May 24, 2011

 

Juxtaposition

A Castle fanfic

By Jeannine Trevizo

 

 

 

 

Spoilers, summary, etc in chapter 1

 

Author’s note: My continued thanks to all you reviewers and readers out there. I tried to reply to everyone who reviewed individually when I could but a special thanks to Anonymous and Zanna1990 for their insightful reviews. Oh, and Psycho_chick32, whom all of you have to thank for this story. I’ve mapped this out to 4 chapters (sort of like a double sized episode), so we’re 3/4ths of the way done now. Here’s the next chapter.

 

-x-

 

Chapter 3 – Third Time’s the Charm

 

 

Beckett let herself lean heavily against the nurse’s station briefly as she watched Josh disappear towards the surgical ward. Even though she didn’t love him, he was a good guy; she trusted him to honor her request. And by asking him to check on Castle… to make sure he was going to be okay, it gave her a way to do something to help Castle, and she felt a little of the anxiety and fear ease. That small break in the overwhelming weight of her emotions was enough to give her a small breather and try to get some perspective on the situation.

 

She pushed herself away from the counter and walked along the corridor, passing nurses, doctors and staff going about their business but not really seeing them. Right now the only suspect they had in the shooting was the actual gunman, and from what Esposito had said, he’d been a pro; which pointed back to the head of the conspiracy that obviously was still gunning for her. Yet they still had no idea who the man was or how to find him.

 

Running a tired hand through her hair she recalled the last time she’d felt so helpless during a situation involving someone she cared about, and how it had been Castle that had been there for her. This time, she was alone while Rick fought for his life in an operating room yards away.

 

Memories of Mike Royce’s recent murder began to inundate her as she recalled how Castle had gone above and beyond for her. When she’d defended herself to the Captain as ‘committed’ when he’d claimed she was ‘too close’ to it, torn up and emotional, Castle had been the one to see what she needed and had gone to the proverbial wall with her.

 

Now here she was again, way too close to Montgomery’s murder and hopefully only Castle’s attempted murder and it was left up to her to get them justice… or vengeance as the situation warranted. Without Rick or the Captain there to try and reason her back, she didn’t know how she’d be able to stay within the law in her quest to hunt the men responsible down if both of them were gone from her life.

 

God knew she’d been known to do reckless things when faced with personal, emotional cases. And just the idea of having to investigate the suspects in Rick’s ‘murder’… she knew she’d be out of control.

 

Turning another corridor, she thought about Esposito and Ryan out at the cemetery. They were doing everything they could to make sure they caught the guy who shot Castle. But she knew that unless they got really lucky, this guy was going to be like Lockwood – invisible. And the longer it took to get any kind of evidence they could use to track him and his mysterious boss down, the harder it was going to be to find him.

 

And she desperately needed to find him, as he might be her last link to catching the man who’d ordered her mother’s death and let the Captain sacrifice himself for her.

 

Just like Castle might have done…

 

She ruthlessly squashed that thought, unwilling to accept it as a possible outcome. He’d be fine, she told herself once again; because he had to be. She couldn’t have finally realized just how much he meant to her, how mush she loved him just to lose him.

 

Pausing in the middle of a corridor, she swiveled her head back the way she’d come, think of heading back to the waiting room and she found herself frozen in place. The idea of going back to that little room made her balk. Being stuck in that room with nothing to do but face Rick’s mortality wasn’t something she thought she had the strength to do right now. Certainly Martha and Alexis would be fine without her, and Lanie would understand her needing some time alone.

 

Instead she continued along her original path, walking away from the surgical area and into the main hospital lobby. She found herself passing art work and donation plaques on the walls and seeing them just made her think about Rick even more. She stifled a laugh as she realized that she wouldn’t be surprised to find his name somewhere in this hospital. More charitable contributions from the famous author, the ‘white whale’…

 

Happy memories filled her mind at that thought, replacing the somber ones she’d been harboring. Thoughts of how she’d scoffed at landing the ‘white whale’; how she’d downplayed his flirting and jokes as defensive maneuvers or part of his playboy personality. When in reality he’d been in earnest. Now, after three years of sticking with her through everything, through every ‘empty’ relationship she’d put up between them to protect herself, she’d finally admitted to herself that she’d needed what he offered her; the crazy theories, the unique vision, the completely loyal and undeniably charming man that was Richard Castle in her life.

 

And no other man would do.

 

Sighing heavily, she looked around and started to notice less people, and wondered why. Suddenly she realized she’d lost track of the time while she’d been on walkabout and headed back quickly to the waiting room. There she found that Ryan and Esposito had arrived while she was gone and were sitting with Lanie, Alexis and Martha. Everyone looked up at her arrival, eyes worried and questioning. With a glance up at the clock, she saw the reason for the quieting lobby and hallways and the questioning looks on her friends faces… she’d been gone over an hour without realizing it.

 

“What are you two doing here?” she asked Ryan and Esposito, her voice more shrill than she’d planned as she tried to deflect from her disappearance. “I thought you were going back to the precinct after the crime scene guys left.”

