her, but it died out as she sharpened her focus to the man beneath her.
"Stay with me, Rick," she murmured, trying desperately to sound calm, noting the fear and panic widening his gaze. "Stay with me."
"It's okay, Rick, you're okay." She could hear the heavy footfalls on the soft soil behind her. Help was on its way, one way or another. He just needed to stay focused on her for just a second longer.
A tear slipped down his temple into his hairline, and Kate wasn't sure if it was hers or his. She tried for a hopeful smile. "You're going to be okay."
"I love you, Kate."
Her breath stalled in her lungs, and her fingers tightened in the unruly tendrils at the back of his head. Don't you dare.
"Don't. You're okay."
"Kate," he huffed out, his own breath stuttering in his chest beneath her. "I love you."
His eyes finally slipped closed, and she felt a sob wrench its way out of her throat leaving it sore and raw. She felt the formidable grasp of Esposito pull her backwards, fought against the strength of him, before collapsing shakily into his arms.
She leaned heavily against the wall of the hospital hallway, Kevin and Javier flanking her on either side, steely and strong as they waited for Martha and Alexis to return with news from the doctor. The doctor hadn't given her the choice to accompany them, but Kate hadn't tried to insist.
Whether it was from the lingering effects of the shock that had overcome her on the ride over to the hospital, or a complete lack of anything to say, Kate hadn't spoken a word since the cemetery. Ryan and Esposito had both offered to get her a coffee, or a bag of chips, but her head remained steadfastly angled to the ground without even a shake of her head in acknowledgement. She couldn't split her focus long enough to give them a response, when her thoughts were entirely stuck in those final moments on the cemetery lawn.
Only when she heard the doors of the hospital room open, and felt the air whoosh past her as Alexis Castle very nearly ran down the hall did Kate raise her head. Martha moved slowly through the doorway out to the awaiting group, which now to Kate's surprise included Lanie and her own father, Jim.
"They've taken him into surgery, they're trying to remove the bullet, but from the angle that it entered, they're worried it might have..." Martha took a fortifying breath before continuing. "They're worried it might have pierced his lung and that it might be rapidly filling with fluid." Once she finally finished, she practically collapsed onto the hallway bench, Ryan and Esposito quick to catch her and help her safely onto the seat.
Kate stared at the red-headed woman, uncomprehending her words. They're worried it might have pierced his lung… filling with fluid.
Shit. That sounded serious.
How did they get here? How did he get here? He was a world-famous novelist, and she was just some cop. A cop who was marked for death. A cop whose unorthodox, civilian partner was lying on a hospital gurney somewhere in this behemoth of a hospital with blood filling his lungs.
From a bullet meant for her.
This arrangement of events sounded like a farcical play, and not the savage reality she was spiraling in. She continued to stare at Martha Rodgers, half-expecting her to dramatically lift her eyes, turn her tear-soaked cheeks to the fluorescent lighting constantly humming above and whisper, "Scene."
Kate doubted actors ever really said that to end an audition or scene-study, but how would she know? She'd have to ask Martha sometime.
When her son wasn't dying because he tried to save Kate.
Her head fell back to its harsh angle and the muscles of her back protested sharply, but Kate did nothing to give them relief. If anything, she held her neck more rigidly, forcing the muscles to work harder, cry louder. She felt a hand slide to her shoulder. Too small to be one of the boys, or her father. The gentle squeeze at her shoulder was a welcomed massage to her quickly fatiguing muscles.
"Kate," Lanie murmured. "How are you holding up?"
"I'm fine," she stated mechanically. Even Kate, who was an expert at lying to herself, heard the disingenuous words for what they were.
Lanie stabbed a sharp finger into her ribs. "Fuck, Lanie!"
"You were shot at; you are not fine."
"Compared to Castle, at the moment, I'm right as rain," she spat back bitterly. "He shouldn't have been there."
"Roy was his friend, too, Kate. I know you're angry with yourself and –"
"What I'm angry about," she asserted pointedly, interrupting the medical examiner, and finally turning her eyes to glare coldly at the woman, "is the fact that a civilian was shot at a police captain's funeral. A civilian who's been playing cop, and who thought it was his responsibility to take a bullet for me." By the end her tone had hardened, strengthened by the ire and adrenaline coursing steadily through her veins.
"He's your partner."
"No, Lanie," she sighed sadly, dropping her head once again. "He's not. He's just a writer."
"Kate!" Lanie gasped, horrified. "Girl, imma –"
"He told me he loved me."
"What?" The air in Lanie's lungs was all gone, expelled in one violent whoosh against Kate's cheek.
