Chicken Soup

"I'm not sick!" Castle argued.

Beckett looked at him, her head tilted to the side and a look of disbelief on her face.

As if to argue with him, his own body rebelled and he felt a sneeze coming on. Lifting a hand up to cover his mouth and nose, he clamped his eyes shut for a moment. The sneeze didn't come. A triumphant smile on his face, he took his hand down. As he did so, something tickled his nose and the sneeze finally came in a loud, "achoo"!

"Really?" Beckett said dryly. "You're not sick?"

Castle frowned. "I'm not! I'm not sick. I just have... allergies. Someone must have walked past with some flowers or pollen or something. Maybe someone had dust! Or the ash of a loved one, which I breathed in and oh my God, is that disgusting!"

"Castle, go home." Running a hand through her hair, Beckett sighed. She glanced across the room at Ryan and Esposito, hunched over behind one of the computers. Lanie was talking with another officer, a clipboard held out and her index finger pointing to something on the page. She looked back at Castle. "Do you want to get everyone else here sick?"

"No! Of course not. But I'm not-"

"Sick? Yes you are."

"I just... I don't want to be alone right now, okay?"

"What? Are you afraid you'll choke on your tongue and have no one to pull it out and save your life?"

"How did you-?"

"Alexis warned me you might do something like this. She said that since Martha moved out you've been paranoid about being alone and with her away for the week as well..."

"Well, hey! I am sick. I need someone to look after me."

"Castle, you're a grown man! Have you not ever been sick and had to look after yourself?"

Castle shrugged.

"You haven't?" she exclaimed.

He merely looked at her and put on a sad face.

"Wow, Castle. You really should go grow some."

"Ha. Funny." He sneezed again, cringing afterwards and then rubbing at his temples with the middle fingers of both hands.

Beckett rolled her eyes. "Okay. Fine. I'll take you home. We can grab stuff on the way if you need anything."

"Great! Road trip!"

"Actually, you know what?" she said.

Castle quirked an eyebrow.

"Ryan," Beckett called across the room. "Our boy here needs a trip home and some TLC. Think you can leave Esposito awhile and tend to him?"

Ryan craned his neck at her, looking at her as if she had lost her mind. He gestured at Esposito with his thumb and waved it about a little. "But, I have things. And shouldn't you-"

"You might not want to mistake that for a question."

"On my way, boss. Castle, let's get outta here," Ryan smiled sympathetically at a forlorn Esposito and then headed for the door.

"Evil creature," Castle muttered at Beckett.

She grinned and nudged him slightly. "Go on then. Ryan'll take care of you. Do you need him to tuck you in as well? I'm sure that can be arranged."

"No, that's fine. I'll tuck myself in."

"I hear he cooks a mean chicken soup," Beckett added. "Made it for Esposito once. The guy came back in boasting how Ryan cooked for him."

"Okay! Okay, I get it. I'll go home. Just stop... saying those things."

"Good boy." Beckett smirked. "One of you guys, call him a cab."

"On it boss," Esposito said.

Castle frowned and tucked his hands into his pockets. "Hey! What happened to chicken soup?"