EDGE OF PARADISE
A 7x23 post-ep


You're the light, you're the night
You're the color of my blood
You're the cure, you're the pain
You're the only thing I wanna touch
Never knew that it could mean so much

Love Me Like You Do - Ellie Goulding


She wakes with a start, arm reaching behind her, finding nothing but cool sheets. It isn't the first time he's slipped out of bed and it'll be far from the last, but tonight she doesn't let herself fall back asleep. Instead she sits up, sheet at her bare chest, and listens for any clues as to where her husband is.

She hears light tapping in the office, and as she slides out of bed and finds his discarded tux shirt, she smiles. When he disappears it's usually to write, especially in the wee hours of morning. It's when his words ache most to get out of his mind, when the world is still and he can focus on nothing but what's being put on paper.

He goes into his office now; in the early days of their relationship he'd sometimes have his laptop on the nightstand, but he'd woken her up with his typing on several occasions, none of which had made her very happy. In fact, one of their first arguments as a couple had been about that very thing.

"What the hell are you doing?" she'd mumbled at three in the morning, just a few weeks after she'd shown up at his door ready and willing for something more.

"I'm writing," he'd answered matter-of-factly, and she'd grumbled as she'd pulled the covers back over her head.

"Do you have to be so damn loud? I'm trying to sleep."

He'd tugged the covers from her face so he could look at her. "I'm sorry if I want to write with my girlfriend, my inspiration, next to me," he'd argued, words dripping with sarcasm.

Kate had scoffed and turned away from him. "Well, heaven forbid my need for sleep get in the way of your creativity."

He'd sat in silence for a few long moments before nodding, sliding out of bed, and retreating to her living room.

She'd followed him out after a minute, unwilling to fall back asleep without making peace. They'd talked and made up, agreed that he'd relocate for any late night writing binges. And then she'd welcomed him back in her bed.

So his presence in the office tonight isn't surprising; what is, however, is her ability to watch him. On the rare occasions that she does wake up, she usually falls back asleep before she can coax her body out of bed. But tonight she stands in the doorway, hip propped against a bookshelf, a smile tugging at the corner of her lips.

His brow is furrowed in concentration, and as she watches he stops typing, leans forward and squints before shaking his head and presumably changing what he'd just read. He hadn't bothered to put a shirt on, and she can see his biceps flex as he types, the rise and fall of his bare chest. Every so often his tongue pokes out between his lips, and she shivers, the thought of what that tongue can do inflaming her, heating her up from the inside.

She's been with him long enough to know that when he's in one of his writing binges, very little can distract him. So she curls up on the couch across from him, tucks a blanket around her, and watches him, reflects on their evening.

It had been a hell of a few days; between the case and Castle's brush with death, her review, and his awards ceremony, she feels like she's been put through the emotional wringer. His question earlier, about whether they'd still be there were it not for his childhood encounter with a killer, had stuck with her. Despite her assurances to him, she isn't sure herself.

"Kate?"

She lifts her gaze from the edge of the blanket to see him with his laptop shut, his tired gaze on her. She gives him a sheepish smile. "Couldn't sleep?"

He returns her smile before standing and shuffling towards her, hands in the pockets of his pajama pants. He lifts her feet and sits, places her feet on his lap. "I needed to get some words down," he explains, his thumbs massaging the soles of her feet. "What are you doing up?"

Kate sinks farther into the couch as Rick rubs her feet, and she fights the urge to shut her eyes and fall asleep under his ministrations. "Just watching."

He quirks an eyebrow and tickles her foot. "Wasn't it you that once said staring was creepy?"

She digs her toes into his thigh, giggling when he yelps. "That was different," she argues. "I didn't want you to stare at me back then."

"Yeah, you did." Rick abandons her feet and shifts so he's hovering over her, his hands on either side of her head. "You always did."

"Don't be an arrogant a-" She's cut off by his lips on hers, and she wraps her arms around his neck, holding him to her as they kiss. They keep it chaste, and she plays with the fine hairs at his nape when he pulls away. "I like watching you," she admits, and when he smirks, she nudges his shoulder. "I just can't believe-" She sighs and falls silent.

Castle sits up and takes her hands, pulls her up as well. "You just can't believe what?"

Kate drops her head to his shoulder. "We'd met before that book party," she admits into his skin. When he pulls away and looks at her in shock, she feels her face flush. "About, oh, fifteen years ago." She stands, ignoring his protest, and goes back into the bedroom. She finds the book she's looking for, a book that's been a prized possession for the majority of her adult life.

Castle's practically bouncing in his seat when she returns, and she hands the book to him, watches his face as he opens to the title page. She has the words memorized, can see the familiar scrawl in her sleep, his messy signature below the personalized note.

