This is definitely season 1, right before "Always Buy Retail" (1x06) - didn't intend that to happen, but it did.

A/N: Thanks to everyone who reviewed, favorited, and followed this story! I had forgotten what a thrill it is to look in my inbox and see those there! The others probably won't be following as fast, I'm still working on watching season 4 and after that I'll probably start from the beginning all over again and work on this as well as another series I'm devising.

Richard Castle couldn't sleep.

He tossed and turned, tangling himself in his sheets. It was a pity that sheets with such an insanely high thread count couldn't come with a guarantee of easy sleep. First he was too hot. Then he was too cold. He poked one leg out from under the sheet, hoping it would magically provide the right body temperature, but all it gave him was one cold leg and one hot leg. He laid on his back. He rolled onto his side. Flipped onto the other side. Laid on his stomach. Buried his face in the pillow. Realized he couldn't breathe. Popped his head back up and stared at the wall grouchily. He didn't need to look at the clock to know that the first digit was 3.

Finally, as he often did on sleepless nights, he got out of bed. Softly padding down the hallway, he laid his hand on the doorknob and pushed it gently until the door creaked open. He stood there momentarily, frozen, until he was reassured it hadn't disturbed the sleeping figure of his daughter in her bed. He tiptoed over and stood beside her, watching her curled up on her side in slumber. He never got tired of watching his daughter sleep. Even now, she was such a miracle to him - the perfect combination of traits from him and her mother, all the right things, the good things. Alexis was a marvel.

As he stood there, he became aware of a shift in her breathing. A second later, a sleepy eye appeared. "Dad?" Alexis asked drowsily. "What are you doing? Is something wrong?"

He smiled. "Nothing's wrong, Alexis. I just wanted to check that you were okay. Father's prerogative." He leaned over and caressed her shoulder. "Go back to sleep," he said softly.

"Okay," she mumbled, and within seconds her breathing had resumed the deep, steady rhythm. He snuck out of the room and closed the door behind him, wincing again as the door squeaked. Something would have to be done about that.

He wandered into the kitchen, got a drink. Looked in the fridge for food but didn't see anything immediately appealing. Castle finished the water and set the glass down in the sink, checked the fridge again (what was the human instinct that caused people to check refrigerators to see if good food had magically appeared when they knew it hadn't, he wondered), and headed for the study.

A press of a button and the laptop's warm glow welcomed him. In the past, he had gone browsing on the fansites when he was feeling insomniac. Very rarely, he had found his way to the fanfiction sites, where the examples of Derrick Storm's adventures often caused him to shudder and then spend time typing out a chapter of an actual Derrick Storm adventure - an avenue that was now closed to him. Now, he was all about "Nikki Heat" and her real inspiration, Detective Kate Beckett.

On impulse, he typed Beckett's name into the web search. A page of links came up, most referring to articles about the solving of murders. One featured a picture of her, and he stared at it. She was photographed coming out of a courthouse, wearing a conservative suit with a skirt. The heels she favored made her long legs look even longer and the smile she gave the camera showed the confidence she possessed. This picture perfectly captured the outward Beckett that he had come to know - the one he suspected wasn't the real Beckett. No, he had caught glimpses of the real Kate Beckett, and she was a much different person from her outward "tough cop" demeanor.

The real Kate Beckett, Castle suspected, was softer. She would be the type to enjoy a glass of wine and a bubble bath, to wear old sweats after work, to curl up on the couch with a good book (possibly one with his name on the cover) rather than turning on the TV. She would be a delightful person to know - but he had the feeling that getting there would be a long process. It would take a lot for Kate Beckett to let anyone past her tough outer shell. He suspected he wasn't off to the best of starts, either - but at least it was a start.

He sat and stared at the picture for a few minutes, memorizing the curves of her face, the quirk of her mouth, the almost haughty self-possession in her eyes, in a way he could never manage in real life - she would never allow him to stare at her this long. Finally, with a sigh, he realized he had to attempt to go to sleep again. He reached his hand out to close the lid of the laptop, hesitated, and drew it back. His hand rested lightly on the wireless mouse before it positioned the cursor over the picture, clicked the right mouse button, and hit "Save Image As..."

That done, he stood up, closed the laptop, and walked back down the hallway. His mother was snoring again. If he mentioned it to her, she would protest that Martha Rodgers did NOT snore. The thought caused the side of his mouth to tug up into an almost-smile.

He slipped back into bed, his mind still stuck on Kate - no, Beckett. If he allowed himself to think of her as Kate, he was putting himself too close to her. Maintain distance. Right. He was just the annoying writer that was shadowing her until...until what? Until the book was finished? Until she got sick of him and kicked him out? Until something happened? It was a dangerous profession these people were in. He really should be careful about this; what if something happened to him? What would Alexis do? His mother would take care of her, but that was an idea that made him shudder. Maybe he should buy one of those bulletproof vests. Maybe he should ask Kate where he could get one.


He sighed as he turned onto his side, staring at his empty bed. That was the problem, right there - why he couldn't sleep. Richard Castle liked to think of himself as a fairly manly man, despite having only lived with females his entire life. But he was willing to admit, he wanted someone to snuggle up to at night. Someone whom he could pull into his arms. Pink lips that he could caress with his own, that would respond with equal fervor. Brown hair that spilled across the pillow...he groaned. This was not making it easier to sleep. How could he want this woman so bad when he barely knew her? When she would never allow him to get to know the real her?

Something would have to be done about his empty bed.

He just didn't have a clue what.