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Chapter 19

Alexis watched quietly as Kate breathed in and out. The steady rhythm was soothing to the frightened girl and the relaxed air only more so. Wearily the teenager studied the detective's face. She felt an undeniable connection with the woman lying there before her. While she had always had a sense the detective her father always talked about would become important in her life, she had no idea until the start of this week how big a role the detective would take on.

Perhaps, after the chaos of this incident had finally receded into the backs of their minds Kate Beckett would be more present at their loft until finally it would be made official with a sparkling diamond on her finger. This thought of the future lifted Alexis's spirits and put a smile back on her face. Kate just seemed to fit in and she was looking forward to having a mother figure in her life that wouldn't just come to shop and take her to Paris for lunch.

"…You better not break my dad's heart detective. I don't think he could recover," she murmured, continuing to watch her sleeping face. "But I suppose I don't have to worry because I can tell you love him just as much."

"I do love him Alexis…I do," Kate's voice resonated weakly from her parched throat.

"Ah! D-detective! Kate! I mean-"she fumbled for words. "I thought- well you were asleep!" she exclaimed.

Her lips turned up at the corner. "I was until I heard your voice. It must have woken me up."

"Oh I'm so sorry," she profusely apologized.

"No need to be. I needed to wake up," she shook her head trying to get through the fog of the pain medication and long bouts of induced sleep. "What happened?" she asked, blinking to get the room less blurry.

"You came out of surgery a few hours ago. I talked to the doctors personally and they said they were confident you would make a full recovery as long as you rest and take your medication." She beamed, happy for her and the fact she was able to procure this information out of the tight-lipped doctors.

"And…your father?" Beckett whispered, almost dreading the answer. Flashes of scattered and faint memories rose to the surface. Castle struggling desperately to breathe, the pain so clearly etched on his face was the most prevalent image that burned in her mind.

"He…" Alexis began and swiftly turned her head slightly so that her eyes no longer met hers. "He is in surgery again." She shrugged; attempting to act like this was no big deal. As she winced though, the evidence of her worry was displayed across her young face.

"Again?" Kate inquired, catching the key word. "How many times have they…operated on him?" she breathed.

"Three times," Alexis said with a sigh.

The two women fell into silence, contemplating the circumstances. "But he will be okay right? He's not in any danger?" Kate's question broke the quiet.

"The doctors hope so," she murmured.

In order to distract both of them from the sensitive subject they chatted away quietly about anything other than the fact that surgery was taking a lot longer than could be normal. Both of their eyes flitted towards the clock in a timed rhythm as the unsympathetic hands ticked downwards.

Martha Rodgers joined the conversation an hour into it, instantly picking up on the fact that they were refusing to mention neither Castle's nor Kate's predicament. Soon Kate's eyelids grew heavy again, begging to slide over her hazel eyes. Noticing this Alexis and Martha left the room and bid her goodnight. They both agreed they needed to spend the night at the loft to catch up on some much needed sleep.

No sooner than her two favorite red heads waved and disappeared than the rest of the world disappeared with it as she fell blissfully into sleep.

The doctor sighed, thinking what a day it was to celebrate his anniversary sewing up the large surgical wound in this sleeping man's body. While he would rather be spending the evening with his wife he was grateful that he had been on duty for this man whose life had hung teetering in the balance. Methodically stitching up the large straight cut his mind began to wander. So far so good, he thought as he pursed his lips. This man looked so familiar… perhaps on actor on a television show perhaps that he'd occasionally glimpse a moment of?

To confirm his sense of familiarity he glanced at the patients file that was scattered on a nearby table. Richard Castle? Hm…now where had he… oh! Oh of course, Derrick Storm! Smiling to himself he thought of how his wife would react when he told her that she had saved the novelist's life. If he brought her back a signed autograph, she would surely forgive him for the long hours spent here and not in her arms.

"There, All done," he commented, finishing the stitch. Putting away the needle on the medical tray he went to the sink to wash his hands. It had been a long few hours and he certainly felt the fatigue of the long surgical procedure catching up on him, however he felt content and satisfied with the days work. He'd just have to return Mr. Castle to his spacious room and then he could go home to an anxious wife.

With a shake of the head he redressed Mr. Castle and then carted him back to the room next to a very stunning looking woman. "You'll be happy when you wake up," he said with a chuckle before exiting in haste.

Later, with slumber fading and awareness slowly creeping Kate into consciousness she became sensitive to a hand encased around hers. The hold was familiar and fit around hers perfectly. Without even a word Kate already felt comforted, safe, and protected. Slight movements of his thumb gently caressing her palm made her realize exactly who it was even in her muddled state.

"Rick..." she murmured, voice strained.

"Yeah. I'm here."

Her eyelids released their hold on her vision, opening so she could take in a now familiar room. Yet if she tilted her head just slightly to the left she could find a very recognizable face and the source of her feelings of home. Her response to just seeing him made a smile rise to her lips.

For a moment they both just sat in silence, hungrily taking in each others faces. Kate's eyes raked over every injury, critically taking in the severity. He did the same to her, worry creasing in his brow until their eyes finally met. So many things were exchanged in the complete silence, their communication needing nothing verbal for now. Crystal blue eyes pierced into her green irises and a smile lit both of their faces. Pain that was dulled because of medication almost faded completely into the background.

Finally Richard broke the silence. "You shouldn't have pushed me out of the way you know. In the fire," He spoke. His voice was laced pain and you could hear the damage that had been done to him.

"hmph. I don't think you could have handled it," Kate smiled. "Someone tough needed to take on that thing." It seemed that nothing could stop their banter or their compulsive urge to tease.

"You wound me detective," he chuckled, his old crooked smile spreading across his face.

That smile suddenly brought overwhelming emotions to Kate. She had wanted to see that smile for such a long time...and now that she was seeing it...

"Have you talked to the doctors?" Kate asked, the burning question of his health coming to the forefront to her mind. After all this...he deserved to be alright.

"No...Not yet. I woke a few minutes before you." He whispered quietly, not wanting to strain his voice.

"Alexis was here earlier. When you were still in surgery," she said softly. "She talked to the doctors and they said I was going to be fine. You too," she lied easily.

With his cerulean eyes boring into her she quickly looked away, revealing the lie. Not wanting to talk further about his uncertain condition she reached for the water by her bedside and sipped.

Remaining uncharacteristically silent Castle observed her until he began to cough quietly. It didn't stop for several moments at which point the detective had taken notice and took his hand worriedly. As Castle struggled to catch his breath a petite nurse entered the room. "Ah... I see you've discovered one side effect to your injuries."

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