The momentary flicker of confusion vanishes from his face, the sorrow that had filled the brackets of his mouth draining as his lips part in surprise.

"I broke up with Tom and I had planned to pull you aside, ask if you were still serious about even going, but then I was - I was too late and you-"

"You were going to say yes?" he chokes, so mournful as his arms fall apart in front of him, hanging limp and forlorn at his sides. "And you…but then I - oh god, I'm an idiot."

"No, Castle," she argues, stepping closer and adding her other hand to splay at the opposite side of his torso, feeling the lattice of his ribs expand beneath her palms. "No, I should have told you sooner. Way sooner."

"It doesn't even matter. We spent the entire summer apart. What if I wouldn't have run into you at the store, would we have even-"

She has to rise on the tips of her toes to reach his mouth, allowing him a mere second of warning before her lips are fusing with his, silencing his remorse. He catches her, his hands heavy and spread wide along her waist, but stands unmoving as her fingers travel up his torso, up to caress his jaw while her tongue caresses his lower lip, the weak barrier of his mouth. He opens on a moan for her, the sound seeming to set his entire body into motion – his hands drawing the length of her against him, pressing them deliciously flush, his lips bruising but gentle against hers, his tongue seeking hers with reverent need. So much need, but still so tender.

Kate hums with pleasure, her body singing with approval at the roam of his hands along her back, slipping beneath the hem of her shirt and finding bare skin, tracing her spine. Flames flicker to life beneath under the skim of his palms, electricity running through her veins, overwhelming sparks beginning to consume every inch of her skin.

Her fingers migrate to curl at the back of his neck, toying with the fine hairs at the base of his skull, and her lips curve against his at the soft sound of delight he releases, the blissful little noise shifting to a groan as she nips at his bottom lip with her teeth-

A fresh crackle of thunder outside makes her jump, leaves her unsure if the unsteady throb of her heart has been caused by Castle or the reminder of the hurricane still raining down over New York. But Rick still looks stunned, staring down dazed at her, flexing his fingers where they've wandered beneath her shirt.

"I missed you too." The truth spills from her lips before she can sanction it, but she's glad, relieved even, to give him the honesty he deserves.

Castle's hands slip from her shirt to frame her face, the pad of his thumb sweeping along her swollen bottom lip, and she takes advantage of her hands in his hair, cradling his skull and dragging him down. His breath coats her lips and her eyes flutter closed in anticipation, but just as his mouth descends to brush against hers, a loud humming that isn't coming from the vibrations of desire traveling through her veins has them both pausing in confusion.

"Kate, look," Castle murmurs, causing her eyes to open and follow his gaze towards the window. The storm is still raging, but below, the lights of the city slowly twinkle back to life, fighting for resurrection amidst the darkness. "Power's coming back."

The power in his home is already returning, the lamp in his office flickering, the soft light of the living room and kitchen bathing his loft in gold and part of her almost mourns the loss of intimacy the glow of candles and flashlights had provided, the return of power bringing with it the return to reality. But Castle's fingers dusting at her cheeks push her sudden wariness to the back of her mind, the apprehension in his eyes reminding her that this is what she wants, this could be her new normal.

"You should wake Alexis, see if she wants her bed," she suggests, coiling her fingers around the cool shell of his ear, caressing the delicate skin with her thumb.

The soft smile on his lips grows and he kisses her again, slanting his mouth over hers and slicking her bottom lip with his tongue, causing her to arch and chase him when he begins to pull away.

"Wait for me," he instructs, breathless, but it sounds far too hopeful to be a demand, too much like a question, and she nods, humming at the final smudge of his lips to hers before he's backing away, trotting into the living room and crawling under a canopy of blankets.

Staying in his line of sight, in Alexis's line of sight, looking so obviously impatient is probably a bad idea, so she wanders towards the open door of his bedroom, drifting towards the bed as she hears the muffled beginnings of a conversation. She had been allowed a glimpse of his room earlier, during their evacuation into his closet, but now, with the soft lamplight from his bedside table illuminating the space, she takes the time to appreciate it, to admire the masculine themes and reoccurring earth tones, the canvas painting of an elephant on the wall to the left that she warms to quickly, and the chocolate spread of his comforter.

Tasteful, a place she could see herself finding home in and whoa, slow down, Kate.

Lightning flickers in the windows above the bed, but its thunderous companion has fallen quiet, diminishing to a low roar in the distance. The rain will likely continue deeper into the night, the wind too, leaving them to awaken to oceans in the street and devastation around every corner, but selfishly, the aftermath of the storm is far from her mind.

"Hey," Castle returns, hesitation blossoming in his eyes as he joins her in the bedroom, hiding the bloom of arousal upon noticing her standing beside his bed. "Alexis is tucked into bed, fell right back to sleep as soon as her head hit the pillow."

"I don't blame her. She's had an exhausting day," Kate nods, dusting her fingers along the top of his bedspread, tracing the trails of white and orange dots decorating the inviting material.

"We all have," he agrees, his eyes locked on the path of her fingers. "Are you - did you want me to walk you to your room?"

Beckett's lips quirk. "Is that supposed to be the equivalent of walking me to my door?"

"Just trying to be a gentleman," he shrugs, his mouth teasing as it spills into a grin, and she abandons her spot near his bed, strolls towards him instead.

"I appreciate that," she mumbles, feathering her hands at his sides until her fingers snag in the hem of his t-shirt, sneaking underneath to stroke at the skin of his waist, the surprisingly toned flesh of his abdomen. "But I don't think I'll be going back to my room tonight."

His adam's apple bobs in his throat and she leans forward, places her mouth to the spot, soothes her tongue over the straining tendons of his neck.

