Chapter 44: Teach me love

She turns back to him, lifts her face up, no shell, no concealment, all her emotions written in her eyes. For the first time, he can read clearly where she stands, even in this dark room with the only light the orange glow of streetlamps through the window. It's enough. She's enough, just as she is. And though she hasn't said the words, the way she's looking at him leaves no more room for doubts or insecurity in his mind.

"You give me so much, Kate. You've made me so much more than I was. Never say that you don't give me anything. Just give me you."

She can't find words. She'll never use words like he does, but she can show him. And so she draws his head down and kisses any more words out of his mouth and away. For her, from her, actions speak so much louder than words.

It's not a passionate kiss, not frantic or lustful or enticing or any one of the hundred different ways she's kissed him before. It's soft and gentle and it's Kate and it tells him everything he needs to know – though stay told him that, too - as he brings her fully into him and holds her close. If he waits for her words, he'll probably have to wait for ever. Fortunately he doesn't have to: he can read her well enough, tonight, that he doesn't need her words. She's made her choice, and it's him.

And on that thought he changes from receiving tender affection to hard fierce kisses, taking possession, desperate to show her that he understands what she means, that she's as far in as he is, as he wanted her to be, that he knows she's finally matched him step for step. She responds in kind: if he's possessive, she's asserting her own ownership; no imbalances, no disparity.

"Come to bed, Castle," she murmurs, moving away from his mouth and down across his neck, soft wet kisses offset by the edge of teeth, skin soothed by the swipe of tongue that's anything but soothing to the hot arousal growing between them. He growls into her hair when she bites down on the muscle at his shoulder and slips his hands under the back of her shirt, fingers flickering under the edge of her bra, round toward the curve of her breasts, pulling her straddled across him till she's in just the right place for him to push up against her, make her gasp. Bed. Yes. But he can't bear not to have her stay settled firmly there against him, so he starts to stand and she curls her arms around his neck and those unbelievably long legs around his waist and oh yes that means she's exactly where she, he, wants to be.

He drops her on the bed, both still fully clothed, comes to rest beside her, busies his fingers with the fastenings of her button-down, teasing and flicking as he goes, claiming hot wet kisses till she arches into him. She tugs his shirt open, slides it off, tastes down the skin revealed till he pulls her back up and slides hard weight against her till they're both half undone and desperate to be closer, skin to skin. There's no need for games, innuendo, teasing, tonight. There's no need to prove anything, no pressure to perform, nothing to avoid. Just Kate and Rick, naked to each other in every way that matters.

She looks up at him, his eyes dark with need and behind that the love that she's been denying to herself all this time, lets him see her own feelings. And then no-one needs any more words: each touch an admission, each movement a confession, both of them sure, secure, unconflicted.

When he wakes the next morning, content and comfortable, Kate wrapped in his arms in the way he's hoped for since the very beginning, everything is almost perfect. But. Still. There's unfinished business. There's a file on the table, and he knows what it is. It's the elephant still standing in the corner of the room. He'd said he wouldn't offer help, he'd wait till she asked. He hopes quite desperately that she'll ask him, because if they don't resolve this now then they'll just dance this same masochistic tango over and over every time the case comes up to bite them. And it will, because no matter her choices she'll never be able to leave it alone: every time she has a setback she'll retreat and he'll have to back off or follow and break her down all over again because the only way he gets her to move forward is to break her down. Even if she's admitted she cares, even though she's accepted he loves her, if she doesn't let him into the case it'll never be wholly right. But it has to be her choice.

He slides carefully out of bed and goes to put the kettle on, deliberately doesn't look at the file on the table as he goes past. He can feel the weight of its contents pressing down, depleting his happiness.

Before the coffee's fully brewed Beckett has appeared, enticed by the aroma, winding her arms around his waist and leaning on him, stretching up when he turns round and cuddling in to kiss him good morning. He's only too pleased to respond in kind, trying to ignore the niggle of the presence of the file in the unequivocal affections she's bestowing.

Coffee ready, they're snuggled together in a way that he hopes will become the pattern of their mornings, hands close and fingers interlinked. But still the file is there on the table, and when his gaze falls on it again he stops stroking the back of her hand momentarily, wishes briefly that it was shut away where it wouldn't remind him that they aren't quite aligned. He returns the sliver of inattention that he's expended on that thought back to her, slow affection in every movement.

She's noticed the momentary inattention, and the direction of his glance. Ah. Yes. One thing left to do, to give. She stretches away from him, ignoring the small unhappy protest as she pulls out of his encircling arm.

"Castle," she says, leaning over. "I need you to help with a case." She picks up her mother's case file and hands him it.

And all he hears is I love you.