A/N This chapter changes to an M rating for a while near the end. If you're uncomfortable with that, stop reading after the line "She leans back and smiles" and begin again at "Oh, my God," she says. "You. I'm. I've."

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

"Home? With you?"

"We didn't get to finish our conversation when you were there yesterday."

"Oh." Conversation. A one-word substitute for the dreaded we need to talk.

For an instant he'd looked stunned, and stunned had morphed into what seemed—at least to her—delighted, but now he looks miserable, as if he's dreading going to her place. What has she done? She suddenly feels as defeated as he is deflated, as though she's lost her last friend. "I don't know how I keep screwing this up," she says.

"Screwed what up?"

At least he said something, even if he sounds genuinely confused. "This," she says. "Us." She looks down at the floor and shakes her head. "Please, Castle. I promise I won't bite or put poison in your coffee."

"We're having coffee?"

"We always have coffee." She's pleading with him. She'll get down on her knees and beg if she has to. "Please."


That's enough for now, his okay, even if it seems like resignation.

For the third time in less than 48 hours—and the third time in the three-plus years since they met—they're utterly silent in the car. They're silent as they ride the rattly elevator in her building; silent as they walk down the hall to her apartment; silent as they hang their jackets on her coat rack.

"Coffee?" she asks awkwardly, the word thick in her mouth.



"No if you make it. Yes if I make it."

"Fine," she says weakly. "I'll get the cups." That's the end of their scintillating chat until the coffee is ready. "Why don't you sit down in the living room, and I'll bring it in." Her hands are trembling as she carries everything in on a tray.

"Huh," he says when she puts it down. "You really chose cups. I thought that was just an expression. 'Would you like a cup of coffee?' When you're actually going to drink it from a mug."

"Would you rather have a mug? I can get you one." God, this is depressing. She's even got the china wrong.

"No, this is fine. I'm just surprised."

She sits on her hands and tries to calm down. "Since this is something of a confessional, I'll confess that I'm so nervous that I deliberately chose cups. I figured if I spilled my coffee it would land in the saucer instead of my lap." He doesn't comment. Why doesn't he? Why doesn't the man who jabbers nonstop in the chair by her desk, day after day, say something? He's just looking at her, and her detective skills definitely need sharpening because she can't read him at all. There's no there there, and she's sure that's intentional. He doesn't want to give her any clues. She's on her own, and she takes a deep breath before launching herself into uncertain waters.

"So. Yesterday. After I figured out why things changed after the bombing case—which is entirely on me—and we talked about it, you asked me why I never said anything afterwards, after last summer. Why I never asked you if you really loved me. I told you that I was seeing a psychiatrist because I'm so fucked up. But that's as far as I got. We got." She pauses to drink some coffee, some of which does, indeed, slop into the saucer. "You know, before I got shot I'd never have gone to a shrink."

"No kidding," he says, though it sounds less cold than the words themselves. Physically he's still Mount Rushmore. Expressionless.

"Even my mother's case, right? My mother's case alone should have sent me to the couch a long time ago, but I refused." It's time for her to take another deep breath, a very deep one for the deep water she's heading into. "What I'm trying to say is that what's kept me going back all these months is you." She attempts a little smile. "But not because you drive me crazy, Castle."

Him? She's in therapy because of him? If he weren't already sitting down, he'd fall over. The only response he can push out is, "Me?"

"It's about love. I want you to love me, but how can you if I'm still so screwed up?" She gets up from the sofa, looks out the window for several excruciating few seconds, and sits back down. "You've been married, you're charming and successful and rich. You're a great Dad. I've never had a relationship that lasted even six months. I don't have kids. Don't even have a goldfish. Do you remember what you said to me, right in this room, before Captain Montgomery died? You said I'd crawled inside my mother's murder and didn't come out. You said I hid there the same way I hid in nowhere relationships with men I don't love."

He'd held up reasonably well until that, but now he flinches. He remembers what he'd said, word for word, but he's astonished that she does, too. They'd both been furious. And then? Well, then things had gotten worse, and then they'd gotten better, and then they'd fallen apart, and now she's trying to pull herself together. For him? Because she loves him? He wants to tell her to stop talking, just stop talking for a minute, but he can see that she needs to keep going.

"I felt like you'd slapped me across the face, Castle. But you were right. No one else dared say that to me, about hiding in my mother's case or hiding in relationships that were going nowhere. Partly my fault, partly theirs. But the point is they didn't love me enough to say it, didn't want to get close enough to me to say that—maybe I didn't let them in, I know—but you do. That's what I realized. You know when you went out and got my sandwich yesterday? I didn't have to tell you what I wanted, because you knew. Exactly. Even the honey mustard."

His mouth finds a way around his brain, and he blurts out, "Stonewall Kitchen."

