Author's Note: This one should have been out ages ago, sorry folks! Been squeezing it in half hour blocks on my lunch break :-S My everlasting thanks go to Manuxinhace, as usual, for poking, prodding and generally encouraging me to keep the ball rolling. I probably would have given up ages ago if it wasn't for her tireless efforts. That being said - I hope you all a) really enjoy the chapter (and rather M-rated additional chapter); and b) flick me a review so I have some idea if you lovely people actually liked it or not. And now... on with the show!

Previously, in Layers:

2:00am Tuesday morning, Beckett's Apartment

The rain hissed softly down the windows of Beckett's apartment, muting all the sounds from outside. In the warmth of her bedroom, the peace was only disturbed by the slow, sated breaths of the detective and her partner. The bed sheet dragged up as far as her hips, Kate lay on her side, one leg draped over the muscled length of Rick's thigh. Entwined, her cheek resting on his shoulder, she shifted in her sleep, snuggling closer into his embrace. Fingers twitching, smoothing over the graceful curve of her waist, the writer let out a deep sigh, his face peaceful in his rest as they drifted, content.

Bodies thoroughly exhausted by their efforts (round one had merged with rounds two and three, and neither of them could really spare much effort for counting after number four), neither of them had the faintest inkling that the game had shifted, and that the hunters were now the hunted...

10:00am Tuesday, 12th Precinct

Beckett took a large gulp of her coffee, placing the steaming mug down carefully on the corner of her desk. Flashing a quick smile at her partner, the detective stretched her aching muscles, a faint blush stealing across her cheeks as she recalled exactly why she was a little... tender. It had been a while since she'd been engaged in amorous activities, although she had the distinct impression that even if it hadn't been quite such a long time, she would still be feeling the effects of last night. Still fighting back the smile, she forced her eyes back to the screen in front of her. As much as she hated the delay, chafing as they were forced to wait on any further information on Marenkovic, it gave her some breathing room. Methodically cleaning out her email inbox, responding as necessary, she barely noted the time as the hours rolled by.

10:15am, New York Public Library

Straightening his posture, Goran Marenkovic folded the newspaper in half and tucked it under his arm and moved forward, his hand tugging the library door open. A far cry from the seedy, dishevelled man from a few nights before, he had altered his appearance radically. Lurking in alleys and beating kids to death might have been okay earlier, but he knew that his quarry would be smarter than that. The corporal he'd faced off against in Bosnia had been wily and cunning, and Marenkovic theorised that his protective instincts would only have gone into overdrive since he had achieved some measure of fame once he had left the military.

That meant certain things needed to change if he was to have even a chance of getting his revenge - hence the new look. He'd carefully liberated a business attire in his size from an unfortunate fellow on his way home late from a bar. With a single-minded focus that belied his years on the run, the former warlord restrained himself, settling for knocking the victim unconscious and leaving him doused in cheap whisky and covered in a tattered blanket, wearing nothing but his underwear behind a dumpster. It would have brought too much attention to have the police around again for another murder, and this way the victim would be far less likely to be believed even if he'd be able to provide even a rough description. Clad in clean clothes for what felt like the first time in years, Marenkovic made his way to a public swimming pool. Clothes were one thing, but he needed to get rid of the stench of living rough, even if only for a while.

Threading his way through the crowds of people, thankful for the unseasonable burst of warmth that flooded the city and drew families to the pleasure of the clear blue waters of the pool, he entered the male change rooms. His eyes flicking around the room, he was happy to note that there were no other patrons in there other than two shower stalls in use. Casting his eyes towards the lockers, he slipped a small lock-pick out of his pocket. Hunching in front of the lock, he made short work of the crappy security, the door swinging open a few seconds after he started. Rifling the contents, he deftly filched some cash from the wallet, making sure to only take a couple of small notes. Pocketing them, he repeated the procedure with the next locker along the row. He knew from experience that people would report the theft of their wallet, or the cash, but were much less likely to even note the lack of five or ten dollars here or there. Low-key, small target was the goal, and as long as he kept it like that, he'd be able to make far more for less risk of getting caught.

