Just another little one-shot I though up. I really, really wished that Castle had said,"I'm still here" in Rise when Beckett said that everyone was gone. Oh well...

Read, enjoy, and please review! :)


Kate woke up panting, gasping for breath. Images she never wanted to see again blurred together in her mind, until they formed a single face. Her mother, Royce, Montgomery. In alleys and lying on the floor of an airplane hangar. All dead. She jolted up in bed, digging her fingernails into her forearms so the pain would distract her. Her body shook.

"Kate?" Castle stirred beside her. Seeing her face, he sat up in bed, suddenly awake. He put his arm around her rubbed her shoulders. "Hey, it's okay. It's just a nightmare."

She nodded and tried to stop shaking, but she couldn't. She gasped for breath again, sobbing.

"Oh, Castle," she whispered shakily, tears running down her face. "They're all gone."

"I'm here," he said soothingly, pulling her into his lap. "Nothing is going to happen to you, you're okay."

Kate nodded, snuggling deeper into his arms. Her breathing slowed and she let go of her arm. She took deep breaths.

After a few moments of silence, she whispered, "I'm sorry, Castle."

"For what?," he asked gently. He kissed her hair.

"For this. It happens at least twice a week."

"Kate, we've only been sleeping in the same bed for a month," he said. "It's okay. I'd rather have you have these nightmares here than at your place. I feel better knowing I'm here when you wake up."

"They do come less when I'm here with you," Kate said truthfully, sighing. "But I called you 2 weeks ago, remember?"

"I'm glad you did," Castle said, squeezing her in a hug. "You can wake me up whenever you want. If you're at home, and you have a panic attack or a nightmare, I want to know."

Kate shifted slightly in his arms so she was facing him.

"Thank you," she whispered, kissing his lips softly.

"You're welcome," he said, kissing back. After a couple minutes, he carefully asked, "Kate, can I ask what you saw?"

She nodded slowly. "My mom… in the alley, bleeding. Royce, shot dead in broad daylight. And Montgomery… I heard the gunshots, knew I hadn't been able to save him, saw him lying on the floor of the hangar…."

Tears came rolling down her cheeks again and she clung to Castle.

"I'm sorry," he murmured. "It's gotta be a hard time of year for you."

It was. The first anniversary of Royce's death had been last week. Kate requested to go to his grave alone, and Castle didn't push back one bit. He knew she needed space that day. He let her do her own thing, didn't even call. She had been pleasantly surprised at how well he had kept his distance, and she had rewarded him by letting him make them dinner at the loft.

And in 2 weeks, it would be a year since Montgomery's death. She didn't know which would be harder, his or Royce's. She honestly didn't know how she would get through either of them if she didn't have Castle.

Her mother's murder was still unsolved, but 2 months ago, Kate had decided she was done fighting her feelings for him. The truth was, she needed him. And she loved him just as much as he loved her. It felt good, no – wonderful – to have him to turn to when she felt torn apart. He understood her, he was always there for her, and he could make her smile.

And yes, it had been a month before they slept together. Castle was incredibly patient, when it was important. And she adored him for it. What she didn't know was that seeing her hurt was killing him. It hurt him every time he saw that wounded look in her eyes, or the scar from her bullet wound when she was getting dressed. He worried about her every moment they weren't together, especially now.

"Kate," Castle whispered, pressing a kiss to her forehead. "They might be gone, but I'm still here. And I will always be here for you."

Kate blinked up at him through her tears.

"Always?"

"Always."