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Scribbles and Whiskers

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“Stop it!” Kate snapped.

“Aaawwwhhh... whaat?” he asks after finishing his yawn, trying to cover his mouth with his hand.

“Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwnn... That! Thanks a lot!”, she answers.

“What did I do?” he asks again, dramatic note in his voice.

“You yawned! It's contagious!” she hisses at him and covers her mouth once again, feeling another yawn coming. She does yawn again. “See what you did there!” she accuses him again.

“I’m so sorry,” he says sarcastically. “It wasn’t my idea to get trapped in this freaking elevator you know. I’m sleepy and I wanna go home.” he whines.

“Stop the whining.” she tells him.

“Stop this, stop that... what am I allowed to do in this freakin’ elevator?” he asks, frustration in his voice. “You’re not a good partner to be stuck with.” He covers his face with his hands and exhales with frustration. He stops pacing, leans back against the elevator wall, and stares at her.

Kate is sitting on the floor, her back against the elevator doors and her feet straightened out in front of her. Her coat is lying next to her in a messy heap, next to it stands a lonely cup of coffee that was in her hand when they stepped into the elevator few hours earlier.

She is staring back at him, the same amount of annoyance on her face as he’s already expressed. She slowly exhales, the irritation easing slightly. “I’m sorry, Castle.”

He decides to sit down across from her, so he slowly slides down the wall and makes himself comfortable. They stare at each other for a long while, not daring to say anything. Castle estimates that they’ve been in the elevator for at least a few hours. It's hot, and the muzak seems to have the crappiest songs known to man going on a loop on its playlist. It doesn’t make things any better when the case they had today was supposed to be his last one - and he was truly determined to leave afterwards.

Castle is annoying the hell out of her. Kate closes her eyes, leans her head heavily back against the doors and lets her mind wander. She thought that she knew him, but apparently she really doesn’t. He’s been acting weird lately, pulling away more and more - right when she was ready to step forward in this relationship. Just when she was brave enough to break her walls, climb out of her hiding place and embrace him as he is. Suddenly something snapped and he pulled away. Now it seemed that he couldn't even tolerate being in the same room with her. A sigh escaped her lips. The worst part? The ridiculous songs emanating from the tinny speakers. She was already sick of them.

He just sat there. She’d apologized, and at least that was good - a start he guessed. He heard her sigh and raised his head to look at her, but she’d already closed her eyes and tilted her head back. She seemed to be deep in thought. He looked to the ceiling but nothing good comes out of there either. He was sick of the radio so he opened his mouth.

“Can I borrow your gun?” he asks out loud.

Her eyes snap open, and she glares at him.

“What for?” she asks, her hand goes instinctively to her holster to check if her gun is still there.

“To shoot the damn radio,” he points upwards to the ceiling.

She lets out a breath of laughter.

“As much as I’d like to do it myself, we really shouldn’t,” she said, a slight smile on her lips, her hand moving back to lay in her lap again.

He chuckled, “Ugh, why do you have to be so politically correct. We could have fun destroying that damn speaker,” he teased. He knows her very well - shooting the radio isn’t her idea of fun.

She glares at him again, this time a little smirk on her face. “I don’t think it's such a good idea in a closed space. Bullets bounce.”, she says, making a zigzag pattern with her fingers.

“Yeah, right, don’t want to get killed in an elevator.”, he jokes. Aaaaand there’s the silence again.

She sighed, her thoughts interrupted by the sudden outburst coming from him. The mood in the elevator seems to have lifted a bit. She doesn’t dare speak much, but she is getting bored. Kate’s not sure what to do anymore - how to act around him.

“Castle?” she asks.

He raises his head from his hands and looks at her. “Yeah?”

“Do you have a pen or something with you?” she says tentatively.

“Why would I have a pen?” he asks mockingly.

“I thought you’re a writer, isn’t that standard issue?” she laughs.

“Ha ha ha...” he retorts. “Mock all you want, but I don’t usually carry a pen with me.” he answers. “Writers use computers these days. You know, technology and all.” He makes the imitation of typing with his fingers. She smiles at his miming.

“Why’d you need a pen anyway?” he asks after a moment of silence.

“I’m really bored” she answers honestly. “I thought since we’re stuck in here - god knows how long, we might pass our time doing something.” she sighs.

“What did you have in mind?” he asks again.

“I wanted to draw whiskers on your face.” she smirks now. He snorts out a laugh and stares at her. “No, really, I was just gonna draw somewhere.” she finally adds.

“Well, in that case...” he leaned forward and started patting his pockets - as if trying to find something. After a few touches, he finds what he was looking for and fishes it out. “A-HA!”, he makes a noise of discovery. He looks into her eyes and says “I don’t have a pen, but I have a sharpie!”

She raises her eyebrow in disbelief. “Always ready, huh?” she asks.

“Ready for what?” he is a little bit confused.

“Always ready to sign a woman’s chest with your sharpie” she mocks again with a smile on her face.

He smirks at her but says “Just for your information, I haven’t signed any chests with it.... “ he says “.... yet.” he adds, while holding out the sharpie and waggling his eyebrows.

She raises herself up and snatches the pen. “You’re not signing mine either” she says with certainty.

He quirks up his eyebrows and asks “Is that a challenge?”

She doesn’t answer, ignoring him completely. Looking around, she finds her coffee cup lying on the ground. She picks it up and starts drawing something on it. He is observing her, amused look on his face. Kate knows that he is watching her and she doesn’t want to yield to his stare. She turns her cup in front of her, drawing quickly and neatly. She smiles when she is ready with her work. She extends her arm and turns the cup so he can see what she was working on.

He smiles when he sees the little drawing there. It is a tiny and funny cat with huge whiskers and a beard. “You’re cute.” he says, looking at the drawing. His brow furrows all of a sudden.

“Why such big whiskers?” he asks.

She looks at him now, with a glint of joy in her eyes. “You didn’t let me draw whiskers on your face.” she answers, her voice dripping with amusement.

“You didn’t allow me to sign your chest.” he retorts quickly with a same amount of amusement.

She’s silent for a beat or two, then suddenly looks back at him. “Tell you what...” she says and without waiting for his response, she continues “It is your last day, as you said. And we’re stuck - here.” she pauses for effect “I’ll let you sign my chest.” his face lights up at her words “But....” she continues “I want to draw whiskers on you.” she says trying to be serious, but the corners of her mouth tremble as she holds back a smile.

His eyes grow big at her suggestion. He straightens up his back and leans forward facing her. His mouth forms a smile and a spark of joy returns to his eyes after a brief surprise.

“Deal.” he says extending out his arm to Kate. She responds with the same movement. Their hands meet in a handshake. They smile, having the same amount of amusement and mischief in their faces.

“So....” he starts. “Who goes first?”

She gets up from the floor and urges him do the same. She holds up the sharpie, “I have the pen, I’ll go first”. He stands up, pulling her with him. With her high heels they’re virtually the same height. He’s always enjoyed that. They’re equal. They’ve always complemented each other.

She uncaps the sharpie and brings her hand up to his face, coming closer to him. Her chest almost connecting with his, she slowly, tentatively touches his jaw and holds it still. She brings the sharpie up with her right hand and raises it to his nose. He suddenly pulls his head back, confused. She hisses at him.

“You said whiskers, not a nose.” he says, his voice now husky, low.

She grins at him, her face only inches away from his. “Well, nose and whiskers, it’s kind of a package deal.” she winks at him.

He smiles and announces, “Well, in that case, you get a nose if I get a dedication.”

She squints her eyes, holding on his arm. “That's blackmail.”

“I believe it is.” he answers, nodding.

She huffs out a breath. “I don’t like it.” she says.

“I am fairly certain you’re not supposed to.” he says. They’re silent for few seconds.

“Okay. Nose for dedication.” she answers finally. “NOT a long one.” she adds.

He makes a pouty face. “Not fair.” he says as she glares back. “You got your nose, now get on with it” he urges.

Her hands connect with his face again and this time, the sharpie touches his nose. Concentrating on her work, she draws a nice black nose. He wrinkles his nose and she hisses “Stay still. You want a pretty nose, don’t ya?”

“I HAVE a pretty nose” he corrects her, smirking. She rolls her eyes at him.

He stills his movements and lets her finish. When she goes to draw the whiskers, he lets out a chuckle. She stills her movements and looks at him, question in her eyes.

“It tickles” he explains.

“Ah” she answers and continues drawing. When she is finished with both sides of his face, she smiles contently. She steps back from him. Smiling widely.
“You look cute” she says, proud of her work.

He sighs. “I wish we had a mirror, so I could see how I look.” he says.

“Don’t worry, we will be out of here soon” she says as she smiles at him, putting a cap on the sharpie. She extends it to him and continues, “Your turn.”

He accepts the sharpie and uncorks it. Raising up his arm he asks “Where?”

She stares at him for a moment and says “You wanted to sign my chest. You choose where.”

“I... I... I don’t think it's a good idea...” he stutters. “Letting me write wherever I want.” he swallows.

She smiles weakly and raises her hands up to her V-neck blouse. Pulling it down a little bit, she exposes a good amount of her chest. He steps closer and swallows again. He had no idea that he would be doing anything like this when he stepped into the elevator this afternoon. He touches her chest tentatively. He hears her sharp intake of breath when his fingers connect. He feels his heart quicken at the touch too. ‘Relax, it's only an autograph’ he says to himself. He pulls down her blouse a little bit more, exposing more skin. Raising the other hand to her chest, he starts writing. He scribbles three short words and then she feels him starting to sign his autograph.

She bends her head down to see what he’s writing, but he’s done already. He covers the writing with his palm, not allowing her to see it. He shifts himself closer to her, not taking his hands off her. One palm covering the dedication, his other hand starts to move downwards on her chest. She wants to stop him, but before she can do anything, his fingers have already found her scar. She takes in a shaky breath but doesn’t move. She raises her head to look at him. His face is serious as his fingers wander against her round scar. He stares at the scar, so intently. She feels his breath, shallow and shaky. He removes his hand from the scar and raises his head. Their eyes meet and she sees pain in his eyes. Pain and something else she can’t name at the moment. He sighs a long breath and says. “I’m sorry.”

She knows he doesn’t mean touching the scar or writing on her chest. He wants forgiveness for what he has done to her. But in reality, he has done nothing. Nothing to hurt her. She closes her eyes and sighs.

He hasn’t stepped back yet, instead she feels one of his hands touching her shoulder lightly. Before she can form a sentence in her head to answer back to him, she feels fingers under her chin and she opens her eyes while he is lifting her head upwards. She wants to say something to stop him, but she’s too late. One of his hands is snaking around her back, the other one has moved from her chin to her neck and is pulling her closer to him. She doesn’t fight him. She has no willingness to fight anymore. Their eyes connect for a brief moment, creating a spark within her. His eyes are serious, but full of want, full of something she still can’t name. She closes her eyes and then she feels it. His lips gently touching hers. She sighs audibly as a response to him. She feels him smile against her lips. That cocky man. Then he pulls away.

Her hands raised around his neck during the commotion, and when she feels him retreating, she doesn’t let him go. He feels the restraint and he halts, opening his eyes. She sighs and doesn’t open her eyes, but leans in to him. He smiles for a second as he closes his eyes and meets her halfway. Mouths connect again, their gentle movements creating waves of pleasure in her and she craves for more. She opens her mouth to nibble his bottom lip, when he does the same. Their breaths mingle and new depths of their mouths taste good for both of them. He starts walking her backwards until her shoulders hit the wall of the elevator.

He pushes his full weight on her as their kiss gets more and more heated by the second. It makes her sigh against his mouth. He pulls back for a little bit, allowing them to breathe. He smiles at the sound of her gasping the air into her lungs. Not letting her come down from her high, he starts placing open mouthed kisses to her cheek and slowly moving to her neck, making her moan softly.

Then a jerk of movement jolts through them. He eases his weight off of her and retreats as the elevator starts to descend slowly. He looks at her. Her flushed cheeks and slightly swollen lips makes her irresistible in the dim light. She looks at him now, fire in her eyes and she removes her hands around his neck. She flicks his collar with her fingers and says with soft voice “You know, I’ve never been kissed by a Catman”.

He chuckles at her words “Was I that bad?” he asks, leaning closer to her.

“No” she smiles “You weren’t bad at all.” she says with voice so low, barely a whisper.

Dinging of the elevator announces its arrival to their floor. “Finally.” he mutters under his breath, when the doors open to the precinct floor. He steps away from her, bending down to collect his coat that was lying on the floor. He observes her doing the same, and averting his eyes to the now open elevator doors, he sees the crowd there. They both take a deep breath before they enter to the precinct floor.

Chapter Text

She steps out of the elevator with a cup in her right and her coat in her left hand. She stops as she sees the officers and co workers standing there too. Castle is following her closely.

Esposito has a huge grin on his face and he asks "What happened to him" he points at Rick. She turns around and smiles. Before Castle can answer to Espo's nosy question Beckett answers "He had a meeting with a cat", smiling widely now. She takes few steps outside of the elevator as the crowd shuffles back to their workplaces. She hears Castle's muffled comment 'It was more like a tiger than a cat' and smiles again at the whisper. She continues walking out as Esposito tries to take a picture of Castle, before he has a chance to take cover.

"What happened to you two?" Ryan asks trying to catch up with her.

Kate answers back to him "We were stuck in the elevator for hours. Didn't somebody tell you that elevator wasn't working?" she asks, when they arrive at her desk On the corner of her eye, she sees Castle darting for the men's room, trying to get rid of Esposito.

"Yeah, we got the notice a half an hour ago" Ryan answers. "You were there for hours?" he is confused.

"Probably yes" she answers.

Esposito steps closer and asks "What were you doing there? A few hours is quite a long time. And judging by the look of Castle, you had a fun time..:"

"Nothing" she lies, while remembering their activities in the elevator. Small bush starts creeping her face.

"Yeah," he snorts. "That is why you are blushing, right?" he asks.

