Title: More Than Them

Disclaimer: My dorm room begs to differ.

Summary: They're magnets for life as well, and now that they've survived, they need to learn to navigate a life that has ceased to be his or hers. Sequel to More Than This. Complete.


Chapter 4:

"I am an idiot," she mumbles into the comforter, her words a muffled combination of sated lust and exhaustion.

"Oh?" he says, his lips pressed to her calf, hands kneading her tight muscles while the rest of her lays limp in his big white bed, her hair a drying haze of curls and waves, beautiful brown against stark white. Her skin, her body, her sex-reddened lips—the woman exudes allure, pull, magnetism.

He feathers his lips behind his hands as he presses his thumbs into her muscle, eliciting another groan from the beauty in his bed.

"Could have had your magic hands for longer," she moans as he finds a tight bunch, pressing in small, rhythmic circles.

He laughs against her leg, though the idea pounds at his gut. They could have had more, longer, together. They could have weathered bombs and freezers and bullets together, rather than apart. He knows. He's realized that something happened that summer he came here with Gina, when the comforter was blue, when the bathroom was a wash of beauty products. When there was a blonde in his bed, rolling out to check her email.

He's spoiled now. There can never be another woman in this bed. He can't watch different fingers twisting into his comforter, can't fathom different eyes staring into his, hazy, can't comprehend a different mouth, panting, open, kissing, gasping.

"Castle," she sighs as his hands slow over her legs, sliding up to tease the undersides of her knees as he stretches over her, his chest to her back, an inexorable need to feel her against him pulling him up.

He pushes the comforter out of his way as he slides against her skin, so soft, so pale and clear.

"Is that all?" he asks, unsure of the question, of why he'd bother to ask. He has her now. The what-ifs won't do anything for them.

But the words are out as his lips kiss the shell of her ear, moving to caress the mark he made below her lobe. She turns her head, brushing her nose against his as she looks at him in her peripheral vision.

"Is what all?" she roughs out. She has an amazing bedroom voice; Trapper John was right. But it's not so much the voice as the look in her eyes that spurs him on.

"Just my magic hands?" He doesn't know where the insecurity comes from, wishes he could find the bravado he might have felt even two days ago. But there's only so much a man can take, and when the close-calls toll up to seven or more and he can't even count straight, he finds that his bull fighting cape and shield are damaged and dented.

She turns slightly beneath him, just enough to tilt her face to see him clearly. Her eyes search his, and he hopes she can find what he wants to ask, because he can't seem to figure it out—doesn't know what he needs from her, which hardly seems fair. He would be the needy one after sex, making love, multiply and thoroughly ravishing the hell out his girlfriend, partner, muse, lover, love.

"More than your magic hands," she says, as if it should be obvious. And with the way she's looking at him, maybe it is.

He nods, pressing his lips to her high cheekbone. "Then I'm a bigger idiot," he breathes out. The fall might fall to her, but the springs and winters and falls and summers behind them weigh on his shoulders, blunder and misconceptions all.

She shakes her head and reaches back to tug him down so he rests on top of her. "Kate," he protests.

"You're warm," she murmurs, smiling at the huff he lets out. Not that it doesn't stroke his ego that she wants his full weight on her, but she's so small, and he's a large man—larger than he wants to be most days.

But her hand comes out to work beneath his, nimble fingers wiggling under his digits, falling into place like her hands are meant to fill the gaps in his. And he sees her smile, the way her eyes fall shut, and he decides he loves the fact that Kate Beckett likes his weight on her. He's shocked by it, really—never expected her to be so wanting, so needing, in bed.

But she gives back just as much as she takes, a touch for a touch, kiss for kiss, a stroke and caress for each and every he gives her. But she doesn't dominate. He wouldn't mind, and he certainly didn't do all the work—the images burned into his brain still stir things in his gut, even with her bare beneath him—but she doesn't take complete charge. She likes him above her, likes to let him lead, encourages, begs, laughs. Free. She's free, and it sets him on fire, inside and out, in his brain and body and heart.

He watches her, resting some of his body on his hands, just enough to satisfy himself without letting her know that he's holding back. He figures she'd realize it if she wasn't slowly falling asleep beneath him.

"Kate," he laughs, nudging her cheek with his chin. "Don't go to sleep."

