I cannot quite believe that I am here... 47 fics. My fellow Castillions, you know what a milestone this is! I've had this fic dancing in my head since I heard what Still was all about. Many thanks to the amazing Indrani, my medical consultant (who assured me that this fic contained the correct medical treatment) and Bec, for not being shy about putting the hard word on me when I needed it.

(Soundtrack suggestions include Glitter in the Air by Pink and The Guilty Ones from the Spring Awaking OBC)

Technically beta free guys, don't hurt me!

Disclaimer: After the episode order fiasco, do I WANT to own?

"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, it goes to his head. If you talk to a man in his language, it goes to his heart"-Nelson Mandela.

Kate leaned heavily into Castle's side, exhausted and sore. The adrenaline that had flooded her body when she stepped off the bomb without becoming pink mist had long since worn off; now she was just hungry, aching and weary. Those hours had aged her a thousand years and she just wanted to go home.

"You ready for this?" Castle's voice rumbled in her ear.

"I think so," Kate responded. Summoning up whatever energy she had left, she pushed herself to stand straight. She was walking into the bullpen on her own two feet, or she'd die trying.

The elevator dinged. Kate squared her shoulders and stepped outside. The round of applause that had begun as soon as the doors opened to the bullpen caught her completely off guard.

Castle couldn't take his eyes off her. He knew she was slightly overwhelmed, but she took it all in her stride. Somebody had managed to get a case of beer on ice and Kate carefully managed a Heineken in one hand as she accepted hugs and well-wishers with the other, an incredulous smile on her face.

"I'm glad you were with her, bro," Esposito murmured as he stepped next to Castle.

"Where else would I have been?" Castle asked, watching as Gates called Kate into her office to be debriefed.

"She's going to be in a world of hurt later," Espo said warningly. At Castle's questioning look, he shrugged. "Special Forces, bro. Not exactly known for drawing attention to ourselves."

"True," Castle agreed, mentally chiding himself for not making the connection quicker.

"I was trained to stay still for hours on end. She wasn't. Lactic acid is going to be a bitch."

Castle nodded intently to Esposito's advice, carefully committing it to memory.

Kate had finished her debrief with the NYPD appointed shrink, swearing blind she'd make an appointment with Dr Burke if she felt the least bit unsettled.

Moving over to her desk, she was again assaulted with a barrage of well-meaning co-workers. When Karpowski began asking her how they'd passed the time, she urgently caught Castle's eye, who gestured to both the boys to intercept Karpowski so Beckett could escape.

"You ready to leave?" He asked her quietly.

She nodded. "Born ready," she agreed.

They made their way towards the elevator, Gates throwing them a furtive wink as Castle hit the down button.

"So, she knows. Are you okay with that?" Castle mused as they stepped into the elevator.

"Right now, I don't really care," Kate mumbled, leaning her head on Castle's shoulder, trusting him to take her weight. "Means I can do this."

She didn't protest when he wound an arm around her, all but carrying her out to the waiting town car.

"How long have you been waiting here, Ernie?" Kate asked tiredly as they drove through the surprisingly good Manhattan traffic.

"Oh don't you worry about that, Miss Beckett. From the news reports I've been hearing on the radio, you've had quite the day."

When it became obvious that Ernie wasn't going to divulge a word (probably because Castle had called him to sit there from the second that they'd arrived back at the precinct, meaning he'd skipped out on several potential jobs in favour of waiting so that Kate could leave whenever she wanted), she buried her head into the crook of Castle's neck and closed her eyes, willing herself to doze off. She was well aware that she was being more than a little precious; her tough as nails detective persona all but forgotten, but she didn't care. She'd almost died today and she wasn't going to pretend that it didn't feel good to rely on her boyfriend and let him coddle her a little.

She accepted his hand to get out of the car and her knees buckled as she stood, only remaining upright because of his hand on her waist. He didn't say a word at the embarrassed expression on her face, simply looping his arm around her and guiding her towards the elevator, giving her the illusion of walking, whilst stoically shouldering her weight. "I hope its okay that we came to my place," he mumbled in her ear.

