DISCLAIMER: Unless I missed the memo, I do not own any of the Castle characters or pre-existing story lines.


Keeping Watch

Some nights he watches her sleep. Okay, most nights he watches her sleep. Sometimes he even falls asleep watching her. To think less than a year ago they were sleeping separately baffles him – he can't imagine it being any other way now.

She really is cute when she sleeps though. The way her hand fists the comforter that's pulled up to her chin, the tiny little snorts she lets out when she changes positions – though she'd vehemently deny that. She's so vulnerable and small, but still so elegant, even with the mess of soft chestnut curls plastered to the side of her face. He's memorized everything. Every little detail, he's got it all catalogued away in a rather large portion of his heart reserved only for her.

Tonight he isn't sure what wakes him, but he's still lying facing her, propped up on his elbow. He's just about to relax against his pillow and let the sleep take over, when he notices something. Something new. The way her eyebrows are knit together, the slight tremble of her body he can feel against his own. Her expression unreadable, in the dark it's hard to tell, but he thinks maybe it's fear. When she starts to stir, he reaches to turn on his bedside lamp, never once taking his eyes off her. With the soft glow he can see the tears clearly. She's crying. There's no sound between them, safe for the rustling of the sheets every time her body jerks in an attempt to flee – from what, he isn't sure.

Then he hears it.

"No."

It's almost inaudible, her voice soft and desperate. He shifts his weight and sits up, reaches out to touch her, soothe her, anything. He read somewhere once that you're not supposed to wake people having nightmares. Or maybe it was people who are sleepwalking. Whatever the case may be, the distressed sob that escapes Kate's lips is all it takes.

"Kate." He says, gently shaking her shoulder, "Hey, wake up. Kate."

She's struggling now, her body reacting to his touch, perceiving it as a threat, the nightmare in her head morphing with her reality. Her body thrashes almost violently and if her breathing gets any quicker, he's pretty sure she's going to hyperventilate. He scrambles up and kneels next to her, braces his hands on her forearms in an attempt to still her movements. "Kate, come on wake up." He says it louder this time, trying to force her out of her sleep. Her eyes fly open, but they don't focus, as she continues the struggle against the arms that are all but pinning her down. "Hey, hey. It's okay, it's me. Kate. It's me."

She follows the voice and finds his face in the dim lighting, her eyes wide, horrified, as she tries to figure out where she is. "You're okay." He loosens the grip on her arms and reaches a tentative hand up to her cheek, brushing away the tears that continue to fall. "You're okay." And this time she must believe him because her face relaxes and she reaches up to him pull him down but he's already curling her into his side as he settles next to her.

He wants so desperately to ask what had her so afraid, but he knows now isn't the moment. So he kisses the top of her head, and whispers words of reassurance until he hears her breathing even out and the warm, damp patch of tears on his t-shirt begins to cool.

He doesn't go back to sleep.