Disclaimer: All Castle characters are the property of Andrew Marlowe and ABC.

After they'd eaten breakfast and cleaned up, he joined his two girls on the couch, where they were groaning and holding their bellies. He threw an arm around each one and pulled them inward with a cheerful grin.

"So, what shall we do today?"

"Ugghh, Dad, how does curling up in a ball and digesting for a few days sound to you?"

Kate nodded her agreement and the writer chuckled.

"Okay, movie time it is, but no more Cary Grant. Kate always insults me when we watch Cary Grant movies."

He glanced at the detective to see her rolling her eyes. He laughed again and tightened his grip on her.

"But I think I've got just the thing."

He couldn't keep the excited look off his face and she smiled at his enthusiasm.

"Have you ever seen 'Murder By Death'?" he asked and she shook her head.

He stood and darted over to the vast collection of DVDs.

"A serious gap in your education as a detective," he observed, grinning back at her.

He quickly found the right disc and popped it in, grabbing the remote before plopping back down between Kate and Alexis.

An hour and a half and many laughs later, the three of them still sat there, Kate shaking her head at the writer.

"I have seen a lot of movies, and that is one of the strangest," she said.

"I know," he answered. "Isn't it great?"

She leaned her head back against his shoulder, tucking herself into the crook of his neck.

"It was fun, I'll give you that."

Alexis lightly slapped his knee and pushed herself up.

"I think I'm going to go get some reading done."

She reached over to squeeze Kate's shoulder and patted her father on the top of the head and the two of them listened as she made her way upstairs.

"What do you want to do now?" he asked softly, bringing his hand up to stroke Kate's dark locks.

"Mmm...just stay here for a bit."

She leaned harder into his shoulder and he took the hint, shifting his body to a horizontal position and pulling her with him. Tucked into the small space between his side and the back of the couch, she stretched out her long legs, sliding her sock-clad toes down his shin.

He cradled her against himself, continuing to run his fingers through her hair and occasionally pressing a kiss to her forehead. Nothing was spoken for a long time. He took in the sound of her breathing and the way it felt to have her fingers absently scratching his ribs.

He still couldn't believe that she was his. That she was here, in his loft, on his couch, in his arms. That she was allowing him to hold her and touching him affectionately in return. He couldn't resist tilting her chin up so he could kiss her.

"What was that for?" she asked when he drew back.

"Just so glad you're here," he answered, and he could hear the awe in his own voice.

She snuggled deeper into his embrace, turning her head so her lips were right next to his pulse point and nuzzling into him.

"I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be," she said quietly, and he felt his heart thump a little harder in his chest.

"How did I get to be so lucky?" he murmured. "How did I get to be the one who snuggles with you during movies and wakes you up after nightmares and kisses you good morning?"

He didn't expect an answer aside from maybe an extra squeeze, but Kate lifted up to meet his eyes.

"Do you remember that day when the Captain was asking for advice on an anniversary present?"

He nodded his answer.

"And when you asked what the secret to his marriage was, what did he say?"

Rick laughed.

"He said to just keep showing up."

The detective reached up to caress his stubbly jaw.

"That's what you did, Rick. You just kept showing up. Sometimes even when I didn't want you there."

He gave her a lopsided smile, and she continued.

"At first, I only let you stay because of your connections made me keep you along."

He had the decency to look a bit sheepish.

"And then I told myself that it was because you wereoccasionally helpful and you brought the good coffee."

He started to retort that he was more than occasionallyhelpful, but she pressed a finger to his lips to silence him.

"Eventually, I had to admit that you were fun to have around. You made me laugh, and I needed that."

He inclined his head toward her.

"I live to serve, milady."

Her eyes crinkled as she smiled at him and he wondered if he would fall a little more in love everytime she looked at him that way.

"Still, the boys make me laugh quite a bit, and I can make my own coffee, you know, and our solve rate was pretty good before you came around."

She paused as if considering the weight of her next words, and the writer stayed silent this time.

"But you showed up when no one else did," she said quietly. "You showed up when I got kicked off cases. You showed up when I was in over my head. You even showed up when I explicitly told you we were over."

He tightened his arms around her, and she allowed it. They had long since talked about that night and forgiven each other for harsh words spoken out of fear and hurt.

Finally, she spoke again, her words muffled by the way she had tucked her face into his shoulder.

"No one has ever been there for me the way you have. Not since I was growing up with my parents. And despite being a detective and spending every day seeing all the horrible things people do to each other, at some point, I started believing you when you said 'Always.'"

He gently tugged on her body until she lay fully atop him, stretched out in his embrace, his hands slowly sliding up and down her back, her cheek pressed against his.

"I meant it, Kate," he whispered hoarsely. "Anything and always."

She turned just a bit to kiss the skin closest to her, bringing her fingers up to trace the contours of his ear.

"I know, Rick, you've showed me in so many ways."

Then she pushed against his chest so she could rise up over him, and he was thrilled to see the peace and happiness in her green eyes. He felt his lips curl in an involuntary smile as he watched those eyes flick between his own gaze and his lips until she lowered herself to him.

He wrapped his arms fully around her lithe frame, anchoring her to himself and drinking her in. His eyes slid shut as their mouths met in a haze of passion, a long kiss that transitioned seamlessly from tender and languid to fierce and heated. He mapped the roof of her mouth with his tongue and she caught his in her own, drawing him back in when he moved to escape.

His hands dropped to her hips, sliding slowly beneath her shirt, the callused pads of his fingers swirling across the skin of her lower back. He dipped below her waistband, caressing the small dimples there and holding her tightly as she shivered against him.

"Ohhh," she moaned into his mouth, and the little sound flowed straight through him to lower regions. He kept his touch light and teasing, bringing his hands back to slightly safer areas, one gripping her waist, the other tracing its way up her spine, and finally coming to rest on her neck, tangled in her hair.

Finally, she pulled her mouth away from his, panting as she peppered his jaw with tiny kisses. She drew back, and he opened his eyes to find her watching him, his own adoration reflected in her gaze.

"I can't get enough of you," he breathed. "I don't think I ever will."

She brushed a thumb across his cheek and then leaned in until their breaths mingled and their noses were just touching.

"The feeling is entirely mutual, Mr. Castle."

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