Hi. Happy American Thanksgiving.
This has nothing to do with the holiday.
It's inspired by a poem.

Love arrives exactly when love is supposed to, and love leaves exactly when love must.
When love arrives say,
"Welcome, make yourself comfortable."

He wasn't expecting the knock at the door.

He paused the movie he was watching on his laptop under the guise of getting some writing done and stood up, stretching out his cramped back, rolling his head to the side. He flinched as his muscles twitched, bringing a hand up to his neck to try and rub out the soreness as he made his way out to the door.

He'd ordered Chinese earlier, but those leftovers were already tucked away in his fridge, waiting to be eaten tomorrow.

(Or later tonight if he actually started writing while he was alone.)

He sighed at the thought.

With Martha off for the night and Alexis back at school for the week, he was lonely. The loft, usually his sanctuary, seemed far too big without the two extra set of lungs that typically breathed in the space with him, exhaling gossip and laughter into the air with him.

And Kate was leaving for the week.

She was ordered by Gates to attend a "cop conference" in Philly on behalf of the Twelfth. Castle had told her that he would go with her, eager to see what a room full of homicide detectives from all over the city would uncover, but Gates shot him down. And Kate told him that he really wasn't missing much. She would have to sit through lectures on how your interactions with female police officers could be considered sexual harassment and demonstrations on less than lethal force and corroboration between precincts across state lines.

It was boring police things, she'd told him, not the "things Nikki has to deal with."

Still… he would have gone.

She had left an hour before, saying goodbye to him in the precinct parking garage earlier that day so she could come home and pack, leaving him with a slight hug and a brief hand squeeze before she got into her car and drove away.

He shook his head as he reached the door.

It was only a week.

He could survive a week without her.

He just… he missed the extra lungs in his loft.

He missed the extra heartbeats.

But when he opened the door, he swore his heartbeat stopped.

"Kate," he murmured, "What are you doing here?"

She shrugged, moving under his arm and into the loft. He closed the door behind her, flipping the lock with a resounding click. It was quiet for a moment, only the sound of both of their breathing filling the space as they stood across from each other before she sighed, staring at her hands.

"I just… Getting to Philly won't take that long at this time of night. And the conference doesn't start until 9," she looked up at him, "I figured I could leave a few hours later."

He closed the distance between her slowly, sliding down onto one knee in front of her and tugged on her ankle. She picked it up and he slid down the zipper on her boots slowly, looking up at her as he pulled them off and let them fall on the floor.

"I can't stay long," she whispered as he got both of her boots off.

He nodded.

"I know."

He stood up, his fingers deftly sliding down the zipper on her jacket before he pulled it from her body, her chest pressing against his with every breath she took.

He leaned down, the difference in height that he loves so much because her head fits perfectly right under his chin proving to be a slight disadvantage as he pressed a light kiss onto the skin of her cheek right below her eye. He could feel her eyelashes flutter against his upper lip as he skirted kisses along her skin, one of his hands moving to curl over her neck. She shivered when his fingers flirted over the spot on her neck just below her pulse point and he pulled away just enough to look down at her, eyes hooded and dark, their chests rising and falling in time against each other.

He couldn't tell the difference between their heartbeats anymore.

He heard her sigh just as he was teetering on the precarious edge between bliss and unconsciousness, but he forced his eyes open as he felt her extricate herself from his arms. He watched, his eyes adjusting to the darkness as she tiptoed around the room, obviously thinking he was still asleep. She found her underwear and quickly pulled them up over her legs, her jeans following shortly after, the shimmy of her hips entrancing him even in the darkness. She picked up her bra and clasped it silently behind her back, before she stood up, looking for her shirt. She found it where he had tossed it just beyond the bedroom door, sliding it over her shoulders as quietly as she could, buttoning it silently.

Watching her get dressed was just as mesmerizing as watching her get undressed.

She finally turned back to the bed, finding him awake and watching her and she gave him a sad smile.

"I have to go," she murmured.

"I wish you didn't."

She smiled at him again, moving to lean over him in his bed, one hand on the pillow beside his head, the other resting on his heart as she kissed him gently.

"I'll walk you out," he said after she pulled away from him, starting to pull the covers down but she stopped his hand with her own, shaking her head.

"No," she whispered, "Get some sleep."

She leaned down, pressing a soft kiss to his lips.

"I'll call you in the morning," she whispered.

She waited until he nodded, pressing another kiss to his mouth before standing up. She padded softly out of the room into the living room, leaving his bedroom door open behind her. He heard her zip her boots back on, shrug her coat on and check for her keys and her phone in her pockets before the front door opened, hesitating for just a moment before it clicked shut, the sound of the lock sliding into place with the key he had given her just for this purpose resonating through the once again empty loft.

But when he closed his eyes, in the silence on the loft just before he drifted off to sleep, he could hear her heartbeat.

If love leaves, ask her to leave the door open behind her.
Turn off the music, listen to the quiet. Whisper,
"Thank you, for stopping by."

The poem is Sarah Kay & Phil Kaye's "When Love Arrives." Look it up on youtube. It's amazing.

Again, Happy Thanksgiving. I hope all you American readers enjoy it surrounded by people you care about.
I'm thankful for all of you.