"It was my mother. Not my father."

The story spills out before she can stop herself, and all the tightness in her chest leaks out in a long, painful flood.

He just wants to kiss her until she's not sad anymore.

His whole body and mind are all knotted up in a hopeless, burning mess of affection and arousal and pure, desperate need. It's frightening, the pull, the irresistible draw. But it feels like the last piece of the puzzle. He wants her in bed. And then he wants to stay with her. He wants to fall asleep with her and wake up next to her and kiss her good morning and watch her smile when he makes her coffee and then tackle him back onto the bed for another round of lovemaking that'll make them both late for work.

It kills him that her backstory is one that he used to write without a second thought beyond make the character interesting. But for Kate Beckett it's not just depth to a protagonist. It's hours and weeks and years she spent suffering and dragging herself out of some horrible abyss and now he feels like an incredible ass for every single word he said to her the first day they met.

"My dad took her death hard. He's sober now. Five years."

She gives him this sad smile and he realizes, with a terrible jolt, that he's not good enough for her.

But oh, he wants her.

She can see it in his face, the pity, the sadness. And she knows this is it. Rick Castle thought this was just a fling. He didn't realize he was walking into her cavernous mess of a life.

"Kate -"

It's best that it ends. They're not right for each other. At least he came in person to tell her that he doesn't -

"I don't want this to end. This - whatever it is between us."

The air leaves her lungs.

"Castle -"

"But if you want me to go, I will. I'll stop following you. I just -" he sucks in a long breath - "I like you. A lot. And - if there's anything I can do -"

She feels like she's cracking open, everything swirling inside her body, and it's all a shock but he wants this. It's not just casual.

He knows who she is now and he doesn't mind.

She kisses him.

It's not like before. There's no desperate frenzy, no hot-blooded rush. It's slow and drugging and ten thousand times more terrifying. He kisses her like he's trying to memorize her mouth, searching and seeking and thorough, and she just gives in and lets him, sinking against the broad frame of his body. He's backed her up against her kitchen counter and kissing her cheek and her jaw and her mouth and Kate just gives in and lets him.

She wonders if he thinks he's in love with her.

And then she wonders if maybe he's right.

The word love whispers through her blood and she shivers, her eyes fluttering, her skin alive and aware.

And she realizes he's whispering.

"Kate. Please. Please."

She knows what he's begging. And she breathes yes into his mouth.