She spent fourteen more days in the hospital. She spent most of her time sleeping, or feigning sleep. He was pretty sure that she only truly slept when her body gave out on her. She was mostly silent and indifferent. She rarely drank and refused to eat. She was wasting away even as her wounds healed more every day.
Her father was there every day in the beginning. He begged her to look at him, speak to him, even to acknowledge his presence, but she just kept up her little sleeping act and they all let her. After a while he came every other day and kept up with her condition via text and call to Castle.
Castle never wavered. He sat with her for as long as they would let him; and sometimes, when he sensed that she had an especially rough day, he would persuade the nurses to allow him to stay throughout the night.
Everyone else would stop by every few days, but she was always "asleep". She never even cracked an eye. They all understood. She was forgiven and no one would ever dream of holding it against him. And they continued to come to show their support. They wanted her to know that they were all here for her.
They removed the stitches and the incision was healing nicely. Finally they made it clear that they would never take the necessary steps to get her out of the hospital unless she started eating. After that she ate just enough to begin gaining weight back.
The next month was spent in a rehabilitation center. She didn't know it, but Castle had paid for the best care in the city. Her days were filled with therapy sessions and exercises. Her entire day was scheduled from beginning to end.
In her first two weeks there were the same as the hospital. She was nothing more than a shell. She was just going through the motions and letting everyone tell her what to do and who to be. That was not the Kate Beckett he knew.
It was two weeks into her stay at the Rehab center and she was still not improving. She wasn't even trying. He was only allowed to visit for an hour each day. The visiting hours would increase as she improved and her therapy sessions evened out.
It was not near enough time for him, but he knew that he was doing her no good by hovering. And it wasn't like she was even acknowledging his presence anyway. He has thought that given some space, she may be able to come to terms with everything and start getting back to herself. He was wrong.
Every day he came in to hear the same report. They just kept telling him that she would not improve unless she wanted to. Every day he sat by her side. Sometimes in her room and sometimes outside in the gardens, but it was all the same.
By week two they even told him that it may be better to just leave her alone until she was ready to improve. That was the straw that did him in. He was done with her silence and indifference. She had so many people who loved her and she didn't even have it in her to try. He knew that this was hard on her, hard probably wasn't even a strong enough word, but he wouldn't let her just give up on her life this way.
He walked into her room that day to see her sitting up in the chair in her room, a blanket covering her legs. She was facing the window that he had taken special care to ensure she had. It had a beautiful view of the garden and he wanted her nothing less for her.
Instead of his usual, cheerful greeting Castle simply came to sit in the chair beside her.
"How were your first sessions today?" He said coldly. Hoping that today might be different. That maybe she would deviate from her unemotional, one-word answers and actually talk to him.
"Fine." Came her soft reply.
"Kate." He paused, clearly asking for her attention. "Kate." He said a bit more sternly.
When she didn't turn her head he stood and pushed his chair in front of her, effectively forcing her to look at him. He took a moment to gather his thoughts before he began. He didn't want to have to upset her, but he saw no other way to get through to her.
"Kate, you have to stop this. You cannot keep living like this. I know that you are hurting and I understand that your whole world is crumbling around you, but you have got to stop acting like this is the end of the world." She looked like she actually might protest, he could see the anger building in her eyes, but he simply didn't give her a chance.
"You aren't alone, Kate. I know it must feel like you are, but you are not. There are so many people who love you, Kate. We are all here for you and we all want to help you, but you won't even acknowledge our efforts most days.
"I don't know where Kate Beckett went, but she sure as hell isn't in this room. The Kate Beckett I know would never have sat by while the muscles slipped out of her legs. The Kate Beckett I know wouldn't stand by and watch herself waste away. Kate Beckett would stand and fight. She would do everything in her power to not let this beat her. She would never let this hold her down." Finally he broke her.
"You actually think you understand? You want to know what happened to Kate Beckett." She was spitting mad at him and to be honest he couldn't be happier because that was the most words she had said to him and the most emotion she had shown in weeks (but he would never let her know that.). "Kate Beckett died when that bullet ripped through her skin. Kate Beckett vanished when everything she had ever worked for was gone in an instant. She was cracked when they told her she would never have children; annihilated when her boyfriend broke up with her because he couldn't waste his time having to deal with her. She just couldn't handle the pain of having to see her father's devastated face looking down on her every day. Kate Beckett is broken up into a million tiny pieces on the floor and doesn't have the strength to pick them all up. There would be no point anyway.
