From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
-Traditional Scottish Prayer
Two weeks passed and it happened again.
Castle was alone for the evening, his mother on a date with her newest beau, his daughter studying in her dorm for a chemistry exam, his muse out for a girls' night with her best friend.
He sat up, bleary-eyed from too many hours spent typing furiously away at the no longer blank document on his laptop. But he was done with Nikki for now. He had set the scene, conveniently written her into an impossible situation, and all that remained was for Rook to ride in and save the day.
Well, for Rook to ride in and *attempt* to save the day, resulting in the dynamic duo being in more danger than ever and forcing the indomitable Detective Heat to save both their asses.
The writer pushed away from his desk, leaning back and rolling his head from side to side, lifting one hand to press hard against the tight muscle that ached so much. He missed her and the way she always managed to find just that spot with her strong, agile fingers.
His phone lit up with a text just then. "Be there in a few. Hope you're still awake."
He grinned, knew he probably looked a little dopey as his thumbs flew over the screen in response. "Can't wait." He refrained from ending the message with a smiley face, knowing she'd tease him mercilessly if he did.
When he looked up from his phone, he saw it. A bump under the rug. A large bump.
No one had believed him the first time. Kate had rolled her eyes and shrugged him off. Alexis had patted him on the shoulder and said he must have been imagining it after staring at his computer screen for so long. And Martha had glanced at the other two and mimed tipping a bottle.
Castle had finally figured his daughter was right. He'd imagined the whole thing.
He must have.
He stood slowly, quietly, and tiptoed across the floor toward the spot. Carefully, he stuck his foot out and nudged the bump. It seemed solid enough beneath the shaggy, cream-colored rug.
Keeping his eyes on the spot, he moved quickly toward the corner where he kept the fencing foils, blindly reaching back to remove one from the set.
He was just about to use the foil to lift the edge of the rug when he heard a knock on the front door. Pivoting on the spot, he looked through the open shelves toward the sound, glanced back down at the floor at the mysterious bump, and then back toward the door. He wished he'd just given Kate a key already.
But alas, he knew she'd likely balk at it, dubbing it too soon. So he hadn't.
"Be right there," he called out.
He looked over his shoulder once more as he walked out of his office. The bump was still there.
Opening the door, he greeted the detective with a wide smile, his lips parting of their own accord as she pushed up to press a lingering kiss to his mouth, her fingers curling around his bicep.
"Hi," she murmured, her eyes opening bright and happy as he heard the click of her heels dropping back to the floor.
"Hi," he whispered back, still a little dumbstruck by the ease of being with her like this. He hoped it never became mundane.
"How was your—" she began and then switched gears rapidly, her voice rising an octave. "Castle?"
His eyebrows furrowed. "What?"
"Why are you holding a sword?"
Glancing down at his hand, he waved it around casually, and Beckett stepped back slightly, out of the path of the flashing silver. He frowned apologetically, and she rolled her eyes.
"It's a fencing foil, actually," he pointed out.
She let out a little huff of breath as if to say, I know that, you idiot, but still looked at him expectantly.
"Oh, I..." he trailed off. "Well, come with me."
Obediently, she followed as he turned and strode away, the staccato of her footsteps ringing through the loft as they made their way back into his office.
But it was gone.
"What?" she asked when he had been standing in the middle of the room for a long moment, silently regarding the spot where he could have sworn he'd seen it.
"There was a bump," he said. "Under the rug."
A single arched eyebrow greeted him when he turned to look at her, her expression amused, and a bit incredulous.
"You know what?" he muttered. "Nevermind."
He slid the foil back into the repurposed umbrella stand that held the rest of the collection and swiveled back to find his detective with her shirt already half unbuttoned, her eyes dark and inviting on his.
The creepy mystery could wait.
The next two weeks were unexpected, to say the least.
It had started the following night. At midnight. Of course.
He had just checked to make sure the front door was locked when he heard an unearthly voice.
It wasn't loud, more like a whisper really, but he startled all the same, turning his body as he jumped, a shiver shooting up his spine. But he was alone in the loft. Completely alone.
He waited for a moment, but there was no other sound.
Shrugging it off as his overactive imagination again, he went to bed.
The next morning, he overslept.
Beckett and the boys teased him when he finally showed up just before noon, coffees in hand and what he hoped was an apologetic expression on his face.
"Alarm didn't go off," he explained, handing over one cup to his favorite detective. "It was set, but it didn't go off."
Esposito just shook his head, Ryan looked a little sympathetic, and Beckett smirked as the boys wandered off. "Yeah, right. You'll take any excuse to get more beauty sleep."
His lips curled upward and he leaned in, relishing the fact that her breathing changed and her cheeks turned pink as he invaded her space. "Why, Detective, don't you think I'm pretty already?"
Four days later, just as he was drifting into a peaceful sleep, Kate curled in his arms, he heard a door slam. Upstairs. He hadn't heard the front door open, and his mother was out of the apartment again.
"Be right back," he whispered as he pressed his lips to the detective's forehead and slipped out from beneath her body.
He grabbed a flashlight and padded quietly across the room and into the entry way. It was still dark, just as he'd left it. As he passed the kitchen, he snagged the heavy frying pan that still sat empty on the stove after their dinner, figuring it would make as good a weapon as any. And then he climbed the stairs, as silently as possible.
He had just finished checking all the rooms when he heard footsteps behind him and swung around, barely missing Kate with the pan.
"Castle?" she yelped, pressing a hand over her heart.
He lowered the pan and walked toward her, smoothing his palm down the arm bared by the thin tee she wore as a nightshirt.
