"Hey Castle?" Kate inquired quietly. They had been sitting in the oversize lounge chair on her little deck for the past hour after their quiet lunch. He was writing, or trying to write more accurately, and his partner was reading or pretending to. Both partners were completely distracted by their impending 'talk'.
They have been avoiding talking about their relationship in any way, shape, or form. Castle's avoidance was intentional. He knew exactly how he felt about her, but he didn't want to do anything to scare her away. Kate's was unintentional. She was focused on getting better, functioning, and remembering to just breathe in and breathe out. She knew it would come eventually and that they would need to lay everything out on the table if they were going to try and move forward, but she was content with where they had been for the past few weeks.
They had been touching more often and it was becoming increasingly comfortable to reach out for him and take comfort in his arms. He had been reassuring her with his words when she started to berate herself or feel unworthy, but he mostly omitted just how deeply he felt about her. They were closer, but neither was sure just how close the other wanted to be and where that closeness would lead them.
"Castle?" He looked up from his still mostly blank page and then down at her. She looked timid, scared even. He could read her so easily after all these years together. They could have entire conversations without ever saying a word and it only got easier after the bullet knocked her walls down to the ground.
He stayed quiet and gave her his full attention as she gathered her thoughts. He knew by now that she needed room to think and to get her thoughts together before she revealed anything that made her even the least bit weak or uncomfortable.
"I just…well I was thinking… thinking about tonight... and I need, well I need something." He saw her struggling and reached down to take her hand. The contact seemed to ground her and give her a bit more courage. He was actually beginning to worry. Was she backing out? Was she not ready for their 'talk'?
"A shower, Castle. I need a shower."
Oh. He hadn't even thought about that. Of course she would need a shower. There had been people to help her with this at the rehab center and she had taken one right before her discharge, but that had been over 24 hours ago.
"Not a problem, Kate." He said with a smile as he closed his laptop and stood up. He covered her with a throw blanket even though it was fairly warm, he knew she rolled her eyes even though he had already turned to go inside.
His smile turned into a look of concentration as soon as he hit the door. This was a delicate situation and he knew he only had one chance to make this as comfortable and loved as possible.
Half an hour later everything was ready and he went to retrieve Kate. He hadn't been completely unprepared for her request. He had ordered a chair for the shower a while ago, but had not put it together yet. He also got her the biggest and softest towels he could find and some oversized t-shirts. After setting everything up, he was ready.
Walking out onto the porch he found her asleep. He was finding that he loved watching Kate sleep. He was sure she would call him creepy and he couldn't bring herself to care. She looked so peaceful and innocent, like her whole life hadn't just been shattered. She was beautiful with her hair fanned out around her.
He was glad she was getting rest. She seemed to always be tired lately, which was completely understandable. He was glad that during the day at least she was not plagued by nightmares and could get some rest. He hated to interrupt her peaceful slumber, but he knew if they were going to get to his plans on time tonight then the shower she had requested couldn't wait.
"Kate?" he prodded as he sat beside her and began to wake her up. "Kate."
She must not have been asleep long because her eyes were open and half-alert when he called her name a second time.
"Ready?" She nodded and he scooped her up in his arms. He bypassed the chair and simply carried her into her room and sat her on the bed. She looked up at him and he could tell how uncomfortable and ashamed she was. She wouldn't even look him in the eyes.
He knew this would be a little bit uncomfortable for her. She was already ashamed of how much trouble she thought she was, and now she needed help in the most intimate of ways.
The problem was that getting in and out of the shower was not the only thing she needed help with. Her entire body was still recovering and she didn't even have the strength and mobility in her arms to be able to properly wash her hair and body.
"Kate. You don't have to worry, okay." He put his fingers under her chin and lifted so that her eyes would meet his. "Do you trust me?"
"Always." She said as she gave him a timid smile. It wasn't that she thought he would hurt her or that things would go wrong. She was more embarrassed and didn't want it to be awkward. She did trust him and she hoped he knew that.
