I'm back with the last story in the Finally series. I had been very unmotivated until I received a personal message from 'securemyinsercutities'. Her words about my writing were so wonderful and encouraging, I hit the keyboard with renewed gusto...

Initially, I started this series out of frustration by the lack of progress with the Castle and Beckett romance...NOW...I have complete faith in AM and his writers to continue the wonderful story of our couple as their relationship grows...

Having said that, I believe that this story will end the series...always romantic and ready to move on...it will end on a positive note...of course...The story will be completed by the time Season 6 begins...Would love to hear your comments.

A word of warning...I am flying without a net i.e. no beta help on this one..So my apologies if I screw up the words, etc...

Love to all my friends...ENJOY

XXOO

Melody

Chapter 1

Kate's impatience and level of frustration was growing, minute by minute. While the medical team had taken great care of her, she had been confined to the hospital far to long, having been poked, prodded and monitored until she could scream. All she wanted was to go home, where she would feel safe again, more in control, not weak and vulnerable which is how she currently felt.

Rick was insisting that Angela go over every part of her discharge instructions repeatedly, what to look for, what to be cautious of, what were her limitations. Rick asked her to repeat the essential information about her spleen recovery, something they had heard over and over.

"Good grief." Kate expelled, casting a withering glance towards Rick, he met her look with a glare of his own.

"Christ, Kate, you almost died. I'm not taking any chances that we could miss something and you could get sick again." His own frustration spewing out.

The two of them were at a standoff, neither giving an inch, typical for them. Angela decided to intercede before the situation deteriorated.

"Kate, Rick, both of you need to calm down and take a breath. Rick, if you have questions, you can call us, but quit over analyzing this stuff. Kate, Rick's correct you did nearly die, but you're going home and you two need to focus on your good fortune."

They both looked at Angela, somewhat ashamed for their outbursts, casting glimpses at each other, she was right, they needed to concentrate on the positive, not the negative.

Kate opened her arms with Rick stepping into her grasp, they hugged each other and finally relaxed.

"Rick, let's go home."

With that, Kate sat up, holding her side and slid her legs to the floor, she hesitated momentarily while she got steady then proceeded to the wheelchair with Rick assisting her, his hand helping to guide her.

Kate really wanted to reconnect with her city on the drive home, she had missed being a part of the city she loved, but she was more worn out then she realized and soon was asleep snuggling into Rick's shoulder, his arm wrapping her tightly to his side.

Once in the loft, she slowly moved towards the couch, smiling as she saw her nest waiting for her. Rick had an arm around her waist providing additional support, he could tell she was exhausted, but wisely chose not mention it.

Kate's first day home was filled with numerous naps and few periods of being awake with Rick force feeding her every time she was. As with her previous illnesses, she had lost a substantial amount of weight and needed frequent meals to regain the lost weight.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

Kate's focus was to get healthy enough for she and Rick to travel to Hong Kong in a month. Initially, she was discouraged by her own perceived lack of process, but Rick was amazed at how patient she was, so out of character for her.

They had been warned about her ongoing fatigue and lack of stamina, stressing how devastating the headaches and pain could be, yet she was still astonished at how rapidly she descended into utter exhaustion, almost collapsing on several occasions.

She rested when her body told her to, took the pain medication regularly and ate the healthy foods Castle and the family put in front of her.

Previously they had discovered the wonderful healing benefit of massage therapy and even though Rick frequently gave Kate massages, he hired a well known massage therapist who came to the hospital to begin the treatment.

Initially the kneading of the massage was grueling, causing Kate to gasp and often leaving her in tears, but she continued to ask the therapist to return, aware this treatment was making her muscles stronger, more pliable.

She was restricted from working out, but Roger brought some resistance bands over for her to exercise with along with the scheduled physical therapy.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

One particular morning, Kate had awakened early and could hardly move, every inch of her was screaming in protest, her head was spinning and the ambient light was blinding her, this was the worst day she had experienced since her discharge.

Laying in bed, she gritted her teeth, steeling herself to get out of bed. As she turned in bed, she inadvertently let out a groan, instantly aware of the noise disturbing Rick.

"I'm sorry, Rick. Go back to sleep." Kate's voice was hushed.

Without any hesitation, he got out of bed, reached over to kiss her and mumbled 'I'll be back', as he headed towards the kitchen. Shortly, he returned with a tray full of treats, freshly brewed coffee, a juiced offering, some pain pills and a single red rose, hoping to put a smile to her face.

He set the tray down, leaning over to turn on the heating pad before sitting down next to Kate.

She smiled up at Rick, he was so attentive, helping her through these difficult episodes. She wiggled her body until she was propped up against the headboard, taking a sip of of coffee, she downed the pain medication and picked up the rose with a shy smile appearing on her face.

Within minutes, the medication began to work, relaxing her and dulling the pain, Kate's eyes partially closed with her peeking at Rick through her lashes. He quietly went about ensuring her comfort, never hovering, but very efficient, trying to keep things light and relaxed.

