"Beckett—Kate, come back to bed."

Detective Kate Beckett was wandering Rick Castle's bedroom, gathering items of clothing in the dim lamplight. She was startled by his voice, and froze like a perp caught in the act. Usually, when they froze like that, the next second they took off in a full-tilt run.

"Castle! Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you."

"I bet you didn't. Don't go, Kate. Come back to bed."

"Look, this was great, really." She was surprised to find how sincere her words were. "But I need to get home. There are some things I need to get done, and—"

"No, Kate. Please stay."

"Why does it matter?" she asked, feeling trapped and frustrated.

"Because if you go now, this was a mistake. If you stay, this is a beginning."

Kate sighed. "Look, Writer-boy, it doesn't have to be so dramatic. If I go now, maybe it's just because I don't want to do the walk of shame past your mother and daughter in the morning."

He didn't buy her claim, but decided to humor her: "Then I'll set the alarm obscenely early. We'll wake up at 5 a.m., cuddle a little while, I'll make you some coffee, and you'll be out the door before they even wake up."

The idea was simultaneously seductive and terrifying. Castle could see the fear in Kate's face. Usually, Detective Beckett expertly controlled her expressions, but right now she looked more frightened than he'd seen her, with the exception of that day on the precinct floor when she'd fought to save her mother's killer. Castle shook off the mental image of Kate's hands coated in his blood. He got out of bed and reached out to touch her cheek.

"Stay because it's what you really want to do."

Beckett finally dropped the armful of clothes, and he pulled her into his arms before kissing her tenderly.

"God, Castle, you're such a girl," she teased, trying to sound nonchalant.

"If by 'girl' you mean 'caring person in touch with his emotions,' thank you."

She couldn't help but laugh at that. "Sure, Castle. That's exactly what I meant."

They both returned to his bed and slid between the smooth sheets. Castle set the alarm clock, as promised, and turned off the lamp. Kate turned onto her side and was surprised when Rick imitated her position, pulling her closer to spoon. Even more shocking, she didn't mind. She liked the warmth of his body against hers. His arm draped over her felt like safety, not a trap. Still, she couldn't stop herself from cracking wise.

"I can't believe you begged, Castle. 'Stay. Please stay. Stay,'" she said, imitating his deeper voice.

He laughed and kissed her shoulder. "Kate, sometimes the strongest thing you can do is to ask for what you need."

His statement ran contrary to everything Kate Beckett believed—to the way she lived her life. Why, then, did it feel so true?

"Yeah, well, what I need is some sleep."

Castle laughed again. "Okay, Detective Beckett, it that's how you want to play it. We do want New York's Finest to be well rested."

Kate fell asleep more quickly than she had in years.

AN- Thank you so much for reading! If you'd like more to the story, review and let me know.