"Put this on and I will be back in a second, alright?" She nodded and took the large black t-shirt he gave her. He walked into the bathroom to start the shower and find the right temperature as she took off her shirt and bra, and pulled the shirt over her head. It was an XL so it covered everything sufficiently.
'That sweet man.' She thought. It would be weird showering with a shirt on, but she felt better knowing that she would not be fully exposed while he helped her shower.
She could only get her yoga pants halfway down her thighs without leaning over too far or the use of her legs. She huffed in annoyance at herself and her situation. Before she could try anything else Castle walked out of the bathroom in swim trunks and a light t-shirt.
Without a second thought he gently removed her yoga pants. He was careful not to touch her skin and was a perfect gentleman. She didn't even feel uncomfortable about it.
He then wasted no time in picking her up and carrying her to the bathroom. She thought about chastising him for not using the chair, but she couldn't bring herself to care. She secretly loved being snuggled against his strong chest. She felt safe and warm, like everything was right in the world.
When he arrived in the bathroom, he stepped into the shower and sat her on a clean white chair. The chair was padded and looked like a cross between an office chair and a beach chair. It was not under the spray of the water, yet but it could be easily slid there by unlocking the wheels and then locking them again once it was adjusted.
"Comfortable?" Castle said when she was fully settled.
"Yes." She replied.
He smiled and went around her chair to pull her under the spray.
She was in heaven. She had died and gone to heaven right here in the shower. He was washing her hair and it was fantastic. She had been reduced to a purring kitten under his touch.
No one had washed her hair like this since she was 7 and she had broken her arm. Her mother had to do it for two months and she had hated the lack of independence, but now she couldn't come up with a complaint if she tried.
At first it had been awkward sitting in a chair with a heavy, wet shirt on; but as soon as his hands started working product through her hair, she had absolutely no more complaints.
It was different than when her hairdresser did it with a practiced, robotic touch. Castle was almost passionate about it, if that was possible. He took care that all of her hair was shampooed and worked it through her hair thoroughly. It was quite the experience.
It was over all too soon, though as he washed the conditioner out of her hair and went to turn the water off, but she had other plans.
"Yeah." He said, bending down to look her in the eyes. When he first started bending down to speak to her she had felt degraded, like a child being scolded or coddled, but he was quick to explain. He wanted to look at her when he spoke to her. He wanted to be able to look into her eyes and have a real conversation without having to tower over her.
Now she liked being on the same level. It was something that she had longed for in her profession and part of the reasoning behind the sky high heels she insisted on wearing. Now she had nothing to help level her with the world. She was permanently below everyone else in the world and when she had stopped having such a pity party for herself she realized how much she appreciated talking to his face and not his knees.
"Do you think you could do something, well get something, for me?" She looked up at him with more of the timidness that was so foreign on Beckett, but had become a familiar look for his Kate.
She felt awkward asking for a razor and some shaving cream, but she was so glad that she had asked. He had ran upstairs and retrieved one from somewhere, she really didn't want to know which of the Castle/Rodgers women he had to ask. He was back in a flash and kneeling in front of her.
"Uh, what do you think you are doing?" She had said with as much bark as she could manage.
"You wanted to shave your legs, right?" He asked as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"Yes, Castle, so I could shave my legs. Key word here 'I'. There is no way you are shaving my legs." She finished with a huff of annoyance.
"Kate, you couldn't even manage to get your yoga pants off ten minutes ago, I don't think shaving your legs is going to be doable. I really don't mind. Just let me help you." He looked so sincere she almost caved, but she still had some of her pride left and she wanted to be able to hang on to it.
"Not a chance, Castle. You can wait outside." He looked skeptical for a moment, but she gave him the scariest Beckett glare she could manage and he acquiesced. He knew there was no use fighting her on this. He dropped the supplies in her hands and walked out of the stall. Even though he was worried, he couldn't help but smile, a little piece of Beckett had just reemerged.
