A/N: Another photo prompt, set around the time of 1x04: "Hell Hath No Fury" this time. The prompt photo is the cover art again or you can see it on Twitter.
Kate tapped on the doorframe, knuckles knocking lightly so as not to startle or disturb the peace. "Hey. Am I…interrupting?"
A cup of coffee sat cooling on the desk, fresh-ground beans filling the air with the most delicious aroma. An open notebook, assorted pens, an antique brass compass and several bar napkins cluttered the surface, but in a stylish, eclectic way. Castle's shirt sleeves were rolled up to the elbows, exposing tan forearms and the black leather strap of a chunky watch. He seemed to be hard at work, writing.
Kate absorbed the scene in an instant, soaking up detail after detail without even trying; this skill a by-product of her job. The longer she looked, the more she saw. Castle looked so relaxed, comfortable here in his home, dressed in a plaid shirt and slippers, while he sat plotting. Or whatever he was doing. There were no fancy cocktails, no designer suit or bimbo on his arm. No celebrity party to attend, no red carpet event or glitzy premiere. No, he looked different than she imagined he would look outside of the Precinct. He looked approachable, normal.
"Beckett!" Castle dropped his pen and struggled to his feet, clearly surprised to see her.
Witnessing his delight at finding her suddenly standing on the threshold of his home office, Kate felt her face grow warm. He was so obviously pleased that she was there. "Your mom…" She thumbed over her shoulder. "She let me in. But you're busy…I can see. I don't want to—"
"No!" Castle interjected, snatching up a yellow legal pad in an attempt to cover the sprawl of detritus and…doodles littering his work surface.
Kate peered closer, her attention drawn by his evasive behavior. "Is that a sketch…of me?" she asked, heading towards the desk with hand outstretched towards one doodle in particular - a fountain pen outline of a woman, sketched on a small, white napkin.
"It's…I'm calling my new character Nikki Heat." He said this as if confessing to a crime, which in a way he was.
Kate frowned. "The character you're basing on me?"
Castle nodded. Actually, he part nodded, part flinched. Before she could comment on the name, he wisely rushed on. "Yeah, and so Gina started talking cover art this afternoon. She was angling for some montage of handgun, badge, bullet casings, partial drivers' license, blood droplets…you know the kind of thing. Bo-ring," Castle sing-songed.
"Same old thriller cliché." Kate nodded. Even she looked a little disappointed.
She managed to pick up the napkin while Castle's attention was on her face. The drawing wasn't bad. It depicted a willowy, curvaceous woman with long hair and dark clothing, wearing high-heeled boots and a brandishing a gun. It was sexy, provocative: a kind of Bond Girl version of Detective Kate Beckett. And it had come straight out of Castle's imagination.
Before she could think to control her mouth or filter her thoughts, Kate blurted, "I feel like I'm witnessing one of your dreams."
(Yeah, wet dreams, she added to herself.)
Castle's discomfort seemed to shimmer for a moment, like heat waves on a long stretch of summer road, before it cooled, setting into a predatory, self-assured smile. "Really?" he grinned, deciding she'd just paid him a huge compliment.
Kate crossed her arms over her chest, protecting or attempting to cover herself, since she suddenly felt rather exposed whenever Castle looked right at her. "If you make some crack about how I'm the girl of your dreams, I'm leaving right now."
The writer ignored her threat. "Is that so hard to believe?"
"Castle," she admonished, dropping the napkin back onto his desk like a hot potato and backing away.
"What? You don't think I could…go for someone like you?"
Her heart started to hammer. She looked apprehensive, uneasy. "Stop fooling around."
"What if I'm not fooling, Beckett?" He took a step towards her. "Am I making you nervous?"
"Nervous? Pfft, no! You're just enjoying this a little too much."
"It's…" he consulted the massively expensive wrist watch, "…just after 9.45pm. On a school night. What's a naughty girl like you doing at my loft, hmm? Unless—"
Kate leveled him with a super-chilly stare. "Let me repeat: your mother let me in. We have a chaperone. So I hardly think this equates to climbing in through your bedroom window." She looked past Castle at the dark, SoHo night beyond the office glass. "Though admittedly I'd have to be some kind of cat burglar to want to attempt that particular feat. And I doubt it would be worth my while," she added, witheringly.
