This is a spin-off of Kiss Me, Castle. This is FMC. It stands for Fuck Me, Castle. These are M-rated chapters.

For cartographical, who has been so amazingly helpful as an editor, drill instructor and cheerleader. This wouldn't exist without you, Carto.

Fuck Me, Castle: LA

The last thing you want is to look back on your life and wonder, 'if only.'

Her suitcase is beside the door and she's halfway finished with her carryon when she hears the key in her front door. She was half-hoping she wouldn't see him before she left. But Josh has her key, comes inside and quickly finds her in her bedroom. He looks confused; he must have noticed the suitcase. "Hey, babe. What's with the luggage?"

She doesn't stop packing, just puts the last few things into her travel kit. She doesn't like being called 'babe.' "I have to go to L.A."

Josh blinks, taken aback. "L.A.? Why?"

"It's a long story." Josh doesn't know about Royce. Or her mother. He doesn't need to hear about all the shadows in her past. He can't fix her. She doesn't want to see the pity when he discovers she's so totally broken.

"For God's sake, Kate. You can't just run off to California without telling me you're even going."

She lets out a short laugh. "Seriously? You travel more in a year than I've traveled in my life, Josh. It's just for a few days."

Josh runs his hands through his hair in frustration. "Look, I know I've been gone a lot. I'm sorry. But I don't want to fight about this."

"About what? This is my business. There's nothing to fight about."

"If this is something you feel like you need to do, then okay."

Kate finally lets go of her travel kit and turns to face him squarely. "Don't patronize me."

"I wasn't! I just meant I don't know what's bothering you. I mean, if it's something about your job – "

"It's personal."

"And you were hoping I wouldn't find out? Is that it?"

"You don't know me, Josh! You think you do. But you don't. You don't know my life, you don't know my past, and I don't owe you that." She's being unfair and she knows it. But this isn't how it works. Josh sees her body. He doesn't get to see her scars.

But instead of his usual reaction (backing down), Josh looks angry. She's never seen him angry before. Not like this. They've never fought. She's been telling herself that's a good thing. Now she's not really sure how to react. "Why do you keep doing this, Kate? You've been holding me at arm's length for months. You want me in your bed, but you don't want anything else. I'm patient, but I'm tired of getting tossed aside whenever you don't want me."

Her chest is getting tight. She already knows how this is going to end. She's had this argument before. "Josh, it's not you, I just – "

"You need to figure out what you want, Kate. Because I don't know what it is. But you're right. It sure as hell isn't me."

He leaves without another word, slamming her front door behind him.

She finally agrees to take the seat beside Castle and stares out the airplane window for a few minutes. Her mentor is dead. Her boyfriend is gone. She's deliberately disobeying a direct order. All in one day. It's been a long time since she felt so alone.

But then she feels the bump of his elbow in her side and looks up to see Castle handing her glass of champagne. "Here."

She takes it with a wry smile. Because after all, the men who left her were the guy who broke her heart and the guy who never really had it in the first place.

She tells herself she can't share his hotel room. And she tries to tell herself the thin, reedy edge of vibration humming through her body is just the car. Not…something it absolutely cannot be. No.

"I assure you, my intentions are pure."

That's not the problem.

The problem is that right now, she's not entirely sure that hers are.

"You're not so bad yourself, Castle."

She doesn't mean for it to come out the way it does – so teasing, so inviting – but then she looks at him, really looks. Because he can't be taking it the way it sounds. He knows her. This isn't her. It isn't. Right?

But oh, God. The way he's looking at her. The pure want. He's not even trying to hide it. Maybe it's the quiet intimacy, or the warmth from the wine, or the fact that they're sitting together even though she should have kept her space, but she feels weak. Deliciously weak. Spineless. She's dissolving into a puddle of tingling nerve endings and misplaced emotion and sheer unadulterated lust under his gaze, and she should probably stand up, excuse herself, escape before they do something stupid, but she can't move. She stares at him, drugged into silence by those impossibly blue eyes.

His breathing has gotten shallow, and she watches in fascination as he swallows, the muscles in his throat working. "Kate – "

She leans forward just a fraction of an inch, barely moving, but it's enough. It's acquiescence. And apparently that's what he needed.

