'Every now and then I get a little bit terrified and then I see the look in your eyes.'

Kate slowly became aware that she was awake, and more importantly, that she was singing eighties love songs in her head. She gave a silent groan. Pathetic. But the warmth that bubbled up inside her, catalysed by memories, erupted in a smile on her lips and she shifted out a foot and a hand, searching... There he was. Still right there behind her. She turned over, barely cracking her eyes open to see; the ache of her muscles stopped her from getting too cocky. She moved softly. Sunlight was coming in from the windows over their heads; the blinds were still wide open. The storm had obviously finished sometime in the night.

Kate slid heavily across the sheets to where Rick was lying, her ribs protesting a little. She lifted his arm and slipped beneath it so she was against his chest. Solid and warm. She hadn't realised how broad his shoulders were. Or how toned his muscles, how soft his skin, how much she liked his body. She had always figured he was soft around the middle. And yeah maybe he was getting a little... maybe he was letting himself go a little or middle age was catching up on him or whatever. But his waist was trim, his pecks defined, his hip flexors deliciously enticing...

Kate opened her eyes again, studying Rick's face, slack and peaceful with sleep. There was a red mark along his jaw where she must have caught him with a fingernail. Or he had struck himself. And then Kate really was thinking about last night and the smile on her lips was back in a hundred watt force. She reached up an arm, resting it against his collarbone as she smoothed fingers through the hair at his temple. Starting to lose the colour there. And the lines at his eyes were still visible even though he wasn't smiling or frowning. Kate traced fingers down his cheek, the tips over his jaw. She went back to his hair, curling digits around his skull to his neck. She leaned forward and pressed her lips against his cheek bone. She peppered more kisses, slowly, down to the corner of his mouth, the soft lips, his jaw, up to his eyebrow, the edge of his eye socket. All the while her fingers moved.

Kate inched a little bit closer, pressing a thigh against his, wanting more, wanting it all; she couldn't quite believe how good this felt, to finally let go of all her fears. Rick gave a little sigh and Kate could see the flutter of his eyes beneath his lids. His mouth closed, the lips pursed, Kate pressed another kiss against them. They pressed back and then his hand shifted to her waist, clung on. "Good morning," Kate tried. She wanted him to wake up. She wanted to talk to him. She wanted him to kiss her.

"Mmmm," Rick responded. His eyes came open in a squint. Then he suddenly moved into her, crushing her beneath the weight of his naked body. "You're here."

"Yes," she winced, her diaphragm struggling to inflate despite the pressure against her chest.

Rick eased off a little, pressing his mouth against her neck. "I half wondered if last night was a dream." A slight pause. "Best dream ever but..."

"Not a dream," Kate interrupted.

Rick pressed a kiss against her throat and another beneath her jaw. Then he met her mouth and Kate's stomach lurched towards him; her toes tingled. It was not in the league of some of their kisses last night, but it was sweet enough for her to come alive. When he broke away a little she followed him, working her lips against his. He gave a kind of whispered groan in the back of his throat. He moved away a little bit further, giving them both a chance for air, and Kate looked up at him, into deep and intense blue eyes. He stared a moment. "Wow you look good."

Kate broke into a smile. She couldn't have helped it even if his comment hadn't caught her off guard. "I'm sure I look a mess."

Rick shook his head. "Nope. You look hot. You always look hot." He sighed lightly as if it were a chore.

Kate reached up a hand to comb through the hair that fell against his forehead. Nope she was pretty sure she looked a mess. Her hair had been ruined by the rain last night and then of course there was all the, uh, vigorous activities of the night before. She probably had a frightful case of bed hair, whereas Rick just looked adorable. "You look pretty damn hot yourself," Kate told him.

Rick smiled. A beautiful genuine smile that made Kate's lungs feel so light that her lips curled up in response. Kate reached up to kiss him. "Sexy," she added and just thinking about it made her want him again. He kissed her back and his hands pulled the sheet away from her easily.

