"Always," Rick responded to Kate's thanks. He would do anything for her. He would die for her. He leaned over for a kiss, then settled into his pillow. Kate moved into her favorite cuddle position with her head on his shoulder and a hand over his heart. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and rested his chin on her head. He hoped she would fall asleep quickly. He was fighting with his own exhaustion, but wanting to be there for her if she needed him.
Kate smiled at the familiarity of Rick's warmth. She could feel his chest move with each breath, his heartbeat thrumming beneath her fingers. His fingers were making soothing patterns on her shoulder. She was safe. They were together in their bed just like any other night, and she was safe in his arms.
Her wedding vows popped into her head, "When I was vulnerable, you were strong." She had gotten very few details about what had happened to Castle during the last two days. She knew that he had been arrested and charged with assault. Gates had accused him of a stupid, reckless, and irresponsible stunt. That stunt certainly was what had led him and the boys to her. There was a story there, and he would tell her about it tomorrow. He had saved her, and Gates had thanked him for it. She mused upon the next line of her vows, "I want to live my life in the warmth of your smile and the strength of your embrace." Kate snuggled into that embrace further. Rick's hand slid down to her ribcage and spread his warmth to her side.
"Sleep, Kate. We need to sleep. You're safe. Tyson and Niemann will never bother us again." Rick tried to reassure his wife. "I love you, Kate."
"I love you, too, babe. Niemann kept me drugged for most of those two days. I'm not particularly sleepy. You are exhausted, babe. Sleep now. I'm here in the strength of your embrace." Kate slid her hand to Rick's left shoulder and pulled herself tighter to his side.
"Bringing up our marriage vows, are you. If you need me, I'm right here. And you're right, I am exhausted," Rick yawned as he finished his sentence.
"Tomorrow, you need to tell me about the last two days. I understand why you went at Tyson. I enhanced an interrogation of a suspect when you were missing. Without Tyson to testify, they will have to drop the assault charges anyway." Kate rubbed her hand across Rick's chest. "You're supposed to spend one thousand hours working with me, Rick. If my math is right, that's 125 8-hour shifts. You don't always put in the full eight hours, so I've got you for at least a month."
"You have me for life, honey. Twenty four seven is the commitment I've made," Rick softly replied.
"Go to sleep, Rick," Kate whispered. Rick kissed the top of her head. A few minutes later, Kate heard the soft snore she had grown to love. She tried to keep her thoughts away from the horror of Kelly Niemann's death. "I'm home. I'm safe. Rick is here. They are dead." Kate thought. She repeated that mantra over and over in her mind. She wasn't going to let the evil of those two taint her life.
Rick's breathing started to accelerate. She could feel his muscles twitch under her fingers. Kate knew he was having a nightmare. She leaned up to see his face. His visage was scrunched up, like he was in pain. She moved her hand to his face and caressed his jaw. There were beads of sweat starting to appear on his brow. He was muttering, "No, no, no, no."
Kate stroked her thumb across his cheek. She softly called his name, "Rick, babe, you're okay. Wake up, baby. Wake up. I'm right here."
"Beckett, NO!" Rick screamed and sat up in bed. Kate rose with him and ran her hands thru his hair, along his jaw and held his face in her palms. Rick's panicked expression softened as he awoke enough to see her. He crushed her to his chest.
"Rick, baby, I'm here. I'm right here," Kate tried to soothe him.
"Kate, you don't know. You don't know about the girl." Rick's breathing was ragged as he tried to calm from the dream. "I thought she was you. I thought you were dead."
"What girl? What happened?" Kate was feeling herself become agitated along with Rick. She took a deep breath to calm her own breathing. "Tell me about the girl. I'm right here, babe, I'm right here."
"We thought we'd found you. She was tied to a chair. ESU kicked in the door. Your voice warned me that it was a trap, and then….and then the woman in the chair was shot over and over. I saw her body convulse with the impacts. I thought you…" Rick sobbed before he continued haltingly. "I thought you were dead. I ran to her, and there was blood…..there was so much blood. I tried to touch your, her face and…and the wig fell off her head. I thought I had seen you murdered, Kate." Rick leaned back and showed an anguished face to Kate. He wrapped his arms around her and crushed her to his chest. "The bastard murdered her, just to torture me," Rick finished the story with his lips at her ear. He pulled back just enough to tuck her hair behind her ear, and then he kissed her jaw, her cheek and her mouth. After the kiss, he placed his hand on the back of her head and held her close.
"It's over. They're dead. We're safe." Kate tried a new mantra out loud. She wanted to calm her husband and herself. "We're safe, babe, we're safe."
"We're safe. They failed, and they're dead." Rick responded in kind. He laid Kate down on the bed. "I love you." He settled next to Kate, his arm around her shoulder and their faces inches apart.
Kate took his face in her hands. She started kissing his brow and his temple. She peppered short, quick kisses all over his face. She paused to look at him. "More, more, more," Rick smiled at her with his request. She kissed his jaw and down his neck with more short, quick kisses. Rick chuckled and rolled onto his back. Kate resumed her favorite cuddle position, head on his shoulder and hand on his chest.
"I'm okay now, Kate. You're here, so I'm okay."
Kate snaked her hand underneath Rick's shirt, so she could stroke her fingers thru his chest hairs. After a few minutes, she smoothed the hairs back down and slid her hand to his ribs. Rick had placed his hand at her waist beneath her pajama top. He stroked his thumb up and down on her smooth skin. They both closed their eyes as they concentrated on the feel of their lover's skin beneath their own. After a few minutes, their fingers stilled. Kate murmured an "I love you" and Rick squeezed her waist. They drifted off to sleep within a moment, wrapped in the warmth of their embrace.