Kate finds that her heart beats faster and louder than normal when she goes to his apartment. Or when she's near him…or thinking about him...especially when she thinks about the fact that he loves her. Her. Richard Castle loves her, even when he could have any woman he wants to and she's so utterly broken and it's a miracle how much she loves him because she never thought it would be possible after her mother was taken from her, yet here she is…outside his apartment, stopping by just because she wants to.

Kate knocks and Alexis answers. Kate adorns a small smile and says, "Hey, Alexis."

The redhead is already in her pajamas. Kate knows that it was late when she had decided to come over, but she knows that Castle will be awake.

"Hello, Detective Beckett. Come in." The girl is smiling tiredly, but the slightly resentful look in her eyes does not go unnoticed by the detective. Kate knows that the girl has been somewhat bitter with her and honestly, she doesn't blame her for her anger. She would be mad too if her father was constantly putting himself in danger when he didn't have to.

"Thanks. Is your dad here?"

Alexis nods, "Yeah he's in his study. Night, Detective." The girl turns and begins walking up the stairs.

"Goodnight," Beckett says. That went a little more awkwardly than expected. The detective sighs and takes her jacket off, setting it on the back of the couch. It does not matter because now she is going to see Rick. See him, and try not to get irreversibly hypnotized by those gorgeous blue eyes or let him catch her staring at those delicious lips that she promised herself she will taste again. She walks to the closed door of his office and notices the absence of the sound of his fingers dancing away on the keys of his laptop. Kate does not regard this as completely unusual, so she swings open the door, smiling, hungry eyes searching for his presence. She realizes at once that she should have knocked.

Castle is sitting at his desk, clutching a glass of scotch like it is his only life line. Beckett had apparently startled the writer. His eyes are wide, watery and vibrant from crying.

Kate pauses for a moment before shutting the door and swiftly moving to his side. Oh, God, he looks so sad that she feels the familiar ache she associated with things like despair and grief deep in her chest. She tells herself that she will do anything to make him feel better, no questions asked. Even admit the overwhelming and completely ridiculous amount of love she has for him because if she is honest with herself, she has almost told him more times than she could count. For the past few months it has felt like the words have been sitting on her tongue and all she has to do is open her mouth and they will fall out.

Rick is sitting on his chair so she kneels in front of him and instinctively brushes her fingers across his check, lightly cradling his face.

"What is it, Rick? Is everything alright?" Kate asks him, sounding more desperate than she wants to.

His eyes, his amazing blue orbs, scan her face until they meet hers. They are filled to the brim with sadness and loneliness and love, feelings that she is all too familiar with, so she knows he is lying when he responds with, "I'm fine, Kate."

She notices that there is a bottle of scotch next to him, but it's practically full, so she knows he's not drunk. But he is most certainly not fine either. Kate wishes with all her heart that she could just take away all of it. It is so unfair how this man who trusts to a fault, amazingly kind and understanding and so many other things that she hadn't had the pleasure to discover yet, is hurting. Unfortunately, Kate is well aware of how unfair things can truly be.

"Castle tell me what's wrong, please."

The lump in her throat is making it increasingly harder to speak. She smiles anyway, in a way she hopes is calming, trying to coax him talking.

Castle looks at her, her dark hair tumbling down her shoulders. Her green eyes are beautiful, but almost tragically so, briefly making him return to that day in the cemetery, where the brilliantly green grass contrasted to the horror in from of him. But no matter what, she will always be beautiful to him, in every way imaginable.

He sighs.

"Are you sure you want to know?" His voice is hoarse and heartbreakingly insecure, a few stray tears falling. Kate wipes them away and takes his hand. Her concerned gaze softening for a moment and she replies, "I'm your partner. It's my job to know."

He looks down at their hands, trying to decide if he should tell her the truth or something close to the truth. He wants to tell her, but there are lines to be crossed, boundaries, and he doesn't know if he would be crossing them. After all, Kate Beckett and Richard Castle are legendary for avoiding their feelings. A silence stretches over them, neither one of them knowing nor caring how long it lasts. Finally, Castle looks up; ready to let himself get everything he wants out into the open and to her.

"I…I honestly have no idea where to start." She is silent; her willingness to wait for him makes him want to smile.

Seriously, he is a best-selling author. He can do this.

"For starters, my daughter is going to college. I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to do when she is gone. Then Sofia tells me about my father, and if he did get me into the CIA that means he knows that I exist and decided to just not care, but it could all just be a lie. And the fact that Sofia was a traitor and Damien killed his father begs the question of how lately the people who I trust end up being murderers and evil masterminds. I just don't understand. These people who get killed…a lot of them are good people. Sometimes I just can't get it all to make sense…"

He drifts off. He's just overwhelmed, and she knows the feeling.

