The Spleen Is a Non-Vital Organ
Kate spills out of sleep in a tumble of sheets and disorientation, her lips dry and her throat on fire.
"Hey," he says. A hand falls to her shoulder, runs up to her neck, tugs away the bedsheets she's tangled in. She cracks open her eyes and sees Castle sitting by her hip on the mattress, loosening the covers, sliding a hand down her thigh. She's curled up to a pillow, half on her stomach, and she feels like crap.
"I need some water," she rasps, licking her lips as she shifts upward. Castle's hand comes at her neck, like he's going to help her sit, and she swats him away, wincing at the relentless pounding in her head.
"I've got water right here, Kate. And soup, crackers. I'm going to make Alexis a grilled cheese, if you want one of those too."
She presses a hand to her lips and closes her eyes a second, shakes her head. Not even sure about the soup, actually. The effort of eating just seems entirely out of her reach.
"You feel nauseated?" he murmurs.
"No," she says, feels a smile flicker along her lips. "Good word choice."
"Perils of the job," he says softly, and he sounds like he's smiling too. "If you felt nauseous, you'd feel like you had the propensity to make someone else throw up."
"However - that might also be a pertinent question," she mumbles, not really sure why they're having a stupid, pedantic conversation about diction. "If I threw up, I bet you would too."
"Saying I can't hold my cookies? I'll have you know, I've done my share of hair-holding," he murmurs, making her open her eyes again to see him. He's hovering at her side, a fist planted into the mattress, his gaze traveling over her like he can't take her word for it that she's okay, he has to check for himself.
"Not gonna throw up, Castle. Promise." Kate unfurls her fingers over his thigh and tucks her hand behind his drawn up knee, snug there. He's giving her a look now she can't interpret, doesn't have the energy to even try, and so she leans forward into him, resting her cheek against his shoulder.
Castle stays perfectly still for a heartbeat, and then he wraps an arm around her shoulders, loosely, brushing a kiss to the top of her head.
She breathes in and out, resting, feels the tap of his fingers at her spine like her bones are the keys and he's writing out a story at her ribs. She drifts on the sensation, his chest pushing out against hers with the rise of his breath, and it makes her eyes so hard to keep open.
"Although," he says suddenly. "I might make you nauseous."
"Huh?" She stirs, lifting her eyes to catch sight of him but her head hurts too much and she burrows into his neck instead, closer. "You don't make me sick."
He chuckles. "Someone did. I sometimes do, right? I can be kinda-"
"No," she mumbles, wriggling closer. "No, no. Never."
She could fall asleep right here, just like this.
Castle nudges her elbow and she rouses, bringing the half sandwich to her mouth once more, her head propped on his shoulder. After he made Alexis her lunch, his daughter fell asleep on the couch without even touching hers, and he's not going to let that happen again. Someone's got to appreciate his culinary skills.
They sit side by side in his bed, the soup cooling on the nightstand, a sleeve of crackers near her knee, and the television running a Psych marathon. Kate murmurs something, chewing so slowly that Castle can feel her jaw muscles working, and he glances over at her again, sees her lids drooping.
"Yeah," she rasps, her arm curled up at her chest, holding the sandwich close but not quite there. "No, I'm awake."
She doesn't even answer that, and he feels her swallow against him. Her knees are drawn up and digging into his thigh, her other arm hooked through his, her body so heavy she can't possibly stay awake much longer.
Her hand drops, sandwich in her lap, fingers relaxing one by one, her breath coming slower and slower until she's gone.
Castle turns down the volume on the television and sets the remote to one side, movements restricted so he won't disturb her. A lock of her hair falls forward and hides her cheek, tumbles over her lips, so he sweeps it back. Her arm through his twitches and tightens; he cups her jaw to keep her from falling off his shoulder, eases them back against the headboard at a steeper angle.
Kate sighs out.
He takes the half-eaten sandwich from her fingers, eyes the empty bowl on her side of the bed. He makes a few practice motions and then lobs the sandwich towards the bowl. Soup splashes and he grins - two points.
She snuffles at his shoulder, another jerk of her body as if she can't stand to let awareness go, and Castle stays still, breathes slowly until she's settled again. When her mouth falls open near his collarbone and her lashes stop fluttering, he risks drawing his arm behind her knees and easing her down in the bed.
His arm is under her head now, her body a parenthesis on top of the sheets. Castle slides a palm up her thigh and rests his hand at her hip, studying the weary lines of her face and the soft fall of her lashes on those bladed cheeks.
