The darkness brought about an exquisite silence that covered them like a blanket as they lay there, wrapped around one another, and tangled with the bedsheets.

She was sleeping; her breathing had evened out a long time ago, and the steady rise and fall of her chest was only occasionally interrupted when she let out a quiet snore. Her hair, curly, messy and wild, was spread out over the pillow and he was struck by the thought that she looked tiny. Small and frail and vulnerable, and those were words he'd never normally associate her with.

He couldn't sleep. Not after tonight.

Sometimes, when you've waited an eternity for something to happen, when it finally does happen, you're let down. It could never line up with your expectations. But God, this was different. This had been real.

"Kate," he hissed into the darkness, moving closer to her. She groaned and rolled onto her back, looking at him sleepily. It was endearing.

"What?"

He brushed her hair from her neck and kissed down her carotid artery, then over her collarbone. She pushed backwards into his chest and sighed contentedly.

"Go to sleep, Castle."

"I love you."

He felt, rather than saw, her smile. She pulled his arm over her and then drew the sheets over them both, lacing their fingers together.

"I know. That's why I'm here."