He slowly leans in the rest of the way, covers the distance in a single, deliberate, painstaking breath, and when she doesn't make a move to stop him, he captures her mouth, catching her lips in a whisper of a kiss that renders her utterly helpless.

Her heart pounds uncontrollably, her blood pressure hitting the roof as she melts against him, but just as she's gaining confidence, he's losing it. His mouth leaves hers. "Kate. I – I'm sorry." He shuts his eyes, pulling himself back, his face clouded with frustration. "I shouldn't have done that. I'm sorry."

"Castle – "

"You're with someone, and I shouldn't – "

"We had a fight." She swallows, because saying it out loud makes it real. And unavoidable. "We're not – it's over."

She feels her chest get suddenly tight, like she can't suck in a breath. Because that was the single biggest reason Castle's been backing off this year. She's sure of it. And now it's gone. That wall is crumbled into dust, leaving her staring across the emptiness at a man who can't possibly hide the raw desire on his face right now.

"I should go. It's late."

He's out of his seat and halfway to his room before she can blink. "Rick – "

"Goodnight, Beckett."

Beckett. Her surname shuts off the moment as effectively as his bedroom door shutting behind him. She blinks, taking a deep breath. Her body is quivering with unresolved need.

After a moment, she retreats to her own room, but as her door shuts behind her she leans on it, her mind whirling. She wants him. She wants him so fiercely it scares her. Her skin is buzzing with desire, her fingers and toes and the roots of her hair and everything so overwhelmingly alive and aware of the man in the next bedroom that she can't think clearly. She's been controlling herself, boxing herself in, holding herself together since the moment she saw the body in the alley. She can't control herself anymore. She doesn't want to. She wants to let go. She wants him to take control. She trusts him.

Her body is aching, the tension in her abdomen coiling so tightly, so pointedly that she knows there will be no sleep tonight. Not until she gets relief. One way or another. Is this what he feels like? Castle's never been secretive about the fact that he's attracted to her. But has his body ever hurt with desire? Does he want her so badly he can't breathe, like his skin is hot, slick with oil that won't evaporate, won't stop burning?

(She's thought about it. Oh, she's thought about what it would be like with him. With the kissing. And the touching. And the gasping. It makes her blush and cross her legs.)

She takes in a deep breath, her hand hovering over the doorknob. If she does this, if she does what she really wants to, this is it. There's no going back.

He's not going to tell her No.

She grips the knob and opens the door to the living room.

He's not there, of course. But the light is on in his room, and as she pauses to listen, she can hear noise in the pipes, the muffled sound of running water. He's in the shower.

Heat floods her body, her lips coming apart in a silent breath. Her mind swirls with images of Rick Castle naked, Rick Castle under the shower's spray, water cascading over his skin, hot and wet and steamy, and her mouth goes dry.

With swift steps, she crosses the living room and slowly opens his bedroom door. The bathroom door is cracked open, a sliver of bright light crossing the soft lamplit glow in the rest of his bedroom. His clothes are lying on his bed, like he simply stripped them off on his way to the shower. She can't stop thinking about it, imagining him dragging his shirt over his head with careless hands. How easy it would be to finish the job for him. Pull him down onto the bed. Not stop.

She pads barefoot through his bedroom, pulling off her pajamas and dropping them on the floor beside his bed. The sudden cool air on her exposed skin makes her shiver, the cold contrasting sharply with the heat under her skin, and she swallows hard. Her heart is pounding in her chest. She eases the bathroom door open silently, slips inside and shuts it behind her. The shower's still running, but there's no other sound. He's not moving, not splashing. She can vaguely see his shape, blurred through the warped glass of the shower door, but he's facing away from her. Something's off. Something doesn't make sense.

She can't place it for a moment, until he lets out a soft groan, and then she understands what's missing. There's no steam. The shower's been on long enough; the air should be steamy.

The water's cold.

The realization hits her so hard she stops for a second. He wants her. He wants her badly.

She's ready to flee, duck out, grab her clothes, and go back to pretending she doesn't know what he's doing alone in his room. She's good at avoidance. Really, really good at it.

