The quiet but constant buzz coming from across the room was irritating. It had woken him from his much needed sleep. The buzzing was soon joined by a gentle tapping. As the fog started to lift from his mind he picked up his phone. Not even the fact that he was awake at 3am could pry the smile from his face when he saw the caller ID. The smile quickly turned to worry though. Why was Beckett calling him at this hour? It wasn't a case; she had the next two days off.
"Kate?" Sleep was evident in his voice, overpowering his inquisitive tone.
"Ah, hi." Her reply was nervous and uncertain, almost scared. It provoked an unfamiliar feeling in Castle.
"What's wrong? Are you okay?"
"Ah, could you, um, open your front door?" Rick had all but forgotten about the gentle rapping he'd heard before he'd answered his phone.
"Uh, coming." Then all Beckett heard was the dial tone followed by heavy footsteps gradually getting louder on the other side of the door. The locks clicked and the door opened wide. Castle stood on the other side, clad in boxers and a t-shirt, hair mussed from sleep. The sight brought the tiniest hint of a smile to Kate's lips but it disappeared as quickly as it had come.
"Hi, I… er, I just um…" She stopped, completely lost for words. What possible reason could she give him for showing up at his front door at 3:17 in the morning? Fortunately, he didn't seem to mind her lack of explanation. He wordlessly stepped aside and allowed her to cross the threshold. He closed and locked the door after her before turning around and opening his arms. She gratefully accepted the invitation and all but fell into his embrace. They stood like that for a few moments before he stepped back and lead her to the couch, a hand resting gently on the small of her back.
As she sat silently on his couch he milled around the apartment turning on the coffee machine before disappearing upstairs. He re-emerged shortly after with a feather doona and a couple of pillows. He placed the items next to her before returning with two steaming mugs.
He sat next to her and for a while they just sat there, gazing around the room, starring at the cups in their hands, looking everywhere else but at each other. Castle was the first to break pattern.
"Kate, why are you here? Not that I mind, but…" He left his statement open ended and for the frist time took a good look at his partner. She was tired. Her eyes were bloodshot and the black rings that surrounded them made it look as though she hadn't slept more than 10 hours in the past week. He also noticed that she was shivering. He quickly remedied this by wrapping the king-size blanket around the both of them. "Are you cold?"
She nodded slowly, finally looking him in the face. "I can't seem to get warm." She whispered. After another few moments she spoke again. "You, when we were in there, you said you were there for me, right?"
"Always." He gently pulled her closer into his side, careful not to spill the hot beverage in her hand.
"Josh… he's not… he's not around. He's never around. I just, I can't sleep. I don't want to be alone. It's so cold and every time I close my eyes I'm there again, in that freezer, by myself." She didn't cry, she just slumped agains him, curling into a ball and resting her head on his lap.
"I've got you." He soothed reassuringly as he reached for the remote, sensing an end of conversation and the need for a good distraction. He flicked through an immense amount of cable channels before settling on the Lion King. It always made Alexis feel better. It was one of his favourite Disney movies, mostly because it didn't focus on a princess. As they watched in companionable silence he ran his fingers gently through her soft hair. Very soon she was asleep.
Castle woke to a commercial selling overpriced make-up and turned the television off. He soon realized that the annoying saleswoman wasn't the only thing that had woken him. Kate was still laying on his lap and she was getting restless. She would mumble something incomprehensible and flail around and then settle down again. She repeated this several times before each time seeming to settle back down into a reasonable peaceful sleep. Around about the fifth cycle Castle couldn't take it anymore. Sleeping so restlessly would not help her exhausted condition. He really didn't want to wake her though. Slowly he replaced his leg with a pillow and got up. He emptied the full cups of coffee that had been left neglected on the table into the sink before returning to the couch where his detective slept. She was going to kill him for what he was about to do, he was sure of it, but at this point in time, he couldn't think of any other way to get her to stop her shaking and restless movement. He decided that he would sacrifice himself for her benefit though and he gently climbed under the blanket next to her, wrapping her snuggling in his arms. She seemed to settle almost immediately. Pleased with this response, Castle settled himself and was soon asleep again.
Alexis started her morning routine of stumbling down the stairs in her pyjamas and un-brushed hair. She made a bee-line for the fridge and pulled out the fruit juice and poured herself a glass. Continuing through her usual practice, she sundered over the T.V., juice in hand, to watch the news while she waited for her father and grandmother to emerge. She was startled awake by the large, people-shaped lump covered by a blanket on one end. It was unusual for her father to fall asleep on the couch alone, let be with a woman. Besides that fact, she didn't remember hearing anyone come in last night and she'd gone to bed after her father. Just then, one of the people-lumps moaned and started to move. The person rolled over and their brunette hair spilled over their face. Even with the obstruction though, she knew who it was. She clasped her hand over her mouth and high tailed it upstairs. She had to inform her grandmother of this new development.