She cracks an eye open and he's amused to see that she can still glare at him with only one eye and a sex-sated body. The look is protest, love, and exhaustion in one, and he decides they have to leave their cocoon, if just to eat and fall back into it in an hour.

"I'll make good food," he coaxes, enjoying the shift in their dynamic. He likes her like this, soft, pliant, grumbling. He's never seen her this way, and wonders if she's like this with every man, or if it's just with him, only when she feels free to be herself, unguarded. He hopes she's unguarded.

She sighs and then nods into his pillow. He presses his lips to the corner of her mouth and slides off of her, standing on his tired legs. He looks back as he searches for his boxers, and she's there on her side, watching him. He strikes a pose, just to hear her snort of laughter. He's still naked, but he doesn't care. His body is the least of his worries—she's seen him in worse.

But her body is a different story, and he stumbles into his boxers as she rises from the bed, like a goddess—a dirty, unholy goddess to be sure. She's all legs and soft curves, and that smile. She know exactly what she's doing as she bends over to pick up the dress shirt in his open suitcase. He takes a few deep breaths, willing himself to stay cool so they actually get to food.

It must be the last thing on her mind, because the way she's doing up those buttons simply begs him to undo them and throw her back onto the bed. The very idea that she wants to re-seduce him nearly has him on her anyway, but he resists, can feel his stomach eating a hole in its own lining, begging for sustenance. And as much as he likes to think he could survive on her, she lacks a certain amount of real nutritional value. But her value lies in other things, things that draw him back to her, hands reaching out to feel her skin beneath his shirt.

He allows himself the curve of her neck, lets his lips and teeth nibble at her skin as he wraps himself around her just as she slides her panties up to her hips. She laughs and shimmies out of his arms, taking his hand to tug him out of the bedroom.

"You said food," she taunts as he pouts. He did, but then he felt her pressed up against him again, her body covered only by his shirt, which looks even better on her than his sweats, and his body got away from his brain.

"I was wrong," he protests, pulling her back in to press his lips to hers, triumph settling in his aching stomach when her mouth falls open beneath his.

She laughs against his lips, which does little for his ego, but quite a lot for his affection for the minx slipping out of his arms and down his large staircase. He follows her into the kitchen and finds her bent over, examining the contents of his refrigerator. He needs to remember to tip Michael for coming out to stock them up. He won't thank him for the view he's getting now—that shirt does not cover enough for her to bend over like that—that's all on Kate's slim shoulders.

"See something you like?" she asks as she turns back to him, all innocence as she pulls out a carton of eggs and bottle of milk.

"Yes," he says, giving her a playful leer as he approaches to take the eggs from her. "Omelets? I could make us something good."

She smiles. "As long as you're not slipping chocolate into my eggs, I think we're good."

"You will like my smorlette, I'm sure of it," he says as he grabs for a bowl above the marble counter. "Alexis?"

Kate nods. "She has colorful stories."

"Astounding, how you manage to get them out of her in the fifteen minutes I leave you two alone," he grumbles, moving around her to get bacon and peppers. "And are you sure I can't make us something…more like dinner?" he asks, placing the ingredients behind him as he meets her eyes.

She's leaning against the island in the middle of the room, hair falling messily around her shoulders, face lit up, glowing. He wanted to make her a great meal, wine her, dine her, and then bed her. But they've gone backward. It's their way, he supposes, and he can hardly complain, not when she's lit up like that because of him.

"Don't care so much about the kind of food," she offers easily, hopping up to perch on the island, a feat that reminds him that she's about as physically fit as a woman can be. He resolves to start jogging and to get Esposito to spar with him.

He nods once he catches her look, the one with the tight-lipped smile—the one where she's waiting on him to come out of his head. Regretfully, he turns and begins cracking eggs and heating pans. It's not nearly as pleasing to look at, but soon the kitchen fills with the smells and sounds of eggs and he hears her sigh, her bare feet hitting the floor. Then her arms wrap around him, her nose presses into his back, and he smiles.

She's affectionate—little touches, caresses, a freedom of physicality that's so far from the standard of 'don't touch' they've preserved for the better part of four years. He doesn't know what brought it on, if it's him, or if it's her, and this is who she is in love—a woman who loves with everything, from her toes to her lips, words to body.

