She's crying when he comes in from the cold for the third time, his arms laden down with paper bags so he can't even reach for her when he sees her rushing past him, her hands covered in flour and her face streaked with tears and mascara.

He drops the bags on the counter as quickly as possible, hears the heavy clang of cans against the granite, sees one of the bags tipping as he steps away, but he doesn't care, doesn't take the time to right it, just lets it fall.

"Kate?" he calls softly as he steps into the office, but the room is empty, as is his bedroom.

He finds her curled in the corner of his bathroom, knees up to her chest and her face buried in her hands as she sobs.

"Kate..." he whispers, falling to his knees in front of her, his whole body canting toward her, his hands reaching before he hesitates, hovers there before her.

He can't see anything physically wrong with her, no burned knuckles or sliced fingers, but a stripe of flour dusts her dark hair and her shoulders tremble.

"Castle," she groans, and it breaks him from his examination of her.

Leaning forward, he catches her as she launches herself into his arms and he rocks back, landing hard on his rear on the cold tile floor, his arms full of shaking woman.

She buries her face in his neck, and he knows it means he'll have to change shirts again and they've only got half an hour before her dad gets there and they still have food to finish and places to set and things to do, but he doesn't care, doesn't care, just wants to know what's wrong, just wants to hold her and make whatever caused this go away.

His large palm cradling the back of her head, he rocks her gently, murmurs soothing words of peace and love into her ear, confused and aching and worried about this woman who means everything to him.

"What happened?" he whispers as she finally calms against him, her hiccuping breath quieting.

She shakes her head. "I just..."

"The kitchen's not on fire," he says, his voice low and rough. "So it can't be that bad."

He knows he's taking a risk by joking with her, but she chokes out a laugh, and his heart stutters at the sound.

"I need you to go to the store again. I forgot cream of mushroom soup."

"You're crying about cream of mushroom soup?" he wonders aloud, tugging her back so he can see her face.

Her eyes well up again, and he just pulls her forward. "I'll go. Need anything else?"

She shakes her head against him, and he presses his lips to her hair, breathing in the scent of flour and spices and her.

"Are you really that invested in your green bean casserole?" he asks. "Because I know it's an American classic, but really, Kate..."

A sharp poke in his side lets him know she doesn't appreciate his teasing, but then she leans back, perching herself on his thighs, her fingers curled around the placket of his shirt.

"I can't remember a single time growing up that my mom had to send someone to the store on Thanksgiving because she'd forgotten something," she says quietly. "I just... She always had it all together and it was perfect and beautiful and delicious and this is the first big Thanksgiving I've had since she died, and..."

He hushes her with a finger over her mouth, and she glares, but the look drops away when he lifts his thumbs to brush away the remaining tears on her cheeks.

"We always had Chinese takeout for Thanksgiving when I was growing up," he confesses. "And when I started hosting, Alexis and I usually ended up at the bodega at least seven times on Thanksgiving, getting something we'd forgotten."

He ducks his head when she looks down, forcing her to meet his eyes.

"Four times?" he scoffs. "Pffft...this is nothing, Kate. You've got it more together than I ever will."

Carefully, he lifts her off his legs and then heaves himself up from the floor. "Cream of mushroom soup. Anything else?"

She shakes her head, and he turns away, reaching into his pocket to make sure he has his keys.

"Castle?" she whispers, and he feels her fingers curling around his arms. "You're a wonderful man."

He grins at her over his shoulder, and she gives him an apologetic look. "I'm sorry I didn't see that before."

"What?" he asks, a little hurt by the implication.

"I'm sorry I didn't see that I needed cream of mushroom soup before your last trip to the store."

He laughs. "Oh. I thought-"

"What?" she says, raising an eyebrow.

"I thought you meant you were sorry that you didn't see before that I was a wonderful man."

Stepping toward him, she wraps her arms around his waist, pressing up on her toes to feather her lips against his cheek.

"Nope," she whispers, her breath washing warm and soft over his ear. "That I've known for awhile now."

A/N: Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers, and to all of you, I hope you know how incredibly thankful I am for you, not just today but every day. I've gotten to know some amazing people through this fandom, and I'm so grateful for your encouragement and friendship.

Now I'm off to make some green bean casserole. Which yes, took multiple trips to the store today before we had all of the ingredients. That last exchange? My mom and dad about an hour ago. Thankfully, there were no tears involved.

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