Of Hungovers, Fears and Declarations

"Castle."

Her sleepy voice comes through his still foggy mind and he tries to fight the strong pull of just going back to sleep and ignoring her. Opening his eyes is a struggle and he can't really figure out why he is just so damn sleepy. He hears her calling him again and this time he wins the battle and manages to focus on her.

God, his head is pounding.

"What?" he croaks out, his voice rough with sleep.

"We just got a new case." She whispers, brushing her lips against his tenderly. "Looks like all that wine got you bad, huh?"

He can hear the smile in her voice and doesn't even bother to open his eyes again. Sweet Jesus, his head is going to explode any second now. Kate touches his cheek, traces his eyebrows with her fingers gently before pressing a kiss to his temple.

"I'll leave some aspirin out for you."

He feels her kissing his forehead and then she is gone, the bed suddenly cold in her absence. It doesn't take too long for sleep to pull him under again.


He wakes up hours later, the brightness of the room nearly blinding him, even if the curtains are half closed. His head is still pounding and he groans when he sits up in bed. Squinting at the clock on his nightstand, he is surprised to find out that it's already past noon. Kate has probably been gone for hours now. Next to the clock, he finds some aspirin and a glass of water. He quickly downs two pills thirstily, thanking god for his girlfriend's thoughtfulness.

Looking around for his phone, he doesn't see it in the mess of sheets in his bed and shrugs, thinking he can just look for it later. Right now, a shower is of the utmost importance. He drags himself to the bathroom and turns the shower on for the water to warm up while he brushes his teeth. When he looks at his reflection in the mirror, he shakes his head at his disheveled appearance and chuckles when he finds a shiny new hickey on his collarbone.

Okay, so they were a little too enthusiastic last night. After all, it had been their six month anniversary and, after that disastrous dinner with their parents last week, they agreed that they deserved to celebrate this milestone in their relationship properly. He took her to a nice, low-key restaurant just a few blocks from his loft and gave her a pretty bracelet with charms that represented everything they had been through together in the past five years. After dinner, they got back to the loft and, since Alexis was at school and Martha was out of town, they had celebrated in every surface they could find.

They also managed to polish off two more bottles of wine, so that explained this hangover from hell this morning. Splashing some water on his face, he huffs in annoyance that Kate hadn't been affected in the slightest by their wine fest. Maybe he really was getting old for this.

After taking a shower, he feels renovated, although the headache is still lingering around his brain. At least he doesn't feel like his head is about to be split in two like he felt when woke up. Yawning, he makes his way to the kitchen and starts the coffee machine before rummaging around in the fridge for something to eat.

Just as he is pouring some coffee into his mug, the phone in the office rings, interrupting his action. He leaves the mug on the counter and rushes to answer the offending device that has managed to kick up his headache a notch.

"Hello?"

"Jesus, bro! Finally!" He hears Esposito's voice and frowns in confusion. Why is he calling the phone in his office?

"Hey, Javi, what's up?" He asks, making his way back to the kitchen to get his much needed dose of caffeine.

"We've been trying to get ahold of you for hours. Where the hell have you been?" The Hispanic detective demands and Castle stops in his tracks, his blood freezing in his veins.

"What's wrong?" His voice shakes with dread, but it's something he can't control. Something happened, he can feel it.

"It's Beckett, man."

"What happened? Where is she?" He asks frantically, his heart hammering in his chest. It feels like he can't breathe.

Please, god, not again. Not now.

"We went out to interrogate a suspect and he got violent. There was a shootout." Esposito takes a deep breath. "She got hit in the shoulder."

"What?" He gasps, the oxygen not reaching his lungs.

He can't think, can't really comprehend what his friend is saying. His mind flashes back to that fateful morning in May, the grass so green contrasting with her blood, the white of her gloves. Calling her name, telling her he loved her as she slipped away from him. No, god, please no. Not again.

"Castle? You with me, bro?" He hears Esposito's voice as if coming from a great distance.

"Where are you? Where is she? How bad is it?" He demands answers from his friend in rapid succession; doesn't know how he is even able to speak when he can't even breathe, can't even focus on anything other than the fact that Kate – his Kate – has been shot. Again.

