AN: Set some time after 'Cuffed' in season 4.

She wakes to the soft patter of rain against the windowpane and the even softer touch of fingertips on her nipple.

His fingertips.

Her whole body tenses, muscles frozen in shock. The fingers circle her through the fabric of her t-shirt, so tender, teasing over her already puckered flesh, her body disobeying the hapless command of her brain.

The rain has lessened, she thinks inanely, clinging to the random scraps of reality that she can process as they zip and crisscross through her brain. Much less than the downpour that stranded them here, on the side of some highway in the middle of New Jersey. The whole evening a string of clichés that even she wouldn't believe, were it not herself that is lying in this very bed, being fondled by Castle, draped over her back. While he is sound asleep.

They were on their way home from an interview when the evening sky had blackened, then opened to a downpour that droned onto the roof of the car, gushing over the windshield too fast for the wipers to keep up; heavy wind swerved the car across the lanes of the road so she had to pull off at the next possible exit, and stopped at the roadside Holiday Inn that stood nestled between two gas stations and various fast food restaurants. And of course there was only one more vacancy, and of course the room only had one King bed. They'd laughed it off; they are grown-ups, right? They could handle the proximity. So they'd sat against the headboard munching on burgers and fries, and played cards with the deck that they'd found in the drawer of the nightstand, and when she could no longer suppress her yawns, and he told her to get some rest, she couldn't fathom having him trying to fold into the easy chair in the corner of the room, trying to sleep hunched over all night, and had offered him the other side of the bed.

She ignored the part of her brain that nagged that his comfort was not the predominant reason why she wanted him in her bed.

'Sure you can keep your hands to yourself?' He had teased with a grin, and she had whacked him with a pillow before she curled onto her side, her back to him, the blanket clutched tightly around her as she wished him a good night. She wiggled out of her skin-tight jeans underneath the comforter before she closed her eyes, tried to breathe through the lure of his proximity, the stutter of her heart at the tendrils of his scent wrapping around her, musk and man, so much him that she had to press her thighs tightly together, her teeth dug almost painfully into her lower lip.

His breathing had evened out pretty quickly and she had found comfort in the regular pattern, had listened until her eyelids fluttered closed, her muscles relaxing, her mind slowly sinking into the sweet oblivion of sleep.

It's the middle of the night and her eyes are widened in the darkness of the room, her body tense, poised for something she isn't sure she's ready for but yelling for release, jittery with the ache of pure want. She closes her eyes, tries to breathe, tries to think, figure out what to do yet she feels incapable of moving out of his grasp, too stunned by the feel of his body half draped over hers, one leg drawn up and hooked high over her hip, his hand cradled over the curve of her breast.

Were it anybody else, she would question the genuineness of his sleep, would infer ulterior motives but this is Castle, the man she trusts implicitly, the man who, if nothing else, has always been respectful.

The man who loves her.

The thought makes her breath hitch; the harsh movement of her chest seems to jolt him and his limbs tighten around her, holding her closer, his mouth nuzzled over the back of her neck, his breaths skittering warmly across her skin. His lips start moving; incomprehensible murmurs fall from his mouth over her spine and he must be dreaming, she thinks absurdly before all thoughts disintegrate into blissful nothingness when his fingers start dancing once more, swirl and tease over the hardened peak of her breast.

"Kate," he mumbles, a barely comprehensible sound over her skin yet she knows, knows it's her name he's calling, his voice so filled with yearning that it aches, in that place deep inside that she's gotten so good at ignoring, where she constantly, desperately hungers for his touch, for his lips and fingers on her skin, for his mouth and tongue and body to make love to hers. Her blood is liquid fire, spreading heat from her nipple to every part of her body, tingling up and down her spine, curling low in her abdomen and the sound that bursts from her throat is uncensored, a loud, frantic groan that echoes through the confined space.

She knows she woke him when his limbs clench around her, the stutter of shock in his chest as he comes to his senses. "Kate, oh my god, what… I'm-"

"No," she pleads, swiftly clamps her hand over his on top of her breast, decisively holds him in place, stopping his attempt to pull away, and the slew of his hasty words. "Don't-" Don't say it, she thinks, because the one thing she's sure she can't handle is if he says he's sorry, not when she isn't. Not when all she wants is more, more of his touch, tender, sweet, fast, hot, furious, when all she wants is his hungry exploration of every part of her body.