"I heard a door slam," he explained. "But there's no one here."
"Must have been the wind," she postulated, stepping into his warmth and pressing her cheek to his chest.
"Maybe so," he answered. But he'd just checked, and all of the windows were shut.
Over the course of the next several days, objects mysteriously moved while he wasn't looking, doors creaked ominously, and he could have sworn he heard Alexis laughing in her room though she was nowhere to be found.
He was beginning to get freaked out.
And then on Tuesday, he left the apartment as his usual time, and walked briskly toward the elevator. He waited only a moment before the car arrived and he stepped in, hitting the button for the lobby.
Just as the doors closed, he caught a glimpse of a hulking black dog with red eyes.
He saw the same dog right before he walked into his favorite café, nearly bumping into an old man holding a box of pastries and a tray of coffees.
"Watch where you're going, why dontcha?" the man growled, and Castle hastily apologized.
The dog appeared again near some bushes while he and Kate were walking in the park at lunch time. The detective saw nothing.
That evening, as he was sitting on the bed rubbing the day's tension from her shoulders, something caught his eye and he looked up from his task and out the window. The dog with its glowing red eyes was watching him from the window of an apartment in the building across from his.
His hands stilled, and Kate lifted her head just enough to give him a sleepy smile. "Mmm. Don't stop."
"Beckett," he said slowly. "Look out the window."
Her head snapped up then, and she looked. "What am I looking at?"
"That...that dog," he said.
He raised his hand to point. "That dog right there. The giant black dog with the red eyes."
She looked again, but then glanced back at him, her eyebrows knitted. "Castle, there's no dog."
He turned his eyes from her face to stare out the window again. No dog.
Leaning back against his chest, she sighed and settled into his grasp.
"I think you're working too hard," she said quietly.
He brought one hand up to his face and pressed his fingers against his forehead. "Maybe you're right."
It was well past midnight and he'd only been awake for a few minutes, but he could tell that Kate was nearly awake too, her breathing light.
If he'd been working too hard, then maybe he should try playing a little harder. Besides, she was off work the next day.
He leveraged himself up on one elbow, skimming his fingers lightly over her shoulder toward the ridge of her collarbone and the soft skin that stretched tight over it. She sighed, but she wasn't quite awake yet.
Carefully, he lifted the blanket away from her body and watched in wonder as she instinctively moved closer to him.
He dropped his head to replace his fingers with his mouth, tasting the remnants of sweat and crime-solving on her skin, his palm smoothing down her side until he encountered bare thigh.
Inching upward, he fingered the edge of her nightshirt, pulling it up over her hip and revealing pale flesh broken only by a scrap of dark cotton that slid easily down her legs when he tugged on it.
"Mmm, Castle," she groaned, and he looked up at her, found her watching him with eyes luminous in the dim room.
"Hey," he husked, pressing one more kiss to the center of her chest, and she smiled, warm and sexy and adorably sleep-rumpled.
He pushed himself up until he could kneel between her legs, his fingers delving beneath the shirt she wore to remove it swiftly.
"So beautiful," he whispered, and even in the near darkness he could see the way she blushed at his words.
"Not so bad yourself," she teased, hooking a finger into the waistband of his boxers and pulling him back down until their chests pressed together, delicious friction and warmth sending both of their hearts pounding.
He kissed her then, slow and deep, taking his time with her until she was panting beneath him, her fingers clenching at his back muscles and her legs squeezing around his thighs, urging him closer.
And then he heard it.
A door slammed.
He lifted his head, his mouth popping wetly away from her neck.
He pushed himself off her as quickly as he could, his legs still tangled with hers.
"Castle, don't stop," she huffed, her fingers rising to curl around his ears and tug him back to her.
"I-" he began and then shook his head.
When he didn't answer, she lifted her hips against his, lowered a hand to let her nails rasp against his chest.
"I heard a door slam, and then a voice calling my name," he blurted out, even as she scraped her teeth against his Adam's apple. "I think my loft is haunted."
"No, it's not," she assured him, hooking a lithe calf behind his knee and forcing their lower bodies together.
"Really, Kate," he tried to tell her, but she was touching him in all the right places and he was starting to shiver for reasons other than fear.
"It's not," she said, and she pressed against his shoulder, flipped him neatly onto his back so she could hover over him.
"But..." he tried again, his voice trailing off when she plastered the length of her body to his and he felt her hot breath washing over his ear.
"It's on a timer. I just didn't count on being in the middle of...something when it started tonight."
He got both hands at her ribs, lifted her torso away from him so he could see her face, her hooded eyes. "Wait. It...it was you?"
She laughed, a throaty, dripping-with-sex, absolutely sensuous sound that made his spine tingle. "The doors, the voices, the dog. You're not the only one who knows people, Castle."
He gaped up at her, his mouth open in shock.
She grinned, pure happiness and a devious kind of pride flashing through the lust in her eyes.
"Kate Beckett," he declared. "I have never been more in love with you."
"Yeah?" she said with a smirk. "Prove it."
He sighed and felt her smile against his chest. A little help from Martha and Alexis, some expertise shared by their friend, the magician Tobias Strange, and a favor owed to her by a couple officers from the K-9 unit—she had explained everything.
"How *did* you manage that bump under the rug in my office?"
She sat up. "Uh, Castle?"
"Hmm?" he murmured lazily, contentedly, his hand trailing softly up and down her bare side.
She captured his fingers in a tight grip, and he opened his eyes to take in the spooked expression on her face.
"I thought you were joking about that," she said quietly.
He shook his head. "No."
And then she went pale. "Castle, that wasn't me."