The pain of season 4 hurts so good. But I love the Beckett who talks. And the Castle who gets her to open up. So here we are. 15 minutes later and Castle's at Beckett's apartment.

All credit must go to Andrew Marlowe and Co, as I own nothing except the words below. As always, words can not express my gratefulness for those of you who take the time to read and review. Always appreciated, it truly means the world.

Castle rapped his knuckles against her door, shoving his free hand through his hair as he waited for her to answer the door. His heart thudded against his ribs, nerves suddenly besting him.

He spent the cab ride staring down at her name in his phone; somehow praying to get stuck in nonexistent at 3:17 in the morning, and wishing time would speed up so he could see her now. As he walked up the stairs, winding his way through her still new apartment building, Castle fought the angst rising in him. What if she had changed her mind in the short time he was in the cab? What if this was the stress of the day talking, not something she actually wanted? Things had never worked out for the two of them, life frequently throwing obstacles—

His jumbled thoughts calmed as she opened the door, Kate's green eyes bright and her smile warm as she greeted him. Her presence settled over Castle. Happiness radiated from Beckett, a simple joy at seeing him evident in her affectionate gaze. The thought stunned him into silence as he took in her appearance.

Her caramel hair was pulled back in a messy bun. He loved when she didn't wear makeup, loved seeing the natural side to her. Her dark blue tank top showed off her toned muscles in her arms and abs. Castle's eyes dropped to the yoga pants she wore, his moan stuck in his throat as he admired the long length of her legs. Her feet were bare, Beckett pressing up on her painted pink toes. It surprised him, expecting a deep red or no color at all. Eyes rising to find hers, Beckett smirked at him as she understood his thoughts. Castle shrugged, finally finding his voice as he leaned against the door jamb, the space between them still too much.

"I'm…I'm really glad you called."
"Me too."

She opened the door further, granting him access to her apartment and her life. He stepped cautiously over the threshold, his hands instinctively searching for her waist as he kept his eyes on her. Beckett moved into him as she shut the door behind him, sliding her hands around Castle's neck and burying her face in his chest. He pulled her into him, Beckett's body molding against his instinctively. Kate shivered in his arms as he traced his fingers up and down her spine, prompting her to lean back and whisper against the base of his throat and she pressed a tender kiss to the exposed skin.

"I made coffee."

Hand finding his, Beckett tugged him through her apartment. Castle's eyes took in her eclectic taste, Beckett always keeping him on his toes. Her guitar was leaning against her couch. Books littered the kitchen counters, some brand new while others were obviously well read. He grinned smugly as he saw a dog eared copy of Heat Wave on the island, next to her travel mug.

"So…want to tell me again how you're not a Richard Castle fan?"

Kate turned quickly, red creeping up her neck and flushing her cheeks as he picked up the paperback version of his novel. Beckett pulled her bottom lip between her teeth, turning the flesh white with her pressure, gaze shifting from his cocky grin to the fictional version of their story. Not giving her a chance to come up with an excuse, Castle closed the distance between them and whispered against her hair as he pulled her close, breathing her in.

"No denying it now, Beckett. You're a Richard Castle freak."
"Says that man who once read me snippets from his own book to help solve a murder."

She tipped her chin, brushing her lips along his jaw. Castle fisted his fingers in her cotton shirt, her name tumbling from him as desire burned within him. She chuckled slightly before moving out of his embrace momentarily; Beckett poured him a cup of the steaming liquid and grinned up at him as he accepted the hot mug. She shrugged shyly before admitting, holding his questioning gaze with her own confident one.

"I know it's the middle of the night but coffee's always been…"

Castle nodded his understanding, fingers of his free hand skimming across the top of her pants along her toned abs as he set the coffee down on the counter. Greedy fingers pressed into her waist, pulling her flush against him. She sighed happily against Castle's chest, contentment settling over them. Castle dropped his lips to the shell of her ear, finish her sentence.

"Coffee's always been our thing."

Understanding flitted over Kate's face as he picked the mug back up and took a sip, a warm smile spreading over his face as he tasted a hint of cinnamon. Years of bringing her coffee, the simple gesture of friendship quickly growing into a subtle gesture of affection, flitted through his mind as he let the mug warm his hands. The few times he hadn't brought the drink stung now as he stared down into the dark liquid that settled in the mug on the counter.

"Did I ever tell you how much I hated Demming bringing you coffee? The barista was confused when I only got one after a year of getting two."

