It's been a fun ride, and I thank all of you who have been kind enough to read and review. But sadly, this is going to be the last chapter. Figured I'd go out with a bang, so to speak.

Thanks to the incomparable morethanamuse for beta-ing this chapter. Anything good you can credit to her. Anything problematic is all mine.

By the way, this is one of the blatantly sexiest movements in Carmina. Simon Keenlyside makes it downright dirty.

[This chapter rated M. Kiddies, go 'way.]

Tempus est iocundum

Oh, oh, oh
totus floreo,
iam amore virginali totus ardeo,
novus, novus novus amor est,
quo pereo

Oh, oh, oh,
with love I bloom for a maiden,
my new, new, new love,
of which I perish

No sooner had the door to Kate's apartment shut behind them than her back was up against it. His tongue was deep and probing in her mouth as she whimpered against him, his hands on her possessive, gentle but firm.

Her skin under his hands was hot, smooth against the cool silky fabric of her dress, and Castle had to force himself to stop for a second, catch himself before he lost all control and this ended up some mindless rutting against a wall when she deserved silk and lace and candles and champagne and satin sheets and romance and diamonds and always.

"Kate – " he choked out, trying to form a sentence while she sucked at his pulse point – "Kate, not that I – don't – " he took a deep breath, trying to calm himself enough to speak coherently – "I want you to understand, if we don't stop now, I don't think I can."

"I don't want you to stop." She nipped lightly at his ear, and he shuddered, trying not to lose all control.

"As long as you're sure," he whispered.

She paused, her hands on his chest, and then she reached for his face, turning it towards hers as she rose on her toes to meet him, her shoes long since kicked aside. Her eyes searched his, her pupils dilated, face flushed.

"Rick, you've wanted me for three years. Now take me."

Castle kissed her hungrily, his tongue sliding into her mouth, and without warning he swept her into his arms, ignoring her muffled shriek of surprise, and carried her down the hallway to her bedroom, kicking the door shut behind him and laying her gently on her bed.

And it felt like he'd never undressed a woman before, slipping the fabric from her body reverently. All that time he had spent teasing her, flirting with her, and now he was worshipping her. He gently slid her dress off, and it slipped to the floor.

She held her breath as his fingers slowly traced over her stomach, pausing as he came to the scar near her heart, tracing over the raised skin with the faintest of touches. She bit her lip, her eyes stinging. Oh God.

And Castle saw it, felt the catch in her breath as his fingers traced the scar. Saw the sudden glimmer in her eyes. "Kate – Kate, it's nothing to be ashamed of. You're so beautiful. So beautiful."

She bit her lip. "Castle – "

"Does it hurt?"

"No," she whispered.

He bent to press his lips to the scar, that permanent reminder of the day he'd never forget, and her eyes rolled back as she shivered. "Please don't stop."

Her shaky whisper sent a jolt through him. God, Kate. You're perfect. Absolutely perfect. You're a goddam angel. Because there was no other possible way to process the fact that Kate Beckett in black lace was lying on her bed beneath him, unbuttoning his shirt, sucking on his tongue as he reached behind her to unhook her bra and dropped it on the floor. He pressed her down gently onto the pillows with a long kiss before pulling off his shirt, throwing it aside as she impatiently reached for his belt buckle.

He had to remind himself to breathe. Remind himself it was real. The naked woman in his arms was really her. Her body was as perfect as he'd imagined, a thousand times in his private fantasies, but better because now he had all the time in the world to trace every curve, every inch, everything he'd always wanted to know. The silky hair splayed over the pillows. The hitch and tense of her taut muscles as he slid one hand over her stomach. The terrible scar, so terribly close to her heart, that had come so close to taking her away forever. The soft dig of her fingers in his arm.

The sharp intake of breath as his fingers trailed, feather-light, across her hip.

And then he slid two fingers into her wetness. And it wasn't just that she was whimpering and biting her lip and begging him breathlessly to please just do it, it was that she was letting him. She gasped, her chest heaving, face flushed, her heels digging into the mattress. He could see her hands fisting weakly, clutching at the bedsheets as she gasped, her breathing shallow and ragged. "Rick – oh God, oh, Castle – "

As she clenched violently around him, her hair swirled across her pillows, her eyes dark and hazy with desire, her lips parted, his heart twisted because he'd never, ever, ever wanted a woman so much.

He kissed her warm mouth slowly until she could breathe again.

And then, with no warning, she flipped him smoothly, pinning him underneath her and kissing her way down his chest, and that's when he realized Kate had a wicked streak. A devilish, wicked, downright fucking evil streak that was Oh God oh GOD yes. And he was trembling, because she was so damn beautiful and perfect and smooth and soft and naked and his mouth was dry and the way she was looking at him and (ohhhhhhh God ) touching him sent a deep groan through his chest.

He sank into her, gritting his teeth as she cried out, her knees tightening around his waist as she arched into him, and he had to take a deep breath to steady himself as he started to move with her. Her fingers dug into his shoulders. He drove into her harder, and her fingernails cut deep into his skin as she gasped, her thighs squeezing into him.

He felt her begin to convulse around him, and he felt the tight vibrations from her moan just before her cry was muffled against his shoulder. He followed a moment later, emptying himself into her with a deep groan as she gasped.

He felt her trembling slowly calm, her breathing slowly evening out, the pulse point at the base of her throat slowing its rapid fluttering. A bead of sweat caught his attention, glistening in the little hollow at the base of her throat, and he bent to softly kiss it away.

The last kiss he placed on her lips was soft, gentle, warm and sweet. And she fell asleep wondering why on earth she had fought against this for so long.

When Kate woke sometime later, she found Castle propped up on one elbow beside her, stroking her hair softly, watching her with such a reverent, loving look of adoration that she blushed self-consciously. "What?"

He smiled. "I thought I already knew how beautiful you are." She flushed deeply and looked away, but he set a hand on her cheek, turning her face back to his. "I don't think I even knew the meaning of that word before now."