"NYU Medical Center. She is going to be okay, bro. It was through and through and didn't really hit anything important. She was lucky." He reassures him, but his heart still gallops inside his chest and all he can think about now is getting to her as fast as possible. He needs to see for himself that she really is okay, that he hasn't lost her.

"I'm on my way." He says, grabbing his wallet from the kitchen island.

After he hangs up he looks around frantically for his phone, finding it under the coffee table in the living room. Shrugging his coat on, he shoves both items in his pocket and locks the door behind him. The elevator seems to take forever, so he gives up and runs down the stairs, all seven floors to the garage, unlocking his car in a hurry to get to her.

The snow is piling on the streets and it's blindingly white everywhere. He can't really see where he is going with the snow falling so hard outside, so he has no choice but to crawl through traffic, each minute that passes by making his chest feel tighter with fear. He knows it's irrational, that Esposito already said she is fine, but he can't help it, can't shake this heart stopping fear from gripping his mind.


Forty minutes later, he finally finds himself running through the front doors of the hospital. When he reaches the reception area, a middle-aged, bored-looking woman looks up at him.

"Hi. I'm looking for Kate Beckett. She was brought in a while ago." He gasps out, trying to catch his breath. The woman looks at him unfazed.

"And you are?"

"Rick Castle, I'm…" he hesitates for a moment, but decides that getting through to see her is much more important than keeping their relationship a secret. "I'm her boyfriend." He swallows hard when the woman raises an eyebrow at him. "Please, where is she?"

"Room 517. You can take the elevator right over there." She points to a corridor to his right and he nods, thanking her profusely, before dashing down the path she indicated.

The elevator takes forever again and he is tapping his foot impatiently when the doors finally open on the fifth floor. He follows the signs on the walls and quickly finds her room, stopping just outside the closed door for a moment to take a deep breath. Running a hand through his hair, he pushes the door open and steps inside the room. He vaguely registers that Jim is sitting on the small couch, but all he can see is her when their eyes meet.

She looks so fragile in this hospital bed and he suddenly has a flashback from that morning when he brought her flowers after she was shot. So much has changed since then.

He makes his way to her in three quick strides and before he is even aware of his actions, his lips find hers in a gentle, overwhelming kiss and he feels the tightness in his chest ease with the warmth of her skin against his. Her hand touches his cheek and he nuzzles into her palm, resting his forehead on hers.

"Hi." He whispers, relief spreading through him at seeing that she is really okay.

"Hi." She smiles at him and sighs. "Where have you been? I was starting to get worried." She pulls back, tracing his lips with her thumb affectionately.

"I'm sorry, I fell asleep again. Didn't hear the phone." He presses his lips to hers again. "I'm so sorry I wasn't there with you, Kate. I'm so sorry."

"Don't worry about it. You're here now." She searches his eyes, tries to soothe the worried look away with her fingers on his cheek.

"God, Kate, when Esposito called…" He looks away, willing the burn of tears behind his eyes to go away. He would not cry in front of her, for god's sake. She is just fine. "I thought…"

"Hey, look at me." She touches his chin, meeting his eyes again. "I'm fine. It was just a scare."

"Don't do this to me again." He whispers and closes his eyes, resting his forehead on hers again, reveling in the fact that he could feel her breathing. "I can't lose you. Not again."

"No. Never, never." She echoes his words from last week and he lets out a heavy sigh. "I love you. I'm not going anywhere."

It takes a second for her words to register in his brain, but when they do, he feels his world stop. Swallowing hard, he doesn't know how to react for a moment, before pulling her in for a deep kiss, mindful of her injured shoulder.

She loves him.

When he pulls away, she is breathless, but her smile makes his heart soar and he feels his own lips tugging up in response.

"Good. Because I love you too much to let you go." He whispers harshly and her smile widens as she closes distance between them once again.

He vaguely hears the door opening behind them, but he doesn't care. She is okay and alive and she loves him.

That's all that matters.


A/N: I'm sorry I've been MIA these past few weeks, but life has been hard and demanding lately. I had a family emergency and... well... things haven't been easy. Add that to some crazy work hours and I had absolutely no time to write. But yeah, here I am and I hope you guys liked this. Tell me what you think?