This was one of those times that she didn't care that her dinner tasted like cardboard. It was food, and other then coffee and a bearclaw Castle had supplied, it was all she had eaten today. So, yes, Kate Beckett had never been so happy to eat food that tasted like cardboard.

She liked to sit there in the silence and eat. It gave her one thing to focus on. Something simpler then a TV show, less stressful then the case file she had been pouring over all day. Something to focus on.

Then she heard the squeaking of the floorboards. All thoughts of cardboard flew out of her find mind, the chopsticks simultaneously falling into the carton. She placed it on the table and tiptoed over to the drawer where she kept her off duty piece. With a fluent movement she removed the safety and made her way to the door. She undid the lock, silently cursing the fact that she didn't have a peephole. She was a cop after all, why had she been so stupid? It all didn't matter now. Besides, it was probably nothing.

Ah hell, who was she kidding? Somebody was out to kill her and she was in a very vulnerable position. She felt this was one of those times where even Castle would say 'You're screwed.' And seeing as he never said anything that was so commonly used, this was saying something.

Kate took a deep breath before throwing the door opening in sliding into her offensive stance, the cold gun clamped firmly between her fingers.

The guest jumps as a high pitch squeal escapes his lips "ah-wow!"

"Castle!" She exclaims. Her voice sounds angry though in reality she is just relived. "What are you doing here?"

"Wine?" He asks weakly as he shows her the bottle he currently grasps.

And so she lets him in. He's her partner, and it seemed like a good way to make up for almost shooting him.

"So, what happened to your security detail?" He asks as he pours them each a glass. "I didn't see anyone outside."

She has since dug her files out of her bag, her crappy takeout forgotten. He was here to look over case files, right? "I didn't see anyone outside," she answers offhandedly. Castle stops pouring and rolls his eyes. "I sent them home after I got in,"

He shoots her a look. One of their looks that say everything but only they understand.

"What?" She fights the urge to roll her eyes. "The windows are locked, the doors are locked. I'm armed," She tacks on at the end.

He wants to lecture her, but decides against it. She let him into her apartment, he didn't want to push his luck.

She pretends not to notice. "So our guy killed the others where they were found." She shakes her head. "Why not this girl? Why didn't he just leave her in the garage where we'd find her?"

"He's changing it up," Castle says and his voice catches her off guard. It's very emotional? Was that the word she was looking for? It was as alluring as when he told a really long story, but sincere.

"Or this victim's something special."

He joins her on the sofa and offers her a glass.

Kate smiles. "Thanks," She downs the entire glass without another thought. She really had needed it.

"Impressive," He offers a breathy laugh.

She shrugs. "I really needed that."

He copies her before sitting his glass on the table. "I think we both needed that."

She giggles. Yes ladies and gentlemen, Detective Kate Becket actually giggles. "I'll give you that."

He glances at the bottle across the room. "You want more?"

She looks at her watch. What if she gets called in?

"You're off duty," he reminds her, and she agrees.

He pours them each another half a glass before joining her on the couch. Kate takes her time sipping at her wine carefully, slowly, letting herself relax into the cushions. Wine and company was much preferred alternative to shitty takeout.

"Can I ask you a question?" He says suddenly.

"Shoot," she say without a second thought.

He opens his mouth, but holds back the jibe at the last minute, opting to get to the point.

"Why did you send your security detail home?"

"They don't need to be here.

"We both know that's bull."

Kate frowns. Does he really know her that well? "Then why else would I send them home?"

"Because you're scared, you know he's after you, and you know he doesn't mind killing people. Especially if it'll get to you. You sent them home to protect them."

"Castle," she growls in warning, but he continues anyway. This is Castle we're talking about after all.

"Do you want me to leave?"

That was defiantly not what she had been expecting to come from the writer's lips. "No," she says without a thought. The sad thing; she couldn't even bring herself to regret it.

"Do you want me to stay?"


"Will you admit that I'm right?"


"Yes you'll admit it, or yes that was you admitting it?"

"Yes you're right."

"Do you want to talk about it?"


All of this happens in about two seconds.

"Do you think you'll be up all night unable to fall asleep because you feel guilty even though it's not your fault?"

"Yes, Castle!" she snaps. Kate placed her glass on her coffee table and fell back into the warmth of her sofa. "Look, I'm sorry," she says when she notices his pout. "I'm just…stressed, but I shouldn't have snapped."

He shakes his head refusing the apology. "I shouldn't have pried. I apologize," he says in his over dramatic story teller's voice. "Not to contradict myself, but talking about things has been scientifically proven to make people better."

"I don't want to talk about it Castle."

"What do you want to do?"

