"What time are the boys suppose to show?" Kate asked as she rolled out of the bedroom the next afternoon. They had spent the morning unpacking and getting settled back into the loft.
There were a few things that caused problems for Kate. The loft was not so easily remodeled as the Hamptons house had been. The bathroom seemed to be the biggest issue, high sinks and no railings. Luckily, the loft was extremely open and spacious. There was plenty of room for her to maneuver around. It had been clear to Castle since day 1 of this whole ordeal that they would need a new apartment. Neither his nor her apartments would be sufficient.
She didn't grumble about having to reach and stretch or have his help while getting ready, but he knew that it was slowly chipping away at her bit by bit. He wanted her to be able to have an apartment where she could live for herself. Where she could cook and do her makeup and have access to every drawer and cupboard in the house. But for now the loft would have to do.
"I told them to be here around 5 so in about half an hour." He replied as he spread sauce on the pizzas. "I promised them pizza and Madden in exchange for their help. You want to give me a hand?"
He had left her with a blanket and a book by the window in their room about two hours ago, but he had still chosen to prepare the food at the dining room table. It had become a habit in the Hamptons so that Kate could be involved if she wanted, or on the days when she was too sore, just so that she could sit with him by her side.
She wheeled herself over, only struggling a bit, until she was within reach and he reached out and pulled her up next to him. She huffed and gave him a little glare before grabbing some cheese to spread out atop the sauce.
"Just pizza? I would have thought a job like that would have been at least floor seats to a Knicks game or a week with the Ferrari." She teased.
"Well, actually, it was more like pizza and seeing you, but yeah I did get a pretty good deal."
"What do you mean 'seeing me'."
"I mean they've been really worried about you, Kate. They haven't seen you pretty much since the accident. I've been keeping them updated, but I don't think there is any substitute for the real thing."
His words immediately made her stomach drop. She had been so out of it that she hadn't really made an effort for anyone outside of their little bubble. She had just been trying to survive and trying to make sense of all of the emotional and physical changes that had come after the shooting. Other than a few texts exchanges with Lanie and even fewer with the boys she hadn't been in touch with anyone pretty much since the shooting.
"Oh my gosh Castle. I didn't even realize. I feel awful. I've texted them a few times, it was Kev's birthday a few weeks ago, but other than that…."
"Hey, hey. It's okay, Kate. I didn't mean to make you feel bad. Everyone understands and no one is going to hold it against you. You have had a lot on your plate and I have kept them well updated, alright. That's what I'm here for, that's part of taking care of you.
"I offered to have them up at the house for a weekend, but it never quite worked out. The new Captain seems like a real… well let's just say she's no Montgomery."
She smiled a smile that didn't quite meet her eyes and went back to spreading the cheese on the pizzas. He reached over and ran a hand up and down her spine in a comforting gesture. He didn't know if it was her realization about the boys or the mention of Montgomery or a mixture of the two, but he could tell she was still hurting.
She got stronger every day. She was able to roll herself a little bit farther, she was able to take more and more weight on her arms and was even beginning to transfer herself from the chair to furniture. She would never be able to stand for long periods of time or walk, but being able to transfer herself would be a very important step in her recovery. After she had that solidly she would be released from physical therapy and back out into the world.
She finished with the cheese and leaned her head heavily onto his shoulder with a sigh. He pulled her as close as her chair would allow and put his arms around her.
It had been hard at first, but she was slowly learning to lean on him for support, emotionally and physically. He couldn't be happier to be the one that she chose to be open with. Ever since that first date she had been coming to him more and more. Telling him what was on her mind and what was on her heart. She had no qualms about curling up to him when she needed reassurance.
Their moment was broken by the timer on the oven alerting them that it was time for the pizzas to go in. Rick did the honors of carrying all three pizzas to the oven and set a new timer. Kate closed all of the containers and wiped down the section of the table that had been dirtied by the preparations. Castle brought the materials to set the table with and they worked together to accomplish the task.
They had just finished cutting up some fruit and taking the pizzas out of the oven when the doorbell rang. Castle squeezes Kate's shoulder as he passes her on the way to the door. She gives him a weak smile and he beams right back. He knows that she is nervous to see everyone.
No one has seen her since the rehab facility and she hasn't been the best with communication as she was reminded of just a while ago. She has always been the warrior, the unbreakable, infallible detective. Strong behind the makeup and massive walls that she had created. She was a rock solid detective with an ooey-gooey center and her walls had been obliterated by a bullet in a cemetery. She still didn't know how to be weak in front of her team. But, he had vowed to stand by her and he knew for a fact that the boys would ease her fears as soon as they arrived by just being themselves.
