Disclaimer: Not mine. But, if I owned HBO and Castle, we wouldn't need imaginations.
A/N: The angst came out of nowhere. I hope the make-up balances that enough.
Even with a flashlight in one hand, lit iPhone in the other and sporadic flashes of lightning guiding him, Castle has still managed to stub his toe, bang his shin on the edge of his desk, and crash a shoulder into the doorframe of his bedroom.
"Damn it," he hisses at that last injury.
Kate on his bed.
She's leaning back against his headboard, atop of the covers, long legs crossed at the ankles. Her eyes are closed, but he realizes that's probably because he's forcing the beam of his flashlight directly into her face. He lowers it with a "Sorry".
Now, eyes open, she's glowing like a goddess in the dim candlelight, damp hair starting to dry and curl at the edges. His favorite blue robe is swallowing her and she's snuggled into it. Would it be ironic that he loves her in it so much that he wants to get her out of it? The robe had been hooked on the back of the door, and he grabbed for it blindly, draped it around her body and kissed her deeply in apology before scooping his pants from the floor and scrambling from the bathroom.
When the power had first flashed off, he assumed for a moment he had blacked out from sensation overload. The immediate, enveloping darkness had coincided with the glorious experience of her body clenching and pulsing violently around his fingers and her throaty 'Yes, yes Castle' stammered against his jaw. It was too much carnality for him to take and he wouldn't have blamed his system for shutting down in surrender. If it weren't for the distraction of losing his vision— therefore the sight of her in the midst of pleasure—he's very sure it would have only been another instant until he climaxed with her, so very close even without any immediate physical stimulation.
The shrill, earsplitting sound of his loft's alarm system triggering pulled them out of their moment. Instead of getting to bask in her afterglow, he couldn't even see her, had to feel his way out of the water and help her to her feet. The legs holding her up were shaky and he may have grinned a tiny bit smugly at that.
He had told her he'd be right back and guided her towards a cabinet where some matches and candles were gathering dust (his power never goes out and he hasn't romantically entertained a woman in longer than his body deems fair).
Now, nearly a half an hour later, he's finally back where he wants to be. Near her.
"I finally got the issue straightened out with the alarm company before they dispatched the police and fire department," he explains. "The outage tripped the unit, and I'm apparently not connected to a secondary power source. So, I had to recite my life's history to aptly assure that I wasn't a cat burglar."
"At least you know it works, right?" Kate muses, looking for the bright side.
"Yeah, well we figured that out last year when I was playing 'keep away' with Alexis's diary and she slammed me into the panic button." Kate makes a sympathetic noise, and the reflection of the flames flickers across her amused wince. "I know, right? Full on police presence. At midnight. I got dirty looks from my neighbors for weeks."
She's laughing now and it's beautiful against the soundtrack of the crackling thunder still filling his loft. "How did I not know about this?"
"You were—it was when you were at your dad's cabin. Last summer."
"Oh." She looks sad and guilty and self-depreciating and he hates the way it overshadows the contentment that filled her countenance only seconds ago.
He doesn't like to think about that time either, the time when she tossed him out of her life. And most of it doesn't even relate to how his heart was broken, what he thought was beyond repair. But, it was because he was envisioning what she was going through. Having a vivid imagination pays the bills, but is also a curse when it comes to visualizing things you have no way of proving, one way or another.
Every ache, every pain, every fear, each backwards glance, wondering what was next, who was where—is that what she spent months focusing on? It doesn't even help that he now knows she was seeing a therapist—though he's glad for it—because it just reinforces that everything he thought may have been going on with her, probably really was. And he wasn't there for any of it. He so wanted to be.
He wasn't naïve enough to believe that he could be her knight in shining armor or truly protect her. Still isn't. He just wanted to help share the burden of everything. Still does.
"Tell me what happened today," he says, tapping off his flashlight with a glance down at his watch. One-forty a.m. "Yesterday," he corrects, as he crosses the short distance to his bed, eases down beside her.
"I told you."
"You only told me you almost died." He's huffing a little petulantly, but he's still raw…happens every time he thinks about last summer. And the fresh wound of their recent argument just adds more sting. She knows him well enough that it should be surprising that he hasn't asked for elaboration on "I almost died" before now. Hell, he's surprised he's lasted this long.
"I also told you I didn't want to talk about it. Knowing the details won't make it any easier for you." She's curt, withdrawn, and it puts him on edge.
"I'm not looking for easy, Kate. I want to be there for you. That's all I've ever wanted. You don't get to come in here and tell me that you want me, but not let me have all of you in return."
"What more do you need, Castle?"
