This is for BlueOrchid96, who wanted to hear me say "salacious". Happy birthday, CB, my dear friend.

As for Polly_Lynn whose words of advice were something along the lines of "When in doubt, always add more salaciousness," I hope this lives up to whatever amount of salaciousness she had in mind.

There are no words for the maelstrom of emotions between them.

It's on days like these he is most aware of it, when she isn't on call and the hours are a blank stretch of time for them to use as they please.

Something, a twitch of her fingers, a spark in her eyes that only he can decipher, lets him know that they will spend Kate's time off locked inside her apartment or his, under the sheets or a scalding stream of water, over some blankets, a desk or a kitchen cabinet – the geography of their lovemaking doesn't really signify as long as they are together, a mess of quivering flesh joined at the hips around a tumble of limbs.

The air between them is thick, laden with promises and electricity when they reach Kate's front door tonight. Castle watches her while she fumbles with her key, cannot help but wonder how much blame should be placed on a surfeit of coffee and the long hours solving a case to explain away her clumsiness, while he hopes she is simply too wired up to have full command of her fine motor skills.

"Let me help," he says, his voice gravelly and several tones lower than normal already, as he catches her smaller hand in his, steadies and guides it towards the keyhole.

Kate whimpers at the simple contact of his palm around her fingers and Castle feels her whole body tremble against his. He smiles, proud and thrilled and more than a little amazed that, even after all this time, she is so overwhelmed by his touch, that she lets him be the one to make her feel like this.

Castle moves his hand to the small of her back when the door finally clicks open, ushers her inside her own apartment, drives the bolts home and shrugs off his jacket.

"You're shivering," he teases her when he finds her standing transfixed in the hallway, "Let me get you a blanket."

"Not cold," Kate groans, her eyes finding his across the hallway, dark as flint and now fully focused on him, looking hungry and maybe a tad angry too that he dared making fun of her aroused state. "Need less clothes, not more. But if you'd rather I keep my clothes on…" she adds, the little minx, shrugging her shoulders like this is a matter of small importance to her.

Castle's on her in the blinking of an eye, cups both her elbows in his hands, cannot stand to let her get away with this, even if it's a joke, as he full well knows.

"No, none of that. Your comfort is my priority in life," he quips with an exaggerated waggle of his eyebrows and the most salacious smirk he can muster.

"That's a fallacious statement if ever I heard one," she answers, brushing his hands away and drawing out the word fallacious far too long for someone who has no evil designs in mind, her eyes sparkling in the candent evening light filtering through the windows.

With an audible groan, Castle launches towards her, his hands aiming for her hips in a desperate attempt at closing the distance between them, but Kate steps aside at the last moment and what the- because his ninja of a girlfriend has mad anticipation skills and instead of her soft, pliant body, he gets to hug the hard, unforgiving wall.

A stream of pure, crystalline laughter cascades from Kate's lips, fills the air between them in a flow of unadulterated joy and although he shoots her a less than impressed look for good measure, they both know he doesn't mean it, and Castle delights in the knowledge that she lets herself be this free, this happy. There's a lightness to her being now that there never used to be, and in her contagious laughter, in the way she toes off her shoes, slips off her coat, he can see her leaving behind the metaphorical weight of her life.

"Uh-huh," Castle interrupts her next movement, regaining some control over the situation as he catches her wrist to keep her from unbuttoning her shirt. "After the stunt you've just pulled, least you can do is letting me undress you."

"You think so, Castle?"

"I know so." He brushes her hands out of the way, lets his upturned lips slide down the smooth column of her throat while his fingers latch onto the tiny buttons – the too tiny buttons that his trembling digits can't flick free of her shirt's buttonholes nearly fast enough.

"You having trouble, Castle?" she asks, breathing the question in his neck, right on that spot behind his earlobe where the flesh is so sensitive that he can't stop the goosebumps that erupt on his flesh, the tremors that shake his body violently enough to stall whatever little progress he was making on her clothes.

