A/N: This is what happens when I watch reruns.

Set at the end of the summer after season 1 right before season 2.

Two feet standing on a principal,

Two hands digging in each other's wounds,

Cold smoke seeping out of colder throats,

Darkness falling leaves nowhere to go

-Still by Daughter

When she returns from her run that evening, he's at her door – waiting with his eyes half lidded and a colorful bouquet of drooping flowers in his grasp. Castle straightened as she approached, wiping the sweat from her brow and retrieving her keys from the inside of her shoe.

"How'd you get my address?" she snarled, shoving past him to insert the key into the lock and push the door open. "No wait, let me guess," she added just as he opened his mouth to answer. "The same way you got my mother's case file? Without my permission?"


The way he said her name as he followed her inside made her stutter in her stride to the kitchen. He sounded ragged, torn up and guilt ridden over what he had done to her, to them and their shaky partnership. She had expected the nuisance of a nine year old she had grown to know far too well, not the serious side of him she had only seen on rare occasions. But she refused to care, to have any sort of concern for him. He didn't deserve that.

"What the hell do you want?" she snapped, grabbing a bottle from the fridge and leaning back against her countertop, watching him like a predator, ready to attack if he dared come too close.

"You know what I want," he said tiredly, taking a reluctant step towards her kitchen, resting the dying flowers on the island. "I've tried calling you, texting you, emailing you. It was either show up here or at the precinct. I figured you'd prefer a place with less of an audience," he reasoned, but it only fed her agitation.

"I would prefer neither."

He huffed, finally some frustration beginning to show. "You won't even let me explain."

Kate slammed the water bottle down, droplets splashing up and raining down to splatter along her forearm.

"There is nothing to explain," she growled, stalking towards him. "You did the one thing I told you not to. The one thing I told you I could not handle. And for what? The sake of a character?"

She had stormed forward, practically in his face now, invading his personal space like he had so happily done to her plenty of times in the past, and she watched as his eyes widened, a strange mixture of shock, indignation, and… hurt? swirling in the darkening blue ocean of his irises.

"You think I did this for Nikki Heat?" he asked incredulously. "I only wanted to help you, not myself."

"That's bullshit and you know it," she muttered coldly, balling her fists at her sides to keep from hitting him. "What did you think, Castle? That you would look into her case and magically find the answers? See something I hadn't?"

"No, I thought I could use the extra resources I have to do more, to help you take this investigation further, to-"

"I didn't ask for your help! I don't want it," she spit, spinning on her heel and pacing back towards the countertop she had been leaning against.

When he was quiet behind her, she broke the silence with a question that had been nagging at her all summer as she had ignored his persistent attempts at contact.

"Why do you even care so much? What is it that you want so badly that you can't just let this go so we can both move on with our lives?" she demanded, glancing over her shoulder to see him watching her forlornly.

He pursed his lips, as if deciding something, before taking a couple confident steps towards her, trapping her in the corner of her kitchen.

"What if I said you?"

Her heart jerked in her chest and she narrowed her eyes at him, disbelieving and desperate to get him out of her apartment, out of her life.

"Don't even try that with me," she growled, her index finger jerking up to point at him accusingly. "All you care about is a good story."

"You're more than that, you know it."

She turned her head from him, stared angrily at the ground.

"Tell me what I have to do to fix this," he pleaded softly when she failed to say any more. But he just wasn't understanding.

He gingerly moved closer, his expensive shoes only inches away from her sneakers and she shook her head.

"You can't."

His fingers tripping tentatively down the bare skin of her arm startled her and she looked up at him ready to fight, prepared to literally shove him out the front door, but the remorse she saw in his face made her pause.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Kate. I hurt you, and I'm-"

He looked as though he was about to hug her, wrap her tightly in his long arms and hold her against the warm breadth of his chest, hold her until the ache of what he had done seeped out of her, but she didn't want that. She couldn't handle that.

But instead of holding her, he kissed her. And she kissed him back before she could even think about the consequences – hard and unforgiving because she hated him for this. He was never supposed to hurt her, he was never supposed to get close enough to even gain the opportunity and suddenly she hated herself too, for letting him break her this way.

"I know, I know, I'm sorry, so sorry," he murmured between the harsh nips of her teeth at his lower lip, cradling her face in his hands so delicately, as though she were fragile even though her actions fought viciously against the notion, and she realized she had been saying it all aloud, realized the tears were swelling against her closed eyelids and freefalling down her cheeks.

He caught them with his fingers, wiped them away, but she shoved his hands from her face, pushed her thigh between his legs, raised her knee to his hip, and grinded down. Castle jumped back as if she had shocked him, a cautious look of indecision battling against the lust in his eyes as he stared down at her, their height difference making her feel small and vulnerable and she lunged for him again.

He caught her by the shoulders, tried to still and subdue her even as her hands grew frantic traveling over his chest down to his waist.