"What more-?" He flinches, stops, regroups. "I want to know what makes you happy, what makes you sad, what makes you scared. I want to know what could have possibly happened to make you change your mind about wanting me. Like this." He snaps his fingers to indicate her quick change of heart. He knows his voice is loud and booming and irritated. "You know what I think? I think I'm safe. You can come to me and lick your wounds until you're ready to go after this thing again. And hey, if you get laid or happen to find out some pertinent information in the process…bonus, right?" He gets up and paces, doesn't realize how relatively small his bedroom is until he runs out of space and feels like a caged animal. He doesn't intend to meet her eyes, but does and even in the dim light, can see that she's crying. He can't take it, jerks open his dresser drawer and pulls out handfuls of clothes. He flings the items onto the bench at the foot of his bed and tosses the flashlight he's been gripping on the mattress near her hip. "You should see yourself out."
The hot water didn't last nearly as long as he needed it to, most of it being used on their bath earlier (which he's trying earnestly not to think about), and with no electricity, the reserve in his tank had started as tepid at best. Fifteen minutes into his shower now, the water cascading down his face, mingling with his completely unmanly tears, is uncomfortably cold. He turns off the water and slides open the shower stall, feels his way to the towel bar, where he wraps the terrycloth he finds there around his waist.
He makes his way to the bathroom door and sighs, presses his forehead against it. He needs to call her, make sure she got home okay. Apologize for some of what he said. She claimed she'd let him make her happy; he hadn't imagined that, right? Then, why was she shutting him out, keeping everything from him? He doesn't only want the sugarcoated stuff, and that seems all she is willing to offer, which makes whatever they are (were?) attempting to start seem so shallow.
Love is being able to both give and take the good and the bad. He's ready for that, but maybe she isn't. Though, she's never claimed love, has she?
He just…just needs to figure this out.
He opens the door and takes an experimental step into his bedroom. Kate must have blown the candles out before she left because again he's left in stark blackness. Seems fitting, he thinks, allowing himself to wallow in a little self-pity.
"You wanted to know what makes me happy?"
He lurches at her voice, nearly jumps out of his skin.
"My God, Kate," he breathes, palm to his racing heart. "I thought you were gone."
"You make me happy," she continues, ignoring his startled outburst. "I thought we had already established this, but I'll keep saying it until you get it. I'm not letting you push me away."
She didn't leave. She didn't leave. She didn't leave. His mind is on repeat, trying to decipher exactly what that means for them.
"Remembering every day that my mom's not around to see my happiness—will never get to meet you—that's what makes me sad. And knowing that someone wants me dead scares the shit out of me. But more than that, it's thinking that you could get caught in the crosshairs that frightens me to the core. Because, Castle, losing you is what would really kill me."
"Kate-." He starts towards her, realizes in the pitch black that he doesn't really know where she is. He lost his bearings when he exited the bathroom to her voice. "You're not going to lose me."
"That's not what it seems like when you keep running away." He inhales deeply through his nose and clenches his jaw because…she's right. It's been a very long time since she's been the one fighting this and the clarity of that is startling. "Castle, I couldn't do this before—wouldn't risk it because I couldn't let anyone know how much…how important you are to me. I'd be showing them my hand if they knew that you were my weakness. That losing you would kill me faster than any bullet to the heart." He hears her take a lungful of air and continue. "But, knowing that if I stop, they stop—Castle, this is it. I'm done."
His breaths are shallow and ragged. He's blinking hard and fast, willing his eyes to adjust to the darkness, give him some vision. He's tried to follow her voice, but doesn't want to blindly pitch his hands out in search of her. "Where are you?"
It comes out almost a question, but he's okay with that, selfishly ignores her confusion because she's right in front of him now and he just needs to feel her. He cants his body forward and misjudges the distance, careens into her roughly, knees bumping and bending awkwardly, sending them both tumbling to the mattress.
"You're sending me mixed signals, here," she mumbles, lips bumping his cheek, an iota of humor laced in her words.
"I didn't…pouncing you wasn't my intention." He rolls to her side, untangles their legs, and adjusts his loosened towel so he can sit up on the edge of the bed. Beside him, he thinks she's still lying down.
"I realize that. Kidding." Yes, she's still flat beside him. He's trying to picture her. Her voice is a little muted, so maybe her hand or arm is blocking her mouth. "Castle, I'm sorry if I pushed too far, earlier. When you touch me, it—I just get so—all I could think about was-."
"Hmm?" He wants her to finish every one of those thoughts.
"It wasn't about getting laid, I need you to know that."
He groans. "I do. I shouldn't have said that. I'm sorry. My feelings were hurt and I think I was striving to hurt you too. I was trying to reconcile why you came here saying that you wanted me."