She ignores him and tries to get the attention away from her and stares at the murder board. "So, have you got something new?"

Both boys look a little disappointed, missing all the good information about the elevator ride. They make weird eyes to each other behind Beckett's back, before turning the attention to the murder board. Esposito takes a lead and starts talking about the new information that they have gathered so far.

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Beckett has finally reached her desk and sits down. She opens a new folder with a sigh and starts to read the files inside. The new case has loads of new information already and she has to make up for those two hours that they had spent in the elevator with Castle. She is trying to pay all her attention to the ME report in her hands when she hears familiar footsteps closing in. Without raising her head she sees Castle nearing "his" chair and parking his bottom on the said chair.

She raises her head to look over at Castle and she sees that he still has his black nose and black whiskers on his face. Faded away a little bit, yes. But still quite visible. She lets out a chuckle seeing the sight in front of her.

"Apparently my sharpie is waterproof" he announces pointing to his face and smiling.

"Hahaa" she laughs. "Its your own fault that you had a waterproof sharpie. But you do look cute".

"Hah, don't ya laugh. My little scribble will be on you for a long time" he answers back, pointing to her chest, face full of victory.

She had completely forgotten about his little writing on her chest. Her face went from laughter to serious in an instant and she raised her hand to peek what is in there. Before her hand reached her collar she felt a touch on her knee. She looked at his hand on her knee and then up to his face. He was serious.

"Please don't read the dedication right now. Its only meant for your eyes" he says. Laughter has left his eyes, he is really serious. Her hands moves to touch her neck and she can't really suppress her curiosity and she starts to play with her collar, unintentionally. He moves up his hand to her thigh. "Please, just not right now" he begs.

"My curiosity is even higher now, what is it that you've left on my chest?" she tries to break the seriousness in the air.

"Well, its nothing much" he perks up a little bit and moves his head closer. "But I don't want you to expose your breasts to the guys in the precinct" he teases and whispers the next line "If I remember correctly, the scribble is really low down on your chest."

She stares at him. Oh, if the stares could kill...

"Ugh, you are impossible" she finally sighs. "Okay, I won't do it right now. But am I allowed to see it later on?"

He gets a little farther away from her and removes his hand. "Yes. Just do it when you are alone".

"Kay, will do" she answers his plea and grabs the ME report from the table that she had previously dropped there.

"Oh, Castle, see what Perlmutter writes in here..." and they continue talking about the cause of death. They are utterly sucked in to the theorizing of the details of the case when Ryan and Esposito appear back to the room. The two guys smile at each other before they close in and approach the crazy pair.

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Its late hours in the precinct when Esposito starts to prepare to leave and throws "See ya tomorrow" in the conversation. Ryan soon follows him and suddenly Castle and Beckett are alone in the homicide floor. The dim light from Beckett's table lamp casts a weak yellowish glow everywhere. Its is cosy and after the boys leave, its calm and peaceful in here. Castle stands up and goes to the break room, to get a cup of water. It is quite late and he decides to skip the coffee knowing it was too late to have one now and have a decent sleep later and not to get one to her either. They have been trying to find some good leads for hours already, but nothing has jumped up and led them anywhere. He fills a cup with water and takes few sips from it.

He can see Beckett from the breakroom. He just looks at her, her hands wavering over the reports and cellphone records and all the papers that they have managed to gather. She looks so small just sitting there, biting her lip nervously. She is pissed off that she can't find any solid leads. She suddenly raises her hands to air and stretches herself. Looking around she sees Castle watching her. She smiles weak smile to him. She then stands up and and starts walking towards the ladies room, signing to Castle that she will be back soon.

He drinks up the last remnants of water in his glass and puts it away. Closing in her desk, he promptly sits down and fishes out his Iphone. Since Beckett is on the ladies room, he might kill some time. He has completely forgotten about his kitty face and Beckett's signed chest.

Meanwhile she is in the bathroom of the precinct. She is looking in the mirror. Checking her makeup and hair she suddenly notices the tiny letters peeking underneath the collar of her shirt. She had forgotten that Castle wrote his autograph there. Her hand rises to pull her blouse open a little bit. She exposes the writing to the light and reads it slowly. Warmth rises to her heart while butterflies start their flying lessons in her stomach.

The dedication on her chest said: "I love you".

"Oh, Castle" she whispers. Suddenly not knowing what to do.

Chapter Text

The warmth in her stomach burns with a powerful flame. Her brain is working at an incredible speed, thoughts are running around like lightning. No words are coming out of her anymore. She definitely wasn't expecting this to be written there. These words. She breathes in a deep breath, leaning her back against the wall of the bathroom. She swallows, tries to settle the butterflies in her stomach.

The emotions run wild inside her. The one that joins the flame in her heart first is fear. It courses through her like a tsunami. Fear - of his love. She can't be worthy of it. She heard him say those exact words months ago in the cemetery. When her world collapsed around her. She remembers those words, the joy and happiness that surged through her at that moment. But the emotions are covered with pain, panic and emptiness. Every time she remembers those words, the motion, the pain, is always there with her. She takes in a another gasp of breath, but it sounds more like a sob. She tries to contain herself. "No, not the panic attack, not now," she pleads. She manages to take deep breaths, calming her system down. Tentatively opening her eyes and letting the luminescent glow from the lights in the ceiling into her system again, the shaking of her hands subsides and the beating of her heart slows. She is okay. "I am okay," she keeps telling herself like a mantra.

She pushes herself away from the wall and stands in front of the mirror again. She looks at her reflection - her cheeks slightly red, her eyes a little bit big and panicky. Raising her hand, she uncovers the scribble again. This time, she looks at it longer, getting used to the feeling. Getting used to the words on her chest. She slides a finger over it, just like trying to figure out if this is real or not. Yep. This is real. This is happening.

She looks away from her reflection again, pushes herself away from the sink below and starts pacing around the bathroom. She thanks higher powers that the precinct is deserted at this time of the evening and she is alone in here. She couldn't handle her co-workers at the moment. Slowly pacing, her thoughts swallow her like a black hole swallows matter. She is calm now, but her head is buzzing. Does he mean it? Why did he write that, why did he write that now? He was supposed to be leaving? Why this, why now? Even though she had come to grips with all that happened last fall and thought she had pulled herself through therapy, this was still a shock. A challenge to her fragile system. But now, as it seems, the drama still has an effect on her. She desperately wants to change that. She has feelings for this man. Strong, powerful feelings that keep her awake at night. Their connection, the cosmic pull between them, it has always enchanted her, entranced her and coaxed her in like a flame does to a moth. Why did the simple scribble force her into panic mode? Those three simple words should have made her happier, ecstatic. Why does her subconscious choose fear first? Why?

She stops her pacing and stands in front of the mirror again. Her hands search for the writing again. When she looks at it again, she feels the fear slowly subsiding as the warmth the scribble initially created in her, takes its stand. For the first time since she stepped into this room, she smiles. This is happening. Her fingers gently caress the tiny writing. Those three words are really on her chest. Just three simple words which sum up everything about him. He loves her. Oh, please, I hope he means it. He better mean it. She stands there for a while, just looking at her small figure from the mirror. The change in her eyes, her posture - how all of her body changes, from fear to content. No envy, no fear. She smiles at her reflection. Hearing a commotion outside the bathroom, her consciousness snaps back to reality. Narrowing her eyes she decides - they need to talk.

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He cannot do this level again. He has been trying to free those birds in this level for some time already and he is sick of that particular setup. This game is frustrating. He hisses at his phone and closes his Angry Birds app. He looks around the floor but nobody is there. Quite a long time has passed since Beckett signaled him that she was using the bathroom. Where is she? Did she sneak away silently without telling him anything? Is she still in the bathroom? He stands up from his chair and walks up to the murder board. Going over the details of the case again. Damn, this case is a sneaky one. Hopefully the next day brings more clues and more action. He doesn't want his last case to be so boring. He stops his train of thoughts. His last case? Oh yeah, he had told everybody that it really was his last case with the homicide crew.

He really doesn't want to go. He wants to stay there with her. To be with her. But he can't torture himself that way anymore. The writing he wrote on her chest, it was like the last straw, as he desperately wanted that information to reach her. For her to see what she means to him. If she doesn't care about this scribble, then all of his chances are gone. If she doesn't care, then he is done. He can't do it anymore.

He is flustered, thinking back to the events in the elevator. The day had started so differently, with tension in the air. How the hell had they ended up kissing? He sighs and touches his lips with his fingertips. That kiss was … even he doesn't have any words for it anymore. It was extremely hot. It made his heart beat so fast, he had thought his heart would be flying out of his chest soon. He still feels her lips on his. He raises his hand to touch his lips, closing his eyes and savouring the moment. That kiss had to mean something. If it didn't mean anything, then he could never kiss those lips again. And that would be bad. Really bad. He opens his eyes suddenly, decision in his head made up. He needs... he really needs to talk with her.

As soon as he is finished with that thought he hears a women's bathroom door open in the back end of the homicide floor. He turns himself around to see Beckett entering the office. She looks flustered and shaky. He furrows his brow, not understanding what is going on and continues to watch her as she walks closer to her desk. Her face is beaming with some kind of confusion and certainness, her whole posture has changed since he last saw her. He wonders what happened. She arrives at her desk and he forgets the questions in his head. She stops and smiles at him.

"I think we need to talk," she simply says.

He looks at her, confusion intertwines with curiosity and he agrees "Yes, I think we need to do that." She nods and starts to collect her belongings.

"Remy's?" he asks, while she throws on her jacket.

"Hmm..." she makes a thinking sound. "I think we need something more private," she continues her thoughts.

"Oh, okay," he is surprised again. "How about my loft then. Alexis is out today, so it will be deserted," he offers as they start walking to the elevator.

"I think that sounds good," Kate nods.

They both stop in front of the elevator and in unison they look at each other. Remembering what happened before, neither of them wants to take the elevator again. She smiles and asks, "Stairs?" He nods and they start walking in silence, slightly bumping shoulders when they enter the door leading to the stairwell.

Beckett steps to the stairs first and descends to the next level with a slow pace, as she is thinking through things in her head. Castle follows her with the same pace, but soon he walks by her side, watching her intently. She seems to be deep in her thoughts because she doesn't seem to notice his gaze.

As they reach the ground level, Kates extends an arm to open the door to the lobby. When said door doesn't yield to her attempt, she shakes the handle again, but with no luck. The door remains closed.

"You've gotta be kidding me, " she mumbles.

Chapter Text

She rattles the door again. It isn't opening. Not even a chance of opening. She turns around and looks at him. He is standing right behind her, unmoving and his face full of concern.

"So..." he stammers. "Um. It's locked?"

"Seems so," she sighs and tries to rattle the door again, in vain hope that they (this needs to be it, not they) would open under her ministrations.

"What do we do now?" he asks, shifting his weight from one foot to another. She furrows her brows and thinks hard. She opens her mouth for a second and closes it, not knowing what to suggest. But then, an idea hits her and she pokes him.

"Go upstairs and see if the door is locked there too," she proposes.

He nods, turns around and starts going up the stairs. She watches him for a second, unconsciously admiring his legs and his backside but when he turns around to continue his way up another flight of stairs, she quickly looks away, not wanting to be caught. But in the corner of his eye, he sees her wondering gaze and he can't help letting the smirk find a way to his face and a comment slip out of his thoughts.

"Like what you see?" he asks from her. He cranes his neck looking at her as he is stepping up the stairs. Notes of laughter are clearly audible in his voice

"Shut up!" is all she answers, but he can hear amusement in her voice too.

She continues rattling the door downstairs and she hears the same kind of rattling from upstairs too. He has made his way up a flight. Soon enough, she hears him yelling back.

"The damn door is locked here too!" his voice bounces back and forth between the walls in the big stairway.

"Really?" she can't suppress her surprise.

"Yeah," he sighs audibly as he is descending from upstairs. With no time, he is back at her side.

"What do we do?" he asks again.

She is a bit frustrated. Again, they are locked up. Somewhere in the closed space. What is wrong with the universe today?

"I don't know," she hisses. The notes of amusement are gone from the voice this time and frustration has creeped there instead.

They stand there for a while, in front of the glass door that leads out to the lobby. Neither of them know what to do. All of a sudden he sees somebody walking in the lobby. He removes his hand from his pocket in lightning speed and starts banging at the door. The fast movements startle Kate as she involuntarily takes a few steps back.

"Jeez, Castle!" she breathes out holding her hand to her chest. "Way to go and give people a heart attack," she laughs a fake laugh.

"Sorry," he says but doesn't turn any attention to her as he is still banging and rattling the door.

"What are you doing?" she asks. "The door doesn't open, no matter how hard you try."

"There is a security guard there," he answers quickly, looking intently out of the glass door. "I am trying to catch his attention," he says, shaking the door again. "Yes!" he cheers as the security guard notices him. "He's coming here!" As the guards makes his way there, he lets go of the door.

Apparently there has been a glitch in automatic locking system of the precinct - locking all doors in the building. Poor guy has been trying to fix the problem, but nothing seems to work so far. He promises that he is trying to get to the root of the problem as fast as he and the company can.

Both of them, frustrated by being locked up again in a closed space, sit down on the stairs in unison.

"I can't believe this is happening again," she exhales. Rubbing her temples, she closes her eyes, wishing this situation could go away.

He is sitting close by, merely inches from her. He is annoyed as she is. Frustrated. He had plans. To take her to his loft. To talk things straight. They really needed to talk before something happens. Before someone or something ruins their dynamic again. Up to this moment, everything had gone well today. He really has to be careful not to ruin things again. He needs her to know. He needs to know... They really need to talk.

He shifts on his spot next to her. There's unfinished business around. He can feel the tension, but he doesn't know how to deal with it. Should they talk here, since they are locked up again? Or should he wait until they get to the loft. Shoulda, woulda... He sighs audibly and looks at her, as she is sitting there, eyes closed and breathing through her nose. Seems like she is trying to breathe away her annoyance of the situation.