1

"Oh god," Rick groaned and turned onto his back, pulling her against his chest like she was a rag doll. She was feeling a bit like one at the moment anyway, so the analogy seemed to fit. Rick made her feel so thoroughly. Not one thing in particular, just everything, all at once. Aside from the fact that he was fantastic in bed, there were other things, swirling feelings she couldn't quite name yet, and other basic things like happiness (no, really, this is what happiness felt like). And she was excited. Not just in the dirty way. She felt like a little girl at Christmas or going to a Yankees game or... She felt like there was absolutely nothing wrong with the world. She wasn't even thinking about all those things that happened yesterday (aside from the fact that her body ached in not good ways). She was thinking about Rick and his eyes (had she really not noticed how sexily intense they could be?) and the way she felt so small against him (not in a bad way). There was this incredibly attractive masculinity to him and yet she also knew he would probably be the first to break down in tears during a soppy movie. And she loved that.

Kate reached up an arm and draped it across his chest, shifting up so she was closer to his ear and buried her nose into the side of his head. He smelt amazing too. Why had she talked herself out of this too many times?

"Coffee," Rick spluttered. "I so need coffee."

Kate gave a chuckle but when he pulled away from her again and sat up. She didn't complain he was leaving. She wanted to cling onto his back like a monster so he would never escape her again, but sensibility shut that down. Instead she admired the way his shoulder blades moved beneath his muscles as he combed a hand through his hair and then down over his face. As he planted his feet on the carpet, Kate grabbed at the sheet he was threatening to take with him. She pulled it up to her chin, watching as he crossed to his dresser and found silken boxers, black, with bright red chilli peppers adorning. Of course. He found a t-shirt next and pulled it over his head as he headed for the door. Without looking back he asked if she wanted breakfast.

Kate felt a pang and then, 'Every now and then I get a little bit terrified.' She told herself to shut up, stretched, winced as her muscles and bones complained again and edged towards the side of the bed. She had taken a beating yesterday. Even if Rick was yet to notice the bruises it would only be a matter of time until he did. They had to talk. She had things she had to tell him. And there were things he obviously was going to ask eventually; there was very little Rick missed. Not just the bruises either. But that aspect of raining on their weekend was hard to reconcile with the one that just wanted to drape all over him, to get as close as she possibly could, the part of her that ached a little with the absence of him. Her clothes were strewn on the floor. They had been saturated when she had shown up here. She didn't relish the thought of putting them back on. She went to Rick's dresser and opened up the second drawer down. She found t-shirts, so put one on and checked to make sure it suitably covered enough of her. Then she headed for the door.

1

Rick shuffled through the silent loft, smiling to himself, thinking about Kate naked in his bed, grateful both his mother and daughter had decided to bug out for the evening. Things with Kate might have gone very differently if they had not been alone and, well, he was entirely happy with how last night had actually gone. Of course, the look in her eye this morning had him pausing for thought and then, actually, now that he thought about it, there was a lot they had to discuss. Things had changed with them and she had said she was sorry, said that she wanted him, said quite a few other things while they were in the middle of it... But there was more to it. Rick really needed to know where he stood. He had made a point yesterday by not following her and she had said she almost died. His heart took an awkward stumble. She had almost died. He really needed to know that story. Because she wasn't dead. So something must have happened. And the guy got away. So where did that leave them with the investigation now?

Rick went to the coffee maker. This was a little... manipulative, maybe, but he was going to wait for Kate to take the lead on this one. Honestly, she kind of owed him and really, he didn't want to always be the one to push an issue, to force them to be communicating. He knew Kate had things going on. She had admitted she was seeing a counsellor but still, there was giving someone a bit of leeway and then there was being a doormat. And Rick had been a doormat for women far too often. And if she didn't volunteer the information... Well then it didn't bode well.

When Rick turned to the fridge he saw Kate heading towards him in his superman t-shirt, which was of course far too big for her, but holy kryptonite he almost dropped the milk in his hand. He stared, jaw dropped open; god she was so sexy. She gave him a confident smile, strutted right up to him in bare feet (wow he forgot how short she really was compared to him when she wasn't wearing several inches of shoes), reached up on tip toes and planted a kiss right on his open mouth. "How's that coffee coming along?"

"Uh," Rick tried. Thoughts started to filter back in. Coffee. Milk. Hands. Kate. Legs. She stepped back and perched against the edge of the bench in front of the sink. Kate approached again, an amused expression on her beautiful face. She pushed him gently aside and opened the fridge.

"You get caffeine and I'll think about breakfast," she instructed.