"Its fine, Castle," she answered him. "I didn't even realise," she admitted. She wasn't paying much attention; his warm weight next to her and constant support were the only things on the forefront of her mind. She didn't fuss when Castle all but forced her down on the couch and pulled off her boots. She enjoyed ripping off her heels at the end of a long day as much as the next girl, but it had never felt quite this good before. The ache that thrummed through the balls of her feet as she stretched her ankles was equal parts pleasure and pain and she wore blind that she'd never wear heels to work again. She smiled when Castle handed her a cup of coffee, winking at him when she saw the heart he'd created with the foam.

"You hungry?" Castle asked her, his hand lingering on her forearm.

"Starving," she replied, tugging on his shoulder and pulling him down for a kiss. "You gonna cook for me, Castle?" She asked him, bumping her forehead against his gently.

"Unless you want takeout?" He asked.

Kate's heart warmed. She had no doubt that if she asked him for the moon right now, he'd find a way to get it for her. Her stomach rumbled loudly. "I'm honestly not fussy," she told him. "But don't expect me to help."

"Really, Kate?" He asked her, raising an eyebrow, daring her to get up off the couch.

"I'll stay right here," she promised, curling both hands around her coffee cup and drawing her knees to her chest.

Kate demolished the grilled cheese sandwiches he'd made her, following it up with a healthy bowl of Alexis's famed pumpkin soup that had been hiding in the freezer (maintaining that she'd nearly been blown up today, she was allowed to have carbs with a side serve of carbs if she wanted it).

"I ran you a bath," Castle offered.

Kate could feel the weight of his tender gaze on her. "I'm not made of glass, you know."

"I know," he agreed, pulling her up onto her feet. "I'm spoiling you because I want to, not because you need it."

Castle's steaming, bubbling bathtub looked amazing. The dirty clothesbasket was simply too much effort, so Kate stripped off her clothes and left them on the bathroom floor, sinking into the tub to let the hot water work its magic.

Kate had a new appreciation for Epsom salts. No stranger to tight muscles after a workout, the ache radiating from the balls of her feet up her calves from staying still was almost foreign. She'd lost the feeling in her legs after about three hours of stasis, but the warm water was reducing the pain, bolts of lightening shooting up her legs every time she so much as wiggled a toe were reduced to an ache that she knew would fade in a few days and could be worked out with a few long yoga sessions.

She luxuriated in the water, forcing herself to keep her mind blank. She didn't want to obsess over what might have been. She would make herself an appointment with Dr Burke and let it all out then, but for now she wanted to focus on the fact that she was alive. Alive and happy, for the first time in a long time. The stress of the past few weeks, the Eric Vaughns of the world, seemed irrelevant. She'd dared ask Castle a question a week ago and even though he hadn't spoken the words she'd hoped to hear, his actions today had gone a long way to soothe the niggling doubts in her mind. Certainty bloomed in her chest in a way she hadn't felt since he pushed her against his apartment door last May. Surely you wouldn't stay in a bomb-ridden apartment with a passing fancy, especially when you were given the grace to leave, guilt free.

The water was cooling and Kate saw no reason to sit in a tub of salty water alone. She pulled the plug and stepped out of the tub, drying off before slipping on Castle's huge and incredibly soft bathrobe that had so conveniently been left on the warming rack. A full stomach and warm bath had given her a fresh wave of energy and she eagerly went to seek out her boyfriend.

She froze when she saw the bedroom. Castle had done it again. He'd lit every single candle in the loft, the massage table (that she wasn't sure if she wanted to know why he owned it) standing in the middle of the room. "I thought we could try this again," he suggested timidly.

Kate flushed slightly. The last time Castle had attempted this, she'd been so overwhelmed by the fact that Castle had so obviously avoided answering the one question she'd needed an honest answer to, she'd reacted by pushing him up against a wall and blatantly ignoring their problems. Since then, she'd resolved to very actively not think about the future and simply enjoy one day at a time. Living life under a giant banner of avoidance until it exploded in their faces. Clearly the healthy and mature way to go.

There it was. The elephant was back in the room. His words and his actions were screaming two different things. She deliberated, biting her lip. This was the last thing she wanted to deal with today. Did they really have to burst the "Kate didn't blow up and isn't that exciting?" bubble?

