Disclaimer: The only part of Castle that I own is the TV on which I watch the show.

The first time it happens is on a cold, rainy November night when Castle's on a business trip. He always stays in this hotel in Chicago because you can request a pet goldfish in your room, and it makes him a little less lonely. He always names the fish Wacker, because the hotel is on Wacker Drive, and although it's statistically all but impossible that this Wacker is the same Wacker as last time, he feels oddly comforted as he watches the little guy swimming around.

It's past midnight. He's exhausted after a day of interviews and meetings and glad-handing and a two-hour book signing. He misses Beckett. Misses their bed. Misses Beckett in their bed. He yawns as he looks at himself in the bathroom mirror and unzips his shaving kit. That's when he finds it: a piece of paper wrapped neatly around the handle of his toothbrush. After unfurling it and smoothing it out on the marble countertop, he decides to take it to the bedroom. He doesn't want to get water on it and he doesn't want to read it standing up. It's from his favorite detective; it deserves his total attention. She could have used the computer and printed it out; that would've been easier, but it would have diminished it. He can see her hand moving across the page, imagines her stopping and pushing the top of the pen against her upper lip while she thinks, then dropping her head back down and writing again. He considers sitting in the desk chair, but the bed is so much more inviting. He stretches out, holding the pale gray paper with both hands because it's still trying to curl in on itself.

"Have I ever told you that I love your teeth? Everyone has perfect teeth now, and it's awful. They're bleached so they look as if they're ceramic. They're straight and square and boring because everyone gets braces, even if they're middle-aged. Your teeth are beautiful because they're slightly imperfect. Your top teeth really are perfect, but the bottom ones, the four in front, are a bit crooked, and they make my heart stop. Or go faster. It depends.

"I noticed them the day we met. I wanted to kill you, you were so cocky. You were so gorgeous, too, and you knew it. But once when you smiled I could just see that little crowded, overlapping quartet, and I thought aha, finally, the flaw. It didn't matter that the flaw was so insignificant; I wondered if you were self-conscious about it.

"I love it when you nibble on me or nip me, little bites and licks. But sometimes when I run my tongue over your lips to get you to open for me, I want to tell you to wait a minute, don't open up wide yet, just let me feel those bottom incisors. They're rough against me, as though they could be a little dangerous. It's incredibly sexy.

"Go brush your teeth now and get into bed and say goodnight to Wacker! And think of me running the tip of my finger or the tip my tongue over your bottom teeth."

In the morning he stops at a stationery store across the street, buys a laminated folder that snaps shut, and puts the note inside. He can't stop smiling, so broadly that his dangerously sexy incisors are probably showing.

The next time it happens he's at home writing. It's the middle of a dreary January afternoon, and he's flagging. He wants something to eat, but doesn't know what, so he wanders into the kitchen and looks in the fridge. He doesn't even have to poke around because he finds what he wants immediately: it's in a small white box that's inside a doggy bag from the restaurant where they'd had dinner last night. Beckett had ordered creme brûlée but declared herself full after two spoonfuls. No way he was letting it go to waste, but he had his own dessert—chocolate mousse—so he asked the waiter to wrap up hers and they'd brought it home. She won't mind, will she? If he eats it? She surrendered her rights to it when she didn't finish it. She'd have left it there if he hadn't rescued it, so technically it's his. Good. He pulls the bag out of the fridge, grabs a plate and a spoon, and carries everything back to his office.

There's something taped to the top of the box. An envelope, unmarked. He peels it off, opens the flap, and draws out a piece—two pieces—of folded paper. It's from Beckett. The pale gray stationery again, covered in her handwriting.

"You're asleep, Castle. You'd think all that chocolate you ate would keep you up, but no. I had designs on you, all kinds of designs, but you conked out. I'm betting that you have designs on this creme brûlée. Am I right? I'm also betting that it's about four in the afternoon, your internal snack alarm has gone off, and you found this custardy delight straight off.

"Did you know that when we're eating at home you always finish what's on my plate? I know it's unconscious, and I wonder if it started when Alexis was little? I can picture the two of you in the kitchen, with you doing everything you can to get her to try a green bean or some chicken or a slice of mango. Smacking your lips, telling her how yummy it is as you take a bite, making her laugh. And now you eat what's on my plate. Your arm just appears and you're not even looking at it. You're talking to me, and it's as if the hand belongs to someone else, who spears the chunk of sweet potato or the mushroom or the stalk of asparagus and puts the fork in your mouth. You're big bird and baby bird, all in one.

"It should drive me nuts, but it doesn't. I want to laugh or grab the fork when it's halfway there. The weird thing is that you don't do it when other people are at the table, even if it's just Alexis or your mother. Some part of your brain censors it. After you read this you'll stop doing it for a while, be embarrassed. But I know that you'll start again without being aware of it; I wouldn't have told you if I weren't sure. It means that you're completely committed to me, and crazy as it may sound, I find it incredibly intimate. It makes me think of a really old couple I saw in the park one morning when I was out for a run. They were sitting on a bench with their take-out cups, had to be in their late 80s, and I stopped to watch them. There was a trickle of coffee on his chin and she took a hanky out of her coat pocket and dabbed it off. And then she ran her palm over his cheek and left it there. He looked at her with such love, and he took her hand and wrapped his own around it and kissed her. And they just sat serenely for a long time. I was getting cold, so I started to run again, and when I passed them they were still holding hands and they smiled at me.