Kate.

It was an honor to meet you. I don't know what you're going through, but I'm glad that my books can offer some form of escape. I am eternally grateful for your support, and I hope that I can support you as well in whatever way I can.

Yours,

Rick

"Mom had been gone almost a year," she explains when he closes the cover. "I'd transferred to NYU and switched to Criminal Justice, you know that." She doesn't wait for him to nod, just continues. "I got a call one day from Detective Raglan. He didn't even ask how I was doing, just told me my dad was in the drunk tank. I went back to the library after taking him home, it was right in the middle of finals. I couldn't concentrate on criminal law or procedures anymore, so I wandered around for a little while. I found Flowers For Your Grave abandoned on a table, picked it up, and couldn't put it down."

Castle brushes her hair from her cheek and cups her jaw, gives her a small smile when she turns to look at him.

Kate covers his hand with hers, squeezes his fingers. "You had a book signing shortly after the first anniversary of...you know. Dad was struggling, spending more and more time in the bottle. I'd thought about dropping out after fall semester, but over winter break I'd read all of your books, and they'd helped me escape reality a few hours at a time, allowed me to live in a world where the good guys won and the bad guys were always brought to justice."

His thumb continues to caress her cheek but he stays silent, and she draws courage from his touch on her skin. She takes the book from his lap and traces his name with the tip of a finger. "I stood in line for over an hour," she admits with a soft chuckle. "I'd never done that before. But I needed to meet you. I knew I'd be just another fan to you, but your books saved me, Rick. They helped me become who I am today."

"Kate," Castle whispers before pulling her into his side. He wraps his arms around her, drops a kiss to the top of her head. "You never told me that," he murmurs into her hair. "Why didn't you tell me before now?"

Kate shrugs. "I don't know. But you know what?"

"Hmm?"

She straightens, swings one leg over his lap so she straddles his thighs and can look into his eyes. "I'd give almost anything to have my mom back. But if her being alive would come at the cost of my relationship with you, I wouldn't change a thing."

Rick doesn't say anything, just cups her jaw and guides her mouth to his. "I love you," he gasps when they part. He closes his eyes when she drops her forehead against him. "Kate, I...God, I just love you so much."

Kate smiles and brushes another kiss to his mouth. "I love you too, more than you can ever know." She braces herself on his chest as she climbs off his lap, and takes his hand to tug him off the couch. "Want to come back to bed so I can show you?"

Rick grins. "Absolutely."


He sneaks out of bed later, after his breathing has slowed and Kate has fallen asleep at his side. He takes care not to wake her, sliding out from under her arm to go back to his office. Just for a minute, he knows; he just wants to get a few words down.

They're words he'd said earlier in the night, during his speech, but he can't get them out of his head, knows they'll make the perfect dedication in the next book.

He'd been writing the acknowledgments earlier, before he'd found that Kate had joined him in the office. But he'd wanted to think about the dedication. And he has the perfect thing in mind.


She sees the box on the counter one night in early September, and she just drops her coat next to it. Rick had had a late meeting at Black Pawn to talk about the release party, and she should start dinner, but she can't resist.

Her fingers trace the bow on top, and she rolls her eyes at her husband. Of course he'd wrap it up like a present, her goofball. But she wouldn't want him to change for anything.

She unties it slowly, treasuring it, and holds her breath when she lifts the lid to reveal the cover of Driving Heat. She'd received an advance copy of every Nikki Heat book, but since they'd become a couple he'd taken it a step farther and given her the first print.

He'd offered many times to let her read as he wrote, but she didn't want to, preferred to read the book once finished. Her husband's words are special, and she wants to enjoy the story as a whole, be proud of the writer that he is.

Her breath catches when she sees the dedication. She recognizes the words from his speech at the Poe's Pen Awards ceremony, and they mean just as much to her now as they did then.

She looks up when she hears a noise, sees Rick wincing, presumably that she noticed him. "Are you watching me again?" she teases, forcing the words around the lump in her throat.

He just shuts the door behind him and joins her in the kitchen, brushes her hair off her forehead. "I love you, Kate," he says softly, drawing her into his arms. "I've always loved you."

Kate wraps her arms around his waist and lifts her head, smiles into his mouth when he kisses her. And later she climbs back into bed after retrieving the book from the kitchen, gazes at her sleeping husband before turning her attention back to the book, to the words at the page near the front.

Because of you.
Because of us.
Always.


-FIN-


As always, I am eternally grateful to Callie for putting up with me. Any mistakes are mine. Feedback is appreciated. Thank you!