Disclaimer: I still own nothing.
He hasn't seen her eyes yet.
She's lying in a hospital bed, sleeping soundly. She was drugged to high heaven when he found her, and the doctors were keeping her sedated because of the pain. But they say she could come around any minute now.
Broken ribs. A broken wrist. Various weeping infected cuts. Minor internal bleeding. A gunshot wound to the leg. There's water in her lungs. She has pneumonia.
Basically, anything that could have happened to her while in the hands of those monsters, did happen. For three months.
Luckily, many of the wounds are fresh. Tyson and Neiman must have been expecting their cover to be blown and they couldn't move her, so they shot her and beat her up before they left.
He'll never forget the way he felt when she was lifted away from him and onto a gurney and his shirt was soaked with her blood.
Because her wounds are fresh, her bones didn't get the chance to heal wrong and her leg wound only required a minor surgical fix. The doctors assured him that she was very, very lucky. He wanted to laugh.
He's glad she's sleeping. He's a mess, and he needs a moment to go crazy before he can be strong for her. He needs to stare at her a little longer, run his hands over her face a little longer, feel her pulse under his fingers a little longer, because he doesn't believe the monitors sometimes. Some nurses washed her hair when she got here, but he's been combing his fingers through it so much that it's oily again.
Her hand is limp and white in his, and he thinks he might be dreaming when he feels her fingers move.
"Mhm. Rick," comes her drugged reply. Her eyes are still closed and her brow is furrowed.
"Kate. Can you open your eyes for me, honey?" He moves to block the light from her eyes as they blink open, revealing dazed, dilated pupils and the green irises he's been dreaming about for three months.
"Hi," she slurs.
He can feel the tears quickly tumbling down his face as he chokes out, "Hi."
He cradles her face and kisses her hair before he rests his forehead gently against her own. He's whispering her name over and over like a chant; cheering her on and telling her to stay alive, despite the doctor's assurances that she's out of the woods.
"I missed you," she sighs.
He chokes on a sob as he moves to bury his face in the soft flesh where her neck meets her shoulder. "God, Kate. I missed you too. I missed you so much."
"I love you," she whispers dazedly. He looks up to see her eyes blinking slowly, fighting to stay open. He kisses her forehead and cups her cheek in an attempt to coax her back to sleep.
"I love you too."
He takes her home two days later.
She's truly starting to frighten him. Once she was less sedated and more aware, she was quiet and subdued. She didn't beg to leave the hospital at all, or try to get up without help, or do anything that she would typically do. Her usual fire and authoritativeness was unsuccessfully feigned around Lanie and the boys, and she turned into a ghost again once they left. She knew she didn't have to fake it in front of him.
He was content just to look at her and watch her breathe. He still wasn't sure if she was real or not.
She never once let go of his hand, clenching her fist every time she would have a coughing fit from the pneumonia and aggravated her broken ribs. She has an iron grip, but he would never let her go; even if she broke his hand.
When he leads her into their home, he takes her directly to their bedroom. They make their way slowly due to her leg and the fact that she uses him as a crutch (he walks painfully slow and stops to check her over every time she so much as exhales). She gratefully curls up on her side of the bed, and he wants to weep at the sight of her there. He thought that he might find her side of the bed cold and empty for the rest of his life.
He slips her shoes off and tucks her under the covers before removing his own shoes and stripping down to an undershirt and boxers. She's in some old sweats that are much larger on her than they used to be, but he's been trying to ignore that fact since she put them on.
He crawls into bed next to her, his arms going around her immediately, cradling her skull against his chest and banding around her waist.
"I'm sorry," she whispers.
He pulls back to look at her. "Why on earth would you be sorry?"
"I should have brought backup with me, or not gone to meet her at all, or… something."
"You were doing your job. They shouldn't have kidnapped you. They're the only people who need to be sorry, okay?"
She nuzzles closer to him as he presses a kiss to her hair.
"Thank you. You kept me going, you know? You got me through," she whispers.
He can feel himself starting to cry, can feel the tears that are dripping into her hair as he pulls her closer.
"Thank you for being okay," he chokes out. "Thank you for coming home."
Author's Note: So that's it! I apologize if this seems awkward; I wrote it in a rush to try and get it in before the episode airs tonight (I am so excited and very very scared). Thank you for all the sweet reviews! They make my day! Once again, all mistakes are mine. Constructive criticism is always welcome. I hope you enjoyed!