A/N: Set between 4x21 and 4x22. For AC.
Kate growls as she relents and rises from her bed at the insistent knocking on her front door, already prepared to verbally rip apart whoever thought it was a good idea to disturb her at two a.m. on a Friday night. She had already ruled out the potential suspects, knowing anyone of importance would have called before resorting to physically showing up at her apartment. Lanie had given up on trying to convince her to come out for drinks hours ago, the boys had their own plans, and Castle… well, he was no longer a suspect when it came to these matters. He'd made it pretty clear that he was done showing up at her door.
Therefore, it had to be some idiot at the wrong door, probably drunk, judging by the hour, so Beckett grabs her robe from the armchair in her bedroom, throwing it on over her tank top and leggings, before she storms towards the foyer.
She's exhausted and sad and just wants to be left alone to mourn the loss of her partner for a while, until she's able to accept that the love he once had for her has shriveled and died and already been swept away to make room for flight attendants and new detectives to shadow. So far, she hasn't been making much progress.
The knocking stops and so does she, only a few feet from reaching for the deadbolt, but then it starts once more, slower this time, but still a steady series of thuds from a fist, and Kate huffs, moves to the door to arch on her toes, peek through the hole and-
"Beckett," Castle calls, dropping his forehead against the door's frame while his arm remains upright, mechanically slamming his fist into the surface of the door. "Why aren't you answering?"
Ah, definitely drunk then.
"Better not be out with stupid Scotland Yard," he mutters and Beckett exhales a frustrated breath through her nose. "Think he went back to Scotland, though. I've never been there…" His head rises from the door. "Hey, Beckett, you wanna go to Scotland with me?"
She rolls her eyes and finally gives in, unlocks the deadbolt, the extra lock above the handle, and swings the door open to reveal a rumpled and visibly off balance Richard Castle, swaying into the side of the entryway but lifting wide and hazy blue eyes to her. Bluer than she's seen in a long while.
"Is that a yes?"
"No," she retorts, scanning her eyes over his attire, what she assumes was a once crisp suit now wrinkled and unkempt. "What happened to you? Date with the flight attendant gone wrong?"
His brow furrows, adorably, much to her chagrin, but those clouded blue eyes spark with a spread of clarity, and he shakes his head, wincing when he knocks it into the doorjamb.
"Jacinda?" His tongue fumbles over the name and her lips twist into an unbidden frown. "She left back to… I actually forgot where she went, but she stopped seeing me when I - well," he pauses, shifts his weight, not the best idea, and Beckett is forced to steady him with the brace of her hands at his sides. Castle glances down to the splay of her fingers at his ribcage, inhales a breath that causes the lattice of bones to rise and fall beneath her palms. "I couldn't sleep with her and when I tried to-"
"Castle," she chokes out, seriously not wanting to hear about this-
"I started imagining someone else to help and when I said your name, she was not happy," he states, his cheeks flushed pink when her gaze jerks up to him in surprise. "It's kinda pathetic, how I've been, that's why Ryan and Esposito said I should go out for drinks with them tonight and after what happened with Slaughter, it felt like I owed them so-"
"Wait," she interrupts, withdrawing her hands from his sides, watching him wobble for a moment, before tilting back into the safety of the doorframe. "Why would you have said my name with Jacinda?"
"I like your name," he muses, his eyes glazing over again, and she sighs, feeling the opportunity for the truth slipping away, but unable to reel it back in, not when he's like this. "Kate," he hums, dragging out the single syllable, and she hates how her stomach flutters at the sound of her first name so warm and smooth in his mouth. "It's so rich, like good coffee. Ooh, we should go get coffee."
"Good idea," she mumbles, but she stops him from turning back towards the elevators, easing an arm around his back and guiding him inside her apartment instead, shutting the door behind him. "But it's late and you're drunk, so I'll just make some here."
"I'm not that drunk," he argues, attempting to shrug his jacket from his shoulders, and Kate huffs as he gets the material tangled around his wrists, helps him slip free of the fabric. "Okay, maybe a little, but it's Ryan and Espo's fault. They kept plying me with drinks, trying to get me to talk about you."
One of her eyebrows arches as she starts for the kitchen, not exactly pleased with that piece of information. "I'll have to talk to them about minding their business."
"Nooo," Castle whines, trailing after her, bumping into the stove, her counter, ping-ponging between fixtures and appliances. "Then they'll know I came here."
"Were you not supposed to?" she inquires, clearing the settings on her coffee machine that had been prepared for a morning brew.
"Well, when I told them I wanted to see you, they said it was a bad idea and put me in a cab home, but I gave the cabbie your address and paid him an extra hundred bucks to listen to me instead," he explains with a proud grin.
