Chapter 33*

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"Oh, you've got to be kidding me," Kate muttered when she heard the phone ring, "It's my day off!" She was so used to getting calls at odd hours of the day that she didn't realise it wasn't her cellphone ringing until she picked it up. However, Kate did see that it was only 5:45 a.m. "Castle!" she said, giving him a sharp nudge.

He didn't so much wake up as he did wrap his arm around her waist and cuddle closer. "Sleeping," he mumbled.

She tried jabbing him again and when that didn't work, she went for the sure-fire way of getting his attention.

"Kate!" Castle gasped when he felt one of her hands erotically stroking him underneath his boxers.

She removed her hand and turned away from him, saying, "Answer your phone so I can go back to sleep."

"This is not over," he said, rubbing the sleep from his eyes as he reached for his cellphone. "Hello?" he answered.

"Well, it took you long enough!" The response on the other end had been so loud that even Kate could hear it.

Castle sighed and fell back onto the bed. "What is it this time, Paula?"

"I could ask you the same thing, loverboy! Why the hell didn't you inform me that you got engaged last night? I had to find out through about a half dozen phonecalls this morning!"

"Well, it's not anybody's business except for mine and Kate's," Castle answered.

"So it's true, then?"

"Yeah, I proposed."

"And she said 'yes'?"

Castle smiled. "Why wouldn't she?"

"I could think of a reason right now," Kate grumbled, pulling a pillow over her head.

"I'm going to go now Paula," Castle said. A beat while he waited for her to make a comment and then, "Uh huh, I'll call you later to arrange something."

He hung up and Kate lifted the pillow up to ask, "We're in the paper again, aren't we?"

"'Fraid so," he said.

"Well, let's hope people don't start calling for at least another two hours," Kate said, eyes shutting on a tired sigh.

"Oh no," Castle said, "You are not going back to sleep right now."

"It's barely six o'clock…" Kate muttered.

"Hey, you started it," he said, pressing himself against her back where she could very clearly feel his arousal.

"I did that 'cause you wouldn't wake up!" Kate tried to squirm away from him.

He held her against him. "Well, now I'm awake."

"Castle…" she said sternly when his roaming hand inched up her tank top.

He grinned. "I can wake you up, too." He slipped one of his legs between hers and applied slight pressure.

"I don't want to wake up," she replied when he turned her onto her back.

"Are you sure about that?" His hand trailed back down her flat stomach and slipped underneath both her pyjama bottoms and panties. Her body couldn't help but react when he started to stroke her folds.

Now her voice sounded almost tortured. "Castle…"

"I promise," he said, a finger entering her, "You'll sleep much better after this."

"I—"

He cut her off. "—In fact, why don't you just let me do the work, 'k? I mean, I'm not going to stop you from trying to sleep…"

Her eyes flew open when he curled another finger into her. "You are just—"

"—Amazing?"

"I was thinking 'relentless'."

Castle shrugged good-naturedly before disappearing underneath the covers, "'Relentless' isn't bad."

Her response was immediately forgotten when she felt his tongue circling her clit, drawing sensual patterns that made her body arch and her hands clutch at the sheets. "Oh my god," she gasped, biting her lips to keep from crying out. He didn't stop when he felt her nails on his back and she could no longer help the moans that escaped when he started to suck and dip into her heat.

He hummed in amusement and that was it. She was gone.

Kate pulled him back up to kiss him once she was coherent again. Her tongue tangled with his very talented one before she broke away. "I need—" her hand snaked down between their bodies to position him at her entrance "—all of you."

He entered her agonizingly slowly, making sure her eyes stayed open until he was buried full length into her. He touched his forehead to hers. "I don't know how I managed to find somebody so incredible."

She tilted her head up to capture his lips with hers, kissing him even as he started to rock above her and only breaking away when she could no longer catch her breath. His movements had gotten more fervent and she knew he was getting close. Her mouth opened but it took her a few seconds to make the words form. "I just want you to know," she started breathlessly, "How much I lo—"

Her body had arched up to meet his next thrust and they both came before she could finish her sentence. But afterwards, with his hands tightly gripping hers, he replied, "—I know."

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They finally woke up again at 10:30, this time for good.

"I wonder why we haven't heard any noise from Zo yet," Kate said, rolling out of bed and pulling on her robe.

In fact, Zoey had been up for a couple of hours. Castle and Kate found her in Alexis' room, the both of them lying on their stomachs in her bed, giggling and watching Sunday morning cartoons still in their pjs.

"Dad, you're staring," Alexis said when she looked over her shoulder to see him and Kate standing in her doorway.

"Just thinking how we have the best daughters ever," Castle replied, entering her room.

Zoey sat up in bed when she heard his voice. "Morning daddy! Morning mommy!"

"Good morning, sweetheart," Castle said, sitting down beside her.

"When did you get up?" Kate asked Alexis.

"Oh, when Grams called me at around seven this morning to see how the proposal went," Alexis replied.

"But… it's three hours behind in California," Kate said, eyebrows furrowed.

"Yeah," Alexis grinned, "Grams had just gotten home. She said she waited as long as she could but that she just had to know before she went to bed."

"Your mother parties harder than you do, Castle," Kate said.

"Don't I know it," he replied.

"So," Kate said, perching herself on the edge of Alexis' bed, "What's our plan today?"

"Well, I know it's going to be a little crazy today but I really wanted to try out a new brunch place Elise told me about," Alexis said.

"I'm sure we can give the restaurant a call," said Kate with a grin, "See if we can avoid the craziness of brunch on Sunday in New York City."

