Because I couldn't help myself


When she woke up her cheek was burning and her room was darker than usual. Kate opened her eyes, blinking quickly, trying to bring herself back into awareness after falling asleep sometime the night before. She lifted her head from where it was resting, her cheek immediately feeling the loss of heat. Kate shifted slightly, tried to stretch out her legs and found herself pressed against something, something heavy wrapped around her waist. Kate reached up and wiped her eyes before bringing her hand to her hair, finding it tangled and matted awkwardly to the side of her head.

And that's when she remembered.

Nearly falling off of a building, resigning, the swings in the pouring rain, showing up at Rick's front door, and… and.

Oh. That's why her legs felt disconnected from her body.

Kate looked down at him.

She was naked, pressed up next to him, his arm around her waist. He was naked, still blissfully asleep, his hair sticking up at odd angles, whether it was from the way he had slept or the way she had run her hands through it last night she wasn't sure.

Suddenly, she felt the arm wrapped around her waist squeeze her tightly, causing her to tumble back onto his chest.

"Oh," she gasped.

"Stop moving," he said, rubbing his hand up and down her side, "I'm sleeping."

Kate huffed, "No, you're not."

"I'm trying to," Rick said, closing his eyes again, "I just had the most amazing dream and I'd like to get back to it."

Kate rolled her eyes.

"I heard that," he mumbled.

"Castle," she said, tugging on his arm, "let me up."

"No," he whined.

"Yes," she said petulantly, "I have to go to the bathroom."

He sighed and loosened his grip on her. Kate slid easily from his sheets and onto the floor. She padded along the cool floor of his bedroom, walking purposefully into his bathroom, shutting the door behind her.

She relieved herself and moved over towards his sink to wash her hands, looking at herself in the mirror, groaning as she caught sight of her reflection.

And then just hit her how awkward this entire situation was.

She looked like a disaster. Sitting out in the rain yesterday combined with his hands had turned her hair into a haystack, strands tangled together and sticking up in every which way, her make-up smudged from the raindrops and teardrops and she couldn't believe she actually looked that horrible.

She turned on his faucet, washing her hands quickly before trying to salvage her face. She wiped off some of the smeared make-up, brought a little color back into her cheeks with the warm water before turning off the water, drying her face on a hand towel hanging by the vanity.

They worked together. Saw each other every day and now they had seen each other naked. And she didn't regret it, not at all, still…

They had seen each other naked.

And that changed everything.

If this was a fling, it would be easy. She would simply gather her clothes and say goodbye, listening to promises of phone calls and not bothering to turn her phone off of silent. If they were dating, it would be simple. She would just crawl back into bed with him.

But this… this was awkward.

Because this was… everything, forever.

They just hadn't talked about it yet.

When she slipped back out of the bathroom, she saw Rick watching her as she walked back towards the bed. She ducked her head as she tucked herself back in under the covers, keeping a few inches of space between them as she lay down on her back.

She felt him shift on the mattress beside her and nearly smiled.

He felt it too. The awkwardness.

"So…" Rick started, trailing off.

Kate nodded once, pursing her lips, "So…"

A moment of awkward silence passed between the two of them.

"That happened," Rick said.

Kate snorted, "Yeah, it did."

He looked over at her, "And… are you okay with that?"

Kate looked over at him, "Castle, I meant what I said last night. I don't regret you."

She watched as he exhaled the breath she didn't know he was holding.

"Good," he said, crossing his hands over his stomach, "I'm glad."

Kate nodded, "Are… you okay with it?"

"Of course I am," Rick answered immediately, "I love you."

She nodded. She loved him too, but she couldn't say it yet. Soon, she promised herself, she would be. She would tell him. Soon.

"Why is this so awkward?" Kate mock-whispered.

Rick laughed, allowing himself a moment before he shifted slightly so they were lying chest to chest, the entire length of him pressed against her. He rubbed his nose against hers.

"Can we do this again?"

Kate raised an eyebrow, running her toes up his calf.

He sputtered, "Not that… Well, not… that I would be… opposed… do doing, well, that again, but that's… that's not what I meant."

She smiled, letting him know she was teasing.

"What do you mean?"