Nearly fifty dollars up by the time he'd worked through the next few lockers, he pulled out a small pocket knife and shaved some soap into the palm of his hand, again replacing the bulk of it back into the locker from whence it came. Closing the last locker, he walked over to the showers and stepped inside a stall, closing and locking the door behind himself. Carefully placing his pile of stolen soap on the short wooden bench at the end of the cubicle, he rapidly removed his clothes and turned the water on. Cranking the heat up until it was just shy of scorching, he let out a heartfelt sigh as the warmth seeped into his body, loosening the knots around his damaged hip and leg. Standing straighter, he let the water sluice over him for a glorious few minutes. Reaching out, he rubbed half the soap flakes through his hair, scrubbing hard as the grease started to shift. Lathering up, he worked methodically down, cleaning layer upon layer of grime. The suds eventually shifted from a disgusting brown to clean white, his skin pink from the effort. Tipping his head back under the spray, he rinsed off quickly, then twisted the taps off. Running his hands over his arms and legs, he stripped the excess water from his skin.

Hardened to the rigours of living on the streets, he didn't flinch as he dragged his clothes back on over his wet body, the luxury of a towel something that he chose to forgo. Unlocking the door, he walked over to the sinks and grabbed several handfuls of paper towel, roughly drying his hair. Dragging his fingers through the sodden strands, he critically examined his reflection. Already significantly changed from that morning, he knew there were a few other things that needed to happen before he could move to the next stage of his plan.

Leaving the pool, he stopped at a convenience store on the corner, grabbing some necessities and strolling almost casually down the footpath. Seeing a McDonald's, he grinned, taking the opportunity to make use of their facilities. In the male toilets, he half-filled one of the sinks with warm water, and pumped some liquid soap into his hand. Dampening his beard, he quickly lathered it up and opened the disposable razor he'd obtained (even going so far as to pay for it). Working carefully, he removed the scraggly mess of facial hair, the sight of his own features startling him for a moment as he met his own eyes in the mirror. Rinsing the razor off, he drained the sink and scooped the mess from the plug hole, neatly dumping it into the garbage bin and rinsing the sink again. Patting his face dry with paper towel then grabbing the comb from his jacket pocket, he neatened his hair and pulled it back, the elastic hair tie keeping the greying strands under control.

Gone was the scruffy, smelly homeless man, and in his place stood a man who could walk into any coffee shop or department store in the city without a second glance. Giving himself a satisfied nod in the mirror, he washed his hands and left the brightly-lit room, threading his way past the lunch time crowds already lining up for food. Ignoring them as much as he could, Marenkovic glanced up and down the street briefly, orienting himself. Pausing for a moment, he turned to his left and started walking, his destination only a few blocks away.

12:30pm, 12th Precinct

Castle kept her coffee topped up without skipping a beat, his presence a pool of calm that she hadn't thought him capable of even a month ago. Stretching, Kate winced as her shoulder let out a nasty pop, the short spasm of pain receding almost immediately, a feeling of nausea followed by relief washing through her. A wry grin on her lips, she glanced across the desk to her partner.

"Guess I needed that, huh?" She asked, the first words she'd uttered other than the occasional murmur of thanks when he presented her with her caffeine. Chuckling, the author quipped back.

"So it seems..." He paused a moment, checking the clock. Satisfied, he continued. "Wanna take a breather? I'm thinking we could all do with a bite to eat." He nodded in the direction of Ryan and Esposito, both still industriously plowing their way through their own pile of work.

Beckett glared at her stomach as it let out an audible grumble, it's assent already given.

"I think that's a yes." She drained the dregs of her current cup of coffee and stood up, locking her screen as she did. "Guys!" She called out, the sudden noise startling them. She shook her head slightly, amused at the expression on their faces as they dragged their attention away from the seemingly endless paperwork. "Food?"

