It wasn't Castle's voice. She ignored it.
"Kate. Wake up, now. Come on. Open your eyes."
A woman's voice - vaguely familiar. Someone was holding her hand - no, her wrist - and cool fingers were gently pulling her eyelid open. She couldn't see anything clearly, but the room was bright. Too bright. She tried to protest, but her body would not respond.
Then, a voice that was the sweetest sound she knew. A man, his tone low and rough, as though he'd just woken up.
"Kate, it's okay. Wake up. Come back to me."
The woman's voice again. "Her pulse is picking up. Keep talking, Mr. Castle."
"Not a problem," said Castle, and Kate could hear the underlying amusement in his tone. "Kate - we were in the alley, remember? Behind the Pennybaker Club. You and me, and the Blue Butterfly. We were running away, and then the fog - "
The fog - it had rolled back in, Kate had lost sight of the man only inches away from her and clutched his hand even more tightly. Desperate to come through the confusion with him, wherever they ended up.
" - and I woke up holding your hand, right here. I'm right here, Kate. Tina's trying to help you now, but you have to try harder - "
Kate managed to emit a noise that came out something like a gargle, tried to move her lips, but they were so dry. Someone dripped a bit of water between them, easing her tongue and throat, and she made another noise that sounded like, "Castle."
"Yeah, that's it. Her eyes are open partway - can she see anything?"
"Probably just the lights," said the voice of Tina. "Here comes doctor now."
Another woman's voice said, "Ms. Beckett, coming back to us, are you? It's Dr. Wells. Squeeze my hand if you can hear me."
Kate squeezed as hard as she could, which wasn't much, but which seemed to please the doctor.
"Good, you're doing good. Mr. Castle, why don't you come round to this side and hold her hand. There you go."
The doctor's voice migrated over to Kate's left side and Castle's warm grip took hold of her right hand. She struggled to make another sound but didn't feel she was getting enough air, so instead she concentrated on her vision, blinking several times, trying to focus.
"Can we dim the lights a bit?" Castle asked.
"For a few minutes," said the doctor. "I need to be able to monitor her pupils."
The stress on Kate's vision eased a little; blinking helped moisten her eyes, and she tried looking this way and that without moving her head. When she spotted a blue-and-white blob that was probably Castle in a hospital gown, she squeezed his hand and felt her lips turn up in a smile that probably only she could detect.
"Hey," said Castle. "Welcome back."
"Did I - " At last Kate's vocal cords started working, though she sounded creaky. " - go somewhere?"
"Thought you did," Castle replied.
"Been right here, the whole time," she said, but then memories of her dreams came flooding back into her mind and she found herself panicking.
"Kate, what is it? Is she okay?" Castle turned to the doctor and nurse.
"Won't go back," Kate gasped. "Don't let me. Don't let go."
"I won't, not ever," her husband promised. "You're here with me, and here you're gonna stay."
"That's also my medical opinion," said Dr. Wells dryly. "You've been regaining consciousness for a couple of days now, Ms. Beckett, and there are no signs of a relapse."
Kate's breathing evened out and her vision began to clear - enough for her to make out a beloved face, sporting a wide grin and a spectacularly disheveled case of bedhead.
"Where did you think you were?" he asked softly.
"So many places," she told him. "Somewhere by a lake. And in a theater. And someplace called Llanview. And...the Ukraine, I think." She took his hand and focused on his face, recalling the various versions of it she'd seen lately. "You were there, in every one. Well, not you exactly - someone like you, in every dream."
"And here I thought there was no one like me," Rick mock-pouted.
"Someone who looked like you," she persisted, "and in some ways, talked or moved the way you do. But it wasn't you, until we got to the Pennybaker Club. The last time."
"I just put my head down for a minute, on your bed," said Rick. "I must have fallen asleep. I did dream about the case, but you're right - it was you and me."
Kate gave him a weary smile.
"Is this where I say, 'there's no place like home'?" she asked.
He leaned in and kissed her, his lips warm on hers.
"Now," he said with a mischievous gleam in his eye. "Tell me about all these other Castles."
A/N: And that's a wrap. Thank you for reading, commenting, suggesting, and/or cajoling. Thanks especially to the folks at castleficathon on tumblr and here on FFNet, for organizing and encouraging the continuation of fanfiction based in the Castle 'verse.