"The morning after," he said, "Can we do the whole morning after thing again?"

"Why?" Kate breathed against his lips.

He took a deep breath, "Because it should have been perfect. And not so… awkward."

Kate pulled away from him slightly, looking at him for a moment. Using her free hand, she pushed on Rick's chest so he rolled onto his back and followed him, curling up into his side like she had this morning, letting her eyelids flutter close, hooking her legs over his. She lay still for a moment before sighing, shifting slightly as if she was just waking up. She opened her eyes slowly, making sure that her eyelashes brushed against his skin before letting her eyes open all the way. She shifted in his embrace, paused for a moment when she "felt" his arm over her before smiling against his chest, wide enough that he could feel it. Kate lifted her head up, pressing a small kiss over his heart before looking up at him with what she hoped looked like a sleepy smile. She let her smile grow wider as she noticed him looking down at her, his eyes hooded with love, his smile nothing short of adoring.

"Good morning," she whispered quietly.

"Good morning," he whispered back, lifting himself up slightly so he could press a soft kiss to her lips, "A very good morning indeed."

Kate ducked her head into his neck to hide the pink that was rising to her cheeks, but he didn't let her hide. He put a finger under her chin and brought her face back up to his.

"Thank you," he murmured softly.

She smiled at him and settled back down onto his chest, breathing in deeply.

"And clearly I'm talking about the sex."

Without even looking, Kate reached up and found his ear.

"Apples! Apples! Apples!" he cried, his hand reaching up and trying to pull her fingers away from his ear.

"Hm…" she said, letting go of his earlobe, laughing slightly against him.

"What?" he mumbled, reaching up and massaging his ear, trying to rub away some of the hurt.

Kate shrugged innocently, "Oh nothing," she said, "I just always imagined that the first time I made you scream 'apples' in this bed would be for an entirely different reason."

He choked on air, simultaneously coughing and laughing that had Kate fighting back her own smile.

And even if this morning had been filled with enough awkwardness to last her a lifetime, it was still amazing. So very… them.

When Rick finally controlled his breathing, he hugged her tighter against her chest.

"We should talk about this," he said softly, almost like he was afraid she would run away screaming at the thought of wanting to define this.

And in the past, she might have. But not anymore. No, not anymore.

"We will," she promised, nodding her head, "but right now," she extricated herself from his arms and crawled out of the bed, "I'm going to shower..."

She stretched, watching as Rick's eyes followed the lines of her body as she arched her back, the curves that he had felt the night before but hadn't been able to truly see in the dim lights of his bedroom.

"… because I cannot take myself seriously when I look like the creature from the black lagoon."

(though the look in his eyes was telling her that nothing could be further from the truth in his mind.)

"Is that an invitation?" he said, his voice husky, "I could teach you how to work the shower. It's sort of complicated."

"I'm a big girl, Castle," Kate said, moving over to his side of the bed, "I'm sure I can figure it out."

She leaned down and brushed a kiss against his lips.

"I do need you to do something for me though," she murmured, keeping her voice soft, "Something that you can do for me better than anyone else… the best I've ever had."

She watched his jaw come unhinged, knowing exactly what her words did to him and he choked out a faint, "What?"

Kate kissed him again, deepening it only slightly before she pulled away, his lips following hers as she tried to put distance between them.

"I need you…" she said, "to get me coffee."

He growled, angry at himself for falling for it, reaching out to try and grab onto her but she lunged away, laughing as she darted across the room into his bathroom, closing the door quickly behind her.

"Still a tease!" he yelled.

"What'd you expect, Castle?" she laughed, "Get me my coffee and then we'll talk."

She heard him grumble something and moved away from the door to start the shower with a smile.

Because yes, everything was different.

They'd seen each other naked.

And it was sort of awkward.

But underneath it all, under all of the newness and the strangeness and the awkwardness, was the reality of the entire situation.

There would still be coffee, still be teasing, and banter, and everything that had been there all along.

They would still be friends, still be co-workers, still be partners.

They took the plunge, leaped from that cliff together with hands clasped because they were finally on the same page and they were still them.

And they always would be.

Love it? Hate it? Jeez another one? Let me know what you think!