Only after Castle left did she realize exactly how difficult this was going to be. She was weak, but she was determined to not let this get the better of her.
After about five minutes, and a lot of finagling and strategizing she realized there was no way, not without some help, and she was starting to look like a prune.
"Castle." She called.
He immediately opened the door to the walk in shower and stood with his hands on his hips.
"Oh stop looking so smug," she chastised. "Can you just, put me on the floor…maybe."
"Of course, Kate." He didn't even sound condescending or anything. She was impressed, though she was sure the 'I told you so's would start eventually.
He picked her up out of the chair and sat her against the wall. It took a lot of energy to stay sitting up on the wet floor, but she would manage.
"Alright, I'm good now. Thank you." She said it in a matter-of-fact tone that indicated that was all she needed, again he stepped out with a smile.
She was sitting with her legs placed up almost against her stomach just as he had carried her. She held them up with one arm and hurriedly shaved her legs. It was an extremely awkward angle and her arms were exhausted, but she managed to complete the task relatively quickly and accurately.
By the time she was done she was drained of all of her energy. She called Castle back and he could hear the exhaustion in her voice. He brought her a towel and dried her off and wrapped her up tight. He moved her out to her room and set her on another towel that he placed on the bed.
"Wait right here, okay." She nodded her head and tried not to fall over.
Luckily he was back in only a handful of seconds with Martha in tow.
Martha helped rid her of her shirt and underwear and get into dry clothes, while Castle changed in the bathroom. It wasn't an optimal situation, but it was necessary. She indicated to Martha what she wanted to wear and the older woman gave her a smile, before helping her dress.
It was the farthest thing from her usual attire. It was a red, sweetheart neck-lined sundress that was fitted at the top and flared out a just a little bit at the bottom. It had spaghetti straps and fit her like a glove. Lanie had made sure it was packed in one of her bags as soon as Kate had decided to go to the Hamptons. She had bought it impulsively a few years back after Lanie had practically screamed in the boutique dressing room about how good it looked on her. She had never worn it, never had anywhere to wear it too. But it was perfect for tonight.
It was a little big on her now, with all of the weight she had lost and hadn't yet gained back, but it still looked good. Martha helped her brush her hair and tie it back in an effortless braid. She also helped put a little bit of color on her cheeks, a thin line of eyeliner on her top lid, and some mascara for good measure. She knew Castle could care less whether she was wearing makeup or not, but she wanted to feel pretty and confident. She would need as much confidence as she could muster if she was going to say all she wanted to tonight.
"You look gorgeous, Darling." Martha said when all of the towels and clothes had been put in the hamper and she was resting against the made bed with her feet stretched out in front of her.
"Thank you, Martha, for everything." She said shyly. The older woman bent down to hug her, and then took her leave muttering something about other plans and having a good time. As soon as she was out the door, the bathroom door opened and Castle stepped out.
"Wow." He said as he looked at his stunning date. She was wearing a red sundress with her still-wet hair in a braid down her back. A few tendrils of hair had escaped and hung down to perfectly frame her face. He could tell she had put some light makeup on. Not as much as in the city when her makeup was part of her tough girl Beckett mask, just enough to soften her features and have his heart quickening in response. She looked amazing.
He always thought she looked amazing in red, well she looked amazing in anything, but especially in red. His mind went back to the diamond smuggling case they had worked when she had gone out with the pin-up boy. He had been so jealous of her that night. But it was him she had gone to the comfort food truck with, and him who had gotten to take her home (well technically it was her car so she had taken him home, but who needs details. Now she was his, or he hoped she would be after tonight.
He went to the corner of the room and retrieved her chair. When it was at the edge of the bed he bent down and lifted her effortlessly into her seat and she smoothed out her skirt.
"Ready to go?""Absolutely."