"Kate," he gritted out, his hands tightening almost painfully around the bones of her arms. "Not like this. Not-"

She reached for his belt, tugged it smoothly from his jeans before he could object any further.

"Stop talking, Castle."

That pained look of helpless uncertainty remained on his face, but it didn't stop him from kissing her again, his lips moving over hers with renewed dedication.

Her fingers continued to work at his pants, pushing them down his thighs, down to his knees. She palmed him through his boxers, eliciting an uncontrollable buck of his hips and a breathless moan of her name into the skin of her neck.

She abandoned him for his jacket, shoved it from his shoulders and dug her nails into the fabric his shirt when he swept his tongue past her lips and cupped her breasts at the same time.

"Let me come back," he panted into her mouth, drawing her tank top over her head and slipping a hand under her sports bra. "We're good together, Beckett, we can-"

"You ruined it," she argued through gritted teeth, unable to concentrate as he alternated between kneading her breast and rolling her taut nipple between his thumb and forefinger. "Told you – we're over. Can't go back."

His hands trailed down her bare sides, tracing over the heaving cage of her ribs, to hook in the waistband of her athletic shorts. They pooled at her ankles and she kicked them away with her socks and shoes. She was prepared to do the same to his boxers when his fingers suddenly slid past the line of her underwear and pressed insistently against her clit.

Kate's head slammed back into one of the cabinet doors behind her.

"Fuck," she gasped, unable to help the way she arched into his palm as his fingers circled her slowly. His touch made her body burn, fire consuming her veins like molten lava, and it was so good, but so wrong. Their first time shouldn't be fast and angry and up against her kitchen counter, but there shouldn't be a first time for them at all. They were supposed to be done.

But she couldn't make herself tell him to go.

He removed his hand from her panties, giving her a moment to catch her breath, to back away from the edge he had drawn her so close to so quickly, and allowed her to catch a glimpse of the glistening evidence of her arousal on his fingers before he placed them in his mouth. She felt her face flush hot as he purposely held her eyes.

"This doesn't feel like over," he murmured, a grin tugging at his lips that made her want to demolish him.

She jerked him forward by the silk of his boxers, pulled them down and let him do the rest while she focused on removing his shirt, purposely ripping the buttons as she yanked the two sides apart and reveling in the sound of them clattering across the hardwood of her floor.

A smart remark was on the tip of his tongue, she could see it forming on his lips, but it died as she closed her hand around his erection, purposely squeezed and stroked and circled until he looked like he was on the verge of combustion.

He growled her name and she released him, hoisting herself onto the counter that had been digging into the small of her back since they had begun this mistake that she was sure to regret, and he immediately came to stand between her open thighs. She removed her sports bra, tossed it to join the sea of clothing that was consuming her floor.

Hesitation claimed his face once more as his eyes roved over her bare figure, so she grabbed him by the hips, urged him forward until his fingers were digging into her thighs and he was pushing inside her.

Her arms instinctively locked around his neck, her nails like talons in the flesh of his back, keeping her body crushed against his while she hid her face in his shoulder and attempted to breathe steadily through the feel of him pulsing inside her.

He tried keeping a slow pace at first, pulling out of her only to smoothly glide back in, but she refused to allow him to turn this into some tender act of lovemaking, and stabbed her heels into his legs, twisted her hips and relished in the groan that stumbled out of his mouth.

There was nothing but the feeling of him slamming into her then, the rock of her hips back into his, the slap of skin and the sizzle of pleasure. They found rhythm with ease, sloppy and desperate, already too good at this, as if they had practiced so many times before. Somehow it didn't surprise her; she'd already known they would excel in this element.

His fingers scorched a path of fire down her stomach to relocate her clit and wipe her mind of everything else – her mother's case, his betrayal, all the hurt that had come with it, the regret of losing what she thought had been shaping up to be a trustworthy partnership.

Her hand migrated thoughtlessly to his hair, tangled in the ruffled locks and tugged his mouth from her neck, molded his lips to hers and matched the stroke of her tongue to the cadence of his thrusts. She felt his thumb rise to sweep over the edge of her eyebrow, his palm cradling her jaw while the other hoisted her thigh higher and forced her to break the seal of their mouths to hiss at the dizzying change in angle.

They could have been so good together.

"Why couldn't you just leave it alone? Why did you – why'd you have do this to me?" she rasped before ducking her head back to his shoulder and biting down on his skin to muffle the sobs as the spring coiled low in her abdomen curled tighter and tighter.

Her spine snapped forward as she arched into him, her vision blanketed in white as she crumbled apart, and even as she drowned in the waves of pleasure, she held him through the final few jerks of his hips until he came inside her.

She removed her nails from his skin once she was sure her hands wouldn't quiver and dazedly watched her fingertips trickle down the blade of his shoulder, over to the muscle of his bicep still flexed below her chin.