Castle's clipped laugh blended with her own as the boys both shot upright, their chairs rolling back so hard they nearly toppled over.

"Thought you'd never ask!" Esposito said, the relief plain in his voice. Picking his jacket up from the back of his chair, Castle slipped into it as he walked across the bull pen. Rapping his knuckles on the door of the Captains office, he poked his head in.

"Hey, Rick..." Roy said, finishing one last signature and placing his pen down. Leaning back in his chair, he let out a heartfelt sigh. "What's up?"

"No movement yet." The author replied, the delay still chafing at him. "We're gonna grab a bite to eat. You want anything?" Montgomery shook his head.

"Thanks, but no. Evelyn packed some food for me today, and I get the distinct impression that if it's still there when I go home, I'll be in the doghouse."

Castle chuckled, noting the wry expression on the captain's face.

"Salad sandwiches?" He quipped, well able to imagine the look on the Roy's wife's face as she handed him the food. Te writer made a mental note to stay on Mrs Montgomery's good side, as well as to maybe kick his training up a notch... the last thing he wanted was for Beckett to hand him some salad one morning with a pointed look at his midsection. Shaking his head briefly to clear the realisation that he'd scrolled forwards some time, linking 'mornings' with 'Kate' and possibly 'wife', Castle nodded in sympathy as Roy gave a half-hearted shrug, acknowledging the truth of the matter.

"Have some for me, will you?" He asked, his attention already straying back to the paperwork in front of him.

"I promise to enjoy every mouthful... on your behalf, of course." Rick tossed back, a teasing grin firmly in place.

"Thanks... Thanks a lot." Roy muttered. Raising his voice to the retreating back of the author in residence, he called out, "I'll remember it for poker night on Friday!" He let out a short laugh as he saw the writer's gait hitch, the wince gone almost before it happened. Still chuckling, the captain turned back to his overflowing in tray, reached for the top and sighed. It was going to be a long day...

6:30pm, New York Public Library

Stretching, the former warlord rolled his shoulders, easing the tension from a day spent combing through magazines and internet searches. He'd done his homework thoroughly, and even had to admit that the swirl of bile that filled his stomach at the thought of Corporal Rogers had more than a tinge of jealousy in addition to the rage. He'd come home to find fame, fortune, and a string of beautiful women. Two divorces, and the tantalising hint of a child had spurred Marenkovic on, the relentless burn for information sending him chasing down rumours on fan sites, snippets gathered from interviews on the red carpet and television. Rubbing his eyes, he leaned back in his chair and let out an exhausted sigh. His eyes flicking to the clock on the wall, he decided to call it a night, the sun having set recently, with the faintest traces of light still staining the sky.

He knew enough to make a start - more than he thought Richard Castle would have ever realised he'd given away over the years. Crazy fans and stalkers were one thing, but he'd never been hunted like he was about to be. Of course, the man had been... careful with his personal details. Marenkovic could see that there was quite clearly a public persona in place, with rigidly defined areas that were off-limits to the media, but the little titbits he had gathered from here and there revealed almost as much by what wasn't said.

Logging off the computer, he neatly tucked the chair away and left the library, taking a deep breath of the fresh air as soon as he let the doors swing closed behind him. Wincing, he took a moment to ease the throbbing in his leg, stiff from being seated for so long. Taking his time, he started walking again taking a meandering path through the city. Finding a quiet street away from the busy throngs of people, he hesitated, eyes darting along the dimly lit footpath. Not seeing anybody, he slipped a small screwdriver from his pocket and bent down, quickly unscrewing the number plates from a parked car. Moments later, he'd repeated the procedure with a second vehicle further along, the plates switching easily. Grinning to himself, he knew that most people paid nowhere near enough attention to the world around them. They'd notice missing plates on their car, but previous experience told him that as much as a week could go by before his minor deception would be noticed. Slipping the screwdriver into the drivers side lock of the second car, he gripped and twisted hard, the lock popping almost immediately. Less than a minute later, he drove away, happily noting the almost full tank of gas. Not wanting to waste any more money, he figured that he could pull over somewhere out of the way and spend the next few nights in the car, thankful for a chance to escape the cold and wet that had plagued him for the last week or so.

