Perfectly Shattered

Chapter 10: part 2

"I'm fine, Castle."

"Kate. What happened this morning?"

"I fell off the bed, Castle. I'm okay, we can move past it now." He could tell she wasn't being completely truthful and that just strengthened his resolve. He gently pulled her up into a sitting position with a pillow at her back as he spoke.

"Yes. You're okay Kate, but you almost weren't. I heard Alexis screaming and came downstairs to find you on the floor. You were in immense pain and there was nothing I could do, again. I need to know. Please."

"I thought I could do it. The chair was right there."

"Oh, Kate." Tears were streaming down her face as she continued.

"I hate it, Castle. I hate this so much. I can't do anything by myself. I can't get out of bed, I can't brush my hair, I can't get dressed, I'm not even strong enough to wheel farther than the bathroom and back. To be honest, I'm not even sure where I was going to go once I got in it. I couldn't just lay here. I had to do something. I'm just… I'm just so tired of being broken." She wanted to say more. How he couldn't love her, shouldn't love her like this. She was so broken, she was just a shell of the extraordinary women he thought she was. She wanted to yell at him and tell him to run because she was this close to falling completely apart. He wanted Detective Kate Beckett, but the truth is she had died in the cemetery months ago.

She doubled over, as far as she could without crying out in pain, and sobbed into her hands. Castle quickly straightened her out and took her into his arms. She wrapped her arms tightly around him and buried her head in his neck.

He wanted to be angry, he was angry, at her. She should never have done something that dangerous on her own. She was still in pain, still recovering. Did she understand how serious this situation was? She could have been paralyzed by her little stunt this morning. The spine is a very delicate matter, especially when it is still healing. She could have ruined her chance for recovery.

She would eventually gain most of her independence back. She may never run around after criminals again, but she would be able to live a somewhat normal life. When was she going to understand that she wasn't invincible and that she was allowed to be weak?

He was mad, but all of that melted away when she broke down. Ever since the accident, and even before that if he was being honest, he had felt extremely protective over her. He knew that she was superwoman and that she definitely did not need her plucky sidekick to protect her, but it was always there. The need to wrap her up in his arms and take all of her pain away. To keep her beside him 24/7 and never allow anything to hurt her again. He always felt better with her safely in his arms.

He kissed her forehead and pulled her closer. He finagled his way to sit against the headboard and situated her in his lap. She snuggled closer and fisted his shirt in her hand. Eventually her sobs quieted and he continued to hold her.

"I'm sorry." She spoke so softly that he almost didn't catch it. "I'm sorry I am such a mess. I haven't cried this much since…well, since my mom."

"Don't you dare apologize Kate. I can only imagine how hard this is. You've been shot and you're whole life has been altered. Honestly, you are a mess right now. You're hurting, Kate, and that's okay. You don't have to be strong all the time, no one expects you to be. You can cry and yell and lash out and do whatever else you need to do, but you can't do this alone.

"I'm here to help you through this Kate. I'm not going anywhere, do you hear me?" He pulled her back just far enough so that he could look into her eyes. "You don't have to try and protect me. No matter what you do, I will always be here. You're stuck with me Kate. You are my beautiful, stubborn, extraordinary mess and I wouldn't have you any other way."

This time she was crying for an entirely different reason. He pressed a kiss into her hair and was about to pull her back against him when she stopped him with a hand on his chest. She leaned up as far as she could and pressed a kiss to the corner of his mouth.

It was short and the angle was awkward, but it was all the encouragement he needed. He bent down and pressed his lips to hers in a soft kiss. It was short, sweet, electric, and intoxicating all at once. It was full of everything they needed to know.

They broke apart and she rested her head on his chest. They didn't say anything, they were content to simply be with each other for a while. They knew they would have to talk about it. They would need to sit down and figure everything out. What they were to each other, where they were going, how the next few months would work, what she needed from him, what he needed from her, secrets needed to be told and walls knocked down. But right now they were okay to just be.

"Dad!" Alexis called from the kitchen.

"In here, Pumpkin." Castle replied. Kate had fallen asleep against him about half an hour ago and he had tucked her back into her side of the bed to allow her to rest comfortably. He could have held her all day long, but he knew her back would only cramp and be sore when she woke up. So he had let her go and decided to sit next to her on the bed and try and get some writing done instead.

Alexis appeared in the doorway and took in the scene before her.

"Umm. Is Kate alright? I mean I know she's not alright…well what I mean is." She was stumbling adorably for the right thing to say.

"She will be fine, Alexis. She was very lucky this morning. It's pretty late, are you hungry?" Alexis smiled and nodded as she headed out of the room to the kitchen. He looked over at his partner and saw the tell-tale signs that she was waking up. "We'll meet you in the kitchen."

He quickly saved his document and shut down his computer. He retrieved the wheelchair from the corner it had been pushed into that morning and brought it over to the bed. By the time he had the chair in position her eyes were open and trained steadily on him.

"Hey, sleepy head." She rolled her eyes at him, but shot him a smile anyway. "The baby bird is hungry and you need to eat again so that you can take your medicine."

She nodded and he picked her up, but instead of placing her immediately in her chair he held her tight against him for a few moments. She let her head fall to his shoulder before pressing a kiss on his neck.

He settled her in the chair and bent down so that he was could look into her eyes.

"Talk tonight?" She said before he could. He was floored. There was an honesty and an openness in her eyes that he had never seen from her before.

"It's a date." She nodded and smiled widely. He stood up and pushed her out into the living room. He thought his heart was going to explode and his face was going to crack from smiling. He had a date with Kate Beckett.
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