It starts out as a cough, and Castle goes to crime scenes with a wad of Kleenex and a puppy dog expression. “I’m sick,” he says, as mournfully as he can.
Beckett rolls her eyes. “Stop sneezing on my crime scene.”
His sinuses are congested and he has to turn away and bend over intermittently, racked with long bouts of coughing that leave him with wet eyes and a raw throat. “I’m really sick,” he tells her, hoping for affectation where really there’s just exhaustion.
She makes a face and shakes her head, keeping her distance. “Just don’t give it to me.”
The next day, he can’t get out of bed. He tries, but feels so miserable that it’s all he can do to answer his phone when she calls to see where he is. “I’m actually sick,” he croaks.
Her voice is just a little hesitant, assessing him in that cautious, cynical way of hers. “Feel better, then,” she says before pausing awkwardly as she hangs up.
When his daughter gets home after school, Castle’s too weak to move and he’s having trouble breathing. When his mother arrives, he apparently is turning blue, and she promptly calls 9-1-1 in a hysterical mess fit for the stage. It’s an entire ordeal, and Castle’s only semiconscious through most of it and when he wakes up hazily in the hospital sometime later, there’s a deep pressure in his chest and a numbness from the IV in his arm.
He blinks, and turns his head. Beckett is there, fidgeting uncertainly.
It’s work to talk, harder still with the prongs shoved up his nostrils, but he smiles anyway. “I’m sick,” he tells her.
She is carefully composed, even as she eases herself forward. “Your mom and daughter just stepped out. I – just wanted to – I,” she tries to explain but flails. Flustered, she frowns. “You have pneumonia.”
Castle considers this, but breathing is still too much of a chore to dwell on it much. “See,” he says. “Sick.”
She grins, seemingly despite her better intentions. “Yeah,” she agrees. “Do you want to rest or--?”
“Stay,” Castle says, trying to keep breathing. His fingers flex, gripping the sheet on his bed. “Stay.”
She nods, her posture relaxing as she seems to settle in. “Okay,” she says. “I’ll stay.”
The strain in his lungs is still there and the exhaustion is catching up with him, but Castle’s next breath comes just a little bit easier. He’s still not sure how this particular story ends just yet, but, for now, he figures it’ll work itself out.