Shortly before eleven on Friday evening, Castle sat at his desk staring blankly at the word document on his computer screen. He should have been writing, but the words just weren't coming. His publishers had been thrilled with the first eight Thorne chapters, which caused them to demand more with even greater enthusiasm, but his heart just wasn't in it. He'd left it back in the apartment of a young ADA, who he feared would never forgive him.
A knock at his apartment door stirred him from his thoughts. His daughter was out with friends and his mother…well, he didn't know where she was, but he knew she was not coming home that evening, which was more than enough information for him. That begged the question: who was at his door? Curious, he stood from his desk and strode across his apartment.
"Kate!" he proclaimed with surprise. "W-what are you doing here?"
"Can I come in?" she asked gently. He nodded quickly and stepped aside. "I'm sorry it's late but-"
"No, no," he said quickly. "It's fine." She pressed the manuscript folder into his hands and he thanked her. "Did you read it?"
"Yes." She nodded. "It was fantastic. I want more," she added with a light laugh.
Letting out the breath he'd been holding for over a week, Castle laughed as well and led the way to the sitting area in his apartment. He sat beside her on the couch and watched as she rested her forearms on her thighs and laced her fingers together.
"Do you know when we first met?" she asked, looking up to him. "I mean, no—of course you don't. How could you remember?"
"When?" he asked, figuring it had something to do with the signed book he found in her apartment weeks earlier.
"It was almost ten years ago; I was twenty-two. It was a few months after my father's accident—actually just a week and a half after he came home from the hospital. You were doing a signing for the latest Derrick Storm at a Barnes & Noble on 5th. I didn't want to go because my mother needed help at home but she told me no, I had to go, because I was doing so much I needed a break. So I went and waited in line for almost two hours. As I waited, I thought about what I'd say to you, because your books helped me so much.
"When my father was in the coma, my mother and I didn't want him to wake up alone, so we took shifts sitting beside his bed. For a while, I tried to talk to him, but after a few days, I couldn't think of anything else to say and the more I sat in silence, the more I worried he would never wake up. So, I decided to read to him. I read A Rose for Everafter and it was an escape; an escape I needed."
She paused her story and slid a little closer to him on the couch. "I had these grand designs of what I'd say but when I got to the front of the line I just stood there, dumbstruck. I honestly don't even remember if I managed to say thank you when you signed my book and then, when I left, I was so mad at myself because I knew I'd never get the chance to tell you in person how much your books meant to me."
Castle smiled, reached over and put his hand atop hers. Her words meant more to him than he could ever say. "Except you are now."
She nodded her head and then turned towards the manuscript resting on the table. "It's a really good book, Castle; maybe one of your best."
"Well, I have great inspiration."
She looked back at him and her cheeks flushed from the way he was gazing at her. She moved her hands so that his was sandwiched in between hers and she laced their fingers together. "I want you to keep going; I want you to finish and to publish because I remember what it was like when those books spoke to me, helped me. I don't want to take that from anyone else."
He leaned over and brushed his lips against her cheek. "Thank you. For everything you said. And you have to know, Kate—it was never my intention to hurt you; I would never do that."
"So," he began, his heart rate speeding. "What about us?"
She brushed her thumb against the back of his hand and tilted her head as she looked at him. "You know I'm still a little angry with you because you didn't tell me how you were using my life."
He nodded vigorously. "Yes and I apologize for that. How can I make it up to you?"
A grin blossomed on her face. "Oh I'm sure you can think of something to persuade me."
Accepting that challenge, he slid his hand from her grasp, slid it under her jaw and used it to guide her face to his. He kissed her, tangling their lips together, skimming his tongue against her bottom lip until she let him in and he devoured her.
"Well, uh," she cleared her throat when she pulled back a few moments later. "That's one argument I won't be able to try in court."
Castle laughed loudly and pulled her into his arms. Together, they fell back against the couch and Kate leaned her body into his chest. She lifted her head, pressed a kiss onto his throat, and sighed. "I suppose I have to tell you that you were right again."
"Naturally," he responded with an air of self-approval. "What about this time?"
"Me," she said simply. "I needed someone to come in and flip my world upside-down and tramp through it like a bull in a china shop."
"Like a bull in a china shop?" he repeated, amused. "I'm sorry but, as a novelist, I cannot permit you to use such a cliché phrase."
"Okay, then," she sat up and stared back at him. "Like an irritating, question-filled man-child."
He leaned away from her. "Okay, I admit to being irritating and question-filled, but man-child is just offensive."
She arched a suspicious eyebrow at him. "Castle, what's that?" she asked, pointing across the room to a futuristic looking object draped over the back of a chair.
"Oh! My laser tag vest! Alexis and I were playing earlier and—oh, okay, I see where you're going with this…."
"I rest my case," she concluded proudly before cuddling up to him once more.
He put his arm around her and kissed the top of her head. They sat in silence for a moment before he came to a realization about what it would mean to be in a relationship with a lawyer. "This…this is how it's going to be, isn't it? You're always going to win arguments aren't you? I'm never going to win again, am I?"
She considered this for a moment. "Well, never is a bit strong of a term…"
"I will rarely-if-ever win," he corrected.
She lifted her head and smiled. "That sounds about right. You got a problem with that, Castle?"
He thought for a moment. "Do I still get to see you naked?"
"Yes," she laughed.
"Then no," he smiled. "No problem at all."
A/N: Thank you all so much for reading. I really appreciate all the reviews you've given me!
Also, I have a AU Season 3 fic that I will be posting this weekend if anyone is interested in that.