Solid Ground – Chapter 8

Making the move had been a difficult decision. There were some who were still holding out hope for a quick rescue, but with no working radio transmitter, such a scenario seemed, at best, unlikely. Even usually optimistic Castle had to concede that their unplanned stop on the island might turn into an extended stay. After much debate, it had been decided to set up a more permanent camp halfway between the beach and the waterfall.

Castle couldn't help but notice how the discovery of water had lifted the spirits of the group. When Kate and Robin had returned with news about fresh water, everyone had cheered. And Castle had seen the first smile from Jeff Kenney, the man whose dead wife Castle had mistaken for Kate that first day, and then helped bury. Everyone seemed to sleep more soundly that night, and the next day they'd begun their move.

At first light, Kate had nudged him awake to give him a quick kiss before disappearing with Kimberly and C.C. to scout out for a prime location to set up their more permanent home on the island. She left him to sleep in a little longer. When he finally woke up, he stretched and nibbled on some fruit before helping Gervasio and Raymond get some of the chairs they'd ripped out of the plane ready for the move.

The search party returned around midday, and the rest of the day was spent hiking back and forth carrying supplies and their makeshift beds. When it came time to dismantle the makeshift tent he'd constructed on that first night, Castle was almost sad to see it taken down. They did it together. And then he and Kate packed up their meager belongings into their carry-on luggage and walked to their new home.

She had promised him a view, and she'd delivered. The new campsite wasn't as compact as the first. People were more spread out, but were still close enough to be of assistance to one another. Kate had picked out a nice spot on the slope of Mount Storm for them, and it was high enough that they had a decent view of the sloping valley and the tall peak of Mount Heat in the distance.

There hadn't been time to properly set up camp the first night, so everyone just huddled around the large bonfire in what Ana was calling the village square. Castle liked the idea and started offering up names for their 'new town', all of which were shot down immediately by Kate.

"You've already named the mountains and the waterfall, Castle," she had informed him with a bemused smirk as he pouted. "Play nice, and give someone else a turn."

After some spirited debate, which actually seemed to lighten everyone's mood, the group eventually settled on a name. Later, Castle reflected that the lively discussion on what to christen their new camp had turned out to be a good distraction from the troubles of the real world. At one point, someone suggested the unimaginative name of just 'Town', which was quickly shot down amongst good-natured laughs. And even though Kate had told him to let someone else have a turn at naming, Castle couldn't keep his mouth shut, and made a couple of suggestions.

One of his suggestions was to name the place 'Wyssville', in honor of Johann David Wyss, author of the book The Swiss Family Robinson. As the evening's discussion carried on, his suggestion remained the leading candidate, until C.C. offered up the name Haven, citing that this place would eventually become their haven from the harshness of the jungle surrounding them. The name struck a cord, and Castle's vote was overruled, and he had to settle with the name of Haven for their new home.

"I should have suggested Crusoe or something cool like that," he had complained later that evening as Kate and him settled in for the night in their spot by the bonfire.

"Don't be a sore loser, Castle, it's not attractive," Kate had countered with a roll of her eyes, and then silenced any other objections from him with a sound kiss, before folding her arms around his waist and nestling into his chest as they slept under the stars.

The following day had been long and full of hard work. Gervasio had made the suggestion that they try and tear off some pieces of the fuselage to use to build more secure structures. Everyone had liked the idea, and about half of them went back to the crash site to do just that. Kate ribbed and teased Castle until he gave in to peer pressure and went hiking back to the wreckage to help with the heavy lifting.

They spent the next couple of days going back and forth from Haven and the crash site, until their little village began to take shape. Kimberly and Trishna worked at clearing a space in the center of the cluster of shacks for the clinic, which the prime parts from the wreckage were given to. Castle worked alongside Gervasio and Raymond to build the structure once the space had been cleared. While he was busy working on the clinic, Kate took some time to set up their new home. All the while, C.C., Robin, and some others would go out and gather food and water. Everyone pitched in, and as a result a family was born from the shared experience.

Castle just finished putting in the last piece of fuselage paneling up to form the final wall of the clinic, when he noticed Chris and Irene, young graduate students from the UK, whispering and glancing around secretively, before clasping hands and sneaking out of camp into the jungle. It wasn't too long before auditory evidence of what they were doing drifted across the clearing by way of a gentle breeze that was blowing through the dense foliage of the surrounding jungle.

"They think they're being discrete," Gervasio chuckled beside him, hefting up the last component to keep the wall stable.

"Let them have their fun," Raymond shrugged his shoulders, having overheard the comment from his spot inside the clinic as he arranged the two first-class seats into an examination table. "Not like there is that much else to do."

