The ride to the Hamptons was excruciatingly long for Castle. Every little bump and pothole felt ten times bigger now that he had Kate to worry about. She was still in a lot of pain and the uneven pavement of the back roads was not making it any better.
Her scars pulled, her body was still adjusting, and her muscles were all out of whack from the physical therapy she was going through. A bullet was not so easy to bounce back from. She was faking sleep for his benefit and most likely Alexis' as well, she had perfected the fake sleeping act over the last few months, but he could see her wince and try to shift with every bump.
He breathed a huge sigh of relief as the driveway came into sight. He reached over and patted the unusually quiet Alexis on the knee. She looked over and gave him a weak smile before turning back towards the window.
He was worried about his little girl, well not so little anymore. She just hadn't been herself lately. He had been trying to split his time between Kate and Alexis in the last few weeks and it was really taking it out of him. When he was with Kate he worried about Alexis and when he was with Alexis he was worried about Kate. He was looking forward to having all of his girls under one roof.
He stopped the car and Alexis was out in a flash already heading for her bags. It was good to see her excited. He knew that a change of pace was in order for everyone.
He got out of the car and ran around to Kate's door. Now came the hard part. He had a lot of help getting Kate into the car, but now he was alone. She wasn't heavy under any stretch of the imagination and he was strong enough to lift her. The problem was that Kate hated that she needed help. She was not 100% comfortable with anyone seeing her weaknesses and she just felt more and more like a burden. He told her day after day that he wanted to help her and that she was never a burden, but she refused to believe him.
He opened her door and took in the sight of her. She looked miserable. Her whole body was rigid and tense, which could not be good for her. She had a therapy session this morning before he had come to pick her up, or break her out as she had quipped, so he expected her to be tired. That coupled with the long and unusually bumpy ride had completely drained her.
For the millionth time he wished he could take all of her pain away. He would trade places with her in a heartbeat and he would pay any amount of money to just give her a few minutes of relief. He hoped that being in the new and free environment of the beach would help her relax and recover.
Castle ran his hand through her hair and pushed a stray section behind her ear. Her eyes slowly opened and she let out a long breath.
"Hey. We're here. Just give me five minutes and I'll get you out of here and settled in okay." She nodded her head and he moved to the back of the car.
His mother was already standing at the back of the car.
"Good Afternoon, Mother. How are you?" He asked as he began unloading and unfolding the wheelchair he had stashed in the back. "Everything is in order for her?"
"Yes. Everything is set up and the fridge is stocked. How is she, darling?"
"Well she is in exhausted and in pain at the moment, but I'm hoping after a round of medication and a nap she might have some dinner with us."
"Ah, well I am off to a little get together to kick off the summer. I should be back before dinner, but let's face it I may not be. Ta Ta." And with that Hurricane Martha was off, a taxi already waiting at the bottom of the driveway. HE watched her walk away and shook his head before returning to Kate with wheelchair in tow.
It wasn't anything high tech or electronic. It was just a basic push and roll chair. Eventually they would progress to something with more power that would allow her to be able to get around on her own without having to only use her arms. However, she was still too weak from surgery and therapy to be on her own, and he had yet to find the perfect one for her, so this would have to do for now.
He came to her door and found her much more alert.
"Ready?" She gave no verbal answer, but she wrapped her arms around his neck when he put his around her back. His other arm slipped under her knees and he lifted her into his arms.
She was much too light which made it easy to slowly spin her around and gently place her in the chair. Once he was sure she was settled he closed the car door and took up his place behind her.
"Wow, Castle, you rich or something." It was said weakly, but he could hear the Beckett behind it and it made him smile.
"Well, I am not Patterson rich, but I do okay." He said back as he slowly pushed her toward the newly installed ramp that led to the house. He had made a few adjustments to the house to get ready for her arrival. Other than the ramp, he got a new dining room table that was the perfect height for her chair, he had the way to the pool and a strip of land all the way down to the sand paved, and a few changes to the room and bathroom that she would be using.
He took her through the foyer and living room, past the office/library, and into the room he had made up for her. There would be time for tours later, right now he just wanted to get her somewhere more comfortable.
