"Picking Up The Pieces" is an AU fic taking place in 2015, approximately a year and a half after Rick and Kate are married. When disaster strikes, will they be able to pick up the broken pieces of their lives and put them back together again?
Hello all! Hope your summer was fantastic. We're a week out from season 5, and I don't know about you, but I'm excited!
This new fic is one I've been slowly working on ALL summer, and I am still not done writing it. I have finally picked up speed though (it's amazing what the excitement of a new season will do to inspire you), and am sooooooooo far into it, that I decided it's finally time to start putting this out. At this time, I'm planning to post around three times a week, likely Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. So if you get into it, look for more on those days. I'll try to let you know in advance if my posting schedule changes for some reason.
Disclaimer: I in no way own any part of Castle or ABC. I am simply borrowing all the wonderful characters they've given us, and am taking them on a little ride. I promise to put them back just as I found them when I am done.
"Picking Up The Pieces"
"From my years of observing human behavior, I've learned one thing. We all change... and we all stay the same. I am exactly the same person I was back then. But, in some ways, I'm completely different." -Richard Castle (S.4 deleted scene)
Rick glanced at his watch. He was going to be late. The award ceremony for the four officers receiving commendations was already starting and he was still three blocks away. When the cross walk light changed, he dashed across the intersection, praying that he'd make it before Kate, Ryan, Esposito and the other officer, Sgt. Epstein, would take the stage.
Six months earlier, Kate and the boys were investigating a case that led them to Hanover Middle School. While there, in a completely unrelated incident, a former teacher's aide, entered the school and began shooting. Thanks to Kate's team and the DARE officer who was visiting, the gunman was taken down before anyone was killed. Nine children, two teachers and a janitor were injured, but they survived. And today, they, along with their families and the rest of the city were publicly thanking the four NYPD officers who ended the incident before lives were lost.
If he missed this important day, he'd never forgive himself, nor would his wife ever let him forget it. Inspired by the thought of seeing Kate's disappointment, he picked up his pace. Now he was less than a block away.
Stopped at another intersection, Rick looked around, briefly toying with the thought of just dashing across traffic and hoping for the best, but he quickly dismissed that. City Hall was in his sights now. Maybe he'd be OK after all.
A scream pierced his ears from right next to him. A woman with a an infant strapped to her chest, yelled and lunged toward the street that her young son had just gleefully dashed into. Rick moved instinctively and chased the small boy. Horns blared and tires screeched. A cabbie cursed loudly out his window.
Just before reaching the other side of the road, Castle reached the child and pushed him onto the curb.
In that same instant, Rick's entire world went painfully black.
Kate, fully adorned in her dress blues, repeated her steps across the tile floor of the hospital for the millionth time.
Martha and Alexis held each other on a couch nearby. Jim, Jenny, Kevin, Lanie and Javi stood in a quiet circle, sipping stale coffee, lost in their own thoughts.
They were a somber bunch, trying to hold out hope, but fearing for the worst. It had been hours since anyone had given them an update. Even if the nurse hadn't told them earlier, they all knew that the longer they went without good news, the less likely there would be any at all.
A TV in the waiting room had been on the entire time they'd been there, but Kate hadn't paid it the least attention, until the news came on, featuring a story that was all too close to home.
"Our top story tonight centers around best-selling mystery writer, Richard Castle," the well coiffed man on the TV announced. "Around one o'clock this afternoon, Castle became a hero when he saved the life of four year old Ezra Jakobson who ran away from his mother and directly into the intersection at Park Place and Broadway. Witnesses report that Castle never hesitated before following the child, and pushed young Ezra onto the sidewalk a mere second before a speeding SUV hit them. The toddler escaped with only scrapes and bruises, but the author turned guardian angel, didn't fare as well. Witnesses say he was thrown at least fifteen feet when the vehicle struck him, and hadn't regained consciousness before paramedics arrived. Aside from saying that Mr. Castle was transferred from New York Downtown Hospital to Presbyterian Hospital for treatment, no word has been released by either the hospital or Castle's publicist concerning his condition."
Several video clips showing the scene of the accident, and witness statements followed, but by then Kate had turned away. She didn't care that Rick was being praised as a hero, right now she just wanted to know that her husband would be alright. The world could point the spotlight all they wanted; she just needed to know he was still alive.
Another full hour passed before a middle aged surgeon in blue scrubs appeared. "Mrs. Castle?"
Kate stood from the chair she'd hunched down in. All eyes were on her. She nodded and took Alexis' hand, bringing her along.
The two Castle women met the woman who's badge read Dr. Olivia Waterman.
The doctor led them across the hall into a small alcove. Kate noticed that the doctor looked concerned and squeezed her step daughter's hand. The gesture was as much to comfort herself as it was to support the girl she'd come to love as a daughter.
"Is... is my dad...?" Alexis asked, not able to wait a moment longer, but unable to finish the question either.
The doctor licked her lips and made eye contact with both frightened family members. "He is alive," she nodded. "He's stable, out of surgery for the time being, and is in recovery."
"For the time being?" Kate asked. Knowing that Rick was alive, had given her such relief, that she almost missed the rest of the statement.