He tentatively asks "You okay?" and nudges her with his elbow. He succeeds to catch her attention and she opens her eyes.

"No." is all she says, looking into his eyes for a brief moment and turning her gaze back to the floor.

There is the silence again. Neither of them speak for some minutes. She keeps being silent but Castle can't handle the silence very well. He breathes in and stands up. Taking his time to get up the eight steps up to the landing. He stops there and looks out through the darkened windows. They are probably the only living souls in the building. Except for the security guard of course, who is doing all things possible to get them out of their lockdown. He just stands there, looking over to the cemented yard behind the precinct building, soaking in the darkness of the night and the silence of the situation.

She hasn't moved much from her spot where she was sitting. She is still at the foot of the stairs, unmoving and oddly silent. This isn't like her. She who is always bossy, always moving around - she never is really silent. But now she is. He turns around, not looking out anymore. He silently observes her for few moments before he sees her stirring and hears her stretching. He doesn't turn away his gaze and she is turning around. It feels like she has been deep in thought, because when her eyes find his in the darkness, her face and her gaze seem to be serious. Haunted.

He feels worry gathering into his heart. What's on her mind? What is making her so serious? They stare each other for few moments, unblinking, never letting go of the contact. Then she opens her mouth and asks: "Did you mean it?"

Did he mean what? It's his first reaction. He freezes where he is and stays frozen for a moment. Confusion is written all over his face. He doesn't really get what she is asking. Thinking back to what he had said in the morning, about leaving her and the precinct for good. He had meant it. But this wasn't what she was asking, was it? He observes her in silence few more moments. He sees her raising her hand to her chest.

Oh.

Oooohh! THAT is what she is asking. The scribble. On her chest. That says "I love you." His last chance to make her see. Make her understand. Apparently she has understood. Now she is asking him if he did the same.

He is still silent while she stands up, lifting herself up from the floor. She never breaks the gaze. Now they both stand there, their eyes locked onto each other. Neither of them don't even try to break the spell between them. He opens his mouth a few times and closes it again. The spark of hope that started to rise in Kate's face starts to fade slowly, her glowing eyes start to get serious again. She breaks the spell of the eye connection as she turns her gaze down and turns away from him. She is sighing out loud as she leans her body against the railing.

"Yes, I did," comes his answer in a soft, husky tone.

Her head snaps up again. The spark of hope has returned. Her eyes are glowing now. He had dreamed about this sight several times, but he hadn't hoped to see it again. Since he was still sure that she really doesn't love him as he loves her.

"Really?" she asks again. Her face curious, eyes pleading for answer.

"Yes," he sighs. "But I think I am alone in this." he drags out his answer and looks intently at her eyes. He sees how a wave of shock goes through her, shaking her to the core. Her hopeful face drops and she gets out a shocked "What?"

He gets back his composure and he paces the landing as she bores her eyes into him.

"You know, in this loving me loving you thing," he answers her shocked question. "I know you heard me. That day, in the cemetery."

Her mouth drops open. "Wha... how?" is all she can get out.

"I heard you. Through the glass, when you said you remembered it all to that jackass" he spits it out, voice slightly rising.

She is still not responding, but taking in what he says. One hand is laying on her chest, covering the area where the scribble is supposed to be, other one is resting on her hip. He decides to continue.

"You obviously had reasons not to tell me." he nods breaking their gaze, turning his back to her. The night has gone even darker, he barely can see the outline of the yard. He hears her quickened breathing in the landing below. "I sense that you had real good reasons not to fill me in and keep me wondering all of those months. Did you ever think of saving me from the pain by telling me months ago that you don't really love me? I kept hoping... I hoped if I could spend time with you, I could make you fall in love with me, but …" he stops there. Not knowing what to say anymore.

He is still not looking at her. He listens to her shallow breathing and her soft footsteps coming up his way. Suddenly he feels a light touch on his shoulder and he turns to look at her: She is now standing next to him, holding onto his shoulder softly. He tilts his head slightly, towards her. She is looking him now. Intensely. The shock has gone from her eyes and they are filled with warmth.

She opens her mouth and says "You are a stupid ass." Before he can protest her words she removes her hand from his shoulder and hushes his lips with her finger.

She nods. "Yes, you are. Only thing you could read out from it all was … that I don't love you?" she asks, face quizzical.

He nods tentatively.

She smirks at him, still not removing her finger from his mouth. She starts to slide it along his lips, slowly while she continues. "Yes, I had my reasons. Stupid reasons, but necessary reasons. Not loving you wasn't one of them."

It takes few heartbeats for him to understand what she says, because she is distracting his thinking process with caressing his lips with her finger. She can swear that she can see the light coming back to his eyes after her confession. His breath hitches and she can feel his pulse rising beneath her hand. She averts her gaze to his lips which she is currently caressing. She sees him swallow and she looks back to his eyes. His eyes, now dark blue orbs, are inviting her in. She feels herself leaning closer to him, letting the gravity of him do its work. She closes her eyes as her lips touch his. They just stand there. For some slow moments, standing, lips connecting, energy pulsing between them.

Just as he brings his arms up to encircle her, they hear a loud buzzing sound echoing through the building. They both jerk awake from their spell. Opening their eyes, they find each other's gaze. Just as he is opening his mouth to say something, a click of the door opening sounds at the bottom of the stairs. They both look to that direction in unison.

Security guard is standing there, knowing smile on his face, holding the door ajar.

"You two are free to go."

Chapter Text

The journey to the car was silent. She steps hurriedly ahead and he doesn't fall behind. He is right behind her, every step of the way. When they pass the security guard, both thank him for letting them out. The guard just nods and smirks at them. Kate is fights back an urge to glare at the guy, but she holds that in herself. There are more important matters to settle.

Castle is distracting her thought process as they are walking. He apparently decided that it was good to walk really, really close to her, their shoulders brushing, their hands touching. After the 'almost kiss' in the staircase, every touch feels so electrifying to her. She tries to step away from him but he follows her closely and matches whatever moves she makes. They finally find her car parked at the far end of the street. Now, they have to part from each other as they close in on the car. Castle opened the passenger's side door and makes his way into the car as she is doing the same on her side of the car. She starts the car and leaves the parking spot. She joins the traffic and they are on their way.

Silence takes over the car. Her eyes are on the road, the car is stopping every now and tnen. It is almost midnight but the city of New York never sleeps, traffic never dies. He feels jittery on his seat. He doesn't know what to do. His hands are searching for something he could fiddle with. The talk in the stairwell still wasn't finished and he is feeling nervous. There are two kinds of thoughts running through his head. On one hand, he is really, really, happy how she had come out of her shell. She almost kissed him. The tension, the feelings made him happy. But he was still mad. Mad at her being silent. Her not talking. Her not remembering him. He did pour his heart out and she didn't even react. She decided to pretend that she didn't know, rather than speak to him. That woman is going to make him crazy.

He sighs and places his hands in his lap. But they don't stay there. His hands can't stay still. They need to to move. They need to touch. They need to touch her. He turns his head and looks at her. She is concentrating on the road, trying to get through the crazy traffic of midtown. It takes her few minutes to realise that he is staring at her. She turns her head to see him for a moment and their eyes meet. A small blush creeps to her cheeks and she turns her head away, trying to concentrate on traffic again.

"It's still creepy," she says after a few minutes of silence.

"What is?" he asks, voice low.

"You, staring at me," she says again. Not glancing away from the traffic.

"You should be used to it by now," he simply states and turns his eyes to observe the traffic. It takes him some good long minutes to realise that they are not heading to his apartment.

"Where are we going?" he asks, voice raising a bit.

She is silent for a minute and answers, "I decided that it's better to go at my place. Or do you prefer something neutral?"

"Ah.. um..." he is confused. "Um.. I think your place is better," he stutters a bit. He looks at her again. Now her face has a tiny smirk and he can't help asking:

"What are you thinking?"

She glances at him for a second and a bigger smirk crawls on her face.

"Nothing in particular," she says and remains silent again. He bores his eyes to her and tries to stare the truth out from her. She ignores him, until he gives up and turns his gaze to the road again. He can't still his fidgety fingers and he settles one of them on her knee. He feels the car jerk, as her foot flinches under his touch. He smiles. She throws a furious glance at him.

"What are you doing," she asks, but not removing a hand from her knee.

"It's cold," he smirks. "My delicate hands can't handle the cold," he speaks with gentle tone, almost mockingly. "This one needed warming up. And your legs are very warm."

She laughs at him. "Well..." she pauses, "be careful. You might get burned."

His eyes dart from her knees to her face and he finds her biting her lower lip. He sucks in a breath of air and all of a sudden, he is out of words. He is amazed how easily she can play him. While his blood starts running wild in his system, he tries to come up with a retort.

"Oh don't worry," his voice lowers. "I know how to handle the heat."

Her eyes are still on the road, but she is smirking too and he sees the blush starting to rise from her collar. Oh, he likes this. Making her blush. He tentatively moves his hand on her knee and making her squirm a little on her seat. His smile widens. Oh this is good. She is allowing him to touch her. She is playing along. He lets his fingers caress his his thigh, drawing lazy circles there, making her skin break to goosebumps. She sighs but stubbornly doesn't let her attention be drawn away from road.

He is so focused on the action in hand, that he doesn't notice their arrival Beckett's building. Suddenly the car jerks to stop at the parking house and he raises his gaze from her knee. Her parking spot, in her house. She lets go of the wheel and looks at him.

When their eyes meet she raises an eyebrow and asks "Can I get out of the car or do I have to wait till you are finished with my knee?"

He lets her leg go and making her chuckle. "Thanks," she says and they both make their way out of the car. The elevator ride up is uneventful, they are both silent, not daring to say anything. There is new kind of energy flowing between them. It's intimate but not yet so close. He sneaks his hand to hers before the elevator door opens. She looks down to their joined hands and then averts her gaze to his. They stare each other for some time, only interrupted by the elevator doors opening to her building. They step out together, hands still joined.

When she is unlocking the door of her apartment, he lets go of her hand and steps closer to her, his front against her back. She doesn't seem to mind his actions, only chuckling a little. He bends his head down a little, burying his nose to her hair, breathing in her scent. He feels her shudder lightly and she drops the keys, just as she was removing them for lock. He puffs a chuckle in her hair, making her shudder again. He steps away from her, letting her collect her keys and open the door.

"Couch," she says as they remove their jackets and she makes her way to the kitchen. He settles himself onto her couch and observes her rummaging through the fridge.

As she is bending to grab something she yells out, "Wine? Beer?... or water?"

He is silent for a moment and answers, "Wine."

She stands up and holds a bottle of wine in her hand, victorious smile on her face. She grabs two wine glasses and makes her way to the living room. Settling herself next to Castle she gives the wine bottle to him to open. He pours the delicious red liquid into both of their glasses. Before they can take a sip from them he tentatively asks.

"So..." he don't know how to start. "What happened in the staircase?"

He sees her face go a grade serious and she sighs. He opens his mouth to apologize, when he hears her voice answering.

"The staircase..." she sighs "...I don't know. It was maybe the first time I acted right this year"

She is looking to his eyes now. He doesn't turn away his either and they just stare there. Finally he urges her to speak again.

"Why didn't you tell me anything?"

He can see her fidgeting nervously and she starts talking "I didn't remember anything at first. It was all one big blur in my head. Faces, screams, pain. I just wanted to turn everything off and escape. When you asked me on that day... in the hospital. I did remember something. But I wasn't sure it was real. Everything was so fucked up, I couldn't tell what was true, what was false." She suddenly feels the urge to step away from him, to move. She stands up and starts pacing around the room.

He observes her silently, but doesn't say anything. Finally she stops pacing.

"I ran away. From everything. Spent my days at my father's cabin. Everything was hurting. Only thing that was keeping me sane were your words. And even then I couldn't tell if it was all my imagination or it had really happened." she paces around a little more "I came back to the city. I was mad at you, mad at myself. Mad at the world. I didn't want you coming back to the force, but you had clues that were so vital for me. So. I bought your book and came to your signing. While I was waiting for you down at the door, I was reading through the acknowledgements. I got your message, Rick. I did. Then I knew I didn't imagine what you said in the funeral" she is searching for his eyes. Wanting him to get the message too.

"That day at the swings, I tried to tell you. I tried. But it was too soon. I was so messed up, I just couldn't drag you in with me." she sighs again. She is pours her heart out. He is watches her intently, not wanting to miss any words.

"I have been seeing a therapist." she looks at him now too. He is surprised. He can't stop himself from asking "After you came back to work?"

"Yes, after I came back. I was too messed up. I needed clarity in my life, something that could help me get things right" she is silent for a while, pacing around a little more and then slowly coming back to the sofa, settling herself next to him again.

"You were there with me, in the precinct, almost every day this year. Following me, helping me, taking care of me. It was hurting me to see you care so much, knowing that I couldn't give you back the same." She stops there and he feels like assuring her that everything is alright. He places his hand on her knee, touching her gently.

"I think the wall is down," she says, making him remember the talk on the swings. "If you really meant what you wrote to my chest, then..." she cups his hand with hers, "... I think I am there too."

He is smiling at her now. It's unbelievable she... um... 'Is she saying what she is saying?' is all he can think. Their eyes connect and she is smiling back to her. 'She is...' and he feels his heart pick up a quicker pace and his body filling with happiness. She is there too. With him. They are in this together.

Her heart feels so much lighter now, after she could tell him all. She came clean to him. He deserved the truth. He deserved at least that. She feels herself drowning in the blue pools of his eyes when he is slowly coming closer. She has no will to stop him, nor does she really want that. He closes in the last few inches and he is touching her again. Caressing her lips with her, hands sneaking around her body. She feels her skin waking up with gentle touch, electrifying connection creating goosebumps. He pulls her closer to him, now when he can. Angling her head to his, the kiss deepens, their mouths fighting for dominance. She feels his hands everywhere at once and his mouth seems to work magic on her, drawing deep moans out of her.