But just as she's about to turn, she steals another glance at him. Even through the blurry door, his body is distinctive. She can follow the broad lines of his shoulders, the contours of his back, the well-defined curve of his backside, the taut muscles of his legs. A wave of heat rushes through her. He's a tall man, a big man, with a body that can envelop her. Engulf her. Take her. She can lose herself. Completely.

Arousal flares, bright and hot, surging through her bloodstream like liquid fire. Her heart is hammering against her chest so hard it's almost painful. The words The heart wants what the heart wants flicker through her mind, and her fists clench. Castle never leaves for good. To the point of driving her insane. He's messed up in the past. But he comes back.

She won't let him make her a coward.

She knows what she wants.

Kate takes the last step, grabs the handle, and opens the door to his shower.

His face when he turns around is a startled mixture of shock and disbelief and arousal. He sucks in a long breath. "Kate – "

He chokes out her name like it's painful, taking an instinctive step back, trying to put distance between them. His eyes rake over her naked body greedily, the blatant lust mesmerizing as he lingers at her chest. Her nipples are tight from the cold air, painfully hard, her whole body thrumming with barely controlled lust. It's the first time she's seen him undressed. He's powerfully built, water streaming over his muscular shoulders, his strong arms, the solid frame of his chest. The subtle contour of muscles into his groin. Her gaze flicks downwards. And she sees why he was standing in a cold shower. It wasn't working. Her whole body flushes hot in spite of the cold water. Oh God, Castle…

"Kate." His voice is strangled. He's studiously looking away from her now, his eyes locked on the wall. His hands are clenched tightly like he's afraid they're going to betray him. "Kate, if you don't leave right now –"

"Do you want me?"

Castle looks back at her, startled, but doesn't say anything. He doesn't have to. She knew the answer long before she asked the question. And she made her choice the moment she opened her door.

Without breaking his gaze, she reaches for the shower knob, which is pointing to Cold. She turns it to Hot.

His eyes get wide, and she catches her breath, because his gaze is piercing, the softness flooded through with stormy darkness, and the last thing she thinks before he touches her is No going back now.

But he doesn't kiss her. Not yet. Steam is clouding the shower stall as the water heats up, delicate billows curling over her skin, the air thick and heavy and dangerous. Her back hits the wall, his skin pressing flush against hers, and he touches her. Slowly. His fingers trace the lines of her cheekbones, the line of her jaw, the flush of her lips. She swallows, her hands flexing weakly on his shoulders as his lips follow the path of his fingers, continuing this slow, torturous, overwhelmingly erotic exploration of her face, the words he's not saying echoing in her mind. You're mine.All mine.

"Kate," he murmurs, his lips brushing her cheek, the heat of his breath permeating her whole being, curling under her skin.

"Don't stop," she sighs.

And then his mouth is on hers and she can't speak anymore.

Unlike his first touches, the tentative exploration of her skin (like he wasn't convinced she was really there), his kiss is anything but tentative. The dam is broken, the bridge is burned, and he's not holding back anymore. He devours her mouth almost roughly, his tongue dominating hers in a battle for control she's happy to let him win. He steps in closer and her shoulder blades and the flare of her tailbone press harder into the wall, her hands landing on his arms, fingers curling around them, feeling the taut muscles under the wet heat of his skin.

The steamy air is thick, hard to breathe; she has to suck it into her lungs. Her head spins, her skin buzzing with arousal as he slides one hand under her thigh, lifts her leg to wrap it around his waist, and she swallows, a little whimper escaping her at the sudden wet friction just where she wants it most. She wraps her legs around him, her thighs tightening, his tongue rough in her mouth as his hand slips between her legs. His fingers curl and she moans, arching helplessly against him, her face pressed into the crook of his neck as she clutches desperately at the slick wet skin of his shoulders. The hot water sluices over her skin in waves, scorching against the heated press of his skin on hers, and the tactile overload is almost too much. "Oh – oh Castle – " she gasps, her voice cracking on his name as his fingers hit her in just the right spot and her eyes roll back at the haze of pointed pleasure.