Kate rolled over again with her eyes closed. She didn't get very far. Sleep-hazed, she rolled the other way, straight into Castle's chest. She stopped for a moment and breathed in a deep breath. The scent was familiar and comforting and it took her a bit to register where she knew it from. Her eyes darted open and she tensed as she realized she was sleeping, quite comfortably, in Castle's arms. It didn't take her long to relive the previous night's events in her head. She'd been at her place and really didn't want to be alone. She'd called Josh but he hadn't been able to come around. They'd had an argument and she'd told him that if he couldn't be there for her when she needed him, she didn't need him at all. She'd sat in her living room and refused to cry. It'd been so quite and no matter how high she turned the thermostat, she just couldn't get warm. She really didn't want to be alone. She didn't know where to go though. She was banned from the precinct for the next two days so that was out. It only really left one place to turn: Castle. She had a fuzzy memory from their experience in the freezer. He'd said he'd always be there for her. Or at least, she thought he'd said that. Being as her predicament was she decided to chance his rejection if only for some company. She hadn't even looked at the time before she left her apartment and drove straight to her partner's loft. Now here she was feeling comfortable, feeling warm, feeling loved and cared for. He hadn't tried anything, hadn't pried emotions and information out of her, he'd just hugged her and listened and ran his fingers through her hair as she fell asleep. Deciding she was too comfortable to move, she snuggled back into Castle's chest. No sooner had she wriggled closer than he spoke, his voice thick from sleep.
"Good morning Detective." There was a reassuring smile on his face. Kate smiled back and mumbled a good morning into his chest. She would never let him see just how red her face had turned at being caught burrowing into his embrace.
"How'd you sleep?" He sounded slightly more awake this time.
"Good." This time she looked up at him and smiled a small smile. He grinned and gently kissed the top of her head as if it was nothing, a normal occurrence.
"What do you want for breakfast?" He was fully awake now and ready to start the day.
"Hmmmm, I don't mind. But can you not do it yet. Just wait another five minutes or so?" He nodded and was about to ask why when she burrowed into him again, putting her arms around him and squeezing him tight. After a moment he squeezed back, holding her slender form to his. After a few minutes she pulled back and looked up at him again.
"I don't think I told you last night. I uh, Josh and I, we, uh broke up."
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah. I just really couldn't be alone last night. And he couldn't be there for me. What good is it having someone if they can't be there for you when you really need them?" Castle only nodded.
Silence engulfed them for another long moment.
"I should really get up. Mother and Alexis will be done soon. Breakfast may distract them before they start the Spanish Inquisition. Maybe they'll even be polite enough to wait until you leave before they start the interrogation."
"For being here, I don't think I've ever thanked you for that before. But if this goes any further than this apartment, you will be dumpster diving with Esposito and Ryan supervising on our next case." Kate warned.
"Yes Ma'am!" Castle said with a lopsided mock-salute. It was made difficult seeing as he was still lying down. Beckett laughed as Castle tried to sit up but ended up falling off the small space. Kate laughed harder as Castle stood up and muttered under his breath. He put a quick stop to her laughter though as he kissed the top of her head again.
"Go back to sleep. I'll wake you when breakfast is ready." He didn't wait for a reply, he simply tucked the blanket around her and went to work in the kitchen.
The next time Kate woke up, it was to the smell of waffles and the Castle household sitting around the kitchen bench eating them.
"Good morning." Martha greeted. "Richard filled us in on what's been going on."
"Oh, and what did he say?" She asked suspiciously.
"Just that you needed a place to sleep last night, he wouldn't say why but you're welcome any time."
"I do believe that's my invite to give mother." Came Castle's voice, "But she's right." He said to Kate.
Kate smiled and joined the family around the breakfast counter and helped herself to the delectable pastries.
Alexis and Martha didn't spend long at home and were soon out doing their daily duties leaving Castle and Beckett alone once again.
"Can I ask you something about that day?" Kate asked, the question popping out of her mouth without thinking.
"Towards the end there, right before I passed out, I remember you saying you were always there. I remember you apologizing, but what else happened, what else was said?"
"Well you remember most of it. Right before you went out you were about to say something. You never finished."
"Oh. " Was the only reply Kate could come up with, "I… I think I know what I was going to say."
"Mmm, and what's that?"
"I think I was going to tell you, that I… I… I like you. I mean, at first I didn't. You were the biggest pain in my ass. But now? It's different."
Castle smiled and walked over to her. "I'm shocked. I'm lost for words." He replied. "If I tell you something, will you promise not to slap me?" She considered it for a moment. Chances are he was about to ruin the whole feel that had been building up, the one of comfort and friendship and possibly something more. She shrugged and nodded, figuring she'd agreed not to slap him but she could still shoot him.
He took another step towards her; he was so close she could feel his breath on her cheek. He shot her a reassuring smile and she looked straight into his eyes. He leaned in and gently touched his lips to hers, hoping, wanting, praying that she'd accept his gesture and wouldn't retreat. She stayed deathly still but he felt her lips move into a slight smile. He took this as the go ahead and he kissed her, letting all the words and feelings he wouldn't voice to her for fear of scaring her away spill from his lips to hers.
They pulled apart. The kiss was not a deep, passionate one but a soft, tender, and informative one.
"So, where does that leave us?" Kate was the first to speak after taking a step back to regain her thoughts.
"Wherever you'd like it to leave us; it's all up to you my Detective."
"Your Detective, huh? So does that make you my Writer Monkey?"
"If you'd like."
"I like." Kate smiled and stepped closer once again, sealing their new agreement with another kiss.
A/N: So what do you think? It's my first fanfic in over a year and my first in this fandom. Hope you enjoyed it. I really like the beginning but I'm not to sure about the end. Let me know what you think :)