"You mean besides the fact that I do and that this has been brewing for years?"
"Yeah, besides that." He's an idiot. He rolls on his side and slides his hand to her, a short distance across the mattress. He bumps her thigh and toys with both the edge of his robe and her flesh. They each suck in sharp gasps. "I'm looking for your hand," he clarifies, "not trying to grope you."
"I figured. You've been very…chivalrous this evening." Her fingers find his and she laces them together, slides them up until they rest jointly on her stomach.
He can feel the loose bulge of tied fabric beneath his palm. He worms a digit into the knot and tugs at it experimentally. The fingers of her other hand join his in untying the robe, letting it slide open and the material pool at her sides.
He hovers over her a little more, spreads his fingers at the neutral zone of her torso, heel of his hand at her belly button. "Tell me what happened," he whispers another chance at her.
There is a long moment of silence and his fingers twitch, but he doesn't extract them, is tired of pulling away every time she doesn't work on his timetable. Another minute.
"I chased him to the roof of a building, was prepared to fight. And win."
When she speaks, he lets out a sigh of relief. He needs to know, needs her to share, but the thought of what might come next churns his guts. "But?"
"But, he tossed me around like a ragdoll. My training was no match for his. He was like a machine, Castle. When he hit me here," she moves his hand high on her ribs, "I couldn't catch my breath, and I'm not sure if it was the impact or realizing the distinct possibility that I couldn't win this."
He lies still and stays quiet because he doesn't know if she's done, and he's not sure what to say regardless. He wants to take her away, far far away and hide her from the world, protect her. She probably wouldn't like it if he admitted that, so he'll just continue to keep his mouth shut and wait for her to tell him what she needs. He'll give her anything.
"Then," she brings their fingers to her neck, where he feels her pulse rapid and alive, "he choked me."
"He could have easily ended it all right then. But, he didn't. I don't know why. It wasn't mercy; this man doesn't know the meaning. It felt like…taunting."
"Maybe he could tell that you were ready to stop fighting."
"I wasn't stopping. Not yet." She rises against his hand and he slides it from her throat to the back of her neck, follows her as she leans up. He feels her mouth touch his chin, glide up to his lips. It's not quite a kiss, but it's more. Maybe she needs him close for what comes next. Or maybe she knows that he needs her.
"Can I hold you?" He really wishes he could see her. How long does it take to fix a transformer, anyway?
She doesn't answer him, but he hears the mattress creaking, and she's out of his arms and he feels the loss keenly. Then she's back; her legs knock his where they hang from the bed. She's at his shoulders, her fingers and the slack cuffs of his robe brushing across his bare skin. He reaches out to guide her, doesn't know where he's guiding her to. Next, the bed dips on both sides of him and then he feels it—her—on and around him(everywhere, everywhere), dropping into his lap, knees astride his hips.
"I tried to fight back." Her soft voice mutes into his neck and he squeezes her tighter to him, trying to be mindful of the injuries she's recounting for him. He's struggling to disregard the fact that her bare body (his robe is more off than on her) is pressed up against his, and they're only separated by his towel. There's nothing about hearing how she was hurt that's arousing, but everything about being wrapped up in her is. He's relying on the former to tamper the later. "I ended up dangling from the edge of the rooftop."
"I heard your voice. You were calling to me. I thought you were coming for me." He swallows down his tears and they lodge in his throat, alongside his heart. "I screamed for you. Needed you to save me." He's crying now and he doesn't give a damn. He gives her apologies, whispers them into her hair. She shakes them off and keeps going. "You saved me, Rick. It may not have been your arms pulling me up from that ledge, but you were the one who kept me hanging on. So, instead of letting go of the building, I let go of my mom's case. Let go of it all. And I'm so much lighter now."
"Thank you, Kate. For sharing this with me." Now he understands why she didn't want to talk about it, needed some time to be ready.
"Thank you for making me."
"Please just promise me that if you feel the need to pick this up again, you won't do it alone." The thought of her back in this again isn't one he ever wants to entertain, but he has to stay realistic. "It takes more than one person to win a war."
"I'm done, Castle."
"I know, but—"
"No more wars, Rick." Her lips are at his ear, grazing before moving to the sensitive flesh behind it. He shivers and can feel her smiling against his skin in response. "It's over."
God, he just wants to… Before he can finish his less-than-pure thoughts, her mouth is on his, warm and insistent. Her tongue pushes between his lips and he takes it greedily. It isn't long before they've slowed the pace to the most erotic kissing he's ever experienced. He deviates his focus to touching her while she continues to make love to his mouth.
