Falling slowly, eyes that know me and I can't go back

Moods that take me and erase me and I'm painted black

You have suffered enough and warred with yourself

It's time that you won

Take this sinking boat and point it home

We've still got time

Raise your hopeful voice you had the choice

You've made it now

Falling slowly sing your melody

I'll sing along

Falling Slowly -Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova

He snores; she realizes the next morning as the sun peeks through the curtains. She shoves him gently and he rolls towards her and throws his arm over her waist. She rolls her eyes as he settles, his face next to hers on the pillow. And as he drools on her pillow she's glad that at least he isn't snoring anymore.

She contemplates waking him, but she doesn't have the heart. Her body aches from both their activities of the night before and from the rough treatment she received in captivity. She can only imagine how he will fare. He took the brunt of it for her.

She likes the quiet. Richard Castle is rarely still, so she takes the time to really catalog his visible injuries. The sheet is tangled around his waist but doesn't hide the bruises that dot his skin. She carefully shifts to her side, pulling the sheet up to cover her naked skin as she settles facing him.

"Are you watching me sleep, detective?" He asks after a moment without opening his eyes.

"No. That would be creepy and way too sappy." She denies as his eyes open and he grins at her. "How do you feel?" She asks.

"Well..." He pauses and tugs on her waist until she slides closer. "Aside from being the luckiest bastard in the world..." He kisses her softly. "Like hell."

She kisses him back, lazy open mouth pecks.

"Want some Advil or something?" She breathes against his lips in a sexy purr.

"That is the hottest thing you've ever said." His hands slip under the sheet to squeeze her butt as he entertains himself with the skin just below her ear.

"It's the good kind." She almost moans.

He presses her to the bed and pauses hovering over her. Her hair is tangled and tossed haphazardly across the pillow and he can't resist the urge to run his fingers through it. He brushes his thumbs across her cheeks as he slides his fingers into the soft bed of silky locks, cupping her face in his hands he leans down and whispers.

"You're just trying to dope me up so you can have your dirty way with me?" He teases as he locks eyes with her and his desire for her escalates.

"Dirty, huh?" She questions softly, heat rolling from her in wave after drugging wave. Her eyes dark and dilated. Her voice low and raspy.

"A little slutty maybe?" He questions then captures her lower lip and tugs on it gently with his teeth.

She reaches up and locks her hands around his neck, her fingers tickling his skin as they slip into his hair.

"I shudder to think about what must run through your head on a daily basis." She whispers between kisses.

"Now Kate, if you want to talk dirty you just have to ask." He smirks as he runs his hands across her naked skin. Memorizing her curves by touch as he moves closer.

"On second thought, maybe I do just want to dope you up. You're much easier to manage when you're unconscious." She teases as he settles between her legs.

He shifts and grunts in protest as he quickly rolls away to relieve the pressure on one of his many injuries, taking the sheet with him. He closes his eyes and bites his lip to keep quiet as the pain races through his side, red hot and undeniable.

He wishes to hell he'd seen fit to stop and fill the prescription the doctor gave him the night before.

"Do you think the corner pharmacy delivers? Cause I have a prescription burning a hole in my pants pocket somewhere?" He groans.

She tries not to laugh. He could be the biggest baby sometimes. Although she has to give him credit for trying even when he was so obviously injured. Reaching over to the drawer by her bed she opens it and pulls out the bottle of painkiller she had left over from her last hospital visit. He opens his eyes and watches her as she opens the bottle. She drops a couple in her hand then closes the bottle and returns it to the drawer before grabbing the water bottle from on top of the table.

"Here, take these." She shoves them at him and he offers her a weak smile as he takes the pills.

"Prescription strength? Move in with me. Marry me. Have my babies." He spits out then swallows the pills. She takes the water bottle from him and sets it back on the table.

"I hate to think what you offered the nurse." She teases as she settles next to him again, her hand resting on his chest, as she curls into his side the sheet draped across her hips. She thinks she could get used to this early morning banter.