"If you are waiting for a miracle you can go home now. There is no reason for you to stay. It will be much easier for everyone if they would just cut their losses now." She finished her speech and looked away as if she couldn't bear to see his face any longer.
Oh Kate. His heart shattered for her in that moment and he took the chance to look at her, really look at her. She was tiny, fragile two words that he would never associate with Kate Beckett. She sat up straight, too straight. As if she was constantly making an effort for him. But her eyes betrayed the pain she was in. Agony more precisely. She was in pain physically and emotionally and she was all alone.
She had built a moat around herself to protect the ones she loved and now she was all alone. He didn't agree with her course of action, but at least now he saw the reason why. She had simply shut down. She had no way of dealing with all of the emotions that were suddenly thrust upon her and she just couldn't take it.
He suddenly got a painful flashback to the day following her first real chat with her doctor. The same day that Josh came by and left in such a hurry (if he ever saw Doctor Motorcycle Boy's face again he would kill him for putting these ideas in her head). The day that her father had sat with her through the night and told Castle to go home and get some rest.
Her doctor had shattered her dreams, her boyfriend had told her that she was a burden and not worth his time, and her father had so much pain in his eyes that she just couldn't do it. He had to put a stop to these thoughts right away.
"Kate look at me." He gently put his fingers to her chin and lifted her face so that she was looking right into his eyes. He wanted her to see how serious he was and how much he meant the words he was about to speak. "You are not a burden. You are the farthest thing from a burden I could think of. It is a privilege to be a part of your life. You are extraordinary whether you run the next New York Marathon or you never leave this chair again.
"There are so many people that love you, Kate. They are all worried sick about you and the only way you hurt them is by pushing them away. They don't care if your legs work or not, they just want to know that you are okay and they want to be a part of your life.
"And, yes, the fact that you were shot changes a lot of your plans, but Kate you still have so much life left to live. There is still so much you can do, there is still justice to be found and so many ways to find it. I am not waiting around for a miracle, and it is going to take a lot more than that to uproot me from my spot. I am waiting for my beautiful, extraordinary partner, and this is my spot, right next to her.
"And I will be right here beside her as we pick up every stunning piece of her and put it back together. I love you, Kate. I know that you may not be ready to hear it and that you may not feel the same way. But you have to know. Without you my life means nothing. You have become everything to me, Kate, and I cannot let you give up my whole world that quickly."
She was in tears as he finished speaking. Of course he was right. His words scared her and she wasn't ready to hear them, but it was exactly what she needed to hear. He wasn't going anywhere. She should have known that it was going to take a lot more than this to move that stubborn man.
There were no words for her to say so she just leant as far forward as she could and reached for him, feeling every bit like a three year old and for the first time since she was shot she couldn't bring herself to care.
He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her tiny frame into his lap. She felt safe for the first time since her mother died as he pulled her closer and she buried her head into his chest.
She didn't have to say it. He knew that she was accepting him into her life. She was effectively saying 'I love you, too' when they both knew she was nowhere near ready to utter the words. She broke down in his arms and allowed herself to cry. She allowed him to hold her and be the one to comfort her when she needed it most.
He spoke softly into her ear and pressed kisses into her hair, allowing her all the time she needed to let all her frustration and sadness out. This was the first time since the shooting she had allowed herself to let go and cry for herself.
Finally she calmed down. Her sobs turned into mere hiccups and her breathing slowly regulated.
"I don't know how to do this, Castle. I don't know how to pick up all the tiny pieces."
"Together, Kate. We pick them up and get through this together. You aren't alone anymore. I am here for you always."
It had been two weeks since he had told her he loved her and she had let him see her break. It had still been a rough two weeks, even rougher now that she had a reason to get better, a reason to fight for her life back. After two more excruciating and emotional weeks of therapy, she was finally able to go home.
She still had a long way to go and she was still on a grueling therapy regimen, but they all thought it was best if she continued her recovery in a warm and comfortable place. So after a lot of begging and pleading, from Castle of course, it was decided that she would go to the Hampton's for the remainder of her recovery.The vitamin D would do her good and some of the best doctors and physical therapists practiced there. Alexis and Martha were going to join them and Castle had even persuaded her father to spend as much time as he liked at the house. He could not wait to have everyone he loved and cared about under one roof. Unfortunately not everyone felt that way.