"I never wanted to – I don't – I'm sorry," he choked out seconds later, and it took her a moment to remember what he was talking about, and when she did, she knew it was time for him to go.

Kate pushed on his shoulder and gently, he eased out of her, keeping his eyes on the hand still clenched around her thigh. He carefully released her, smoothing his fingertips over the already bruising skin. She wished she had the courage to do the same to the bite mark on his shoulder, the crescent shaped indentions she knew now lined his back.

"Can I stay?" he asked quietly, his voice a hoarse whisper, like sandpaper scraping her raw. "Here, with you?"

She bit her lip, because part of her wanted to tell him yes, and that was unacceptable.

"Go home, Castle. Please, just go home."

"Is this… Are we-"

"Nothing. We're nothing," she stated firmly, crossing her arms over her chest to preserve what little dignity she had left. "This meant nothing."

She knew her words hurt him, didn't even have to look, but felt the way he physically deflated. His eyes dulled to a near grey and he nodded solemnly in acceptance.

"I'll go then," he said quietly, tugging his jeans up, snagging his shirt from the ground, and surprising her when he leaned forward to brush a kiss to the corner of her mouth, so much like the one he had given her during their very first case when she absolutely could not stand him. Only this time, it was like he was really saying goodbye. "Night, Kate."

"Night," she whispered, keeping her eyes on her knees as he headed further and further away from her.

When she heard the door close and looked up to see she was finally alone, she began picking up her clothes, but a flash of color caught her eye and she drifted slowly to the bundle of mistreated flowers wilting away on the island in the middle of her kitchen. She ran a finger over the soft petal of a yellowing white lily, her heart clenching. Still naked and drenched in Castle's scent, she padded over to the cabinet that held what few vases she owned, took down her favorite and filled it with water. She arranged the flowers he had brought her, still beautiful even in their slow coming demise, and turned towards her bedroom to wash away the shame lingering on her skin.

It shouldn't have surprised her when he showed up at the precinct the next morning, feigning eagerness at having a reason to be back thanks to the mayor and a magazine shoot, but every time his eyes met hers, they held apology. And knowledge.

Later that night, at the crime scene he managed to weasel his way into, he stayed glued to her side, suffocating her with his closeness.

"We should talk."

"Nothing to talk about," she muttered, shooting him a warning glare over her shoulder.

"Well, at least let me know what I can do to make it up to you."

"You could leave me alone," she tossed out, already knowing it was a futile thing to hope for.

"Yes, well, I tried that and if you remember last night as well as I do, that obviously doesn't work."

She immediately felt the flames licking at her neck, crawling up her cheeks, and silently prayed the darkness of the night would hide the coloring of her skin. They were at work, she could not allow herself to remember the way his skin had felt under her hands, how his body had engulfed hers, and how his tongue-

"Focus, Castle. Crime scene, okay?"

They worked the case together, what was supposed to be their absolute last case together, and of course it ends with her stripping down and channeling her Russian alter ego to save his ass. She didn't change back into her work clothes once it was all over with; instead, she wordlessly led Castle to her cruiser, drove them straight to her apartment. He didn't question it, only kissed her when they staggered through her front door together.

She allowed him into her bedroom that night, her body still aching from their time in her kitchen and yearning for a soft surface this time. After two rounds and even a little Russian roleplay, she was ready to ask him to go and knew he could sense it, so he rose and began gathering his clothes from the ground.

"You kept the flowers," he murmured and her eyes fluttered open to see him kneeling at her bedside, watching her intently.

"They'll die soon."

"But you didn't throw them out."

She didn't say anything to that, didn't know what to say to him anymore.

"What I did-" he started suddenly, had to clear his throat and begin again. "What I did was wrong. I violated your trust, I opened old wounds, and I didn't respect your wishes. And if you want this to be the end, if we're not going to see each other again, then you deserve to know… I'm very, very sorry."

It was the apology she had needed yet never expected to hear and before she could stop herself, her fingers gripped the collar of his dress shirt before he could stand and tugged him forward.

"See you tomorrow," she murmured through the press of their lips.

He smiled softly, kissed her shoulder, and lifted to his feet.

"And Castle, this-"

"Doesn't mean anything. I know, Kate." His smile was sad that time, a forced lift of his lips illuminated by the sliver of moonlight that slipped through her window and she couldn't ignore the mournful tinge to his voice, but she pretended to.

She listened to him walk through her apartment, out the door, and pulled up the sheet from the edge of the bed, curled it around her body and laid her head on the pillow that smelled like him. She knew it wasn't what he wanted, not exactly, but it was all she could give.

It couldn't mean anything.

Hate is spitting out each other's mouths,

But we're still sleeping like we're lovers

A/N: So many thanks to Laura for the cover art and the reassurances.

Thank you to any who took the time to read. Feedback is always welcome and immensely appreciated.