7:00pm, 12th Precinct gym

Beckett looked at her partner, her mouth dropping open.

"You want me to what?" She gaped, already shaking her head.

"Trust me, I know what I'm saying." Castle shot back, a little bit amused at her resistance.

"No, I'm not sticking my foot there!" She paused, flashing him an arch smile."I have plans for that later." Rick burst out laughing, trying to keep his mind on track. Stepping closer,he placed his hands on her shoulders, squeezing lightly.

"Believe me, so do I, and I plan to be fully… capable when we do." Looking her in the eyes, he continued. "I'll show you first, then see how we go."

They had been down in the gym, burning off some of the frustration that they both felt after a fruitless day of waiting for any sign of Marenkovic. After moving from some stretching to light sparring, Rick had suggested working on some throws to break the workout up a little - and the opportunity to grapple with his partner in a socially acceptable way certainly wasn't something to pass up either. His focus firmly in the present, the former marine grasped her hands in his own.

Placing them against his chest, he spoke.

"Grab." She hesitated a split second, meeting his gaze, then complied, fisting the front of his tee shirt. "OK. You need to grip tight - their shirt, shoulders, arms,whatever you can… just make sure they can't pull back." Beckett nodded, her attention flickering over his posture, noting the way he held himself poised on the balls of his feet, his hands wrapped securely around each of her shoulders.

"Once you have them locked in," He continued. "You need to take a step back. You can do it while they are still moving forward, it makes the whole thing easier if they are. If not, take a bigger step, get them off balance as they move in." The detective nodded, instinctively taking a step closer as he moved back, their bodies in synch as he shifted his stance.

"Okay." She said, ready for the next step.

"Then you drop…" Rick instructed, a feral grin on his face. "Straight down, and roll back. As you go, lift your leg and place it low on their stomach - when we are practising. Lower if you need to do it for real." He went on."As you roll back, use your momentum to throw them forward, and a little push with your leg to help them over. You ready?"

Beckett nodded, trusting him. She drew in a short breath and felt the world tilt. Rick shot down, his foot bracing against her abs as he went. The moment his backside hit the mats, he rolled backwards and pushed up with the foot against her. Kate let out a clipped yelp as the movement dove her forwards, looking like a racing dive from the blocks at the swimming pool. Tugged down by his grip on her shoulders, she ducked her head, expecting to be able to roll forwards and come to her feet.

She was wrong.

Using her momentum to kick-start his own, Rick flexed his shoulders and kept rolling, his knees separating and slamming into the mats next to her ribs, his weight on her chest. His left hand still gripping her shoulder, he extended his right with the fingers stiffened, the tips touching her throat in a move that would have crushed her windpipe had he followed through.

Beckett blinked, the sudden reversal confusing her for a moment before she grinned. She flexed her heels against the mat under her, noting the almost complete lack of options his manoeuvre had left her with. Castle sat back, keenly aware of the heat flaring between them. Standing, he offered her his hand. Lifting her easily, he grinned at her.

"I've always loved that one. I don't actually know what it's even called in English… I only know it in Japanese - tomoe nage." Bouncing on the balls of his feet, Castle rolled his shoulders, keeping himself loose. "You wanna give it a shot?"

Nodding enthusiastically, Beckett raised her arms her hands already closing into the appropriate grip. Mirroring her position, Rick readied himself.

Frowning with concentration, the detective braced her feet. Flicking her eyes to her partners, she acknowledged his nod. Beckett dropped and rolled, her foot carefully, precisely placed at the top of Rick's shorts, her foot turned sideways so that the arch of her sole cupped his abdomen. Lifting, she felt it the moment his weight began working for her. She could tell from the way his legs hung as he flew over her that he hadn't assisted her with the throw, fighting back the temptation to give a little push with his toes to help her along. His body connected with the mat, and she tightened her grip, the sudden cessation of his movement flinging her back, up and over. Straddling him, she slammed into his chest, her thighs flexing against his ribs.

