A/N: Set early season four, not long after 4x07, 'Cops and Robbers'. Inspired by this idea from a prompt list:
'I'm sick on halloween but told you to go have fun at the party anyway but instead you surprised me with a blanket fort, tons of candy, and all my favourite scary movies.'
Residual smoke in his lungs. He survives a bank explosion, solves a case, and what does he get? Bedrest on his favorite holiday of the year because he can't stop coughing thanks to just a hint of residual smoke in his lungs.
Castle adjusts the robe around his shoulders and sinks deeper into the sofa. Alexis volunteered to stay home with him, insisted even, but he knows she has that party, her first social event since her break up with Ashley, and he refused to let her miss it for his sake.
And his mother… well, she's been celebrating life for the last three days since the bank. She's heard him coughing, showed concern for his health and encouraged a doctor's appointment, but she isn't aware that he's been forced to stay home tonight and he would never ask her to sacrifice her holiday plans either.
So he's all alone while his family enjoys their individual outings and all of his friends from the precinct head to the party Esposito is throwing at his place.
Rick tries to make the most of it, setting the projector screen up in the living room, making some warm apple cider that feels heavenly sliding down his throat. But horror films in his empty apartment on Halloween aren't nearly as enjoyable by himself.
He sighs, nestles against the arm of the sofa, and allows himself to drift as Freddy Krueger wreaks havoc across his screen.
Beckett frowns as her knocks on his door go unanswered. He has to be in there, he just texted her an hour ago, complaining about the injustice of his heroism in the bank being rewarded with the 'loneliest Halloween ever', and she can hear voices, the daunting music of a horror film, blaring from inside.
He's probably just passed out from the boredom, she reasons, or maybe he became inspired by the magic of Halloween night and decided to write in his office for a while. Or the smoke left in his lungs caused him to go into a severe coughing fit that deprived him of oxygen and he's suffocated to death.
Kate runs a hand through her hair and shakes her head. She's overreacting, she knows it, but her heart still spikes with the same flare of panic that wakes her on the nights when she dreams he didn't come out of the bank alive.
Either way, she's stuck standing out in his hallway like an idiot.
She purses her lips for a moment before reaching for the painting that hangs on the wall adjacent to his door and removing it from its hook.
"In case your need to see me is ever too dire to bear," he told her with that infuriating smirk after their life affirming dinner with his mother and daughter, revealing the key hanging behind the framed photo of New York at night.
She, of course, didn't expect to ever need to use it, especially not so soon, but the key was for emergencies, and for all she knows, there could be one happening right now on the other side of this door.
Beckett snags the key and inserts it into the lock.
"Castle?" she calls, easing through the doorway, trying not to bump her armful of baggage into the door frame. She sets her supplies down in the foyer, but only has to take an extra step forward to locate him.
He has the projector screen they used as a makeshift murder board last year for the bombing case set up, a scary movie marathon already underway. But Castle himself is curled up in a warm looking blue robe, dozing on the couch.
She can hear his breathing, soft and a little labored, but maintaining a steady rhythm as his chest rises and falls. A much needed relief to her overworked heart. She sighs, debates slipping back out of his loft and returning to her own apartment, but... this may actually benefit her plan.
Kate tiptoes back into the foyer to retrieve her bags from the floor. Hopefully, he'll remain asleep long enough for her to empty the contents onto the counter top and get started, accomplish her plan of bringing the Halloween party he was so disappointed to miss to him.
The distinct scent of pumpkin spice has Castle swimming back to consciousness.
His brow falls into a furrow. He knows Alexis usually takes advantage of the pumpkin madness that takes over in the fall season, but his mother's never been a fan, so his daughter tends to keep those candles restricted to her room. But... Alexis isn't supposed to be here tonight.
Rick peels his eyes open to a... a tent? No, no, not a tent - a fort, like the ones he used to make with Alexis when she was younger. Sheets strung up across his living room, only these strips of bedding are varying shades of blacks and oranges, covered in prints of pumpkins, ghosts, black cats, and dancing skeletons, and he can see the shine of orange, purple, and green lights glowing through the thin materials.
Did Alexis come back from her party just to do this for him?
Castle sits up, upsetting the careful balance in his chest and triggering a light fit of coughing, nothing severe, but enough to have his mystery decorator entering the fort of bedding.
"Beckett?" he sputters around a cough, reaching for his water on the coffee table.
"Hey, Castle," she grins, tentative, a little shy. A lot adorable with the thin black cat ears she's wearing on her head. "Good nap?"
He takes a swig of his water, trying to clear his throat before the cough and the sight of her cause him to choke.
"Y-yeah," he gets out, waiting until his voice to steady and back to its even tone before he speaks again. "How did you get in here? And did - you did all of this?"
He casts his eyes around the room once more, marveling over the structure of the bedsheets held in place by the furniture of his living room, the cords of twinkling lights on the walls. He wants to tell her he loves her again just for this alone.
"Uh, yeah. And I used the key you told me about the other night." Beckett glances down to the steaming mug in her hands, nervous. He means to comment, reassure her with a quip about acting on her dire need to see him, but his attention is drawn to the translucent zombie appearing on the side of her mug, as if trapped inside the cup.