Castle spluttered. The aroused grin that came from imagining her dressed head-to-toe in a leather catsuit dissolved off his face in an instant, as he turned prideful predator, puffed up with indignation. "Not worth your while? Beckett, you sneak into my bedroom late at night, via window, door or airshaft. Hell, show up with a freaking marching band, and I will make it worth your while. I can promise you that."
How this simple conversation had turned into a sexual challenge was beyond Kate. In fact, even Castle looked a little surprised by his own outburst. He recovered well. "Why are you here, anyway? Did we get a body drop?"
Kate looked at the floor. An awkward silence filled up the room and began oozing out through the gaps in the bookshelves and into the main living space. "I—"
She harrumphed, jamming her hands into the pockets of her jeans in embarrassed frustration. "I came about today."
"Yeah, at the crime scene. The…the "muse" thing. It's embarrassing," she whispered, dropping her air-quotes.
"Let me get this straight. You came over to my house in the dead of night—"
"I'd hardly call—"
"In the dead of night, Detective, to ask me—"
"No, to tell you."
"Not to call you my muse?"
"Or private. Or anywhere for that matter."
"Can I at least do it in my head?"
"Do wh…what in your head?" Kate's face turned scarlet as soon as these words were out of her mouth for the artless way they laid her dirtier thoughts bare.
"Why, Detective, you look a little flustered. Maybe a little warm too." He reached out to touch her forehead with the back of his hand.
Kate took a step back, straight into the bookcase. "Don't touch me," she hissed, flinching away from him.
"Am I so repugnant to you?" Though he asked the question, he didn't look as if he believed what he was asking for a second. Not in any way.
"Not…no," she frowned and shook her head. "Not repugnant per se, just— Look, there are lines, Castle."
"Lines? Care to tell me what those might be? Because where I come from, turning up at a guy's apartment late at night, you're usually there to cross a few lines."
"Your mother is outside," Kate hissed.
"Yeah, and for what it's worth, she's probably listening in right now."
"Jeez," Kate cursed, glancing over her shoulder.
"How about I pour you a nice glass of wine and we—"
"No! Absolutely not."
Castle held up his hands. "Okay, how about a snack?"
"No food and no drink. I just came over…"
"To ask if you would mind not referring to me as your muse…like ever again. If we have to work together, let's be civil. Let's be adult. Let's be…"
Castle took a step closer. Kate's eyes were now trained on his mouth and her vision was slipping into soft focus. "Yes?"
She swallowed thickly. "Let's be… Mmpf—"
Kate groaned when Castle's lips skimmed hers, stumbling backwards when his hands gripped her shoulders at the same instant he claimed her mouth.
Silence. Apart from some muted whimpering and the shifting of feet, the soft whisper of clothing being disrupted by the eagerness of wandering hands, and maybe the occasional pant or grunt and the wet parting of lips gulping for air. That, along with some heavy breathing, was all that broke the silence in the loft while these two made out as if they were the last man and woman on earth.
When they finally broke apart, Kate's lips were bruised and reddened, kiss-swollen, while Castle's looked glossy and damp. Her face and neck were flushed and her eyes shone. Her hair was mussed from the desperate work of Castle's fingers, and all she could think to whisper was, "Martha."
Castle cupped her face in his hands, holding her steady for a second until he was certain that she was focused, and then he kissed her gently on the lips. "Gone to bed already," he grinned, resting his forehead again hers. "Needs her beauty sleep."
Kate swatted her hand against his chest in annoyance, but he held her firmly, and eventually her scowl broke into a grin.
"That's better," Castle nodded, letting his hands slip back down to rest on her waist. "You have a beautiful smile, Kate Beckett. You should break it out more often. I, for one, would like to see much more of your smile. In fact, I'd like to see much more of you, period," he whispered, as he stroked her hipbones through her jeans with his thumbs.
Kate bit her lip and looked at the floor. Slowly, she dragged her gaze up to meet his, disappointment and reluctance bleeding out the longer she looked. She shook her head slowly. "Castle, we can't."