Hurt flashed over her beautiful features as she toyed with the collar of his shirt, memories from that difficult summer quieting them both. The summer with Gina had been empty, filled with snippy comments and the occasional bouts of hot sex. Still, Castle had spent countless hours that summer writing about Nikki Heat wishing Beckett had been the one in the Hamptons inspiring him (he only admitted that to himself, hating that he felt like Gina was just a cover for his true feelings.) Castle held onto the painful image of her kissing Demming in the precinct, hoping his mangled heart would let go of his feelings for her along the way, as he wrote her love letters through Nikki, page after page. Her words caught him off guard as he trailed her fingers over his bicep, drawing his gaze back down to Kate and the past they needed to work through.

"Did I ever tell you I wanted you to bring me coffee, and that's when I realized I wanted to say yes to go to the Hamptons with you that summer? That I was going to?"

Her words, though spoken with no malice, sliced through him. Castle jerked back to meet her eyes as he stammered, drawing inconsequential patterns on the small of back as he thought of her anger when they had seen each other again.

"I knew you were mad at me, but I thought you…and we weren't going to be go…"

Beckett's finger over his lips quieted him. He stared at her in awe as she toyed with the button on his dress shirt, her voice carrying in the silence.

"We don't talk about things. You push me to open up, and I tend to shut down. I live my life by showing, not telling. You're a wordsmith. Sometimes I wonder what…how on earth this supposed to work."

Castle opened his mouth to argue, fighting through the dread that threatened to overtake him. He fought the urge to say the words he spent all summer repeating, praying to get to say them to Kate, with her alive and well.

"Kate, I never meant…"
"I know. I just needed you to know I've wanted this-wanted us, for a while now. Even last year with…"

Hurt flashed in Kate's eyes as she trailed off, the name not needed. He ignored the stab of jealousy that raced through him as she struggled to find her words. After a deep breath Kate finally continued, cupping his cheek and brushing her thumb over the stubble on his jaw as she spoke.

"I was hiding from the truth. And I don't want to hide anymore. I've known for so long that I wanted to be with you, Rick. And I'm sorry it took almost losing you for me to admit it."

Sliding her hands around his neck, Beckett pressed up on her toes and drew his head down to her. Her kiss was gentle, knowing. The bitter bite of coffee still lingered on her lips as she nipped at his bottom lip, tugging it between her teeth. He pressed into her, pinning her body between the cool granite of the counter and his body.

He deepened the kiss, his tongue seeking whatever she was willing to give. She arched into him, instinct ruling the detective's movements. Keeping the space nonexistent between them, wanting to keep the past from separating them as well, Castle let himself get lost in her.

The feel of her fingers pressing into his neck, holding him to her. She liked to tease, pulling away slightly to let their breaths mingle before diving back in, her tongue effortlessly sliding between his parted lips. Her hips canted into his, sweet friction against his jeans that was close to unbearable. He craved the breathy moans Kate couldn't hold back as he nipped at the pulse he saw jumping below her pale skin.

She tugged his lips back to hers, strong hands framing his face to capture his attention. A happiness Castle was trying to get used to seeing in Beckett shone from her beautiful eyes, white teeth gleaming as her smile blossomed over her face.

Minutes passed or maybe hours, Castle didn't know or care. He was too wrapped up in having Kate in his arms to think about the world. Too immersed in the taste of her. Every feeling he spent months fighting roared within him as Beckett's fingers threaded through his hair, nails scraping his scalp lovingly. Tongues dueled for dominance as Castle captured her lips in a searing kiss. The words escaped before he could hold them back, the nearness of her, the flavor of her, the desire for her pulling the words from the depths of his soul.

"I love you, Kate."

Castle stilled in her arms as shock tore through him, closing his eyes tightly as his own words echoed around them. He hadn't meant to say them out loud, was too afraid of scaring her off. Castle groaned softly with frustration as she pulled back slightly, Beckett's kiss swollen lips parting with surprise. He held to her tightly as he nuzzled her hair, words suddenly failing him as Castle struggled for a way to take back the declaration of his feelings.

"I uh…I mean…I'm sorry I didn't mean to just…"

Staring at her, the unspoken truth of Kate's feelings shining in her beautiful hazel eyes, agonizing images from a sunny May afternoon haunted him. He pictured her lying on the grass, her blood staining his hands. The tear that trickled from her eye as she stared up at him, gurgling for breath as the bullet tore through her, still pierced his heart. Castle shook his head and implored her to understand as he spoke.