"There is plenty to do," Gervasio quipped back. "But they're young and in love. Can't blame them really. If Ana and I were still young and had the energy, we'd probably be doing the same thing… when time permitted, of course." There was a brief pause in the conversation before Gervasio nudged Castle with his elbow. "How about you, Rick? You and Kate are still young. Why aren't you two sneaking off to frolic in the jungle like you're Adam and Eve?"

Castle opened his mouth to respond, but had trouble finding words. "We… um… well, just… uh… haven't really found the time," he fumbled out, blushing brightly as Gervasio and Raymond laughed at his expense. He clenched his jaw and swallowed past the lump in his throat as he turned back to his work, trying to ignore his comrades' amusement at his embarrassment.

To be honest, other than admiring Kate's half-undressed body, Castle hadn't really thought about sex. There had been other priorities that overruled his baser needs. He still had them, of course; he just didn't let his lower anatomy do his thinking. But now that the topic had been broached, his thoughts were suddenly invaded with images of him and Kate stealing away to find someplace secluded to make love. After all, if it hadn't been for this damn crash, that's exactly what they'd be doing at that beach bungalow in Bora Bora. He sighed, and rubbed his forehead in exasperation. Gervasio and Raymond shared a knowing look. Castle raised an eyebrow at them, challenging them to say something more about his obvious sexual frustration.

He turned his attention back to their work, studiously trying to ignore the faint noises emanating from the jungle. Really? Castle thought with a groan as he glared at the dense foliage that the young couple had disappeared in, if they had wanted to be discrete, they should have hiked a little further away from camp. He growled in frustration, knowing that now his concentration was going to be off for the rest of the day.

Finishing up the clinic, and sharing a bottle of water between the guys, Castle eventually excused himself to look for Kate. It wasn't like he wanted to go off into the jungle and shag like the younger couple had, but he did want some alone time with Kate. Intimacy comes in many forms, he told himself, it isn't all about being physical. Rationally, he understood that, but his body did not. He walked around the camp, impressed with the development of their little village of Haven. It helped that Gervasio had worked construction in Chicago and had been taking night classes on city planning. If he ignored the mismatched design of the cluster of shacks made from broken fuselage paneling and other materials, Castle thought it almost looked like a little town.

He hiked through the square and started up the slope to where their residence was to be located. Kate had been very selective. While finding a spot to give them a nice view of the valley, she'd also found a place that afforded them some privacy. Stepping around a tree, he came to a halt, and smiled at the vision before him.

Kate had tied her hair into a low ponytail and was stretching up on her toes to adjust some of the palm throngs on their roof. As she reached higher, the hemline of her shirt rode up, exposing some delectable skin. His eyes drifted a little bit further down, appreciating the way her jeans hugged her backside. Yep. He was a lucky man; there was no denying that. Castle stood there and took a moment to admire her lithe slender form, finding himself a little envious of the carefree spirit possessed by those two young lovers he'd spotted that afternoon. He'd give anything to throw caution to the wind and just drag Kate to some secluded place and make love to her.

"Shit!" Kate cursed as the palms shifted the wrong way and fell down the side of the shelter.

And there went the moment. Her curse snapped Castle out of his fantasy and he grinned as he watched her growl out several more profanities. Kate probably had no idea how excited he got when she was pissed off. It was one of his major turn-ons when it came to Kate Beckett, and why he always got a thrill out of annoying her at the precinct with his crazy theories. It had been fun before they were a couple, but after that stormy night in May, it was even better! She'd get all worked up at the precinct, and then when they'd go home—either to the loft or her apartment—she'd drag him straight to bed, or the shower, and proceed to work out her frustration in a much more pleasurable way.

He hung back and watched, simply enjoying the sight of her all flustered and irritated. After a couple of minutes passed, Castle decided he'd rather be a participant than a spectator, and stepped out from behind the tree and made his presence known.

"Need some help?" he called out.

Kate glanced up from her crouched position, and shot him an appreciative grin. "Yes, please!" she stood up, gesturing to the fallen palms. "I'm not tall enough to get these damn things up on the roof."

Castle bent down to retrieve the accursed items and straightened up to his full height, easily sliding them into position. Kate crossed her arms over her chest and let out an annoyed breath, wrinkling her nose in displeasure at not being able to do it on her own. But it was more than that. He raised an eyebrow at her, noting her frustrated frown.

"What is it?"

"It… it's just… I wanted to have it all done before you got back from helping the guys build the clinic," Kate admitted, blowing a stray strand of hair away from her face. "You really have been working hard these past few days, which I'm so proud of, Castle… really. And I just wanted the place to be all ready for us, so when you were done we'd be able to just sit back and relax." She was rambling now, and looking adorable with her own vexation at not having completed her self-assigned task before the self-appointed time she required it to be completed in.