"Because we work together. There are rules."
"Then I'll stop following you. Simple as that."
"We're too different."
"You want me. I can feel it."
She looked saddened when she said, "I won't be another one of your conquests, Castle. No." She reached for his hands, to remove them from her hips, but he gripped her harder.
"You could never be anyone's conquest, Kate," he whispered, leaning in close enough to smell her hair, brush her cheekbone with his jaw, and then tenderly kiss her temple, before he reluctantly let go and took a step back.
Now that they were standing a couple of feet apart, Kate looked as if she didn't know what to do. She straightened her sweater where it had gotten a little rucked up, but pretending there was nothing between them when her whole body was on fire, alive from his touch, and she felt more turned on than she'd felt in years, was a near impossibility. Desire was written all over her face, as much as lust for the writer churned through her blood on the inside. She could tell he was reading all of this just by looking at her.
"What happens now?" Castle asked, before she could even formulate the question, let alone an answer. "Have I burned my bridges?"
"Tonight wasn't all on you, so no." She shook her head and looked away.
"Does that mean I was right? You want me too?"
"Why do you always have to be right?" Kate snapped, terrified by being put on the spot like this. Of course, she also used this tactic to avoid answering his more difficult question.
"Oh, you're one to talk, Miss By-the-Book, Know-It-All."
Kate threw up her hands in exasperation. "Look at us. Arguing not a minute after we were…"
"Making out?" Castle suggested, his smile sly and teasing.
"That what the cool kids are calling it these days? I'd have thought you were a little too—"
"Please don't say old," he begged.
Kate grinned. "Mature…for such things."
"Better. Mature is definitely better. And no, you're never too old for a good make out session. Get's the heart pumping and…other things going too."
Kate laughed in spite of herself. Her cheeks reddened again at the vivid images being conjured up by his last risqué suggestion.
"You're so adorable when you blush, you know that?"
"Why do you like me so much? Hmm? How can you say all these nice things to me when I'm…I'm pretty horrible to you at the precinct?"
Castle shrugged. "You think I don't know how annoying I can be?"
Kate frowned. "So why do it?"
"Did a little boy never pull your pigtails in school?"
"Are you trying to tell me that you like me?" Kate laughed. "Is annoying me your version of pigtail-pulling?"
Now it was Castle's turn to look embarrassed. He shifted from foot to foot. "Pretty much. Look, I'm not good at—"
"Oh, bullshit. You? Mr. Page Six? You think I don't know you couldn't charm the panties off any woman you wanted?"
"Any woman?" Kate looked like she'd walked herself right into a trap. "Then my next question is, why does my charm not work on you?"
"Maybe I'm not just any woman," Kate shrugged, realizing too late that her answer maybe sounded just a little too smug.
"Got that right."
"And maybe…" She bit her lip.
"Maybe you're not working hard enough."
That line, the one they weren't supposed to cross, just went from theoretical to non-existent.
"Let me take you out to dinner?" The invitation was impulsive, but no way would Castle ever take it back. Not even if she said no. He wanted his intentions to be clear.
"What about your work at the precinct?"
"If I had the choice of never writing another book or going out on a date with—"
Kate stepped in close and put a finger to his lips. "Shhh, don't say it. Don't ever say that."
"You have to keep writing." She couldn't tell him why, not yet. But one day she would explain.
"Okay. But what about—"
"Can you keep your mouth shut?"
Kate nodded and Castle so nodded back, his gaze locked with hers. His eyes were so beautiful, she'd never noticed how much before now. "And you promise never to call me your muse in public again?"
Castle nodded even harder against the beginnings of a shared grin.
"Then we'll figure something out."
Martha smiled to herself as she turned on cat-like feet and finally headed for the stairs. She grinned even wider at the sound of a high-pitched giggle, when Castle scooped Beckett up and carried her from the office to the bedroom. The door slammed and a girlish shriek broke the quiet of the loft when two tangled bodies bounced together on a luxurious mattress.
How long their little secret could remain hidden, only time would tell, but that these two would be good for one another was the only certainty that mattered.
Thank you for reading.