A/N: I'm sensing you guys want more Castle/Beckett moments and opening up and less case-related stuff. I'm trying to make it less about the procedural and more about them, but I feel like without context for them to grow in, the relationship will seem less realistic. Bear with me? And sorry, between midterms and getting sick every other week, I've been behind on everything.

Disclaimer: I meant to pick up some rights last time I went shopping, leave it to me to forget them again.

/

Kate was stuck in a whirlwind. Thoughts racing, heart pounding, heat rising. She loved it. Her entire being was vibrating with excitement, and no small amount of arousal. She had never seen Rick so exposed, and not just physically. Her mind replayed the reel of emotions that flashed behind his eyes while she went about making toast and eggs. Surprise at her arrival. Embarrassment at being caught in a state of undress. Thrilled by her response to him. Realization that they had been standing in his doorway staring at each other for a blatantly innappropriate amount of time. Understanding when he gave her an excuse to exit the situation.

Rick walked back into the kitchen, now dressed, just as she was sliding their breakfasts onto two plates and cleaning up the kitchen area. He sat on a stool at the island and watched her for a moment admiring her moving around his kitchen with ease. As if cooking in his house was something that occured naturally to her. She was about to start washing dishes when he stopped her.

"You can leave those. You've already outdone yourself. You didn't have to make me anything."

She hadn't realized he'd come back in the room yet and had to stop herself from jumping. "Hardly, it's just eggs. But I wasn't just going to make something for myself. I like cooking." She slid their plates over to him with the coffee he had forgot he was making and sat next to him.

"We have time to eat?"

"And extra. The vic is a Rhode Island cop. We put out an APB for missing cops in New England and got a hit in RI. The uniforms are a match so we're waiting for the wife and friend to come in for a positive i.d. and questioning."

"That's a four hour drive."

"And I made the call on the way over, so it'll be a while before we can do anything. I sent Ryan and Espo home to sleep until the wife gets to the city."

"And then you came here?" Oh, he had caught her.

"Yeah, I guess I did." And she didn't try to make excuses. They were both a bit surprised by her. Maybe her therapist was helping her make more progress than she realized.

"Well, I'm glad you did. This is great, thanks."

"Your food, I just threw it together."

They finished about the same time and went about cleaning their dishes together. "So when are Martha and Alexis getting home?"

He passed her a pan; he was washing and she was drying. "Not until later tonight. Their taking a train back from Boston at six, so they'll probably be here around 10:30, 11."

She made a mental note to try to make it a long night at the precinct so he wouldn't be home alone. "Do you know if she found a college she wants to apply for yet?"

"Mother said that she really liked Brown and Columbia." He finished up the washing and turned to lean against the sink. Head turned, he watched her finish off the lot.

"Those are good schools. Not too far either." She stretched a bit to put the last plate away, her shirt lifting slightly. Castle's eyes moved of their own accord to the exposed strip of creamy skin. Every nerve in his body was telling his brain to reach out and brush his fingers against her. The same way he had when they had been drugged by the tiger smugglers. Except they were in his kitchen. Being domestic. And she'd seen him shirtless earlier. He couldn't decide which situation was more dangerous.

"Castle?" She moved to stand in front of him, standing against the island. He had been lost in his concerted effort to not touch her.

"Yeah?"

"You okay? We don't have to talk about it if it bothers you."

"It's fine. Thanks for helping with the dishes and making breakfast."

"Don't mention it... So..." She didn't want to go home, not where she would be alone thinking about cops and bullets and gsws to the chest. After having already had an episode that weekend, she knew she'd be more susceptible to be triggered.

"We have a couple of hours, right? How about a movie? Unless you wanted to go home and sleep."

And there it was. He had made the decision entirely hers, and in no small way. She recognized it for what it was. He was looking out for her. Giving her final say. Stay and admit that she would rather hang out with her partner than do something else. Or, go home and sulk in her inability to move forward in their relationship like she so desperately wanted to. She smiled at him, and not just for giving her an exit. "What movies do you have?"

/

Katherine Beckett was fast asleep. And Richard Castle was damn lucky.

