A/N: This came out of nowhere and wasn't anywhere close to what I planned. Thank God I rated this series M (interesting timing on that review CastleCrazie!) or I'd have had to do some creative editing...

Kate's right. Castle does kind of do what he wants, when he wants.

For lalaurala-bones. Always. Thank you for being my rock and cheering me up when I needed someone to talk to.

Spoilers: When The Bough Breaks

Disclaimer: Unbetaed. All mistakes are mine. I don't own Castle.

Chapter Nine: Castle, Rick Castle

The pop of the flash bulbs. The throb of the music. The buzz and chatter of guests. He sips champagne, his mother and Alexis at his side. It's perfect.

Rick Castle gets lost as he works the room signing more than just books. He smiles at the memory of his last launch party. At how a wish for something different had turned into a whirlwind year spent crime solving with his muse.

Was he really considering leaving that - leaving Kate - behind? Was anything - even a certain british secret agent who shall not be named - worth walking away from the woman who had him under her spell?

That's when he sees her make her entrance. It makes him grin that she gets almost as much attention as he did. He watches her - the sway of her hips, the curve of her lips, the plunging neckline of her cocktail dress - walk through the throng of reporters.

He'd been wrong before. It wasn't perfect. Not until the arrival of his partner...

Standing, he excuses himself from his companion and begins to make his approach. He's assaulted halfway there by his agent Paula. "That's her?"

A lopsided grin sneaks from his lips to his eyes as Rick admires the curves of Kate's body. He's as proud as a peacock. You'd think Nikki Heat herself had walked off the page and into the room. "That's her."

"Huh," Paula answers. "That is one hell of a love letter you wrote her. Geez... One night in Ibiza and what do I get? A chapter in Storm Fall."

"A very hot chapter," Rick bites.

"And she gets a whole book?" Paula comments. "She must be a very special girl."

He can't peel his eyes away from Kate. It gets to the point where Paula's voice takes on the sound of that annoying insect that floats around your head and drives you insane. He's almost got her tuned out, almost ready to excuse himself for a second time because all he can see or think about is the woman in the blue dress standing at the display table.

"Lemme ask you something," Paula interjects. "When she calls you, do you call her back?"

Rick shakes off the thoughts of wanting to get Kate out of her dress and turns his attention back to his agent. "Yeah."

"Of course you do, because she's important to you," the brunette tilts her head. "And because it's polite."

"I call you back," he stammers, trying to remain focused.

"Three. Book. Deal." she tells him, "And I can't even get you on the phone to let you know you've got an official offer."

He blinks, unsure he heard her right. "There's a...?" He's speechless.

Paula nods. "Yeah."

Still dazed by the news, he struggles to form a complete thought. "I'm a, I'm..."

"So, can I close the deal?" she asks him.

"Paula, I'm sorry," his eyes drift to Kate, his voice shaky. "This is a big step for me. I don't know that I'm ready to walk away from Nikki Heat."

"The one on the page or the one standing over there in that Hervé Léger dress?" she asks knowingly, her eyes tracking the way Rick's caress the other woman.

"The one on the page," he answers, his tone clearly indicating the opposite is true.

She knows him well and has seen him through a string of meaningless relationships and his last divorce. "Oh, Rick. You sleeping with her?"

"No!" he answers quickly.

"Well, what the hell are you waiting for?" she growls. "Go get her out of your system, then come down to the office and sign the damn contract, okay?" Patting his cheek, she walks away and leaves her client to contemplate his next move.

Rick crosses the remaining distance to Kate, his hand traveling over the small of her back. "Hey, you made it."

"Hey, I... I was just uh, the dedication. Wow. Thank you." Kate says, still surprised by the words on the page.

"I meant it," he answers sincerely. The curve of her lower lip is mesmerizing. It begs to be kissed. He hasn't kissed her since their run in about the book. There just hasn't been time to see her outside of the precinct because of all the hoopla of preparing for the launch. "Listen, I was thinking..."

Her hand rests on his forearm, her lip quivering in anticipation of what he might say. "That's pretty dangerous, Castle..."

"Believe me, I know..." he laughs lightly as he reaches to tuck a stray strand of hair behind her ear, his voice dropping for her ears only. "You look delectable."

"Thanks," Kate laughs throatily. "You going to tell me about this thought of yours or keep me in suspense?"

Rick smiles. She's tough as nails and he wouldn't have her any other way. Leaning in close, he breathes against the shell of her ear. "I was thinking I owe you a bedtime story."

He loves the way her breath hitches. "I seem to remember a promise of lending a hand..."

