It's a long moment as he just collapses onto her, draped heavily over the long, smooth, sweaty line of her body. Her ribs press into his with the erratic rhythm of her breathing, and it can't be comfortable for her but he just can't move.

He finally manages to roll off her and flops gracelessly onto the sheets, still breathing hard. That - was -


"You're loud in bed," he murmurs. "I like it."

Kate huffs. "Oh, like you're quiet."

"I didn't hear you complaining," he grins. "Pretty sure it was more please Castle please - "

She slaps him in the shoulder, but she's smiling. He's in her bed and she's naked and sweaty from the sex they just had and she's smiling at him. She's spent most of their time together looking like she wanted to shoot him between the eyes. This is definitely an improvement. As hot as she is when she's glaring, she's hotter naked.

"You know, I have this recurring fantasy of this thing we could do on your desk at the precinct -"

She slaps her hand over his mouth before he can finish, rounding on him with a sudden intensity that's, well, still hot. "Absolutely not. Not ever. Stop thinking about it."

"Are you sure?"

She twists his ear sharply and he yelps.

"Yes. I'm sure."

She lets his ear go and he pouts, rubbing it dramatically. "Vicious woman. I feel hurt."

"You'll get over it,"she murmurs. "Your prodigious ego can heal itself."

Doubt suddenly cools the warmth in his veins. And - she needs to realize -

"You know I'm not really an asshole, right?"

He tries to pass it off as a joke but it doesn't come out as breezy as he was going for. It couldn't. Not when he's in her bed and genuinely afraid she might never let him back in it.

But she's Kate Beckett. She hears the sudden change in his voice. She props herself up on one elbow, watching him quizzically. "You okay?"

He doesn't know how exactly to explain that since she just threw him into a car and fucked him the first time, he's got the persistent fear that maybe this doesn't mean anything to her. That he's alone in this unfamiliar landscape that's starting to look more and more like something serious.

"I don't want you to hate me," he says.

Her mouth twists in a little sideways smile. "I don't hate you."

"You glare at me a lot."

"You do stupid things." She pokes him in the chest. "You annoy me."

Most of my claims are on the large side. He cringes. "Yeah. Sorry."

"I wouldn't have slept with you if I hated you, Castle."

It's a long way from "not hate" to the uncomfortably powerful knot in his chest, but it's better than nothing.

She dissolves his mire of tangled thoughts, leaning in to kiss him briefly before settling back down on her pillow. "You're thinking too loud."

She falls silent, her eyes flickering shut, and he thinks she's falling asleep. Her lashes are dark against her pale skin, an elegant sweep over her high cheekbones, and he's struck for the hundredth time by her total unawareness of her own beauty.

He runs his hand gently over her soft hair. She's so -

"Castle. Stop it. I'm not a cat."

"You sure about that?" He taps her nose, ignoring the glare she shoots him. "Because I did just make you purr."

That earns him a strenuous eye-roll, and as he leans over to cover her body with his and plaster her face with kisses, she swats his face. "Stop it. That was terrib- mmmff."

Kissing her, it turns out, is the best possible way to shut her up.

He has a feeling this partnership is going to be a lot more fun in the future.