"You're the story teller. What's your guess?" She challenges him, because yes, she hates talking about her feelings, yes, she knows that talking about them will make her feel better, and yes, she doesn't want to feel weak. It was one of her defense mechanisms. Sarcasm, snarky comments, and verbal sparring. While they were all fun they were all defensive means.

Rick knows her. He knows her as well as she knows herself. The fact that they've only know each other for two years does not affect how well they know each other. Because it's possible—though rare—that two people learn the other so quickly. Rick knows she's reaching her breaking point, and she just needs that little push, one that he had challenged him to give her. "My guess—no, I'm not going to guess. I'm positive that you wish I wasn't here because you don't want to talk about it. You can't talk about it, because once you start you'll cry. And although you are strong, you don't want to cry in front of me—in front of anybody, because you fear that it will you make you feel weak. Which is very far from true. Showing and dealing with emotion is what makes us strong, and what makes us human. So my guess is that you feel like crying, you feel like being comforted, and you don't want to feel weak once you feel better."

She cursed. How the hell could he read her so well? "You're good," she knows that praise is the last thing he needs, but it was all that she could think of in that moment.

"I just know that sometimes all you need is a warm hug and a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes you need to talk, and others you just need to be alone. Kate, I'm your friend—your partner, tell me what you need and I'll be it."

She swallows and feels the tears prickling in her eyes as they threaten to spill over. Tears from his words and tears from her own feelings; fears, and understanding how much he cares about her. All hopes of keeping herself composed jump out the window, along with her supply of sarcasm and witty comebacks.

He takes her tears as her asking him to be the shoulder to cry on and pulls her into his lap, and immediately she buries her face into his shoulder.

And they stay like that for at least an hour, more likely two. Kate sobbing into his shoulder, Rick trying to comfort her with any means possible. Whispered words, stroking her hair, wrapping her in the blanket behind them, rubbing her back, and even just letting her cry.

After a while her tears begin to fade, and she slowly reverts to her normal self. The sobs stopped, the tears all shed, and the walls…well, actually her emotional barriers stayed down for once.

"You okay?"

She nods wordlessly against his chest, not yet ready to pull away from him or reveal her tearstained face. She felt safer I this position. Kate wishes she could find her voice—if not just to thank him for being here.

He seems to understand that she either can't talk or is isn't ready to and continues to brush her hair back, and at sometimes rubbing her back. She is still in his lap, and they are both content with that, neither one wanting to move, both could stay there for the rest of their lives and have no complaints. Being in each other's arms, it was safe….it was home.
This was yet another one of those moments when Kate wished there more. When she was positive she loved him, and that he loved her. One of those moments that left her craving more. How she wishes he felt the same, it would make lying in his arms more enjoyable, she would know that she would find herself there again. Now, all that she was sure of was that he cared about her. He cared about his friend, his partner. That was it. She was probably imagining that he felt more.

"Kate," he whispers gently in her ear, his warm breath on her neck sent a shiver down her spine. Kate prayed he didn't notice, but this is Castle. Of course he noticed. He just didn't say anything about it. Kate bit her lip when his lip gently ghosted against her ear. She told herself it hadn't been intentional; there really wasn't much room for them to move considering their current position. "I know you don't want to talk about it, but if you change your mind, I'm here to listen. No sarcastic comments and none of it will go near a Nikki Heat novel. I just want you to know that."

She smiles, a watery smile seeing as tears have built up in her eyes yet again. Apparently if you always try to hold back your emotions, and then you let them go it's a challenge to regain your normal composure. Had she been with any other person this would've angered her, but here, with him she was happy. Happy somebody cared, and happy that she trusted him. She hadn't even considered this going near one of his books, but the fact that he had assured her it would never happen only made her trust him more. He really wasn't a bad guy when he wasn't acting like a nine year old on a sugar rush.

"Thank you Castle," she whispers, finally pulling away to meet his eyes.

He smiles slightly as he reaches over and brushes away the stray tears on her cheek.

Some unknown force seemed to take over her body. When he went to retract his hand, she grasped it, intertwining the fingers. What the hell are you doing? The voice in the back of her head screamed. The other one, that told her to have fun and tended to sound like Lanie (and even once or twice Castle) squealed and urged her on.

"No thanks is necessary Detective," he murmurs as he gives her fingers a reassuring squeeze.

"Kate." She says suddenly. It doesn't seem right to be so professional considering their position. She was emotionally exposed to him, not to mention sitting on his lap. Both of them still had an arm around each other. Hers around his neck, his around her shoulders. "I don't think you fully understand, I mean thank you for everything. Not just tonight."

