He would be there whenever she opened her eyes. Each time.
Castle had been discharged three days ago, but Kate had been in a nice, drugged-out lethargy for nearly a week. It had given him time to run home, shower and change clothes, eat when he needed to, and then get back before she ever noticed. She hadn't been noticing much. They had a couple conversations, mostly with Kate repeating herself, asking him over and over if he was truly okay.
When he came back into her room, he saw the way her eyes shifted under her lids, the twitching of her fingers, so he sat beside her in the bed, carding his fingers through her hair. Her mouth was open at his thigh; the bed was lowered to keep her flat so the puncture in her spine would continue to heal.
After a few minutes of stroking his fingers down the side of her face and into her hair, she struggled awake. Her eyes were more aware than they'd been in awhile, but still hazy.
She licked her lips and swallowed; her eyes drifted shut. She moved her leg, sliding between the sheets, and then turned over, her arms going around him, his thigh, his waist, like she was snuggling up to a teddy bear.
He stilled, eyebrows raised, waiting for whatever came next.
Kate jerked, awake at last, and withdrew her arms, rolling back on her side, and looked up at him.
He grinned. "Trying to cop a feel of my coccyx again, Kate?"
She blushed, a hand coming over her mouth, brushing down. "What?"
"My tailbone," he said, laughing at her.
She smacked his thigh. "Shut up."
"Wanna sit up?" he asked, shifting on the bed. She nodded and he got off, thumbed the controls to raise the head of the bed. She maneuvered slowly as it went, then brushed a hand through her hair and frowned.
"Castle," she complained, tugging her hair back.
"It's fine. It looks fine."
"You're making it oily. And the nurses won't help me wash it every time you-"
"I'll help you wash it." He offered eagerly, and of course, she huffed at him. But she'd already made space on the bed for him. He took his usual spot and couldn't help reaching his hand out to stroke his fingers along her cheek, into her hair.
She ducked against his touch, captured his wrist with her strong fingers, glaring.
"You feel better," he said happily.
She dropped his hand with a sigh. "Yes. Haven't needed that today." She gestured towards the PCA pump and curled up a little tighter.
Castle slid his arm around her shoulders, pulled her over into his lap. She laid her head against his arm, curled her fingers at his elbow, sighing.
"Time is it?" she murmured.
"Around ten. In the morning. Dr. Benton thinks you'll get discharged today, after lunch."
"He told me. I think. Sometime last night." She slid her leg against his in the bed, her knee coming up. "Want to get out of here. Go home."
"I bet. You come home with me."
"What?" She lifted her head, stared at him, started to move away. He tightened his arms, squeezed his knees together to trap her leg, reminding her of how close they already were. She gave him a look but stopped shifting. "No, Castle."
"Then let me come home with you."
She sighed and lowered her head back to its resting place. Progress at least.
"I'm back at work on Wednesday," she said, rubbing her fingers over his wrist.
She murmured something he didn't catch but which might have been Duh and then she shifted away from him, sitting up. She winced but shrugged off his concerned look.
She sighed, nodded. It seemed enough. A question not asked but definitely answered.
"We'll figure out who these guys are-" he started.
She squeezed his fingers and he shut up. She hadn't wanted to get into it. It could wait til Wednesday.
"What do you remember?" he asked finally.
She shrugged at him. "I don't know. I've been here four days and. . .not sure I've got all of it. I do remember your. . .coccyx."
He laughed and turned his head to look at her; she was smirking at him from under those long, dark lashes. She brought her hand up to his cheek, brushed her thumb over his smile.
"You remember me saying I-"
She pressed her thumb into his lips, hard; he stopped talking to watch her.
"Me first," she muttered. "For once."
He lifted an eyebrow, but she dropped her hand and shifted away from him on the bed, brought a knee up to clasp her arms around it. She had that intense look on her face, the one he'd seen before every major conversation. He wasn't sure he was ready for this.
"With this. . ." She dropped her chin onto her knee, regarded him for a moment. "I'm pretty sure about you."
"It's me I'm not so sure of."
"Is this a nice way of-" blowing me off
"Hold on," she chided him, bringing her foot to his thigh and pushing at him.
He glanced down at her bare toes, felt the shock of her touch, not for its position or its sensuality, but for the intimacy it suggested. She touched him now. She teased him and spoke to him like. . .
He was just now realizing it. How the past five days had completely remade them. Her heart was adapting. It was; he saw now how she was growing around the wound, compensating for the things she couldn't do yet.
He waited until she'd gathered her thoughts back together, gave her the time she needed.
"I'm not sure of me. But you seem to be," she said finally, watching him.
He nodded. Wasn't much else for a statement like that.
"Is that enough?" she asked, lacing her hands together on top of her knee, resting her chin there as she looked at him.
He shrugged back at her. "Enough for now."
She bit her lip, pressed her mouth to her hands before looking up at him; somehow, he'd misunderstood, based on that shy smile. Stunning.
"I meant. For us?"
"For. . .us. I - I've lost track of the conversation," he admitted, because she couldn't possibly be saying what it sounded like she was saying.
Kate lifted her head and slid her knee down next to his thigh, raised up a little, then leaned against his chest, her hand on his shoulder. Her mouth came at him next, brushing his lips, not seductive, not hesitant, but some mixture of both. As if she were trying to convince herself of her own confidence.
He let her, slid his hand to her waist, a counterbalance only, and she pulled back, bit her bottom lip as she looked at him.
"You with me now?" she asked.
He nodded. "With you."
A flickering smile went over her face; she sat back on her heels and studied him, as if trying to decide something.
"It's enough for me," she said finally. "If you're sure, then. . ."
How. . .anticlimactic. "Seriously? This is your come-on?"
She glared at him.
"Totally unacceptable, Beckett. No flowery speeches, not even plain-old flowers? Coulda put a little more effort into wooing me."
She snorted. "I've already got you."
He paused, looked at her; she put a hand up to her mouth as if startled by her own admission.
"Still got some drugs in you, huh?"
She laughed, wiped the smile off her face with her hand. "Hmm. Guess so."
"I'll let you use that as an excuse for another few days, but after that. . ." He shook his head at her, but reached out and brushed the hair back over her ear. She didn't reprimand him for the touch, only leaned her cheek against his palm for a moment.
She closed her eyes and it killed him, just looking at her like this, affectionate and standoffish at the same time. Beautiful.
"Yeah," he said, brushing his hand down her jaw. "You already got me. I got you?"
Kate's eyes opened, lit up, a shine of pleasure and relief. "Yeah." She nodded, as if to confirm her own softly spoken word, then smiled at him. "You got me."
This time when he kissed her, she opened her mouth to his in a moment, brought her hand to his cheek and kept him there with the lightest of touches. Her mouth was silk. She slid away, her lips hovering close. He breathed against her cheek and touched her back with the pads of his fingers.
She leaned in at his nudge, draped herself over his chest, her thigh sliding between his, her palm moving down his neck to rest on his heart. Her head against his shoulder, she let out a long sigh, curled her fingers as if trapping the beat of his heart in her hand.
She curled her other arm low around his waist, between him and the bed, hooked her thumb into his belt. "Go ahead, Castle. I know you want to."
He smiled, pressed his kiss into her temple, whispered it against her skin. "I love you."
She lifted her mouth to his, gentle and soft, then pulled back a little, her eyes warm on his. "Love you too. How's that for a come-on?"
"Ruined the moment," he sighed, but his grin was so wide that his hands clenched around her, pulled her back down into his arms, tight. Because he knew already and the words were just superfluous. "You are so coming home with me."
This time she laughed and didn't say no.