"I want that to be us, a long time from now."

He opens his desk drawer, pulls the laminated folder out from the bottom, unsnaps it, and carefully places the note on top of the one that he'd found two months before, wrapped around his toothbrush in a Chicago hotel.

The third time it happens is in February, when he opens the lid of his laptop and discovers an envelope lying on the keyboard. He sees the gray stationery and feel his heart race accelerate. Two piece of papers again.

"We never dated. We went from zero to sixty in half a minute. From sixty to a hundred a minute after that. Well, okay, we were stuck on zero for more than three years, but what I'm getting at is that we didn't really know much about each other before we got together. We knew a lot—in some ways knew each other inside out—but not all the little things that most people find out while they're dating. Bits of you and bits of me. I want us to know all of them. These are some bits of me, in no particular order.

"My first grade teacher was Mrs. Reilly, who always wore a scarf. She might have had a birthmark on her neck and wanted to cover it up. I thought she was a goddess.

"I gave my first boyfriend Brut after shave for Christmas. I thought it was sophisticated. He had found his first two whiskers and insisted on shaving at least one a week. We were in eighth grade.

"The day after my mother's funeral I went to a bar with a fake ID and picked up some disgusting guy who took me out to his car. I threw up four vodka stingers all over the front seat before he could get my sweater off, thank God, and he left me in the parking lot. This is not a happy or noble memory, but it's something I think you should know.

"I always hated Barbie dolls. I couldn't understand why her feet had to be the way they were, so that she had to spend her entire life on tiptoe or in high heels. I'd probably kill for some of her shoes now, though, if they come in my size.

"The first book that I fell in love with was Number the Stars, when I was nine. It's about a Danish girl and her family in World War Two who try to help their Jewish friends get away. The first book of yours that I read was In a Hail of Bullets, which I took from my mother's nightstand one summer morning and returned in the afternoon before she could know that it was missing. Yes, I read it one sitting. Yes, I swooned over the author's photo. Early adolescent hormones, Castle.

"My favorite basic swear word is fuck, which you almost certainly realized a while ago, but if you want to know my favorite nontraditional one, you'll have to tickle it out of me. And when you do, it will be a very, very happy memory."

He puts that note in with the other two, closes the laminated folder and sits with it, on his lap, for a long time before he slips it back into the drawer.

The fourth time it happens is on the first warm weekend in spring. They had driven out to the Hamptons on the spur of the moment last night, stopping for dinner on the way. This morning Beckett wanted to take an early run on the beach, and he said he'd drive into town to get groceries, or at least something for breakfast. When he opens the car door, he spies the now very familiar, much beloved pale gray envelope propped up on the steering wheel. He decides to read the note while he's in the driver's seat. It's very short, less than a full page.

"You've never told me about the scar on your forehead, and I often wonder about it. I'm guessing that it dates to your childhood. If a school yard bully caused it, I'd hunt him down. Is he a fat self-satisfied banker, a sleaze, a lieabout? Whoever he is, I'd go so full-out, badass Beckett on him that he'd be pleading to do 5,000 hours of community service if I'd just leave him alone. I don't want that scar to be the visible reminder of something traumatic, I want it to be the result of some dopey thing you did as a kid. You built a space ship and ran into the antenna that you'd made out of a hanger, something like that.

"I notice it most it when I'm on top of you. When you're sweaty and your skin is all flushed, the scar really stands out. Sometimes when you're asleep I let my hand hover over your forehead, and then I lower it to cover the scar. I don't want you to tell me how you got it. This is one thing I like not knowing, unless it was something really monstrous, or frightening. If that's why you haven't told me, I want you to do it now. Please, Castle. I don't want to you have to keep living with that alone."

The laminated folder is at the loft, so he returns the paper to the envelope and shuts it in the glove compartment. He goes into town and gets some strawberries, which were obviously flown in from somewhere to the south, milk, juice, bagels, and cream cheese. When he's waiting in line at the market, he's surprised to find himself running the pad of his index finger over his scar.

By the time he gets home, Beckett is already in the kitchen, making coffee. He sets the grocery bag on the counter and kisses the back of her neck.

"Is the coffee ready?"

"Yup." She smiles and puts a mug in his hand.

Before she can move away, he puts his hand around her waist. "Ice hockey."

She looks completely baffled. "What?"

"My scar. I got it playing ice hockey when I was eleven."

Bafflement has been transformed into astonishment. "And you didn't tell me? Why not?"

He lets go of her hand. "Can we go sit down? Much more comfy."

"Sure." Now she looks worried. "Is the story that awful?"

