Welcome, my friends...a sequel to Finally!, its time to return to the precinct...What lies ahead?

Thanks to the fabulous ladies who help me...Bree, Marjo and the never tiring Stella... Love you all, Melody

Let me know what you think, good or bad!

Kate was lying in bed, her eyes open and accustomed to the darkness. She couldn't sleep, her mind was spinning, full of the events of the last four months. She raised her head, glancing at the clock, and seeing the glowing numbers - 1:30 in the morning. As she dropped her head back on the pillow she audibly groaned. Her bed partner, stirred and mumbled "Kate, What?"

"Sorry, Rick, I just can't sleep."

He muttered something about getting up, but settled back after putting his arm over her. He was so adorable when he was sleepy, and it was hard to believe so little time had passed since they had become a couple. She wondered, as she had a number of times over the past four months, if Nick had not died whether she would have committed to him so quickly, so completely. She smiled as she thought, how Rick would tell everyone, it had taken a miracle to bring her around. Yes, and he would be right.

She reached over and ran her fingers lightly over his face. Touching him always sent waves of pleasure coursing through her, bringing a smile to her lips. She had recently heard a song with a haunting melody and lyrics that reminded her of their relationship over the past four years, the lyrics ran through her head..."you are in my veins and I cannot get you out...you are all I taste tonight inside of my mouth." As she stared at her sleeping partner, her heart exploded with how intense she felt towards this man. Would she ever get used to them being together? She feared that their love could be lost in a blink of an eye, or worse a bullet from a gun.

She ran her hand over her surgical scar and the bullet's entry site. She had overcome so much during the last year, and had either been physically or emotionally ill for most of that time. Having fought everything and everyone who attempted to help, her recovery had not progressed until Rick was with her. After her shooting, her time in the hospital was a blur, and it was not until recently she had discovered what a significant role Rick had played during the first hours postoperatively. His efforts still brought tears to her eyes, and she had been so cruel to him, sending him away and hiding from him. She shook her head at the time it had taken her to realize he was her rock, patiently waiting for her, though her recovery. He gave her confidence, the courage to fight her demons.

The last illness had been extremely difficult, but Rick, his family and their friends had fought to care for her without hospitalization. They had given so much of themselves to caring for her; she shuddered remembering all that had occurred, often without her full comprehension. She even fought their help until it became clear without their interventions, she may not have improved, or even survived, the aggressive infection that had overwhelmed her system.

She became deathly still as she remembered the recent times her PTSD reared its ugly head. The worst event had occurred as they were watching a movie, Alexis had joined them in the middle and Kate had become disoriented, terrified, possessed and out of control. Her body was shaking, her eyes glazed as she shrieked to make it stop. Rick had gathered her to him, murmuring words of consolation, kissing her face and rocking her until she quieted. When each occurrence ended, she would fall into a deep sleep, her clothes soaking wet and her body shivering from the effort. Rick carried her to bed, washed and dressed her and wrapped her in the covers. He laid next to her, continuing to rub her head . Alexis had watched this entire drama silently, her eyes large, and her face set in a concerned frown. Following them to the bedroom, she observed her fathers committed response to Kate's situation.

"Dad, I...I never realized the horror she...what can we do?". With tears streaming down her face, she went to Kate's side, gentling kissing her forehead, and looking into her father's eyes for answers.

"We'll talk tomorrow, sweetheart. She's getting better."

Kate's bones chilled the next morning, when she woke and recalled the events of the evening. Curled up in Rick's arms, she was exhausted, her head was pounding and she tried to apologize to him for what occurred. Suddenly she set up, remembering Alexis had been watching the movie, right before she lost it. Gasping, she ran her hands through her hair, "Was Alexis...did she...oh my god...", tears poured down her cheeks in embarrassment.

"Shhh, it's Okay, Alexis is Okay. She loves you and is worried about you. I told her we would all talk today.". He brushed her tears and held her face close to his.

"I'm...I don't...Rick." She laid back down, her hands on her face, trying to remember what she had done last night.

"Rick, what did I do...last night? How bad was it?..."

"I won't lie, it wasn't pretty, but Alexis is tough, she took care of you when you were sick... You did nothing to her except have a terrible reaction, not of your doing." He locked his gaze with hers.

"When you're ready, come to the kitchen. I'll start some coffee...you hungry?"

Kate shook her head no and went to get dressed. She joined Rick and Alexis as they were drinking coffee and laughing.

"Morning" she began sheepishly. Her thoughts rapidly left her as Alexis ran into her arms, hugging her tightly, whispering, "I love you, Kate. We'll beat this together."

From that day forward, Alexis had been part of Kate's ongoing sessions with Dr Burke. They spent hours discussing the causes, symptoms, but most importantly

ways to treat the occurrences as well as attempting to prevent recurrences. She smiled as she recalled how this solidified their bond. Rick's family was hers now, without a doubt.

Her memories of the past months, flew through her, some wonderful times, some tough, but always there.

Now, tomorrow, no today, she would return to the precinct. Kate had dreamed of this day. She and Rick had worked hard to prepare her body and her mind to return to her job. They both spent hours in their gym, building up her cardiovascular stamina as well as her core strength. They focused on some martial arts manoeuvres trying to make her left side immune to punishment. Her side was stronger, but still susceptible to a direct blow.