 

“We’ve got three guys back at the precinct going through the databases looking for former associates and military buddies of Lockwood. But until what little physical evidence we do have gets processed, there wasn’t anything more we could do there. And we wanted to check…” Esposito stated, trailing off at the look in Beckett’s eye.

 

“On how Castle was doing,” finished Ryan.

 

Beckett’s posture shifted, her shoulders slumping and her eyes softening showing her understanding at their need to be there; they were his friends, his ‘partners’ too.

 

“I get it guys, I do. I just hope… well, we’ll do what we can with what we have, right?”

 

“Exactly. We’ll find them Kate. After what they did to the Captain, tried to do to you, and then Castle… there’s no place in the city they can hide from us,” Ryan stated confidently and Esposito nodded, backing up the plan.

 

She gave them both a small smile of thanks and moved to sit beside Lanie and Alexis. Martha reached over and patted Beckett’s hand, and she turned to see the utter faith the woman had in her in her eyes. Overwhelmed at how Martha Rogers could have such belief in her to catch Rick’s attempted killer, she turned her hand over and gripped Martha’s hand in hers, demonstrating her thanks for the woman’s reassurance.

 

“Have you guys heard anything while I was gone?” Beckett asked, realizing that they might have had some kind of news while she was out.

 

“Not really. It’s only been a few hours,” replied Lanie, her hand holding onto Javier’s tightly.

 

“I guess I’d better settle in for the long haul then,” Beckett said simply, even though the tome of her voice screamed worried once again.

 

The six of them waited for news, occasionally breaking the silence with whispered comments, trips to the restroom or to get more coffee. Beckett sat on pins and needles hoping for either the doctor to get in there and tell them Castle was okay or for either Ryan or Esposito’s phones to ring with news from the lab. She almost gave up on staying put and asked them to take her back to the precinct to check on everything herself before that plan was derailed by the door opening.

 

“Family of Mr. Castle?” asked a tall African American man with glasses and a goatee that came through the door. His blue scrubs were discolored and everyone instantly was on alert.

 

“Yes…” announced Martha as she stood, Alexis coming along with her. “I’m his mother. This is his daughter and his…friends from the precinct.”

 

“I’m Dr. Leyton. Your son is out of surgery.”

 

At his simple pronouncement, there was an instant feeling of relief within every person in the room.

 

“How is he?” Alexis asked quickly, her blue eyes wide with the worry that had consumed her for hours.

 

“He’s doing well and should make a full recovery.”

 

Alexis broke in to a huge smile and turned to hug her grandmother tightly. Esposito hugged Lanie before giving Ryan a manly hug. In the chair Beckett sat, stunned and overwhelmed by the news.

 

He was going to be okay.

 

And with that realization she finally remembered that she was going to now have to address her words to him while he’d laid bleeding out beside her at the cemetery. But having been faced with life without him, she knew that she’d rather face his disbelief at her change of heart, address how she’d ended her relationship with Josh and how she wanted to try being with him in more than a professional way was preferable to the alternative.

 

 “Can we see him?” asked Alexis anxiously, more than ready to finally see her father and assure herself he was going to be okay.

 

“There’s a nurse at the station outside who can take the two of you to his room. They’re just getting him settled in his room in the ICU from recovery. We need to keep the pressure off his repaired lung, so he’ll have a chest tube for a day or so. We’re keeping him sedated for the moment to keep him comfortable; those chest tubes aren’t very fun. He won’t be conscious for a good 24 hours but I’m certain you still want to see him.”

 

“Absolutely… so the nurse is just outside?” Martha asked, wrapping an arm around Alexis’ shoulders.

 

Dr. Layton nodded and watched as his patient’s mother and daughter headed out the door. He turned back to the officers that were there, all of them in dress uniforms other than the one woman with them and smiled before he turned to leave.

 

As the doctor started towards the door, Beckett finally processed everything he’d said and then was moving to intercept him, questions flying through her head.

 

“Doctor, you said… he won’t be awake for a full day?” she asked, concerned.

 

“Yes. So I would suggest that you see him and then go home and get some rest. We’ll check him tomorrow at this time to see if removing the tube is advisable, based on his progress.”

 

“Are you keeping him sedated just for his comfort?” Beckett questioned, not comfortable with

 

“We don’t want him moving for a while and the sedation is the best, easiest way to do that.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Officer…”

 

“Detective Kate Beckett, 12th precinct,” she stated, her voice starting to take the hard edge it had when interrogating a suspect. “What were the full extents of his injuries that you’re keeping him medicated for a full day?”

 

The doctor sighed and moved to adjust his glasses as the other officers, or detectives converged on him, looking for an answer. Considering they were in law enforcement and had more than likely seen their fair share of nasty situations, he didn’t feel so worried about explaining in detail the medical concerns prompting his decision.

