"NYPD, open up!"
Kate Beckett broke down the door with an impressive kick of her 4-inch stiletto. Ryan and Esposito rushed into the apartment behind her, but Castle lingered. He touched his lips lightly to hers, and then followed her into the kitchen.
"Clear!," Ryan called from the living room. Beckett slowly walked into the bedroom, gun pointed in front of her. She looked at castle and nodded her head towards the closed closet door. She raised a finger to her lips, then kicked it open. Except for a Febreeze wall air freshener, it was empty. With a smile, she closed the closet door.
Castle could hear Ryan and Esposito marveling at the suspect's large video game collection. Knowing he had a few minutes, he walked up to Beckett and grinned at her mischievously. Her eyes showed lust, passion. Even thought it was in violation of their rule, he knew she wanted to kiss him. And boy, did want to kiss her. As he leaned in, she whispered his name. He snaked his arms around her waist and pulled her closer. She whispered again, barely audible.
"Castle – I can't breathe."
When Ryan and Esposito came in a minute later, Beckett was collapsed against Castle as he frantically tried to reach his phone.
"Call 911!," he yelled at Ryan, his eyes wild with panic. "She isn't breathing!"
Castle's heart was pounding and he was frozen with fear. Ryan yelled into the phone and Esposito lead Castle out of the room, carrying Beckett fireman-style since Castle could barely move. The three of them exited the apartment to the sound of sirens; Ryan ran to the elevator and Esposito pulled Castle after him. The ride down was a blur. He just couldn't bare the thought of losing her…
"How did they get here so fast?," Castle asked about the ambulance and police cars gathering in front of the building. " I thought the average response time was 4 minutes!"
"Not when the patient in question is one of our own," Esposito said seriously as Beckett was loaded into the ambulance. "Want to sit with her?"
Castle nodded furiously and jumped into the back of the ambulance. It took off, siren wailing.
When Kate Beckett woke up, she was completely disorientated. She looked around the hospital room with a bewildered look on her face. Castle sat beside her bed, holding her hand. He gave a sigh of relief when she opened her eyes.
"Castle? Where am I?"
"Hospital," He said, a frightened expression on his face. "I – I thought I lost you." He leaned over and kissed her forehead.
"What happened?," Kate asked.
"Well, the results aren't back from the lab yet, but it seems some sort of chemical got in your body from the perp's closet. They could have been using toxic chemicals, or it could have been a trap, maybe from the Febreeze dispenser. But what matters is that you are ok."
"Castle, you look…. Like crap," Kate said gently. He laughed lightly.
"I haven't left your side since they wheeled you in 8 hours ago," he said affectionately.
Kate tried to laugh, but all that came out was a hoarse cough. Castle rushed to hand her a cup of water from the bedside table. She took a sip.
"Really," Castle said proudly. Then he frowned. "I really gotta use the bathroom."
Kate attempted a laugh again. "Go."
When Castle got back, Kate had fallen back asleep, which was understandable. He was so glad she was ok. When they had been in the ambulance, all he could think of was all the things he hadn't told her, all the words he would have nothing to do with if she were gone. He put his hand on hers and watched her chest rise and fall as she slept.
3 hours later, Kate woke up and saw Castle sitting by the bed. He was consumed in his phone, trying to press the buttons with just his right hand, as his left hand was resting on hers. She smiled sleepily.
"Hey there," she said hoarsely. He looked up and smiled.
They looked for each other for a few seconds, holding the other's gaze. Neither wanted to let go, but Castle eventually broke. He got up and sat next to her on the hospital bed.
"Kate, I want you to know something. And I know this may not be the perfect time, but when we were in the ambulance, all I could think off was the things I hadn't said to you that I wanted to. If I had lost you, and I hadn't told you…"
"Told me what?," Beckett asked curiously, peering into Castle's eyes.
"That I love you."
The admission hung between them in the air. Castle studied Kate's face, wondering if he had made a wrong move. A smile formed on her lips and she opened her mouth slightly, but Castle beat her to it.
"And I know it's only been 2 months, and we aren't serious in any way... I mean, we haven't even slept together. But I-"
Kate cut him off, pressing her lips onto his. She kissed him, and he kissed back, tangling his fingers in her hair. She moaned slightly, and the machine by the bed beeped louder and faster, indicating her increased heart rate. They pulled apart and Castle leaned his forehead against Beckett's.
"I love you too," she whispered. He grinned, and was about to kiss her again when a knock came at the door. He got up grudgingly and opened it to see Ryan, Esposito, and Montgomery standing in the hospital hallway.
"Come on in, guys."
The three men walked into Beckett's room carefully, stepping lightly. It was obvious they had never encountered a situation like this. Castle returned to the chair beside Kate's bed. Beckett ran her hand through her hair and laughed.
"It's ok, you guys, you can come in."
Ryan, Esposito, and Montgomery gathered around the bed.
"How you doing, kid?," Montgomery asked.
"I'm okay now," Kate smiled. "Thanks to Castle."
Esposito grinned. "And me. Castle was too wobbly to carry you down to the ambulance. And Lanie sends her regrets that she can't come, she had to work a crime scene. But she's glad you're okay."
Kate thanked him and looked at Ryan, who was laughing at Esposito's comment.
"Just glad you're okay, Beckett."