When he finally, finally slides into her, it's rough and gentle and perfect and deep and aching and sudden and so inevitable that her whole body shudders. He groans and she gasps, her thighs clenching desperately around him as she takes him in, her inner muscles stretching to hold him. His breath rushes hot and thready over her skin, and as she manages to come back to herself, he rocks his body into hers. She can't stop herself, her cries muffled into the wet skin of his neck, feeling the answering groan rumbling deep in his chest. He thrusts into her blindly, her body slipping against his as she moans, urging him on, her ankles locked behind him as her shoulder blades slam against the tiles behind her.

He chokes out her name in a voice deep and ragged, his hands on her hips tightening as his body rocks into her one last time. She comes completely undone, the tension and desire and years of waiting and wanting and imagining (and maybe loving) so overwhelming that she loses all control.

The orgasm hits her so hard she can hardly breathe, his name escaping her in a sob as she shudders. Her body flutters wildly as she comes, the spasm rolling through her bloodstream in a blinding rush, her heart racing. Her muscles slowly release around him, and she sucks in air, trying to breathe, to think.

And all the distance she's tried to put between them, the men she's feigned interest in, has just been her futile resistance to the inevitable.

She kisses his bare shoulder, feels the shudders that rock his body. Castle.

There's a moment, a breath that passes between them, and then his mouth is on hers, slow and deep and perfect and the promise of so much more (tonight and tomorrow and the day after and forever and ever), and she has no resistance left. None.

Her body clock is still in the Eastern timezone, so in spite of how little sleep they got last night, Kate wakes up early.

Castle's spooned up behind her, his arm, warm and heavy and possessive, slung over her waist. His breath floats gently over her skin. She lets herself rest for a moment, relaxing, her body exhausted and sated and glowing. She's still limp, still feeling the after-effects of their prolonged night of lovemaking.

Her mind is already awake, so though her partner is unmoving beside her, she decides to get up. As gently as possible, Kate slowly slips out from his arms. He's sound asleep; he twitches, lets out a breath, but doesn't wake up. She sits up and has to bite back a gasp. She's sore. Really, really sore. In places she hasn't been sore for a while. There are dark finger-shaped marks on her thighs. A love bite just under her left breast. That must have happened somewhere between the shower and the bed. Maybe the wall. It's all sort of blurred together. Her cheeks flush hotly. Oh, God. The things she did to him. The things she let him do to her. The begging. He made her beg.

She knew it would be like this, though. Even before she walked into his shower naked. As hard as she's tried to ignore it, she's known he wanted her. She's known since the first day. All it took was one choice. Now she knows she can't stop. She doesn't want to stop.

She needs to shower. She decides not to use his bathroom. Not that it isn't nice. Not that she's not very, very interested in seeing what else he can do to her in a shower. But right now she wants to breathe, wants to think, wants to make sure she knows what's going on.

A tiny part of her wants to slip under the covers and really wake him up, maybe spend another hour letting him pin her against his sheets and end up pinned against the wall of the shower again, but she reminds herself. Kate. You barely got four hours of sleep. Go do your job. Plenty of time for that later. Whatever – this – is, it doesn't change the reason she's here. She's here because someone is dead and someone needs to pay. Kate knows how to do her job. She can compartmentalize.

It strikes her as somewhat laughable that she's doing a twenty-foot walk of shame. And it would probably feel more legitimate if it weren't (technically) all his hotel room anyway.

In her bathroom, as she sets down her toothbrush, she takes a closer look in the mirror, and then tugs her hair back and dabs makeup carefully over the bright red mark on her throat.

By the time Castle appears in the living room, all rumpled and sleepy in his white robe, she's showered, dressed, and absorbed in her work. She's established Ro- the victim's timeline and needs to figure out what to do next. She needs to –


"Hey." Her concentration vanishes. Her mouth goes dry. Castle looks good. He looks delicious. Her whole body hums with want. She wants to pull off that robe, run her hands through his tousled hair, push him down onto the couch, and just forget everything else. Like they did last night.

Fighting against the shiver that runs through her, she drags her eyes back up to meet his and finds a look she wasn't expecting. Desire, of course – her cheeks get warm – but a little hesitance. She's always known there's more to him than the rakish ladies' man. He stuffs his hands in the pockets of his robe, watching her carefully, his blue eyes bright. Perceptive. "Kate – I don't want to pretend last night didn't happen."