He decides that they could do that for hours, if they only wanted. This is just too good - her mouth on his, sucking his bottom lip, nibbling his tongue. It is just too good to be true. He slows their pace and it makes her frown. He smiles against her mouth and covers it with butterfly kisses. Finally they open their eyes and they look at each other, both grinning widely.

She is there with him. It's all that matters.

Chapter Text

The rough surface of his cheek felt so wonderful. The slow burn that his stubble lights when it chafes her neck is consuming her second by second. She can't do anything but moan and press her lips to his neck. She feels the shudder run through him and she smiles against him. He groans loudly, but he doesn't stop his ministrations. Oh, she never wants him to stop, now that he is there with her. He moves his lips from her neck to her cheek, slowly making his way up to her mouth. She shifts her arms around his biceps and draws him in even more. He makes an "oomph" sound as he catches her mouth and they both fall backwards. The soft pillows of the couch greet her back with a light caress as he lands on top of her. She breathes out a sigh, but he doesn't let it to get free. He swallows it.

She intertwines her hands on his back to settle them from roaming. It's been a fairly short amount of time for him to get her breathless and render her thoughtless. He knows very well what he's doing, his mouth working together with hers, caressing, nibbling, exploring the depths of her soft lips. They both seem to be drowning in their own feelings until a loud shrill echoes through her apartment.

"Mmhh... goaway," he mumbles against her mouth. She smiles, but the smile disappears as soon as his tongue finds hers again. Silence returns to the room and they are entranced by their moving lips and roaming hands. He finds a sweet spot on her neck that makes her shudder. Oh, god he loves it, just to touch her. He knows - if it continues he won't be able to stop.

The phone shrills again, the ringtone cutting the tension between them. She lets go of her hold on his arms and brings her hands to his chest. Softly pushing him upwards, she ends the kiss and opens her eyes. His remain closed as he tries to push himself back to her. She chuckles, as she feels his lips softly biting her cheek.

"You should get that," she manages to get out, suppressing the shudder she feels coming. He shakes his head, the stubble brushing against her cheek and she wants to change the path of her thoughts immediately. But she needs to be stronger. She pushes him up again. He surrenders to her and supports his weight on his arms and opens his eyes.

"Why do I need to answer it?" he bores his eyes into hers, sighing loudly. Sounding slightly annoyed.

"Because..." she starts, but she can't find any more words to stop what they are doing. Mostly because his fingers are softly caressing her neck and his lower body is pressed against hers. His eyes, looking at her, are like two crystal clear lakes, their water calling her, flooding her, drowning her. She can't do anything but stare back, eyes fixed on him.

"I see..." he says, smiling lightly "I have no reason to stop this...". He leans into her again, grazing her lips with his, making her mind go blissfully blank. She surrenders the feeling, yanks his body against her - their mouths working together in furious passion. The phone finally stops ringing.

He continues his way down to her neck as they hear the phone go off again. Now, he is the one who stops the movements and makes her frown. He props himself up again, disengaging his mouth from hers.

"I think I do need to get that," he whispers against her lips.

"I think you should too," she mumbles, catching his lips with hers while trading butterfly kisses. He doesn't move from his spot, letting the energy flow through them. The phone makes itself noticeable again. Loud music continues to play. Annoying them both.

He groans and gets up from her sofa, slowly walking to the other side of the table, where his jacket lays. She tries to catch her breath. Her hands rise to her face and softly comb through her hair. She observes him walking around.

"I'm coming, I'm coming," he mumbles as he reaches his jacket and finds his phone.

"It's Alexis," he informs her as he raises the phone to his ear. She smiles as he averts his eyes from her while greeting his daughter.

The smiley face that he had when answering the call fades when his daughter starts to speak. Kate can hear Alexis talking fast and she is obviously irritated. He tries to calm his daughter down a few times, but then sighs, resigned - continuing to listen to her.

"I will come home as fast as I can," he finally says, when he can get the word though Alexis' speech. "Don't worry about it, darling. Love you too. I'll be there soon."

He clicks the phone shut. He doesn't look at her straight away. He feels guilty for cutting this party short. He knows he doesn't want to go really. But Alexis needs him. He sighs and raises his eyes to look at her. She's sitting upright on the couch now. Her hair is messy and her face looks thoroughly kissed. He smiles when she looks at her.

"You look like you've been ravished," he smirks.

Her serious and worried face makes her look even more adorable. His words coax out a little smile and she nods slightly.

"Well, I was ravished," she answers. "You didn't see the handsome men leaving here when you came in?" His mouth falls slightly when she turns the joke back on him. He stands up and walks to the sofa, dropping his phone to the table as he passes. He stands in front of her, looking down at her. Her gaze, never leaving his, is curious and daring. She is challenging him.

"You're a tease," he points at her while bending down to kiss her. Their lips meet for a few moments. "I like when you tease me."

He sighs and sits down next to her. He takes her hand in his and looks at her. Apologetically. She knows he needs to go home. Alexis needs him. Kate squeezes his hands. She wants to let him know that she understands.

"I know," she says.

"I'll be back," he offers. She looks at him now. She wants him back there. But it may be too soon. She still needs some time to work through things. If he stays there now, they really can't stop.

"No." she decides. "No, stay with your daughter. We'll come back to this, I promise." she leans to him and seals the promise with her lips. "I promise..." she whispers.

He sneaks his arms around her and pulls her to his lap, not breaking the contact. They sit there, bodies molded together, lips working their way to their soul, until they have to surface to breathe in sweet oxygen. She opens her eyes, looking at him, their foreheads pressed to each other. She chuckles all of a sudden, fingers caressing his cheeks. He furrows his eyebrows, trying to figure out why she is laughing.

"What?" he asks.

She kisses his cheek and then looks back to his eyes.

"You still have whiskers," she answered softly. "I'm loving the fact that it was a waterproof sharpie."

She chuckles again. She can't stop herself anymore and starts giggling. He can't stop himself either when he sees her like this. He starts to laugh with her. He loves it. The glorious sounds that she emanates make him feel so good. So free. So liberated. God, he loves this woman who is sitting in his lap, laughing at him.

Suddenly turning serious, he catches her lips again. Those warm, inviting, wet lips are hard to resist. They share a row of open mouthed kisses before he slowly moves her to the couch, pinning her beneath him. He kisses her jaw before he rises upright. He sits there, sighing and looking at her.

"I really need to go," he finally says.

"Go then." she say, her face slightly sad. She continues with softer voice "Tomorrow again. Precinct. We have a zombie to catch"

He sets himself to leave and as soon as he has pulled on a jacket, he hears soft steps behind him. He turns himself around and snakes his arms around her.

"Go now, pussycat," she says, while raises herself to her toes and places a kiss to his lips. "Go tend to your child."

She softly pushes him out of the door and closes it.

"I'll miss you..." she hears a whisper through the door.

She leans her back to the door and whispers the same words. "I'll miss you too..."

xxxxxxxxx

"Tus ojos son como dos lagos de agua cristalina, Agua que me llama, Agua que me inunda, Agua que me ahoga" (~Tomas Alvares Toledo in "Perla Negra").

xxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

Castle's loft

He opens the door with a soft creak. He finds his daughter is sitting in the sofa, clicking nervously through the hundreds of channels on the TV. He walks to her silently and greets her with a soft "Hey." She jumps up from her seat and holds one of her hands on her chest.

"Jeez, dad!" she exclaims. "You scared the hell out of me!"

"Sorry, Pumpkin," he smiles, but his smile doesn't quite reach his eyes. "I came as quick as I could."

She calms down a bit and gives a good look to her dad, focusing on his face. Her eyes grow bigger for a second. She raises her hand from chest to mouth and lets a soft giggle loose.

"What the hell is on your face?" she asks, giggling.

He furrows his brows for a second, not understanding her for a moment. Then, he smiles. He had forgotten about the whiskers already. Damn, those whiskers. No wonder the taxi driver was giving him strange looks when he entered the cab.

"I had an accident." he tries to explain, a mischievous grin on his face.

"An accident?" she asks, laughing. "What, a sharpie flew out from your pocket and attacked your face like a shark?"

He snorts. "Yeah, something like that."

She gives an odd look to Castle, waiting him to continue. But he doesn't. He remains silent.

"Dad?" she tries to get attention. He looks down to his redhead.

"Yes," he answers. Smiling.

"Are you gonna tell me where you got your new look?" she asks again.

"Nope," he winks at her.

"Daaad..." she says.

"Soon, I promise," is all he says.

"It better be good," she points finger at his whiskered dad.

"Oh, it will be," he continues and hooks his arms around his daughter. "So, how's things?"

"Crazy;" she says. "But I appreciate you coming home so fast though," she continues, "I don't know what to do with her." she sighs.

His lips form a weak smile and he softly says, hugging her daughter "You know, I still don't know either. After all this time."

Alexis chuckles in his chest and raises her head to look into the eyes of his father. "I hope we can figure something out, before I turn into a mad lunatic..."

"Doesn't the word "lunatic" mean mad by definition?" he asks after a small pause.

Alexis shoves her fingers to his chest, making his dad squirm in pain. "Smartass." she says.

"Ow, owww, alright, I give up," he responds, raising his hands, a wide smile in his face. Their movements tune down a bit and Alexis moves away from her father, sitting down on the sofa. Castle takes few steps and sits next to his daughter.

"What did she do now?" he inquires.

She takes a deep breath and shakes her head. She has a little smile on her face, just like the whole situation is amusing to her.

"Mom wants to come to my graduation, as you gathered." she starts.

Castle nods, urging her to go forward with her story.

She looks up to his eyes and continues. "The deal is, she wants to stay in the loft."

"What?" he asks. "Really? Why?"

"I don't really know," she sighs. "The whole situation she created with coming here is too over the top. I won't even be here, I am off to celebrate with my friends. What she is going to do over here? Entertain you?"

He snorts. No way is he going to let his ex wife stay in here. Especially when all things are starting to straighten out with Beckett.

"No, she is not staying here" he states, caressing her knee with one hand, trying to comfort her. "I will figure something out. You go and write your speech and deal with your dresses... and I don't know what you girls do before your graduation... And don't worry. I will try to convince her to stay at the hotel or something."

Suddenly there is a shock on her face, blood draining away, leaving the white skin visible. "Oh my god!" she exclaims, while holding onto her dad. "The speech! I haven't finished it yet. I have so much work to do. Oh god, oh god, oh god! I need to see over some of the books and …. " she stops her rambling and taking a breath.

"Easy, easy, easy," he tries to calm the redhead down. He tries to smiles at his little girl. "You have time, pumpkin. You have few days. Plus, it's still early hours."

Alexis stares at him and he gulps. Apparently Alexis has taken some master classes of staring from Beckett, because this was frighteningly close to her intense stares.

"Really, dad?" she asks.

"What?"

"It's almost midnight, dad. Where have you been. In the precinct?" she asks, now looking him quizzically.

He ponders a bit, making her daughter bore her eyes to him.

"Yes," he finally answers.

"You liar." Alexis laughs. "Where have you really been?"

"Here and there" he tries to get her interest off the topic. He doesn't want to share his success with Beckett yet. It's too early. Everything is still uncertain. Will the detective be at the same state of mind tomorrow too as she was today?

"Fine, be like that." she manages to create a pouty face, while her lips are slightly trembling, holding back laughter. "Don't tell me anything."

"I won't" he laughs, grabbing his daughter's hand. "Come on, lets get some ice cream for you and after that, I am going to call your crazy mother." he finishes, patting her hand.

He gets up from the sofa and walks to the kitchen area, heading to the freezer. "Which one do you want, vanilla, or chocolate chip?"

"Maple syrup, please" she answers, while coming to the kitchen too.

"Excellent choice, my minion, excellent choice."

xxxxxxx

Evening, the next day

"You know, just keep it, my Zombie-walking days are over," Kyle says, looking down a bit. "I just want to put this behind me." He starts to walk away. Both Castle and Beckett nod and wave to him. Castle, dressed in the zombie outfit and matched with makeup, steps in front of her.

"How does somebody put something like that behind them?" he sighed. "He is going to need therapy."

She nods and provides him agreement "It helps."

He nods and manages to bring a small smile up to his lips. It is still a touchy subject. Neither of them had mentioned the things that happened last night. They do things as they usually do, they don't talk about them. Although, he can feel the things are different now. He has been annoying her the whole day and she is just brushing him off, smiling and smirking. She lets him do his thing... and she likes it! He is so grateful that things are changing. She is opening herself up more and more, like a little butterfly who is coming out of her protective cocoon.

She continues "First you won't be able to deal with it, it's gonna take everything that he's got to just put one foot in front of the other and get through the day."

He shifts a bit, listening her intently. She said she was seeing a therapist, but she didn't elaborate how much had it changed her. He remains silent, letting her continue.

"I didn't tell you about it. Because I didn't want to make any excuses. I just wanted to put in the time, do the work. I think I am in the place where I want to be now."

He is happy that she shared so much. He lowers his voice a bit. "And, where is that?" he asks.

She smiles to him. She knows that he knows it already. But she says it still, for him. To making it clear. "In a place where I can accept everything that happened that day. Everything" There, it's out. Oh, that woman. Stubborn, crazy woman. She worked through it all alone, pushing him away. And now she is here. She is in "the place". She is inviting him in.

He steps closer. He doesn't care that they are in the precinct. The implications of what she just said are too strong. He needs to do something, feel her close, touch her.

"I think, I understand," he simply says, before he puts his hands to her cheeks, bends his head down and kisses her. On her lips. With full Zombie makeup.

She thanks the universe that "the boys" are downstairs at the moment and the homicide floor seems pretty deserted. She sinks into him and responds to the kiss with the same kind of eagerness. Opening her mouth, she lets him in. His tongue makes her groan out loud, but the sound doesn't travel further, because he swallows it. He releases her face and puts his hands around her, tugging her body closer to him. She steps into him and the kiss deepens, as she sneaks her arms around him.