"He will need several other operations in the coming days. His injuries include compound fractures of the his right leg, a handful of broken ribs, a collapsed lung, broken collar bone and dislocated shoulder, but more seriously he has multiple skull fractures. These were our first concerns. We needed to alleviate the swelling and prevent blood clots from forming immediately. The next twenty four hours will be critical. If the swelling begins to reduce and his vitals remain stable, he has a chance at full recovery."
"A chance?" Kate mumbled numbly. Alexis had turned into Kate's shoulder and was crying softly. Kate just pulled her tight and tried to absorb the news.
"Outside of his injuries, your husband is in remarkable health, which will help him fight this battle. We'll know more in the coming days, but I believe he's strong enough to get through this."
"Can we see him?"
"I'm sorry. But not until he's moved into a room, which will most likely be in Neuro-Intensive Care, and probably not until morning. I can take you up to the waiting room on that floor, but that's for immediate family only." The doctor nodded toward the group watching them nervously.
Sleep never came for Kate, Alexis or Martha who waited in the Neuro-ICU lounge. After sharing what the doctor had told them, Kate sent her friends and father away. They hugged her and tried to assure her, but in reality, there was little that could make any of this better.
Around nine a.m., a petite nurse opened the lounge door. "Mr Castle has just been moved. I can take one person in for a couple minutes, but most likely that will be the only visit he'll be allowed for a while."
"Is he awake?" Martha asked.
"No, he's sedated."
Kate looked to Alexis. As much as she wanted to run to him, she would not stand between father and daughter.
"You go." The redhead whispered. "I can't see him like this. Not yet."
She didn't argue. She wasn't really sure how she'd manage herself and she'd seen much worse than Alexis ever had.
As they walked down the hall, Nurse Carla Wynn prepared Kate by updating her on the details of Rick's condition and warning her about the excessive tubes, bandages, swelling and bruising that covered her husband's body. At the door, Carla offered to go in with Kate, but she told her she was a homicide cop and had seen worse. Kate appreciated the offer, but this was something she needed to do alone. The nurse patted her hand, gave her an encouraging smile, and said she'd be back soon.
Kate pushed open the sliding glass door and entered the dark room. Rick, her ruggedly handsome Rick, was unrecognizable. Only a swath of his lower face, and the fingers of his left hand were visible, and they were purple with bruises and scraped raw from road rash. He looked like a stranger.
Kate approached the bed slowly, eyes roaming his body from head to toe, looking for something that identified this poor man as her husband.
They'd removed his wedding band, his hair was covered, or likely shaved beneath the helmet of gauze, his body was wrapped in so many pads and bandages that he was an unfamiliar shape.
In a moment of panic, Kate's brain told her that maybe this wasn't Rick, maybe this was some unfortunate stranger and her husband was safe and sound somewhere else. Always the investigator, she quickly threw back the blankets, to see if she could find anything that identified this battered body.
Almost immediately her heart sank, taking all hope with it. Just above his left knee, toward his inner thigh, she spotted the crescent shaped birthmark she knew so well.
Tears ran unchecked down her cheeks, as she replaced the covers and moved toward his face. She dropped a kiss on his cheek and ran a finger along his bottom lip, being careful not to touch the tubes coming from his nose and mouth.
"Rick, you listen to me right now." Kate whispered sharply. "You are going to fight this. I need you. You cannot give up! You are going to get stronger and you're going to recover. We're going to grow old together, remember?"
Only the rhythmic sounds of monitors, ventilators and pumps answered her.
"I believe that somehow you can hear me, so listen good. I love you Rick Castle. And I will be at your side every moment I can, but you have to promise me that you'll wake up. Alexis, Martha and I... we, we can't live without you. And I know you'd never hurt us, so don't let us down."
Kate watched and waited. She knew that both because of his injuries and the medication keeping him sedated, she shouldn't expect any type of reaction, but she held out for a sign.
When she didn't get one, she just repeated "I love you," over and over again again until she felt a hand on her shoulder.
Nurse Carla had returned.
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Castle, but your husband needs to be alone again. The neurosurgeon wants to check on him."
Three days and two more surgeries later, Kate was again alone with her husband. It was the first time since the night of the accident. Martha had finally convinced Alexis to go home with her to get some rest. Jim had come and gone as well, after Kate told him she just needed time alone with Rick. The steady flow of nurses and doctors had also paused for the moment, giving her a brief reprieve.
The day before, Dr. Meijer told her that the swelling in Rick's head had stopped and appeared to finally be reducing. He was taken off the sedation medication, and now they just watched and waited for him to show voluntary signs of life. As of yet, he wasn't reacting to any form of stimulus, making for a grim outlook, but Kate would not give up.
Since the first night in his room, Kate had not shed a single tear. She'd sworn to herself that she'd be strong enough for both of them. Rick was not dead; she would not mourn him. She would be the steady rock that they all needed right now. It wasn't easy, but for her it was better than the alternative. If she let herself consider the worst possibilities, she knew she'd fall into a dark hole that would be almost inescapable.