"I know."

A flicker of relief flashes over his face and his whole body relaxes, and Kate lets out a long breath. She doesn't regret what happened. His eyes soften, a smile starting to hover in the twist of his mouth. Castle takes a step towards her, and she sees his gaze, keen and observant, flick over the whiteboard before he looks back at her. He's the only person she's ever met who makes her feel completely exposed with a single look. He opens his mouth, pauses for a moment before speaking cautiously. "You – do you wanna talk about it?"

Oh, there are so many possible meanings for "it." She doesn't want to talk about any of them. Because she knows how each conversation will start but has no idea how any of them will end. She bites her lip, but – after all, she's the one who started this in the first place. "Eventually. Yeah."

"Eventually?" Apparently it's not the answer he was expecting. But his eyes are calm, and she knows he understands. She's not ashamed. She's not denying it. She just – doesn't know what to say other than I'm a mess right now or Weslept together or I liked itor It needs to happen again. Or I'm still thinking about what you look like naked.

"Right now – I just – I want to – "

To hell with it. She doesn't have to pretend she doesn't want this anymore. She needs more of him. She wants all of him.

Kate turns away from the whiteboard, pushes him down onto the couch, tossing her marker onto the chair nearby and climbing into his lap, straddling his hips as she tugs the sleeves of his robe down his arms and starts sucking on his neck.

His hands immediately come to her sides, sliding under her t-shirt, hot on her skin. He lets out a strangled laugh. "Oh – such a way to say good morning, Kate – "

She nips playfully at the line of his throat and he gasps, his hands tightening reflexively on her skin as his hips jerk roughly against hers. The rush of heady arousal swamps her veins, the delicious pleasure of being able to control his body so easily. Five seconds and he's putty under her hands.

She rolls her lower body against him slowly, shivering as he lets out a deep groan that rumbles through her chest. He pulls her closer, trapping her chest against his, kissing her hard and hot and overpowering, his tongue slipping wetly into her mouth. His hands curl over the curve of her rear, sliding into the back pockets of her jeans, and he rocks into her. She lets out a breathy sigh that gets caught in his mouth and runs her hands through his hair –

Just as she trails a hand over his stomach to tug at the waistband of his pants, there's a knock at the door. She freezes, startled, her eyes meeting his in a moment of panic. Crap.

She stumbles off of him, tugs her shirt down, runs a quick hand over her hair, and hurries to shove the whiteboard out of sight before Castle opens the door to Detective Seeger. Kate relaxes, sips the coffee she'd made earlier, and concentrates on projecting the appearance of a woman who is not hiding anything, does not have an outline of the murder on a whiteboard, is not disobeying direct orders, and did not spend most of last night moaning Castle's name in helpless abandon.

Castle has been staring at her body in this swimsuit since the moment she stepped out of the pool, and once they get back to the hotel she intends to simply shower, change and call the detective. Really.

She had pulled on a t-shirt over her suit, and she heads into her room, tugging it off over her head and picking up her phone. She calls the police station; Seeger's stepped out for just a second but they ask her to wait, he'll be right back.

As she waits, rubbing her neck absently, suddenly then there are hands sliding over her skin, and she bites her lip. Maybe she should have paid attention to see if Castle was going to follow her in here.

"I'm on the phone, Castle," she murmurs, trying in vain to bat away the hand that's tugging at the knot on her pareo.

"You're on hold," he points out. He manages to untie the knot and the fabric flutters to the floor. She swallows, her eyes flickering shut as he backs her up against the door, and then he's peeling the damp fabric off her skin and oh she's letting him.

The suit hits the floor just as she hears an impatient "Hello?" over the phone. Crap. Seeger.

She manages to hold it together in spite of Castle, who will not stop sucking at her neck. She threads her free hand through his hair, biting her lip as she tries to focus on the phone.

"Can you – " she has to bite back a moan as his hand slips between her legs because they really, really shouldn't be doing this but it just feels so good – "meet us here in an hour?"

"An hour?" The LA cop sounds a little frustrated, but she really doesn't care because she needs to get off (the phone) right now because fuck she is so frustrated right now and if she does not have Castle inside her immediately she is going to explode.