Because he's who he is, he wants to know, has the urge to ask. But he's learned, mostly from her, that sometimes questions are better answered without words—in looks and moments and hands and hugs that say more than either could find the words to express.

So he cooks her dinner and eats with his foot wrapped around hers. He stands too close as they do dishes, flicking suds at her as she laughs. He wraps her in his arms and clicks on the record player, filling the living room with soft jazz. It's what played while he sat in the dark of the summer, staring at his empty fireplace, a gaping hole in the middle of his chest, a tandem mark to the one between her breasts.

But with her in his arms, her lips at his jaw, he finds a new appreciation for the baleful clarinet. When her lips work their way to his mouth, he thinks he might love the trumpet, but not as much as he loves the woman in his arms—this incarnation of Beckett, his Kate.

Words trip from his tongue and he doesn't bother to catch them back, to cough or rephrase his gruff, "I love you."

She hums in response, a muffled, "You too," sounding against his stubble.

He smiles against the crown of her head and watches the storm out the windows, rain barely visible as it pours down past the porch roof. Maybe she's changed him too. Maybe he notes the changes in her, in the way she holds him tight, kisses with abandon, smiles and laughs without hesitation, just as she notes them in him.

And maybe when they return to the city, they'll lose some of the magic, some of the desperate need to see and touch and feel. They'll have to play their roles, have to exist in a mold that encompasses more than them, here, free, naked in more ways than one. There's something exciting in that idea—in a them that's full of everything. In a them that's a partnership, a relationship, a life all in one.

There will be obstacles—a murder board in his office, a conspiracy at large, a barrage of paparazzi that will threaten the bubble they'll try to maintain. And he's sure he'll piss her off one day soon, and vice versa. But now they can have make-up sex, can duke it out at home and then fall frantically into bed.

The thought fills him with more glee than it should and he can't help but laugh quietly, struck by how very messed up they are, and how much he loves that about them.

"What?" she mumbles, lifting her head from its resting place on his shoulder.

"Nothing," he evades. Somehow, even with this open, giving, lovely version of her, he doesn't think mentioning his anticipation for make-up sex will go over well. She's still Kate, all of the parts of her, and he would rather have both of his ears.

She growls and nips at his jaw. He looks down at her, surprised, and finds her eyes twinkling, pleased with herself. Perhaps it's not his ears he should worry over.

"I can make you talk, you know," she taunts, a finger trailing down the side of his face to swirl along his neck, following the bob of his Adam's apple.

"I thought it was your goal in life to shut me up," he counters, letting his hands sneak below his shirt to find her hot skin.

She hums and smoothes her palm over the back of his neck, pulling his mouth down to hers. When she releases him, because now she's all control, all command, all Beckett and shit, is it hot, he takes a gulping breath and meets her darkened eyes.

"If you refuse to cooperate, Mr. Castle…"

"You'll cuff me?" he cuts in cheekily, grinning as she arches an eyebrow.

She considers him for a moment before stepping out of his arms. He reaches for her, but she prances away, nimble fingers undoing the buttons of his dress shirt one by one. He follows her, drawn to her as she steps up onto the stairs, her shirt falling open, hair tumbling down, lips flushed and plump.

"I was thinking something a little less forward," she offers, stepping up backward to escape his searching hands. He lets her. "But if you want me to cuff you…"

She trails off and turns tail, escaping up the stairs with him hot on her heels. He catches her as they crest the landing, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her to him, backing her up against the wall. Her bare calf slides over his and her hands latch onto the back of his neck. Her mouth, hot and wet, meets his with equal vigor and he delights in the little moan that escapes her throat.

He loves that sound, makes it his mission to hear it over and over and over until she can't find the words or gasps for any other sounds.

When they lie sated in his bed once more, heads at the foot, feet on the pillows, blankets somewhere out of sight, he turns to look at her, and grins as he spots the trail he's left on her body, a series of little marks he'll connect tomorrow, and the next day, and the one after that.

"When it's summer, you can't use me like a hickey canvass," she sighs, following the journey of his eyes over her stomach and breasts and shoulders.

"Oh, I'll just have to change locations," he replies, too exhausted to demonstrate. "Might want to look into swim shorts."

