A/N: This was just typed up in literally 30 minutes. That's how quickly it came to me. And who really needs sleep in college?

Disclaimer: When I become the next Andrew Marlowe, I'll be sure to read fanfiction. Until then, I'll just write it using his characters. Spoilers for Season Four.

Kate was sprawled out on her couch, a book open on her chest, and a glass of white wine on the coffee table. It had been a long day and her appearance mirrored the stress. The loose heather-grey yoga pants and an oversized t-shirt, cut along the neckline so one side fell over her shoulder, made her look tiny. Her hair was a tangled mess, pulled back into a ponytail that currently tumbled over the throw pillows propping her head up. There were purple crescents under her tired green eyes.

She had hoped that reading would take her mind off work. The case was hard, but the fact that it included the sexual assault of a minor made it that much more difficult to work. Emotions ran high with minors, especially when she had a father as her partner. She still had the image of Castle's face when they had arrived on the scene and caught sight of that little girl.

New York City bustled outside her windows, the familiar sounds of cars honking, subways rattling, and taxi drivers screaming at jaywalking pedestrians were a lullaby after a lifetime in Manhattan. She faintly heard a siren in the distance, her brain working to figure out which emergency personnel that belonged to. But the next sound was not usual in her neighborhood: a gunshot rang out, the sound bouncing off the exterior of buildings.

After six months, Kate thought she had a handle on her panic attacks. But this caught her by surprise and that vise tightened around her chest with such ferocity that it physically hurt her to breathe. She didn't hear the shouts from the street or the feeling of the book falling to the ground as she sat up.

There, in the dark of her apartment, Kate sat, gasping for breath. She could feel the tears gathering behind her eyes and the part of her that was still holding onto control forced them back. In a panic, Kate fumbled for her cell phone, her fingers shaking as she hit the second speed dial.

"Castle." The voice on the other end of the line was sleepy, obviously woken from a dead slumber.

Her voice shook as she said a single word: "Help."

She heard the sheets rustle on his end, heard his feet hit the hardwood floor as he ran from the bedroom. "Hold on, Kate. Okay? Just stay with me."

"Castle, I-"

"I'm on my way. Just stay right where you are. Stay on the phone, Kate. Got it?"

Somehow, she managed to get her mouth to answer with an affirmative. Her body trembled as she curled against the side of the couch, the phone cradled against her chest. When he asked questions to make sure she was still present, she mumbled back responses, the words not making any sense.

Fifteen minutes later, she heard banging on the door. "Kate! Open the door, Kate!"

"S'open," she called, just loud enough for him to hear through the wood.

He burst through the door, letting it slam against the wall before it closed itself from the extra momentum. "Kate!"

She turned her eyes up to him just as he sat on the couch near her feet. "Castle, there… there was…"

"Shh… Come here, Kate." He reached out, pulling her into his lap, cradling her head against his shoulder. He ran his hand over her hair, his fingers catching in the snarls. "It's okay. You're right here, right?"

"But I heard…"

He hated how weak her voice sounded against his chest. "But it wasn't you. You're okay. Kate, you're alive. Right here."

The floodgates broke. With a strangled sob, she fisted his shirt in her hands and cried into his shoulder. "Oh, God, Castle…"

"It's okay, Kate," he whispered repeatedly, smoothing his hands over her shoulders and back. Her body shook with the adrenaline from the panic attack and the strength of the tears. He faintly heard sirens nearby, obviously responding to the gunshot. But he was more concerned with the woman breaking apart in his arms. After five minutes, her sobs slowed to gasping, uneven breaths. If long nights of comforting Alexis after nightmares as a toddler were any indication, those usually signified exhaustion coming on.

She didn't notice when he picked her up, carrying her from the living room to her bedroom. Her hands automatically wrapped around his neck, her nose still buried into the place where his neck met his shoulder.

He hadn't been in her bedroom in the new apartment and didn't have time to admire the decidedly non-Beckett style in which it was decorated. He let his shins bump the mattress as he moved to lay her down. But she didn't untangle her fingers from behind his neck.

"Kate, you need to let go."

Her voice was scratchy and thick with emotion. "No. Stay." She cracked one eye open and saw his face, indecision written across it. "Please. I just need a person here. In case it happens again."

He swallowed, nodding slowly. "Okay." As soon as he consented, she let herself fall back onto the pillows. Castle pulled the sheets up to her waist, the faintest of smiles tugging at his lips when she sighed. He took a moment, closing his eyes and raising his face to the ceiling, wondering what the hell he was doing. Then he toed off his shoes and went to the other side of the bed, lying on top of the sheets.

Kate shifted over, pressing her body against his. Despite the intimate position, he could tell she was just looking for a warm body to pull comfort from. And if that's all she needed, he was happy to be used. She rested her head on his shoulder, letting one hand curl on his chest. The contented sigh that escaped her lips had his heart swelling. He wrapped his arm around her shoulder and his fingertips brushed the neckline of the t-shirt. The movement had it slipping lower and, even in the dark, he could make out the scar she had taken precautions to hide from the public.

"It doesn't make you weak or any less beautiful, Kate," he muttered into her hair.

As his fingertips ran along the smooth skin and over the slightly-raised bump from the surgery, Kate sighed out four words he wasn't prepared to hear.

"I love you, Castle."

A/N: This was brought to you by a tumblr post that wanted to see Kate call Castle for comfort when she was suffering a panic attack. In my original idea, they just talked through it over the phone. But Castle is a man of action now and found his way to her apartment where Kate decided to drop that bomb on him.

As of now, I'm leaving this as "in-progress" since I may want to return to this story and talk about the repercussions of her half-asleep declaration. If I ever find the time, that is.

Reviews would be lovely. Just sayin'...