"We'll have everything for you then."

Castle bites her ear, slides his fingers further. She presses her mouth to his shoulder to muffle the helpless noise she can't stop.


Seeger hangs up (oh finally). She throws her phone onto her bed and pulls Castle into the shower.

By the time she manages to get dressed and dry her hair, he's collected his clothes and managed to regain some semblance of respectability. Probably a good thing. She's not sure how convincing she looks. Her body is still warm and glowing.

Sleeping with Castle only confuses things. This case is too important to mess up. She's managed to hold herself together, work like a machine. Her mind is keen, her instincts sharp, her concentration in the field strong. She pushes Royce's name to the back of her mind, replaces it with "the victim" when she has to, and chokes down emotions. It works. She's good at this.

But every time the hotel room door closes behind them, something inside her snaps. She can't keep her hands off Castle. She keeps telling herself Kate, stop, think, you need tothinkabout this, and she really means to. She does. But then the door clicks shut and her tongue is in his mouth and her hands are down his pants and before she can remember that she should think about this, she's naked and sweaty and moaning and he's inside her, biting her name into her collarbone.

It almost hurts when he looks at her because there's too much in his eyes. And his kisses are too tender, not enough like blind lust and far too much like something else, something much scarier. Sometimes she's afraid she's taking advantage of him. That he's just giving in out of pity. But the way he holds her when they're done, while the sweat dries and she tries to breathe, tells her otherwise. He holds her like he's been wanting this forever. He kisses her like it's all he's ever wanted to do.

Like she doesn't have scars and an entire warehouse full of baggage she's unloaded on him.

He kisses her like she's perfect.

That's why she can't stop.

She almost shot Russell Ganz. She wanted to. She wanted to put a bullet between his eyes.

But she didn't.

(She should feel good about it. She feels nothing.)

After an endless and numbing round of statements at the police station, Kate lets Castle drive them back to the hotel, and she sits silently in the passenger's seat, cheek pressed to her fist as she stares, unseeing, out the window. Ganz is done. He's finished. And he was the last thing Royce saw before he died.

There's no joy in the solution today. No win. She had lost before she even got to California. Royce is dead. She has no idea what kind of funeral arrangements there'll be. She doesn't know how to process any of it. She should feel sad. Or angry. Or vindicated. Or something. She just feels hollow. Her chest is empty and aching. She hasn't cried for him. She doesn't know how.

She lets Castle walk her up to their suite, follows him in, eats the dinner he orders, patiently answers the light questions he puts to her, tries to swallow food around the pain in her throat and chest and stomach. She feels disconnected, like she's still somewhere between here and the beach, or maybe between here and New York, or somewhere else she's not sure of. Her breathing is getting shallow.

She pulls it together, breathes through the tightness, follows obediently as Castle tugs her hand, pulls her into his bedroom. Her throat is closed so she says nothing. He undresses her carefully, drops her t-shirt and jeans on a chair and tugs one of his t-shirts over her head, and quickly pulls on his pajamas before pulling her into bed. She curls up on her side away from him, tucking herself into a ball, her eyelids fluttering rapidly. She wants to sleep. She wants it to go away. She wants – she's not sure. She doesn't know. It's all –


Her eyes start to sting, and she instinctively tries to swallow it away, blink her eyes dry, clench her teeth into silence. But then she feels his hand slide over her arm, gentle but firm, tugging her against him until she's in his arms, cradled against the warmth of his body, and she shuts her eyes but his fingers delicately map the shape of her face.

"Kate. You did the right thing. He'd be proud of you."

Royce's face appears in her mind's eye and she lets out a choking breath because it's over now, it's finished, but he's still gone and he's never coming back.

Castle holds her while she cries quietly for the friend she lost. She cries herself out and finally lets herself slump against him as he gently strokes her hair and presses a kiss to her forehead. He doesn't say anything, just lets her breathe.

She's exhausted and worn and wants nothing more than quiet right now, and it's only a few minutes before his even breathing and steady heartbeat under her cheek lull her to sleep.

When she wakes up, there's just a thin veil of pale early sunlight streaming into the room, shedding a hazy half-light in the dimly grey morning. She's limp, drained from crying. She feels cleaner. Empty. Purged.