Flushed and giddy with her success, Beckett threw caution to the wind and leaned forwards, her hands slapping against his cheeks as she pinned him to the mats and kissed him, hard and fast. The adrenaline washed through them both, and it was a superhuman effort to drag themselves back from the precipice. Arousal bleeding into her eyes, Kate growled at him, the short grind of her pelvis against his body leaving him in no doubt as to her intentions - just as soon as they weren't in full view of whoever might happen to open the gym door.

Standing abruptly, she darted her eyes around the gym, her ears pricked for the sounds of anybody else.

"Come on…"She muttered, her mind already plotting.

"Beckett…" The author asked, wondering if she was thinking what he was thinking. Grabbing his hand,she lead him towards the doors, her strides brooking no delay.

"Showers… now."

** for those of you who are following the more (ahem) adult plot sections, the rest of this scene is continued in the separate story mish-mash called 'Layers 12.5 - the good bits' ( s/9513668/2/)

10:15pm, NYPD call centre

The sounds of clicking keys filled the darkened room, faces lit by monitors as the staff picked up call after call, directing enquiries onwards with the speed and precision gained through years of experience.

"Good evening, NYPD call centre. How can I help you?" The disembodied female voice came through the handset, brisk, polite and efficient.

"Hi... My car's been stolen. Who do I-"

"Can I get your name and address please?" The operator cut through what was likely to be an extended explanation, needing to get the pertinent details as soon as possible. As the call progressed, the pendulum swung back the other way - once again, Marenkovic was on the defensive and he didn't even realise... yet.

1:15pm Wednesday, Marlowe Prep

George raised his hand and knocked politely on the door frame. He'd been working security at the private school for years now, and prided himself on doing his job well. He hadn't had many incidents lately, but something about this recent one just gave him the goose-bumps.

"Come in." The voice of Terri Watson the principal carried clearly through the closed door. The burly security guard opened it and nodded in greeting. "What's up, George?" She asked, her brow creasing as she frowned slightly. She trusted her employees, and if something was important enough for the head of her security team to need to speak to her in the middle of the day, there was obviously something going on.

"Sorry to interrupt, boss, but I thought I'd better let you know..." He paused, making sure he had the details straight in his head before continuing. "There's been a guy hanging around the side entrance for the last hour or so. He's not doing anything in particular, doesn't look like he's here to meet a student, won't come into the ground, just... appears." George grimaced a little, not happy with the whole situation. "Every time either myself or one of the others have swung by, he's not there, but we catch a glimpse of him not long after."

"What does he look like?" Terri asked, sitting forward in her chair, her fingers automatically seeking her pen. Her attention fixed on George, she started jotting details down on a scrap of paper without looking, her handwriting an almost-illegible scrawl to anybody but her.

"Maybe five ten, greying hair in a ponytail." The guard responded, standing a little straighter as he rattled off the information. "Kinda skinny, can't get close enough to tell his age, but I'd say in his fifties or so. Neat suit..." He paused. "Can't tell you much more, other than he's got a slight limp."

The principal dropped her eyes to the hastily jotted notes in front of her.

"Thanks, George." She slid her glasses up her nosed, dropping the pen as she rubbed her temples. "Do you have it under control?"

He nodded, his reply clipped.

"I'm gonna get the guys to step up their patrols around the perimeter." He said, slipping into the military jargon he'd never really managed to shake despite being out of uniform for close to ten years. "If I think we can, I'll get them to swing a little wider, maybe see if we can pin him down and get some answers."

"Keep me posted." Terri replied, nodding her assent. Turning, George put his hand on the door handle.

"Will do, boss." He closed the door quietly and headed down the hall, his fingers already on the radio button. "Mike, Paul, Mandy?" He asked, checking in with the other guards rostered on for the day. "We've got orders..."

