Disclaimer: I own nothing but my tears.

Prompt from castlefanficprompts: 8x02 happens pre-casket. Sort of. This is kind of vague and doesn't follow a specific timeline. Always never happened. (I wrote this really late at night oops)

She always knew she would be standing outside his door the moment it ended.

She always knew he wouldn't be waiting for her.

She always knew that out of all the scars, all the sadness, all the loneliness, that the day she regained her freedom would be the hardest part.

She regrets it. More than anything. She hates this thing that she became the moment she walked out on him, on them, on whatever their future would have held had she stayed. She hates that she had to know what this was. She hates that she had to fix it. She hates that no one else would. She hates that she has no home to return to and it's her own fault.

It seems to take all her courage to even contemplate knocking. This used to be a place where she felt welcome, where she felt safe. Whenever she had a bad dream, or got injured, or stopped believing that people could be good, all she wanted to do was come here. Whenever her demons chased her, they always seemed to nudge her towards his door. Why didn't she come here when she could?

She's made a lot of mistakes. This one, loving him and leaving him, this is the one she desperately wants to fix.

She finally knocks tentatively on the door, her bruised knuckles complaining. She's scared out of her mind the moment she hears footsteps, but she keeps her tired feet planted firmly to the floor. She owes him this. She knows she does, knows she deserves whatever ugly words he throws at her.

Nothing could have prepared her for the look on his face when he opened the door.

Surprise. Sorrow. Fear. She was prepared for anger. Her life has been nothing but anger throughout the course of this nightmare. She doesn't know how to handle anything else.

His arms want to reach for her and pull her to him. They want to wrap her in blankets and bandages and never let her leave. They want to slam the door in her face.

He knows what he wants. He wants her. But he doesn't know if she is even here anymore. The woman who stood in his loft and told him she was leaving, that she loved him, and that she was sorry is not the same woman he sees now. There's a bloody gash that disappears into her hairline. She leans to one side, and he can't be sure about what kind of injury lies under her clothes. She looks more ragged than ever, but he just knows it's Kate Beckett by the look in her eyes. Dark, green irises that scream I'm scared and whisper I love you.

"It's over," she rasps. Her eyes are locked on his in a guilty stare. "You were the first person I wanted to tell."

He has no idea how to respond. He has longed for this day as much as he has dreaded it.

"I'm sorry," she says.

"Why?" he finds himself asking. Why did you leave? Why did you come back?

Her eyes take on a stricken glaze as she says, "Anything's worth it as long as you're safe," like a mantra.

The stricken glaze turns to shiny tears that make slow trails down her cheeks, even as she stands as still and stoic as ever.

He wants to help her. He wants to hurt her.

He wants to declare his love and leave her like she left him. He wants to wipe her tears away with the pad of his thumb, and thank God that the knock on the door was not someone coming to inform him of her death.

He steps forward, gently wrapping his arms around her brittle frame and burying his face in her hair because, damn it, he's missed her.

"I never meant to hurt you," she whispers. "That was never what I wanted."

"I know."

Nothing is fixed. He hasn't forgiven her. But she came home. She loves him just as he loves her. It can be fixed. She wants to fix it.

They can fix it together. That's enough for now.

Author's Note: Hey guys! I have not written in forever. I am sorry. Real life is hard. But now I am back to a normal schedule, which means much more time for writing! I will be continuing NBFK, but it will be slower because I hated everything I wrote after Chapter 2 so I am in the process of redoing it completely. Oops. Happy to take prompts to distract from having to figure that out!

Quick background of this story: This is meant to be pre-Caskett, but it might not seem that way? I'm very rusty. I do not necessarily think this would ever be canon, it's just a random thought that came to my head after watching that heartbreaking episode (which I loved!). I love reviews and constructive criticism! AND PROMPTS PLEASE SEND ME PROMPTS I LOVE THEM! Thanks to those of you who have stuck with me during all this time. I appreciate every single one of you.

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