Kate stands up, releasing her hold on his hand. Rick stops breathing for an instant because it feels like she's leaving him and he has had enough of that for a lifetime.

She quickly recognizes the panicked look on his face and grabs his hands, pulling him up out of the chair and into her arms. This seems to quell his panic immediately. He stills for a moment before wrapping his arms around her. Kate's heart is simply breaking because he deserves more than this, more than her, and she is the one exposing him to death. Not to mention lying to him.

"I'm sorry," Castle whispers, his hot breath on her neck, and she struggles and fails to hide the shiver that pulses through her body. She takes her head off of is comfortable resting place on his chest to look at him. She admires his face, the lines on his face from years of laughter, the sharp angle of his jaw.

"Don't be sorry. Absolutely none of that is your fault."

"I am still sorry for making you listen to me. It must sound so selfish to you." His gaze drops to the floor. She hooks a finger under his chin and brings his face back where she can look into his eyes and try to lessen his insecurities, because even though she wants to, she knows she cannot get rid of them.

She smiles sadly and says, "It was the farthest thing from selfish. I should be the sorry one. I am the one who brings you to the crime scenes. Trust me when I say that I am very happy that you told me this, okay?" And she is, truly, she is ecstatic that their relationship is going in a direction where they can be open with each other and want to be. It's feels like the shaky foundation of whatever-this-relationship-is is starting to solidify. It gives her hope.

Rick shakes his head.

"You don't need to apologize. I choose to go. In fact I would probably show up even if you didn't invite me." She laughs at this, her smile and the way she is wrapped around him making him forget why he was crying in the first place.

They fall silent, the room filled with the sounds of their soft breathing. His arms are still around her. Her skin is tingling and she can hear her heart beating loudly in her ears. This is becoming dangerous territory. Her well-constructed defenses are becoming weaker every second she stands here with him, and what scares her is that she doesn't care as much as she should.

She pulls back from his embrace to look at him.

"Can I get you anything? Can I do anything to make you feel better?" She says softly, well aware that the question is loaded.

His gaze flicks down to her lips and he moves impossibly closer.

"Kiss me."

"Rick-," She says softly, sounding hesitant and breathless, but not moving from her place in his arms. Before Kate can continue, Castle places a hand on the side of her face, gently pulling them together until their lips meet.

She does not know how one kiss could make her feel so wonderfully overwhelmed, so that her knees are suddenly weak and all she wants is to kiss him again and again. She wants to relinquish her precious control and let him take her.

All too soon, the kiss is over, barely there, but always exhilarating.

Castle doesn't know what to do. Kate is standing close, so close that they are breathing the same air and he would scarcely have to move to kiss her again. And he wants to kiss her again. He pulls back, searching for her eyes. He doesn't have to look far to find them, wide with surprise, swimming with arousal and absolutely no hint of fear. She's smiling, and he finds that he is too. He takes this as a good sign and kisses her again, deeper than the first time, and she responds with fervor.

The longer they kiss, the hotter he gets, his blood sizzling in his veins as her hands run through his hair and over the solid expanse of his chest. He can barely contain his excitement as he explores her body, his hands ghosting over her hips and back, because he never thought this would be the day he got to touch her when he woke up this morning. His lips leave her mouth, and he smiles against her skin when she whimpers, his mouth traveling across her jaw and down the smooth column of her throat. He turns them so that she is leaning against his desk and she clutches at the carved wood of the structure, for she is deliciously overwhelmed with the feeling of arousal and love flooding her veins consecutively, because she has never loved anyone like she loves him.

When his hands travel under her shirt, she moans and pulls his lips back to hers. There's an oddly unwavering feeling growing within her, but she is too intoxicated by him; her thoughts have blissfully disappeared.

But then it hits her.

They need to stop.

He was crying when she found him tonight and she doesn't want him to think that she is doing this simply to make him feel better. She wants it to be real; she doesn't want there to be any doubt in his mind that she needs him. She does not want Rick to look back on their first time together and question every touch.

"Rick, we need to stop," Kate says, her voice coming out ragged and uneven.

He pulls back immediately, but he looks confused and saddened.

"Are you okay, Kate?"

Kate can barely look at him, because if she does she's scared she won't hesitate to let him continue.

"We can't do this, not tonight."