"Well, he wasn't really my type." Rick teases as he places a kiss on her forehead. Looking up at him she smiles.

"I see." She answers as he leans down toward her lips. He doubts he's ever going to be able to watch her talk and not flash back on where those lips have been.

"Do you now?" He murmurs then slides his hand across her side and down her hip pushing gently and tipping her onto her back, and then back up to her breast as if he can't decide just where he wants to touch. His eyes cataloging her naked skin, feasting on the vision she offers spread out in front of him.

"Mmmmhmmm." She hums as he carefully shifts and kisses his way down her neck. He really should be... She forgets what he should and shouldn't be doing when he teases her nipple with his tongue.

Her hands land carefully on his head, halfway between holding him there and pushing him away. Mostly just hanging on. She squirms delightfully below him and he almost thinks he could convince his body to forget the trauma and make love to her again.

His hands land on her wrists and she yanks them away with a sharp gasp. He pulls back quickly.

"Sorry." Her eyes are closed and she's biting her lip, it would be sexy as hell if not for the pain he knows she is in. "Let me see." He coaxes her and she only hesitates for a moment before holding her right wrist out to him.

Carefully, he unwraps the bandage to reveal her injuries and he wants to cringe at what he finds. It's slightly swollen, and the skin is raw and weeping.

"Those cuffs really did a number on you." He whispers and wishes he could take it all away.

"It's fine." She answers as she pulls her arm free and turns her back to him, rewrapping the bandage in the process. She catches the sheet and pulls it up to cover herself.

"It isn't." He argues, sliding behind her and wrapping his arms around her waist he kisses the side of her neck and squeezes her tightly.

"Rick." She objects and turns in his arms to face him again.

"Kate." He mimics her tone and she gives him a pointed stare.

"I'm not ok with it. I'm never going to be. So just accept that I hate the idea of anyone touching you or hurting you." He says after a moment as he brushes her hair back from her face.

"Fine, as long as you accept that I'm never going to be ok with you coddling me." She knows he's just concerned but she doesn't want him getting any ideas about his role. The last thing she needs is for him to become overprotective. She can take care of herself.

He knows she's always going to fight him on that and that most of the time she will be right. He meant it when he told her she was the strongest woman he knew, but that didn't stop him from wanting to make sure nothing ever hurt her again.

"Point taken." He concedes. She let him in, let him hold her and love her. He can give her the space she needs as long as she doesn't shove him away completely.

"Good, now get back over here." She smiles weaves her fingers through his hair, tugging him back to her lips. Sliding his tongue in her mouth, he lets his own hands wander again. Loves that he can. That nothing is off limits anymore. Loves the feel of her skin against his, of her fingers dancing down his chest and her arms wrapping around him and pulling him closer.

Well, until her arm tightens around his side and fire explodes beneath his skin. His stomach turning over in a sick reminder of his less than perfect health.

"Cracked rib." He confesses under his breath as he pulls away. How the hell had they done this last night?

"And you let me?" Her mind flashes back to all of the positions they had shared the night before. He should have been begging her to stop, not joining in so enthusiastically. "Last night?"

"I had some pretty good drugs before I left the hospital?" He offers lamely. She gives him another of her disapproving looks. Like he should have known better. "What? I caught a cab."

She rolls her eyes at his excuse.

"You should be at home in bed." She adds even though that is the last place she wants him to be.

He gives her a mischievous grin and walks his fingers across her stomach.

"Oh, but I am, detective. I am very much at home in your bed. In fact, I think we should stay here for the next week." His lips punctuate his words with a few hungry pecks to her neck.

"Oh you do, do you?" She questions, her voice breathy as his fingers wrap around the sheet once more and he drags it across her skin as he uncovers her.

"You know that if you try to go in today they will make you come right back here. So really you have no choice but to stay here and let me do all sorts of delightful things to you." His reasoning is sound, and very tempting. His lips on her earlobe almost as convincing as the hardness he presses into her hip.

She's suitably impressed with his response, but she knows they would be stupid to risk injuring him further.

"With your cracked rib?" She questions.