It takes a while for them to end the kiss. He releases her mouth with a soft pop and they both breathe in air, because they neglected to breathe before. She smiles to him and brings up her hand to his cheek.

"I think the zombie make-up suits you, Castle" she says, her voice still sounding breathy.

He chuckles, looking down at her. Seeing the remnants of his make-up on her face and her now black lips he can't resist saying, "I think it suits you too."

She chuckles too. Of course she has got his make up all over her face now. She steps out from his embrace, distancing herself a bit.

"Tomorrow?" she asks.

"Tomorrow," he agrees. "Today, I need to plan a payback to Alexis," he smiles. He can't resist placing a final kiss to her lips, before he needs to go.

Chapter Text

The call came in early in the morning. He was talking with Alexis about her speech, when Beckett let him know that a body had been found in a car in the warehouse district. He got himself ready as fast as he could. It was the first case they had in few days.

The universe kept them apart. He called her in the first night, after he had gotten his revenge with Alexis. Laser tag war was fun, but talking to her was even more awesome. Kate hadn't called him the next day, so he called her to check in. Apparently they had paperwork to do in the precinct, the whole crew. The case with the zombies needed some work, before it was cleared for the court.

In the evening, she had plans with her dad, so he didn't want to impose. He put off calling her, but he still wanted to see her. The next day, Kate called him, but he didn't need to go to the precinct. No body, no work for him. He contemplated sneaking in to the precinct with a coffee cup, dragging her to the break room and kissing her senseless. But he gave up the idea when he called Esposito and found out that they still had a lot of paperwork to do. Who knew the zombies on a paper could take so much time to handle.

But he didn't mope around. Apparently, the graduation of his little girl was a little bit more complex than he had imagined before. Alexis caught him sitting behind his computer, staring out the window. The redhead decided to invite him to a dress fitting, just to make him get out of the apartment. The distraction worked for a while. When they got out from the last and final fitting, they headed out for a lunch. The peace didn't last long, Paula, his agent called him in the middle of his dessert and got him up to speed with the latest news and asked him to come by. He felt sorry to leave Alexis alone, but he had to deal with his stuff so he could be free in the evening. He really hoped that they could meet at least this day, if the other days weren't working for them.

But fate decided otherwise when she called him and let him know that her friend was dropping by and she couldn't leave her apartment that evening. She sounded really sad on the phone, he was now sure she was missing him as much he was missing her. Oh ye old fate, why was it screwing with them?

After three days of interruptions and missing each other, they finally had a chance to meet up and see each other. He left Alexis to write her speech, telling her to call if she had trouble, and headed out to the crime scene. Kate was waiting for him in front of her car when the taxi pulled into the alley.

"Hey there," she greeted him with a shy smile when he stepped out of the cab, two cups of coffee in his hands. She smiled at him. He never forgets coffee.

"Hey,"he greets her with eagerness, stepping closer and giving her the coffee while he makes sure nobody is around. The cup safely in her hands, he grabs a hold of her. He presses his lips against her with hurry, the three days making him impatient. She manages to breathe in before he attack-kisses her and breathes out a soft yelp of surprise when he yanks her against him with one hand, the other supporting his coffee cup. He smiles at her lips, but doesn't let it bother him. He waited too long for this. He just wants to feel her against him. She responds to him as fiercely but pulls away in a short time.

"Crime scene, we should have rules" she explains breathlessly while she opens her eyes. "Thank god the uniforms are in the alley, they would have had a field day." He nods but can't hold himself back from commenting.

"Are you ashamed of me, detective?" he raises his eyebrows and mocks her. He knew that there would be rules about some things eventually.

"No," she offers a short answer with a smirk and brushing past him, she heads to the alley. "So, how are things with Alexis? She has graduation tomorrow?"

"She is good" he answers, making few hurried steps to reach beside her and match her pace. "She is writing her valedictorian speech. Apparently, it's harder than she thought. I don't understand why she is taking the whole process so into her heart. It should be short and simple but should say it all. A piece of cake."

"Of course you don't understand why she is taking her graduation speech seriously. You were probably the guy who had nothing on but boxers underneath his gown," she mocks him.

"That is so insulting," he announces. "If you must know, I was naked underneath," he smirks at her.

"Uh, I am sorry, I stand corrected," she laughs while he is trying to hold back his smile. "So, how is the father of the graduate taking it?" she changes the subject swiftly.

"I already have a plan to drown my sorrows after the ceremony, my mother goes off to the Hamptons and Alexis will be doing her all nighter. I will be distracting myself with the double feature of 'The Killer' and 'Hard Boiled'," he smiles at her. He wants to invite her over, maybe it would be double the double feature then. She might help him drown his sorrows. God knows he has missed her and her lips.

"Wow, that really is a double feature," she is surprised.

"You like John Woo?" he asks from her, his interest peaking.

She only smirks at him and answers "The bloodier the better." That woman knows how to play with him. He stops in his tracks and throws out the question.

"Do you want to join me tonight?" he asks bluntly. There, it's out. She stops too, looking at him intently. Her eyes show her agreement already but he waits for the actual vocalized agreement. She had been missing him too.

"Of course, I'd love to," she smiles at him. He smiles back, both looking at each other. She disconnects the eye contact and heads to the victim's car. "You coming, Castle?" she smirks, before she turns and walks away.

'You have no idea,' he thinks before he breathes out "Yeah" and goes after her.

xxxxxxxxxx

Morning has just arrived when Castle steps in the Homicide floor, two cups of coffee in his hand. Beckett is sitting in front of the murder board, looking like she hasn't slept at all. She probably hasn't slept, spending all the night studying the pictures and clues, trying to come up with something. He steps closer to her desk and extends his arm with her coffee.

"Thank you." she says with a smile and gratitude.

"Did you get any sleep?" he asks, although he knows the answer already.

She looks a little bit guilty and she confesses "Not much."

He hums with agreement and decides to sit down next to her. He looks to the murder board and asks "Anything new on our victim?"

"We rechecked Orlando's rap sheet. Montgomery wasn't involved in any of his old arrests. That break-in wasn't personal," she shares.

"What about the call he made before he was killed?" he wants to know.

"It's from a burner phone. There's no registered owner." Frustration peeks through her voice.

He looks at her intently for a few seconds. He wants the spark of fear to be gone from her eyes. He wants to do something for her to make her happy. To make her not look like this - tired, eager, frustrated. He decides to make sure that she knows at least. That he is there for her.

"Hey," he says. "You're not in this alone. I'm here."

Looking at his eyes, she understands what he is trying to say. She smiles a weak smile and looks at his hands.

"I know," she says relief in her voice. He is there for her. For now. She joins their hands for a moment, making sure he understands that she understands. She looks back at him, and smiles again. "Thank you."

At this moment, they hear footsteps coming in and voice of Ryan saying "Hi." She transforms her face from smiley to serious again. They drop hands in unison, not wanting to draw any attention from her coworkers.

"So we may have been wrong about why they hit Montgomery's..." Esposito shares, stepping closer to the pair.

xxxxxxxxxx

He needs to do something. He needs her to stop. They are going to kill her if they don't. He is pacing behind her door, thinking of what to say to her. Mr. Smith was so certain on his words. The world will come down and bite her in the ass and probably kill her if he goes down that hellhole. She needs to step down. For her. For him. For them. There is no them if she can't stop. He will go crazy if he loses her. He needs her to live. He can't give up no her.

He knocks. Four times. She opens her door fast and he is greeted with a smile on her face. She seems really excited.

"Hey," she says.

"Hey," he greets back.

She shows him to follow her and steps away from the door, all the way to her office. The place where her sacred place is. Her own murder board.

"I just got off the phone with Esposito," she shares new info with Castle while stepping into the office. "Our killer had a keychain and he matched it to Eastway Car Rentals." As she arrives to the blinders, she turns around, facing him.

He wants to slow her down. Before she drowns again, "That could be any one of a thousand cars."

It doesn't work, because she continues, "I know it's a needle in a haystack but at least it's a haystack. And they keep most of their licenses on file."

He needs to say something. He needs to say something fast. "Kate ..."

"Yeah, he's probably using a fake ID, but we should be able to narrow it down from there..." she continues without letting him speak.

Oh god, he can't do it.. He needs to do it. He is firmer this time "Kate!" his voice very serious.

She notices that something is wrong with him. Her face curious, she asks "What's wrong?"

He walks toward her, placing himself between her and her homemade murder board.

"You, um …" he clears his throat. "You have to stop. This investigation. You- you have to stop."

His voice is low, he really doesn't want to tell her what to do. But she needs to stop. She smiles at his concern for her well-being.

She doesn't let him speak and reassures "Castle, we already talked about this. I'm fine. I'm in control."

He shakes his head. "No, you're not. They are. And if you don't stop, they will kill you, Kate."

There is confusion on her face. She doesn't understand what he is saying to her. "What are you talking about?" she asks.

He takes a breath. This is it. It's the moment of truth. "Before Montgomery went into that hanger, he sent a package to someone. Someone he trusted."

Her face drops with every word he says. He continues. "It contained information damaging to the person behind all this. Montgomery was trying to protect the package didn't arrive until after you had been shot. Montgomery's friend struck a deal with them. If they left you alone, that package and the information inside would never see the light of day. But they made one condition. You had to back off. And that's the reason you're alive, Kate. Because you stopped."

She is confused. "How do you know this?" she asks.

He swallows hard. He answers, his voice breaking "In order for the deal to work, someone had to make sure you weren't pursuing it."

She pulls back slightly, like she's been hit. She doesn't want to believe it. No, it can't be true. She whispers "Are you a part of this?"

"I was just trying to keep you safe," he tries to reassure her, but fails. Miserably.

She turns away from him and walks to the living room area. There is a moment of silence before she turns back to him and asks, her voice breaking, in the verge of tears. "By lying to me about the most important thing in my life?"

He follows her to and stands opposite to her. He tries to make her understand. "That lie was the only thing protecting you."

She doesn't let him finish. "Castle, I didn't need protection. I needed a lead. And you sat on it for a year. Even after everything that happened this week, you never came clean?" she feels utterly betrayed. "You were going to just jump into this while lying to me?"

"No," his reaction is fast. "I wanted to tell you. But.." he stops.

"But what?" she barks out the question.

"I didn't want you to investigate this." he sighs. "I knew you were going to dive into the mystery again as soon as it surfaced. I wanted to delay the things for you. They are dangerous people. You don't know what you are toying with."

"Who then? Who is this person? How do I find him?" she asks from him.

He simply answers. No point of hiding anymore "He's … a voice on the phone. He's a shadow in a parking garage. And I.." he wants to say more, but she stops him.

"You met with him?" she is surprised. He sighs in frustration. THAT's what she takes out of it.

She continues, demanding answers. "How do you know he's not behind my mom's murder? How do you know that he's not involved and how the hell could you do this?"

She feels angry and betrayed. He figures that now is as good time as ever to say it. Like their kisses didn't show it to her. He even wrote it in her chest. How does she not understand?

He blurts it out "Because I love you." This is the first time he has said it out loud in a year, after the funeral. He wanted to do this in different circumstances, but he has got nothing to lose anymore.

She stares at him. She knows that he loves her. She smiles for a second, but the feeling of betrayal is stronger. "That doesn't make it right." she shouts out.

He takes a breath. Wow. Backfire. Majorly.

"Kate, listen to me..." he tries to make her understand his point but she cuts her speech.

"Listen to you? Why should I listen to you? How am I even supposed to trust anything that you say?" she is clearly getting angrier by the minute.

"How are you..." he can't believe what she is saying. He is so frustrated, so he goes onto a full force rant. "Because of everything we've been through together! Four years I've been right here! Four years, just waiting for you to open your eyes and see that I'm right here. And that I'm more than a partner. I thought I made pretty clear that I am more than a partner. We have shared so much, been through so much. And now you say it doesn't matter anymore?"

She's quiet and he drops the anger from his voice. By the looks of it, she really does understand. He steps closer to her. He extends out both of his arms, touching her by her shoulders. She brings up her eyes, to look at him. He continues.

"Our kisses, shared in passion? The line I wrote to your body. I thought it mattered to you" he looks down at her really intently, making her want to realise. "I really do love you, Kate, and if that means anything to you right now, just don't do this." to add to his point, he has got hold of her shoulders and he is shaking her weakly. "Please, just don't do this."

She can't stand their closeness at this moment and she takes a step back. She has tears in her eyes. Her soul is torn in half. She wants to stop him hurting but she is so mad at him. For keeping secrets from her.

"I can't let it go, Castle." she sighs "You cut a deal for my life like I'm some kind of a child." she says, almost in defeat. She continues, stronger this time "It's my life. Mine. You don't get to decide." The anger is building up in her. Again.

He lowers his voice and warns her "You keep going with this? They're going to decide. They're going to come for you, Kate."

"Let them come!" she declares, strongly. She is now majorly pissed off. "They sent Coonan and he is dead. They sent Lockwood and he is dead and I am still here, Castle! And I am ready."

She starts walking past him when he asks, all confused "Ready for what? To die for your cause?" he turns around to follow her movements "This isn't a murder investigation anymore, Kate. They've turned it into a war."

She turns around and faces him, dedication on her face she lets him know "If they want a war then I will bring them a war. Straight to their doorsteps."

He looks at her and swallows. There is nothing he can do anymore. He really wants her to stop, but she can't let it go. He can't see her throw away her life. He wants to be there for her, but it will hurt too much. It feels like there is no 'We' anymore as there were some days ago. He sighs in defeat "Well then I guess there's just nothing I can say, is there?

"What do you want me to do, Castle?" she asks from him. "I need to do this. If you can't handle the heat, then step aside" she tells him. It hurts her inside, but if he is going to stop her, she will push him away. She needs closure. She needs to get to that damn Maddox or whoever he is. She needs to know answers and he is not helping at all.