He had put Away We Go on the projector and plopped down next to her on the side of the couch. She was sitting in the middle, legs tucked up under her, her side pushed against his. It took less than half an hour for her head to end up on his shoulder, eyes closed and a sweet smile on her lips.

Surprised at the unexpected movement, Rick turned his head slowly, trying not to jar her. She was exhausted from being woken up so early. And after being out at The Old Haunt with him the night before, she needed the sleep. He angled himself towards her, sitting slanted with his arm across the back of the couch so that she could lay against him more comfortably. Still unconscious, she responded to his movements, letting out a slight sigh and shifting into the space he had created.

Sure that she would wake up and be unnerved by their position, Castle took advantage of the moment, carefully memorizing how she felt against him. Comfort radiating off of her skin in rays of warmth. Hair tickling him slightly from where she tucked her head into him. The rise and fall of her chest in perfect sync with the soft sounds of her breathing.

She was asleep and stunning. He was in shock, in awe, in love.

/

Blue rays of light breaking through shadows. Montgomery apologizing. His face blurred by her tears, her realization. Castle standing behind her. Standing with her. Despite their fight. Despite everything. And then Montgomery yelling. And Castle lifting her up. And struggling. And fighting. And knowing. And crying. Useless, useless, useless.

Breaking apart in his arms. Begging for mercy he can't grant her. 'Castle... Please...' She knows he can't. Can't let her walk into a firefight. She wants to. She needs to. He can't let her. And she understands. It rips her apart. But she understands.

She gives up. She gives in. She gives out. Collapsing down. Expecting hard concrete at her feet. Finding strength in his arms. He holds her up. All the world is crumbling around them. And he's sorry. He keeps saying how sorry he is. And wiping her tears. And brushing her hair back. He holds her up.

A shot rings out. She has to go in. She has to see. He can't not let her. He has to see. Running in. He's left in her wake. And she's on her knees. Long minutes lost in her memory. Maybe five, maybe sixty. But Castle was back. Pulling her off the ground. Walking her towards his car. Driving her home. Making her coffee. Waiting wordless. For daylight. For answers. For anything.

Flags. Tombstones. One hundred faces. Blending, meshing, mixing, together. Mumbled words. False complacencies. A deep breathe. A tribute. A speech. A glint of light. A sharp flame of pain. 'Stay with me, Kate... Don't leave me, please... Stay with me, okay?...Kate... I love you... I love you, Kate.'

Echoes. A muted reply. I love you, back. I love you, too. I love you. I love you. I'm sorry. Darkness. Infinite. Suffocating. Falling, falling, falling.

"NO... PLEASE... NO, NO, NO!"

He woke up to Kate screaming. Head banging against his chest, arms and legs twitching violently, tears streaming fast. She was having a night terror. Something he was all too familiar with. Rick didn't know what to do. Wanting to wake her up, but not wanting to make it worse, he took his chances. He enveloped her into a tight embrace, back pressed flat on his chest, arms held back from hurting him or herself. He pulled her into him.

He brought his lips down to her ear, "Kate. Wake up, Kate." Starting quiet, he tried not to startle her, slowly gaining volume. "Everything's okay. Come on, Kate. Wake up for me."

Her eyes opened wide in shock. Unsure of her surroundings. Or where dreams dissipated into reality. Breathing fast and hard, she focused on slowing down. She managed to stop twisting and turning. Allowed her paroxysms to become shakes.

It took several minutes for her to catch up with the rest of the world. Rick whispering gentle phrases of comfort. His grip loosening, bit by bit, but breaking contact. He waited for her breathing to steady and the shakes to stop. Voicing encouragements the whole time. "That's it, Kate. Just relax. I've got you. You're safe, Kate. You're safe."

A silent minute passed when he realized she had reached steady ground. "

Kate... What can I do?"

She inhaled deeply. Trying to allow her need for help to overcome her pride, just this one time. Just today. Just this moment. She replied on an exhale, voice quiet and breathy.

"...Don't let go."

/

I feel like these chapters haven't been as strong as the first two. What am I missing? How do I improve? Reviews help more than you know.