"Kate, I can see you thinking," Castle hedged.

Who was she kidding? She knew his hands were magic at the best of times and her body was aching all over. Dropping the bathrobe on the ground, she proudly stepped towards the bed, nude form on display as she climbed onto the bed, settling gracefully on her stomach.

She knew Castle liked her body, scars and all. He'd traced their outlines with both his fingers and his lips. The marks she bore because of Maddox, a scrape on her thigh from overbalancing on her motorbike when she was twenty-two, stitches on her knee from a fall down a flight of stairs as a kid. He made no secret of how much he loved her body.

She let out a soft sigh when she felt his fingers begin working the ball of her foot. The lingering doubts whispering in her ears could be ignored for now. Surely, surely this was the action of a man in love? Not a man who was just hanging around for a good time. She ignored the questions dancing in her mind as he laboured over her feet and ankles, alleviating the tension there, but when she felt strongly scented massage oil drizzled over her calves, her decision was made. Today had proven it, life was short. Too short to be wasted on doubts.

"Castle, why did you stay?" Kate asked quietly, summoning up the courage to turn her head and look at him as he massaged his way up her leg, slowly working out the lactic acid that had built up in her limbs.

"Kate, you came to the loft a year ago, soaking wet, and you told me that you just wanted me."

"I remember," Kate agreed, cringing as Castle hit a particularly tight spot near her kneecap.

"I knew how huge that was for you. To come here and say that to me. You said it and then you showed me. Kate, you showed me over and over again that you love me." His hands slowly began to snake up her thighs, gently working away the stiffness in the muscle. "You've never been one for words and I don't begrudge you that. All you've done is show me time and time again that I'm your one and done." He was such a tease, gently tracing his nails up and down the inside of her thigh, leaving a trail of goose bumps in his wake. "What I did last week, when you spoke my language, asking me instead of showing me the way you have been for a year, was cowardly."

"Castle," Kate interjected.

"Let me finish," he insisted, hands slipping up her thighs to knead the firm muscle of her rear end.

"I've never had anybody fight for me. I've never fought for anybody. But I want to fight for you," he whispered, tracing the dimples at her sacrum. "It felt good to be with you, even though we were both terrified. It felt right, to be at your side. And then you wanted me to leave. And you said those words. The words you've been showing me. The last memory I would have had of you was you giving me the greatest gift; telling me you loved me and then me throwing that in your face by walking away and leaving you to die."

"I love you, Castle," Kate interrupted him, the weight of uncertainty leaving her chest with her confession. She'd been wrong for so many years. Words like this shouldn't exist inside her, closely guarded like a dragon's treasure. Words of love should be spoken freely and without hesitation, not waiting for deathbed confessions. "I love you. I'll tell you I love you every single day. I'll tell you until there is no doubt in your mind that I love anybody but you."

She rolled over and sat up on the massage bed, shamelessly possessive as she wrapped her hands around his neck and pulled him in for a searing kiss. "I don't want us to end," she confessed. She didn't know if it was freedom from finally letting the words come free or his touch, so gentle she wanted to cry, or the sheer relief of cheating death again, but vocalising what had been bubbling inside wasn't as terrifying as she'd always imagined.

A giggle escaped her lips when he picked her up and carried her across the room, uncaring of her oily legs staining his designer jeans. She felt like she was sixteen years old again, desperately stealing kisses as she struggled with the buttons on Castle's shirt. "You make me want to think about the future," Kate breathed into his ear, nipping on the lobe. Her hands slid down his chest, skimming along the muscles that she had noticed grow more and more defined over the past year, deftly undoing his belt, nimble fingers shucking him of his jeans and boxers.

Kate had never been a passive lover. She'd always taken exactly what she wanted when she wanted it. It was a rare day when she wasn't in complete control in the bedroom, on top and in charge at every opportunity. In a rare moment of surrender very early in their relationship, Kate had realised just how good it felt to occasionally relinquish control. This was one of those times. Her ruggedly handsome man above her, his masculine bulk dwarfing her own petite frame was shockingly empowering; her complete trust that he would only ever treat her with complete dignity made her feel brave in a way that a detective's badge never had. "I never want to do this with anybody else," she whispered, her eyes gentle but firm.