 

“We had to screw in a steel plate to what was left of his scapula to replace the part that the bullet shattered. We cleaned up the bone fragments that were causing internal bleeding and patched up his lung. He’ll need physical therapy for the shoulder… but for right now… moving isn’t going to feel very good, even on the best pain medications.”

 

She nodded, thinking that all that invasive surgery to save his life would mean for a while he wouldn’t be able to be out in the field with her. While she was beyond happy he was alive she was a little sad at the idea of being out there alone on the job, looking for the shooter and the man who’d ordered the attack.

 

“Thank you,” she said, her voice registering her change in demeanor and it instantly registered with the surgeon.

 

“It’s my job,” he replied with a small smile. “I’m sure the nurse can direct you to his room, or you can follow the path of Mr. Castle’s family.”

 

She watched the doctor leave and turned to the others.

 

“Why don’t you guys go and check in on him. I just… need a minute.”

 

Ryan and Esposito nodded and headed out, while Lanie caught Beckett’s hand in hers briefly, squeezing it lightly before she let it go and went to catch up with the guys.

 

 

She eased herself backwards into one of the chairs and lowered her head to her hands. Rick was alive. All the emotions she’d slammed behind the wall of control she’d thrown up after he’d fallen unconscious at the cemetery rushed up to engulf her, free of the fear she’d never have a chance to express them to him. Now all she had to do was face those emotions, express them to the man she loved and whom she believed loved her in return. She was finally ready to take that last step into the unknown… she found her one and done. After what were probably two missed attempts, she wasn’t letting this third chance slip by her.

 

She wasn’t afraid anymore.

 

Smiling at the thought, she pushed herself up from her seat and headed out of the waiting room. As she exited, she saw the woman behind the nurse’s station counter and motioned to her about which way she needed to go as she asked, “Rick Castle?”

 

The woman in the pink scrubs smiled and pointed to her left and Becket quickly turned and started hurriedly heading towards his room, looking for her friends as she passed door after door.

 

“Kate?”

 

At the familiar voice, she turned to see Josh coming from the direction of the OR, his hands rubbing one another as he nervously moved to intercept her.

 

“On your way to see Castle?” he asked, coming up to stand beside her, but not trying to touch her at all.

 

“Yes. Josh… I…” she started, but broke off, unsure how to act with this man she’d been in such a sham relationship with and had finally given him the freedom he needed to find someone who would love him like he deserved.

 

“They didn’t need me, but I observed. Layton is a fine surgeon and Castle will be fine, given some time.”

 

“Thank you again.”

 

“I was just doing my job… I save people for a living, right?”

 

She nodded, recognizing again the precarious position she’d put him in. But she had needed a guarantee that Rick would come back to her, to his family and the 12th. She owed him more than just her thanks for looking out for Castle for her, yet at the same time she wasn’t sure he wanted to even breathe the same air as her, what with how she’d ‘dumped’ him for another man… one she’d sworn up and down wasn’t a threat to him.

 

“I wouldn’t begrudge you being pissed at me for how I ended things…” she remarked with a regretful tone, recalling the scene in the hallway of the hospital he worked at every day only hours earlier.

 

He gave her a grimace that he wiped away with a hand before looking at her with soulful, pained eyes.

 

“I always knew he knew more of you than I did. I thought that over time that would change in my favor,” he said softly as he reached over and brushed his fingers gently across her face. “But really… I was always going to lose.”

 

“Josh…”

 

“No Kate, I understand. I wish things were different but…” he said before leaning over and placing a soft kiss on her cheek. “I know you trust him, love him and that he makes you happy… and that’s all I ever wanted for you. Take care of yourself.”

 

With that he turned and walked away, leaving Beckett feeling drained and vulnerable… and she had yet to see Rick. She swallowed thickly and continued on her way to Castle’s room, her emotional walls a pile of rubble at her feet. Finally she found Esposito, Lanie and Ryan near the doorway to what had to be Castle’s room, Alexis and Martha no doubt installed inside.

 

“How’s he doing?” she asked as she stopped at the doorway, not sure if she was ready to see him hooked up to machines and sedated, yet needing to see him alive just as badly.

 

“He doesn’t look too bad,” replied Esposito with a sly grin that said he’d seen his friend look better.

 

As Beckett passed her partners and friends to enter the room fully, she found her eyes drawn to the figure on the bed that looked so much unlike Richard Castle that she was almost prompted to turn around and ask the nurse for the right room. Yet if she looked closely, she saw the boyish good looks and tousled hair that she couldn’t help but smile at seeing. And the fact that he was breathing, was alive was so much more than she could have believed she’d be lucky enough to get.

 

With that, she moved towards the bed and took the seat that Alexis was suddenly vacating, letting her sit and take his left hand in hers, his hand feeling solid and real in hers. And wit the relief that simple touch instilled in her she felt the tears she’d fought since he’d been shot break loose; her eyes welling with them as they finally fell.

 

End Chapter 3

 

Thanks again for reading everyone. Last chapter will have the Caskett payoff you’re waiting for as well as some other resolutions… but for the anti-Josh readers, this is the last you’ll see of him, I promise.