She smiled and took Castle's hand. "Me too."
Ryan sensed that Castle and Beckett maybe wanted some alone time. He tugged on Esposito's sleeve. Esposito picked up on his partner's signal. He cleared his throat.
"We'll clear out and give you some time to rest, Becks," he said, making eye connection with Montgomery. Montgomery nodded and he, Ryan, and Esposito walked towards the door.
"Thanks," Kate said. "I'll see you guys tomorrow?"
Montgomery laughed, turning back to face her as Ryan opened the door.
"Why don't you take a few days off? Take some time to decompress." He looked at Castle. "Castle, you take good care of her."
Castle nodded. "Of course, sir."
The second they were alone, Castle put his hand on Kate's cheek and kissed her forehead.
"You heard the Captain. A few days off with me by your side. Think you can handle it?"
"I might be able to endure it," she teased, leaning towards Castle and kissing his lips lightly. He kissed back, fighting the urge to let it get out of control.
"Remember what we were talking about before the boys got here?," she asked after they broke apart. He nodded. She patted the empty spot on the bed next to her where he sat before Montgomery, Ryan, and Esposito arrived, inviting him to sit. He complied with her request, settling in next to her on the bed. He put his arm around her.
"Thank you. For being there, for saving me. I love you, and I'm sorry it took so long to admit it to you."
"Hey," Castle said softly, rubbing her arm. "It's ok. I'm sorry I broke your concentration at the crime scene by breaking our rule."
She laughed at him and yawned.
"Tired?," Castle asked.
"Yeah, although I don't know why."
"You've been through a lot. I'll be here when you wake up, don't worry."
Kate shook her head and fought off a yawn. "You need to go home and get some sleep yourself, Castle. Change your clothes, have something to eat."
Castle sighed, knowing there was no use in arguing with her.
"Fine," he conceded. "But I will be here the second you are discharged to take you home."
"Ok," Kate smiled. He leaned over and kissed her one last time, then got up, taking his coat from the chair beside the bed. When he looked back at the bed, Beckett was drifting off again.
"I love you," he said, closing the door behind him.
When he got home, the first thing he did was shower and change his clothes. When he came out into the kitchen, Alexis was reading a book. When she saw him , she jumped up and hugged him fiercely.
"Dad! Where have you been? Is Beckett okay?"
Castle laughed and hugged back. "She's gonna be fine, kiddo."
He sat on the barstool next to Alexis. She looked at him, obviously wanting more of an explanation. He exhaled.
"Ok, here we go: Beckett was exposed to a chemical in the suspect's apartment that caused her to stop breathing. We rushed her to the hospital and they stuck in a tube to aide her breathing until she could breathe on her own. They ran tests and couldn't identify the chemical, but they could safely say she was fine. She was able to breathe on her own about an hour later, and they're gonna release her tomorrow. And if you don't mind, I going to have her stay here with us to recuperate so that I know she's alright."
"It's fine with me, Dad," Alexis said, smiling at him angelically. "I just want Beckett feel better."
"Me too, sweetie."
"Did you tell her that you, you know…?," Alexis asked cautiously. Castle grinned.
"And does she…"
"Yes, yes she does."
Alexis squealed and hugged her dad again. His phone buzzed, and he pulled it out of his pocket.
"Oh, I gotta go, sweetheart. Beckett woke up and they're ready to discharge her."
"Bye, dad. I love you."
He kissed the top of Alexis's head. "I love you too."
When he arrived at the hospital, he rushed to her floor. The attending nurse saw him and smiled.
"She's awake," the nurse said, pointing to Beckett's room. He said a quick thanks and pulled the door open to see Beckett walking to the bed from the little bathroom in the private room. She was fully dressed in the jeans and white blouse she had been wearing the day before. When Kate heard the door open, she turned around and her face broke into a grin.
She ran into his arms and held him tightly. He closed his arms around her and kissed the top of her head.
He laughed. "I've never seen you so happy to see me."
She loosened her grip a little and looked into his eyes. "I've never felt quite like this about someone."
"The feeling is mutual. Ready to go?"
She nodded and took his hand, falling in step next to him as they walked out of her hospital room. As they were crossing the hospital lobby a few minutes later, she stopped and turned to him.
"Thank you for not viewing me differently. I could see it on the boys's faces when the came in yesterday. They didn't know how to act around me when I was sitting in a hospital bed, weak and tired."
"Hey, you're not weak," Castle judged her, stroking her hair. "It's not your fault that dirtbag baited his closet for whoever came looking for him."
Kate smiled and wrapped her arms around his neck. "Thanks, that means a lot to me."
Castle shrugged. "I'll never judge you. I can only love you," he said simply.
Kate kissed him. "I'll only judge you occasionally," she said playfully. Castle laughed and kissed her again.
"I guess I deserve that."
The lyrics that inspired the last third of the story:
That when you feel the world is crashing/All around your feet
Come running headlong into my arms/Breathless
I'll never judge you/I can only love you
Come now running headlong/Into my arms
I'm always fascinated when the idea of "so in love I can't breathe" appears in songs. I didn't realize this was the title of a song Taylor Swift had covered (originally by Better Than Ezra) until I was about halfway through. So I used that as my inspiration for the rest of the story. And I think it turned out quite nicely :) What do you think?