Kate hums to hide her amusement and pours fresh water into the machine, adds the coffee into the filter. "Why did you suddenly want to see me, Castle?"
"What do you mean?"
She flicks her gaze to him, standing against her refrigerator with a deep crease in his brow, as if he truly doesn't understand and she hates to burst this lovely bubble of him seemingly having forgotten the last few weeks and whatever it was that had elicited so much anger towards her, but she hasn't been able to forget. She can't. The reminder still pulses like an open wound, gaping and raw in the middle of her chest.
"You stopped," she snaps at him, stabbing the button to begin the coffee machine's percolation with her index finger and pursing her lips to maintain control of her temper. "You're seeing other people, both personally and professionally, you're pissed at me for no apparent reason, you're done waiting, done… wanting anything to do with me, so why are you even here?"
When her eyes finally rise, he's staring back at her with so much sorrow in his, and dammit, it hurts to see him looking like that because of her, to not be able to understand why.
"I'm not done with you," he murmurs, his face so forlorn and seeking, and he sucks in a breath of resolution, latches onto her countertop for balance as he shuffles across the short distance of her kitchen to stand in front of her. "That's why I'm here. I can't be done with you, Beckett. I tried and it sucks and I'm sad, you're sad, and I just don't want to do it anymore."
Castle braces his hands on the counter on either side of her hips, inadvertently boxing her into the corner, the coffee machine radiating heat at her back, and he sighs, close enough for her to smell the whiskey on his breath.
"It's why when Ryan and Esposito told me to go home, I came here, because you're still - when I think of home, I still think of you."
Still? Since when... Kate shakes her head as her brow knits with the beginnings of a headache, blows out a breath in exasperation even as her heart hammers hard enough through her chest to splinter her ribs.
"Then why stop?" she demands quietly, having to stare up at him with her bare feet and his body towering over her for stability.
His eyes are murky, dark, but a sharp, mercurial leak of lucidity bleeds through as he focuses on her face.
"I thought you wanted me to," he answers, his gaze falling to her lips. "But it's really hard not to want you when I still love you, Kate. There's just no stopping that."
"What are you talking about?" she growls, her heart finally shattering her ribcage with the velocity of its beats, her hands fisting at her sides. "I never told you to stop, I never-"
Castle hardly has to lean in, only has to angle his head ever so slightly to brush his lips over hers, and she goes rigid beneath the gentle pressure of his mouth, her heart falling still amidst the ruins of her ribs.
"Kate," he whispers and just the rasp of her name has her insides clenching, her body rising up to meet his on its own accord.
Beckett cradles his face in her hands and fuses her mouth to his, gasping as he staggers forward, his hands abandoning the edge of the countertop to clutch at her hips, drag her even deeper into the welcome cove of his body. And she sinks willingly into him, the sweet sensation of finally giving in to what she's wanted for so long washing over her, mixing with the frissons of pleasure bubbling through her blood, intensifying as his tongue sweeps over her bottom lip and he draws the tender flesh between his teeth.
"Castle," she breathes, burying her fingers in his hair, tasting the liquor faint but present on his lips. "We - have to stop."
He groans into her mouth, the vibration of sound shuddering through every inch of her, and drops his forehead to hers, his heaving chest colliding with her breasts as his fingers clench at her hips, and she feels his brow fall into a furrow.
"For now," she clarifies, quickly, fisting her hands in his hair, closing her eyes as he nuzzles her cheek with his nose.
She doesn't want to stop, she wants to take his hand, guide him to her bedroom and rid her mind, her body, of the ache the last few weeks had instilled, but he's drunk and she still isn't sure where they stand, if he would feel the same in the morning or slip from her bed with regret.
"Why don't you want me, Kate?" he mumbles, his breath a husk against the hollow of her cheek, searing her skin, and she bites back the mewl building in her throat, the urge to rock her hips forward into the cradle of his so close.
"Of course I want you," she huffs, turning her head to catch the corner of his mouth with her lips instead. "You have no idea how much I want you, how badly-"
He growls, a feral sound she wants to hear again, feel against her flesh, drags his hands up her spine to fit her body against his - so not helping, Castle - and grazes his lips to her jaw.
"Because - because you'll forget," she tries to reason, but his mouth is open at her neck, his tongue laving over the increasing throb of her pulse, and she should push him away, call him a cab that really will take him home, or at least set him up on her couch for the night, but she can only grip him tighter, pull him impossibly closer. "And I want you to remember every second."
"I won't forget," he mutters into her skin, his lips feathering up and down her throat, nudging the collar of her robe out of the way to touch his tongue to the ridge of her collarbone, and she has to bite back a whimper. "Could never forget this. You're the one who forgets."
She stiffens at that, sucking in a breath and loosening the grip of her hands, allowing them to trip down to clutch at the collar of his dress shirt.
