all the stars above our heads

A 2x24 AU

This is an absurdly late birthday fic for the amazing Lindsey. I'm so sorry this took me so long, and I hope you like it! (And I did take your reply to the tags on this post - bunysliper tumblr post / 146330794666 - as a prompt!) <3 <3


"Castle, this place is breathtaking."

Stopping halfway around the front of his car, her companion fumbles with his keys. "I – you like it?"

"It's huge," she says, though her head bobs with an actual answer.

"It's not that big."

Kate Beckett snorts, allowing her eyes to lift skyward. Richard Castle's house in the Hamptons is not small by any stretch of the imagination, and it's going to be her home away from home for the long weekend.

What has she gotten herself into?

Fun. That's what she's gotten herself into. A weekend of fun, rest, good food, and questionably legal fireworks with a friend.

Right. A friend.

Lanie is a friend, Rick Castle is… more than that. They both know it – the entire precinct apparently knows it, judging by the triumphant looks they received when she pulled him aside and stumbled through a speech that culminated in a breathy half-question of whether his offer to come with him for the weekend was still open. No, Castle's not just a friend, not with the low simmer of attraction that's been between them since the night he brandished a sharpie, offering to sign her chest, and she countered by flashing her badge. Not with the fierce relief that washes over his face every time they make it out of a tough situation unscathed. Not with the fact that it's his face she sees when she closes her eyes at night, even after spending pleasant, perfectly enjoyable evenings with another man.

So no, Castle isn't just a friend. And that means this weekend is going to be something.

Whether it's something insane and the start of something new, or a terrible, terrible idea, she hasn't quite figured out just yet.

"It's not," Castle insists, pulling her from her contemplation once more. "Come on, I'll open a bottle of wine and give you the tour."

Kate releases a breath, offering him a mocking smile. "Okay, fine. Dazzle me with how tiny this place is."

Her companion's eyes narrow. "No need to be insulting."

Feigning innocence, she shoulders her bag and slips her hand into the crook of his elbow. "How am I being insulting? You're the one insisting it's not the size of the vacation house, but the accouterments."

Castle licks his lips. "That is so hot."

"Mmm. You would appreciate that."

"Yes, well, your extensive vocabulary is just one of your many fine features."

Her face flushes; he's made no secret of his appreciation for her other "fine" features over the last year, but acknowledgements of her intellect, of how evenly matched they are, send an extra thrill down her spine.

"Not so bad yourself, Castle," she hears herself murmur.

His breath catches, but he recovers without fanfare, striding forward on sure feet to unlock the front door and usher her into a grand entryway.

The quiet thanks he breathes probably isn't meant for her, but as she steps into his home, she hears it anyway.

Any potential response she could give him is stolen as she looks around. Evening sunlight streams in from high windows in the living room, bathing everything in a soft glow.

Already she can picture herself curled up at the end of that long couch, legs curled underneath her, a book perched on her knee. Already she can picture Castle stretching out beside her, taking up the length of the rest of the chair with his body. Her hand twitches, already feeling the soft tickle of his hair between her fingers, the rasp of his stubble against her palm.

Oh.

Castle nudges her forward. "It's a great foyer, but there is more to the house than that."

"The foyer's the size of my first apartment," she drawls, shaking the daydream – the ragged pangs of want – aside in favor of teasing him.

They're so good at teasing.

"If that's the case, where'd you fit all your shoes?"

She swats his chest, letting his rumble of laughter fuel her own.

Castle's hand lifts, his broad palm engulfing hers. "Don't think I didn't notice that you didn't answer that."

Rolling her eyes, she lets him tug her along, following him through the cozy living room to the ridiculous chef's kitchen that somehow still manages to feel like home, stopping at the wide French doors that separate them from the spacious, lush green of the lawn. The ocean peeks out on the horizon, enticing, inviting, calling to her.

"We can go out there next, if you want to drop our stuff here and come back for them later?"

Her weekender bag isn't heavy, and she should just take it to her bedroom, but the thought of leaving it in a heap and heading down to the beach is too tempting to ignore.

"Yeah. Let's do that."