"It worked last night." He adds simply and works his way down her neck, his hand moving up her body to grope her breast.

"Maybe I'm not the one with the head injury." She closes her eyes and enjoys the ride.

"There you go again with that dirty talk." He pulls back to look at her and waits until she opens her eyes and meets his to continue. "What is your fascination with my head?" He asks.

She cradles his head in her hands.

"Does your mind ever leave the gutter?" She asks, he smiles.

"Not when you're lying here in your birthday suit." He answers then returns his attention to the inside swell of her right breast.

"So I should get dressed?" She teases.

"If you do, I won't be held responsible for the inevitable destruction of whatever you decide to cover yourself with." He answers against her stomach. He moves slowly and carefully, but it's seductive as hell and she loses track of time as his tongue dances across her skin.

"You're cheating." She pants as he nips at the skin at the juncture of her hip. That soft sweet indentation where her leg meets the rest of her body. He smiles against her skin and moves to cover the final distance to his goal when the phone on her bedside table rings and she rolls away from him.

He tries to press on as she talks but she places a hand against his chest and holds him back. Her conversation is brief but he gets the gist of it and when she hangs up she confirms his guess.

"Lanie?" He questions as she starts to pull away.

"Yeah, she's bringing some stuff by." She says as she lays on her back and stares at the ceiling.

"We better hurry then." He whisper in her ear and wraps his arms around her.

"We better get dressed." She disagrees with her words but her hands come to rest on his arms and she holds him to her.

"Why, you look so amazing naked?" His tone full of disbelief. She laughs then turns to rest her head against the pillow next to him. Her face growing serious as he moves his hands to rest on the small of her back.

"Look, we should talk about what happened." She sighs. She didn't want to have this conversation so early. She wanted to fool around some more, maybe doze a little with him, and then after a full day of doing nothing but enjoying each others company maybe broach the topic over dinner.

"Oh no, you don't. I am not taking it back. I intend to frequent your bed." He spits out quickly his grip on her tightening, and she smiles softly and brushes her fingers across the uninjured side of his face.

"You better. That isn't what I meant." Her voice as tender as her touch.

"What did you mean then?" He questions and she feels the tension in him drain.

"Just that as soon as people find out, this becomes a lot more complicated. I like this. Just us." She whispers. For a minute he thought she was going to run away. This is more than he could have hoped for.

"I like it, too." He admits with a grin of his own.

"I'm not ready for the world to know. I just want some time to get used to the idea." She continues, her fingers wandering down his neck and across his collarbone, marveling at the strength in his grip as her eyes follow her fingers.

"Naked time?" He teases and presses his lower half against hers.

"Among other things." She laughs.

He doesn't ever want to screw this up. Wants to wake up like this with her every day. But he doesn't want to press his luck or assume she wants the same thing.

"Just so we're clear, what is it exactly that you want?" He asks, his tone more sober.

"Us." Her voice is unshakeable and he lets go of those nagging doubts that keep trying to tell him she's going to kick him out the door. She finally wants what he does and he couldn't be more pleased or relieved at the same time.

"I want to be with you, I just want some alone time before I have to share us with the press and even with our friends. They'll figure it out soon enough. For now I just want to be us." She continues, her eyes earnest and pleading. And he gets it, he really does. Before he would have thought it was just a ploy or an excuse to avoid the truth. But this isn't going to be easy for either one of them, and he doesn't blame her for wanting to keep quiet.

What they have is so new and fragile, it doesn't need any outside pressure to help it fall apart. He's sure they can manage that on their own just fine.

"So you want me to get dressed so Lanie doesn't put two and two together." He cups her cheek and she leans into his hand. Relief rushing through her. She hoped he would understand, but was afraid he wouldn't. Afraid he'd see it as a step back.

"Something like that. Though I doubt you being dressed will make any difference in what she figures out." She smiles and he kisses her softly.

"Plausible deniability. You know, I kind of like the idea of sneaking around with you." He teases as he pulls away from her.