"Yes, Stonewall Kitchen honey mustard. It's stupid that that matters to me, but it does. Until you, the only people who ever noticed or cared what kind of sandwich I like were my parents."

Is she aware that she's alternating between rubbing her palms hard down her thighs and holding one flat against her ear? He's never seen stress manifest itself this way, certainly not in her.

"So many times I was going to tell you that I remembered. How I feel. I was just about to do it at the bombing case. I don't know, maybe that's why I said what I did to Bobby Lopez. I hadn't planned to. Thanks, subconscious."

Her right hand just moved to her temple, shoving hard against it. She probably doesn't know that, either. How she can look intense, distracted, and agonized at the same time? It's obvious, at least to him, that she's fighting tears.

"I can't say I'm sorry enough, Castle. I can't apologize enough. I just hope that you understand, even if you have a hard time forgiving. When I finally figured out why you'd taken off during the bombing case—it was in the coffee shop yesterday. It just all fell into place, and I —."

She stops. Just stops and looks down at her lap.

"That's why you looked so pale, isn't it? When you came out of the bathroom. I said you looked like you'd seen a ghost and you said 'I did'."

Her head jerks up. "You heard me?"

"Yes, I did."

"You didn't—you didn't say anything."

"I decided to leave it for the moment."

She pauses again, maybe digesting what he'd said before she picks up her thread again. "When it all came crashing in on me I thought, oh, Jacinda. That explains Jacinda. And Slaughter, too. Uncomplicated Jacinda and complicated me. Complicated, completely fucked up me."

She's lost the war with tears, which are spilling out in such quantity and at such speed that he doesn't know why she isn't choking.

"I want not to be that way. That's why I'm doing all this therapy. Because I love you and I want you to be able to love me the way I love you, as much as I love you, and I don't know that it's possible."

Last fall, when she'd come back, she'd talked to him about her wall. That freaking wall. But when told him a moment ago that she loves him, his own wall began to crack and give way, the wall he'd hastily put up between them two weeks ago. He loves her, she loves him. SHE LOVES HIM. Loves him so much that she's doing something, therapy, that must feel like evisceration to her. Like she's begin sliced open and her heart is being ripped out. Kind of like what literally happened to her last year. Jesus. What have they done?

He turns until he's facing her head on, then puts his hands in her hair and kisses her. Keeps on kissing until she begins to kiss back, then deepens his kiss and she deepens hers. He pulls away and whispers into her ear, "I love you." He whispers it again in the hollow between her collarbones. Whispers it into her ear and her neck and finally into her mouth, which sets off another round of kissing, during which, at some point, she crawls into his lap. Her thighs are bracketing his, and with each kiss she moves incrementally closer, presses herself incrementally harder against him until she pulls away.

"You know what else you said to me that day?"

"What day?"

"The day you came over here and told me to stop my mother's case. You said that we kissed and never talked about it. It's true. And not a day goes by without my thinking about that kiss. You know what I play all the time when I'm home alone? Sinatra. Sinatra singing 'As Time Goes By.' Top thing on my iTunes list. Hold on." She turns without getting up, and grabs her phone from the coffee table. "Listen."

You must remember this,
A kiss is still a kiss,
A sigh is just a sigh,
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by.

She mutes the phone and drops it onto a sofa cushion. "Last night I went to sleep thinking about the kiss we'd just had in the car. Should we talk about it now?"

"I don't think we have to, do you?"

"No. Besides, this was better, wasn't it?"

"Oh, much. So much better that it's unquantifiable."

She buries her face in his neck for a long time. "But I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I held it in and didn't tell you and held on to a lie. I'm sorry."

"Beckett. Kate. Kate, Kate." He pulls her chin up so that's he's looking into her eyes. "I know you are. And I don't want you to wear a hair shirt about this. Okay? Got that?"

"Hair shirt, huh?" she mumbles, after another long wait.

"Right. You're repenting. No hair shirt."

She leans back and smiles. "Good. Because I was thinking of wearing no shirt at all. What do you think?" She's undoing the row of buttons. "Is that all right with you?" She shrugs off her blouse and drops it on top of her silenced cell phone. "Or bra. No bra, either."

The blue, lace-edged confection lands on top of the blouse, while her breasts brush against his own shirt. Her perfect breasts that he's devouring with his eyes. To hell with that, he wants to devour them for real, and he takes one in his mouth. The harder he sucks on it, the harder her nipple is against his tongue, the sensitive, pebbled skin rubbing against his palate. She's moaning; it's beautiful, it's the most beautiful sound he's heard in ages. She's also moving, both under and over him.

"Take me to bed, Castle." It's a very husky request that's accompanied by a highly erotic undulation.

"Are you sure?" His hand is cupping one buttock.

"Am I sure?" She's gasping.

"That you're ready for this?"

"Can't you tell?"

"Just checking."

Halfway to the bedroom, with her legs wrapped around his waist, she asks, "Are you sure you're ready?"

