A/N: Special thanks to Bee, Jennifer and Cindy for reading this and for fangirling with me over this epically awesome episode.
They enter the loft hand in hand. It's been like this since they walked out of that apartment building, the hand holding. Like he doesn't want to let her go. It's okay because she doesn't want him to. They disengage to shrug out of jackets and Kate bends over to release the zippers on her boots. It will be a long time before she wears these again; her feet have had more than enough of them for a lifetime.
He moves to the bottom of the stairs calling out, "Mother?" He waits a moment but there's silence. "Alexis?" Nothing.
She's barely kicked the shoes off, hardly has her feet flat on the hardwood when Castle's crowding into her, bodies aligned, pins her against the front door and kisses her hard. They snuck a few kisses in at the precinct, once in the elevator, even chanced a brief meeting of lips in the break room but it wasn't enough. It wasn't what they needed.
This is though. This is give and take, drinking deep. He slides a hand under her thigh, hikes it over his hip and she hops up to wrap the other leg around as well. He presses in closer, leveraging her against the door. That move lines everything up, their centers connecting and they break away, both groaning at the contact. He doesn't stop for long though, works his lips across her jaw, her throat.
"This one," he growls into her skin. "This one is my favorite."
It takes her arousal hazed brain a moment but she catches on. His favorite of their kisses. The last time they kissed against this door, the one that she usually thinks of as their first kiss.
"Me too," she manages to gasp.
He pulls back to look at her, their eyes locking in an electric connection. It passes between them, how far they've come, how close they came today. What they have, what they could have lost.
It ignites a new fervor and they surge into each other, lips and tongues clashing, hands working at clothing. They just shove fabric aside until he's able to push into her, draws a moan from her throat. He doesn't give her time to adjust, just sets up a frantic pace, his thrusts at the same rate of her heart like he can feel how it's racing in her chest.
The fast pace leads to a quick finish. On a different night, one or both of them would feel bad about it but it isn't about tenderness or even making some kind of connection tonight. This is about confirmation, affirmation.
She sags against him with her release, his knees give out with his and they slide to the floor, her legs still wrapped him, her arms tight around his shoulders. He wedges his arms between her and the door, wraps them around her ribcage and hugs her tight to his chest. Bruisingly tight. It's actually uncomfortable and she's about to ask him to let up when she feels the hiccup of a sob shudder through him, a choked noise coming from where his face is buried in her neck. She runs a hand through his hair, cups the back of his skull and softly shushes him.
"It's over. I'm okay. We're okay," she murmurs over and over as he gathers himself, doesn't allow the grief to overtake him. He should though, he should let it out but she won't force that from him.
His arms unlock from their vice grip and she takes a deep breath, the expansion of her ribs startling him. Apologies burst from his lips but she pushes her fingers against his mouth to stop him. He nods in understanding and she removes her hand, moves it to the back of his head again and rests her forehead against his.
"You were so strong for me all day, Castle, you can fall apart a little now."
"I know. I will. Just not right now, okay?"
"Okay," she whispers, not entirely sure if she believes him but willing to let it go.
He shifts his legs to take some of the pressure off his shins and his knee, the bad one, makes a pop in protest. He groans and she's off his lap in an instant, kneeling at his side.
"I'm okay," he assures her, in what he inanely thinks of as their phrase of the day. "Just need to get up, knee's not liking this position."
She stands and holds a hand out for him that he gratefully grasps and gingerly gets to his feet. "It wasn't complaining at our earlier position," she comments with a gleam in her eye and he can't help but laugh. He marvels at how light it makes him feel, how much he loves that they can do this for each other, be comfort and love and a welcome distraction when needed.
The feeling makes him reach for her, slinging his arms low around her waist and pulling her against him. Their clothes are still askew, hair still mussed but it doesn't matter because they're here. She's here.
It bubbles up again, the panic at almost losing the love of his life (again) but he tamps it down. He knows that she would hold him through his tears and that she wouldn't judge him but she's been through so much today, she doesn't need to coddle him, too.
"I should go shower," she says and he wonders if he's imagining the note of understanding in her voice, the way she's giving him an out right now.
