I really, honestly and truly can't thank you guys enough for all your reviews and for taking the time to read this little fic. Its been a blast sharing this with you !
I'm sad to see it come to an end, but to an end it must come...
Ten days. Ten whole and complete days.
A week and a half.
Two hundred and forty hours.
Fourteen thousand, four hundred minutes.
Enough, was enough.
He was bored. There was only so much of Castle he could take, only so many stories he could listen to. Even the movies Javier had brought hadn't been enough to keep him occupied for two hundred and forty hours. Granted, he slept probably three quarters of that. But still, that was besides the point. The point was, he'd had enough. And now? Well, now his partner was late.
Kevin sat on the edge of the bed, the urge to swing his legs being held firmly back by the pull of the stitches in his still healing leg.
Damn blood loss.
Damn healing muscle.
"Kevin?" Questioned Nurse Tamala Parish.
"I'm fine, I'm just. You know." Kevin gestured around the white room for emphasis to his unspoken point.
"Itching to get the hell outta here. I hear ya, Detective."
Kevin smiled at the nurse, in one hand she held two crutches, her other hand on her hip, a move which reminded him so fully of Lanie it was uncanny.
"You gonna come visit?" He asked, changing the subject.
"You bet your badge I am, I hear you're quite the cook."
"Who told you that?"
"Javier. My husband and I had dinner with him and Lanie the other night."
"Oh really?" Kevin smirked as the nurse playfully hit his arm.
"Now don't tease them, neither of them have ever been this serious about anyone else before which is why they kept it quiet."
"They make a nice couple."
"That they do."
"But if he doesn't turn up soon, I'm afraid I'm going to have to shoot him."
Tamala sniggered as Esposito chose that moment to walk into the room.
"Hey, bro. I see you're ready to go."
"Yeah, more than ready." Kevin attempted a frown but was so glad to be finally escaping the confines of the hospital that he really couldn't hold onto his annoyance with his partner.
"Yeah, sorry I'm a bit late, bro. I had to go pick up something."
"What?" Questioned Kevin. Javier glanced at Tamala and winked. He walked forward and carefully helped the injured man slide off the bed.
Kevin held onto to Javier as tight he could. He'd been up and about a few times now, but each time was a painful transition and thanks to his still healing body, meant that the room span for a few seconds any time his feet hit the floor. He felt Nurse Parish holding onto his other arm, between the detective and the nurse they were determined to keep the injured man from face planting which would ensure an even longer stay in the hospital.
"Kevin?" Questioned Tamala.
"I'm ok." Kevin answered as he opened his eyes and smiled. "Think I'm getting better at that."
"Mmm Mmmm." Tamala didn't look convinced.
Kevin reached for the crutches, frowning as Tamala moved them out of his reach.
"Oh come on." He complained. He glared at Javier as the other man moved the wheel chair from the corner of the room up to the injured man.
"Come on, bro. You get to go for a little ride outta here."
"I can walk."
"You can barely hobble."
"It's enough to get out to the car."
"Now, now boys. Sorry Kevin, but hospital policy. You gotta ride outta here." Tamala actually looked sorry for the detective, despite the grin that threatened to break out of Javier's face and slap Kevin full force on the nose. She ignored the other man and focused on helping Kevin into the wheel chair.
He grumbled only once on the way out of the hospital. With each step forward toward the exit his mood lifted. By the time Javier wheeled him out into the pick up zone he was practically beaming. He waved as Kate pulled the car up to the entrance, Castle hopped out of the passenger side, practically skipping up to the two detectives and the nurse.
"Freedom!" He proclaimed as he threw his fist in the air. Four sets of eyes stared at him. He put his hand down and pursed his lips. "Too much?" He asked.
"Well at least you didn't paint half your face blue." Quipped Kevin.
"Ryan, you ready to go home?" Asked Kate.
"Oh you have no idea. Not that it hasn't been fun, Tamala."
"Hon it's been a pleasure, but how's about we spend some quality time together under better circumstances next time."
"No arguments here." Kevin smiled as the nurse kissed his cheek. Once again Javier helped him stand, this time Castle steadying him on the other side. The two men helped him to the car, Tamala handed the crutches to Kate and waved goodbye to the team.
Kevin settled into the back seat, Javier by his side. He was so relieved to be leaving the hospital that he failed to see the large box sitting by his feet.
Kate threw the car into gear and pulled away from the hospital, Castle turned in his seat, his excitement alerting Kevin to the fact that all the attention was once again on him.
"What?" He questioned.
Javier leant over him, pulling the box from the floor.
"We got you something, bro."
"Really? Guys you shouldn't have."
"Open it, open it" Castle practically bounced in his seat. Kate exchanged a look in the rear view with Javier and laughed.
"My god Castle you are like a five year old at Christmas."
"I just wanna see his face when he opens it."
Kevin laughed, his first, fully committed, totally stress free laugh in almost two weeks. Javier settled further back into his seat. He hadn't realised just how much he'd needed to hear that sound until now. Suddenly he felt like a weight lifted, his nightmares now a thing of dreams, not something to be feared to be true. His partner really was ok.
And he was going home.
Kevin pulled aside the paper from the box and lifted up the lid. He looked inside. His expression unreadable.
Javier searched the detectives eyes, smiled at what he found. Castle ducked down, trying to read the expression. He gave a worried glance to Kate who smiled and winked at him in reassurance.
"You guys." Kevin cleared his throat as his voice caught. "You guys, you shouldn't have."
"Was the least we could do for all you went through." Explained Kate.
"Well?" Demanded Castle.
Kevin look up, his eyes swimming with unshed tears. "I don't know what to say."
"You like it?" Pressed Castle.
"Oh yeah. I really, really do." The injured man turned to look at his partner. Both men had been through so much in that past two weeks. Impossible situations that seemed to hold no end in sight. Yet they'd been there together. Got through it together. Would recover, together.
"Bro." Kevin shook his head, a smile cracked at the corners of his eyes, his mouth curled up. "Seriously?" He questioned.
"Seriously." Agreed Esposito. "And this time, don't get anything on it."
Kevin held up the green jacket with pride. "Not even deli sauce." He said.
"Best put it away then." Commented Castle.
Kevin frowned, Javier smiled, Castle bounced.
"Where do you think we're going for lunch?" Asked Kate.
Kevin's stomach rumbled at the thought. As much as he'd had enough of the hospital he'd had completely enough of hospital food.
"Sounds good, but this time, I'm covering myself in napkins."
"If you do that, bro, I am so taking a picture." Laughed Javier as Kate manoeuvred the car through the early afternoon traffic.
They were whole and complete again and the sound warmed each one deep within their core. They were a team. They were friends.
They were family.
See you at the next one...