"That's why you've been so mad at me," she murmurs the realization aloud as he lowers his head to rest upon her shoulder. "You must have… the bombing case, you had to have heard me talking to Bobby. That's when all of this started."
He grumbles, unintelligible words into her flesh, and she turns her face into the side of his, her lips skimming the edge of an eyebrow.
"Castle, I'm sorry," she whispers, unfurling her hands at his shirt collar to splay her fingers at his shoulder blades. "You were never supposed to find out that way. After the bombing case, I - I wanted us to go out for drinks or dinner," she confesses, snagging her bottom lip with her teeth, because she never thought she'd be telling him any of this. "I wanted to actually talk about us and - and being ready, the wall coming down-"
His head lifts from her shoulder, his eyes blinking away some of the dull blue misery, and a tentative curve of his lips infiltrates his features instead.
She sighs, relief simmering through her bones, but nods her head, strokes the tips of her fingers to the line of his jaw.
"Will you remember in the morning if I said I love you too?" she murmurs, flicking her gaze from his eyes to his mouth, grinning as his lips part in surprise and his eyes flare bright blue, his reaction so immediate and wonderstruck. And she knows he's drunk, but that childlike excitement is still him, sober or not.
"I could never forget that," he breathes, all traces of his sorrow gone as he sweeps in to kiss her mouth, his smile contagious, making it difficult to hold onto between split lips and clashing teeth.
Both of them startle apart a moment later, though, as the coffee maker beeps loudly in the quiet apartment.
"Want to stay for coffee, talk in the morning?" Kate asks, unable to stop smiling when he's looking at her like that, even as her cheeks flush and her stomach flutters.
He's looking at her like… like he's in love with her again.
"Or we could stay up talking all night," he proposes, his brow wiggling with the offer. "Don't worry, Beckett. The coffee will sober me up and I'll be good as new."
She tells him to wait on the couch while she pours him a cup after that, his balance still fleeting as he goes, and she's not surprised when she joins him in the living room minutes later to find him passed out on the sofa, his head thrown back at an uncomfortable angle.
Kate takes the coffee back to the kitchen and returns to ease Castle from his sitting position to lie across her couch on his side, dragging over a wastebasket to place near his head, covering him with a couple of throw blankets, and leaving a few aspirin on the coffee table with a bottle of water and a sleeve of crackers to help if he wakes up in the middle of the night.
"Until tomorrow, Castle," she sighs, combing her fingers through his hair before she bends to press a kiss to his temple.
She leaves him in the living room to finally crawl back into her bed moments later, falls asleep hoping the universe doesn't punish her for past sins, hoping that in the morning, he'll still remember what she once chose not to.
Castle groans into his pillow as wakefulness finds him again, drags him into consciousness with the warmth of sunlight blanketing his back and the scent of coffee in the air, surprisingly not making him nauseous. But he's still careful as he begins to shift, his brow furrowing at the distinct smell of Kate in his nose, buried in his pillow. Except, it's not his pillow, he realizes as he raises his head, blinks down at the throw pillow he's been sleeping face first on.
Kate's throw pillow on Kate's couch in Kate's apartment.
Oh no. Oh god, what had he done last night?
He'd been harassed into going out to a bar with the boys, had started drinking whiskey as if it were water when they had started interrogating him about Beckett, but when they'd put him in a cab home… he hadn't gone home, he'd come here. And oh, it had been late, of that he was sure, and she probably wanted to kill him.
The call of her voice says otherwise, though, and the expression on her face isn't exactly murderous when he musters the strength, the courage, to glance up at her, still dressed in her preferred pajamas of a shirt and leggings from last night-
Ah, he does remember her from last night.
She had taken care of him. Despite how he's been giving her the cold shoulder these past couple of weeks, punishing her, as his mother had pointed out, and dammit, this made everything so much worse. It made him want to love her so much more.
"You okay?" Beckett inquires, crossing the living room to ease between the couch and coffee table, taking a seat on the edge of the wooden surface, a cup of coffee cradled in her palms.
He thinks he manages a nod, rattling the dull throb in his skull with the movement, the hangover that should be much worse.
"Time?" he mumbles, rolling onto his side and rubbing at his eyes with a fist.
"Almost seven," she supplies, looking nervous when he opens his eyes again, spares another glance up at her.
"Saw you took the aspirin, had some crackers," she murmurs, nodding towards the edge of the table, closest to where his head lies, a half empty bottle of water and an opened sleeve of crackers still present, a bottle of painkillers too, and that's why his mouth is hardly dry, his headache not so severe, his hangover manageable.