His bag joins hers without another word. "Down to the water we go. Don't worry, there's a path. Though you may want to take your shoes off and roll up your pants when we get there. It looks like the tide is coming in."

"Yes, dad," she singsongs, following him across the manicured lawn to the gate that separates his property from the beach access path. Castle's head turns, his tongue poking out.

She tries to be stern, to roll her eyes and nudge him, but silliness grips her and her own tongue sticks out in retaliation. They laugh together, bumping shoulders on their way through the gate and down the weathered steps to the beach.

It's only after they've been walking for a while that she realizes he's still holding her hand.


When they return from their walk, Castle scoops up both of their bags, shouldering them without a word – and without letting go of her hand – to finish the tour. She sees a pristine dining room and an office that probably doubles as a library, but unlike earlier, the beauty is lost on her, blanketed by the warmth of his fingers against the back of her hand, the security in his grip.

Castle gives her the room with the best view (second to his own, of course), leaving her to unpack and make herself comfortable while he does the same at the other end of the hall. she's still taking everything in – the soft mint and white decor, the tranquility of the water beyond her window – when he traipses past her door, declaring that he's going to start dinner.

"You okay?" he asks, leaning against the doorjamb.

Kate glances up, clutching her bathing suit to her chest. Castle's eyes dip, and she sees his tongue slip out to wet his lips.

Jeez, give the man a glimpse of a bikini and this is his reaction; what's he going to do when she actually wears it?

"Yeah," she answers, lifting an eyebrow. "Should I be asking you the same question?"

His lips twist. "Funny."

"No really, Castle," she murmurs, tossing the scraps of spandex toward the bed, watching his eyes follow their flight path before he seems to remember she's here. "You look a little flushed."

"What? No, I'm okay. I'm great. I'm just gonna… gonna go start dinner now."

He skirts away from the door, leaving her to chase after him.

"You sure? We could go for a dip in the pool?" she calls, dragging her teeth over her lip when he groans.

"So mean, Beckett."

Kate grins, resting her temple against the doorframe, watching him disappear down the stairs. Maybe a little bit, yeah.

Turning back to her room, she takes stock of everything once more. When they had pulled up, she'd expected the interior of the house to be as ostentatious as the exterior, but she'd been surprised. The house is still huge, no matter what Castle says, but it doesn't feel like a mansion. It just feels like a home; somewhere warm and comfortable. Somewhere special.

Her clothes look nice nestled in the dresser drawers beside two of Castle's spare blankets, but she can't help but wonder what they might look like cozied up beside his weekend wear.

Castle smiles when she pads into the kitchen, nodding toward a glass of red wine waiting on the counter.

"For you."

"Thanks. Is there anything I can do to help?"

His head shakes. "Not a thing. Sit, relax. It's your vacation; allow me to pamper you."

A protest is on her lips, but he's having none of it. Moving around the peninsula, he steers her to one of the bar stools across from his workspace and hands her the wine.

"There, perfect."

Fine. She'll give him this one, this time to be her host. Curling her fingers around the stem of her glass, she settles back to watch him work.

"What are you making?"

"It's a surprise."

"It's grilled steak tacos, isn't it?"

Castle shifts, his lips pursing once before he opens his mouth to speak.

"How did you –"

"The tortillas, the limes, the cilantro, the various peppers."

He grins. "Very good, Detective."

One shoulder lifts. "I am, yes. But I also saw the recipe on your phone."

Her partner looks scandalized. "Katherine Beckett, that is totally cheating."

"How is that cheating?" she scoffs. "I'm a detective, it's what I do; I detect."

"Yes, but looking at my phone for the recipe is just cheating."

Beckett rolls her eyes, hiding a smirk behind the rim of her wine glass. "Didn't look at your phone for the recipe, Castle. Looked at your phone to make sure you weren't taking pictures I'd have to kill you over."

"I am appalled that you think I would take pictures like that… while you're awake."

He laughs behind the dish towel she flings over his face.

"Shut up and make me dinner."

Castle circles his finger over her head. "Poof. You're dinner."