"Oh, I didn't mean—" Alexis looked at Castle.

It took a second before Kate nodded in understanding. "You meant—" she held up her left hand. "Unless we bump into somebody we know, I'm sure people won't even notice. What are they going to do? Run up to us on the street?"

"Well, I'm sure they wouldn't do that," Castle said cheekily, "They know you're a cop."

Kate was half-right. Nobody accosted them on the street and demanded to see her ring but she did get a lot of stares ranging from pure jealousy to surprise, especially when the four of them walked into a rather posh-looking restaurant for brunch. If Kate had to guess, she would say the surprise came from knowing that out of all the women in the world, Richard Castle had chosen her. Luckily, Kate was secure enough in herself to not take it personally.

Still, Castle knew that as much as she had accepted his notoriety due to the nature of his job, she would never be completely comfortable with the attention.

"Excuse me," he said to the hostess after Alexis had requested a table for four, "Do you think you could get us a table in a quiet corner? For privacy, you know?" He gave her his most charming smile.

The hostess nodded. "Of course, Mr. Castle. I'll see what I can do."

"So," Castle said to Kate as the hostess weaved them through the restaurant a few minutes later, "How many texts and calls have you gotten?"

"Well, a lot of texts from the precinct," Kate replied, "Mostly of the 'thanks for informing us first' variety." She rolled her eyes, "Though I suspect Lanie told them all yesterday. Ryan didn't sound all that surprised when he called me and, well, Esposito lives with her."

"I love Lanie," Alexis said with a grin, lifting Zoey up onto a booster seat before sitting down beside her.

"Good morning," a waitress greeted, appearing in front of their table, "My name is Mira and I'll be your server this morning. Can I get you some drinks to start off with?"

"I'll have orange juice," Alexis replied.

"Two coffees, please," Castle said, answering for Kate.

"And she'll just have a glass of milk," Kate said, nodding at Zoey.

"Sure thing," Mira said, "And—" she paused as if unsure whether or not to continue, "—congratulations on the engagement. That ring is gorgeous."

"Not as gorgeous as the woman wearing it," Castle replied immediately, his eyes twinkling as he looked at Kate.

Kate's right hand squeezed his under the table as she said 'thanks' to Mira. "You can be so cheesy sometimes," she said to Castle after their waitress had walked off.

"Is it still cheesy if it's true?" he asked.

"Yes," Kate and Alexis answered simultaneously.

"You guys always gang up on me," he pouted, "At least I've got Zoey on my side, right Zo?"

Zoey, clueless about the actual conversation, shook her head. "I don't like cheese, daddy," she replied, much to Castle's dismay and Kate's amusement.

Kate patted him on the shoulder. "I think you've lost this one, Castle."

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That night, Castle snuck up on Kate as she was grabbing a glass of water in the kitchen.

"Hey you," he said quietly, wrapping his arms around her waist and resting his head on her shoulder.

She tilted her head a little when he started peppering her neck with soft kisses. "Hey yourself," she replied. "Are you going to sleep soon?"

"Maybe in another hour. I'm still working on a chapter," he said, "But I just wanted to give you something before you went to bed."

Kate smiled and turned around in his arms. "You already gave me something, remember?" she said, the cold metal of her ring being felt on his cheek as she pulled him in for a kiss.

"Yes," Castle said, eyes happy when he drew away, "But you won't be wearing it to work tomorrow."

"Well, it's a little too flashy to wear while chasing criminals," Kate replied. There was a note of levity in Kate's voice but she wasn't actually joking. Aside from the odd bracelet, a watch was the only jewellery – if she could even call it jewellery – that adorned her arms on a consistent basis while she was working. Anything more would be impractical and get in the way of her job – not only if she found herself in a shady area where people would only be so happy to rip a diamond ring off of her finger but also, it could very well prevent her from effectively knocking somebody out if the time called for it (although, more than likely, it would be the ring that would suffer and that wouldn't be too good either).

"I know," Castle said, nodding, "Which is why I got you something you can wear to work."

"Castle, what did you do?" Kate said, shaking her head at his antics.

"I know it's very Cro-Magnon of me," he started, a blush rising to his face, "But I want people to know that you're mine. That you belong with me."

Kate smiled. "I don't need to be wearing a ring for people to know that."

"I know," he said, "I just… I don't ever want to be without you, Kate. And I want a piece of me to be with you… to remind you of that wherever you are." He reached into the pocket of his sweater, dangling the necklace from his index finger when he pulled it out. "You can wear it under your clothes. I don't think it'll show."

Castle placed it in the palm of her hand. It was a small circle pendant on a delicate white gold chain. "It kind of looks like a mini-ring, doesn't it?" he said.

Kate looked down, letting him flip it over to show her the engraving.

Surrounded by the quiet darkness of the loft, a single overhead light in the kitchen created a halo around the two of them, just enough to see by. Etched around the circle was the word a l w a y s . She looked up at him and he closed his hand over hers, clasping the pendant tightly in the centre before pulling her into a hug.

Voices got in the way when communication between them needed nothing more than these brief touches and fixed gazes. After all, they already knew the words.


A/N: That last line is a modified version of something Andrew Marlowe said that I thought was just so incredibly beautiful: "Sometimes they do it with their eyes, because they already know the words".

Oh, and see what I did there? With the "I just want you to know how much I…" ;)

Oh, and Happy Pi Day!

(Alright, alright, now that I've had my fun… I know this chapter couldn't possibly live up to the proposal chapter but please still let me know how I did!)