"In loving memory"
Kate reads the headstone through a blur of tears, her knees digging into the still-soft earth beneath. She doesn’t care that she’s ruining her favorite pair of jeans or that it’s getting almost too dark to read the engraving on the smooth granite.
Castle stands just a few feet away, holding their sleeping son to his chest, just watching and waiting, giving her the time and space she needs.
Finally, Kate leans forward a presses her hand to her lips, before placing it on the stone, right above her father’s name.
"I love you," she whispers, choking slightly on her tears, before standing and brushing the dirt off her knees.
She makes her way over to her husband, holding out her arms. Castle understands immediately what she needs and hands over James, allowing Kate to cradle the small boy in her arms and inhale his sweet scent. She kisses his forehead and the boy stirs slightly, cuddling into his mother’s chest, before letting out a tiny snort. Kate gives a gurgled chuckle before kissing him once more and looking up at Castle, who watches her, still waiting patiently.
What did she ever do to deserve this man—this family.
The thought brings tears to her eyes. “Castle,” she practically whimpers, “I’m an orphan.”
Immediately, he embraces, taking good care not to disturb their son, and she falls into him, sobs wracking her body.
"Shh," he mumbles into her hair, "shh…it’s gonna be okay. It’s okay, Kate. I’m here. We’re here. Your family is here for you. We’re never going to leave you."
The second he hears the sniffles, he knows this is going to be one hell of a day.
Opening one eye, he sees Kate shoving her face into a tissue, blowing her nose with all her might so that it sounds as if she’s an elephant. She moans, her bloodshot eyes closing tightly, as if in pain, before throwing the sheets off of her body and turning to stand.
He knows where she’s heading before her feet even touch the floor and he reaches for her arm before she can even make it out of bed, pulling her back.
"Not so fast," Castle says, his voice rough with sleep. "Get back in bed, Kate; you’re not going anywhere."
"Castle," Kate sighs in return, "we have a body."
"I’m sure Esposito and Ryan can handle it. Now let me feel your forehead."
Kate rolls her eyes, but allows him to press the back of his hand against her cheek. She sighs at contrast between his cool hand and her hot cheeks.
"You’re burning up," he informs her, standing. He pulls her back into a lying position, covering her shivering body with blankets.
"D-doesn’t f-feel like it," Kate mumbles, her body quivering with cold.
Castle frowns, sympathetically, running a hand through her hair. “I think you might have the flu,” he says, rubbing soothing patterns on her skin. “I’m gonna go get you some Tylenol and tea, okay? It’ll make you feel better.”
"Then can I go to work?" Kate asks. Castle doesn’t even deign to respond; he just gives her a no-nonsense look and she rolls her eyes. "I’ll take that as a no," she sighs.
Castle gives her a tiny grin and makes his way towards the door. “I’ll call Gates while I’m in the kitchen,” he calls over his shoulder, “tell her you won’t be in for a couple days.”
"A couple days, Castle? I have a murder to solve!”
"Not with flu, you don’t!" Castle calls back. "You are staying in that bed until you can recite the Greek alphabet with no pauses!"
"How is that going to prove anything?” Kate groans. “I can already do that.”
Castle’s head pops back into the room, one eyebrow raised. “Oh yeah? Do it now.”
"My point, exactly," Castle says. "Do you want honey in your tea?"