He still looks confused, but more concerned. So she kisses him, trying to assure him that this is hard for her, too. She unlatches his lips from hers and rests her forehead against his, finds his hand and laces their fingers together.

"I just…I never want you to think that I'm doing this because I'm trying to make you feel better. Even if you don't, I just want us to start out without any misgivings. I'm sorry."

He chuckles, "Don't be. I think you make a valid point. Plus, this gives me the chance to woo you."

"Woo me?" She says, smiling questioningly, her eyebrows raised.

"Yes, Katherine Beckett, I am going to woo you. You know, romance you, and take you out on a date at the very least."

"Good, because I'll only be able to resist you for one date," Kate says quietly.

A low, sexy sound breaks free from his chest and he kisses her again, making goose-bumps erupt over her skin. Reluctantly, she pushes lightly on his chest and he steps back, putting some space between them.

She moves from her perch on his desk and gravitates toward the door.

"I should go. Do you need anything else?"

"Stay with me tonight," Rick says, his voice and the familiar warmth of his body calling to her.

"Castle, we agreed-,"

"No, I mean, stay here with me and sleep. Just sleep, no sex. I swear…please?" He says it with hope in his eyes, conveying that he will honor his promise.

She pauses.

"Okay."

"Really?" Castle says, barely believing that Kate Beckett just agreed to sleep in his bed with him.

"Yes, Castle. Really."

She's smiling a wonderful smile, something that she reserves for him. Rick looks completely bewildered, but still so happy, so she reaches for his hand and quickly kisses him.

They gaze into each other's eyes, but his mouth turns upwards in an impish grin and he says, "I knew you couldn't resist me."

Kate rolls her eyes then tugs on the hand that is clasped in her own, leading him towards the bedroom, because really, she can't resist him. He walks after her as if he's in a dream, because this could be a step towards being partners in every way, something that he has thought about for years.

When they enter his room, he shuts the door. The room is dark, so he turns on a light, bathing the room in a soft glow. He can see her now, looking stunning and staring at him shyly, but he still cannot seem to get over the fact that she is with him in his bedroom willingly.

It is very odd, seeing Kate so timid, because he has seen her broken, furious, powerful and passionate, but this is new for him. He doesn't want her to hide with him.

He takes a step towards her, cradles her face and kisses her tenderly. He gently moves his lips over hers; trying to emit every feeling for her he has wound up inside of him. He tries to make her feel comfortable, tries to get her to stop hiding. She moans softly and wraps an arm around his waist to bring him closer. He knows that diving into a relationship with her is going to be a challenge; a very interesting one. Rick knows that it's worth in though, because Kate will always be worth it.

He pulls back, respecting the deal they made and he finds her grinning, with a look in her eyes that he can only classify as love. It makes a welcome warmth flood his veins and he smiles, trying rather unsuccessfully to contain his happiness.

Reluctantly, he moves out of her embrace and walks over to his dresser, rummaging through it for something for her to wear to sleep. Castle turns around holding out an over-sized t-shirt that looks like it would be big on him.

"Here you go," he says, smirking, "I would just like you to know that this is the height in sleepwear fashion."

She giggles, "Oh, please, you just want me half-dressed in your bed."

"That too."

She smiles and rolls her eyes, proceeding to the bathroom. After the door shuts, he changes in his pajamas, sweatpants and a t-shirt, content to be in more comfortable clothing. His musings are interrupted when Beckett walks out of the bathroom and places her clothes on a chair, but he barely notices. The shirt is red, ending just above the knees and he finds himself staring at what is visible of her legs. Another thing he doesn't notice is how Kate is admiring him, staring at his well defined arms and how his shirt stretches deliciously over his chest and back.

"You look adorable," Rick says.

She rolls her eyes, "You're not so bad yourself, Rick."

They both slide into his bed, wrapping themselves up in each other under the sheets. As he turns the lights off, Castle briefly wonders what will happen tomorrow morning when Alexis and his Mother find Kate here. What will he tell them? What happens next? Does he just forget about this when he walks into the precinct on Monday? He sure as hell doesn't want to forget it. His uncertainty is quickly gone, because all that matters to him right now is this moment as Kate looks up at him darkly as she entwines their legs together. She never wants to leave this bed; she just wants to stay here with Rick's body aligned with hers and the love in her heart. She kisses him again, soft and barely there.

"Goodnight, Rick."

"Until tomorrow, Kate."

She snuggles into his chest, breathing him in; desperately hoping that whatever they have just done will have a good outcome. He kisses the top of her head and as sleep consumes her, Kate cannot help but feel like for the first time in what seems like forever, she finally belongs somewhere.