Set after Tick Tick Tick / Boom. There is a photo that accompanies this fic, although it isn't required to understand the story. It (as well as this fic) can be found at castleincalifornia dot tumblr dot com slash post slash 115526344354.

They've been here three days.

On the morning of that third day, he wakes to find her in his room, beside his bed, and he watches in stunned disbelief as she sheds her robe and stands before him. Naked.

Not that he's complaining. He's so not, but how on earth did they get here?

Until now, he's intentionally kept the flirting to a minimum. Kept the loaded comments to himself for once. He's gone out of his way to make her feel at home, make her comfortable. He's done nothing but make innocent conversation all weekend long about his daughter and the shops in the nearby village and redecorating the house because in the end, this trip wasn't supposed to be about the innuendos or the subtext or their thinly-veiled attraction.

He wanted it to be about her.

Her apartment had been blown up (with her in it, oh by the way), most of her belongings incinerated. She'd had a serial killer fixated on her, determined to make her play his sick game, intent on making her his next victim, and he almost succeeded. He'd come so close…too close.

At first, Castle had deemed it inappropriate to tell her just how relieved he was that she was alive, how brilliant and brave she was to have outwitted that psychopath's manipulations, how thrilled he was that she reluctantly accepted his invitation to get out of town and come with him to the Hamptons following her ordeal. But the wine was flowing last night after dinner, and the words just gushed out, no way for him to stanch the flood any longer.

Suddenly he was using words like terrified and grateful and wanting, talking about how he was worried he'd be left with regrets, how there was so much he'd still wanted to say to her, do with her. How he wanted to find out who they could be together, how extraordinary he thought they might be.

He realized it was a mistake almost instantly, the moment the words left his lips. Kate's reaction gave it away, how her mouth hung ajar, the pretty pink flush of embarrassment steadily making its way up her chest and cheeks, and God help him, all he could think about was tasting the spot on her neck where he knew her pulse had to be racing as hard and fast as his was.

And then a far-off horn had sounded and the fragile moment was broken, Kate standing unsteadily with a watered-down smile, clearing her throat and politely excusing herself to turn in for the night. He watched the long, lithe lines of her backside as she climbed the stairs, every step taking her further away from him, any potential future they might have had shrinking into nothingness, until she disappeared from sight altogether and his heart sunk lower still into his aching, churning belly.

Oh God. He'd screwed up. Royally. Perhaps permanently. Maybe…maybe tomorrow they could pretend that he'd never let the words pass his lips, that they'd never fallen upon her ears. Maybe they could still just be Castle and Beckett, partners and adversaries and platonic with no expectations. Maybe.

He sat there for a long time after her departure, angry with himself for upsetting their delicate balance, for allowing his mouth to run away unchecked, wondering if he'd be able to forgive himself if he chased her off for good this time. But there was nothing else to be done about it that night, so he turned off the lights and trudged up the stairs, unceremoniously stripping off his clothes and crawling into bed in the hopes of temporarily forgetting his behavior. He tossed and turned for at least another hour before falling into a fitful sleep.

He's not sure what rouses him in morning. (Was that his door clicking shut? Is that a rustle of fabric he hears?) His eyes open on the blank canvas of the ceiling, and he slowly tries to blink away his mortification from the previous evening, to no avail. He's going to have to face the music this morning.

He catches movement out of the corner of one eye then, and when he turns, there she is. Kate, her figure draped in a silky robe and a mysterious look adorning her face.

What…what is she doing in here?

Before he can form the words, she's already untied and parted her robe, allowing it to slip from her shoulders, revealing her nakedness underneath. He knows he's staring, his breath coming in short pants and his eyes going comically wide, his mouth trying to work around the syllables that refuse to emerge.

And then she's crawling onto the bed, hovering over him, drawing the sheet away to reveal his own naked state, and under any other circumstances, he would at least try to maintain a modicum of modesty, but she's already stolen his thoughts and his words and the breath from his lungs. His arousal is becoming painfully obvious, but still he makes no move to cover himself, no move to stop her.

Finally, finally, he gasps out Kate as she straddles him, draping herself over him, aligning their bodies, their skin kissing intimately everywhere in between. He flushes hot, his arms still lying loosely at his sides, his flesh set ablaze where she teasingly shimmies against him, and good God, what is going on?

He's paralyzed, afraid that any sudden moves will disrupt the gossamer threads of what must almost certainly be some dream his overwrought mind has concocted to torment him further. Just when he thinks he's gathered himself enough to produce speech, she touches her lips to his, softly and so tentatively at first, but neither of them is satisfied with the innocent contact and within moments their mouths are fused, kissing deeply, their tongues engaged in a most heavenly dance, their hands and fingers now roaming freely, limbs tangling to draw the other ever closer.

She reluctantly pulls away from his mouth, taking mercy on him and doing the speaking for the both of them, whispering against his damp, swollen lips.

"Did you mean it? All the things you said last night…did you mean them?"

Her eyes are so dark, so bottomless, and he worries he might drown in them, in her, but he needs to answer, needs to tell her the truth. She needs to know. Whatever happens next hinges on that truth.

"Yes. Yes, I meant every word. I want you. I want every part of you."

Her answering smile is everything, the sun, moon, and stars combined, putting every celestial entity in the sky to shame with her light. She touches her lips to his again, a slow, sweet smudging that seems to impart an agreement to him, that she's here now, she's willing, and they're going to give this a try, whatever this is.

He almost levitates from the bed in elation, because she's here, warm and enticing and alive, soft and silky in his arms, the velvet of her skin and the steel of her muscle wrapped around his body, and if he has anything to say about it, anything at all, he's never, ever letting her go. They're going to be amazing together. He's never been so certain of anything in his life.

