Perfectly Shattered

Chapter 16

"Kate," He whispered gently as he sat down by her hip. "Kate. Wake up, sweetheart." The term of endearment slipped, but thankfully she wasn't coherent enough to hurt him.

"Kate." He said as he placed a kiss to her forehead. Her eyes blinked open and she grinned before closing them again. "Nope, up you go. Me and baby bird made dinner."

He reached down and helped her to sit up, but she winced and leaned heavily on him instead. Her head fell to his shoulder and her back flattened as she settled.

"How are you feeling?" He prodded as took a minute to wrap his arms around her.

"Hurts." She breathed.

"I know, but once you eat something I can give you some medicine, alright?" She nodded against him and he pulled the chair over to the side of the bed with one hand. The therapy from earlier had completely knocked her out and he knew that her whole body had to be sore from all the work she had done.

He slowly eased off the bed, steadying her with his hands, and then scooped her up into his arms. She relaxed, fisted a hand in his shirt, and buried her face into his chest.

He contemplated putting her in the chair, but it seemed like just a waste. He was just going to move her to the couch anyway and she looked so content right now and she hated the chair. It really didn't take much to convince himself, and it's not like she was in any shape to shoot him right now. Plus, it felt so good to be able to hold her and care for her. She was only going to allow this type of behavior for so much longer anyway, a few more months of therapy and she wouldn't need his help at all. Yep, the chair was totally unnecessary.

He leaned down and grabbed, what had quickly become, her favorite blanket and headed out the door. Her room was not far from the living room so it was no trouble at all. He reached the sectional couch and propped her up against the pillows on the vertical portion.

She smiled gratefully as he covered her legs with a blanket. Finally he leaned over and planted a short, but sweet, kiss on her lips.

"Be right back." He promised as he headed for the kitchen. He passed Alexis who was carrying a steaming bowl and two waters from the kitchen. "Want to get the movie set up, pumpkin?"

"Sure." She replied as she set her dinner and the drinks on the coffee table. She went over to the complicated looking DVD player and began readying it for use.

She was suddenly hit with the scent of macaroni and cheese and she realized just how hungry she was.

"Macaroni and cheese for the lady." Castle said he dramatically placed a bowl in her lap. Her pills and a glass of water were placed on the coffee table to her right and Castle sat, with his own bowl, to her right. "Star Wars okay with you, Detective?"

The question was delivered lightly, but two pairs of expectant, blue eyes suddenly awaited her answer. She couldn't help but feel like this was some sort of a test.

"Of course! Original, prequel, or sequel?" Both pairs of blue eyes widened at her knowledge of the three trilogies.

"I thought you didn't own a TV?" Castle quipped.

"Yes, because I don't often have time for the 'Housewives of Wherever the Heck They Live' or 'The Bachelorette'. But Star Wars is a whole different story!" She replied with an eye roll. He just stared at her with awe written all over his face. He wasn't sure Kate Beckett could get any better, and she just had.

She popped a spoonful of cheesy goodness into her mouth and turned her attention to the screen as the opening sequence played.

"Staring is still creepy, Castle."

The movie was great as always, Star Wars never disappointed in the Castle household, and two of its spectators couldn't get enough. It was just like old times. Quoting their favorite lines, acting out the fight scenes, and sitting at the edge of their seats. Of course after the first forty minutes they were content to sit back and just enjoy the film. It was all Castle had missed out on when they had watched the first one the other day.

The third spectator was a different story. She ate more of her macaroni than Castle had expected and taken her pills without argument. He helped her into a more comfortable position during the first popcorn break and she had even eaten a handful of the salty treat, but no more than ten minutes later she was sound asleep.

She woke up during a particularly intense scene and of course Castle noticed. He helped her re-adjust and kept their fingers interlocked as she fell asleep again.

It was still early when their movie ended, but everyone was exhausted from their respective days. Alexis excused herself to work through some more Russian lessons with a kiss to her father's cheek, leaving the two adults alone again.

He let go of her hand and stood to take the popcorn and candy bowls back to the kitchen. She was awake when he returned. He peered down at her for a moment before joining her on the couch. He stretched out beside her and she tilted her head to rest on his shoulder.

"Still tired?" He inquired.

"Nah," She replied "I'm good for a bit." She had already slept most of the day away, and while she knew it was her bodies way of healing she couldn't help but want to stay awake as long as possible. It was frustrating to not even be able to hold her eyes open for a two-hour movie.

"I had a talk with Alexis today." He began, and she squeezed his hand in response. "I told her about, well everything. It's just that she's been acting so strange lately and I was losing her and she said all these things about me treating her like a child and keeping things from her. I just felt like there was no other option but to tell her. I know it wasn't my story to tell, but she deserved the truth and I didn't tell her everything…"

"Rick," She said softly, use of his first name was enough to stop his rambling mid-sentence, "It's okay, it's okay that you told her. I'm actually glad you did so now I don't have to." He was stunned. "Look, Castle, Alexis is a huge part of your world and I get that. I understand that she is your number one priority and as such I knew that one day, probably sooner rather than later, we would have to have this conversation with her.

"I know how protective of you she is and I know how much you want to protect her. But if I'm going to be in her life as well, she would need to know the whole story. You don't need my permission to tell our story, Castle, without you, there would be nothing to tell. Just a tragedy about a girl who lost herself down a rabbit hole and never returned. You changed the story, Castle, and you taught me to be more.

"I guess I've never really said 'Thank You', so, thank you. Thank you for bringing me back, Rick."

He didn't have any words to say. Richard Castle was truly and beautifully speechless, and only she could do that to him.

He pulled them both up to sit and cupped her cheek in his hand. He looked into her eyes and said the only word that would come to him in that moment: "Always."

His lips crashed over hers with an urgency that rivaled that day in the alley. What started off as a fire of need and passion, sizzled into a slow burn of love. When they finally came up for air, he pulled her closer. He was content to just hold her against him and feel her breathing against his chest.

They sat for so long, chest to chest with her on his lap, that she fell asleep with her head on his shoulder. He knew she hated the fact that she couldn't stay awake for extended periods of time, especially after a therapy session, but he was content to be her pillow for as long as she needed.

Eventually, though, he knew it was time to retire. He cradled her against him and stood with her in his arms. He carried her back to bed and tucked her in warmly, before placing a kiss on her head and retreating to his place on the couch.

He gave her the space she deserved, but stayed close enough to catch her if she started to fall.
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