He can't believe her "Okay, um…" he can't find the words. "..Yeah, you're right, Kate. It's your life. You can throw it away if you want but I'm not going to stick around and watch you do this." He turns and starts to walk away.

She asks "We are done, just like that?"

He turns back for a moment and answers. "This is your choice, Kate. I can't see you die. I tried to make you see, but I failed. I can't see you dead." He turns himself around and walks to the door. The soft click of the wooden door closing announces Kate that she is alone.

Chapter Text

She is slumped against the warm metal of the elevator. She feels her chest tightening. The adrenaline has worn off and the whole spectrum of emotions caused by this crazy day are catching up with her. She tries to breathe, normally. But the room is too small, causing her head to swirl and making her gasp out loud. She doesn't remember it being that tiny when she was stuck here with Castle.

Castle.

'Oh god.' she thinks. Castle doesn't know. He doesn't know how close it was. She could have died. Fallen to the ground never to rise again. He gave up on her. Damn. Why did he give up on her? She pushes away from the metal wall and kicks it with a foot. Everything is a mess. Everything is so messed up, she doesn't know where to begin. The soft ding announces that she has arrived at the lobby. She takes her bag from the ground and steps out of the metal box.

She slowly walks through the lobby, eyes on the ground. She feels tired, her emotions doing a race of a lifetime inside her head and her heart. Exiting ground floor lobby she is greeted by nasty rain and a fierce lightning storm. She doesn't care about the rain much, but the tiny portion of her brain that is doing critical thinking is happy about it. The warm and dry air is now pushed away by giant clouds and the heavy storm. She steps outside, lets the curtain of raindrops wrap around her as she slowly walks to her car. Unlocking the door, she puts her bag to the backseat and heads to the driver's seat. She sits in, starts the car and pretty soon she is off into the wet darkness of the night.

She drives aimlessly around, not wanting to go home. To the cold, empty apartment where everything reminds her of Castle. She sighs. She doesn't have a job anymore. The objectives of her life have shifted majorly, she doesn't know what to do. Without her permission, the tears start to slide down her face. She lets loose a quiet sob that pierces the emptiness of her car. Letting her emotions roll her over, she releases them with tears and soft sobs. When she doesn't see the road anymore, she pulls over and gets out of the car - only greeted by the heavy downpour. She steps on the walkway and starts to walk aimlessly when she sees familiar grounds. She stops for a second and looks around. Yes. This is the same place where she and Castle were sitting when she met up with him for first time after she had gotten shot. The first time when she could look at him again. She wasn't able to stop her heart beating faster then, as she can't stop it now either. She sets firm steps to the swings, not stopping for anything. She just needs to sit and think. The weather is perfect for her. She can cry together with the rain.

Sitting there, on the swings, the images of their previous talks are flashing in her mind. Them, sitting there together, her pleading with him to stick around until her "wall" comes tumbling down. Them together, dying in each other's arms, several times. All of their past kept swirling around her mind. She closes her eyes, seeing the fun side, the love he had given her with every cup of coffee he had bought. The soft touches he sneaked in every once in a while. She loops her arms around her and hugs herself in a silent cry of pain. She has lost it all now. All this time she has been like a horse with the blinders, seeing only her mother's murder. She sees it now. He was only trying to protect her. He was willing to sacrifice his own safety for hers. She let out another sob. Oh, that man. He really loves her and she has finally realized how much, after being almost killed again.

She shakes her head violently, imagining her lying on the ground in her own pool of blood, skull crushed. It was pure luck that Ryan and his team had managed to get to her in time. The wave of gratitude flows through her. She will be grateful to that man forever, saving her life when it was hanging by a tiny thread.

She got a second chance in her life. Or was it third or fourth or fifth? She has been taking it all for-granted. She had been knocked over and pushed into the ground today and yet she rose again. Only to be dismissed of her duty. She didn't care about that anymore. Everything seemed pointless in the new light of things. She had enough of it and had only one thing in her mind.Castle.

She turns her head to look at the empty swings beside her, imagining his smiley face looking at her, his blue eyes sparkling in the sunlight, emanating love and laughter. She swallows, wondering if she is ever going to see him like that again, after the pain she caused him. She looks up to the sky and lets the cold rain wash her face, wishing that the merciless weather would strip her from her pain. But no such relief. She hangs her head again, her throat making a sound between a sigh and a sob. What had she done?

Like through a haze of rain and voices, she hears footsteps coming closer. She closes her eyes, wishing that whoever it is would just go away and let her cry away her pain. The footsteps stop right beside her swing.

"Kate..." breathes the familiar voice.

xxxxxxxxx

He cannot shrug off the feeling of dread that surrounds him. Ever since he left Beckett's apartment, it feels like there is a big hole in his chest that screams for her. He misses her. But he cannot be by her side when she rides down to the gates of hell and runs herself into the ground. These guys who were behind all of the killings, they were dangerous. They were going to kill her.

He was pacing at the bottom of the stairs, waiting for his beautiful daughter and his mom. He tried to distract himself by fiddling with the small sculptures on the table, but his thoughts were still travelling back to her. And the conversation. He poured out his freaking heart to her and she stomped on it, not even feeling sorry. They were done. He shouldn't care so much anymore. Still he couldn't get her out of his mind. He sighed in frustration and kicked the wall with his fist and groaned in frustration.

Finally, his daughter and mother appeared and they set their steps to the limousine he had ordered. He was trying to be nice and happy, making fun and light conversation with his family. But even they knew he was hurting inside. They didn't poke around the topic much, they knew him. He wouldn't talk.

The ceremony was really beautiful. When Alexis got to the stage he felt so proud. At that moment he forgot about Kate for a while. He was just the proud dad of his little girl, the attention was only on her. She looked so very beautiful on the stage. And when she started her graduation speech, it took his breath away. She really must have inherited his talent in writing, because everything she said was too true and so beautiful. By the time she finished her speech, he had tears in his eyes. It was too much. His daughter was too perfect.

He hugged her senseless when he met his little girl after the ceremony. He just had to share how proud he was before she met with her friends and started planning their afterparty for the evening. Martha and him lingered in Marlowe High a little bit, discussing the ceremony, before she had to go away. Apparently, she was heading to the Hamptons, right after the graduation. She had mumbled something about a private party and a friend coming by. He really didn't want to know.

It had started raining when they were inside. Heavily. Seems like the cold fronts had caught the Big Apple by surprise. He decided to offer a ride for his mother. The ride back to her place was silent, filled with crackling of the sky and heavy sighs of Rick's. Before Martha got out from the car, she bent over to his son and said "Everything will be okay. You have to believe that, Richard."

He wanted to believe that so badly. And now, here he was. In the car, alone, his feelings catching up with him. He let his driver randomly stroll the streets, because he didn't want to go back to the cold and empty apartment. The car passes one of the bookshops he had been in before for a signing, when he notices a familiar car. It's Beckett's. He asks the driver to stop and suddenly he doesn't care about the rain or the cold. He needs to see if she is okay.

The car is abandoned. The panic rises in him. He looks around, the surroundings shaded by a heavy downpour. He sees a park across the street and lonely swing set in there. There is a person sitting there. He knows almost immediately that it is Kate. He can see her crouching on the swing, shaking her head. He needs to be there, now. His body springs into action and he crosses the street in no time. He doesn't waste any time making his way to the swings.

Her back is turned to him, she is shaking her head and he can hear her sobbing. The sound makes his heart contract in pain. He steps even closer and breathes out "Kate..."

She jerks when she hears his voice. She doesn't dare turn around, because she thinks it's a hallucination again. She did hear him on the roof, but he wasn't him. Her tired brain could play tricks on her. She lets another sob loose. Then, she feels a hand on her shoulder. She stills her movements and breathing.

"Kate." she hears again. It's Castle. What the hell is he doing here, in this crazy rain? She turns herself around slowly and she sees him standing behind her. Looking at her intently, his face full of concern, fear, love, excitement, all mixed together. She takes a shallow breath and she stands up slowly, her eyes never leaving his. They just stare each other, their eyes speaking volumes, neither of them breaking the spell. All of a sudden, she jerks forward. She needs to touch him, feel him, make sure he is really there. Locking her arms around his waist, she presses her face to his chest, sobbing violently.

The power of emotions run over both of them. She is crying hard, clenching his shirt with her trembling fists. He thought he had lost her, but she is here. Her hands locked around him, she is clinging to him like her life depends on it. The feel her against him is so overwhelming, he feels the tears finding a way out from his eyes too. They just stand there, together in the heavy rain. Not caring, just being there for each other. She raises her head from his chest and looks at him again. He looks down at her and their eyes meet.

"I am so sorry," she breathes out. "I am so so sorry, Castle"

Her eyes filling with tears she sobs out again, her voice breaking. "I am sorry I did this to you, Castle."

He remains silent for a moment not knowing what to say. She is pleading forgiveness. He can't stay away from her anymore. He can't find any words to convey what he is feeling. So he does the only possible thing that comes to his mind. He grabs a hold of her face and lowers his lips to hers. He doesn't care about anything anymore. The agonizing day he spent apart from her was hard. But now she is here. And she welcomes his hot lips against hers.

She needs him to understand. She never meant to hurt him that way. She never meant to face the possibility of death without saying she loves him too. She loves him too much. She never wants to hurt him again. When their lips meet she feels the overwhelming gratitude towards him. He is there. She is there. They are there. And they are together. Nothing matters more than this. Them together.

She responds to him with the same eagerness, rain washing away their tears. She opens her mouth to let him in. He doesn't let her wait and his tongue connects with hers, bringing out a moan from her. That very sound that he has been waiting to hear again. He releases her head and surrounds her upper body with his hands, his fingers in her wet hair, bringing her face even closer to him. They stand there for a while, consumed with each other. Finally she breaks the kiss, leaning her forehead to him, breathing heavily.

She sighs, "You are here."

It takes a second for him to respond, "Always."

Chapter Text

His lips against hers feel so hot. Even though they both had been standing in the heavy rain, it doesn't seem to change this feeling. It is incredible. Consuming. She melts against him, his mouth creating waves of pleasure in her and sending her system into haywire. He bites her tongue softly and forces her mouth even more open. His hands surrounding her face make sure that she doesn't escape. And she has no will to escape anyway. Not anymore.

He changes the angle of their kiss and it makes her moan out loud. She feels a shiver run through him and she feels like smiling. This is so incredible, so new, but yet so familiar. This was what all had came down to. All that they had lived through, all the time they had spent together. It came down to this.

In the back of her mind, she had always known: they belonged together. But she had always pushed that thought aside. At first, he was there for her, within his books. Always there, his words soothing her, making her feel better whenever she felt down. Taking one of his books and opening it - and reading it - always made the world seem better. When they first met, he was so annoying, so egotistical. Every thought of them "having something" flew out of the window when he started following her. There was no way she could even go out with this guy. But now, here they were. Four years later, their feelings have finally caught up with them. They were kissing like their lives depended on it, never letting each other go.

They had to breathe. Disengaging from her lips he draws in a lungful of air and smiles down to her. She is gasping softly, the lack of air catching up with her too. He is observing her when she opens her eyes and looks at him again. Those eyes, dark and full of fear few minutes ago, have turned into bright blue pools full of love and adoration. She can't do anything but smile back at him. They fall into silence for a few minutes, just watching each other. Breathing the cold air and letting the rain soak them.

His fingers find her hair and they start playing with the soaked strands. His face goes serious and taking in a deep breath he asks "What happened to you?"

He sees how the smile disappears from her face and for a second, her eyes seem hollow. She steps away from his embrace, not going far, but opening up a little space between them. Her eyes glance down for a second and then she looks up at him again.

"I found him," she says after a long silence. She looks to his concerned face. He still holds his arms around her, not letting her go. "Maddox," she stresses, words stuck in her throat. His instinct is too strong and he pulls her back to his embrace.

"Oh," is the only thing that comes to his mind, nothing more soothing comes out. He just hugs her. Hard.

He hears a muffled voice from his chest, "I almost died." He hugs her even harder, sharing butterfly kisses on the top of her head. After a short silence, he trusts his voice to ask out loud "H-how?"

She raises her head from his chest again and looks up and answers. "He threw me off the rooftop. I was lucky to get the hold on the ledge." she pauses for a second. "I was hanging there, like a ragdoll. I looked down and saw my death. At that moment, I realized... I could lose it all. It would have taken me only a second to fall down. I just willed myself to hold on..." her voice trails off. He doesn't say a word, he only listens.

She takes in a ragged breath and continues. "Only thing that kept me from falling down was you." She looks right to his eyes, making her point clear. He needs to know. "All I could think about was you." she finishes, tears in her eyes.

He doesn't know how to reply. He pulls her into a kiss. Oh god, he almost lost her. He pours his heart out in this long kiss. Feeling her lips working with his, every breath she takes in. … he almost lost her. But now, she is there. With him. And nothing else matters, at least not now. Time and space seem to stop around them; only two of them exist at this moment. Bodies flushed together, hands caressing each other, mouths fused together, making them feel the heat.

After a long while, they slow down and he breaks their connection. Their noses touching and mouths breathing in the same air between them. He dips down his head to access her neck and ear. He bites her earlobe gently, making the shiver run through her. She sighs against him. He opens his mouth and whispers to her ear "You know, I would do this forever, but I am fairly certain that there is water in my boxers..."

She barks out a breath of laughter against his shoulder.

He continues whispering against her ear. "We should go someplace warm."

He frees her from his iron grasp, already missing her body against him. He takes her hand and gently pulls and she follows him. She smiles when they start walking away from the playground. He looks back at her and smiles back. They don't need words for communication.

In no time, they are next to Castle's town car. They stop and he opens the door and ushers her in first. Both of them are soaked and dripping water everywhere in the car. The driver frowns at them, but there is nothing that he can do. The car starts to move when Castle gives the order to take them home. She sees her car parked street side, in front of the library.

