Author's Note: I waited a long time for this one, guys. You have, too, but you didn't know it. I wrote the first draft of this entirely on my iPhone when inspiration struck in the middle of the night sometime in early April. Months later and I am still excited.
I know I said there'd be no more after this. I still mean that. But I did just stumble upon a really long two-shot (hopefully) I have written that involves being sick. Since I mostly like it, I will be posting it sometime separately from this fic. Once posted, I will update this story with a link.
Lastly, if anything sparks confusion, shoot me a review/PM. Thank you for all of your support and awesomeness. You all rock.
Setting: It wouldn't be one of my stories if I had an actual setting. ;) It just... happens. As it should. (Although, apparently it occurs sometime after the introduction of Iron-Gates. For the record, it was written and finished well before the S4 finale, so there).
In Sickness and in Health
On Monday morning, bright and early, her phone rang, the shrill of the vibrating phone rattling across her nightstand effectively shaking her awake. It was early, and, just as any other time she gets called at three in the morning, her head had a slight ache, her body felt heavy with sleep, and her stomach was unhappy. At the crime scene, the nausea increased. When Castle noticed, he took her coffee cup from her grasp and replaced it with a bland croissant. Drinking coffee on an empty stomach would only make the queasiness worse.
She stayed up most of Monday night, working into the early hours of Tuesday morning before she headed home. A few hours later when she awoke to the alarm, her stomach gurgled. She shrugged and accepted a piece of plain toast, happy for the crunch of the bread but desiring nothing else on it. Castle wanted to offer her an array of jellies and jams, but he noticed the grimace that accompanied every bite and chose to refrain.
By Wednesday morning, she was used to the nausea and refused to do anything but work, even if she was sick. Having to rush to the kitchen sink as she was about to walk out the door to expel the liquid sitting in her stomach was not particularly ideal, but it was something she had come to fractionally accept.
Thursday she felt normal. But, her head was warm to the touch, and when Castle, ever so observant, noted the extra flush of her cheeks, Esposito and Ryan started showing an interest. She, of course, shot him a glare as she commanded the other two to get back to work.
Friday was bad. She rushed to the precinct bathroom twice in the morning. When the other two detectives brought lunch—Thai food—into the conference room where she and Castle had been scanning financials, her stomach rolled and she quickly excused herself. Her rushed exit caused Gates to notice and force Kate to go home for the weekend until the stomach bug passed. Taking Saturday and Sunday off had been a given, as she wanted to visit her mom and spend the rest of the weekend at home with family, but she had fully expected to work all of Friday.
With one last glare at her partner, she stalked towards the elevators. He rushed to gather his things and joined her, hot on her heels. If she still wasn't feeling well, he was going to make sure she took care of herself. After all, there was no reason for him to be there if the woman he shadows was absent. (Well, that and he figured Gates would not be happy to catch sight of his mug).
All of Saturday, she was restless. Despite the still-fleeting nausea and fever, she wanted to take a steamy shower and go to work. Castle stopped her and she was thus forced to stay cooped up like a hen all day.
Sunday morning she woke up with the imperative need to sprint into the bathroom before she could form any real coherent thought. Within seconds he was at her side, rubbing her back, pushing aside her hair. She struggled against his aid, tried to get him to leave her to be as she hovered over the porcelain bowl, but he proved insistent and stubborn. Normally, in another situation that did not involve her expelling the little food in her belly, she would have shoved him away and made him listen. He would have left her alone, understood her need for space, recognized her desire to figure things out and take care of herself.
She felt disgusting and weak. She hated the fact that he was sitting next to her, breathing in the scent of stomach acid and digested soup from the night before.
Her face was sticky with the sweat of a rough night's sleep and the panic accompanied by dry heaving. Her hair was oily and she definitely needed a shower. She certainly did not want anyone seeing her sporting such a lack of composure, him included.
She craved strength and normalcy, but found none. The closest thing she could grasp at was his presence, as unsettling as it was. She wanted nothing more than to be by herself and hide her weakness and body's betrayal, but she also craved his comfort.
In-between the times when she leaned over the bowl, she rested her head on his chest. She would grasp the fabric of his sleeve, or, once, his calloused fingers, and try to draw her strength from his. It was a long morning spent on the cool bathroom tile and she needed him there for every minute.
His fingers continued to run the length of her spine, slowly trailing down the ridge formed by every individual disk until he reached the waistline of her pants, where he would begin the ascent back up to the base of her neck. The ministrations managed to calm her, the errant feather-tracing of his fingers along her back and occasionally her forehead reminding her of her childhood when her mom would soothe her as she got sick. It was an alien concept, fully letting him take care of her. But, as the nausea got the best of her, she couldn't find it in herself to fight it; her instincts were screaming for her to give in.
So, she leaned into his touch, accepted the glass of water he had filled for her as she rested her head on the cold porcelain of the shower beside the toilet. As the nausea slowly decreased, she attempted to crack a witty smile and tease him about she didn't know what, but nothing much came. Her body was still clammy and weak, and she felt a heavy exhaustion beginning to flow through her limbs.
He sat back down beside her after she had taken a sip, his back leaning against the tub, and loosely wrapped an arm around her waist. His hands brushed a thick bundle of hair from her face, tucking it behind her ear. Resting his head against hers, his lips pressed against her ear, he whispered, "Happy Mother's day, Kate."