He smiles. "I get what you're saying, but I still don't think you need to thank me. We're human, taking care of the people we love is what we're supposed to do. Hold them when they cry, cheer them up, feed them when they forget to feed themselves, have their back at all times, it's what we do, because we care."

Kate's eyes grew wide. Oh. My. God...did he just say…?

When Rick catches her eyes she sees the shock shimmering there. For a second he fears that her stalker is behind them, but then he realizes his slip up. He told her he loved her. Just like that, it slipped out. Oh shit.

"Do you mean that?" She says with unhidden hope shining on her face. "All of it?"

He gulps. This wasn't supposed to happen this way, but there was no way he would back out. "Yes."

Kate smiles to herself as butterflies take over her stomach. He loves me. She looks up to meet his eyes. "Good. I love you too." And just like that everything changes.

Kate didn't even see him smiling before she crashed her lips to his.

It started out sweet, slow, simple, but that only lasted a second. Kate wound her hands into his hair, pulling her body flush against his. His hands came to her hips, helping her rearrange herself so that she was straddling him, rather than sitting on his lips. Kate's practiced fingers made quick work or his shirt, only the last five buttons ended up being ripped off. "Getting impatient Detective?"

"You have no idea how long I've wanted to do that," she whispered against his lips. "So yes, I was getting impa—"

She wasn't the only one. Rick captured her lips before he could finish her sentence, effectively silencing the detective. Kate stifled a moan as his tongue traced her lips, begging for the entrance she was only too willing to give him. And yet he didn't accept. He had been teasing her. Kate groaned in frustration as she grinded her hips against his. He gasped, and she took advantage of it, her tongue sliding between his warm lips. They fought for dominance over the other, but there was no winner, sometimes he'd be in control and she'd sweep him off his feet and take over. It was just like their verbal relationship. His hands made their way from her hips to the hem of her shirt, his hands resting on her prominent hipbones, just enjoying the simple feel of her bare skin against his. Kate fought to pull him out of his shirt with his hands on her hips and settled for removing her own. He eyes never left his face as his icy blue orbs raked over her milky white skin. The fact that she hadn't spent time in the sun was obvious, but her delicately pale skin seemed to add to her beauty. "You're so beautiful," he gasped.

Low and behold, Kate Beckett, savvy, intelligent, sarcastic, workaholic, extraordinary Detective Kate Beckett blushed.

He smiled. "I mean it."

She smiled, and it seemed to him that she was…embarrassed? "Thank you."

He rolls her eyes. "Don't thank me. You're beautiful, I'm just stating the truth."

"Not a lot of people describe me as beautiful." She admits brushing back a strand of hair. "Hot, sarcastic, badass, sexy even, but not beautiful."

He pulls her down closer to him, so that she is still straddling him, but sitting on him as well. "You're beautiful. And you need to know that."

She smiles, and again, the writer has left her at a loss for words. So she goes for action, and successfully welds her lips to his again. Next thing she knows she's pulling him out of his shirt, and his hands are lightly pulling as they twist themselves into her hair. He's grinding his hips into hers, and his hands are cautiously playing with the clasp of her bra, as though he's debating whether or not to go through with it. Kate's patience long gone, her hands make her way down south and the next thing he knows his belt is tossed on the floor in a pile with both their shirts. Her fingers are struggling with the button when he finally realizes what's happening. Kate's lips have left his and were at work along his neck

"Wait, I Jesus," he gasped as she nipped at his neck. "Kate," he moaned. "This is important."

She pulls away only to meet his eyes, impatience and craving evident on her delicate features.

"You trusted me a lot tonight, and I don't want to fuck this up—"

"Castle," she growled in warning. She didn't like the way this sounded.

"Will you regret this in the morning if you wake up and find me in your bed?" He gasped out quickly. His eyes stare deep into hers, refusing to waver or even blink.

She almost laughed. That was it? "No, or I wouldn't let you in it. Will you still be there I the morning when I wake up?"

"As long as you want me there."

"Always," she whispered before devouring his lips once more.

His fingers didn't pause or play around, he fluidly removed the pesky article of clothing and tossed it to the ground in the steadily growing pile of fabric. His hands were all over her, not a single inch of her skin left untouched. Quickly, with the strength of a man who had done it before (Kate didn't dwell on this fact) Rick stood up, and she wrapped her legs tighter around his waist, locking her ankles for good measure. Carefully he made their way into her bedroom, with a few breathless directions from her. They fell onto the bed in a tangle of limbs and desperately removed clothing. His jeans, her yoga pants, his boxers, her panties. The pile on the side of the bed quickly grew until there wasn't a single thing separating them. They were alone, they had admitted their love, and despite the fact that there was a mad man after her Kate and Rick couldn't have imagined a better way for the night to end.