She says nothing, just stares into his eyes. Like a tiger on the prowl, he attacks his prey. Taking her hand, he rubs soft circles on her palm with his thumb. "Think about it, Kate. Think about all the things I could do with my hands."

Beckett tries not to think about the jolt of electricity that shoots through her at Castle's touch. She tries not to whimper at the thought of being undressed and caressed by big, strong hands. Tries not to... Her eyes flutter closed, stealing herself for the possibility of rejection. "Are you sure this isn't just about getting it out of your system, Castle? I mean you do have that offer hanging in the wind and..."

Shit. Damn Paula and her obnoxious voice. Kate heard her. "I got the offer," blue eyes watch her face, his voice husky with desire. "Thing is I'm not sure I can walk away from you."

"I'm not Nikki Heat, Castle," she says looking at the lapel of his sport coat rather than his face. "I don't wanna be something you regret."

"Are you saying I should take it?" he asks taken aback.

"Yeah," she stumbles on the word. It almost sounds like a good bye. "I mean, is there a reason why you wouldn't?"

He tilts his head. "So, you'd be okay if this was it. If I didn't write another Nikki Heat and just walked away?" Oh, Kate... What are you so afraid of?

Kate swallows and tries to shrug him off with an uncomfortable laugh. "Why wouldn't I? It's not like I asked you to write the first one."

He calculates his next move, his hand leaving hers to brush along the stack of books to his right. He'll bait her. "You know, a lot of people would be flattered knowing that someone chose to write a book based on them."

"Flattered?" she asks, eyebrows raised.

"Yeah," he says with a nod.

"Do you have any idea how much grief I've had to put up with over this Nikki Heat thing?"

She's digging in. He's almost got her. "Gee, I'm sorry."

Getting in his face, the flirty tone completely gone and her eyes blazing, she says, "I'm not asking you to be sorry." Her lips clenched tightly in a way that makes his pants feel too small and his tongue long to worm between them, she continues. "Just do whatever you want. You always do anyway."

Gotcha. "Maybe I will," he answers petulantly. His tone grows dark. "Maybe what I want is to follow you home and strip you out of that dress."

Kate gasps in shock and stumbles as if it's her first time in heels. His breath is hotter than the coffee he always seems to have for her. She closes her eyes and lets herself feel.

"I want you. I'll never stop wanting you," he tells her. "You, Kate. Not Nikki Heat."

"Castle," she tries to sound angry, but it comes out breathy.

"Enjoy the party, Kate," he whispers. "And prepare yourself because, like you said, I always do what I want."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Castle ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Kate leaves the party alone. Walking through her door and locking it behind her, she slips off her pumps and heads for the kitchen. Pouring a glass of wine, she growls at the tremble in her hand and sets the bottle on the counter. "Dammit, Castle..."

As if on cue, there's a knock at the door. She pads across the hardwood and opens it, knowing exactly who it is.

Rick leans against the doorframe, his features calm and collected. Entering her home as if he owns the place, he takes the glass from her hand and sets it aside. "Good, you're still dressed."

Kate opens her mouth to reply - to bark something about him invading her space - but his covers hers and it moves so tenderly she can't bring herself to back away. That said, she goes rigid. She hates feeling so out of control. And that's what he does to her: makes her lose control. Makes her want thing she hasn't wanted from any other man.

"Relax, Kate," he breathes across her lips. "We aren't going to have sex." Their tongues collide and he feels her surprise at his words. "Not tonight. If that was all I wanted, I'd have taken it when you offered me Nikki Heat."

He pulls the zipper slowly, his palm slipping between the satin lining and the small of her back. Her skin is so warm it almost burns him. Turns out Heat was as apt a name as Rook. Smiling against her mouth, his lips begin to fan over her cheek to the patch of skin just below her ear.

Kate clings to him for support, her head falling to the side to give him the advantage. She's lost - drowning really - in everything he stirs up inside of her. She feels alive. Murmuring in soft approval, she moans his name. "Castle..."

Rick works to free Kate from the confines of her dress. As it slithers to the floor, he stands back to look at her as she stands in nothing but a pair of boycut lace panties and the rope chain of her necklace. She takes his breath away. Without even trying.

Leading her to the bathroom, he slips out of his jacket and rolls up his sleeves. "I haven't been able to get the image of you in the tub out of my head," he confesses as he turns on the water and tests the temperature. He looks at their surroundings and sits on the edge of the old clawfoot, holding his hand out to her. "This is even better than I imagined."

She takes his hand with unexpected shyness. It isn't the first time she'd been naked with a man - hell, it isn't the first time she'd been close to naked with Rick Castle - but she feels off balance.

He pulls her between his knees and trails open mouthed kisses down the center of her chest. When Kate makes no protest, he palms one of her breasts and closes his lips around the hardened peak of her nipple.