They went to the gun range, Rick hired a weapons expert to evaluate her stance for shooting, making sure she was the most stable and not risking stress on her left arm and side. The experts minor adjustments seemed to make a difference. Her aim had never been in question and now her stability had improved. Kate never felt more comfortable discharging her weapon. Rick had also worked on improving his shooting techniques. She chuckled as she thought how proud he was of his progress, though she knew he wanted to be sure he could protect her and be a true backup should the need arise.

She had always been a homicide detective, tough, honest, and afraid of nothing, but since her shooting she'd felt vulnerable. She wondered if she had lost her edge, would ever feel the same. This was why she couldn't sleep.

Kate slid out of bed, Rick reached for her and muttered... "Stay in bed, don't get up."

She leaned into him, brushed her lips through his hair and whispered "I'll be back."

As she wandered into the living area, she was struck by how perfectly the remodel had captured their personalities. Her treasures, books, and art melded right into his possessions seamlessly. Each part of the loft represented them. She had always had nice places to live, but this was the first time in a long time she believed she had a home, a family.

Their life together had become a wonderful dance. Oh sure, they still bickered and bantered about mundane things, but never anything important, on those issues they always agreed. Even if initially one of them was reticent, they would find a way to gain consensus. They had agreed to make life decisions based on the best interests of them as a unit, never as an individual. This had been difficult for Kate to accept, she had only had to think of herself, never with regard to someone else's opinions or desires..In reality she found she was happier thinking of someone else, wanting to make someone else happy. Rick meant everything to her and vice versa, and she knew he was reluctant for her to return to work, fearing both the physical as well as the emotional strain would be too much for her, they would break her again. But he also realized that if he helped her regain her stamina and supported her, she would have her best chance for success.

This was unconditional love. Rick had suffered nearly as much as she had following her shooting as well as the corresponding illness that overtook her. She believed that during those times he had willed her to live. His confession of love immediately after she was shot was burned into her brain, it was as much a part of her as her scars. After she had been sick, she had confessed to him that she remembered everything, she was stunned that he had accepted this, never backing away from her.

The final test of their relationship had been when he told her about Mr Smith and the arrangement he had made in order to keep her alive. A younger, more intense Kate would have exploded, torn into him and walked away or worse yet ran right into the dragons flames, probably resulting in her death, maybe even Castle's as well. But she had undergone a transformation. Everything that had occurred between them had become part of her. The rage of her mother's murder had cooled, no longer driving or defining her. Her return to the precinct was no longer about solving her mother's murder, she loved solving the murders, figuring out the mystery and most importantly succeeding with Rick by her side.

Running all of his through her mind, she became calm, suddenly tired and ready for sleep. She returned to their bed, crawled under the covers and immediately moved into his space. Her body had become chilled from her roaming around so she sought his body for warmth.

"Good grief, Kate, have you had your feet in the freezer, you're a Popsicle, come here", even as he rubbed her extremities to warm them he never opened his eyes and nestled into her hair.

Kate quickly warmed up and drifted to sleep. She was drifting in and out of being awake, reached towards where Castle had last been. His side was empty, but the sheets were still warm and a contented smile transformed her face. Wonder where he is? She opened one eye, the clock said 07:30, and an exhausted moan escaped her lips. This could be a long day.

"Morning, Detective." Rick greeted her, coffee in hand.

Oooohhhh, thank you. What a long night!"

"What happened? Too excited about returning today?" , Leaning in he handed her the cup and kissed her forehead. "Hungry? When did you want to go in?"

"Geez, Rick...give me a chance...First, couldn't sleep. Kept thinking about everything that happened these last few months...remember?"

"Oh, believe me I remember", as he leered at her.

"Not that...everything...what brought us together...being sick...confessing to each other...just..."

"Yes, Kate I remember it all. I love you...come here", as he swept her into his arms

"Careful, don't spill the coffee", she pushed her hand into his chest.

"Want to shower first?"

"No", she raised an eyebrow, pulled him into her, a wickedly seductive smile on her face..."something else"

"Wow, is this going to be part of the morning ritual?...Delicious"

After yet another memorable bout of love making, they lay in each other's arms, satiated, dozing some, when Rick suggested a shower then food. Kate grudgingly agreed, though she had become accustomed to their leisurely mornings together. It was a time they devoted totally to each other. He reminded her that even after she returned to work, this time would remain. Kate howled as she reminded him that he was the late riser nor her.

"For you, I can always get up"...wiggling his eyebrows he smiled at her.

"God, what a dirty old man you are." She smacked him on the chest and strolled towards the shower..."come on."

They finished getting ready for work. As the time for their departure grew closer, Kate became visibly more distracted and agitated. Rick wisely remained mute, merely gathering what he wanted to take with him. Silently reviewing what Kate had collected, wanting to ensure she was prepared for the day. They had worked diligently to get her ready, actually both of them ready, for this day. Rick was acutely aware of what this meant to her and he would be there every step of the way.

Kate let out a huge sigh, ran her tongue over her lips and bit her lip, looking over, she winked at Martha and Alexis, and slipped on her favorite heels. Glancing around the loft, she spotted Rick patiently waiting for her, reaching out her hand...she was ready.

"Come on, partner, let's catch some bad guys!"