And then they're kissing again, deeply, eagerly, their bodies moving in sync and already way better at this than they have any right to be, but it's like they just know, intimate and connected and reading what the other wants and needs right now. They explore each other freely, and he uses that newfound freedom to run his hands up and down her sides and back, palming her breasts, finally dipping to cup her between the legs. The heat and moisture pouring from her almost breaks him, her body shuddering at the contact and her nails digging into his shoulders as she clings to him desperately and rides his hand, a series of erotic whimpers falling from her lips as she so obviously delights in his touch.

He captures her groan of satisfaction in his mouth, his tongue painting hers with their mutual desire for more, for something harder and faster and wild, something entirely out of their control. She tugs on his wrist, pulling him away from her center, but his disappointment is fleeting as she lowers herself against him, her desire sliding slippery and hot along his rigid length, and they're both overcome by the sensation of that intimate contact, their moans and gasps of pleasure filling every empty space in the room.

God, she feels so good, and he presses his forehead to hers to slow their ministrations for just a moment, to revel in the fact that they're here, they're alive, they're finally doing this. He wants to absorb it all, catalog her every reaction to his touch, every sigh and shiver she produces. He thinks he may have never wanted this so much, to give a woman pleasure, to see the effect he has on her. This is what Kate Beckett does to him.

And then he's gritting his teeth, releasing a loud moan as she finally mounts him, his girth spreading her wide, sliding into her wetness unhindered and settling in the hottest, deepest parts of her. He watches her breathlessly as she throws her head back, her lips parted on a gasp of pleasure at being filled, by him. Oh yes, he wants to do that to her again, over and over. That's the moment he realizes it, that he'll never, ever get enough of this woman. They've only just begun and already she owns him.

Their hips begin moving then, divine undulations of skin against bone, hard pressing into soft, her torso wavering and weaving over his, riding him and possessing his soul without even trying. She's so gorgeous, her chest thrust out and inviting his hands to engulf her breasts once again, his fingers playing her flesh like they've been doing this forever. He can only watch as her body dances over his, wave after wave of ecstasy and rightness moving through him with every thrust of her hips, every clench of her thighs, every fluttering of her lashes as she fights to keep her eyes open.

The precipice draws nearer with every push, every time his length plunges into her body, her velvety wetness caressing him on all sides. He wants…no, needs for her to come first, her pleasure so paramount to him, no goal ever having been so important in his life. He dips a finger into her, stroking so close to where they're joined, almost undone by the feeling of her stretched taut around his shaft. Sliding slippery and slick around her clit, he's once again thrilled at the newness of this contact, reveling in the fact that they have so much more to discover, that this is just the first time they're making love. Maybe their last first time.

Her muscles clench when he makes contact with her nerves, her nails digging into the muscle of his biceps where she's holding on for dear life, and he steels himself against the instinct to just take and take and take from her because nothing has ever felt this good, this right. He continues to work her clit with one hand, the other hand gripping her hip to the point bruising, dragging her down onto his length as he thrusts up, over and over, both of them so, so close now.

She breaks first, her movements stuttering and then halting altogether as her back bows and bends in pleasure, his hips and hands still working her as she rides it out, the whole of her body pulsing and flushed, mouth open as she pants and breathes out tiny exclamations of euphoria, a chorus of oh oh oh yes flowing uninhibited from her lips.

Her muscles clench and squeeze relentlessly at him, begging him to join her in that abyss, and he follows without pause, surging into her once, twice, three more times before he's there, the explosion of bliss that begins in his midsection crackling and spreading into every limb, every digit, making the crown of his head prickle with it. His own voice joins in harmony with hers, a strangled, unhinged oh Kate escaping into the space between them, the intensity of it exploding like fireworks, a cascade of brilliant hues projected onto his eyelids as they slam shut at his peak.

Her body falls limp against him then, clutching helplessly at his shoulders as they ride out the aftershocks, every wave that moves through them drawing a whimper of pleasure from her lips, a rumble of satisfaction from deep within his chest. They finally slow and stop, both of them panting and clinging tightly to the other, their closeness suddenly vital and necessary, neither making any move to detach, to untangle…to run away.

His breathing gradually slows as he kisses her damp forehead, reminding himself that no, this wasn't a vivid dream; that the reality of Kate Beckett turned out to be so much more than he ever expected, that she truly is extraordinary, that he honestly had no idea. All he wants now is to do that again, as often as their bodies will allow them. He wants to be the one to give her that gratification, draw those exquisite sounds of ecstasy from her lips, watch her face contort as the rapture of his touch takes her apart, again and again.

He's broken from his musings when she rises over him, her eyes glassy and half-lidded, but there's no doubt there, no fear. She's not avoiding, not running, and it sends a thrill through him, a warm feeling of belonging - and dare he say it, love - settling into the previously empty spaces within his chest. She's different, special, and God, how he wants her, all of her, everything she's willing to give him now and hopefully more as time progresses.

He wants her forever.

She kisses him softly then, her mouth warm and pliant against his, and it tastes remarkably like a promise, that yes, she wants this too, and no, it won't always be easy, but it might just be the most worthwhile thing they've done in a very long time. They lie there for a few minutes more, not speaking but passing their promises and newfound commitments between the soft smudging of their lips.

He understands. He's pretty sure she does, too.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read. This is my contribution to the Castle Pornado, although it ended up being far more emotional and far less PWP-ish than I had intended! I do hope you enjoyed it though, and if you feel so inclined, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks to Morgan for the quick're a wonderful beta and an even better friend. Your encouragement (and willingness to let me vent on occasion) means so very much to me.