Moaning softly, Kate cards her fingers through Rick's hair and draws him closer. His mouth and hands feel like they're everywhere... except the spots where she wants them most. "Touch me..."

He smirks against her flesh. What's clearly meant to be a command leaves her lips like a plea. Avoiding giving her what she wants for now, he switches the water off and reaches to pull the necklace over her head. His fingers tease at the elastic, knuckles brushing in between as his mouth claims hers.

Involuntarily, her hips trace his movements and follow his touch. Her fingers tighten in his hair and she wishes he'd just get on with it already. She can feel a slow burn building between her thighs. "Castle..."

It's half whimper, half purr and it gets his full attention. His body twitches in response and he lets the fabric snap back into place. Thumbs circling her hipbones, he swallows her protest.

That's when he does it. His fingers make an achingly slow pass over her through the lace and she moves to deepen the touch. It's no surprise Kate would approach moments like this the way she does everything else - pushing the envelope and commanding respect.

Burying his hand in her panties, he curls his fingers tauntingly against her sex and watches her squirm. His mouth itches to free her lip from her teeth as his digits part her slick heat, but he settles for claiming the nipple he missed earlier.

"Phone?" he questions coming up for air.

Kate gasps as he tests her body with the smooth invasion of a single finger. "Off..."

He says a silent thank you as his thumb strokes over the sensitive nub. Long, sure, teasing strokes. Nudging her legs further apart, he curls his fingers and Kate's knees buckle.

"Close..." she mutters on a ragged breath. "So close, Castle..."

But he already knows that. He can feel it in the way her body hugs his fingers. The tension is delicious and his imagination works triple time trying to determine how she'd feel wrapped around his length. It's almost enough to drag him over the edge with her and makes him feel like a damned teenager.

He wraps his arm around her, pulling her closer as he picks up the pace of his ministrations. "Let go, Kate," he murmurs against the skin of her chest. "I've got you..."

Watching her break is exquisite, from the lustful fire shining in her eyes to the way she cries out, her fingernails digging into his shoulders. She wobbles and he thinks he's got good enough balance... until they splash into the tub.

Kate laughs, clinging to him and peppering his face with kisses. Sitting fully clothed in a tub of bubbles, he should be frustrated, but that rare smile? The one he's only seen light her features on rare occasions? It's more than enough to make up for it.

"So wet..." Kate murmurs, her nimble fingers moving to unbutton his shirt.

It's Rick's turn to laugh, pride mixed with the humorous situation getting to him. "You're not the only one," he answers, guiding her lips to his.

"Mmm..." she replies, nipping at his lower lip as her hand laces into the hair at the nape of his neck. "All your fault."

"I think I can live with that," he says, shifting beneath her, unwilling to part from her kiss swollen lips. "Need to get out of these clothes."

Kate grins mischievously and moves to sit up, grinding subtly in his lap. "I like that plan."

Rick stills her hips, biting his lip. "Too much of that and things'll get messy..."

"Too much of what, Castle?" she teases with a slow, undulating movement of her hips. "This?"

He groans, pulling her tight and devouring her mouth. "C'mon, Kate..." he whines. "Not like this."

"What's the matter, writer boy?" she taunts. "You don't like messy?"

Opening his mouth to protest, he closes it and draws a finger to his lips as pressure begins to build again. If you'd asked if he'd thought she could get him off like this - fully clothed, in the bathtub - he'd have laughed in your face but, as Kate swivels slowly and whispers all the naughty things that came into her head as she read the infamous scene on 105, that's exactly what happens.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Castle ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Kate awakens to the smell of fresh coffee and a kittenish smile touches her lips as her lashes flutter open and she finds herself staring into the eyes of her partner. Sitting up, she grabs the front of his now dry shirt and pulls him into a deep kiss.

"Good morning," he says softly, pressing the paper cup into her hand. "You need a new coffee pot."

Guilty, she flushes and bites her lip. "Don't worry," he tells her, brushing his lips over hers. "I don't plan to stop bringing it to you even when the replacement I ordered comes."

"Castle," she says, shaking her head lightly. "About what I said last night..."

He smiles. "Even if I take the deal you won't be rid of me. We'll still see each other," he vows, the words tasting like ash. "It might not be every day but..."

Kate's eyes fill with hurt. "When will you decide?"

"Soon," he answers, tucking her hair behind her ear.

They sit quietly for a moment and drink their coffee, afraid to speak. Kate sets her cup on the nightstand and runs a hand through her hair. "We need to play it cool at the station," she says. "The last anyone saw, we were fighting."

Rick smirks over the brim of his cup. "Why, Beckett," he says. "Do I detect a note of concern? Worried about the walk of shame?"