"That was terrible. You should be ashamed."

He grins, moving back to the cutting board and lifting the knife. Of course he's proud of that awful joke. Of course he is.

"Alexis gives me that look, too."

"Hmm?"

"That look," he explains, gesturing to his own face. "The 'how do I put up with you' look."

"You tend to not give us much of a choice," she drawls, grinning as he pretends to pout.

"Well, now it's really just you," he starts. She sees his shoulders slump for real this time. "I can't believe she's spending the entire summer at college. The loft will be so empty without her."

Now it's just you.

Her heart stumbles in her chest, thudding hard against her sternum.

"Thought you were staying here for the rest of the summer," she murmurs, looking up at him from under her lashes.

"I – well," he stumbles, flattening his palms against the counter top. "I thought –"

He thought he would bow out, lick his wounds here in private.

"Castle, I –"

"But I can come back. If that's… if you –"

Kate nods, feeling the bloom of joy in her belly. "Yeah. That'd be, yeah."

Castle brightens. "That's – great. Then I will be there."

"After you finish the book," she adds, watching as his face falls. God help her, it's adorable. "Castle, I'm not fielding calls from your ex-wife all summer long."

"Right. Yes. Yes. I'll finish next week. This weekend is ours."

Theirs. She doesn't mind the sound of that.

"Better get it done," she says, taking a slow sip of her wine, "otherwise you're gonna miss the fun ones."

His brow furrows. "Fun ones?"

"Full moons and summer heat, Castle; we get all the crazies."

Her – friend? Partner? – Castle beams. "Well that definitely sounds like something worth seeing!"

Beckett taps the rim of her glass, leaning back in her chair once more.

"Better write fast then."

"Done."

She's heard him assert a need to write half a dozen times throughout their partnership, but this time she actually believes he won't spend his entire writing sprint playing Rock Band.


They eat dinner side by side in lounge chairs on his patio. He's already promised to pull a small table and Adirondack chairs out for them to eat breakfast in the grass come morning, but the chairs adjacent to the grill are perfect for tonight.

The first few minutes of their meal are spent in silence, the need for food taking precedence over social graces and conversation, but with the pangs of hunger subsiding, she finds herself leaning across the cushion, gravitating toward him.

"These are great, Castle," she says, taking another bite of her food. Juice spills over her fingers, dribbling down her chin and pooling at her collarbone.

Beside her, Castle chortles. "I'm glad. Here, messy."

"Shut up," she says, snatching the proffered napkin from his hand and dabbing at her skin.

Her muttered ire only makes him laugh harder. "I did the same thing a few minutes ago, when you were closing your eyes and making that noise that really should be illegal."

"Uh huh. So what you're saying is you'll probably do it again, and I'll have the opportunity to mock you." She matches his smirk, lifting her eyebrows in challenge.

"Touché, Beckett."

Kate grins. "Uh huh. Anyway, you did a good job with dinner."

Castle's face softens. "Thanks. I'm glad you like it."

"I do. It's delicious." She punctuates the assurance with another hearty bite, watching out of the corner of her eye as Castle's chest puffs with pride.

He takes their plates into the kitchen once they're done, promising to return with their dessert shortly. Full as she is, she can only nod, turning her cheek against the plush cushion to watch him go.

A smile lifts her lips; this weekend will be good for them. For her.

"Your cheesecake," Castle rumbles, appearing at her shoulder a few minutes later, a plate in hand. "And your coffee."

Coffee. Oh, he brought her coffee. The other day he had arrived at the precinct with a single travel cup in hand, and tonight he's bringing her a latte again. Foam art and all.

Kate sits up, eager hands reaching for the mug. "Thanks," she breathes, cradling the offering to her chest.

The ceramic is warm through her shirt, but she allows it. Allows the coffee close once more.

The first time Demming had brought her a coffee, she had been flattered. The roast had been bold and robust, and there had been enough cream and sugar to satisfy her sweet tooth, but it hadn't been the same; it hadn't been right.

Castle drops onto the lounger at her feet.

"What?" she asks, lifting her eyes from the abstract squiggle in the foam to find him bright with anticipation.