"Kate," he soothed, reaching out to grab her hand and pull her with him as he stepped back to inspect her work. She sighed and let him guide her away, curling her fingers around his as he bumped her shoulder playfully. "I, for one, think you've done a marvelous job."

She bit her lower lip and glanced back at her work. "Really?" she questioned, uncertain.

"Yes," he assured her, squeezing her hand and slightly leaning into her. "Thank you."

She tilted her head to him and knitted her eyebrows together. "You're not patronizing me, are you?"

"Wouldn't dream of it," Castle replied, staring unblinkingly at her with undisguised love in his eyes.

"Right," she nodded, pretending not to notice. "You know better than to risk bodily harm."

"That I do," he smirked, his eyes sparkling with mirth.

Kate turned to look at him, her gaze curious and suspicious. "Castle?" she questioned, a hint of a warning in her voice.

"What?"

"You've got that glint in your eye."

"What glint?"

"Don't play dumb with me, writer boy," she quirked her lips up into a playful smirk. "You know what I mean."

"No, I don't," he maintained as he let go her hand and approached the shelter. He ducked his head inside to look at the interior, impressed with the nice job Kate had done in arranging it to look semi-domestic. It almost looked like a little house. Though, he noted that the vast majority of the floor was covered in cushions from the seats they'd cannibalized for bedding.

"Well?" she questioned, sounding anxious. He turned and looked back at her, finding her chewing on her lower lip and wringing her hands together nervously.

"It's not quite our beachside bungalow, but it'll do," Castle answered with a grin meant to reassure her. It was actually really nice, better than he would have been able to do with the same materials. However, before he could tell her that, Kate interjected.

"For now, at least," she sighed, stepping up to stand beside him and take another look at her work. "If we have to stay here much longer, we'll need to make some improvements."

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Castle asserted, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder.

Kate narrowed her eyes and bobbed her head, continuing to chew on her lower lip as she stared down at their makeshift island home. Castle licked his lips as he gazed at her, captivated by her natural beauty. The light make-up she had applied before their flight had long since washed off, and her hair was slightly disheveled, yet still, she was a breathtaking sight.

He pursed his lips and slipped his hand from her shoulder, letting it fall down her back. His mind readily, if maybe a little too eagerly, returned to his fantasies of pulling Kate into the jungle and stripping her of all her clothing until she was bare and pliant beneath him, begging him to make love to her. His heartbeat increased and he turned, raising an arm to lean against the doorframe of the shack as he canted into her.

Kate seemed oblivious to his line of thinking, and she ducked back outside. He nearly tripped into the empty space she had once occupied, but managed to suppress a groan of frustration before turning slowly in place to watch her scrutinize the shelter she'd built.

"Kate… relax. You did an amazing job," he called out to her. "Why don't we test it out and take a nap?"

She glanced up at him and shook her head, glancing down at her arms. "Ugh, I'm a sweaty mess," Kate complained as if she'd just noticed her disheveled appearance for the first time. She wiped the back of her hand across her forehead and tried to adjust her tangled hair.

Castle sighed, and took a step forward, reaching up to still her hand. "A beautiful sweaty mess," he countered with an affectionate smile, his eyes boring into her.

Kate froze in place, and flicked her eyes up to look at him. A shy grin stretched across her tired features. She shook her head as her smile grew. "Come here," she ordered, grabbing him by the collar of his shirt and pulling him in for a kiss.

"I don't deserve you," she asserted in a soft voice, filled with awe.

"I know the feeling," he replied as he nipped at her bottom lip, brushing his fingers along her cheek. "You're extraordinary, Kate. Everyday I wake up wondering what I've done to be lucky enough to have your love."

"Oh, Castle," she sighed, closing her eyes as she leaned into his touch. Her eyes flickered open and she eased way, letting her hand slip down his arm until she found his hand, and slowly interlaced their fingers. "How about we take that nap?" she asked, raising her eyebrows hopefully.

In reply, Castle gripped her hand tighter and pulled her along as he ducked into their new shelter. She pursed her lips and gave him a grateful smile. He plopped down onto the cushioned floor, tugging her down with him. Castle spread out and opened his arms, inviting her in. She bit her lower lip and curled into his embrace, resting her head in the crook of his shoulder.

"I love you, Rick," she murmured into his neck.

"I love you, too," he replied, placing a soft kiss on the top of her head, before relaxing back into the cushions and closing his eyes, secure in the knowledge that, even if he wasn't making love to her at present, he still shared true intimacy with Kate Beckett.