A shiver runs through her as she feels the soft trail of fingers on her knee, sliding up her thigh, teasing and hot. He's already awake, then. "Castle – " her voice is thick with sleep, but her body is already responding to his touch, arousal uncurling hot and light and quick in her veins. "Castle – I don't – I'm so tired – "

She hums in helpless contentment as he kisses her throat, his tongue flicking over the curve of her jaw, his fingers tracing light circles on the soft skin of her inner thigh, just inches from giving her satisfaction, and already she's giving in, because damn it, he's so good at this.

"Shhh, Kate. Just relax." He kisses her lips briefly. "Let me do the work."

Her thighs fall open around him and his hand slides easily under the band of her underwear. He's slow, and careful, and teasing, and she's writhing under his sure touch, gasping and panting and begging until finally, finally, she comes apart around him. She cries out, her back arching, every muscle taut and clenched with pleasure so overpowering it's almost painful. She collapses, her body sinking into the mattress, and all she can do is breathe dazedly as he wipes the sweat from her forehead and brushes her hair back. "God – Castle – " she manages between breaths.

"People do tend to confuse the two of us," he replies cheekily, and she slaps at his arm weakly. She can hardly move.

He kisses her forehead and she turns toward him, tracing the plane of his stomach, the muscles under his t-shirt. She's weak and shaking and before she can stop it, the thought flutters through her mind, the blurry dazed glow of her orgasm shutting down the filter she's tried so hard to keep up:

He's in love with me.

It's out before she can stop it, but there's no way it's not true. She knows. He loves her. And she's been silently denying the fact that she loves him for so long that not even she believes it any more.

Her whole body goes limp, and her eyes are suddenly stinging even though she doesn't want them to. He traces a gentle hand over the line of her cheek, and her eyes flicker shut. "You okay?"

"Mmmm." She…yeah, she is okay. She wasn't. There's still an aching wound in her chest, a piece of her dark past that will never completely disappear. But right now it's not pushing through. The bitterness is gone. She feels clean. She's so utterly sated and exhausted that she never wants to leave this bed. And she never wants him to leave it, either. She doesn't want this to end.

He's in love with me.

"You want to get up?"

"Not really," she sighs, burying her face in a pillow.

He rubs her back gently, chuckling. "You sleep. I'll order breakfast."

She dozes off without realizing it and wakes up sometime later, confused for a moment when she sees the spot beside her empty. But then the bedroom door opens, and Castle brings her breakfast in bed, kissing her good morning as he hands her a cup of coffee. She takes the coffee with a smile, her heart twisting in her chest almost painfully. He's seen her naked. Made her naked. Made her beg. But this – this is so much more.

"I have a meeting with the producers," he tells her, handing her a muffin, "so I'm heading over to the studio. I'll be back around noon." She nods, sipping coffee. Their flight doesn't leave till tomorrow. Castle didn't ask her; he just booked the tickets. She's grateful. She wants another day. She's not ready to go back to – to everything. And he understands.

He kisses her goodbye before leaving, making her heart hammer uncontrollably. How is it that they're, what, two days into this, and they're already at breakfast in bed and goodbye kisses? It's already too much. But she doesn't want to run. She doesn't want him to leave. She doesn't want to bury herself.

Kate takes a deep breath. Because she's been pretending she didn't know, but Castle was more or less her lover long before she ended up in his bed.

She's restless but doesn't have anything to do. Kate doesn't like having nothing to do. It gives her too much time to think. Right now that's hard to deal with. After eating, she heads down to the hotel pool. After a swim, then a walk, she finds herself tired – the lack of sleep from this week has finally caught up with her and she's feeling its full effect – and after stopping at a bookstore and picking up a copy of Girl With A Pearl Earring (she's been meaning to read it for ages but never gotten around to it), she goes back to the hotel, where she curls up in her bedroom and reads until she falls asleep.

When she wakes up, Castle's sprawled beside her, snoring gently, one arm behind his head. She smiles sleepily, turning on her side to face him. Castle looks younger when he's asleep. The lines in his face are smoothed out, his hair gently ruffled, his mouth pursed.