"Try it," he instructs, lowering his chin. "And then try this." He spears a piece of cheesecake, holding the bite out to her.

She goes for the food first. Closing the distance between them, she keeps his eyes as she wraps her lips around the fork. Rich chocolate raspberry flavor slides across her tongue, pulling an appreciative hum from her lips.

Castle's jaw drops, his pupils growing larger in the light from the kitchen.

"Beckett," he breathes.

"It's good," she says, lifting her coffee to her lips. "Share it with me?"

His breath hitches. "Of course, yes. Just let me get my – I'll be right back."

She nods, hiding her smile against the rim of her mug.

He returns with a second smaller piece of cheesecake – though not another fork, she notes – and a mug of coffee of his own. He sits without a word, nudging his hip against her foot to get her to make space for him again.

"You have your own chair, Castle," she reminds wryly, poking her toes into his thigh.

"Like yours better," he says, shrugging. He drops his hand, sweeping his thumb across the top of her foot.

"Of course you do," she feigns a sigh, hiding the hitch in her breath with another slow sip of her coffee.

"Plus," he adds, after a second, "if I were in my chair, we couldn't share the cheesecake."

It's a weak argument – they could always pass the plate back and forth and he knows it – but she lets him pretend it's convincing. Having him close isn't terrible, after all.

Especially since his thumb makes careful circles over her ankle the entire time they're eating.

"Come up here," she murmurs once the cheesecake is gone and their coffee has gone cold. They've been alternating between maintaining quiet conversation and staring up at the inky dark sky, watching the stars appear above their heads.

Castle looks up, shifting onto his hand.

"What?"

"You're half on the ground, Castle. That can't be comfortable. Just get up here."

She scoots to one side of the lounger, indicating for him to join her. It will be a tight fit, tighter proximity than they've ever been in, but what the hell. They've been circling one another for so long, she's ready to see what the dance could look like if they come together.

"You sure?"

"I think I can take you if you get handsy when I don't want you to."

He cocks his head. "I – and if you want me to get handsy?"

Her lips curl. "Can take you then, too. Get up here."

Castle chuckles, easing his way up the lounger. She twists onto her side, giving him more room to squirm beside her. He ends up half on his back, his body inches from hers, inviting her to rest against him.

"Hi," he murmurs, lifting his hand only to drop it back to his chest. "If you want, I can get a double lounger for the next time."

"Mmm, thought you would be all over this cuddling thing," she singsongs, bumping her knee against his. They both hear what she doesn't say: there will be a next time.

"Just thinking about your comfort, Kate."

Kate.

"Well," she starts, allowing her body to sag, fitting their lines and curves together. "I'm pretty comfortable right now."

"That's good. I am, too."

"Good." Kate rests her cheek on his shoulder, breathing him in.

Castle's arm lowers, his fingers absentminded and gentle against her back.

"Thank you," he says after they've been silent for some time. Kate lifts her head, blinking her stupor away. "For changing your mind."

Her cheeks flush. In spite of her plans with Tom, she had wanted to be here the moment Castle asked. She had wanted this. "I'm glad I did. You're not a terrible host."

"Hey," he yelps, but his grin belies the objection. "Thanks."

She grins in return, flattening her palm against his chest. His inhale is sharp underneath her fingers, but his surprise only makes her bold.

Pitching forward, she presses soft, undemanding lips to his. Castle's jaw drops, her name tumbling from his mouth, but not in protest.

"Kate, I – I wasn't expecting –"

"Castle," she interrupts, brushing two fingertips over the curve of his chin. "I know you weren't."

He wasn't, she knows. He truly wasn't expecting anything more than a weekend of the two of them sharing space, maybe getting to know one another better, maybe just managing not to kill each other. But the afternoon has been fun, easy, a glimpse of what they could be, and the thought of letting the heart want what the heart wants isn't so terrifying anymore.

Her lips feather over his again, tracing his blooming smile with her own. "But I'm gonna do it anyway. Any complaints?"

Castle's fingers slide into her hair, his kiss landing hard against her mouth. "Not a one."