Regardless, he takes it. "Yeah, okay." He kisses her, once, softly, and lets her go. She catches his hand and squeezes, smiles at him with her eyes full of affection.
That makes him smile, washes his face of the devastation he's feeling for a moment. "I love you."
He watches her until she's around the corner and then stumbles over to the couch, drops heavy onto the cushions. He manages to wait until he hears the water running before he turns himself over to it, his body bowing under the weight of his thoughts and allows the tears that provide relief to fall freely.
When she reemerges, she finds him in the kitchen putting together a plate of fruit and cheese, a glass of wine waiting for her on the breakfast bar.
"Hey," she calls out softly as she approaches, knows that her bare feet aren't making much noise.
He doesn't startle, probably could sense her coming, just raises his head and smiles at her. His eyes are still a little red-rimmed but a lot clearer and she smiles back at him, relieved that he was able to let go of his tension.
"Your phone rang about four times," he tells her, motioning to where the device is sitting next to the wine glass. "I fished it out of your coat pocket, looks like it was your dad."
Oh shit, how could she have forgotten about that?
"Kate?" Castle questions when he sees the look on her face.
"I called him. After you left earlier today. Just left him a message that probably freaked him out," she explains as she unlocks the phone, checks to see if there's a voicemail. There's not and she touches the button to call him back.
"Katie?" Jim answers, sounding a little breathless.
"Hey Dad." She thought she'd have to force lightness into her voice to reassure him but just hearing his voice live instead of on a recording does that for her.
"I was in court today so my phone was turned off. That was an odd message, not that I mind that my daughter calls to tell me she loves me but…" He trails off, all the questions he wants to ask obviously hanging in the silence.
"It was an odd day. Um." She stops, the story stuck in her throat. She wants him to know but doesn't know where to start. She raises her eyes across the counter to where Castle is looking at her, concern and comfort warring for control on his face.
Her dad needs the story so who better than a story teller to give it?
"Dad, just a second," she says into the receiver, pulling the phone away to hit the mute button. She walks around the counter to stand in front of Castle, holds out the phone to him. "Do you think you could…?"
Understanding dawns in his eyes and he reaches out, one hand around her wrist, the other taking the phone from her. He tugs her toward him and she winds her arms around his waist, buries her face in his shoulder. He drops his free arm across her back and unmutes the phone as he brings it up to his ear.
"Hey Jim," he says warmly, his words rumbling through his chest, reverberating in her. It makes her sigh in relief, draw her arms a little tighter around him.
"Rick, everything okay?" She can hear her dad clearly and her heart clenches at how scared he sounds right now.
"It is now. It was a tough day."
"Well, let me start at the end and tell you that we're at home and no one is hurt."
We. Home. Warmth spreads through her at the ease of which he uses those words.
"Did you see the apartment building bombing in the paper?"
"I did," Jim answers, his tone carefully measured.
"It was Kate's case and we went to the bomber's apartment this morning to arrest him. He had triggered a bomb with a sensor plate and Kate stepped on the plate. She had to stand there so it wouldn't go off."
It doesn't sound real when he talks about it. He's talking about her, about something that she lived through. But it feels like it could have come out of one of his books.
"How long?" Jims asks.
"About three and a half hours."
"So they disarmed it?"
"Actually, we did. Bomb unit couldn't disarm the actual device but our team figured out what the disarm code was." He decides to leave out the timing of the whole thing, the man doesn't need to know how deep into the eleventh hour they were.
Jim huffs out a breath. "Never a dull moment with you two, is there?"
Castle laughs, just a low chuckle, "Doesn't seem to be, no."
"Can I talk to my daughter again?"
"Yeah." Castle hands the phone back to Kate and shifts to move but she doesn't budge so he stays where he is, threads a hand through her still damp hair.
"I'm sorry, I guess I'm not ready to talk about it yet," she apologizes as soon as the phone is at her ear.
"Katie, it's fine. I'm glad he's there for you."
"Me too, Dad. Trust me, me too."
The arm at her back tightens in response.
I'd love to know what you think.