She traced one of his legs with the point of her slightly oily toes, hitching her leg around his hip, blushing as he studied her intensely. "I'm yours," he rasped, moving to nip at the delicate flesh of her throat. He ignored her fingers, digging into his shoulders, desperately trying to urge him on. She'd cheated death today; there was no way he wasn't going to take his time intimately reacquainting himself with every slope and crevice of her body.

Her delicious collarbones got special attention, his tongue running alone the delicate line, nibbling at that one spot that always managed to cause her breathing to hitch.

His fingers traced the neat incisions along her ribcage. He paused, studying the tiny white scar that had nearly kept them apart forever. Pressing a kiss against the fleshy blemish that marked his girl as the consummate survivor, before drawing one perfect breast into his mouth, grinning to himself as he heard her breathy moans. He drew a leisurely trail down her abdomen, his eyes sparking as he nipped at her belly button.

Kate could bear it no longer. His teasing had set her blood on fire and she didn't want to wait for him to finish his casual admiration of her body. "Castle, don't tease," she sighed warningly.

He all but slithered up her body, hovering over her teasingly, "Am I making you quiver with antici…"

He didn't get to finish his quip. In a move honed from years of combat training, she flipped him flat onto his back. "You are mine, Richard Castle," she warned him possessively, "and I want you right now." With a wicked little twist of her hips, she sank down on him, biting her lip when she heard him let out a surprised moan. She traced one hand up his side, linking her fingers with his before she began to rock her hips.

The flash of desire in his eyes when she'd made such an avaricious declaration made her feel like the wanton goddess he wrote about so passionately in his books. He abruptly sat up, eliciting a groan from her at the change in position. "If I'm yours, then you are mine, Kate Beckett," he growled fiercely, laving her neck with sloppy kisses. Grasping her hips, he shifted them towards the head of bed, leaning against the checkerboard bedhead.

Kate relaced their fingers together, the tenderness of the action a sharp contrast to the rolling of her hips and salacious sounds coming from her mouth. Her free hand bracing against the top of the bedframe, desperately seeking traction as she ground herself against him, his pelvis driving against hers, their rhythm frenzied; moans echoing through the loft. He snaked his hand from her hip and slipped it between them, fingers pressing against her clit. He traced the nub once…twice; before he felt her walls tighten around him, screaming her release as her orgasm rushed through her. A few more desperate thrusts and he followed her, ecstasy embracing him as he buried his head in the crook of her neck.

He could feel her ragged breaths as her fingers carded through his sweaty hair, the pair of them settling back into reality. "So do you know?" He asked her.

"Know what?"

"When it was that you fell in love with me?" He asked her charmingly.

Kate rolled off his lap, kicking down the comforter and slipping underneath the sheets, heedless of oil stains, propping herself up on a pillow as she sprawled on her stomach. "I don't know," she answered simply. She saw him frown and hastened to explain. "One day I woke up to a text message from you. It was nothing serious, just one of those random things you used to send me of absolutely no consequence. I realised it. I had been in love with you for months. Maybe even years. I couldn't remember a time when I didn't love you. I can't pinpoint a moment because I'd been doing it for so long without realising that I couldn't have stopped, even if I wanted to." She flushed slightly at her confession, grabbing his hand and pressing a kiss against his knuckles. "What about you?"

He chuckled, lying down next to her. "It started when you told me about your Mom," he recalled. "But I don't think I realised it before I was in that dingy apartment with Ryan and Tyson. And I didn't really grasp what it meant to be in love with you until I saw Hal Lockwood aiming a gun at your head."

Kate's jaw dropped in affectionate shock. "So you were first!"

"I guess I was," Castle agreed, shifting so that he could pepper loud kisses across her face. "I want to marry you," he confessed. He froze, expecting Kate's wall to go flying up at the honesty of his words.

The remarkable woman she was, she only gave him her Mona Lisa smile. "This better not be you proposing because I nearly got turned into a thousand tiny pieces today," Kate quipped sleepily, eyelids growing heavy despite the fact that it was the late afternoon.

He scoffed. "No way," he placated her. "Prepare yourself, Kate Beckett," he warned playfully. "I've got a faked murder to live up to."

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