A/N: OK, so I was a little- well, a lot- backed up on this story, so the conclusion is kind of behind-times. Still, I hope you all enjoy it.
"Anything that happens, happens. Anything that, in happening, causes something else to happen, causes something else to happen. Anything that, in happening, causes itself to happen again, happens again. It doesn't necessarily do it in chronological order, though." – Mostly Harmless, by Douglas Adams
"Wake up." Castle leaned over the hospital bed, a hand on Beckett's shoulder, shaking her lightly. He couldn't remember for how long she had been out. Something more than a day. Esposito had been keeping him updated as to time, but he had lost track…
However many hours she had been comatose, he wanted her to wake up now. Something immensely important, he couldn't say what, was hanging on this moment. Since he had watched her drop to the ground at Montgomery's funeral, he had not felt this urgently that he needed her. He needed her to wake up now.
"Kate, please," he said, his voice dropping to a low whisper. Across the room, Lanie was sinking lower in her chair, her nose deeper into her magazine, giving him his moment of pleading with the unconscious woman on the bed. He wondered in the back of his mind if he had done this before now.
And then, against all odds, her eyelids popped open, almost reflexively. It wasn't like watching the tentative fluttering of a dazed person, but the shock of a person breaking away from a nightmare. "Kate?"
"Stop saying that," she mumbled to his amazement. For a moment, he was at a loss for words.
And then he had too many- he was saying her name, mixed in with arrays of "You're okay" and "Thank God."
"Castle?"said Beckett. For some reason, she seemed more shocked to see him leaning over her than he had been to see her wake up. "Castle, is that you?"
"Yes," he said, leaning back to see that she was really awake, and then he seemed to remember that Lanie was there as well, beaming and running over to the cot. "Yes, it's me, are you okay?"
"I think…" she murmured, flexing her arms. "I- what's Derrick Storm's job?" Castle blinked, and Lanie looked worried.
"What's Derrick Storm's job?" she said again.
A voice from the doorway- Lanie must have summoned a doctor when she had realized that her best friend was awake. "Just answer her questions," he said. "She's bound to be a bit confused."
"Right," said Castle, sounding a bit confused himself. "Derrick Storm is a private investigator."
"Oh, thank God, I'm back," she whispered, mostly to herself. "I'm back. I'm- what happened?" She looked at Rick. "Why does my chest hurt?" Despite her gaze focused on her partner, it was the doctor in the doorway who answered.
"You were shot by a sniper during your eulogy," he informed her. "Dr. Davidson was able to bring you back."
The rest was a blur of people hugging her cautiously. As the day ended, and her visitors gravitated out of the room after it had been announced that she would stay overnight in the hospital, Beckett realized that Castle had not left his place beside her.
"Hey," she said, tired. Somewhere in the back of her head she wondered why the doctors had allowed him to stay, but she didn't really mind. After ascertaining that she really was back in the right universe- reality, she realized, the reality that wasn't all part of a coma-dream- she didn't really concern herself with little things like being alone in the room with her partner.
"You should sleep," he suggested, sounding for the first time in days at peace.
"I want to know…" she said, her voice dropping in her exhaustion, "I want to know why you decided to write mystery novels."
He had stopped being bemused over her questions, as there had been several strange ones over the course of the day. "Well," he said, "I was thirteen…"