"You don't have to do this," Castle murmured, his hands moving in slow circles at her lower back.
Kate sighed and leaned into him, resting her cheek against his chest, breathing in deep the scent of his fabric softener and cologne, faint traces of that after-shave she liked so much. She lifted her head and bumped her nose against his jaw line, catching another whiff.
"You sniffing me, Beckett?" he asked, a low chuckle in his voice.
"Yes," she said, entirely unabashedly, though her cheeks did tinge slightly pink at the admission. He loved when she startled herself like that, when she realized she was acting like a sap and realized she didn't mind.
"And, yes, I do have to do this," she told him, answering his earlier question. "I want to."
He made a non-committal sound in the back of his throat, a low hum that rumbled in his chest. She grinned and pressed her lips to the underside of his chin, trailing them up to the corner of his mouth, her tongue flicking out briefly to taste, before she pulled back.
But he followed her, bowing his head to catch her lips in a kiss that took her by surprise with its intensity, knocked her off balance, making her fingers curl in the fabric of his shirt, a helpless sound of want rising in her throat.
She rose up on her toes, humming at the full press of his body against hers, feeling that all-too-familiar thrum of want resound in her bones, making her blood sing. But then he softened and the kiss turned gentle. He eased away from her slightly, quieting that edge of need with feather light kisses to her pink lips.
"Hmm," he hummed quietly, looking at her with near-reverence in his blue eyes. "I love you."
"I know," she said, grinning playfully at him, making him growl and bow his head to nip at her earlobe.
"You know," he said conversationally, his voice a low husk at her ear, "instead of talking to my daughter, you could accompany me to the bedroom."
"Oh, is that so?" she replied, letting him curl his arms around her waist, pull her tight against him.
"That is so," he said, sucking lightly at her neck.
She bit her lip to keep in the moan that rose, unbidden, in her throat. "Castle," she said, going for stern, but sounding entirely too breathless instead—completely undone.
"Yes?" he murmured. He pulled back and leveled her with a look that knocked her sideways all over again. This man. This goofy, infuriating, wonderful man.
She felt her lips soften into a gentle smile, knowing that she was probably gazing at him like a complete fool and not really caring. "Later," she promised, reveling in the smoky blue of his eyes as they dipped to the line of her lips, the curve of her breasts beneath the tight-fitting t-shirt she was wearing, before rising to meet her gaze once again.
Kate walked down the hallway towards Alexis' room, her stomach fluttering nervously. And then she felt a fluttering of a different kind—the now familiar quickening that never failed to make her smile. "Wish me luck, baby," she murmured, smoothing her palm across the curve of her belly.
She lifted her hand and knocked lightly on the door. "Alexis?" she called softly.
There was a slight rustling on the other side of the door, the sound of sheets being rearranged before the girl's voice rang out. "Come in!" she called.
Kate pushed the door open slowly. Alexis looked up from the book she was reading and startled slightly when she saw Kate standing uncertainly in her doorway. "Oh," she said quietly, closing her book and putting it down. "I, uh, thought you were my dad."
Kate rested her hand on the doorframe, unsure of what to say. "Can I come in?" she finally asked.
Alexis nodded, sitting up a little straighter in her bed. Kate walked in, pausing again by the girl's bed. "You can sit," Alexis offered after a slightly awkward beat of silence.
Kate perched at the foot of the bed, folding her hands in her lap. She had no idea where to begin. "So," she began.
"You're moving in."
Kate snapped her gaze up to the redhead's. "I, um…well…"
Alexis smiled good-naturedly, her dimples flashing. "I overheard you and my dad talking this morning."
"Oh." Kate blinked. "How do you…feel about that?" she asked vaguely, her interrogation training kicking in. No leading questions.
Alexis smiled, this time softer, with a sweetness that had rarely been directed at Kate. "Kate," she said softly. "I think it's great. I'm really happy for you guys."
"I won't hurt him," Kate said earnestly, feeling a strange need to prove herself. She didn't know if it was for her sake or Alexis'.
Alexis nodded, looking momentarily chagrined. "I believe you. I'm sorry I was so awful before. I was just worried about him, but…" She paused. "To be honest I've always kind of…rooted for you guys to get together."
Kate raised her eyebrows in surprise. "Really?"
"Yeah, I…I really like you." Alexis dropped her gaze to her bedspread, blushing slightly. "Between my dad and Gram, I have enough theatrics in my life. I liked how…different you were. Quiet. Careful."
Kate felt her chest ache at the words, shocked to learn that Alexis had been paying such close attention. Like father like daughter.
"Alexis, you know you can always come to me, right?" She thought of the girl's mother, alive but almost just as absent as her own mother. She and Castle's daughter had a few things in common.
Alexis nodded. "I know. Thank you."
Kate reached out impulsively and snagged the girl's hand in her own. "I'm glad you don't hate me."
Alexis huffed out a laugh, grinning again. "Not even close."
"I told you," Castle said when Kate had finished telling him the conversation she'd had with his daughter.