"What abo-" she starts to ask him. He stops her with his finger and calmly says "Your car will be here tomorrow too."

She bites her lip nods against his hand and he removes the hand from her face. Instead of putting the hand into his lap, he grabs hold of her and pulls her against him. She settles against his side, placing her head to his chest. He leans his head to against her head.

"Much better," he mumbles, mouth against her wet hair. "Much, much better."

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"Come on," she hisses through her teeth. "Hurry up."

They are standing behind the door of his loft. He is holding her against the door, his head buried in the crook of her neck and he shares soft kisses to the delicate skin, while one of his hands is patting his pockets, in search of a key.

"Impatient, aren't we?" he smirks against her skin, never stopping his movements. The ride home was calm, they just sat there, holding each other. She was so grateful of him being there, his heartbeat calming her down and her fears seemed to disappear by the second. They got out of car when the car arrived at his building. He firmly took her by the hand and made her follow him. She smirks at this, but doesn't say anything. She lets him lead. Somewhere between the second and third floors he had decided it was enough time they had spent apart and pulled her close, his lips finding hers. She raised her arms and locked them behind his head, while his were sneaking around her waistline. They had to pull apart when the elevator arrived to his floor. He frowned against her mouth, but forced himself away from her and started going towards his loft, pulling her with him.

Now they were standing there, trying to find his key. Well, he was. She was enjoying his mouth tracing the tender skin on her neck.

"No," she answers. "I'm just cold. I'm a little soaked, Castle."

He chuckles and raises his head from her neck, looking at her.

"Oh, I can see you are all wet, but who's fault is that?" he asks.

She sighs, her features turning serious. "I had nowhere to go." she answers honestly. "It seemed the perfect place to be." She adds after a moment of silence. "I was gathering up the courage to come and find you... but..."

"... but I found you instead," he finishes the sentence. She nods continuing to look at him.

He wiggles against her and when she starts to say something about it, he manages to pull off a hundred-watt smile and shares "Found it!" Pure glee in his face he shows the bronze coloured key. She chuckles. He releases her slowly as he unlocks the door and they enter the dark and silent loft. He switches on the light, it makes them both blink.

"Let's just get rid of the wet clothes," he steps closer to her and plants a kiss to her cheek.

"You are very subtle, Mr. Castle" she laughs at him while her hands raise up and work on the buttons of his jacket.

"You don't seem to mind," he sighs, closing his eyes when her small hands reach to the top and she pushes the jacket down. Even his button-down is soaked wet. She places her hands on his chest for a second and he inhales sharply. Then she feels his hands coming alive at her waist, fingers untucking her blouse and he slides his hands underneath the fabric. She inhales sharply.

"Ahhh...you know, you have cold hands," she murmurs, when he bends his head down to kiss her.

Before his lips touch hers he murmurs back "Yeah, well... you can warm me up." and he closes the distance between them, catching her smile with his lips.

Chapter Text

She smiles against his lips when he tries to start to unzip her wet leather jacket but fails. His fingers can't find the zipper and he is pathetically trying to get a hold of it. She chuckles when he lowers his lips to her jawline and comments, "Laughing at me?"

She makes a throaty sound between a sigh and a chuckle, when he bites her jaw gently and finally manages to open her jacket.

"No," she sighs when his rough fingers slide inside her now opened jacket and slowly tug it off. She releases the hold around his neck and lets the jacket hit the ground with a soft thump. He looks at her for a long minute. Their eyes meet. Golden green meets the vibrating blue and they just stare each other, their eyes speaking volumes between them. He disturbs the flow of energy when he moves his hands to her cheeks to pull her closer to his mouth. She closes her eyes immediately when she sees him towering over her. He releases her face when their lips meet. Slowly, tentatively he is kissing her. He manages to turn them both around without disturbing the kiss, so Kate now has her back pressed against the front door. She sighs into his mouth when she feels the cold surface behind her. He doesn't let her savour the feeling and he starts kissing her more forcefully, his tongue entering her mouth, greeted by the same force of eagerness.

It doesn't take long until they are both out of air and they break their kiss, foreheads resting against each other. They are gasping for air and he lowers his head to get a bite of her neck. She shudders when she feels his now warmed up lips against her throat. She moves her head to the side, so he has more access to it. He places several open mouthed kisses on the delicate skin before he finds her lips again. She is about to ask him something when she feels him against her open mouth, and the thought dies on the spot. He kisses her furiously, not letting her think or feel anything else, only him.

Slowly, he starts fumbling with the buttons of her blouse. He manages to get open the first two buttons when he stops the kiss and looks down, resting his head against her forehead. She releases a shuddering breath, when she realizes what he is looking at. The scar is exposed in the light of the room and he is looking at it intently. Before she can clear her head and say something he moves his head downwards and his lips meet with the puckered skin of the scar. At that moment, she is sure that her heart has stopped for several beats before it starts working again. It feels so electrifying to have him there, against her heart. He sucks the scar gently, kissing the way around it and caressing it with his lips. Then his mouth travels back again, slowly kissing his way towards her face. When he reaches there, he feels her fingers encircling his wrist and pulling it upwards from its place at her waist. She takes his hand and places it on the top of the scar while her mouth is blindly trying to find his again. Their lips meet in a slow kiss.

He pulls away in a short while, opening his eyes. At the same time she opens hers too and they look at each other, soft, shuddering breaths filling the air between them. His hand is still on the scar. She smiles.

"We are at the beginning again." she says softly, her voice sounding out of breath. He furrows his brows at her statement, not really understanding what she is trying to say. She leans in and kisses his cheek and mumbles against his stubble.

"This is what started all of this." She is silent again for a little while, letting him grasp the many levels of that sentence. "You, me. The elevator. The dedication," she explains further.

"Oh, yes." he mumbles, moving his head to angle his mouth to meet her lips again. She covers his hand with hers, entwining the fingers above the bullet scar. They are in this together. The pieces of the broken hearts fuse together like two pieces of a puzzle. He feels the air shift around them, something magical, something good is happening. They are creating this together - the energy of love that is surrounding them.

She is looking into his eyes, intently. Her face serious, her eyes shining, clear as stars in the midnight sky. She opens her mouth and whispers softly, "I love you too."

His hand stops caressing her cheek and he freezes on the spot. She hasn't actually said it out loud, only implied it But actually hearing this out loud, hanging between them, it's something else. It feels like his heart is going to jump out of his chest. She observes his reaction in silent awe, watching the play of emotions on his face. He glances at her lips and then back into her eyes again which are full of love, adoration and want. The corners of her mouth rise to form a smile.

The words are stuck in his throat, so nothing comes out of his mouth when he tries to say something. He opens his mouth, but closes it immediately. There are no words to describe what is going on inside him. He decides to go for the next best thing and show it to her.

With no hesitation, he pushes her against the door harder and he feels the air leaving her lungs. He presses his mouth against hers, begging for entrance. She can't deny him anything. Not anymore. She opens up to him, responding with the same passion. He steadies her head with his hands; both sides of her face and angles it to the left. It allows better access to him. She releases a guttural moan, when he does something delicious with his tongue. Her hands can't do anything but cling onto him, pulling him closer in order to not let him go ever again.

Suddenly he is kissing the side of her jaw and she hears a whisper, "I love you. So much." When she only shudders for response, he angles his head closer to her ear. His lips are touching the shell of her ear with every word, "I love you even more than my own life, more than anything in the world."

She makes a choking sound when he sucks her neck. Her hands release him from her iron grip and she starts unbuttoning his shirt, leaving no doubt in her intentions. Slowly she makes her way through all the buttons, while he feasts on her neck. With the last button open, she places her hands on his stomach, making him shudder and moan. She smiles and nips his neck softly, the surface available in front of her. His hands leave her for a second, letting the shirt fall down from his shoulders. Her hands are now loose, roaming around his chest and his back, discovering his uncovered skin. He cannot help himself and he unbuttons her shirt, one button at a time. While her fingers play with his skin, he manages to open her shirt and push it off her shoulders, exposing her pale flesh to the light. She slumps her hands down and lets the shirt fall off her.

He pulls her flush into him, skin touching skin, the feelings creating waves of pleasure in them. He kisses her passionately, but taking his time, savoring the feeling. He feels her hands travelling down, drawing soft patterns on his muscular arms. She encircles his wrists with her hands and entwines her fingers with his. So they stand there, against his front door, mouths fused together, hands joined.

He pulls away from her for a moment, giving the sweet air access to their lungs. She opens her eyes and smiles to him. After few seconds, she starts slipping away from his grasp and he looks at her quizzically. She pulls their joined hands and only says, "Come."

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She walks them into his bedroom. She never has been there and to his surprise, she knows exactly where the room is. When he stops for a moment, mind reeling a bit from the actions, she turns herself around and looks at him, smiling.

"What's wrong?" she softly asks.

"Nothing," he smiles, placing a soft kiss to her shoulder. "Continue."

She opens the door to his bedroom and without switching the lights on, she goes straight to his bed. Turning around, she clasps her fingers to the zipper of his pants, making him shudder against her. He wraps his hands around her shoulders and pulls her closer, placing open-mouthed kisses on her lips, face and neck. Finally she manages to get the button and zipper open and he wiggles his hips, until the pants peel off from him.

"Mmmmhhh," she hums against his skin while kissing down his jaw. Her hands are eagerly roaming on his body, cupping his bottom.

"You didn't lie," she states, eyes closed, enjoying the feeling of his hands sliding over her breasts.

"A-about what?" she stutters, as her fingers slide underneath the fabric of his boxers, grabbing his cheeks firmly.

"Your boxers really are soaking wet," she hums a little bit louder and she tastes his earlobe with her tongue. He lets out a chuckle and nods against her.

"Why would I ever lie about my boxers?" he asks, amused.

He bends his neck a bit, so she could have better access to his neck, while she is sharing kisses down to his neck and chest. He slides his fingers around her and unclasps her bra. She helps to remove it without removing her mouth from his skin. He lets loose a moan when she bites him gently. He moves his hands to her chest and cups her breasts slightly, feeling the tender skin against his palms. She moans out something that sounds like his name. He kneads her breast softly, squeezing her nipple. She moans out loud when he does that and arches herself closer to him. Her mouth has travelled back to his face and she catches his mouth with her lips. Pressing herself flush against him, she deepens the kiss while his arms sneak around her waist. He pulls her closer to him, while walking back slightly. Her thighs make contact with his bed and they fall onto the soft mattress together. He doesn't break the kiss, but shifts his weight to his arms, so he wouldn't crush her.

"Oh," she lets out a sound of surprise, when one of his hands sneaks into her trousers in search of her center. He pulls slightly and the button that is holding the pants together comes loose. He unzips the zipper with one hand. Kissing down her neck and chest, he slides the other hand inside her pants. Slowly but surely, he manages to get her out of both - the jeans and the panties - at the same time. She moves her hips in order to help him remove her wet clothing. When she is free from the jeans, he slowly slides his hand from her heel up to her thigh. She arches against him, releasing a deep moan that makes him crazy. He kisses down her chest and stomach and slowly positions himself between her legs, caressing the smooth surface of her thighs, kneading the bare flesh.

"It's unfair," she breathes out the words, sounding like something between a moan and a sigh.

"Hmm?" he asks, his mouth trailing the muscles of her stomach, kissing her navel.

"You are wearing too many clothes," she whispers, when she arches closer to him, without her conscious permission.

"I think you can help me with that," he states, starting to kiss back up. Her hands travel all over his back and slowly they slide downwards, underneath the edge of his boxers.

"Mmhhh, really?" she asks, when he trails the kisses up to her chin and her mouth. Her hands force the boxers down his thighs. He moans out loudly when he feels the pressure in his groin ease a little bit. She doesn't let him enjoy that particular moment long, her slender fingers have already trailed down to his shaft and grasped it firmly.

"Kate..." he cries out when her fingers surround him. He is enjoying the feeling, but he knows he won't last long if she continues doing wicked things to him.

She only smiles and doesn't release him.

"You... y-you have to stop it..." he pleads.

"And why is that?" she asks, teasingly breathing to his ear.

"Or else I am gonna shoot too soon," he growls out when he removes her palm around his shaft.

She lets out a low chuckle, which sounds extremely sexy to him at that moment. He sucks her neck lightly, purposefully marking her. She is his now.

"Oh, you know, two can play this game," he whispers, when he slides a hand between her legs, making her eyes widen in surprise.

She moans out loud and gasps. He doesn't let her come down from her high and keeps rubbing her, his hands making soft circles against her core. She whimpers when she feels the pressure coil inside her, the warmth spreading everywhere in her body.

"Castle, please," she manages to breathe out. "Don't... I-I... I need you … not like this... Inside..." she says between her moans. He doesn't let her say it twice. He removes his hand and replaces it with his now fully engorged cock. She sighs at the new feeling against her core. He moves it slightly, not entering her yet, teasing her.

"Castle," she lets out a low moan. "Don't tease... plea-ah," she can't finish the sentence, because her brain isn't working anymore He enters her slowly, letting her to get used to him. She makes a throaty sound and closes her eyes to savor the feeling. He finds her lips and starts kissing her slowly, enjoying every moment of it. He starts to move tentatively, their hips finding the mutual speed. Not letting go her mouth, he joins their hands next to her head lacing their fingers together. He speeds up their pace and she starts making guttural sounds beneath him. He doesn't let them loose - he kisses them away.

She starts shuddering and arching wildly when she feels the orgasm nearing. He speeds up their movements since his own release is dawning too. He angles her knees more upright, changing the depth of their movements. She breaks free from the kiss and lets out a cry as he dips her over the edge. She is moaning wildly, her hands roaming all over him, pulling him close. He feels his own release hitting him and joins her in their cloud of pleasure, riding them both out.

When he finally stops moving, they just lay there, in his still made up bed. Entirely too wasted to move but filled with happiness. She shifts under him a little making him raise his head. He looks down at her quizzically.

"..m I too heavy?" he asks breathlessly, starting to move away from the top.