Kate was steadfast in her quest to accompany him to Hong Kong. He had been her rock through so many adverse events over the years and she was resolute in showing him how much she supported his work, standing next to him at the meetings as a full partner.

She finished her coffee and was drifting off to sleep when she felt the mug tugged out of her hand while Rick laid her down.

"Take it easy this morning, there's nothing we have to do today."

As he got out of bed, Kate snatched at his arm, objecting to his leaving.

"Where are you going?' Her voice communicating both her discomfort and drugged state.

"I'll be right back. I have to get my computer. Today we can be bed buddies."

He got up, kissed her gently on her forehead, sweeping the hair off her face and returned promptly settling in next to her.

At one point she wiggled her feet over in his direction, seeking heat, her feet were cold.

"Good grief, Beckett your feet are freezing."

He jumped out of bed, returning with a pair of socks, carefully tugged until her feet appeared, he put the socks on and rubbed them briskly until the chill had left. Kate muttered her appreciation and he gently returned them under the covers, before he stroked her side.

"Better?"

"hmm."

The majority of the day was spent in bed, with side trips to the kitchen for nourishment. By the end of the day, Kate was feeling better and she started peppering him with questions for the details of their trip.

"I have to go to their office tomorrow for a meeting. I've asked Lanie to come by and keep you company." He finished his sentence looking down, afraid of how Kate would react.

"Seriously, Rick. I don't need a sitter." Kate was slightly annoyed, her face all crinkled in feigned disgust.

"Um, she just wanted to spend some time with you. Um, I know you don't...Wait you're teasing me aren't you?" His brows furrowed at her effort.

"Maybe a little bit. You're so easy." A slow, pleased smile came over her face as she reached to caress his cheek.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

The following morning, Rick was busy ensuring everything was in order before he left, he even ordered lunch to be delivered from Becco's, the girls favorite restaurant.

Kate was resting in her favorite spot, watching Rick futz, he kept looking around and finally decided he was ready to leave.

"Do you want me to stay until Lanie gets here?"

"I think I can answer the door. Good Grief." Glaring at him, her eyes narrowed and she stuck out her tongue.

Rick could tell she was beginning to feel better and while they still needed to be careful, proceed slowly, he was more optimistic about their travel plans than he had been previously.

"Okay, well then. I'm off." Rick came over to where Kate sat, bent over, lightly kissing her mouth, their lips parted ever so slightly, and their tongues briefly caressed each other. He backed off, kissed the top of her head and headed towards the door. Before he opened the door, he turned and spoke to his partner.

"I love you, Kate. Try and behave yourself, please." He finished with a smile plastered on his face.

"As if I could do anything else. Oh and Rick, I love you too." Kate half heartedly growled, blowing him a kiss.

Kate had drifted asleep when she heard the door open, raising her head, she saw her best friend coming towards her.

"Hey." She greeted Lanie, yawning and rubbing her hands over her face to wake up.

"Hey, back at you girl." Lanie responded, entering the room, going directly to Kate's side and pulled her friend into a hug. They stayed locked in the embrace for a moment, content in each others presence. Lanie released Kate, sat back and gave Kate the once over.

"You look pretty good, writer boy has taken good care of you."

Kate chuckled at her friend's comment, smiling and agreed. "Castle is about the best wet nurse anyone could ask for. I couldn't be in better hands."

"How do you feel?" Lanie said putting on her medical face.

"Um, not to bad, tired, still having some pain, and annoying headaches. Some days are better than others." Kate shrugged her shoulders.

"Let me see your side." Kate rolled her eyes but lifted her top to display the injured area.

"Wow, Steve did a great job with the incisions. They are healing beautifully and no one will be able to tell anything."

"Have you been taking the pain medicine regularly?" Kate shook her head at her friend, knowing she wasn't going to avoid answering.

"Yes, ma'am." Kate responded petulantly.

Lanie fixed them some tea and then they settled in, while she caught Kate up on the gossip from the precinct. Espo had been driving Ryan crazy since Castle and Beckett weren't there to keep them entertained.

Kate laughed, grabbing her side, knowing full well the two boys would drive each other nuts. She decided she would send Castle to the precinct for a day just to annoy them, knowing the three boys would have a grand time.

"Lanie, I need you to tell me about my time in the hospital, nobody will talk to me about it."

"What does Castle say?" Lanie was reluctant to discuss this subject.

"He just says it was a pretty ordinary recovery, nothing special, but the look in his eyes tells me differently. His eyes get a strange haunted look and then he changes the subject. Please, Lanie."

"What's the last thing you remember before the endotracheal tube was removed and you were coherent."

"I remember getting up to go to the bathroom, having excruciating pain hit me causing my legs to crumble. I was afraid I was dying and Rick wasn't there, I was sure I'd never see him again." Kate's eyes were full of emotion as she spoke. She looked into her friends eyes pleading with her to tell her the truth.

"I vaguely remember Steve talking to me about surgery, I made Rick promise not to let them restrain my arms and then nothing. " Tears rolled down Kate's cheeks unashamedly and Lanie wiped them away gently.