She sets the book on the nightstand and reaches out to trace the line of his cheek, her palm flattening gently against his jaw. He hums, twitches slightly, but doesn't wake. Kate smiles, her fingers trailing over the crown of his forehead, smoothing his hair. It's soft under her fingertips, silkier than she'd always thought it would be.

He sighs and mumbles something in his sleep, instinctively reaching for her. She lets him steal an arm around her and tug her closer to his side, and she dozes off again feeling his breath warming her skin.

He takes her out to dinner that night, their last night before the clock strikes twelve and the palm trees and swanky hotel in LA get replaced with the metal and concrete of New York. She's quiet. He doesn't push her. He's quiet tonight, too. They spend dinner watching each other over the rims of their wineglasses, and between the wine and the way he's looking at her – like he's hungry and it's not for food – by the time they're finished, her face is flushed and her body is humming with anticipation.

After dinner, then a limo ride she spends in his lap with his hand up her skirt, they end up in Castle's hot tub.

She spent dinner running her foot up his leg and the ride back to the hotel getting more and more frantic, biting down on his shoulder to muffle her cries as he got her closer and closer but never quite finished. But now he takes his time. Now it's slow. Languid. Overwhelming. She's reduced to helpless whimpers, clutching at his shoulders as he rocks into her slowly.

Later – much later – they end up in his bed, and Kate's convinced there's no more. He can't possibly make her feel more. She's already lost all control.

And then he pins her arms above her head and his eyes lock with hers. She can't look away, can't breathe, can't blink, and maybe this started in desperation but it's something else now and she's never ever felt so vulnerable and her whole body quakes and her heart hammers and her nerve endings are on fire and he hits her right there and again and again and oh God oh God yes

She lets out startled cry, her eyes widening with pleasure, never breaking his gaze as she comes apart, her fists clenching under his grasp. He follows, a deep groan escaping him as he tightens and spills into her.

He collapses onto her, his body heavy and warm and sweaty, his breath coming hard and fast. Kate blinks, taking deep breaths, feeling the press of his ribs against hers. He finally stirs enough to roll off of her. I love you is caught in her throat and she kisses him, her hand curling around his neck, her heart twisting hard in her chest.

Castle hands Seeger the robe (she has to admit, Castle's right; the robes are incredibly soft) and she smiles. Only Castle.

Seeger leaves, shaking his head in amusement at his fluffy new acquisition, and Kate finds herself lost in thought, staring into nothing. Three days. Three days and everything has changed. Three days and they're lovers.

Three days and she's in love.

And she was about to say it.

"So how close did you come?"

(The words were on her lips.)

"- with Ganz."

A soft breath escapes her. Oh. The other thing. The first thing that turned the world upside down.

"Let's go home, Castle."

He doesn't comment on her choice of words, the fact that home means so much and yet neither one knows exactly what it is right now. Let's go home is what lovers say. Spouses. Old married couples. The word home slips through her mouth like water, cool and fresh and simple and yes, maybe she could drown, but with Castle, she has the sneaking suspicion, she just might be able to float.

They stop at the front desk on their way out. Maurice gives them a knowing smile. "Mister Castle. Miss Beckett. I trust you had a pleasant stay?"

Kate just smiles. Castle shakes Maurice's hand. "Everything was perfect, Maurice. Thank you."

"I'm glad to hear it." (There's a sparkle in Maurice's eyes, and Kate's a little suspicious…) "Perhaps on your next stay, you will be interested in the couples massage?"

She flushes, stealing a glance at Castle, who (surprisingly) looks a little taken aback. Her lips curl into a smile. Why deny it? "That sounds perfect."

Somewhere above the Midwest, Castle wakes up, swallowing a weird taste in his mouth, blinking his bleary eyes. He doesn't usually sleep much on planes. Of course, he doesn't usually get so little sleep –and so much exercise – on trips.

There's soft warm pressure against his right arm, and he turns. Kate's asleep, leaning into him. Her long hair falls over her face, fluttering a little with the slow steady rhythm of her breathing. He brushes it back, his hand lingering on her cheek, and his heart swells as she turns instinctively into the warmth of his touch.

His kisses her forehead, laces his fingers through hers, and shuts his eyes again.