And he actually does. It could be fun, and their lives could use some fun. He likes knowing that they have a shared secret. That she can pretend all she wants, but he knows that she's coming home to his bed. That when he flirts with her at work now it won't be a possibility but a promise.

"I hoped you might." She adds as he scoots carefully to the edge of the bed and swings his feet down. She follows him and sits on her knees behind him. He turns his head and looks at her over his shoulder.

"It's kind of hot." He smirks. "But if someone asks, I'm not going to lie to them." He adds in a more serious tone.

She nods and kisses his shoulder.

"I wouldn't ask you to. I don't want to be your dirty little secret, I just want some time to be with you before the rest of the world jumps into our relationship." She explains and he nods.

"You think we can last longer than Lanie and Esposito did?" He questions before catching her lips again for a quick kiss.

"Is there even any doubt?" She teases. In reality, they are probably the only two who could pull it off. They already act like they are dating at work. Nothing will really change as far as their behavior there. Even if he is bolder, the guys will have no proof that he isn't just upping the ante a bit.

She scoots to the edge of the bed and stands, walks over to where her shirt landed the night before and pulls it over her head before bending to pick up his boxers.

"I guess this means we won't be making out in the elevator at the precinct?" He asks, enjoying the view.

"That would be a wise guess." She rolls her eyes and tosses his boxers at him. "Now hurry up, she'll be here soon."

"What about when everyone leaves?" He continues to watch her and lets the boxers sit on his lap.

She returns to the bed to stand in front of him with his pants in her hand. She sets them on the bed next to him as he talks. He watches her as she steps between his legs then drops to her knees. Her hands wrap around his neck.

"I've always had this fantasy with you at your desk and I-" She pulls him to her lips to shut him up. Her tongue making lazy circles with his as her hands run down his chest and push the boxers from his lap and to the bed. She's had some fantasies herself, but they definitely don't have time to go into those before Lanie arrives.

Without breaking the kiss she stands then redeposits herself in his lap. His hands drop to her thighs and he nearly dies when she brushes against him intimately.

Then before he knows what happened, she's back on her feet and backing away from him.

"Get dressed and we'll talk about it later." She smirks from across the room as she picks up her panties.

"Is that a maybe?" He gulps, his brain incapable of thought after her little game.

"That's a: if you want to have a chance in hell, you'll shut up about it and pretend you haven't seen me naked when Lanie gets here." She answers.

He grins as he pulls on his boxers.

"What?" She questions picking up his shirt and tossing it at the bed.

"You didn't say no." He explains quickly donning his pants as well.

"It wasn't a yes either." She rolls her eyes as she pulls her underwear up her long legs. Then turns around to hunt for her pants only to catch him standing still watching her. "What are you doing?" She asks, frazzled.

"Enjoying the show." He answers and she swears that if she didn't love him she'd kill him herself.

The doorbell rings as she locates her pants and she sighs.

"Our cover is going to be blown before we even start at this rate." She offers, quickly tugging her pants on as she walks toward the front door. Castle grabs his shirt and tugs it on as well, his fingers fumbling with the buttons.

They pause in the living room and she swats his hands away and finishes buttoning his shirt herself.

"I got it covered." He promises in a whisper. "You just watch." He adds then hurries to the couch and lies down. He tugs a blanket over him, pretending to sleep.

"What are you doing?" She demands in a harsh whisper.

"Trust me." He answers.

Unhappy at her lack of choice, she opens the door.

"Are you ok?" Lanie asks as soon as the door opens. "It took you a while to get to the door." Her friend's concern, though ill-timed, is touching and Kate feels slightly guilty about making Lanie worry needlessly.

"Just a little slow moving this morning." She offers. It's not really her fault that pulling herself away from Rick is so difficult. She decides that Rick is just going to have to take the blame for that. She doubts he'll mind and can almost guarantee he's going to become disturbingly good at making most mornings an exercise in will power. That he's going to get a sick thrill out of making every morning a 'slow moving' morning.

"Can I come in?" Lanie asks.