"Hey Honey!" she spoke quietly. "I know you love a long nap, but it's time to wake up."
Some of the bandages had been removed, allowing her to take Rick's hand in hers. She gently stroked his palm with her thumb, continuing to encourage him.
Five minutes turned into ten, then ten into twenty, twenty into an hour, an hour into two. When she felt like she'd run out of things to say, she sang. When the emotions she was fighting choked off her melody, she opened a book and read to him. When her voice grew hoarse, she put the book away and just touched him, letting him know she was there.
The hours passed. The sky outside the window grew dark. The nurses no longer advised her to leave and get some rest, but brought her an extra pillow and blanket and wished her a good night.
Passing on the pull out "bed", Kate instead pulled her chair as close to the bed as possible and dropped her head against the mattress. Using the bed rail to support her arm, Kate never had to let go of Rick's hand.
When she felt her eyes growing heavy, she took her last waking moments to say "I love you," to the man she clung to. Never again would she waist such an opportunity. Life changed too quickly to assume there'd be a next time.
She stretched so that her mouth was at Rick's ear. "I hope you wake up soon, but no matter what happens, I'll love you, always."
The hand under her fingertips flexed. It was slight but it was there. Rick had finally moved!
The realization brought her fully awake.
"Honey, can you hear me?"
"Rick, it's me, Kate. Please Baby, if you can hear me, squeeze my hand."
A long second passed but then it happened. His thumb and forefingers twitched and then closed around her knuckles.
The tears of despair that Kate had held back, turned to tears of joy which gladly spilled down her cheeks. With her free hand, she laid on the call button for the nurse. If he was coming around, she wanted his doctors to know!
The next two hours were a blur as nurses, techs and two doctors made appearances. Rick didn't respond again to sound or light, but for the first time, he did react to pain stimulus in his fingers. There was still no response to pain in his feet.
It was a baby step, but it was one that sprung hope. They were nowhere near being out of the woods, but at least she felt like maybe there was direction.
When Rick was loaded onto a gurney and taken for tests, Kate texted Alexis back for the third time and then curled up in his bed, soaking up his lingering scent and warmth, which soon soothed her into a dreamless sleep.
The next day her step daughter and mother in law rejoined Kate in Rick's new room in ICU. The three women tried to treat the day casually but they never stopped watching for continued signs of improvement.
By evening Rick was removed from the ventilator. His color, vitals and O2 levels, all steadily improving. To everyone's delight, before Alexis had left for the night, he'd lightly squeezed her hand.
The following day dawned with even more advances. Not only did Rick show response to pain in his feet, but his blood pressure returned to almost normal levels. While Kate joined Lanie for lunch int the cafeteria, Martha and Alexis saw him blink twice before falling back into sleep.
That evening, Kate, Alexis, Ryan and Esposito were all gathered in the room talking. At first no one saw Rick blink but when he flinched, they all noticed.
Both Castle women flew to him, flanking him on either side.
"Dad!" Alexis exclaimed at the same moment Kate breathed his name.
Rick looked around briefly, as he got his bearings. Confusion and pain were etched in every line of his face, but he remained awake.
"Alexis!" he finally rasped.
The red head was openly crying, as the three others shared grateful and relieved smiles. Kate pushed on the call button to summon the nurse.
"What happened?" His throat was so raw and dry that the words were barely audible.
Kate took his hand. "A little boy ran into traffic, you pushed him to safety but were hit by a car. You don't remember?"
Rick's questioning eyes darted between Kate and Alexis.
"Was anyone killed?"
"No, Dad! You were a hero!"
"Oh," he answered but it was evident that something wasn't clicking for him yet. Even softer now, and directed specifically at Alexis, he questioned, "Then why are the homicide cops here?"
Alexis and Kate turned to Ryan and Espo, who now looked as confused as the man between them, but Rick was only looking at Kate.
When she turned back to her husband, Kate gently squeezed his fingers. "Kevin and Javi are your friends, Hon, of course they'd be here. We've all been so worried about you."
Rick's heavily bandaged brow furrowed under the layers of white gauze. "I'm sorry, Detective Beckett, but did you just call me Hon?"
All the air left Kate's body. Two nurses entered, and upon finding their patient awake, shooed everyone out wile they paged a doctor and began taking Rick's vitals.
As the foursome walked down the hall toward the visitor's lounge. Kate stopped and slumped against a wall. "He doesn't remember... us."
A/N: Well I certainly hope this first chapter has left you wanting more, because there is a LOT more to come. But no worries, I will be posting again in two days. :)
I'd LOVE to hear any feedback you have now, or for any future chapters. It almost always inspires me and gives me a feel for what you the reader, enjoys. I'm not always very good at responding, but I do read each and every one! And I appreciate your response.
Before leaving you, I have one more important note. A thank you, to two very dear ladies, Teelduo and CastleKat. You guys don't like to take credit, but you've pushed me, inspired me, been brutally honest with me, and even stroked my ego a couple times. And for all of that, I thank you! You play the roles of BETAs, advisers, task masters, sounding boards, & publicists; but most of all, you are friends. I hope you know how important that is to me.