Author's Note: Hey folks, thanks for clicking on my story and if you choose to read past this author's note, thank you for reading! I haven't written a fic for any show in a long, long time and I appreciate reads, reviews and follows more than ever as I try to get out of a horrible writing slump. This chapter is very short, I know, but future chapters will be longer as I ease myself into writing. I hope you enjoy and forgive my lack of medical knowledge should it arise in this fic. Thanks again!

X X X

'Not a word. Or Nurse Sandra-Stick-Up-Her-Ass will kick my ass out of here.'

'She's just doing her job, Castle,' Kate smiled, gratefully accepting the white paper bag that her husband had smuggled in from outside. Today's choice of contraband: two frosted doughnuts. 'And you shouldn't have. I can barely manage the food I get here as it is. Two's too many.'

His left hand dived into the open bag like a hungry seagull at Coney Island. 'Did I say they were both for you?' Plucking one ring out, he plopped himself down on the armchair beside Kate's bed. His ass had carved out their own grooves in that aging leather chair over the past week and a bit, ever since he had been discharged. He had been lucky with his bullet and had only been bedridden for a little over a week. Kate was coming up for three weeks with her recovery hindered by infections that were hitting her fragile body hard. Yet she still put on a brave face and a smile and never complained. 'That's right, I definitely did not. Now, eat that bad boy up before Sandra catches us and has a reason to kick me out of here.'

Kate's laugh was underscored with a small wince. 'She does have a point, you know.'

'I don't loiter.'

'Please. I would and can very easily call the first few months of you working with me as loitering.'

'Yes but I helped,' he reasoned.

'But I found you annoying as hell.'

'And then you fell deeply and madly in love with me. Everything turned out pretty nicely, don't you think?'

She smiled, wide. 'Yeah.' Then her smile disappeared, her brow furrowing and her interest in the doughnut dwindled. 'It's been a weird few weeks, hasn't it?'

'You could say,'he nodded, shifting forward a little. His appetite too had now gone and he rested his snack on the bedside table. 'It goes without saying…yet, you just did.'

'I…' She tailed off, her voice cracking a little. She took a second to compose herself before she tried again. 'I knew the risks when I signed up to the academy. I knew that I could get hurt and I knew that one of the ways in which I could get hurt was getting shot. Taking a bullet is an occupational risk for every cop but…but I've been shot twice now. And both times, I've nearly died.'

And both times he, Richard Castle, would never forget how close he had come to losing her. He hated the sight of her in a hospital bed. She always looked so small hooked up to machines. 'I know,' was the only response he could muster.

'I…I don't want it to be third time lucky,' she said before shaking her head. 'No. I can't keep living like that and I don't want to keep living like that.'

'Are you saying—'

'That I quit?' She asked and he nodded, slowly. 'Yeah. That's exactly what I'm saying.'