A co-authored story by chezchuckles and International08.
The door from the landing leads to a narrow hall, another door at the end. He turns, backs into the wood so he can see her face, and then realizes it's probably silly of him.
Surely she's been in this room before tonight. And she's not the twelve year old girl he remembers running into outside the research room.
Still. He wants to watch her rediscover it. He wants to share that magic with her somehow. The magic of books, words, new places, of never being alone again, not here.
Their hands remain linked as he presses his back against the door's push bar; it swings inward. Her eyes light as the room comes into view, and even with his back to it he knows how it must look – dim, a little mysterious, the tall stone walls lined with books, low light reflecting off an ornate ceiling.
It – it actually reminds him of a castle. Which may have something to do with why he chose the name, or it may just be his longing for chivalry, for the days of romantic honor.
Of course, there are computers here now, have been for quite some time, but he remembers how it was when he was younger and escaping, a lonely seat at one of the tables with a stack of books, hunched over them for hours as he lost himself in the classics.
"It seems bigger," she says softly, awe in her voice. "Which is strange, because usually the places that seemed huge when you were a kid are so much smaller as an adult."
He nods and follows her into the room.
"I think it's the lack of lighting," he says. "Makes it harder to see the edges of the room, so it looks like the shelves might go on forever."
"Look at you, being practical," she teases him, echoing his earlier words.
So maybe the magic is shared, but it's grounded in something else. Something real. He likes that better, now that he thinks about it. Likes that their foundation is solid, that it won't disappear in a puff of smoke and poorly timed three-little-magic-words.
Kate turns to face him, orienting herself around him. The semi-darkness of the huge room changes her. She's beautiful still, but it's not the vibrant beauty of a sunny day, nor even the sharp beauty that is cut out in the artificial light of the precinct.
This beauty is warm, haunting. His heart aches with it, with the sudden vision of other places that would paint her in this same golden light-
-in his office, tapping a finger against her chin as she peruses his bookshelves by the illumination from his desk lamp;
-in her apartment, slowly unbuttoning her shirt, bottom lip between her teeth, her eyes on him as the city lights strain through the finally closed shutters;
-in his room, slipping back into his bed, the flash of her knee, her hand at his shoulder, silhouetted by the nightlight that spills in from the bathroom.
"I haven't been here in ages," she whispers, and squeezes his hand tightly. "I forgot how much I love this place. Thanks for making me come."
He squeezes back, filled up with the knowledge that she's touching him, that she's pleased with him. That she wants to be here with him.
Filled up with the golden light of maybe, of someday in the future.
He wants to kiss her. He wants to have her, that magic with her.
She smiles at him, dark eyes made darker, richer, alive in a way he keeps getting glimpses of, like promises.
"Show me around."
She's been in this room, many times. She has plenty of her own memories from early childhood until her first year of college – hours living in a boxcar with the Aldens, days battling the White Witch with the Pevensies, weeks balancing faith and doubt with the Brothers Karamazov.
And yes, there'd been Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, but no. No, never a young man rushing through the stacks and knocking her over, leading her to the stories she loved the most.
But she hasn't spent much time here since her mother's murder. School and later the academy and her job stole away the hours she might have otherwise used to linger among the stacks.
She reads at home, relaxing in the bath with the latest best seller or curling up in bed with a familiar story. Richard Castle's books fall into both categories. She wonders if the man himself would fit so neatly into either place.
Her heart stumbles.
Her bath, her bed.
Kate's fingers twitch in his.
There's something about the library – the blend of solitude and history, somehow being both alone and being in the midst of so many others. And it's something she's grateful to share with him. Just because they are alone doesn't make them lonely, doesn't mean there's no one who understands, who can reach out and share the burden.
"What was your favorite section?" she asks on impulse, longing to prolong the moment.
Castle shoots her a disbelieving grin. "Do you really have to ask?" He tugs on her arm to get her to follow.
They wind through desks and chairs and up stairs until they're standing in a corner, just down from Agatha Christie, a few shelves over from Dashiell Hammett, surrounded by Poe and Doyle.
"This is where I first discovered my love for mystery," he whispers, the semi-darkness perhaps demanding his unusual quiet. "Here in the stacks. Murders in the Rue Morgue. A Study in Scarlet. These were my first real friends."
He pauses, and she watches the play of shadows across his handsome face.
"In a Hail of Bullets may have been primarily written at the Old Haunt, but I did most of the research here. So this is sort of the birthplace of my first book too."
She smiles, lifts their hands to jab him in the stomach with one sharp knuckle.
"First place I arrested you too," she says on a laugh. "Well, not in this room, but here, in the library."
He grins back at her.
"Mm. Felony theft and obstruction of justice, if I remember correctly."
"So it is fate, Castle." She stares back at him, letting him see the smile on her face, hoping he understands as she does just how far they've come since those early days. How much it's meant, doing this together.
"Fate," he echoes, and she realizes that maybe her statement held more in it that she meant to give away.
Too late. It's been too late.
"How about another first?" she asks, but before he has a chance to answer, she's crowding him into the stacks, her chest pressing against his.
"Kate?" he asks breathlessly. "What are you doing?"
She chuckles, hears the wickedness in the sound, and under that, the breathlessness.
"We're surrounded by mysteries novels and you're a mystery writer – you can solve this one on your own."