He had observed their little pseudo family for years now and he knew that they were invincible together. They leaned on each other, trusted one another with their lives, and they would do anything for one of their own. He prided himself on being one of their own. He had seen them in action and he never wanted to cross them. He had always seen Esposito as the protective older brother, Ryan as the sweet kid brother, and Kate was nestled in the middle. He had no doubt that they would rally around her now.
"Ah, perfect timing as usual, guys." Castle greets as he opens the doors to Esposito, Ryan, Jenny, and Lanie.
"Good to see you man." Javi exclaimed as he entered. They exchanged greetings, handshakes, and hugs as jackets were shed and shoes kicked off.
"Hey, guys." Kate offered in a soft voice from where she was in the living room. Her voice held none of its usual smoothness or firmness, it was all nerves.
The whole group turned to face their former boss, friend, and sister. There was a pregnant pause in which no one quite knew what to do. The boys were both trying to drink in the sight of her sitting there with a happy, albeit unsure, smile. Ryan was trying to keep tears out of his eyes and Javi was rendered speechless. They hadn't seen her since she had been laid up miserably in the hospital and seeing her here was almost too much. Jenny took her fiance's hand and stood beside him, really unsure of where her pace in all of this was. Lanie was the first to crack. She had always been the most emotional and she couldn't stop the tears from pouring down her face.
"Oh, girl! I am so happy to see you! You have no idea how much I've missed you." She flew over to her best friend and engulfed her in an awkward hug. Kate's eyes filled with tears and she realized just how much she had missed her best friend and how much she suddenly longed to tell her.
So much had happened in the last few months. So much that she wanted to tell Lanie, so much she wished that she could tell her mom. So much had happened in her relationship with Rick and with Alexis, so much that she was dreaming about, and so much that she just needed another woman's opinion on.
When they finally pulled away Esposito and Ryan had gathered themselves enough to step up to her.
"Good to see you, Boss." Ryan offered with a tentative smile. Even though everyone in the room knew that Beckett would never again be their boss in the official sense of the word, they all knew that the title would always be used to refer to Beckett.
"Hey Beckett." Javi offered quietly. "Great to see you up and on your feet." Immediately realizing his mistake, his eyes widened. "Well, I mean….no on your feet….but…you know…I…"
Kate's laugh rang out throughout the loft and silenced Espo and his awkward rant. "It's alright Javi, I know what you meant."
A collective sigh went through the group and they all moved into the living room much more relaxed. The evening went on without a hitch. They ate pizza and laughed about old cases and favorite memories. Eventually the boys went in the office to see some toy or other that Castle had been talking about while the women stayed behind to get dessert ready.
It wasn't anything fancy, just some cookies Alexis had made earlier and a pie that Jenny had brought. They just had popped them in the oven to warm them up a bit and were pouring the coffees, indulging in casual conversation about the wedding planning process.
"I'll go get the boys." Kate said as she turned away from the others when they were finished with the whipped cream. Lanie started to protest, but Kate shot her a glare that stopped her in her tracks.
"Okay, okay." She said backing up with her hands up in a mock surrender.
Kate wheeled herself over to the office and stopped just outside the door.
"Are you sure?" She heard Rick's tension filled voice through the not so solid walls. The comment made her stop before she knocked on the frame to get their attention.
"As far as we can tell the threat is over. It's been quiet on all fronts for the last few months." Esposito replied.
"We've been over everything with a fine tooth comb and nothing popped. As far as they know she's no longer a threat. Maybe that's enough for them." Ryan added. Kate was furious. They had no right to be talking about her case without her. She had no idea that they were even still working on it. Castle had told her months ago that there were no new leads and the new captain had shut it down.
She had been devastated and wanted nothing more than to march into the precinct and investigate herself. She couldn't stand the fact that there was someone out there that wanted her dead and there was no way for her to find out who. She was stuck. Stuck in a chair with no leads and no way to get any. She was at the mercy of everyone else and it almost killed her.
He assured her that the boys had done everything they could, but it still it took her a while to come to terms with the fact that she may never know. Harder still was not being able to do anything about it, even under the radar, she would most likely never solve her mother's murder on her own.
Castle had been amazing about it. He hadn't judged her about how Told her that he would do everything he could to help her solve the case once everything had calmed down and she was on solid ground. He gave her her hope back.
"It'll never be enough for them." Castle was seething, she could tell by the bite in his voice. "The threat was made when she was still in the rehab facility. She's more of a threat now than she was then. She wasn't even forming coherent sentences then."
Threat? What threat? She had no idea what they were talking about. She hadn't been told about any threat. Surely they weren't dumb enough to not tell her about something that huge. Surely they weren't dumb enough to betray her.
"Yes. They made a threat, but you got her out of the city and there hasn't been any noise in months. I promise you that if we hear anything you will be the first to know, okay? We're not going to do anything to put her in danger. We love her too, man."She couldn't believe it. He had lied to her, again.