"My skin is not your personal marking ground," she laughs, flicking his palm where her fingers have been trailing up and down for the past five minutes, keeping his nerves on fire.

"Jungle gym?"

The sharp snap of her head makes him bring his eyes to meet hers. He sees regret there, sadness, and wonders for a moment until—oh. Shit.

"Kate," he sighs, as her eyes shutter, as her breath catches.

She shakes her head, silencing him and he watches, helpless, as emotions play over her face. His hands itch to reach out for her, but he refrains, though it strains his muscles and burns at his heart.

"I've got to hand it to you, Rick," she says softly, eyes trained on the ceiling above them. "You never did walk away."

"I'm your partner," he says quickly, because the response is almost like breathing. "You're not gonna get rid of me."

Slowly, so slowly that it breaks something in his chest, she turns her head back to meet his eyes. "So I've gathered," she murmurs, and he doesn't know what to make of it. For all that she's free and open, she's still confusing as hell, and if he didn't feel like this was a sudden junction, he'd revel in that. But now—now he feels like he might be standing on a landmine and doesn't know which way is solid ground.

"Might be better for you sometimes if I could," she continues, her voice rough.

He gives in, can't help it. He hauls her into his chest, wrapping himself around her, anchoring her to him, resisting when she tries to pull away. "What happened to leaving it behind?" he says to the crown of her head.

She sighs, her breath warm across his chest. "Castle."

"If I didn't walk away then, I'm sure as hell not walking away now," he tells her, feeling the rise and fall of her shallow breath. If she can have this running under the surface while being so god damned affectionate and in love, he's a doomed, doomed man. Complicated doesn't even begin to explain her.

"I'm not asking you to," she says as she lifts a hand to hold it over his heart.

"Even if you do, I'm not going," he lets out, his own voice rough and coarse with it. Leaving her is preposterous. He's never been able to before, and it might well kill him to even consider it now.

"No," she agrees after a moment, and he hears both regret and something close to amusement in her voice. "No, I can't get rid of you, I know that."

"You better."

She shakes her head against him, her hair tickling his chin. "Might make you a bit of an idiot."

"I've been called worse," he offers, feeling his chest unthaw, his hope swelling beneath the hand she's rubbing over his skin. "And being your idiot is infinitely better than being a smart man."

She laughs and he feels the tension break—a momentary blip in this bubble of happiness they've made. "It's sick that that might be the most romantic thing I've heard in a long time," she muses, turning her face to kiss his chest.

"Gimme a month; I'll make it up to you," he says as he releases her back to run his hand through her hair.

"Please tell me you don't want to be one of those couples," she groans, closing her eyes as she breathes deeply against him, easing the knot in his chest and the tension in her back in one.

"What, you don't want to get me a hideous tie I'm forced to wear on our two-week anniversary?"

"Oh, no, that could be fun," she reneges and he whacks his head lightly against the mattress. "Might have to get Alexis in on it. It'll have to beat Jenny's."

"You're an evil woman," he decides as he rolls them over to the sound of her easy, relaxed laughter. He'll wear the damn tie. He'd wear a dress for her, and she knows it.

He'd do just about anything for the woman smiling up at him, her fingers reaching out to cup his jaw, her gaze tender. He could never walk away from her; she's it.

"If I'm evil, what does that make you?" she asks, all sass and ease.

It won't be easy, this life with her. She may be his soft Kate now, but he's just seen how quickly that can change—how easily he can tread into murky waters. But for this? For this smile and this body and the mind beneath the eyes that suck him in, he'll weather it all. He's never loved a woman like this, never lived such a life with a woman like her—never survived and thrived and loved and laughed with anyone else the way he has with her.

"It makes me a lucky, lucky man," he tells her, leaning down to fuse their lips together.

"My idiot," she breaths against his lips, and he's never heard anything so endearing, even with the lilt that tells him she's teasing him and loving him at once.

"Fool," he corrects and she pulls back, perplexed. "Fool, like a Shakespearean fool. You know, with penetrating insight beneath the stupidity."

He knows it now; her laughter is by far the most beautiful thing he's ever heard. And he gets to spend the rest of his life coaxing it out of her, fool, idiot, and love-struck man.

"I'm getting you a jester's hat to wear to work," she giggles as he leans down to nip at her neck.

"No you're not."