"He doesn't really, obviously," Kate assured her friend resignedly. "Deathbed confessions don't exactly hold up in court for a reason. Besides, if he really loved me," she continued, the words muttered seemingly to herself, "he wouldn't have put himself in danger like that. You don't die in front of someone you love."
"Kate, you can't possibly –"
The two women on the hallway bench turned at the panicked voice down the hall, the detective rising to stare dumbly at the approaching figure.
"Oh my God, Kate," he moaned, as he wrapped his arms around her. Kate stood still in his embrace, for a moment, before her hands rose to grip his scrubs tightly. "I just heard what happened as I came on shift. Babe, are you okay?"
"I'm fine." This time it sounded less like a lie, but no less dejected at the fact.
"Jesus, love, how did this happen at a funeral? Who was it?"
She didn't say anything. She didn't know how to explain it. Josh's rapid-fire questions were muddling the already unstable foundation of her sanity, and any answer she provided would rock it off its weak kilter. Because the truth of it was insane: A civilian was shot because of her. Castle was shot because of her.
"It was Castle," she heard Lanie whisper behind her. She felt Josh's arms tighten just that little bit more.
"I'm sorry, babe. I know he was your friend."
"He's not dead!" she shouted as she violently shoved at him, freeing herself.
"I didn't mean to imply –"
"Where are we on the shooter?" she snapped, as she pushed past her boyfriend, moving with determined strides to stand by Ryan and Esposito, who had now left Martha in the careful care of Kate's father. Her father held the woman against his side, and his eyes stared rigidly forward; a stalwart sentry when it was needed.
"We're working on it." Esposito's voice cut through her thoughts. "No one at the funeral saw anything," he stated flatly. He sounded bitter, like he was disappointed that at an event swarming with cops, no one saw anything. He never saw anything.
"Attendees thought they saw someone fleeing the scene, groundskeeper maybe," Ryan offered, trying to dispel the tension from his partner. "Unis sweeping the scene recovered the weapon, but there weren't any prints."
"No prints?" Kate asked dumbly. The adrenaline from her confrontational conversation with both Lanie and Josh had deserted her.
"He did leave it behind, after all," Ryan said, reaching to grip her shoulder and give it a comforting squeeze. "We didn't really expect him to make that kind of rookie mistake."
"Yeah, well, our guards were done. Talk about a fucking rookie mistake," Esposito muttered.
"Why don't you go home, Beckett?" Ryan said kindly. "We'll hold the fort tonight. Update you as soon as we know more."
"Not happening, Kev," she replied sharply. "In fact, I need you both to take Martha and Alexis – where did she run to?"
"She's down the hall; I can see Lanie with her now," Espo responded, pointing in the direction where the doctor was hugging the teen to her, stroking her hair comfortingly as Alexis's shoulder shook with violent sobs. Kate returned her attention to the boys; the sight proving to be a kill-shot of its own to her resolve.
"Take Martha and Alexis home," she continued. "Stay with them tonight, and I'll call you when I hear something."
"Kate." They spoke simultaneously, but Kate couldn't hear their beseeching tone over the now thunderous pulse in her ears.
"Don't make it an order," she fired back, her left hand going to her ear to try and stave off the pounding. This headache was coming on strong and fast, and she needed to sit down in quiet. The two men didn't attempt to speak again, simply turning away to take care of Castle's family.
She returned to her bench, falling a bit unsteadily to the seat, but Josh's hand shot out and caught her elbow to cushion the descent. He sat beside her once she was settled.
"I spoke with the attending, and they got someone to cover my shift under the circumstances," he said after a long while.
"What circumstances are those?"
"The ones where my girlfriend was involved in a shooting at funeral," he answered, gaping a little incredulously.
"I told you, I'm fine," she gritted out.
"It's done," he stated firmly. "We'll wait here to hear back from Michaels about the outcome."
He was strong against her, the press of his body along her own gave her a modicum of comfort, but it was enough. She watched as Espo and Ryan finally convinced Alexis and Martha to go home with them, Jim trailing after them with a backwards glance at his daughter. She gave him a reassuring, albeit shaky, smile and a tiny wave and he returned it somberly. There was understanding in his eyes, and a level of sadness for her that Kate was momentarily winded by.
Alexis glanced back, as well, but her gaze was cold and unwaveringly bitter. Kate dropped her head again immediately. She knew she had fucked up to an unforgivable degree.
It would be even more unforgivable if Alexis joined her club today.
Castle would make a full recovery.
Though the statement was of little comfort to Kate; he was still unconscious.
In a medically-induced coma, for healing, apparently.
