It was another hour before they brought her back. She still didn't look like Kate and she definitely didn't look like Detective Beckett, but some of the wires and machines had been removed. There was no longer a tube shoved down her throat and she appeared to be resting peacefully. Her doctors went out in the hall with Jim while Rick stayed behind to watch over her.
He sat awkwardly beside her, afraid to even take her hand. She looked so fragile, like she would completely shatter if he so much as breathed wrong. He simply stared at her, trying to commit every last fiber of her to memory.
Jim returned after a few minutes looking even worse than before if that was possible, and Rick was glad he had decided to stay behind. He stood and walked over to stand beside Jim where he stood at the end of her bed.
"It doesn't look good for her, Rick. They ran some tests. She was awake, but not exactly coherent. She can't move her legs…at all. They say that she probably will never get full range of motion back. Her spinal cord is all out of whack. It was a lot of medical talk, but basically everything above the shot is fine, or it will be after a while. Everything below the shot..use less."
Use less. That's how this whole situation felt. Just use less. Montgomery died to protect her, to stop them from coming, yet they came anyway. He could do nothing for her. There was no cure, no surgery, nothing to repair the damage that had been done.
She would never be a detective again, never be able to go for a run, or walk down the aisle at the grocery store. Oh God. She would never walk down the aisle wearing all white. Never run after her kids at the park. There were so many things that she would never do.
"They say she may regain some strength. There are some surgeries that she can have a couple years down the road, once everything is fully healed, but there are no guarantees."
Rick couldn't take it anymore. He took a few staggered steps and flopped down in one of the two chairs beside her bed. He rested his head in his hands and his elbows on his knees as he let out an impossibly long sigh, trying to make sense of all that was happening around him.
He felt a hand on his shoulder as Jim came to stand beside him.
"Don't worry, son. Our Katie, she's a strong one. She'll make it through this, I'm sure of it." Rick couldn't help but feel that this was backwards. It was Jim's daughter lying in the bed, not his. He should be the one to offer comforting words and support. Before he could protest, though, Jim began again.
"Just one thing, though?"
"Anything," He was surprised that he was able to find his voice so fast.
"She's going to fight this. She is going to refuse any and all help, even when she knows that she cannot do it alone. She is going to get mad and selfish and blow up at anyone who tries to tell her that she can't do something.
"Please just be there for her. Don't let her push you away and don't stop pushing back. This has broken her, but losing you, that would shatter her."
"I'm not going anywhere, sir."
They shook hands and Jim said he needed to go for a walk, clear his head, and work some things out. Rick knew that Jim couldn't bear to just sit by his daughter. He needed to do something, go somewhere, to feel needed and productive. Rick had a feeling that it had a lot to do with losing his wife and trying his best not to slip back into the dark place Kate had pulled him out of many years ago.
So he sat by her side for the next few hours. The doctors had given her medicine to knock her out and help with the pain. A nurse or doctor came in to check on her every half hour, but other than that they were alone.
He talked to her about everything he could think of and when he ran out of things to talk about he read to her from the stack of books Alexis had put in the bottom of the last bag of clothes and supplies she had dropped off.
He had gone home briefly to shower and refresh, but he had been mostly living by her side. He wouldn't leave her. He didn't want her to wake up alone. So he sat by her side and tried to think of what to say to her when she woke up.
He was afraid that she didn't hear him, and afraid that she had. He wouldn't deny that he loved her, but he didn't want to complicate her life more than it had already been complicated. He couldn't bear to cause her more pain. He also didn't want her to push him away, like she had done every time it seemed like they took a step forward.
He wanted to be there for her and help her through this. He had made a promise to her father and to himself that whatever happened he would be there. He would be her rock, if that's what she needed. He was going to do everything in his power to help her make it through this; because her father was right and this was going to break her and he was going to be there to pick up the pieces and put her all back together, whether she wanted him there or not.
He looked up from "War and Peace" from which he had been reading for the last hour, he knew she loved Russian literature, to find her staring up at him weakly. She offered him a small half smile, which quickly turned into a wince.
He was speechless. He literally had no idea what to say to her. He was so happy and relieved that she was finally awake. But her waking up meant that the bubble of ignorance that sleep provided her would have to be shattered and she would have to be told the truth. Her whole world would be turned on its end and it appeared that it would have to be him.
He hadn't wanted to be the one to tell her, but her father still wasn't back and there was no way he was going to let a stranger be the one to tell her. He knew that he couldn't stall her long enough. He would just have to man up and be there to help her cope.
Before he could decide what he was going to say or do, she spoke."Hey, Castle."