Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Nope.

Prompt from castlefanficprompts: What if Tick, Tick, Tick and Boom! happened after 47 Seconds? Set around The Limey and Headhunters.


He doesn't want to care.

He doesn't want to be concerned.

He doesn't want to love her as much as he does.

But a murderer is fixated on her because of his writing and the switch is getting harder and harder to flip.

She's noticed the distance he's put between them. He knows she's not stupid. He can see how he's hurting her, but he can't make himself stop. He hates how their easy relationship has disintegrated into downcast eyes and nervous conversation. The words 'fun and uncomplicated' are ringing in his ears and the stricken expression on her face is etched into his memory. But he still wants her to feel the way he does. Angry. Betrayed. Lonely.

But now some serial killer is obsessed with Nikki Heat and he feels so damn guilty for putting her in a position that makes her look as panicked as she does.

She's been telling him that it's not his fault, that she doesn't blame him, that she never could, and he just wants to love her so badly.

And now he's terrified, because Ben Conrad is not the killer, so whoever wants her dead is still alive.

He's sprinting towards her apartment, calling her over and over again, until she finally picks up.

"Castle?"

He doesn't know what he says. He screams all he knows into the phone, but it's too late.

The explosion is echoing in his head. He doesn't think he'll ever stop hearing it.

Her apartment is in flames, but he goes in anyway. If she's alive somehow, then he is getting her out.

He breaks down her door and finds the whole place in ruins. He can't tell if the tears pricking in his eyes are from the smoke or the sense of loss that is already overwhelming him.

"Kate?"

He's yelling for her, desperate for a response. Anything. He is walking past her bathroom when he sees it.

A limp hand sticking out of the bathtub, stuck between the rim and the debris that has fallen on top.

He lifts up anything and everything that is keeping him from her until he sees her unconscious- and naked- form at the bottom of the tub. He finds a pulse on her wrist as well as her neck, leans down to listen for her wheezy breath. There's a trickle of blood that snakes its way from her hairline and down her face, and he collapses on his knees beside her in relief. She's not mist in the smoky air, she's tangible and alive and she's gonna be okay.

He wraps her in his jacket and lifts her carefully from the tub before booking it out the door.

He's halfway down the stairs when she starts coughing, her whole body jolting in his arms as she gasps for breath.

He's crushing her to him, burying his face in her smoky, wet hair and whispering to her it's okay it's okay it's okay as he bursts through the doors of her building and into the cold, clear night air.

He sits down on the curb with her in his lap while they wait for an ambulance. She's clutching his shirt, coughing and wheezing and he delights in the sound of her, the feel of her, and he doesn't care that she remembers. He doesn't care about anything but her, and he's stupid for thinking otherwise. He can't turn it off. He just can't.

"Castle," she grits out.

"I'm here."

"I…" she breathes in to speak again, but something catches and she's coughing again, back arching for more air.

"Shhhh. Don't try to talk."

"I have to…" she's cut off by another coughing spell. "I have to tell you…" Her voice is abnormally loud, and he's struck with a whole new kind of worry.

He pulls away from her to look her in the eyes, which are red and irritated. "Can you hear me? Beckett can you-"

"I love you," she yells over his voice. "I love you too."

He sits in the ambulance with her while an EMT checks the wound on her hairline. They've been asking her questions, but she only just got her hearing back, and he's still reeling, and everyone is sufficiently confused.

She's currently holding an oxygen mask to her face, dressed in scrubs, staring at him while the EMT talks about how she should really go to a hospital.

After her confession, he was cut off by the sound of the ambulance, which she could hear over the intense ringing in her ears (thank God). He wanted so badly to respond, but he didn't want to tell her how much he loved her until she could definitely hear it. No misunderstanding this time.

Now she keeps looking at him with apprehension and a little bit of hurt, and he would probably be a little angry if she hadn't just told him everything he wanted to hear.

The EMT says she's free to go, but if anything seems out of the ordinary, she should go to a hospital. Immediately.

Now they're alone in the ambulance, sitting side by side. He takes the hand that isn't holding the oxygen mask to her face and holds it between both of his. He traces the white bandage that wraps around her wrist where it was trapped.

"Did you mean it?" he whispers.

She puts down the mask. "I did. I do. I love you."

His smile burns brighter than any flame. "I love you too."


Author's Note: Hey guys! I googled the medical repercussions of being so close to an explosion and being stuck in a smoke-filled apartment for a decent amount of time, so I hope that these details are correct. But, I am not a doctor, so I don't know. All errors are mine. Constructive criticism is very much appreciated. Thanks for reading!

Also, I posted this on my tumblr last night, which is alwayssoinlove just like on here! I love prompts and questions if you want to head over to my ask box.