She can't breathe, can't think, his body so warm atop hers, broad and heavy, his hand over her breast where he must be able to feel the rapid thump of her exhilarated heart. Wetness gathers where she wants him most when she feels him nudged against her hip, heavy and aroused.

He's not moving, barely breathing, and then the words come, chopped apart by uncertainty. "Don't… stop?" He asks quietly, almost timid, the words laced with questions and the unspoken hopes and dreams that lie like a chasm between them. Her heart starts galloping at the choice that lies before her, at the scary, unexplored, alluring world that's opening its gates in front of her, luring her to just step forward, just take one more step.

For one infinitesimal second longer she lies motionless, frozen in this wondrous moment that delineates her past from her future. Her blood rushing loudly in her ears, her skin tingling from the top of her spine to the tip of her toes, her body poised and yearning. Accepting the inevitability of what is going to happen.

And then she guides his hand with hers, sliding underneath her t-shirt, up to the naked flesh of her breast, guides his fingertips to her hardened nipples, circling them in rhythm with his moans, suppressed by his mouth pressed over her neck.

"Don't stop."

"Kate, Kate, Kate," her name is like a prayer on his lips, so filled with want that it slices right into her middle, deep and sizzling; his words a heated murmur over her spine, along her shoulder as his mouth nuzzles wetly over the skin that peeks out from beneath her shirt. He kneads her breast, plays his thumb across her nipple, over and over, tweaks the swollen peak and she bows her back, needing more of his fiery touch and so she reaches for the bottom of her shirt, tries to just get it off, off, off; feel him skin to skin.

He helps, pulls her shirt over her head, quickly following with his own before he leans over her once more, his broad chest pressed tightly to her back, and his skin is soft, so very warm that her entire body flushes, tingles racing down her spine. His nimble fingers curve over her breasts, play her with such skill that she can barely breathe, can only gasp, her voice raspy with need. He kisses along her vertebrae, suckles on her skin and her hips raise off the mattress, undulate into his pelvis where he nudges against her, thick and aroused, leaving her center pulsating, rushing with hot wet desire.

Her fingers claw into the sheets around her, her voice muffled by the pillow that half her face is pressed into, but the yearning tone is unmistakable as she whimpers, a desperate wanton plea, and she doesn't care that she's begging, only cares that it is him who's touching her, finally it's Castle's hands instead of her own, Castle's touch that she's been yearning for for years, that's carrying her to the brink of blissful oblivion, further, higher than she thinks she's ever been.

"Touch me."

"God, yes," he growls, paints a fiery trail down her spine with his lips, the hot swirl of his tongue, his fingertips skating down her sides. "I won't stop." He reaches the small of her back, licks along the dip of her spine where her skin is so sensitive that her hips flare up instinctively and he curves his palms over her hipbones, stilling her, his fingertips teasing underneath the elastic of her panties. "Ever again." It's both hope and promise and then he slides off her underwear, leaving her naked and panting underneath him as he kisses up the length of her legs, licks along the curve of her butt cheek.

"You smell good," he growls, his breath skirting across her heated flesh. She shivers, goose bumps sprawling all over her skin and he crawls back over her, covers her body with the broadness of his.

His fingers slide purposefully over the side of her hip, the curve of her ass, dip between her spread thighs from behind and she opens wider, lifts her hips to welcome him, needs to feel him, and then he glides between her folds, finally, finally, a dark moan bursting from her throat, mingling with a desperate groan from his lips as he finds her swollen flesh, her body so wet and ready. He slips his thumb inside her, two fingers pressed to her clit, sandwiching the throbbing nerves, nudging his pelvis against hers with every stroke of his fingers and she jerks, her muscles clenching around him, sensations bursting through her insides like sparks of fireworks, bright and sizzling. He works her faster, his lips never idle as he nips and tastes the skin of her shoulder, licks the tender patch underneath her ear, sucks her earlobe into his mouth. Her skin feels fuzzy, her body no longer her own as her hips jitter, her pelvis rubbing against the mattress and the pressure of his fingers, the blood rushing in her ears and she needs more, fingers clawed around the sheets, more.

"Need you," she moans, needs more, so close to the brink, aches for him. She loosens her grip on the sheets, reaches behind her, finding him through the fabric of his boxers, palming the large, throbbing bulge. "Please."

He pulls his fingers away with a groan and she whimpers at the acute loss, feels it keenly as the yearning roars through her like thunder. There's a rustle of fabric as he hastily removes his last piece of clothing, and then he's surrounding her once more, his large body hovering above her, his weight held up by his bulging arm, his tip nudging her entrance.