She hesitates. While she doesn't want to be rude, it would be nice to avoid the topic of Castle spending the night entirely.

"Yeah, uh..."

Lanie pushes past her anyway, making the decision for her.

"What is he doing here so early?" Her friend demands as her eyes land immediately on her house guest, where he pretends to sleep on the couch. "Did you two-"

"Really? Does it look like we did?" Kate cuts her off before she can finish. She doesn't want to lie, but she also really doesn't want Lanie to figure it out so soon.

"Nah, I guess he wouldn't be sleeping on the couch if you had. Pity." Lanie sighs.

"Shush, you're going to wake him up." Kate tries not to smile at the obvious disappointment on her friend's face and the complete ridiculousness of Rick's plan. He doesn't even look like he's sleeping and she can't believe Lanie buys it.

"Too late. What time is it?" He groans and rubs at his eyes, making sure to wince and pull his hand back quickly as he touches his injured eye. Slowly sitting up, and making a big production of it. "When did I fall asleep?" He asks.

And he said he wouldn't lie for her, this time she does smile.

"It's nine thirtyish." Lanie supplies as she rolls her eyes then turns to face Kate again. "Here..." She hands her a plastic bag. "It's your keys, wallet, and phone. Montgomery has your badge and gun, you know the drill."

She did. It was going to take a psych evaluation before she could get her gun and badge back, and she wasn't really looking forward to it.

"Yeah, I'll head in later to talk to him." She waves it off.

"He told me to tell you that if you showed up today he was going to send your sorry ass home and to not even consider it." Lanie offers seriously.

"You got my stuff too?" Castle asks as he stands and stretches, adding to his performance.

"And why would I be bringing your stuff to Kate's place?" Lanie asks as she turns around to face him again, her hands on her hips.

"No reason I guess." He mumbles. Kate bites her lip from behind Lanie to keep from laughing.

"Ryan has your stuff. I think he and Javi were going to swing by and drop it off if you didn't show up at the precinct today. Should I tell them to swing it by here instead?" Lanie asks.

He wonders why it always feels like she's asking him a different question than the one that comes out of her mouth.

"Nah, I'll pick it up on my way home." He answers. Lanie gives him one last look, like maybe she's trying to figure something out, then turns back to Kate.

"Alright, I've got to get back. You need anything?" She asks and Kate smiles.

"No, I'm fine." She answers.

"I'm sure you are." It's clear by her tone, that Lanie doesn't believe her but she drops it. "We will be talking about this later." She tilts her head back to indicate Castle.

"I'm sure we will." Kate sighs as she moves toward the door to open it again. Lanie turns back and points her finger at Rick.

"And you... You better make sure she's not overdoing it." She orders. He somehow feels like the villain in Lanie's play and wonders what he did to warrant the role.

"Of course. See you later, Dr. Parish." He says. She narrows her eyes at him before turning back to Kate.

"I'll call." Lanie affirms again as she moves toward the door.

"I know you will." Kate answers and opens the door. Lanie moves to leave but stops halfway. She turns to face Kate one more time.

"Are you sure you two didn't?" She whispers loudly.

"Lanie." Kate sighs.

"Oh alright. Later." She offers Kate a hug and then leaves the apartment.

"Bye." Kate calls after her as she closes the door.

"Think we passed her test?" Rick asks.

"I don't know." She shrugs. They'd find out soon enough if they didn't.

"Come here." He opens his arms and she steps into his embrace. "I think that painkiller is kicking in. Wanna talk about about the elevator now?" He whispers into her ear. She chuckles and pushes back to meet his eyes.

"You really want to talk when we could be doing other things?" She asks with one brow raised.

"Naked things?" Dear God, he hopes it's naked things. She turns and starts to head back to the bedroom.

"Why don't you figure it out, Sherlock." She tosses over her shoulder with her shirt.

He wastes no time in following her back to the bedroom.

The End

I just wanted to thank everyone who read and reviewed. For all of the author alert's and favorites from the more silent section. For sticking with it through the long periods between updates. Thank you! Enjoy season four!