Chapter 8:

The sun woke Rick as it filtered in through the large, arched window that spanned almost an entire wall of the bedroom. It was sunset and he let his waking eyes absorb the everyday miracle that painted the sky. The clouds had squeezed themselves dry and now lay spent on a bed of orange like wrung purple sponges. The sun watched over the city below it with the fondness of a father as it tinted the air with shades of pink and lavender.

He drew his eyes from the peaceful magnificence that had seemed to still the city and turned in the warmed sheets of the bed. Kate was sprawled on her stomach over the space next to him, her hair fanning out behind her on the white pillow. A smile graced his face as he watched his sleeping love lie.

The sun gilded her skin. Painted with the finest shade of gold, it tempted his defenseless fingers with the promise of irresistible satin. He ran one hand lightly from the nape of her neck, down the curve of her spine, and to the edge of the sheet that demurely covered the other half of her. He skated the same path back up and soon found an intoxicating pattern in the sensations under his fingertips. He watched her back move as she breathed and the gold light of the sun followed her skin, just as captivated by her as he was.

He couldn't help himself as he leaned forward and laid a gentle kiss on her shoulder. She was the one who got away, but found her way back. He promised himself right then and there that he would never let them fall apart again. Never let her love slip through his hands. He would be there for her always. He'd follow her if she left. He would never, ever let eight months go by without finding a way to get her back.

Leaning in one more time, he pressed a kiss to the beautiful beauty mark that rested under her cheek like some sort of punctuation to the flowing prose of her face. Her eyes fluttered and he repeated the kiss until they were open and she was smiling lazily at him.

"Good morning," she spoke sleepily at him.

"It's seven. That's a sunset, not a sunrise. We've still got the night ahead of us."

She nuzzled her face deeper into the feathers of the pillow and looked up at him with one eye and an angelic smile.

"Do we, now?"

"We do." He let his hand play with hers where it rested on her pillow and she closed her eyes as their fingers flirted and teased each other.

"Did you want coffee?" he asked her quietly.

"No." She rolled her face out of the pillow and turned her body over, resting her free hand in the hollow below her sternum and letting her fingers brush idly on the skin there. "Stay here."

He didn't need to be told twice.


Propping his head up, he stared down at her. She wore nothing and she wore it well. The hint of a devilish smile crossed his face and she twisted her mouth in objection when she caught it.

"I can't help it. You're so pretty."

That had her rolling her eyes and he took the opportunity to place some loudly smacking kisses on her neck. Drawing that wild and uncontrolled laugh from her was sufficient payment for his troubles.

"Rick! Stop it!" She pushed feebly at his chest and he knew she didn't really want him to go. So he stayed.


His kisses changed to less comical ones and the hand at his chest stopped pushing and started mindlessly gliding. He made his way up to her lips and placed the first kiss of the evening there. Her hands had run down to his abdomen and he felt his muscles contract under her touch. Pulling away to look in her eyes he was surprised at what he found there. Her expression had changed from playful to concerned.


He looked down at himself trying to figure out what had caused this shift in her demeanor. Nothing jumped out at him and his forehead crinkled in puzzlement.



She pushed until he was lying flat next to her and then rolled to her side. She ran her hands across his chest and down his abdomen and then back up his sides. Exploring lovingly, but almost…clinically. It clicked for him, then, what had surprised her. In the eight months that she'd been gone, his lifestyle had changed in many ways. One of which had been the complete and utter loss of appetite. The change had been gradual enough for him that he didn't really notice it on a daily basis. He'd had to get his clothes retailored, but the change was nothing too drastic. He was still a big man.

"It's not that different. I just dropped a few pounds."

"A few!"

"Well, I didn't really have much of an appetite for the better part of a year, so yeah…"

A look of understanding and guilt passed over her features. This wasn't what it was supposed to be like. He wanted her to be smiling at him again. So he dove back in and kissed her lightly.

"Don't worry. I'll get nice and big again for you soon enough."

"Not too big. You look…good, Rick."

He tilted his head back and released a rough, warm laugh. Of course she would be ogling him now that the shock had worn off. Kissing her through a smile, he nodded and promised her that he would be exactly whatever she wanted him to be.

"I didn't notice it earlier. I was a little…preoccupied."

"Rightly so." He smirked and then ran his hand along her ribs to her hip and back up again. He didn't think he could ever stop touching her in one way or another. "You look different too, you know."

Her brow wrinkled and looked down at herself like she'd be able to spot these differences that had magically appeared.


He fingered her hair. "Your hair. It's darker. And longer."

"It's my natural color. It grew out."

"Your lips are redder."

"You're imagining it. They are exactly the same."

He kissed them slowly. "They taste the same. But I'm positive they are more red."

"Sure, Rick." She rolled her eyes as if to say, Whatever you say, Castle.

She watched as he was suddenly alight with excitement and she waited for him to let her in on what was causing those little crinkles of enthusiasm in the corners of his eyes. They were twinkling as he suddenly ducked his head down and started to kiss her stomach.

"Speaking of taste," he said between kisses, "I forgot to name your flavor today."

She bit down on her lip and contained the smile that was threatening to simply run amok on her face.

"What am I today, Rick? Spaghetti? Wildflowers? Volcano?"

He smiled into her skin and then licked the little hollow under her breastbone where she had laid her hand earlier.

"Here, you taste like white wine."

She ran a hand through his hair and smiled as he continued to kiss his way to her neck. Reaching her pulse point, he continued.

"And here, you taste like a river. The kind that's so clear you don't even know it's there until the current carries you away."

He had never given her more than one flavor at a time before. She watched as he moved down her body again and drew the sheet away from her skin and let it float slowly back down with it's captured air over her feet. Raising one of her legs in the air, he bent it and placed a kiss to the inside of her knee.

He met her eyes. "Here, you taste like eternity."

Her heart was beating faster and faster as she watched him lovingly place her leg back on the bed and draw the fresh sheet back over her. He moved over the top of her and she reveled in the feel of so much of their warm skin pressing together. His weight was the best kind of comfort and she thought it felt like eternity. Infinity. Forever.

He was hovering over her lips now and she had to mentally restrain herself from reaching up and kissing him first. This was his favorite game. She'd let him play it exactly how he wanted.

He ghosted his lips across hers. Just an ephemeral whisper. She closed her eyes and let them be covered in twin nights. Soon he'd fill them with stars, she had no doubt.

When he came to her a second time, the kiss was fuller. Full of emotions, full of motions, and full of an ocean of them. She thought that she might be able to taste all the things he had listed earlier. And maybe a little of something else.

When he drew back they were both breathless and he spoke in a rusted, husky voice.

"And here? Here you taste like the sun. The kind that can melt a man in every way."

She reached for him again and ended the game, kissing him with everything she had in her. Like a bowstroke that out of two strings draws one voice, Kate and Rick let the immortal universe play a beautiful song out of the instrument of them.

Hours later when the sun had set completely, she rested her head on his chest and they let the darkness of the night wash over them.

A/N: Inspirations include Jack Gilbert's poem "Flying and Falling" and some Rilke.