There is a moment of absolute stillness, their bodies poised, their harsh breathing the only sound that reverberates through the room, and she feels as if her heart is going to leap out of her chest at any moment. She's infused with desire, the heated flush of want that curls in her middle, unfurls in her veins, her nerves throbbing with want for him and this is Castle, Castle that she's with, like this, finally they're like this, bodies naked, minds stripped of all defenses and it's more intense than she could ever have imagined and there's nothing that's more vital than feeling him inside of her, his body joined with hers.

She lifts her hips. He slides home.


She whimpers and Castle stills, seems to hold his breath as he gives her time to adjust to the intrusion but nothing, nothing has ever felt this good, this right and she clenches, flutters around him instinctually.

"Castle," she whispers his name, caresses the syllables with her voice, every part of her filled with him, yearning to find this elusive, wondrous fulfillment and he pulls out almost entirely, slides back in, grazing along all her nerve endings that lie heightened and open in this position. He repeats the move, her hips following the rhythm, his pelvis slamming back into her, faster now, deeper as she meets him stroke for stroke.

She can't help the tumble of groans from her lips, feels the answering sounds that rumble through his chest, his voice raw, desperate for her and she undulates her hips, circles into him, urging him to move, to give it to her harder, faster, to take from her what he's been yearning for, what they've both needed for so long because she's never, ever needed anybody like this, with such desperate intensity.

He strokes a hand up her back, curves his palm over her shoulder, his caress a tender contrast to the hard slam of his body into hers, the deep strokes that she welcomes, so intense, filled to the brim with him, her nerves on fire, her muscles tightening, and she slips a hand between her stomach and the mattress, slides her fingers over her slippery, swollen nerves, needing the counter pressure to the sharp, intense stimulation inside of her. Her fingertips dip lower and she feels where they're connected, feels the thin tender skin of him as he surges in and out of her body, her wetness coated over him and it almost sends her over the edge, right then and there.

He groans her name, his pelvis grinding into her hips, movements more jerky, sloppy as he brings her closer, closer, as her whole body jolts and clamps, the spread of fire scorching from her middle out into her limbs, zipping through her veins until the throb is uncontainable, her muscles fisting around him, milking him as she breaks apart, brightness flaring behind her closed eyelids, the burst of sensation exploding through her. His moans are loud in her ears, mingling with her own sounds as he follows her into oblivion, jerking within her as he comes apart, surrounding her with his broad body and her arm gives out; she collapses flat onto the mattress and he follows, draped over her back and ass, still inside of her.

He gasps for air, tries to move but she clamps her legs, holding him there, not ready to give him up to the harsh chill of the room. She tries to breathe, her muscles still shaky, the sweat slowly drying on her skin and Castle entwines his fingers with hers, rests them next to their heads.

She stares at their hands, laced together and then it hits her, she's slept with Castle. With Castle! Her heart starts racing, her fingers clenching around his and oh god, he loves her and she… she needs to heal, she needs to be better for him, not this shell of a woman and what if she's not good enough, not ready enough, what if she'll hurt him and-

He chuckles in her ear and she freezes. "Breathe," he murmurs, pressing soft kisses to the edge of her jaw. "Now's not the time to panic, Kate Beckett."

His voice is calm and warm, his reassurance embalming her like a warm cocoon, his body holding her close and so safe.

"I can't mess this up Castle," she admits quietly, her darkest worry churning in her stomach, the one that's held her back for months. "Not with you."

"You won't," he reassures her, and he sounds so sure, so convinced that suddenly, everything seems possible, the lure of happiness just within her reach. "One step at a time."

His warmth surrounds her, seeping not just from his body but from the strength of his heart and suddenly she feels safe, encircled, infused by his calm conviction, his unerring belief in her that calms the blurred worry of her mind.

She smiles longingly. "And what's the next step?"

"Mmmm…" He grazes his teeth over the skin of her shoulder, leaving her shivering with a fresh bout of need. "You could let me kiss you."

Her grin widens automatically, bliss and contentment finally winning over the silly fears of her heart. He slips out of her as she turns within his embrace, the loss stark so she hooks a leg over his hip when he enfolds her underneath him, brings their hips close together while she laces her arms around his neck, tugging his face close to hers.

She wets her lips, watches his eyes cloud over with desire as the tip of her tongue plays over the pink flesh. "Kiss me."

And he does.

Visit my Tumblr to see the image that inspired this scene: nic6879 dot tumblr dot com slash post slash 38131251304