She had called Espo right away, telling him to pass the news on to Castle's mother and daughter. He had proclaimed her dead to him if he came back with Castle's family to find her still there. If she wasn't at home, getting necessary levels of rest, he would delete her contact from his phone and ask for a transfer.
Espo was more dramatic than Martha Rodgers at times, but the message was received nevertheless. She didn't even get to finish asking Josh before he was standing up, and offering her his hand.
When they arrived at her apartment half-an-hour later, she was nearly dead on her feet. She had been up since 5:30 the morning of the funeral, and it was almost 9 AM the following day. She dragged her feet through her apartment, and collapsed atop her bed fully-clothed.
Josh followed in behind her, and with a gentle nudge convinced her to roll on to her back. He untied her dress-shoes, and pulled them from her tired feet. He reached for the buttons on her top, and began undoing them slowly until her shirt gaped open at the front. Kate didn't seem to comprehend the man in front of her. All she could see was the grey sky of the morning before, and a man whispering that he loved her.
When she glanced down to see hands undoing the button of her uniform pants, she noted sadly that the dimensions of these hands were nothing like the ones she wanted. The thick, long digits from her imagination gave way to slender, precise fingers. Perfect for a surgeon, but not the ones she wanted undoing her pants.
But Kate liked things uncomplicated, sometimes. So she didn't protest when Josh's hands continued to disrobe her until she lay in only her bra. Her underwear was folded along with her dress uniform and placed carefully on the chair in front of her vanity. His hands slowly roamed the contours of her legs and torso, rubbing soothingly away the tension held in the muscles there.
Kate closed her eyes.
I love you, Kate.
She took in a deep breath, and held it while the memory of his voice flickered on repeat in her mind. She expelled the air from her lungs slowly, as the roaming hands slowly inspired an unfurling heat to quicken her pulse. She felt an ache, a wanting between her legs, and the not-thick-enough fingers slid up to caress the width of her hips. A ghost of what she really wanted.
I love you, Kate. The words continued to play in her mind, blissfully free of visual reminders of where those words were said.
"Open your eyes, love," Josh murmured above her. Kate shook her head loose of the memories. What the fuck was she doing? She opened her eyes, bringing herself back to reality, away from the voice echoing in her head. Josh gazed down at her with so much adoration, his eyes dilated with lust. "I'm so glad you're okay."
I'm not, she thought. Her being okay meant Castle wasn't. What a ridiculously horrifying equation. But she quickly dispelled those thoughts before she could voice them. She knew what Josh was getting at, what he needed from her in this moment. He needed to be reassured that she was really okay, that she was really fine. Her body, warm and pliant beneath his was serving this purpose, and acrimony at her current circumstances was too cruel to unload on him.
Let him have this. Maybe he could reassure her, too.
She felt him at her entrance, hard and ready. She gave a slight nod, and felt him push beyond the barrier or her body, felt him slide into her with ease. They had always been good at this, but it provided no reassurance or comfort this time. But she would still let him have this. She wasn't always as selfish as Castle sometimes made her feel.
Her muscles clenched at the thought of him, and it was with no small level of disgust. She was once again thinking of another while she was with someone else, her boyfriend. She was disgusted with herself.
I love you, Kate.
Leave me alone, her thoughts cried out. I can't do this with you in my head.
But the memory was persistent, and after a long moment of resistance, she finally gave in to the unbidden memory. I love you, Kate.
Her pulse began to hum loudly, and she closed her eyes around a gasp. She kept them tightly shut, and allowed herself to imagine it was him with her then; as though his words were washing over her in this moment, rather than over a day ago on green grass turned red. She imagined his thickness filling her, and she clenched around it. Her pulse was a sonic-boom in her ears now, as she neared the precipice. She imagined it was his grunts of exertion in her ear, his hands gripping her hips as he thrust sharply inside of her.
I love you, Kate.
She came hard around the pulsing hardness inside her, and her horrified tears spilled over the side of her eyes, down her temple and into her hair. She was a horrible person.
She couldn't even just give Josh this, without selfishly turning it into something she wanted.
This is my first fanfiction for this fandom, but by no means my first fanfiction. It's been a long time since I've felt truly inspired – and to be fair, this fandom has some amazing writers that I would much rather read their work than write my own. But I also feel like I now have something to contribute. I hope you see it the same way.
So if you'd like to see more of this, I'm game. Otherwise, it can stand here on its own as an AU Character-Study for Beckett.
I hope you enjoyed this and while I'm sure the Josh bits aren't exactly a fan-favourite, I hope you saw them as necessary for understanding where Beckett's mindset is (and will be, should we move forward with this). I assure you, should this continue, Josh will play a minimal role (if at all). This fandom for me has been, and always will be, about Caskett.