"Beckett," he gasps, hands flying to her shoulders, his thumbs hooking in the sharp ridges of her collarbones. "Kate."

Her body hums at the husk of her first name in his mouth and she scrapes her teeth beneath his jaw, over the increasing thump of his pulse. "Hmm?"

"I - I want to take thing s-slow with you," he gets out, his hands migrating from her shoulders to her back, fanning out over the wings of her shoulder blades.

Kate lowers her fingers to his hips, curls them in the waistband of the dark denim of the jeans he's been wearing all evening, drags him along with her as she begins to walk backwards towards the bed. "Then we'll go slow."

The backs of her knees hit the mattress and she descends to the bed in a graceful backbend, drawing him down with her, piercing her bottom lip with her teeth at the press of his knee between her thighs as he lowers them. The weight of his body sinking onto hers is euphoric, her every nerve ending sizzling to life after too long of being dormant, arising only for the imaginative touch of his hands on lonely summer nights, and maybe he's right, maybe they should take things slow, he only crashed back into her life a mere handful of hours ago. But she would rather make up for lost time.

He gasps when her hips roll up to collide with his, a moan spilling past his lips onto hers as one of her legs twines around his thigh, encourages the reflexive thrust of his lower body.

"Not slow," he chokes, sucking on her neck even as he attempts to deter the work of her hips. "That's not slow at all."

"We can go slow, take everything else slow," she tries to compromise, cupping his jaw and drawing his mouth back to hers, sipping from his lips and slipping her tongue inside the wet, warm cavern of his mouth and reveling in the taste of him, in the wonderful sense of finally knowing how he tastes of coffee and mint, of cinnamon and freedom and something that could be more, something like home. "But I don't want to wait anymore for this," she confesses, panting as the dance of their mouths comes to an intermission.

She strokes her fingers along the plane of his cheek, over the delicate skin beneath his eye and the severe slope of his nose, the tiny scar above his eyebrow. Learning him, wanting to know every inch. "I just want you."

Castle turns his head, smears a kiss to her palm, the inside of her wrist, before he returns to worship at the altar of her mouth.

"You're all I ever wanted from the day you crashed my book party, Kate."

They go slow. Painstakingly, beautifully slow.


He wakes to the soft grey light of early morning, the patter of rain a quiet lullaby against the windows, and to the naked expanse of Kate Beckett's back smooth and uncovered, the dark spill of her hair over his pillows, and the heat of her body beside him.

So it wasn't a dream.

Rick slips his hand across the short distance of wrinkled bed sheets between them, maps the curves and contours starting from her nape, following the relaxed line of her spine to the dip of her lower back, the dimples of her spine and the bloom of purple residing there.

Kate hums, the bones beneath his hand stretching to life as she shifts in the bed, lifting her head from her pillow and orientating her body to face him. A lazy grin spreads across her lips as the hazy green pools of her eyes land on him, her leg flexing beneath the thin sheet, extending towards him and hooking around his calf.

"Morning," she rasps, and it steals his breath, how sated and dreamy she looks with her skin glowing and her hair tousled from his fingers from the hours they spent awake in his bed last night. He had honestly thought he would awaken to empty sheets, that she might even flee the loft and take her chances in the risky weather conditions outside rather than face the choices she made last night.

But she looks anything but regretful. Though, due to his lack of response, she does suddenly look a little worried.

"Castle?"

"You have a bruise," he states, stupidly, stroking his thumb over the mottled skin at the base of her spine where a shopping cart collided with her back yesterday afternoon.

"Doesn't hurt," she assures him, easing one of her arms from beneath her chest and reaching for the worried hand on her skin. He watches in quiet fascination as she drapes his arm across her waist, arranging him how she wants as she inches closer, the leg at his calf muscle hitching to curl at his hip.

Her eyebrows lift with challenge, the tip of her nose colliding with his as she smirks, and he disregards any intentions of approaching this morning after with caution, hauling her body tighter against his and slanting his mouth over hers.

Beckett moans in approval, canting her hips into the cradle of his and splaying a hand on his bare chest, nudging him to lie on his back and allowing her the opportunity to settle atop him.

"Morning," he finally responds, his blood simmering with need, but he's in no hurry to fulfill his desire, content to enjoy this lazy morning playfulness with her.

Kate nips at his chin, the corners of her mouth cutting into her cheeks. "How long do you think we have until Alexis wakes up? I'd like to make it back to the guestroom beforehand."

"Ashamed to be seen with me?" he huffs, coasting his hands down her sides, chuckling when she squirms.

"More like trying to avoid scarring your child," she growls, exhaling hot and fast against his cheek when his palms curve over her ass and squeeze.

"It's only six," he murmurs distractedly, sparing a glance to the battery-powered alarm clock on the nightstand while he kneads the firm muscles beneath his hands. "She'll sleep another hour or two at the least."

"The streets are going to be flooded for a while," she mumbles offhandedly, her hips picking up a slow rhythm.

His mind sparks with delighted understanding while his body ignites beneath hers, and he eagerly nods. "And there will be lots of damage. Aftermath. Not safe to be out in."

"Not safe at all," she concedes, combing her fingers through his hair and staining a kiss to his eyebrow, such an odd, intimate little act that he would never expect from her, that makes him want her more.

Castle withdraws one of his hands from her flesh to caress her cheek, pushing a curled lock of her hair behind her ear. "You feel safe here?"

The lust in her eyes softens, something deeper, something far more meaningful that he doesn't dare put a name to glowing behind the gold of her irises.

"Yeah, Castle. I do," Kate murmurs.

"Mm, then you may have to stay a couple of days after all."

"May need more than a couple of days." Her lips spread into a smile over his and it's like a live wire through his chest, straight to his heart and through the pathways of his veins. "We have an entire summer to make up for."