5:45am Thursday, the Loft

Kate drifted towards wakefulness, threads of her dream still clinging to her as she felt the bed shift slightly.

"Rick?" She mumbled sleepily, one hand scrubbing at her eyes.

"It's ok…" She heard him whisper softly, the gentle press of his lips against the exposed skin of her shoulder blade. "Just grabbing your coffee."

Beckett smiled to herself, the warmth of his bed a match for his tender care as she snuggled back down under the blankets. Burrowing into the dip in his pillow, she sighed happily as the quiet sounds of his movement through the loft gradually faded. Letting her mind drift, the detective took a moment to let it all sink in just how far she'd come in the space of a few short weeks. She had been aware of her slowly thawing opinion of her partner for a while now, long-since evolved beyond the irritating, smug jack-ass she had been so disappointed in when he had first barrelled into her organised world.

Kate chuckled quietly to herself, remembering being torn between wanting to slap the look of debauchery off his scruffy face as she hauled him into the interrogation room, and simply wanting to throw him onto the table, lock the door and rock his world as much as he was upsetting hers. Stretching, she flopped back into place with a stifled yawn, relishing the slight twinge in her legs from their activities the night before. A saucy grin stealing across her lips, she basked in the fact that she no longer had to hold back from her... urges. She blinked, Castle's shadow filling the door to his bedroom as he returned, caffeine in hand.

"Was quick…" Beckett said, her words still a little slurred. They had only managed five hours sleep, once they managed to make it back to the loft. Thankfully, Martha and Alexis had already gone to bed when the duo arrived, sparing everybody concerned the possible therapy that would have ensued.

Placing the hot drink carefully on the bedside table, Rick held his hand out to her. Reaching up, Kate grasped his fingers, the heat from the mug spreading between them. Using his leverage, she sat upright, the blankets pooling in her lap as she sat in the faint illumination of the pre-dawn light. The low light masking any self-consciousness she might have felt about being exposed and naked, she blinked and looked up at his form almost shyly as he presented her with her first cup of the day, little wisps of steam curling from the top of the foam.

Raising the mug, she paused, her lips a fraction of an inch from the edge. Squinting in the poor light, she thought she could make it out… Beckett chuckled, smiling as she met his eyes across the bed.

He'd drawn a smiley face into the foam of her latté. Her charming, loveable goof-ball had drawn a smiley face in her coffee, despite his lack of sleep and the early hour. Taking a careful sip, she sighed softly in appreciation after she swallowed, the silky warmth spreading through her body as the taste danced across her tongue.

"Thanks…" She whispered, not wanting to break the intimacy of the morning by speaking too loudly. In response, he simply leaned forward and kissed her gently, his lips caressing hers as he let them slowly drift closer.

Breaking for air, he dragged his fingers through the gorgeous mess of her hair, his nails scraping across her nape lightly. Picking up his own cup from next to the lamp, Rick slid carefully back into the bed. Grabbing his pillow, he turned it upright and placed it against the headboard, scooting his back up against it. Understanding his plan immediately, Kate waited until he was settled, then held out her coffee for him to take. Wiggling, she easily slid into place between his legs, her naked back pressed up to his chest. Wrapping his arms around her torso, Castle handed back her coffee,and they both took another mouthful. Dropping her head back to rest against his shoulder, Kate asked quietly, still warm and sleepy despite the caffeine.

"How did you do the coffee so quickly?"

Her partner took another swallow of his own drink and placed the cup on his bedside table. Ghosting his fingers across the delicate planes of her shoulder, his fingertips warm from the coffee, he answered, traces of his boyish charm seeping through despite the decidedly adult setting.

"Got the machine on a timer. Figured I'd get it set when I went to the bathroom before I passed out." He yawned, stretching his arm out. Nuzzling the crook of her neck, Rick smiled against her skin. "Wanted to wake you up with a nice surprise." Kate purred happily, draining a large gulp of her coffee, the temperature just shy of scalding.