He gasps. "Is that a heat sensitive morphing mug?"
Her eyes flicker between him and the mug before a smile tugs at her lips.
"Yeah, it's just plain black mug until you pour hot liquid inside. Then you get this." She comes towards him, ducking under a few low lying dips in the blankets to hold the mug out to him. "I'm surprised you don't already have one."
"I'm surprised you have one." He accepts the cup from her hands to examine.
"Technically, I don't. That's for you," she points out. "So is the tea currently inside of it."
"You got me a badass cup and made me tea? That's so thoughtful." He's teasing her to diffuse some of the tension he can see in her shoulders, but it's true. She also used the key he hid out in the hall just for her and apparently built a blanket fort in the short time he was asleep.
No one's done anything this thoughtful for him in a long time.
Kate merely shrugs. "I know you were bummed about missing Espo's Halloween party and I know how much you love Halloween, so I just thought we could celebrate here."
Scratch that. This it the most thoughtful thing anyone has done for him ever.
Oh, oh, but wait-
"But this means you're missing the Halloween party," he realizes aloud, shame flushing through his system. He doesn't want her to miss out on a fun night with her friends and colleagues for him. "It's still early, right? You could still go, enjoy it while-"
"Castle." He looks up from the awesome mug he was frowning down at. She's watching him with a soft flicker of gold in her eyes and the varying shades of twinkling lights splashing color across her cheek. Gorgeous. "I'd rather be here."
She felt a little silly, leading him out of the blanket fort she constructed while he was sleeping, into his own living room. She didn't do much, just hung the Halloween themed bedding, strung up a few lights, and lit some candles. The rest of her decoration haul is spread out across his kitchen's island - popcorn in a black cauldron, a handful of creepy toys and knick-knacks she grabbed from a bin at the checkout counter, and a plastic jack-o-lantern filled to the brim with Halloween candy.
"Where did you get all of this?" he breathes, gazing at the assortment like a kid on Christmas.
"Halloween pop up shop downtown," she shrugs, grinning as he fiddles with a tiny windup skeleton. "Not as good as an actual party, but-"
"No, better," he corrects, clearing his throat as another cough begins to build. He inhales a quick sip of his tea. "So much better, Kate. I love this."
She ducks her head, wills the waves of her hair to hide the gentle heat flushing her cheeks. She felt a little silly, unsure about all of this, afraid it was too much, especially while she remains emotionally compromised after the bank explosion. Part of her yearns to throw caution to the wind, screw the wall and dive in with him before one of them ends up shot or blown up, but she's still so far from being good enough for him, being more, and he deserves better than a hasty decision on Halloween.
But the way he's looking at her now... it extinguishes any doubts she may have had about doing this.
"I'm glad," she murmurs, tucking her hair behind her ears and reaching for the plastic pumpkin. "So, I was thinking we could veg out on your couch, watch all of your favorite Halloween movies, binge on candy."
His eyebrows rise as she holds out the full bucket to him.
"You even brought candy? Oh, and it's the good stuff," he gasps, dipping his hands inside to sift through the top layer of chocolate bars and gummy bears. He looks up at her with that crooked little boy smile that chips away at her walls every time he wears it for her. "I can't believe you did all of this for me."
Kate watches the gratitude rush through his eyes, along the upturned curve of his mouth. She's a little surprised she did all of this for him too, never putting even a fraction of as much thought into a gift for anyone else, but with Rick... everything's different with him.
She presses the plastic pumpkin into his hands, standing close enough that the bucket of candy he holds to his chest is the only thing separating them.
"Wasn't going to leave you sick and alone on your favorite holiday, Castle."
She pats his pumpkin, prepared to drift past him, back towards the blanket fort, but he catches her by the elbow.
His grip is loose enough for her to shake off, the draw of her body into his slow enough, the flicker of his eyes to her mouth obvious enough, for her to realize his intention. She does nothing to stop him, her eyes mimicking his, falling to his mouth as the orange plastic seals against the scar between her breasts.
The pumpkin falls to land between their feet, pieces of candy scattering across the floor, but she hardly notices past the warmth of Castle's palm cradling her cheek and the heat of his breath skimming her lips before he does.
The kiss he presses to her mouth is soft, tentative, and over far too soon.
He pulls away, just far enough to rest his forehead to hers, noses still touching and his mouth still so close. Kate's eyes flutter open, her chest grazing his as she sucks in a shallow breath. She tilts her chin, wants to kiss him again-
"Thank you," he murmurs, his eyes sliding open to meet hers. Beautiful blue with sparks of the same electricity she feels zapping across her lips and a dark hint of trepidation that threatens to spill through it all. "Kate, I know it's too soon to do this and you're not ready-"
Kate leans back in, brushing her lips over his in another chaste caress.
Maybe it's too soon, maybe she's not ready, but if only for tonight, she wants to savor the joy in his eyes when he woke to see her in his loft with Halloween decorations, the excitement in his voice as he discovered the blanket fort she built and the holiday treats she brought him. She wants the gentle pressure of his lips on hers and the way her heart beats hard and fast and exhilarating for him.
His smile spreads in sync with hers.
"Happy Halloween, Castle."