As Kate approached Rick's room his nurse from earlier beckoned her from the nurses' station. The nurse led Kate a few feet away from the noisy area, "He's sleeping. His family has gone to grab some lunch. His mother asked me to tell you, that they are going to a nearby restaurant. She said you should call her, and they'll bring you back anything you'd like off the menu. If you don't call her, she'll choose the food for you." Kate smiled, knowing this was pure Martha. The nurse chuckled a little before continuing, "Mr. Castle's mother is an interesting lady."
"Martha is a force of nature is what she is," Kate agreed. "I'll call her from Rick's room. Is he improving? Dr. Goldberg said Rick might be transferred to a regular room this afternoon."
"Mr. Castle is improving faster than I expected, but Dr. Goldberg is the authority. He is expected to be back to check on your fiancé after lunch."
"Good, that's good. Thank you. I'm going to Rick's room. I don't want him to wake up alone."
Rick was sleeping as Kate crept into the room. He looked peaceful. She wanted to brush his hair from his forehead and feel his breath on her skin. She wanted to caress his check and feel warm skin under her hand. She didn't want to wake him, so she quietly placed the bag she had packed in the closet. She stood at the foot of the bed and just stared. She slipped her phone from her pocket and moved away from Rick to call Martha. A short whispered conversation resulted in an order of Chef's salad with vinaigrette being chosen. Kate told Martha not to hurry back.
Kate had kept her eyes trained on Rick during her conversation. She had noticed the telltale wiggles of his eyebrows. He was waking up. She walked quickly to his side and feathered her fingers through his hair. Rick smiled as he struggled to open his eyes. Kate's hand moved to cup Rick's cheek. He leaned into her palm and his eyes found hers.
"Hi," Rick smiled. Do you have any idea how beautiful you are? God, I love you."
Kate bent over the bed and pressed her lips to her fiancé's. "I love you, too." She added a kiss to his cheek, before she straightened up. Her free hand caressed his ear and slipped along his jaw to his neck. She let her fingers slip into the short hairs at his nape. "You know you have beautiful eyes."
"Why, Katherine Beckett, are you teasing me with my own words?"
"Remembered that, did you? I don't have to worry that you have any memory loss," Kate answered with a smirk. Her fingers remained in Rick's hair, fiddling with soft strands.
Rick reached for Kate's left hand. "You're mine now." There wasn't a ring on her finger, "Do you have to work today?" His grin melted as he stroked her bare ring finger.
"Nope. I am all yours. Wait just a minute." Kate lifted the chain with two rings from out of her blouse and over her head. She opened the clasp and removed her engagement ring from the chain. She handed Rick the ring, closed the clasp and replaced the chain over her head. She smiled brilliantly at Rick as she held her fingers in the perfect position for him to slide the ring onto her finger. Rick kissed the ring after it was in its proper place.
The lovers caressed the skin of their partner and smiled. Rick pulled Kate towards him with the hand in his grasp. Soft, sweet kisses were exchanged as Rick combed thru her soft locks. A noise from the hall disturbed their bliss, and they chuckled as Kate reached for the chair and sat next to the bed. Her thumb traveled over the hills of his knuckles. She was reluctant to break contact with his skin.
"We only have a few minutes before the redheads return. I wanted to apologize to you. If I hadn't dropped that photo…."
"Honey, no. This is not your fault. I am the idiot, who thought he could help the professionals. I just wanted to speed up the investigation, so I could have more time with you. I miss being with you. I miss working with you."
"I miss you, too. Maybe I should quit this job."
"This is your shot. You deserve this job. It's who you are, the badass investigator."
"Who I am? Who I am is your fiancée. I can't lose you, Rick. I almost lost you." Kate rises and kisses Rick fervently.
"Hey, I'm okay. I'll be fine. I have no desire to let you out of our engagement."
"You remembered that did you? I meant it. I'm not letting you out of this engagement. Don't do anything like that again. Promise me."
"I will not investigate one of your federal cases alone ever again. I added the caveat, just in case you have a case that I am allowed to help with,"
"Not gonna happen, Babe. Now kiss me, before we get interrupted."
As expected, the redheads and Pi arrived too soon. Rick expressed his jealousy of Kate's lunch, but she wouldn't share. There was teasing and laughter as if they were at home.
Dr. Goldberg examined Rick and signed the orders to move him to a regular room. Rick sent his family away when the staff came to move him. He told them to get some fresh air or to visit a museum. Alexis protested, but Martha herded the younger ones out. She turned as she exited and winked at the couple left in the room. Kate winked back.
The next 24 hours were filled with jokes and quiet moments. Martha, Alexis and Pi were shooed out whenever Rick found an opportunity. Kate did not leave. She tried to keep physical contact with Rick. He positioned his hand at the edge of the bed, so she had easy access to it. After the rest of the family left for the night, Kate slept spooned around Rick in his hospital bed. Being close to Rick allowed Kate to relax.
After Dr. Goldberg examined Rick the next morning, preparations began to transport the Castle family back to New York. Martha, Alexis and Pi returned to their hotel to check out.
"Is it possible for you to come with us just for a day or two? Please, Kate, come with us."
"I wish I could, but I can't. I already asked. McCord said Villante has been unusually lenient with the time off, since I am a new agent. She was surprised, frankly. Let Martha and Alexis fuss over you and spoil you. They were frightened, especially Alexis. She needs to spend some time with you. As soon as I get a chance I'll come to New York, or you can come here to visit. I know you won't snoop into my cases again."
"I promised and I'm going to honor that promise. Will you escort us to the plane?" Rick looked at Kate with feigned innocence and a slight smile.
"That was my plan." Kate watched Rick's smile widen and spread to his eyes. "Time to get you dressed and packed up."
"I would happily stay here another day, just so I could be with you." Rick paused when Kate quirked her eyebrow and frowned at him. "I would. I'm going to miss you."
"Get dressed, Mr. Castle. You have a plane to catch." Kate tried to sound imperious, but couldn't suppress a smile.
"Yes, Ma'am." Rick scrambled out of the bed and started to disrobe. Kate moved to get his clothes from the closet, but Rick grabbed her arm. He pulled her into a bear hug and kissed her deeply. They clung to each other, savoring the moment.
Kate ended their hug with a kiss to Rick's check. "You need to get changed, Babe."
All too soon they were on the way to the airport. Kate and Rick in one vehicle, the rest of the group with an agent in another vehicle. The couple was quiet in the car. Rick's hand never left Kate's thigh as she drove. Whenever possible, she laid her hand atop his. They shared a kiss and declarations of love before they exited the car. Kate and her future family hugged. Martha whispered a thank you to Kate, which Kate didn't feel she deserved.
Kate climbed the stairs closely behind Rick with one hand pressed between his shoulder blades. They stopped at the top of the stairs and kissed one last time. Rick whispered, "Always" at Kate's ear. She whispered "Ditto" back to him. Kate watched Rick buckle himself into his seat. She waved to the other occupants.
"Katherine, don't worry. We'll take special care of him."
"Thank you, Martha." Kate smiled at Martha, and then looked pointedly at Rick. "Behave yourself, or I will sic Lanie on you."
"Anything but that. I'll call you."
Kate smiled, nodded her assent, turned away and exited the plane. Time to go back to work.