For Cora Clavia, and because I needed a break from writing about economic policy.

He's going to kill the cat.

He'd finally - finally! - gotten to sleep, finally managed to calm his racing brain, finally managed to still his adrenaline-soaked body. And now this. A frantic, unending, pitiful mewing just outside the closed bedroom door.

He's not sure how Kate could still be asleep. Not sure how anyone could sleep through this. But he glances over at her still form, one elbow jutting out from beneath the sheet, the rest of her body hidden from him, her face turned away. She sleeps.

And then it stops. The caterwauling ceases, and he leans back, his head settling against the mattress once more. The woman always steals his pillow.

He lets out a sigh of relief at the sudden, welcome quiet. His eyes fall shut, his ears picking up the nearly silent sound of Kate's breathing next to him. She's so soft in sleep, her whole body loosening, her face relaxing until she looks years younger, free from the worries and stress of her waking life.

Carefully, he turns onto his side until he can watch the rise and fall of her body as she breathes, observe the slight twitch of her elbow every minute or so. He's not sure how long he watches her, is a little surprised his staring hasn't woken her, to be honest. But then, he supposes, she got used to him watching her at work. Of course she's used to it here too.

"Go to sleep, Castle."

Or not. He chuckles, lifting his hand to stroke down her smooth arm, pushing the sheet away from her skin. She shivers, whether from his touch or the cool January air, he doesn't know.

When his fingertips ghost over her wrist, she flips her hand, tugging him close.

"Why are you awake?" she murmurs. "It's only-"

She leans forward, her body arching off the bed toward the nightstand and the alarm clock that glows blue in the darkness of the room. "It's three in the morning, Castle."

He pulls her back into the cove of his arms, wrapping himself around her, nuzzling into her until his nose brushes the back of her ear.

"Trust me," he whispers, his breath ruffling her hair as he relishes the quiver of her body in his grasp. "I'd rather be asleep."


"So what?"

"So why're you awake?" she repeats, turning in the circle of his arms, her nose bumping his chin.

So close. He loves having her so close, her skin sleep-warm and soft against his, her muscles relaxes as her runs his fingers along the long line of her spine. She's still a miracle here in his bed. Always will be, maybe.


He startles slightly at the sound of his name, must have drifted off a little in his thoughts of her, and she lets out a quiet laugh that makes his heart flutter girlishly in his chest.

Smiling, he presses his lips to her forehead.



Kate jerks in his arms, the hard ridge of her knee bumping against his, and it's the writer's turn to laugh.

"That's why," he says.

She leans back a bit, just enough that he can see the raised eyebrow in the dim light of the bedroom. "Was that my cat?"

He nods. "Uh-huh."

The meowing starts again, a constant noise, and he's really kind of amazed at the little creature's lung capacity.

Sitting up, the detective pulls out of his arms, sheet and blanket falling away and leaving him to quietly grin at the flow of loose-fitting cotton that covers her body, something old and soft and comfortable. She looks cuddly. She is cuddly.

And she's getting out of his bed.


"Something must be wrong, Castle," she says, turning back to look at him as he reaches toward her with one hand. "She doesn't usually cry like that."

He shakes his head, catches her by the fingertips. "Alexis said she cried like that last night too."


"Near as she could figure," he says softly, his thumb smoothing over the back of her hand. "She missed her momma."

Kate's gaze turns toward the door, toward the still meowing kitten on the other side. "Oh. I guess..."

She trails off.

"You guess..." he prompts her.

She turns back to look at him, an odd, wistful expression on her face. "I guess it was the first time I've been away from her at night. She usually sleeps with me."

He wants to laugh, wants to tell her it's just a cat, but something in her eyes arrests him, something tender that catches in his chest, makes him want to watch her crawl out of his bed for another crying creature.

"We can," he starts, but has to clear his throat. "We can let her in, if you want. She can sleep with us."

But to his surprise, the detective shakes her head. "No."


"No," she says more firmly, her fingers curling around his, nails scratching lightly against his palm and making his stomach feel funny. "She'll have to get used to not sleeping with me all the time. She'll have to learn to share."

"I don't mind, Kate, really, I-"

She cuts him off. "I do."

He tilts his head. "You do? Why?"

She arches an eyebrow, and he gets the sudden feeling that she thinks he shouldn't have to ask this question.

"Do you really want the cat in here with us when I wake you up in the middle of the night?" she wonders aloud.

He shrugs. "Well, we don't really get that many middle of the night body drops, and anyway, I don't see how that would-"

He shuts his mouth as her knee rises to rest on the edge of the bed, her hand deserting his to press against his chest instead, forcing his back to the mattress. She chuckles, and the sound makes his whole body jerk toward her touch, his muscles contracting under her hands as her cool palms drift over his ribs and down.

Grinning, she leans toward him, brushes her lips briefly across his cheek on the way to his ear. "Not what I meant, Writer-Man."

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