In the past, he would just pass out for hours after a night of drinking, let the pounding in his skull manifest until he couldn't take it anymore and is forced to get up and find relief, but Kate… she had set out a pair of pills, water and a snack for him that he must have taken sometime in the night; she had looked after him in a way no one else ever has before.
"Helped," he rasps, pushing up onto an elbow, watching her bite her bottom lip, waiting for something. "I'm - sorry about last night, showing up here, it was… inappropriate."
Her face falls and he doesn't understand why, the instinctive concern welling up in his chest as her gaze drops to her coffee, a neutral expression steadily claiming her features. Guarding herself.
"So, you don't remember much of last night?" she hedges, her lashes hiding her eyes from him, thick black fringe kissing the high bones of her cheeks, and he has to be missing something here, must have done something last night to...
His eyes follow her gaze to the coffee, the mug of dark liquid dragging a memory to the surface, fuzzy and blurred, but real and recent. The heat of her body so close, the scent of coffee mingling in the air with the aroma of cherries, the sound of her moan, the rich taste of her mouth.
Why don't you want me, Kate?
Oh shit, he'd - he had just let it all spill out of him, let her witness how truly pathetic he is, and had somehow managed to kiss her in the process? No wonder she looks so anxious and uncomfortable in front of him.
"I'm so sorry," he breathes out, washing a hand over his face, hoping to hide the shame he feels. "Kate, I swear I didn't mean to-"
"What? Rick, no." He pauses at the sound of his first name, the curl of her fingers, so long and slender and warm from the temperature of the coffee in her hands as she snags his wrist, and he sneaks a peek at her from between his fingers, witnesses the devastation in her eyes that's she's too slow to blink away. "You're not - whatever you're remembering is wrong," she sighs, releasing him. "You have nothing to be sorry for. Nothing - nothing happened, it's okay."
"No," he protests as she begins to stand, retreating, and he sits up to catch her fingers before they can drift back to the cup. "Tell me."
"I already did," she mutters, her pulse picking up beneath his fingertips, like it had last night under his tongue, her body tight against him, her hands in his hair.
You're the one who forgets.
An apology, an explanation, words like 'talk', 'us, 'ready', and 'wall coming down'.
The pieces of their conversation flood his mind, jumbled and disjointed, but growing clearer. Even drunk off his ass, he had been right; he could never forget having the opportunity to kiss her, hearing those words spilling from her mouth, proving all of his previous assumptions so very wrong.
Will you remember in the morning if I said I love you too?
His heart nearly stops at that part, hitching in his chest, her voice a clear echo in his head.
That's right. She had looked up at him through her lashes, her eyes so liquid and golden in the soft light of her kitchen, falling to his mouth, letting him kiss her again. Because she loved him too and she'd said it, said it out loud and with so much quiet hope in her voice.
She loved him too and so clearly wanted him to remember.
"Yes," he whispers, watching her brow fret with confusion, but he doesn't care, tugging on her hand in his grasp and pushing up on his opposite arm to collide with her, catching her mouth in a kiss because he had been wrong all along and Kate Beckett loves him.
She gasps in surprise but doesn't pull away, the tension in her body dwindling as he slides his hand into her hair and sinks back into the arm of the couch, drawing her down with him and hearing her coffee cup clatter against the table.
"You love me," he mumbles into her lips and even though he can't see it, he swears the smile blossoming against his mouth is the most beautiful she's ever worn.
Her knee digs into the cushioning next to his thigh, balancing over him a little awkwardly, but then she's easing into a graceful straddle over his lap. And oh, he wants to talk to her about last night, about the last few weeks, about everything, but his body is exalting beneath the weight of hers and he can't think past the glorious press of her mouth.
"You remembered?" she sighs, cradling his face in her hands while his splay over the bow of her spine, holding her against him on the sofa, so very surreal.
He's making out with Kate Beckett at seven a.m. on a Saturday morning on her couch, tasting coffee on the slick of her tongue dipping past his lips when he'd been convinced that he would just have to accept being alone and in love with her for the rest of his life. Yeah, he was committing every second of this to memory too.
"Told you I wouldn't forget," he hums and Kate parts from his mouth to smirk at him with kiss swollen lips and an arch of her eyebrow.
"Had to help remind you," she points out, stroking her fingers along the shell of his ear, roaming her eyes over his face in the beams of morning light.
And she just looks so soft like this, so lovely and peaceful with her hair falling in waves around her shoulders, shining and gossamer beneath the sun's rays, her eyes a warm blend of green and brown, flecks of gold illuminating the shimmering black pools of her pupils. It's so different from all he's ever known of her, anything he could have ever expected, and he almost fears it's all an alcohol induced dream.
But then he sits up with her in his lap, kisses her again and earns the languid roll of her hips, the lace of her arms around his neck.
"Remind me some more."