The ocean called to her. She led him towards it, tugging him forward by the hand as he'd done to her when he'd been showing her the house and the pool. He followed with more enthusiasm, grinning at her eagerness, bright blue eyes glinting.

She ditched her shoes as the path ended, rolling up the ankles of her black pants, before her sole and toes sank into the pure white sand. Castle followed more leisurely, but the tang of the salt in the air, the deep blue rolling waves, crested in white foam drew her forward, till the first little exploratory frontier of the sea lapped at her feet. She turned back to him and smiled, the joy unfettered in her now. Too long since she'd been at a beach, the sun low but bright over the horizon, and now him by her side- the tension she'd felt in the house had melted away, lightening shoulders, easing her spine, and she could see her happiness reflected in him as he reached her, her hands stretching for his of their own accord, standing on her tiptoes so she could plant a kiss on firm, full, beautiful lips.

They walked forward, side by side, his arm slung over her shoulders so that hips, thighs, arms, feet and hands all brushed past each other in melody as the water swirled past their ankles and back.

"Been a while since you were at the beach, I'm guessing, Beckett?"

"Yeah. Quite a few years ago now, before we met. I've never been to the Hamptons, but I flew back to California for a beach wedding- a friend of mine from Stanford. It was windy, and sand got everywhere."

He chuckles at her miming cleaning sand out of her hair and face.

"Just like beach sex. Just with sand in different parts of the body." He leers at her provocatively as he speaks, and that deserves no less than an arched eyebrow and a comeback in return.

"Ehhh beach sex is sort of one of those things that's great in theory, and disappointing in practice, personally."

He's speechless for a moment at that, and she smiles to herself, glad that even though they're together now, she still has the power to leave him dumbstruck that way. He visibly shakes and gathers himself, before continuing. It is rather adorable, and more than a bit of a turn on.

"Was that one of your six turns at being a bridesmaid?"

"Yes. Number five."

They're coming to the edges of the beach that is on his property, so she stops them and goes back to a drier part of the sand. She doesn't want to leave, not now when the sun is dropping into dusk, and brilliant pale pink and orange streaks are highlighting the sky. She quietens the twinge of protest from her stomach about the fact she worked through lunch so she could leave on time.

She settles down on the sand, and he parks himself next to her, close enough that she can snuggle into his embrace, so she does. She can hear the steady, rhythmic thump of his heart, and woven into the scent of the sea is the scent of him, all masculine and smoky. Slightly intoxicating.

"How long have you had the place?" She speaks to distract herself, her tongue wanting to reach out and taste him.

She wanted to know. She wanted to know everything, everything about him she didn't know yet. This was as good a place to start as any.

"Hmm…maybe, 7-8 years now? We used to come up here before that too, in the summers, but back then I'd just rent a place. Then I needed a place to escape to more often. Escape to do my writing, escape with Alexis, escape…"

He trails off, then looks down at her a little worriedly. She nods at him. She wants him to go on. They have to get used to being open with each other.

"Escape from my marriage." There is a wry edge to that statement, and she squeezes his hand in sympathy. They haven't talked about it, about his past- about their pasts, really. They'll get to it, eventually. She'll settle for smaller tidings for the moment.

They settle back into quiet, companionable silence. She owes him something for that. She wants him to know.

"It is a little strange you know."

"What?"

"Sort of- seeing your wealth. I've seen the Ferrari and Knicks tickets and the other little trappings before, but this is on a whole another level. I've never…"

His hand strokes her back, thumb tracing out her spine, warmth spreading through her from his touch.

"I mean, my parents were comfortable. Money was never an issue in the house. And I know you said that money doesn't change anyone, and I believe you. But this is a side to your life I've never seen before."

He accepts her words, her voice a little tenser and shyer than she would like.

"Kate, the guy who sits next your desk every day at precinct, that's the- wait."

He stops abruptly, leaning away from her for a second, and all she wants to then is chase his warmth, chase his scent. He comes back to her and now there's a seashell in his hand, large and creamy-white. His deft writer's fingers knock off any sand still attached and then holds it out from them.

"So my life is like this seashell, a little."

She blinks slowly, peering up at him, waiting for him to expand.

"Most people see my life from far away, and pick up the general information. Like this shell. It has a certain size, it has a certain colour and shape."

He brings it in closer.

