"Captain Max? Really, Castle?"
Smooth silk rustled against cool leather and then Kate was behind him, her presence a warmth at his back. His hands stilled, the half-dried dish in them entirely forgotten.
"Why yes, Detective, don't you see it?" Castle said.
It had been her idea, molybdomancy. A technique of divination using molten metal. They had bought the kit at a New Age store in SoHo a few days before Christmas when he dragged Kate there to buy a new deck of tarot cards for his mother. She hadn't been too into it, but then she had spotted the molybdomancy kit. It came with a bunch of tiny tin figures symbolizing luck like a four-leaf clover or a chimney sweeper and a spoon to melt them in over a candle. Once it was completely liquified, the metal got poured into a bowl of cold water. The results were open for interpretation, telling ones fate for the upcoming year.
A list of suggestions had been part of the kit as well, but those were stupid and really boring, which was why Castle had quickly disregarded those in favor of his own imagination. Much to Kate's dismay since he had been throwing around the most ludicrous interpretation of the shapes ever since.
"It pains me to say it, but that lump of tin is your beloved Nebula-9 captain." He was trying to be smooth and said each word with a nonchalance he didn't feel. His mind was clouded by the magnificent fragrance she put on just for this evening. It thrilled him to know that it was the scent he gave her for Christmas.
"I doubt that you even see it yourself," Kate said as one of her long fingers wandered down along his spine, only a whisper of a touch and yet he found himself shivering ever so slightly.
When Castle finally turned his body towards hers after putting down the dish he'd half-dried, she closed in on him immediately. It was how she interrogated him and only him, luring his darkest secrets right out of him.
"Admit it, you're talking out of your ass." She met his gaze from under her dark, oh so dark eyelashes, and his instant reaction was to tell her everything she wanted to hear if only she'd keep looking at him that way. Barely concealed desire, a dash of amusement and it was enough to make his knees give out.
He found support in the form of his kitchen counter all the while hoping that she didn't notice, but he was faced with a detective after all. So he recalled something he had been taught by a combat trainer once, researching for Derrick Storm. When engaged in a fight, never back down and always move forward to counterattack.
"Don't you see his knobby nose?"
"The exuberant curls?"
"The dumb face?"
The flat of her hand connected with his chest, hard enough to sting.
"Ouch," he rubbed the place she'd struck, "no need for violence."
His complaint was answered when she raised her hand again, but he had anticipated her move and caught her by the wrist. Instead of letting it meet his chest again, he guided it up to his neck instead where he gently laid it to rest while wrapping his other arm around her slim waist and pulling her against him.
Kate's breath hitched when his hands found a temporary home on her butt. "Don't think you can get away with insulting my show." Thick and quiet, her voice was not even close to her usual tone of authority and he knew that he had won, at least momentarily.
Just as the combat instructor had taught him, he moved forward until he had her trapped between his body and the kitchen isle. Another tiny step and her pliant body melted into his.
"I think I can," Castle said before he closed the remaining distance between them. He only brushed his lips against hers, yet he was tempted to linger by the rich taste of the dark chocolate mousse he'd made for dinner, so he did.
A loud bang ripped them out of their own world. Kate shuddered against him, for a second his heart constricted with pain for her. She'd recovered from the worst of her PTSD, but unexpected loud noises still made her jumpy. Her body relaxed, though when a series of detonations followed the first, and he looked out the window.
A thoroughly amused chuckle shook her body now, and a wide grin spread on his own face. Midnight had snuck up on them and everyone else had begun to welcome the new year without them.
"You know what they say, don't you?" Her fingertips glided along the side of his face. She was gazing at him with admiration, and love shone so brightly in her eyes that his heart almost couldn't handle it.
"How you spend New Year's Eve says a lot about how that year will go."
"Frolicking in my kitchen with you, huh?"
"Mhmmm… but let's not forget you being an idiot and insulting the things I love."
"You've gotten used to that by now though, so I'll take those odds."
Kate was silent for a moment, simply gazing at him as she gently bit down on her bottom lip. He didn't even realize that he was holding his breath until she spoke again.
"Yeah, me too."