As soon as they started entertaining the idea of going to the Hampton's he had started on her room. He had two walls painted a deep purple and left the others white. The queen sized bed was centered on one of the purple walls and faced the huge windows that looked out onto the ocean and took up most of one wall. There were pictures that he had obtained from her father placed throughout the room on the nightstand and dresser of her and her mother, the boys, and even her extended family. There was an en suite bathroom and a deck attached to the room.
He had even taken the big print of the elephant out of his own bedroom at the loft to hang on the purple wall clearly visible from the bed and the elephants that once rested on her desk had made their way to her nightstand. He hoped that she would like it and that she would feel at home here.
"Oh my goodness, Castle." She murmured softly as they entered the room.
He pushed her over to the bed and locked the wheels. He came to stand in front of her and leaned down. There were tears in her eyes as she shook her head and averted her gaze.
"Hey, hey, what's wrong?" Castle put his hand under her chin and lifted her face so that he could look into her eyes. "Are you in pain, you should really take some of the medicine they gave you this morning, here I will go get it for you, let's just get you into…"
She grabbed his wrist as he tried to stand up, effectively keeping him with her.
"No, I'm not….it's just…You shouldn't have done all of this for me. You shouldn't have uprooted your whole life and built it back around me. I'm broken, Castle. I'm not worth all of this. You must have put so much into this and I could never repay you for all of this and the rehab center and all that you are doing for me." She was working herself up and he knew this wasn't good for her.
She felt guilty and it killed him. She had done absolutely nothing wrong and he would go to the ends of the earth for her. He would do anything for her because she was his everything. His whole world consisted of Kate and Alexis. He would die for her, kill for her, nothing compared to some paint and screws. He loved her with every fiber of his being, but she wasn't ready for that yet.
Ever since she had begun letting him in, that day at the rehab center, their relationship had definitely taken a step forward, but it was still complicated. They touched more. She reached out for him when she needed comfort and he held her and touched her more than was strictly necessary to be her care taker. They weren't saying those three words, though he sometimes had to bite his tongue to keep it in, and they weren't dating necessarily, so yeah, it was complicated.
He loved her and he hated it when she beat herself up and tried to convince him that she wasn't worth it. He took the crying woman into his arms and pulled her from her chair and pulled her to his chest as he sat on the bed. He held her in his lap as she cried. She took a few halfhearted swings at his chest to show her protest.
Eventually she stopped fighting and her tears slowed.
"Kate, you are worth so much more than all of this. You are extraordinary and nothing is going to change that. I don't care if you never take another step, nothing will change the way I feel about you. And you have so many people who love you, Kate.
"You will never owe me anything, if anything I owe you. You made me a better man, a better father. You inspire me every day and I am so honored that you have let me into your life. You have to stop this, okay.
"This situation sucks, but it is in no way your fault, and there is nothing that you could do to make me love you any less." She tensed at his words, but let him continue. "We're going to get through this, okay, you and me. It will get better, alright, you just have to hold on and trust me. It is okay to lean on me. Let me take care of you, let me do things for you. I know it is hard for you, but I'm not going anywhere whether you fight me or not. Nothing you can do is going to make me leave."
She nodded her head, having calmed to the sound of his words, and snuggled closer to her as best she could. He pulled her close and held her for a moment before he stood up, pulled back the covers, and tucked her in.
He pressed a kiss to her hair and whispered, "I'll be right back." He ran out to the car and brought her medicine and heating blanket in with him.
He brought her a glass of water and helped her sit up. She took the pill and a few more sips of water and he helped her get comfortable in the cocoon of the warm blanket. One thing he had learned over the last few months was that she was the most cold natured person he had ever met and she couldn't sleep without being completely warm.
He was just about to get up and leave her to sleep when she grabbed his wrist again.
"Stay with me." Her voice was already heavy with sleep and her whole body relaxed by the medicine and exhaustion. "just until I fall asleep."
The last word was slurred and he could not help but find it adorable. So he held her hand and stroked her hair until she was in a deep sleep. She was so beautiful when she slept, well she was beautiful all the time, but especially when all of the pain and worry was gone from her face and she was completely relaxed. He hoped that soon that look would be seen more and more often even when she wasn't asleep. He pressed a final kiss to her head and set off to unload the car and have a swim with his daughter.