"Can't you tell?"

She giggles and squeezes her feet together at the small of his back. "Just checking."

All of his clothes and the remainder of hers are on the floor in seconds, and immediately after that the two of them fall onto the bed. "God, you're beautiful," he says, kissing her again as he rolls her onto her back and pushes her legs apart with his knee.

"You, too." She tries to circle his bicep with one hand. No way.

His fingertips begin to drag through the slickness on the inside of her thigh. "You weren't kidding about being ready."

"Neither were you," she says, taking him in her hand and rubbing her thumb over his tip. She lets go only because his tongue has replaced his finger, which are now elsewhere, very gently but enthusiastically probing. "Castle. Castle."


"I know you said you like to take some things slowly, but please, not now. Later, not now. Next time." She can hardly breathe.

"Next time? You promise?" His relentless tongue and fingers go back to work, and he uses his left hand to hold her in place.

"Yes. I promise. Please."

He doesn't stop, and doesn't change speeds.

"Castle. You're driving me crazy."

"Thought I already did that."

"I'm going to explode."

More tongue. And teeth. "Now you know how I felt yesterday," he says from between her knees, "when you were wriggling indecently in my lap."

"Indecent's what I want now, Castle."

"So bossy."

"Remember the Mistress Venom case?"


He's still working her up; her heartbeat must be 150, and it's difficult to have a coherent thought. "Remember the video you and the boys were looking at? Said how was that position even possible? It is. I'll show you, later. I can do it, we can do it, if you'll just get moving. Really moving."

Propelling himself on his elbows, he slides up her body until they're nose to nose. "Like this?" He begins to enter her.

"Yes. Yes, yes."

"Like this?" He thrusts all the way in, withdraws, and thrusts again.

"Yesyesyesyes. Harder."

She can't believe how strong he is. The biceps should have been a giveaway, but she hadn't quite registered because she was too busy taking in the rest of him. God, he's huge. Huge and bold but totally attentive. She's vaguely aware of him lifting her up slightly to change his own angle, and then it's staggering. She's never felt anything like it. She'd told him that she wanted hard and fast, but now she wants this to go on and on. This changes everything she'd ever thought about sex.

He's pounding into her and it's thrilling. It's a drug, and he wants more. He's never known a woman with legs as powerful as hers. The combination of them, her hands gripping his ass, urging him forward, and now her interior muscles gripping him, is unlike anything he's experienced. And her mouth! When it's not on him it's making unintelligible, guttural noises that go straight to his balls. And her language? He'll have to ask her what some of those words mean, if he still has any working brain cells.

She's trying to hold off her orgasm but she can't. He's not just filling her body but overwhelming every one of her senses. She screams full out, and she's a goner.

He'd known that she was almost there, and he'd thought that he was prepared, but when she comes she's like a wild thing, and the force of it, of her, is too much to withstand for long. Three deep thrusts and he's gone, too, and their orgasms finish at the same time. Perfect. They're perfect together. Two heaving, breathless, sweaty, magnificent bodies.

She finds her voice first. "Oh, my God. You. I'm. I've."

"Same here," he says, before rolling over and pulling her onto his chest. "Never."

After a few minutes, they begin to talk. And talk and talk. Some of it is funny and some of it is serious; some of it is sweet and some of it is demanding. It's all important, every bit. They've been quiet for a little while when he says, "Kate? I want to make love to you."

"Me, too," she says, cradling his jaw. "I want to make love to you."

And they do. It's totally unlike the first time, and every bit as astonishing.

He wakes up and checks his watch. It's not quite 5 a.m.; there's probably another hour of darkness. He looks at her for a long time and thinks about what she'd said just before they'd fallen asleep. "I'm so happy, Castle. I'm so happy. Thank you." He'd stayed awake for a while, and as soon as he'd been sure that she was out he let himself cry. He's happy, too.

Very carefully he gets out of bed, walks to the bathroom, and quietly shuts the door. On his way back out he accidentally knocks off something that had been draped on the doorknob. He picks it up to return it to the knob when something catches his eye. He takes a step backwards, shuts the door, and turns the light back on. Holy shit. It's an autographed SIZZLING HEAT tee shirt. The autographed tee shirt. The only one. He buries his face in it; it smells of her.

"Beckett!" He runs into the room and jumps on the bed. "Beckett!"

"What? What's wrong?" She sits straight up, and the sheet slips off her.

"Nothing's wrong. Everything's right." He waves the tee shirt. "You're QT Patooty?"

"Yeah." She gives him a smile he's never seen before. It's huge and loving. "I am."

He wraps her in a hug. "Best morning of my life."

"Mine too, Castle. Mine, too."

A/N That's the end of this adventure. Thanks to everyone who came along, especially those who followed and favorited and took the time to review. I'm so glad that you've stuck around, even though the show hasn't.