He shakes his head and pulls her down onto the sofa with him. "Not awful at all. That year all my friends were playing ice hockey so I had to, too. I was terrible at it. Way beyond bad. I got the scar after I tried, without success, to steal the puck. I slid into the goal post and hit my head on it. When I was getting to my feet I knocked my helmet halfway off and stepped on my own hockey stick which smacked me on the forehead. It looked a lot worse than it was because there was blood everywhere. Bobby Michaels fainted." He's laughing. "I stopped playing that day."

"Because you were afraid. Pretty scary accident, Castle." She looks hard at him. "You're lucky it wasn't a lot worse. You could have taken out your eye."

"That's not why. I quit because I was just terrible at it. I was bad at sports and it took that to make me realize that I'd have to find a way to be accepted that didn't involve physical coordination. That's when I found out I was funny, and it saved me."

She draws her legs up and turns so that she's at a right angle to him, her knees pressed against his thigh. "Guys always like to catalogue their scars, Castle. Tell their war stories, even if they embroider them. I don't understand why you never told me about this? You've talked about all the others and this one doesn't seem to haunt you. You laughed about it just now. So how come?"

"It's stupid."

"I doubt it. You're the least stupid person I know."


"Me? What?"

"I didn't tell you about it because of you. You are a phenomenal athlete, Beckett. I knew it the first day I saw you, the way you carried yourself, the way you moved. You excel at every sport you try, so my abject failure at any of them is embarrassing."

She leans in to him, so close now that he can feel her breath on his ear. "You can run like hell when you want to, Castle. When you're motivated. I've seen you."

"Running doesn't require coordination."

"And your muscles, God almighty. Your chest," she puts a hand on his bicep, "and your arms, which you know are a huge, and I emphasize huge, turn on for me."

"Well, lifting weights doesn't require a lot of coordination, either, just a good trainer and a good spotter. I might have gone a little overboard there. I think your Doctor Burke would diagnosis it as overcompensation." He smiles. "I told you it was stupid. I love that you're so athletic, it makes sex so—"

"Shut up, Castle," she says, resting her forehead against his forearm and chuckling. "I can't believe that's what it was. All this time I've been worried, or romanticizing it."

He tips her chin up. "Your turn, Kate."

"My turn? You know everything about every one of my scars."

"Not what I'm talking about. You know I got the fourth letter this morning, since we've been talking about the ding in my forehead. And the other three times? All I ever did was say thank you. Didn't you wonder why?"

She mumbles into his arm. "Maybe a little."

"Only a little?"

"Okay, a lot." She straightens up. "Why didn't you?"

"I was so happy. And touched, and flattered, and overcome. I saved them, you know."

"You did?" She looks like a little girl when she says that. As though she's shocked that he hadn't tossed them out as soon as he's read them.

"Yeah, in a laminated folder with a clasp. I got it the morning after the first one, in Chicago. I keep them in my desk drawer and I've read them so often I might have to get them laminated, too, before they fall apart."

"How come you never asked, then?"

"I think I was afraid you'd stop writing them."


"Really." He runs his hand to the back of her head and pulls the elastic out of her ponytail to let her hair loose.

"Then why did you talk about this one?"

"Because you were worried and I didn't want you to be. Because I'm fine. As fine as I've ever been in my life. Finer. And now I'm going to ask, because much as I didn't want you to stop, I was dying to know, am dying to know, why you wrote them."


"Nikki? As in Heat?"

"You know any other Nikkis, Castle?" She pinches his thigh. "Should I be worried about another woman?"

"No. You're my one and only. Well, you and Nikki, but you're kind of the same person. Partly. Don't pinch me again."

"Okay. You've written tons of books. I wrote those notes because you wrote Nikki. Write Nikki. You write books for me, Castle. This is my insubstantial way of saying thank you. For changing my life and for sticking with me and being in love with me. You write for everyone, in a way. Everyone who reads your books, even if you're not exactly thinking of them when you do. So that why I wrote what I did: in case no one's ever written anything for you."

He's quiet for such a long time that she's nervous. Finally she asks, "Castle? Rick?" She thought that she'd seen everything there could be in his eyes, but she's never seen this. It's soft and intense and consuming.

"Are you hungry, Kate?"

"Sort of."

"Can you wait a while for breakfast?"

"Sure, but—is there a reason?"

"Yes. Because no. No one had ever written anything for me until you did. And I want to go to bed with you right now. I want to take all your clothes off you and I want you to run your tongue against my teeth. I want you to lie on top of me when we're both slick and sweaty, and not have you pay any attention to the scar on my forehead. I want to make you come four times, once for each of your perfect letters. And then I want to have breakfast in bed with you and eat off your plate when you don't finish your bagel, and dab a trickle of coffee off your chin. I want you to tell me all about Number the Stars and your first-grade teacher Mrs. Reilly and your eighth-grade boyfriend who smelled of Brut. And then I want to crush you against my chest and have you tell me what you liked best about In a Hail of Bullets and I want to tickle you until you tell me your favorite nontraditional swear word. And then while you're still naked I want to go online and find Barbie heels in your size. Okay?"

"Okay. But Castle?"


"I want to take all your clothes off you, too."

A/N From a prompt by mobazan27: "In case no one's ever written anything for you."