"You succeeded." She murmured, her approval spreading through her limbs as she relaxed a little further. Kate let the silence stretch out, the intimacy of the moment wrapping around them, their own little bubble of contentment shielding them from the outside world.

"What time do we have to head in?" Rick asked softly a few minutes later, the dregs of his coffee swirling in the bottom of his cup. He placed it back on the bedside table and wound his arms around her, their fingers linking together. Resting his cheek against her hair, he let out a quiet sigh. Turning her head a little, Kate snuggled into him, the warm wash of her breath caressing his skin.

"Got another couple of hours..." She shifted in the circle of his arms, wiggling down as she burrowed into his chest. "Don't need to be in til eight. " Stifling a yawn, Beckett closed her eyes and drifted, the utter relaxation of the moment robbing her of anything beyond the confines of the bedroom. If she thought the boneless way she melted into her partner couldn't get any more perfect, she was wrong.

Tenderly, Rick ran his nails through her hair, deftly avoiding the tangles, the soft rasp as he lightly scratched her scalp pulling a wordless purr of approval from her. Kate's soft, happy noise teased a smile from the author as he looked down at her, still stunned that they'd managed to reach that point. He didn't know if it was too soon to say it, but he knew that he would be happy to spend the rest of their lives together just so he could see her so... soft and open. The heartache and trials they had both endured fell away, washed clean by the quiet strength of their bond. Carding his fingers, he traced the shell of her ear, watching as her mouth fell open a little, the quiet sounds other breathing evening out as sleep took her once more. He'd been tempted, oh so tempted, upon his return to the bedroom to let the coffee wake her and persuade her into a round of lazy morning debauchery, but the sight of her so adorably rumpled and sleepy brought out such tender affection that he shelved the idea... for the moment at least.

One hand resting over the sleeping detective's, Castle wrapped his other arm around her shoulders, his palm warm against the expanse of her ribs. Closing his own eyes with a contented sigh, he let sleep drag him under as well.

Rest now, He thought, his mind already drifting. Maybe a shared shower before we go.

Surrendering, Rick let the stillness of the moment carry him back to sleep.

6:50am, the Loft

The sharp noise of Beckett's phone ringing sliced through the quiet, jerking her out of her sleep. The unconscious twitch of her body jolting her partner awake, Castle mumbled,

"Got it..." He blinked rapidly, his hand regretfully leaving the warmth of her skin and fishing the offending device from the bedside table. Glancing at the caller ID, he knew better than to answer it for her.

"Beckett..." She answered the call, her voice still thick with sleep. "Yeah." She paused, listening. "Okay, we'll be there in an hour, tops." Pressing the hang up button, she tossed the phone aside and watched as it bounced a little too close to the edge of the bed for comfort. Hesitating for a split second, she shrugged, deciding that it wasn't worth the effort. Stretching, she glanced up at Rick, saying, "We may have a lead..."

The last cobwebs clearing from his brain, he grinned, adrenaline already working it's magic on him.

"Solid?" He asked, his arm operating on auto-pilot as he ran his fingertips down the length of her back, caressing the dimples just above her backside. Flexing into his fingernails, she smiled archly up at him.

"Kinda." Tilting her head back, she captured his lips with her own, her tongue immediately dipping into his mouth. Sliding around in place, Kate moved with a boneless grace that robbed him of the ability to think straight. Her knees parting, she straddled his thighs, deepening the kiss even as her hands roamed freely across his chest. Canting her hips just close enough to brush the evidence of his arousal, she nipped lightly at his neck, before disappearing from his grasp and heading towards the bathroom. Unashamedly admiring the view, Rick flung back the covers and stood, rapidly closing the distance between them as he crowded her through the doorway. His hands gripping her hips, he leaned in and nibbled her shoulder, a soft chuckle escaping him as he felt her stride falter.

"Shower first, tell me on the way?" He asked, his fingers already scorching fiery trails across her skin.

"Good plan." She replied, summoning her faculties enough to reach out and turn the taps on. After that, there wasn't much breath left for talking, the couple being thoroughly engrossed in their newest hobby.