He can smell his soap on her where his robe has been pressed at her body, and it makes him groan, think of the more overt ways he can transfer his scent to her. His hands slide up her thighs to her hips and then boldly graze her rear end before skirting to the small of her back, a much safer place to keep him from rushing things. Her arms slither off of his shoulders and she's bouncing on him lightly, and oh, she really shouldn't do that, and he hears the whoosh of the fabric leaving her frame as she shrugs the robe off and goes back to his gaping mouth.
"Just…keep doing what you were doing," she cajoles, swaying back into his hands and forward into his…yeah, she's a smart girl, knows exactly what she's instigating.
These little breathy whimpers that she keeps releasing are shooting straight to his groin. She's steadily rocking in his lap and she must feel his embarrassingly eager response beneath her because her urgency is progressively increasing.
"Castle, Castle—" He grips her hips tightly to slow her down, but instinct insists his body buck up to hers to make up for the loss of pace and pressure. "Can we take this off?" She's yanking on his towel and he steadies her with one hand, then reaches between them to jerk the offending fabric away from his lap, some still trapped between their legs, but off where it counts. Taking advantage of this, she finds him—hard and needy—and palms him gently against her body, slithers against him.
"Are you sure you're okay to do this?" Oh, if she's not, she'd better speak up now. He doesn't want to cause her any more pain, can't see her bruises, but they're mapped out in his mind.
"Yes." The slickness of her is coating him as she guides, and he's sliding so very close to their point of no return. "God, I'm so in love with you, Castle."
She's licking at his collar bone, shoulder, neck and…he's frozen. Because she—.
"What's wrong?" Her tongue scrapes against the day's stubble, teeth clamp at his jaw. "Oh," she pauses, probably rewinding her words. "Surely you didn't question that."
"You've never said it. I—I wasn't sure."
"I love you. You. You." And in that moment, he feels the shift and enveloping heat of her drawing him in. He grunts from the surprise of suddenly intruding in the tightness of her body. It's a slow process and he eases his hips up and leads her down until there's no space between them. "I thought your fingers felt good," she utters heatedly as she begins to move on him.
"You cannot say things like that while we're doing this." She's trying to kill him. He's absolutely sure of it now.
"How come?" The way she teases and her hips are all shifty and clever is going to make him lose his self-control.
"Because," he growls, "you already make me crazy."
He hears the buzz of energy before the lights blink and flicker back to life, bathing them in the fluorescence of his bedroom. The harsh contrast against the accustomed darkness is sharp and causes him to blink rapidly. He sees Kate, oh Kate, doing the same thing, brows furrowed, pupils thick in dilation.
It's completely sensual and awkward that they're first exposed to each other again while they're in the middle of making love. He reluctantly lets her go to put his hands on the mattress behind him and lean back onto them. She stares him down, watches him intensely as he adjusts position. "You're so sexy," she states, and he can't help the laugh that bubbles out of him. "What?" She grins and presses her palms to his chest, using the leverage to rise and fall over him.
"I'm pretty sure that's my line." He brushes the hair from her eyes, fingers it behind her ear. She's gorgeous and she's his, every inch of her. She's her own very powerful woman, who can totally kick his ass, but here, right now, like this, she's his. He trails his hand down her chest, lets the pad of his thumb rest over her scar while his palm kneads her breast, watches her reaction to make sure she's okay. Though it would probably be more romantic fully on the bed, he does take advantage of being perched on the edge, lets his feet flatten to the floor and press his legs up, making him a more active participant in their love making.
"I'm close," she tells him, her thrusts over him less measured. He could watch her like this forever, but his biology is telling him that his part in this first round is nearly over, also.
"Yeah?" He slips his fingers to where they're joined, but she stops him before he can help her along. She shakes her head, tangles their fingers, circles over him sloppily, and stills. Her mouth opens on a sob and then he experiences it, the sequence of rhythmic pulsations that grip him like a fist. He tries to drive through them, but it's scant moments later that he's forced to let go, holds her tightly until the throbbing subsides.
"I'll get up in a minute, I promise." She's sprawled, body pressed to his, soft hum of contentment vibrating at his collar bone. "I can't move."
"You don't hear me complaining." He gracelessly hooks his robe in his toes, manages to contort his foot far enough off the floor to snatch the fabric and cover their sated forms with it. "You complaining?" He presses a kiss to her temple.
"Making love with you is overwhelming," she grumbles, climbing up his body.
"Could you try to getting used to it?" Her open mouth finds his and he's pretty sure that's his answer. "I plan on overwhelming you regularly."
A/N: Thanks for the reviews and PMs. They mean a lot.