He startles and Kate moves in her sleep; he lifts his head and sees Alexis haunting the doorway.
"Hey, you need me?" he whispers. He can't help taking another look at Kate, just to check, but she's shifted off his arm and burrowed into the pillow. So he slips out of bed and takes the bowl of soup, glances to Alexis hovering just inside the door.
She drags her gaze to his. "I... thanks for my sandwich. I finished it just now."
He tilts his head. "Hey. No problem. I know you're exhausted."
She's watching him, her eyes flicking every now and then to Kate, so he keeps cleaning things up, putting the crackers back in the tupperware container, closing the lid. He gathers it up against his chest and takes the bowl of soup as well, the empty glass, and then he turns and heads for the kitchen.
Alexis trails after him.
Castle waits for her to bring it up, whatever it is. He throws away the soggy half-eaten sandwich, dumps the soup down the garbage disposal.
"I put the container in the fridge," Alexis speaks up.
"Thanks," he says warmly. He leaves the crackers on the counter; Kate ate a handful and she might want some more. "You want to watch a movie? Hang out on the couch? Zombie marathon this time, or - ooh - we could go for alien invasions." He wriggles his eyebrows at her but she's not even looking at him.
Alexis trails her fingers over the counter and shifts on her feet; her hair is pulled back in a pony tail that's started to come down, but her eyes look better than when she arrived. "No, I'm okay. I have my laptop and I should do some school. I'm really behind."
"No, pumpkin, you should rest tonight. You can do school work tomorrow morning."
Alexis draws in a little breath and sinks her elbows against the counter. "Yeah. But. You should watch a movie with Kate. What kind of marathons does she like? Maybe buddy-cop movies. You just bought Bad Boys 2, remember?"
He narrows his eyes, trying to figure her out. "Kate's asleep," he says pointedly.
"I will be too," Alexis shrugs, a little huff of laughter in her tone. "So don't let that stop you."
Castle drops his hands at his sides and faces her. "What is this about, Alexis?"
She opens her mouth, closes it with a pretty flush of her cheeks. "I just don't want her to leave."
"Right now," he smirks. "I doubt she could get out the door."
Alexis slumps into the bar chair and lays her cheek against her palm, leaning heavily. She looks pretty worn out herself. "I mean... is she mad at you? I don't want her to be mad at you."
"Why would she be mad at me?"
"Cause I got her sick. She was here that whole time and she'd sit with me on the couch and I feel bad because now she can't even go to work. It's because of us she can't do her job. I mean... I know how much she needs to be a cop. You keep telling me-"
"God, it sounds pretty pathetic like that," a voice floats to them.
Castle glances past Alexis and sees Kate on her feet in the living room, Justice League looking a little sad on her thin bones, the pajama pants sagging at her hips.
"I can't even think about work, let alone hatch escape plans, Alexis." She quirks her lips and shuffles towards them, slowly, a wince in her eyes as she swallows. Castle can see his daughter anxiously stand, hovering somewhere in between.
"I didn't mean... I meant. I'm sorry for getting you sick."
Kate makes a fluttering motion with one hand and sinks down against the counter, sliding carefully into the seat next to the one Alexis gave up. His daughter looks to him first, then to Kate, and then helplessly back to him. Castle nods for her to sit down and Alexis gingerly takes the chair.
Kate perks up a little and curls a smile at him. "Where's that soup? My throat's killing me."
"You're not going to fall asleep, do a face plant in it, are you?"
She props her head up on one hand, a mirror to the way Alexis looked only a second ago. "Don't think so. Alexis will rescue me, right? I hear you have Red Cross training."
His daughter startles a laugh. And then a sly slide of her eyes towards Kate. "I think I'll leave Dad to do the mouth to mouth."
Castle cracks up and Kate flushes bright red - a red so deep that it stains her throat and blushes her temples - but she chokes on a laugh as well. "I'm screwed then. Your dad's been squirmy about germs."
"Hey, now. Don't disparage my reputation. I'll always save you," Castle growls in disagreement and then he heads for her, brushing past Alexis to snake his hand at Kate's neck, barely giving her warning before he presses his mouth against hers.
She sucks in a startled, laughing breath, and her fingers curl tightly at his forearm, receiving his kiss with a hesitant touch of her tongue, and then Castle lets her go.
Kate hums, a smile spreading. "I stand corrected."
"Dad? Did you forget? It's the kissing disease."