Kate scoffed. "You so did not."
"I think your exact words were I'm sure she doesn't hat you. Not exactly confidence inspiring."
Castle huffed at her, wrapping his arm around her shoulders and tugging her towards him so that she was snuggled into his side on the couch. "So," he said, his fingers tapping out a tune on her shoulder, "when do you want to move in? I think, like, now is probably a good time."
"Oh, do you?" she murmured, her tone soft and teasing and knowing.
"Yes," he said. "I do."
"It's Sunday," she said.
"I'm sure God wouldn't be opposed to moving a few boxes."
"And it's getting late."
"All the more reason to get started quickly."
She narrowed her eyes at him. "And I had other activities in mind."
She curled into his side, sliding her palm up his chest to play with the top button of his shirt. He swallowed hard, his eyes flicking from her eyes to her lips and back again. "No retort?" she murmured. "Interesting."
"I, uh…W-what activities did you have in mind?" he stammered, watching with rapt attention as she swung her knee over his legs, settling firmly in his lap.
Her hair fell in an auburn curtain around her face, her eyes bright and playful. "All kinds," she husked, biting her lip and leaning close, dragging her fingers over his shoulders and into his hair, massaging his scalp lightly.
He groaned happily at the sensation, trailing his hands along the curve of her waist, before sliding them to her lower back and tugging her hips into his.
She groaned softly and bit her lip again, her eyes slipping shut at the sudden bombardment of sensation. The movement drew his gaze to her mouth immediately and once he was looking, he couldn't help but lean forward and catch her mouth with his. She groaned again, the sound traveling straight to his blood, and he reached up to cradle the back of her head with his palm, deepening the kiss.
She gave into his pull briefly, a flash of teeth and tongue, before leaning back slightly, smiling at his whine of protest. "Maybe we should move this into the bedr—"
Castle turned his head so quickly in the direction of his daughter's voice that Kate didn't have a chance to dodge the motion. "Ow!" she yelped when his skull knocked against her chin.
"Oh gosh, guys, I'm sorry," Alexis apologized hastily, already retreating back up the stairs.
"No, Alexis, it's fine," Kate called, rubbing her fingers along her already-sore jaw. "Come back down."
Alexis glanced from her dad back to Kate. "You sure?"
"Of course, pumpkin, c'mere." Castle waved her over before returning his attention to Kate, who was still in his lap and scowling at him.
"I think you broke my jaw."
"Drama queen," he murmured.
"Look who's talking," she grumbled.
He smiled. "Let me kiss it and make it better," he said softly, leaning forward and brushing his lips along the line of her jaw.
She grinned at him, then regretted it when her jaw ached in protest. "Clumsy man."
"Here, try this."
Kate glanced up to see Alexis offering her a bag of frozen peas. "Thank you," she said, taking the bag and pressing it to her jaw.
"Come sit," she invited the girl, taking the opportunity to slide off of Castle's lap and settle back against the couch cushions.
Alexis quickly rounded the couch and sat down beside Kate. "Hey, dad," she said, leaning forward to catch Castle's eye. "It's Sunday."
Castle's eyes lit up, a boyish grin stretching across his face. "Oh man, I almost forgot!"
"Uh, what's so special about Sunday?" Kate wondered aloud, looking between the two Castles in confusion.
Alexis leaned back in her seat again, redirecting her attention to Kate. "Every Sunday me and my dad choose a random season of the Bachelorette and marathon it."
Kate raised her eyebrows, shooting a Why am I not surprised? look Castle's way. "Interesting."
Castle shrugged, not looking embarrassed in the slightest.
"Wanna join?" Alexis asked.
Kate smiled. "Why not?"
Four hours and three episodes later, Castle was the only one still awake. Kate had fallen asleep against his shoulder around episode two and Alexis had followed suit shortly after, her head resting in Kate's lap.
It filled his heart with near-unbearable happiness to see his two girls together like this—not that he'd ever let either one of them know he thought of them that way. His girls. He meant it in a tender way, not a patronizing way, but he was almost positive neither Alexis nor Kate would see it like that. Better to play it safe.
He reached up with his free hand and brushed the hair out of Kate's eyes, before leaning forward and pressing his lips to her forehead.
Her eyelids fluttered, awareness dawning on her slowly. "Hey," she whispered, her voice scratchy from her nap.
"Heya back," he said, smiling down at her and she must of seen all that adoration in his eyes because the corners of her lips curled into a beautiful smile, her eyes bright with green and gold in the evening light.
Her smile only widened when she looked down at Alexis, still sound asleep in her lap. She reached out and sifted her fingers through the long red hair, her fingertips resting briefly on the girl's cheek before withdrawing.
"I really thought she didn't like me," she said wonderingly.
Castle shrugged. "She's different from me. She's more careful with her heart."
Kate nodded in understanding. "She had to be sure of me first."
"Exactly," Castle agreed. "Once you get past that wall, though, you're in."
She glanced up at him, understanding flashing in her eyes. "Like me."
He smiled. Kissed her softly. "Like you."