"Okay, girl. From the beginning. Castle called us after you were taken to surgery, his voice was barely more than a whisper and then calling us again after the surgery was over. He said we didn't need to come over, but the tone in his voice broke my heart, he was so scared. I went to your hospital room as the nursing staff were getting you settled."

"You looked awful girl, your skin color was ashen, all of those tubes attached to you were overpowering, even for a medical person." Lanie shuddered as the memory of her friend lying in the bed returned.

"When I walked in, Castle was bending over you, murmuring to you, stroking your face. When he saw me, it was like the damn broke. He came over to me, wrapped his arms around me, buried his head in my shoulder and sobbed. I held on to him, until he was ready to talk. He looked like a frightened little boy, afraid of losing the most precious thing in his life."

"You're a lucky girl, Kate Beckett, I only hope some day, some one loves me like this man loves you." Both ladies stared into each others eyes, knowing what Lanie said was true.

"They kept you heavily sedated so the machines could do their work, without you struggling against them. When the medical team did wake you up, he was right there, whispering into your ear, keeping you calm, he was amazing."

Lanie laughed as she remembered how Castle had told her, Kate had "yelled" at him with her eyes for not shaving or resting, even sick and drugged, she was worried about Rick.

"The nurses were phenomenal, Rick never left your side, they even encouraged him to help bath you and care for you. Angela and Amy came up with the idea of having him lay next to you, especially when your vital signs became erratic and you began fighting the machines and sedation, so they made room on your bed and had him lay next to you, he kept his hand on your chest and rubbed your cheek until everything calmed down, you relaxed and then you both went to sleep. I got to watch this a couple of times and it was a wonder to behold."

"The nurses worked hard to keep the medicine at a reasonable level, which allowed them to wake you easily as well as prevent some of the frequent complications that are seen when patients are sedated over an extended period of time."

Kate was mesmerized by Lanie's description. Kate's head was shaking back and forth continuously as Lanie progressed over each detail. By the end Kate was totally spent, her eyes were shut tight and Lanie chastised herself for putting her friend through this ordeal.

"Uh, girl. I was supposed to come over and keep you company, not run you through the ringer. Castle is going to kill me."

"No, Lanie. I needed to know, to understand the extent of pain he experienced along with me. I knew there was more than he told me. Thank you so much." Her hand on her friend's arm, squeezing it gently.

The doorbell rang, Lanie rose to answer it. Their lunch had arrived from Becco's, Lanie took the food into the kitchen and called out to Kate.

"What is this contraption in the kitchen?"

Kate chuckled as she got up to join Lanie, answering, "Castle had a dietician come over to see us. Its obvious I've lost weight again and he wanted some help to get me to eat. Besides without my spleen my immune system needs an extra boost. So, this is the ferrari of juicers."

She laughed as she described the various concoctions Rick had come up with, surprisingly most of them were quite tasty.

"You should see him, he's like the mad scientist. Tossing everything but the kitchen sink in them. He swears the machine could blend up a tree."

The two women were laughing at his efforts, but mostly they were just appreciative of Rick's dedication to helping Kate recover.

After lunch, Lanie cleaned up while Kate sat at the kitchen counter. She had lost what little energy she had, but was grateful Lanie had come by. She had taken some pain medication as both her side and her head had started to pound.

Lanie and she returned to the living room, Lanie helping Kate get comfortable. Within moments, Castle came bounding in, full of his usual enthusiasm, but mostly he was just anxious to see Kate.

He immediately dropped everything and went to the ladies' position.

"Hey, girls, have fun?" The tone of his voice was trying to be causal, light, but his eyes were riveted to Kate's pale face.

"We're great, Castle. Thanks for the food. Lidia is the best." Lanie was attempting to distract Castle, but his eyes never left Kate's face. He didn't want to hover or nag, but he was obviously concerned.

"Come here, big guy." Kate called to him, he was at her side instantly and her hands cupped his face. The look in her eyes told him everything, Lanie had told her about their time in the hospital.

Their lips meet, ever so gently, nothing more than a glancing kiss, but the electricity of their touch was magic. Their foreheads met and they hesitated for a moment, then Kate let go of his face.

Lanie watched her friends' intimate encounter which caused her to look away, the emotion these two communicated was so personal, she felt she was intruding.

Lanie got up and announced her departure, wanting to give Kate and Rick time together. Kate grabbed her friend's hand, squeezing it fiercely.

"Don't be a stranger. You're always welcome. Tell the boys to drop by too."

Lanie bent over, hugged her friend and smacked Castle on the cheek.

"Keep up the good work."

After Kate's best friend had closed the door behind her, Rick was nervous sitting next to Kate.

"Can I get you something."

Kate gingerly worked her way from her usual position over to Castle on the couch. She wanted to sit on his lap and he helped her get positioned. She laid her head onto his chest listening to the gentle drum of his heart beat, she always found this soothing.

"Let's cuddle, Rick."

"One of my favorite things." He responded tenderly stroking her back and working his hands through her hair. His hug bringing her the love and tranquility she had sought.