Her smile warms him, and after a night without sleep in a chilly hospital waiting room, he’s grateful for the warmth. He actually made her chuckle a few minutes ago, but her resulting gasp of pain and grimace have taught him better now. No funny business, just smiles.
So they talk about what on earth she’s going to do with her 15 bouquets of flowers, the grumpy nurse who left a few minutes back, and the clown he saw in the ER on his way in here. Well, he talks and she nods, occasionally adding in a word or two. Sometimes when she smiles at him he swears she must have heard his declaration of love, but he doesn’t know how to bring it up so he continues to elaborate on the deranged clown.
He is in the middle of a sentence when her eyes clamp shut and she lets out a small gasp. He falters at the sudden sound, and looks up at her.
Her eyes pop open, and she gives him an innocent look.
“Fine,” she gets out, but her jaw is clenched and she’s blinking fast, and damn, she doesn’t look fine.
“And?” he presses.
“And a little tired."
She looks it and he doesn’t doubt it, but he doesn’t let the matter go.
But she doesn’t get to answer.
Her face screws up against her chest throbs once more.
He panics, and reaches for one of her white hands, which currently clasp the bedsheets with fervor.
Instinct takes over and she grips back without hesitance.
She doesn’t cry, or even whimper, but she doesn’t speak either. He doesn’t know what to say.
“You have to breathe, you know,” he reminds her gently.
The breath she was holding comes out with a puff, but she sucks back in almost instantly.
After a few minutes of drawing calming circles on her thigh, he realizes that her grip has slackened tad and her breathing has evened.
“Better? he whispers.
"Mmmm.” Her eyes blink open and she glances over at him sheepishly. “Sorry.”
“Comes in waves,” she answers, avoiding the question.
He nods dumbly, the glassy sheen in front of her eyes reminding him yet again of what she’s been through today.
“Thanks,” she adds.
“Yeah.” He clears his throat. “I mean, of course."
Her comment about waves hits him, and he realizes with a pang that she must have been lying awake for some time before he got here, dealing with the pain alone. Where is Josh? He was here before she got out of surgery; he has a bruise on his chest to prove it. And where are the nurses? Surely if she’s struggling this much she should be on more meds. After all, she just got out of a major surgery.
“Yeah?” Her voice is soft and strained.
He doesn’t even hesitate, just reaches up and stabs the button that calls the nurse.
There was some light protesting, but in the end she lets the nurse up her dosage. In minutes, she’s relaxed and drifting off.
He’s got one hand entwined with hers, the other on her thigh, and his eyes on her chest as it rises and falls in a steady rhythm when he walks in on them. Josh.
His heart quickens and he stands hurriedly, feeling both guilty and protective at the same time.
Kate, who doesn’t seem to have heard the door, stirs lightly with a moan that draws both men’s eyes. He must have jostled her when he stood.
Her hand tightens slightly around his own, and his eyes flicker downwards at the movement. Josh follows his gaze, and if he didn’t already look mad, he does now.
But before either man gets a chance to talk, Kate cuts in with a sleepy drawl.
“Don’t- don’t leave."
His eyes meet Josh’s.
"Please Castle?” she pleads, her voice barely a whisper.
He can’t remember her ever saying please, but she’s begging him to stay now. His heart burns, and he swallows the lump in his throat, prepared to tell Josh that he isn’t going anywhere. That he can't go anywhere.
But Josh is already shaking his head and turning around and shoving the door back open. And then he’s gone.
Castle settles back into the chair at Kate’s side, hoping that he’s seen the last of Josh. He knows the guy has never been a fan of his partnership with Kate, but he didn’t expect him to just walk out without a fight. Then again, he’s never been a fan of the way Josh treats his Kate.
His Kate? Well his mind certainly seems to think that Josh is gone. Oh, what a beautiful blessing it would be to be able to love Kate freely.
He glances over at the heart-rate monitor, and gets lost in the repeatedly spiking line. He’s glad that she is able to sleep, but he cant shake the way her unconsciousness reminds him of the way she laid motionless and bleeding out in his arms just a few hours ago.
A tear slips out. He’s so stupidly in love with her. Does she even know?