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

They were lost in each other, fully enraptured in a world of their own making, a world of whispered promises and gentle caresses. The detective and the writer knew nothing but each other. Their tongues tangled and teased, expressing without words the banter that had always been their signature style-the back and forth, the playfulness, the toe just over the line.

"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't know..." Rick felt Kate startle in his arms and tore his mouth from hers to see his daughter standing, frozen, behind the couch. She was bright red, and looked very embarrassed. Kate had hidden her face in his shoulder and he could feel the heat of her cheeks against his skin.

He reigned in his own awkwardness and smiled up at his daughter.

"Hey pumpkin, what's up? Everything okay?"

"Y-yeah, everything's fine. Just came down for a drink and thought I'd check on you guys. I'll just-I'll just go back upstairs now."

Her face had reddened further during her little speech and she finally turned away with one last horrified look at him. He could tell by the set of her shoulders that she was fighting the urge to run up the stairs. As soon as she was out of earshot, a rumble of a laugh rose up in his chest. Kate smacked him, lifting up to meet his eyes and giving him a glare he hadn't seen in quite some time.

"Richard Castle, how can you laugh at this?"

"What? It's funny."

"It is not funny," Kate growled. "Your daughter just caught us making out on the couch. How are you not mortified?"

He chuckled again, earning another smack on the chest, and carefully sat up and set Kate next to him. She buried her face in her hands.

"Hey now," he said softly, reaching over to place a hand on her back. "It's okay, she's okay."

He pulled her hands away and cradled her jaw, secretly enjoying the flush on her cheeks.

"She loves you, Kate," he told her. "And she knows I love you. Besides, it's not like she's never seen me kiss you."

"We were not just kissing, Castle," she pointed out. "I was...God, I was on top of you, you were grabbing my ass!"

He had the decency to blush then, but couldn't resist paying her a compliment.

"And a very nice ass it is too."

She didn't hit him this time, but she did narrow her eyes at him, and he decided he'd better back off if he wanted to kiss her again any time soon.

"I'll go talk to her, make sure she's okay."

"I don't know if I'll ever be able to look her in the eyes again, Rick. Nobody's caught me making out with a boy since I was in high school."

He arched his eyebrows.

"I, Miss Beckett," he said with a lascivious grin, "am no boy. Or have you forgotten so quickly? Do I need to remind you of my rugged manliness?"

Her blush, which had begun to fade, bloomed anew, and she pursed her lips in a way that told him she was holding back a smile.

"Oh no, Mr. Castle. I'm well aware of your manliness. But right now, you need to go make sure we didn't scar your sweet daughter for life."

He reached over for a hug, and after a moment's resistance, she relaxed into the embrace.

"I'll go talk to her," he whispered. "Thank you for caring so much about her."

"Thanks," she murmured into his ear. "And thanks for sharing her with me."

She pulled away and stood, extending a hand to him.

"I'm gonna go take a shower while you talk to Alexis," she said.

He looked at her pleadingly as he got to his feet.

"No, you can't join me."

He pouted, and she laughed good-naturedly.

"Some other time, Rick," she said, and he sighed, resigned to his current fate.

He leaned over to place a chaste kiss on her cheek.

"Okay, then. Have a nice shower. I'll go work on undoing any permanent damage."

She squeezed the hand she still had in her grasp and then released him, heading toward the office and his bedroom. He knew she preferred his larger shower, and he was happy to let her use it. It did, at times, overwhelm him to walk into his bathroom and find himself surrounded by the scent of her, but it was a sacrifice he willingly made.

He shook himself from his thoughts after a moment of staring after her, made sure he was presentable, and steeled himself for the coming conversation. He took the stairs slowly.

He hesitated a moment outside his daughter's closed door before finally lifting his hand to rap lightly on the wood.

"Come in," she called, and he thought that she didn't sound too traumatized.

He opened her door carefully, leaning part of the way into the room.


"Hey dad."

She wouldn't meet his eyes.

"Can I come in?"

She rolled her eyes at him.

"Of course."

He gave her a somber smile and came to sit next to her, pulling her into his side as he rested his back against the headboard. He waited until she had marked her spot in the book she was reading before he spoke.

"I'm sorry."

She didn't ask what he meant, just sighed and snuggled into him a little more.

"It's okay," she said haltingly. "I was just surprised."

"I am sorry," he repeated, realizing now why Kate had been so embarrassed. This was incredibly awkward.

"I know, Dad," Alexis reassured him.

She tilted her head to meet his eyes.

"I know you and Kate are together, and I know that you love her. I love her too."

She paused, and he could see that she was wrestling with her thoughts.

"I don't mind watching you cuddle with her or seeing you kiss her hello and stuff like that. I think it's kinda sweet."

"But..." he prompted.

"But you're my dad, and it still freaks me out a little to think of you doing any more than kissing. It's just...I don't know...it's just icky."

He chuckled.

"Now you know how I felt that night when I came home and met Ashley the first time."

He elbowed her lightly in the ribs as her face flushed again.

"Yeah, but we were just kissing," she said. "You and Kate were...well, not just kissing."

She shuddered slightly, and it was all he could do not to laugh again.

"We didn't mean to make you uncomfortable, pumpkin. And we'll try to be a little more aware of our surroundings from now on."

Alexis lifted up to kiss his cheek.

"Thanks, Dad. Is Kate okay?"

He smiled at her concern.

"She's fine, sweetheart, just embarrassed, and probably a little mad at me."

He felt his daughter tense in his arms.

"Mad at you? Why? Are you guys alright?"

He hugged her closer, kissing her forehead.

"We're good, baby. Better than good actually. I just made the mistake of laughing after you left and she didn't take very kindly to that."

His confession earned him a thump on the chest.


"I'm sorry! I couldn't help it! You were just so flustered, it was cute! Geez, what is it with you women hitting me?"

That got a laugh out of his daughter, who reached over to grab a pillow. She swung it at him full force before he had a chance to defend himself. But it didn't take him long to recover.

She tried to get in another hit as he lunged, but she missed, and he tackled her into the softness of the mattress, pinning her as he reached for her ribs to tickle her into submission. It only took a moment for her to reach the breaking point as she giggled uncontrollably, tears streaming down her cheeks.

"Alright, alright, I surrender!" she conceded breathlessly, lifting her hands in defeat.

His own breath came in gasps as he let himself fall on top of her.

"Ugghh, Dad, get off," she begged, pushing her hands against his chest. "You're heavy."

He rolled onto his side next to her, grinning at his daughter who lay there panting, her face flushed with exertion and laughter.

He threw an arm out, landing it above her head, and she took the invitation, tucking herself into his side, her cheek resting just over his heart.

He placed a soft kiss on the crown of her head, sniffing her fiery hair. She smelled sweet, different than she had when she was a baby or a little girl, but her scent was still comforting to him and he felt his heart swell with love for her.

She wrapped an arm fully around him, smushing her cheek into his chest.

"I love you, Dad."

His heart clenched, and he felt tears springing to his eyes.

"I love you too, baby bird, so much."

He basked in the warmth for a moment, before lifting her chin in his strong hand so he could see her face.

"You'll always be my number one girl, you know that, right?"

She nodded sagely.

"I'm yours, pumpkin, first and foremost, and I always will be."

She spoke then, and he wondered if his heart might just explode right out of his chest.

"I know, but I don't really mind sharing you with Kate."

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