She's asleep.

The dark mane of her hair bleeds into the night. The white moon of her shoulder rises before him.

He uncurls his hand out on the mattress and runs his finger up her skin, just there, at the curve of her arm and the dip down to her back. Beautiful.

He sighs and squirms against the pillow to hollow out a little space, let him see her better. He's very close; their bodies still radiating heat, even now. He can almost feel the long draw of her breath as he lazily studies her.

He's never observed her like this before, never seen the way the darkness can't hold her, no matter how it tries, not when her skin blurs out, spilling light.

When he slides his fingers along her shoulder, he finds the soft cave of her hair, cups his palm at her neck, the warmth of her pulse at the heel of his hand.

She already loves him.

He didn't even - he barely had to fight for her. She already loves him. He waited, he got a little stupidly dispirited and nearly wrecked things, but he came back, because he will always come back - everything seems to revolve around her - and she already loves him.

Her eyes flicker open, sudden and serious in the dark, not yet aware. She blinks and then curves her body towards him, comes into his arms with a sighing breath and the downward dip of her lashes. On his back now, the strong length of her lining up with his, he strokes his hands up her spine and down, feels her shiver and start to wake.

Her thigh shifts; he sucks in a breath and hears her dark laugh, deep in her throat, half-asleep.

"Don't tease," he mutters.

"You started it," she shoots back, but he can hear the breathlessness in it.

"How'd I start it?" Remembering how she lunged for him, remembering how she took the ice cream out of his hands and threw it away and told him to come home with her.

"Touching me. In my sleep. All over."

He grins in the dark drape of her hair, brushes it back to look at the smiling curve of her cheek. "Not quite all over. But I can remedy that-"

She laughs and lifts her head from him, uses her toes against his shins to push herself up his body and kiss him. Surprised, delighted by that little move, he cradles her head and keeps her close, light touches of his lips to hers, adoring.

Her body shimmies against his and he sucks in a breath, staring. She's still grinning. "Thought you said you were gonna remedy that?"

"Oh. My bad. Now?"

"Now. And later too. And then when I wake at five, you can convince me that I don't need to go for a run-"

"I can definitely do that," he growls. Who knew she was so - so coy and clever and funny in bed? Well, he might have guessed it, if he ever let himself truly imagine the after. Or the in between? If he ever allowed his imagination to torture himself with the way she might be with him.

"Get to touching, Castle. Stop dallying."

He flips her over with a arch of his eyebrow, presses his body down into hers, feels her opening to him.

He's said it before, but maybe it's not enough. He wants to say it again, all the time, so it doesn't clench in his chest so much.

Looking up at him like that, eyes both dark and bright, she's fierce and gorgeous and somehow shy - she's everything.

"Kate," he says softly, needing her to know. Again. Once more.

With feeling.

"Yeah?" she says, her lashes limned in a light that just pours out of her.

"I already love you too."