"The ridges, the patterns, the streaks of grey and curls of blue that break up the white, that sharp little edge on the back that could cut you if you didn't know it was there? Those are the details of my life. Alexis, my mom, visits to the museum, reading up journal papers on criminal psychology. You, Esposito, Ryan and Lanie. 4 am calls out to stinking alleyways and saving New York from a dirty bomb but never being able to talk about it."

He pauses, and his voice has grown rough and gravelly. She is the one to offer comfort this time, running her fingers over his arms, stroking those immense muscles that have no issues bearing her weight when called for.

"That's my real life. They are the details. That's what you've been seeing from the first day I showed up at the 12th. And maybe now, now you're zooming out a little because we're together, and trying to make it all fit inside your head. But don't lose sight of the trees for the wood. The details haven't changed."

He looks down at her, azure blue eyes darker now, concerned.

"I won't Castle. I won't." She leans into plant a kiss against his shoulder. "But you have to give me a little time to adjust. Give us a little time to adjust."

"Of course. All the time you need. All the time in the world."

"Thank you." She whispered it softly, but knew he heard.

He didn't say anything but simply rubbed her back again, his hand tracing out broad patterns on her skin through her clothes.

"You know, I actually kinda find it endearing."

"What?"

"That you're put off, or at least uncomfortable, with my money."

She tilts her head up at him, understanding what he's saying. She's the one who brought up his other women, but they weren't her. This is one of the ways they weren't her. He keeps his gaze fixed out on the waves, but doesn't stop moving his hand, drawing concentric circles on her back.

"Doesn't mean I'm not gonna borrow that Ferrari once in a while."

He grins down at her.

"Just say the word, Beckett."

She waits for it.

"As long as you're wearing that fantastic outfit you wore the first time driving it."

There it is. She rolls her eyes at him, but truth be told she was planning to break that dress out again sometime. Now that he could both look and touch. And so could she. A sliver of anticipation slices through her as she files that idea away for future reference.

The sunset is underway in earnest now, glorious streaks of crimson and scarlet and burnt umber joining the pale pink and dark orange till the sky is a veritable palette. It is stunning, and the thrumming happiness that courses through her as she leans her head against his shoulder just shakes her up a little. She'd never, ever thought it possible she could figure out how to be this happy again.

She's been prepared to settle for satisfied. Content even. But never really thought happy was within reach.

Till he'd come along.

He turns to her, plants a kiss on the top of her head, but she wants more. She pushes him down by his shoulders till he's lying flat on the sand, her eyes flicking down to the purse of his lips, his eyes becoming blue lakes gazing up at her like she is a goddess. The thrill that shoots through her at that simply underlines the power he holds over her, how much meaning she can derive from a single look.

She drapes herself over him, and crashes her lips to his hungrily, plundering his mouth as her hands skirt the breadth of his shoulders, the lines of his chest. His fingers in turn plunge into her hair as he kisses her back, till they're both gasping and breathless and the lick of need has turned into fire in her veins.

Her stomach grumbles in protest, interrupting the moment, and she's sure her cheeks flush red with embarrassment. She drops her face into his shoulder as he breaks out smiling.

"Way to ruin the romantic mood, Beckett. Do you need to be fed?

"I am not a child…but yes. I skipped lunch so I could make sure we left on time." She pats her stomach defensively.

"Come on then." He stands up, and holds out a hand for her while other hangs onto the seashell, eyes twinkling with humour but also caring as she uses it haul herself upright. "Let me wine and dine you back at the house."

She tucks her arm through his before they start wandering back, shimmying momentarily to shake the sand out of her clothes. When she glances up at him, his eyes have darkened again, with lust. That's all she needs to see have the low heat inside her start building again, a feedback circuit against him, some kind of natural frequency they're on.

She leans up to his ears to whisper, though no one is probably around for hundreds of feet in any direction to listen. No, she simply wants her hot breath against his ear.

"Wine me and dine me, Castle, and then we'll kick off the dirty part of this weekend away."

She dances out of the range of his touch while he's momentarily stunned, till he chases her down and she allows herself to be caught and they share another needy kiss.

The rest of the walk back is more staid, though she keeps her hand in his for the most part. They pick up a few more seashells on the way back together, hers broader and larger with hidden secrets when one looked closely, his ones more imperfect, a little cracked or broken, but no less beautiful for it.


Someone begged me for this post-ep/ep-insert after reading 'Pieces'. I am susceptible to flattery as it turns out, if the idea for a fic takes root. A few shorter post-eps/ep-inserts/drabbles are in my 'Castle: Single Shots' fic, if you feel like reading.

Please leave a review with your thoughts.