She picks up a pillow and clocks him with it. "I'm serious, Castle."

"Sunglasses," he answers easily.

Her brow crinkles. "What?"

His hand smoothes over her knee. "Mine are on your desk. Should be enough to throw Ryan and Esposito off."

"That's the lamest..." she begins with a frown.

He captures her lips, silencing her with a kiss that leaves her melting like sugar on the tongue. "Trust me," he says. "It'll work."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Castle ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Rick and Kate stroll side by side down the mezzanine stairs of the Talbots' apartment building and into the lobby. A sense of dread fills Kate's chest. What if this is it?

"Thank you, Castle. I uh, never would have been able to solve this case without your help." He stands there, completely dumbstruck and she feels awkward. "Well, uh, good luck on your new book. I know you'll do it proud."

He's not sure what to say, so he rolls his tongue over his lip. He's still caught up in her admission that he helped solve the case. Swallowing, he looks at her. If such a thing as a poison pen existed, she may as well have stabbed him with it. She was clearly saying good bye and he wasn't ready for that. Not when her eyes sparkled when she looks at him like that. Not when he was just beginning to crack her shell. He goes with simple. "Thanks."

They stare at each other, neither sure what to say neath the weight of the previous evening's events. Knowing there can be no grand or sweeping display because they're in public, Rick offers his hand. Beckett smiles weakly and accepts it.

"You take care of yourself, and..." His cellphone rings before he can finish his thought. He gives her an awkward smile. "My agent."

"Yeah." Kate lifts her phone as it starts ringing and the two stand there. "It's the station," she says, still waiting - hoping - he'll finish. "I, you better get that."

"Yeah," he answers sadly. He picks up the line, watching as Kate walks away to answer her own.

"Beckett," she says into the receiver.

Rick turns his attention to his own call. "Hey Paula. Ahhh, really?" Putting his hand over the mouthpiece, he tells Kate, "First day Heat Wave sales: through the roof!"

Kate mimics his move with her phone and offers a half-hearted smile. "I'm on hold for Captain Montgomery."

He continues excitedly. It's what he'd hoped for. "Reviews are raves." Kate smiles and gives a fist pump.

"Yes, Captain," she addresses her boss.

"Would I be interested in doing three more Nikki Heat's?" The thought makes him giddy. His heart hammers against his rib cage as he listens to the details.

"Yes, I am aware the mayor is facing a tough re-election this year," she answers, taking a deep breath and trying not to sound insubordinate.

Rick swallows, his eyes widening at the dollar value. "I'm sorry, how much?!"

Kate tries a diplomatic approach. "No, I would love to help the department out in whatever way I could."

"No, no, forget the other offer," he tells his agent, excited by the possibilities. "For that kind of money I'll do a dozen Nikki Heat's."

"He wants me to what?!" she fumes.

"Oh," he flinches. More than a little afraid of the look he's getting from Kate, Rick proceeds with caution. "Well that was kind of a one-time only situation with her and me."

Her jaw tightens. She's angry. "Three books?! That would take forever!"

Oh, shit... Now he's really in for it. If looks kill, he's a dead man. "You already spoke to the mayor?"

Giving Rick the evil eye, sure he knew about this when he left her apartment, she growls, "I am going to kill you!" Questioned by her boss, Kate turns on the charm, "No, no, sir, I wasn't talking to you. I, uh, no need to thank me, sir. I am happy to help his Honor out in whatever way I can."

"Uh, huh. You know what..." he responds, watching a steaming Beckett approach. "I think... I'm gonna... Paula, I'm gonna have..." he knows he's in trouble by the look on her face and whispers into the phone, "I'll call you back." As Kate grows closer, he stammers, "I had, I had nothing to do with that phone call.

Beckett's phone starts ringing again. "What!" she barks, listening as the detective on the othe end of the line briefs her. "Okay. I'll be right there."

His features cloud with confusion as she begins to make her way to the doors. "Where are you going?"

"That was Esposito, there's been a murder." she tells him, stopping in her tracks. A tiny smile flashes across her face before she hides it and turns toward him. "Are you coming or what?" she asks, staring at him like a puppy who's misbehaved. "Do you really expect me to believe you had nothing to do with that phone call?"

"I swear I had nothing to do..." he tells her, his eyes wide and honest.

Kate cuts him off, shaking her head with a secret smile as they head for her cruiser. "Swear a little harder Castle."

He almost had her, but she surprises and takes the win. Losing has never been so sweet. Richard Castle, best selling author: 4. Detective Kate Beckett: 4.

He didn't stay ahead for long... but something tells him he isn't gonna mind Kate being on top.