"No, I'm not sorry. I love you, Kate. I've been in love with you for so long. And I'm tired of trying to pretend that I don't. I'm tired of not saying the words to you. I want to tell you every day what you mean to me. That you're more than a partner to me. Kate, I love you, and I just need to you know that no matter what-"


The syllable of his name thudded in his ears along with his rampant heartbeat as Kate pressed up on her toes, a gentle kiss calming him. The air changed in that moment, tension suddenly palpable in the small kitchen. She finally admitted, her breath hitching with fear.

"I remember."

Her words stilled the chaos of his overwhelming thoughts. A deep breath from her was the only sound in her apartment, Castle's lungs holding air he was afraid to use as he tried to process her sudden declaration.


She had the decency to look away as he wrestled with his feelings of her deception, the truth knocking the breath from him. Her fingers pressed into his arms, biting into the tender skin to keep him grounded to her. He let the twinge of pain keep him focused on her now, rather than the past four months of their lives. He finally spoke the only question he could conjure as he stared down at her, hurtful tears prickling his eyes.

"Why, Kate?"

Beckett tried to move them towards the living room, intent to explain evident on her face. Castle's feet disobeyed his mind's order to follow as he stood rooted to the spot as the truth settled over them. She stayed quiet as he tried to process her lies. Unable to stand still any longer, Castle shook his head and stepped out of her tender embrace. He forced himself to ignore the flicker of hurt that passed over her features, almost welcomed the quiet fury in his voice as he hurled the painful questions at Beckett. Righteous anger pounding through his veins like blood, narrowing his focus to this sole moment in time.

"You remember being shot? You remember me begging you to stay with me? You remember me saying I love you, over and over again? And you…and we're...I can't believe you've been lying to me! You…died, Kate. I watched you die. I thought I had lost you. And then I did lose you, for three months. You stayed away, you didn't call. And then you come back and talk about your walls and how you want to be more, the whole time lying to me!"

He saw the tear slip down her cheek as Kate took his verbal blows in complete acceptance. He softened considerably at her tears, biting back his own grief at her lies. Kate took a trembling breath and hung her arms down loosely by her sides, all hint of defense gone even as his angry words filled the space between them.

"You're right. About everything. I was dying, Castle. In your arms. And I didn't know how to deal with that. I had been chasing my mother's murder so long that I was afraid to find out who I was without it. I didn't know how to walk away from that. And you were too much a part of that day right then. You saw everything, heard everything, felt everything. For God's sake Castle, you had my blood on your hands. I didn't know how to just come back from the horror. I didn't know how to just accept that you loved me, that we could get past it. I needed to be okay on my own. You deserve that part of me, Castle. That part that will always be a little closed off. I didn't want to take any short cuts, I just wanted to do everything I could to be that version for you. And I know that a part of me will always been closed off until I…"

She gripped his forearm hard, eyes seeking his out. Castle held his breath as she paused, making sure she had Castle's full attention before continuing. Her nails dug into the taut muscle of his arm, eyes pleading with him. He let her words wash over him, heal his fractured heart. She spoke openly, knowing he needed more.

"I didn't think I would be able to give you that part of me until we solved my mother's murder. But I know that's not true now. I know that I need you to help get past it. To see that I can be more than her murder. To have someone so kind and good in this world balance out the bad we see every day. I know I wouldn't survive losing you, Castle. I know that I was wrong, and I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, Castle. I'm so sorry."

She moved into him, lips ghosting over his exposed throat. He moaned softly as she nipped at his Adam's apple, his throat bobbing with emotion he tried to swallow. Needing to take Kate at her word that they could move forward together, her name fell from him in sweet relief.

"God, Kate, please let me show you that we can be more."
"Show me. Show me."

His lips crashed over hers at her proclamation; longing for Kate finally breaking free from the dam he had built around his heart. Beckett pushed into him, humming with pleasure as he opened his mouth to her. His moan was low, flitting into her receptive mouth. Kate pushed him further into her apartment, her nimble fingers reaching for his shirt. As they stood at the threshold of her bedroom, Castle's breathing ragged with desire matching Kate's; they spoke at the same time, always in sync.

"I love you."

Their hearts beat in time to the words, both ready to dive in together.