"Mmmhh... no," she settles him with her hands around him. "Stay."

He moves her hand around her neck and bends his head to kiss her properly. She responds to him with the same eagerness. After a while, they break the kiss and he moves his head to the pillows next to her head. Her lips share a butterfly kisses to his cheek, he breathes out softly, "I love you".

Her arms around him tighten and she whispers softly to his ear, "I love you too."

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Chapter Text

Her leg twitches. That is the first thing that reaches her brain when she starts to slowly wake up. No, her leg didn't twitch, she finally manages to understand. There is something that is brushing slowly against her leg, making her feel like her leg is twitching. She stirs up even more, not opening her eyes yet. The images of last night start to flood her when she feels a hand slide slowly from her navel to her breast. She takes in a deep breath and stretches, making her sore muscles protest at the motion. There's a light kiss on her shoulder and she makes a barely audible sound from somewhere in her throat.

"Good morning," she hears a husky and sleep filled voice coming from behind her. His breath on her neck is making her shiver all over. She doesn't open her eyes yet. It's too warm and wonderful to be there, just feeling and breathing in the scent of him. The scent of them. He kisses her shoulder again. This time, the touch is stronger, more daring. She sighs contentedly.

"You are not going to wake up?" he asks, a smile in his voice.

She just makes a noise of agreement and snuggles against him more comfortably. His arms encircle her strongly.

After few minutes of silence she tries out her voice, "Whaz the thime?"

Her voice is so sleepy and raspy, it makes Castle chuckle out loud a bit. He places another kiss on her shoulder before he answers, "Its only 5 am."

She is silent for another minute and then she turns herself in his arms to face him. Her eyes barely open, she croaks softly, "Why are you up at 5?"

He smiles down at her. She is beautiful, when she is sleepy. She didn't take off her make up the last night and now the little that she had on is all over her face. Her hair is adorably messy. The rain didn't do good things to it, and there are waves cascading all over the pillow. Her eyes are still kind of droopy, not fully opened yet. She peeks at him as he smiles at her. He leans back on his pillow, placing his head there softly.

"I felt somebody in my arms..." he answers with a sweetest smile on his face. She smiles back to him. Then he continues, "...kicking me."

The look of horror in her face is so funny, it makes Castle chuckle out loud.

"Kicking?" she asks, concern in her voice. "I am sorry, Castle. I didn't mean t-"

She is cut off by his lips on hers. She makes a muffled sound of surprise and closes her eyes, completely succumbing to the feeling. He doesn't deepen the kiss, but finishes it with several butterfly kisses against her mouth.

"I don't mind," he whispers against her face. He shifts them, so he has better access to her neck. He leans forward and kisses the tender skin there. She sighs out loud again, stirring and rearranging herself, to grant him more access.

"I don't mind it at all, as long as it's you who is kicking me in my bed," he lets her know between kisses, voice low, full of want.

She chuckles slightly and tries to sneak her arms around him. But while doing that, a flash of pain shoots through her arms. And chest. She closes her eyes and groans out loud, freezing him in his actions above her.

"Oh God, did I hurt you?" he asks fast, his voice suddenly full of concern.

Slowly she opens her eyes again finding him looking down at her, worry written all over his features.

"No, you didn't hurt me," she says softly, looking back at him, trying to lift her arms again. She winces in pain but manages to raise her arm to his cheek.

"What's wrong?" he asks, when her small hands caress his face, her fingers tracing the gruff of his.

"Nothing," she tries to assure him.

"You are in pain, that is not nothing," he urges, his fingers trailing the soft features of her face and her neck. He lowers his gaze to her chest and his eyes widen in horror.

"You are hurt," he states. "Did I do that to you, Kate? Did I? I am so-"

He is silenced by her finger on his lips. She shakes her head slightly, when he manages stop talking. "It wasn't you," she says softly.

There's a spark of understanding on his face and despite her finger on his mouth he pushes out a quiet, "Maddox...?"

She nods. Closing her eyes when the memory of him flashes through her mind. She opens her impossibly hazel eyes and softly states, "I got beaten up pretty bad."

"Why didn't you tell me?" he inquires, his eyes pleading.

She chuckles softly and it softens her features, the tension leaving her body. "Why? So you would worry?" she asks, her voice low and soft.

He is silent. And serious. And he is staring at her. She finally yields to his stare and just says, "I'm sorry. I... forgot about it all last night. And this morning."

He seems to be okay with that answer and a little smile shines through the worry. "Are you okay now?" he asks softly.

She nods and winces. "I think I am," she answers honestly.

He doesn't quite believe her, so he decides to uncover her a little. He gently tugs off the sheet that is covering her chest and the blue marks tell the story of the battle she had. There are bruises even on her arms. He gently slides his arm over the bruises on her chest and then caresses the ones on her arms. When his fingers reach for hers, she winces again. Her palms and fingers are bright red and they seem irritated. He slowly brings her hands to his mouth and he gently kisses the tips of her fingers.

"This doesn't seem alright to me," he whispers.

Her eyes are closed and she doesn't answer at first. Then, she takes her hand from his grasp, lets her fingers slide over his face and she opens her eyes. "It will be alright. Everything will be alright," she whispers and tugs his head down. Their lips meet for a whisper of a kiss. She swallows and looks into his eyes, so close to her. "It will be alright," she says again, almost like trying convince him and himself the truth of this statement. They lay there, together. Their noses touching, both breathing the same air.

"You still have the scribble on your chest," he states finally.

She smiles. "Yes."

"How?" he chuckles, leaning over her again, nipping the soft skin of her cheek with his lips.

"I didn't have time to wash myself?" she throws back a whimsy answer. It makes him laugh.

"You are a dirty woman." he whispers against her cheek, making her laugh.

"I guess I am," she muses.

There is a moment of silence before he opens his mouth again. "This is my favourite scribble."

"Oh yeah?" she mumbles, feeling the soft movements of his lips on her face.

"Oh yeah," he answers and carefully supports his weight on his arms as he closes the distance between them. Almost immediately she responds to the kiss and both of them lose the grasp of reality around them, caring only about the moment they share. She moans softly when he deepens the kiss and arches her barely covered body against his.

He finally breaks their leisurely kiss when he hears her stomach growling. He stills his movements and chuckles against her lips.

"Your stomach sounds like it's mad at me," he states.

"I can assure you, it's not," she says with a chuckle. "It's happy." As soon as she says that, her stomach growls again, now the "it's" sounding like a question. He lets out another chuckle and drops his head to the pillow next to her head. She smiles and lets out a soft giggle.

"Come on, lets go to the kitchen," he murmurs against her neck, touching the soft skin with his lips. She laughs again and nods slightly.

He gets up first, careful not to hurt her. No matter what she says, it's still visible how bad she got beaten up. He extends his arm to her and she thankfully accepts it and lets him help her up. He pulls her flush against him, her naked body touching his to the full extent. He places a whisper of a kiss to her lips.

"We'll get back to where we left off." he promises when he releases her. "You need some sustenance."

She laughs at him, when he walks into his closet and finds her something to wear. He throws his T-shirt to her.

"Thanks." she smiles, when she catches it.

He pulls on new boxers and walks back to her. He takes her hand and starts walking towards his kitchen, "Come on, let's feed you."

"Don't forget coffee," she says softly. He stops at the doorway, leading to the main living area. He looks back at her and pulls her into his arms.

"Yes, we can't forget about the coffee," he murmurs, before leaning into her awaiting lips.

Chapter Text

Some day in the future...

She is laying on top the luscious sheets of their bed when she hears the front door open. She slowly wakes from the spell created by the good book she was reading, uncurling herself from the ball of blankets. She slowly puts the old and rumpled copy of 'Gathering Storm' down onto the silky fabric of the bedcovers and stretches herself, her bones emanating little crackling sounds. She hears the footsteps coming closer, stopping in the study. The keys and a bag are thrown on the table and she prepares herself to greet the lurking person.

She doesn't have to wait long until the door between the bedroom and study creaks open and she hears a soft male voice, "Kate?"

"I'm here," she answers, her voice a little bit hoarse from being silent so long.

He opens the door fully and crosses the short distance to the bed. He bends down to her and firmly plants a kiss to her lips.

"I missed you," he announces, looking into her eyes and placing his hands firmly to both sides of her face.

She smiles sleepily at him and traces a finger from his cheek to his jaw, other hand clinging to his jacket.

"You weren't away that long," her sleepy voice assures him, nuzzling closer.

"I don't care. I miss you every time I have to leave you," he murmurs and presses his lips to her forehead.

She chuckles as he releases her head and sits down to the bed. "You are pathetic."

He tries to make a pouty face at her words but fails when she scoots closer and snakes her arms around him. "I am not pathetic. I just love you too much," he whispers to her ear. She chuckles again and smirks, closing her eyes with the feel of overwhelming gratitude that he is home at last.

"Where did you pick up the cheesy mood?" she asks after a moment of comfortable silence, her voice dripping with amusement.

He looks at her and raises his arm to touch her nose. He pushes the tip of it down gently and points out "You are a real killjoy tonight." He glances down at the book laying on the bed and then looks back to her "Do my murders make you so snarky?"

"Naah, your books are perfectly fine. Just the writer can be overly fluffy and sappy sometimes," she purrs and kisses his cheek as she shuffles even more closer, her arms surrounding his waist while his rest on her shoulders. "How was the day at the office?"

He sighs and leans against her warm body. "It was long. And Paula was annoying. She wants me to start thinking about new book series," he pauses. "I don't want to let go of Nikki Heat yet."

"Mmmhhh," she hums for answer, her lips brushing against his cheek. "Nikki is still good."

"Oh yeah?" he murmurs, turning his head slightly and catching her lips with his.

The trail of thoughts in her head loses its pace when she opens her mouth to let him in. Their lips dance in unison against each other, tongues tracing the soft lines of their mouths, battling for dominance. She lets loose a sigh and it's like a sign for him to deepen the kiss and pull her flush against him. He pulls her gently to his lap, so she is straddling him, her breasts flat against his chest. Her thighs surround his hips and he groans loudly against her mouth. He slowly starts trailing the kisses down her cheek and her jaw.

"It's very good to come home to this," he murmurs against her skin, his arms wandering around her body, sliding over her back, pulling her more closer, like its even possible.

She lets out a breathy moan, "Savour it, darling, this doesn't happen often."

He bites her shoulder gently, making her moan out louder. "I told you, you are a killjoy."

She cranes her head, so she can reach for his ear, while he feasts on her neck.

"But you love me anyway," she whispers before she nibbles his earlobe and earning a deep shudder from him.

"I do," comes the husky answer from against her neck. "Now, hush." He slides a hand down to the crease of her breasts, "Let me love you."

She nods slightly, too aroused to trust her voice. He shifts them without moving his mouth from her neck, laying her down to bed again and crawling on top of her. He starts slowly trailing his mouth down to her chest, earning more and more breathy moans from her.

"It's definitely a good way to come home," he states breathily. And then nothing else is spoken. The room fills with gentle sounds of two people in love.

xxxxxxxxxxx

The first thing she feels is something tickling her arms. Through the haze of sleep she doesn't quite understand what it is, but something is sliding against her arms. Something soft and wet. And cold. She moves her arm a bit. But the arm isn't moving. Something is holding it in place. She opens her eyes to see what is going on and is welcomed with pair of blue eyes looking down at her.

"Good morning." he says softly, smiling a sleepy smile. "Although it's still night, so I should say goodnight. But it sounds too odd. So ... good morning, beautiful."

She smiles back to him. "G'morning," is all she can mumble out. The cobwebs of sleep are still filling her brain.

He looks at her for few seconds more, smiles again and then focuses back to the task on his hands. She feels it again, something soft and cold is sliding against the skin of her arm.

"Whuzzaya doin?" she asks, confused.

"You'll see in a minute," he answers quickly, trying to hide his actions. Hrm.

She is silent for a moment, furrowing her brows and trying to gather her thoughts.

"Are you writing something on my arm?" she asks.

"If you would be patient for a minute, you would find out soon," he huffs and continues writing.

She sighs in resignation. She remains silent, but at the same time she is trying to figure out what he is writing there.

"You are drawing a heart?" her voice sounds surprised with an edge of mockery in there.

He raises his head and gives her pointed look, "It's not a surprise if you try to guess. Spoilers."

She rolls her eyes and leans her head back on the pillow.

Soon enough, he turns himself around and faces her. His face beams joy and utter satisfaction. He announces, "You can look now," while releasing her arms.

She raises both of her arms and reads what is written there. Her face is serious as she tries to piece together the text. There is one word on each part of her arm. Together four words, if you don't count the funny looking hearts that go along with the last word.

She looks back at him, question in her eyes. "'You. will. marry. me?' It sounds like an ultimatum," she states, smirking.

He sighs, smiling at her. "It's not -" he starts to explain but is cut off by the finger on his lips. She looks him into his eyes, her gaze tender and loving.

"Yes," she whispers. "Yes, I will."

He removes her finger from his lips and closes the distance between them. Her lips are sweet and soft against his. She tastes like morning and the sweet musky flavour of love.

"You will?" he asks, whispering against her lips.

"I will," she repeats softly.

He kisses her again, this time more passionately, his lips nipping at hers. He cradles her head with his hands and he refuses to let go. She opens her mouth to welcome him in and he loses himself to the feeling of utter love and happiness.

When they finally break from the passionate kiss, panting softly, he pulls her into a tight hug. His big body surrounds her like a wall and she relaxes in his embrace. She sneaks her arms around his waistline too, tracing the soft skin on his back.

"I am the happiest man on the planet," he whispers. She smiles, beaming. She is as happy as he is, vibrating with joy. He feels the smile blooming against the skin of his shoulder and he can't do anything but smile too.

"And sappiest," she can't let the chance fly by. He chuckles. She is impossible, even in the most romantic situation, she finds something snarky to say.

He chuckles too and leans in closer whispering into her ear, "But you love me anyway."