Rick put the milk on the bench and was at her back immediately. He pressed kisses against the side of her neck and she shivered beneath him, turning, letting the fridge door ease closed behind her. Rick sought out her mouth, putting his arms around her and she did the same; he went for her waist, she his neck. She reached up and he lifted her easily (she really was rather small), backing her into the fridge, sliding his hands up the back of her thighs. He pulled away from her mouth, closing his eyes and groaning, "Oh god you're not wearing underwear."

"My clothes are kind of dirty," Kate breathed against his chin.

When Rick opened his eyes again she was looking up at him, her hazel eyes gone dark and intense. So sexy. He groaned again. "If I was younger I'd do you right here against the appliances."

Kate gave a laugh and dropped her legs. Rick had to let her go. "Then you can owe me one," she told him, pushing her hands against his chest, making him step backwards. Rick went back to the coffee. Kate obviously raided the fridge. She helped herself to a couple of skillets and fired up the gas. By the time Rick placed a steaming cup next to her she had bacon frying, bread toasting and eggs about to enter a hot pan. She was already entirely too comfortable in his kitchen and he totally loved it. He loved it.

She was here. She was really here. Standing in his kitchen making him breakfast in nothing but his now favourite superman t-shirt. They sat at the breakfast bar and drank coffee and ate their breakfast. Rick asked her if she had to go into the precinct and she shook her head 'no' while she sipped her coffee. She took his hand then and didn't let it go, feeding herself left-handed, like she had done it a million times before.

Oh god it felt amazing that she was there.

1

"I need a shower," Kate told him.

He raised an eyebrow slightly, "I have a bath."

"Sold."

He hoped she would. "Leave the dishes," he said as she hopped from the bar stool to her feet again. "You cooked," he added by way of explanation.

Kate gave him a smile and reached up to kiss him quickly. "I like that rule." She moved away again.

"There are towels," he called after her.

"I'll find them," she shot over her shoulder.

Rick watched her go, watched her walk all the way across the room back to his study and then disappear around the door before he stacked their plates and took them to the sink. That was when he heard keys in the door. His heart thundered suddenly from the surprise and his eyes darted to the study door. It was still empty as Alexis came in the front. She gave him a smile, appraised what he was wearing and teased, "Hey Dad, did you just get up?"

Castle gave her a smarmy smirk as she crossed closer to the kitchen and wondered what the time was. He could have easily slept on if it weren't for Kate. Mmm, Kate. "What are you doing back?"

"A bunch of us are going to have one last slumber party so I came to repack different clothes," she reached the breakfast bar and leaned on it. "Then I'm going to head out again until tomorrow." Her eyes darted down to two plates, two sets of cutlery, two coffee cups. She looked back up at him. "Uh. Were you not alone this morning?" She gave him a mildly confused expression, mostly disbelieving, certainly teasing.

Rick's eyes once again went to the study door. Still empty. Phew. "Actually no," he focussed on his daughter again. Her blue eyes went a little wider, expectant. "Kate stayed over."

Alexis' mouth actually dropped open. "What do you mean stayed over? Stayed over, stayed over? Or slept on the couch stayed over?" She looked to the mentioned furniture but of course there wasn't a bed there, or Kate for that matter, and so Alexis looked back up at Rick and she knew.

"She stayed over, stayed over," Rick said anyway.

"Wow Dad," Alexis started.

"Should I have warned you before you got here?" He gave a little wince. "I was never sure how much you wanted..."

"I don't want to know," Alexis raised a hand to stop him. "The gory details," she added. "But I mean, I definitely want to know this. Is Kate still here?" She lowered her voice.

"Yes," Rick stage whispered. "She's having a bath."

"Ok," Alexis kept her tone one notch above a whisper. "And so you guys are...? Together now?"

"I think so," Rick continued to whisper.

"You think so?"

"Well it just kind of happened last night," Rick told her in a normal tone. "So we haven't had the 'talk' about what it all means yet but..."

"But you guys are totally together," Alexis finished and she was back to that mild processing disbelief. "Wow." She looked up at him again and managed a smile. "That's great."

"I know you're not thrilled," Rick tried.

"I never said I'm not thrilled," Alexis was offended. "I like Kate just fine."

Rick frowned. "You said..."

"What I objected to was you putting yourself in danger and getting yourself killed," she lowered her voice again.

"Right," Rick agreed. "But that's all over now."

"Really?" More surprise.

"Yeah," Rick nodded. "I promise. It's over."