And then her lips meet his, warm and soft and willing. Eager, both of them. She slants her mouth, opens to him, sharing his breath, feels his arms coming around her, holding her up even as she leans against his body.
She breaks away, tilting her forehead against his chin. "I've wanted to do that all evening."
She feels him smiling against her skin, his mouth brushing at her hairline.
"Me too. For a lot longer than just this evening."
Kate leans back, but lifts her free hand to his cheek and strokes the skin rough with the accumulation of a day's stubble.
"Castle," she says softly, glancing down to his lips before her eyes catch his once more. A rush of heat flares in her chest. "There's no need to be alone."
His hand rises to trap hers at his cheek.
"Nevermore?" he asks, a small smirk crinkling his eyes.
She laughs. It's amazing that the spell isn't broken, but it's not. She still feels it build in her, twining around them both, holding them there. She can't catch her breath no matter how deeply she inhales.
Of course, it might have something to do with how his fingertips are trailing up and down her spine.
"While I appreciate the literary reference, especially considering your name and our present location, I'd prefer you didn't end up like Poe. And I certainly have no desire to be Lenore."
His smirk widens. "Perhaps the Grimm Brothers then: for a long time they lived happily and satisfied."
She shakes her head. "It's a nice sentiment, but a little cliché, don't you think? And not very practical."
He nods his assent, and his eyes flit away from her face, looking for inspiration perhaps.
No, she thinks. She wants his eyes on her.
Kate pushes up on her toes to blaze her lips along his jaw and then across the strong cords of his neck, impatient, unwilling to wait for him to find the right words, unwilling to have his mind or his heart anywhere but here, with her.
She feels him surge forward, rolling them to press her backward until the sharp edges of books' spines dig into her shoulder blades. His mouth is on hers, his hips trapping her against the shelves, his body a permanent and towering wall around her.
The only wall around her.
When he leans back, chest heaving, his eyes flash heat and lust and love and devotion and hope. "So we stood hand in hand, like two children, and there was peace in our hearts for all the dark things that surrounded us."
Kate blinks, lifts her hand to let the dark stubble at his neck scrape her fingertips. It's late. It's late and she just kissed him. Hard. And he's quoting what?
"Sir Arthur Conan Doyle."
She finds her hand gripped in his, the fingers that had been traveling the contour of his jaw now laced with his own.
Something of her intelligence comes back to her, reasserting itself.
"Seems appropriate," she offers finally, pushing forward to get more of his body against hers. "Perfect, actually, except for one thing."
He nuzzles her cheek, then presses his nose into the crease of her neck, warm puffs of air cascading across her skin.
"What's that?" he asks, like he can speak words straight into her hot blood.
She anchors him to her with a hand at his neck. She needs him close. Needs him with her. There's more to share, more than just childhood stories and the magic of words. Still so much unspoken.
"Peace in our hearts is all well and good," she murmurs. "But the things I want to do to you are definitely not for children."
They stumble into the loft, Kate plastered against his side, mouth at his ear, her body warm and soft and altogether too tempting.
She insisted on walking him to his door. And he wasn't about to say no to that offer, even if it did make him feel like a sixteen year old girl.
When she pinned him against the wall of the elevator, he invited her in for coffee.
Her voice sounds breathless to his ears, but there's nothing in her tone of a dark alley or a moonlit hangar. No handcuffs or the necessity of sharing body heat. Just intimacy and want.
"Come home with me," she pleads. "I want. I want you all to myself tonight."
He doesn't share his daughter's text telling him she's spending the night at a friend's house, doesn't inform her that his mother still rarely comes home before morning after a play.
He knows they could stay here and not be interrupted.
But she's inviting him into her solitude. And that's never happened before.
"I'll show you my books," she offers.
He pulls away from her, smirking, waits until the fog lifts from her gaze. At which point she punches him in the arm.
"Books, Castle. I said books."
He slides his hand up her side, edging into previously - possibly still, if he's honest - forbidden territory, feels the way she shivers, the way she presses into his wide palm.
"Books?" he echoes.
She lists forward, closer, wedges a knee between his. One hand gripping his waist, branding him, she pushes herself into his chest.
"Chekhov," she husks, nose brushing the joint of jaw and neck. "Tolstoy and Nabokov. Pasternak."
His hand slips down, grazes the curve of her hip, catches under the outside knee to hitch her higher.
"A lot of Russian," he comments.
Her teeth scrape at his earlobe, at the tender skin just below. "Not too much rushing, I hope. Plenty of time."
He snickers, darkly delighted with her wordplay, with her wit.
"What else?" he inquires.
Dropping to his neck, she hums against his jugular, her mouth scalding and wet and perfect.
"British too," she tells him. "Orwell. Graham Greene and Golding and Lawrence."
She bucks into him roughly, and he knows it can't be anything but deliberate. "Indeed."
He tilts his forehead to her shoulder, groans, tries to keep himself in check.
"Any Americans?" he asks, feeling her fingers brush through his hair, her nails rasping at his scalp on their way to his ear.
"Heller, Lee, Ellroy," she recites, then pauses for a moment, takes a breath. "And Castle."
"Hmm?" he murmurs into her skin, paying a little too much attention now to her body against his, not enough to her words.
She gives a little laugh, and he lifts his mouth from her clavicle, catching on. "Oh. The entire Richard Castle collection?"
Her hand loosens its grip on his ear, drifts to his cheek instead, gentle.
"All of you."