He shoots her a glance but is stopped in his tracks when his eyes meet the open desire in her gold-speckled brown ones – a combination of lust and want and need and something else too that is so arrestingly powerful that he can't help her name from spilling free from his lips, unchecked and uncontrolled - Kate, Kate, Kate, Kate – as if chanting her name in incantation might somehow make up for the inadequacy of his words, for the fact that the strength of his love won't translate.

Castle isn't truly aware how they ended up here, but when he breaks from her hypnotizing stare, they are standing in her living-room, the back of her legs leaning against the couch where it seems he pushed her, looking so damn gorgeous and perfect and wanting and there's nothing, nothing in the world he would refuse this woman.

A crackle in the air.

A whispered sound of need.

Suddenly he is kissing her, his mouth finding the softness of her lips, the curve of her smile while she cards her fingers through his hair, her tongue doing delicious things of her own against him, making demands he is too happy to grant.

He cups his palm against the back of her head, angling her just so, while he pulls her lower body to his hips, swallowing the high-pitched moan that tumbles out of the dark, moist cavern of her mouth at the sinful move, and he knows – because he gets to know these things now – that for all her teasing, her earlier swagger and faux bravado, she is as far gone as he is.

This knowledge triggers the animal side of his brain awake, or maybe it's the subtle rhythmic jolt of her hips against his that does it – mmm, Kate, so good - but his body is aching now, aching, and he needs to loosen up his pants, relieve the pressure –

Oh who is he kidding? He needs her out of her clothes now, needs the agonizing friction of sizzling flesh against flesh, the tight grip of her walls around him, the breathless hitch of her whimpers as she –

With a groan that reverberates in the textured thickness around them, Castle breaks the kiss, pulls Kate from him to take her in.

She is gorgeous, standing there in front of him, all disheveled hair and hazy eyes, a siren song of breathtaking beauty reducing him to a state of near speechlessness because as much as he finds himself equal to writing Nikki, words are imperfect when it comes to Kate Beckett, weak and lacking substance; she transcends language.

When the lure of her body finally gets the better of him, Castle tears himself from his contemplation and makes quick work of her shirt and pants, his dexterity seemingly restored as he unhooks her bra – her purple lace bra, one of his favorites – while her deft fingers find their way into his button-up, slip it from his shoulders before latching onto his belt buckle, expertly snaking it from the loops in one swift, dirty swoosh.

She lifts her head to him and brings the curve of her mouth to his lips, sliding her tongue along against his while her hands cradle his jaw with such tenderness that Castle's heart splits at the sides as a new rush of heat unfurls in his chest, radiates from the inside out and threatens to swallow him whole. He wants her, needs her with such an intensity he might just go up in flames.

Castle bands his arms around Kate's slim waist, holding her close as he steps forward to dip her onto the couch, forgetting his pants pooled around his ankles as he trips and falls with her, landing inelegantly on top of her.

"Castle!" She growls a little breathlessly, taken by surprise by the weight of him sprawled on her. "Get off me," she adds with a poor excuse of a scowl that doesn't even reach her eyes.

"You don't mean that," he counters, shifting all the same to avoid crushing her.

"I do, I – ah –" she cries out at the feeling of his hips rocking against her, pushing into the couch cushions, of his crotch grinding against her relentless heat. It shuts her up, keeps her from uttering blatant lies, drives her closer to where he wants to take her. It might also be sending all his blood coursing south and his vision tunnelling white.

"No worries. I'll get you off all right," he manages between pants.

"Smug doesn't suit you, Your Arrogance, it – mmph – "

The brand of a bruising kiss cuts her off. And she's lying again by the way. Smug does suit him and she likes that look on him. Sort of.

His tongue explores the shape of her mouth, the tantalizing contours of her palate as she paints their desire with delicious strokes of her own, teasing, licking and nipping her message on his lips in shades of pure excandescence.

When they come up for air, Castle is mesmerized by the sight that meets his eyes, by this stunning woman who holds his heart in the palm of her hand, lying naked under him, transfigured by passion, her breath skittering across his face, eyes smoldering with the heat they create between them.