Alexis studied him for a moment but he didn't elaborate and she didn't push. Perhaps she knew he couldn't or wouldn't explain. Perhaps she was just wary of the answer. "I told Kate I'm not getting involved in her mother's case anymore," Rick added. He wanted her to know, to understand, the gravity. "It's too dangerous now."

"It was dangerous back then."

"I know," Rick cut her off. "I know."

Alexis gave a slight nod. "Well then," her face broke into a smile. "This is great Dad. I'm happy for you."

Rick beamed. "Yeah?"

"Yeah. Kate is totally good for you."

"I'd like to think maybe I'm good for her too."

"Don't count on it," Alexis told him with a good-natured eye roll. "I have to get going. My ride is waiting for me downstairs."

Rick leaned forward so she could place a quick kiss on his cheek. Then she started to walk away. "Have a good time pumpkin."

"Thanks Dad. I'll let myself out," she gave him a knowing smirk as she turned away. Then she spun back quickly at the foot of the stairs. "Oh so how soon until I get a new step-Mommy?"

Rick attempted to toss a towel at her but she was far too far away. The towel hit the dining table and Alexis scampered completely unscathed up the stairs to her room. Married again. Uh... Thanks for that Alexis. Rick stacked the dishwasher and cleaned down the bench while he waited for Alexis to leave again. She rushed past about five minutes later, on the phone, giving him a frantic wave from the door and she disappeared through it again. Then he went to find Kate.

1

"It was dangerous back then."

Kate stepped back from the shadow of the study door. Alexis was right. It had been dangerous back then, a year ago, when Kate had been shot, and it was dangerous as of yesterday, when Kate had almost fallen to her death. She was the one being targeted and yet she and Alexis both had a real fear that somehow that bullet at Montgomery's funeral could have struck Rick, that Rick could have been the one hanging from a building, dangling over his death. As Kate retreated to his en suite bathroom, a sickening dread pooled in her stomach. Yes, Alexis was right, it had been dangerous, too dangerous, and yes it was Kate that had put him in that position, but she was also the one to stop it now and she had every intention of doing that. All of it. It was over. She wouldn't be there if it wasn't. She couldn't do that to him.

Something else unsettled Kate though. The way Alexis had reacted. Not bouncing out of her skin with happiness... No, she was almost weary. Realistically, Kate hadn't expected a welcoming committee. Life was more complicated than that. But maybe even a little indication that Alexis was pleased that Kate was now with her father? That would have been nice. Reassuring. She wasn't stupid enough to think that she could just have Rick to herself; he came as a package, even if Alexis was headed for college. So it did matter what Alexis thought. Would that make Rick re-think things?

Kate reached over the bath to put in the plug, her ribs protested. She found something like expensive bubble bath and turned the taps, adding some of the product to the water. As Kate straightened up again she winced. Wow her ribs were really starting to kill. She put the product on the vanity and lifted the superman shirt to take a look. Mottled reds and purples in big sweeping patterns around her ribs, down her spin, a boot shaped bruise on her hip. Oh wow. She shouldn't be surprised. The gasp behind her had her turning pretty quickly, the shirt falling back into place.

Rick stood in the doorway watching her, his face shocked, his mouth aghast. "Kate," he struggled out and crossed to her, reaching out with his hands for her hips. Kate grabbed his wrists to stop him from touching, from looking. "What happened? What happened to you?"

"I told you... I... got hurt."

"You said you almost died. Is this it? Someone did this to you?"

The shock and hurt and anger in his eyes was painful to see. "The guy," Kate started. "The guy who got away." And she told him about the hotel room and following the lead with Esposito. How their suspect got the drop on the both of them and she'd chased him up to the roof. They fought. He basically handed her ass to her like it was nothing. She'd been tossed to the edge of the roof. She had clung on for dear life. How she thought about letting go. How she thought she'd heard him calling to her, how she had held on for him.

Kate reached up to cradle Rick's stricken face. "But I'm ok. I'm still here. Ryan was there and he saved me. I wanted it to be you but I understood then that you couldn't do it anymore. See me get hurt and kill myself over this. I... I knew I had to stop. I didn't want to lose you," she pressed a kiss against his mouth. "I got it then Rick. I get it."

He kissed her in return, reverently at first, like she was breakable but then he gained a desperate edge and forced her back into the edge of the vanity. He took her right there at the sink and once again she found herself clinging on tightly for him.