He runs his hands through her luscious hair, winds his fingers around the curls bathing in the glowing light permeating the air.

Holding her gaze in adoration, Castle watches as she opens her mouth as if to speak, like she wants to tell him something, something important that demands to be let out, but somehow seems to be stuck in the depth of her pupils.


He loves her so very much, and she is a work of art. Her body, her heart, her soul.

As they allow the peaceful atmosphere to envelop them in its cocoon, Castle leans in to scatter tiny kisses along Kate's jaw and down the smooth column of her throat, trails the pads of his fingers after his mouth to read the hidden message carved in her skin in Braille. They reverently sweep along the path of her collarbone and Kate lets out a stray moan when his hands find their way to the voluptuous curves of her chest heaving in time to the fast cadence of her heart.

He gently grazes the underside of her breast, cups the soft mounds in his palms, brushing the erect nipples with his thumbs. The fleeting caress elicits a strangled groan from Kate's throat – one that shoots arrows of delicious desire straight to his midsection and oh – he might not last very long if she keeps letting out sounds of such erotic, melodic pleasure to mess with his sanity.

Kate's head falls back limply from her shoulders, leaving her neck exposed, the new curve of her back pushing her tender flesh towards him in silent invitation. He circles her left nipple, pinches it sharply between his thumb and forefinger while his mouth feasts on her right breast, using a little tooth against the raised tip before soothing the slight twinge of pain with his tongue.

As he repeats the maneuver, his mouth alternating its devotions between each areola, Castle feels the tension coiling in Kate's flushed body, her muscles rippling under his touch.

"Castle, I – " She stammers, breathless, on the edge of an orgasm or a revelation or possibly both.

Stop teasing me, her eyes seem to implore, but he shakes his head, ruthless in his determination to drive her crazy with lust, denies her immediate gratification and holds her pinned beneath him, his thighs bracketing her hips, a parenthesis in time and space.

Castle doesn't falter. The hot, molten lava coursing through his veins drives him from her upper body down to the flat plane of her stomach. Kate's nails, which were lodged into his back, drift up to his shoulder blades, leaving parallel trails of scorching heat along the way before finding cover in the tangle of his hair.

Ever so slowly, Castle's body slides down Kate's graceful figure. His hands skate down the sensitive skin below her belly-button, follow the inexorable path to the intimate flesh pulsing between her legs while he worships at her inner-thighs, trickling tiny kisses onto her soft skin.

Through the fog of their mutual longing, the mewling sounds she cannot keep inside add to the pressure inside his boxers and he skims his fingers down to her folds, nudges her entrance. She is on fire, hot, wet and ready.

"Love, love…" She gasps breathlessly, the words coming out broken and unfinished but free and unfettered, like she is letting them out into the sun after a long wintery period of confinement, and yes, yes, love, because that's exactly what this is about, Kate.

The word irradiates his body, turns him inside out, sips into his bones and at last, at last he pushes a finger inside her, and then a second when he feels her inner walls closing around him, gripping him like she wants him to stay forever (and he will), her whole body a desperate plea of its own.

Slipping his arm under her left knee, Castle pushes her leg up and drapes it on his back, her heel digging into his shoulder blade. The change of angle causes her to shiver irrepressibly and when he removes his drenched digits from her folds, she cries out her frustration around a single syllable.

"- you!"

Heedful of her supplication, Castle leans into the vee of her legs and drinks her in, applies pressure against her bundle of nerves with his tongue, his hands holding her tight as her body arches like a strung bow. She is close, so close and she is always beautiful to him, but in this ethereal moment, as Kate teeters over the edge of infinite pleasure, he thinks sublime doesn't even begin to define her.

Overwhelmed by her essence, Castle groans against her, a dark, deep rumble that communicates to her core in waves of ecstasy and she unravels, unravels with the shape of an I love you whispered against her skin.

A/N: You've all been spared reading the words sleight and tessitura by my wonderful beta. Thank you, L, for editing and encouraging me along the way.

Found the message yet? If not, read Kate's words again, her last three bits of dialogue, one straight after the other. ;)