Disclaimer: All characters belong to Andrew Marlowe and ABC.

Castle couldn't help the small smile that appeared on his face as he took his seat next to Detective Beckett's desk. Within a very brief period, he had gone from fearing her response to his admitted jealousy to thanking his lucky stars that such an extraordinary woman not only let him follow her around all day but apparently wanted him in her life.

He'd known he was taking a risk by being honest with her. He had expected teasing, maybe even anger at the way he'd treated Conrad. And it would have been fully justified, he knew. Instead, when he finally owned up to his feelings—the resentment and hurt he'd experienced at seeing her spend time with another writer—she hadn't put him in his place or banished him from the precinct. She'd told him it was sweet.

And even better, she'd said that she was now a "one-writer girl." If it hadn't before, some part of her belonged to him and only to him. She was his muse and his alone (though he knew better than to call her that to her face). He had felt his heart leap at those words.

But it was a different, solitary word, spoken after the boys had left and the precinct was quiet, that had created what he felt now. It was nothing he'd ever experienced. His stomach was in knots and his heart was pounding and he thought someone might have shocked him while he wasn't looking because he could swear there was an electric current racing through his veins. He had goosebumps, and was thankful for his long sleeves and jacket.

"Always," she had said in response to his quiet "Thank you."

It was his word, his promise, given as she rewrapped his hand in the ambulance after they'd captured Lockwood. She had thanked him for having her back, and he'd needed to let her know that she never had to worry about going in alone.

And again, in the freezer. She had thanked him for being there, and he understood that she wasn't just talking about his help with the case. He had needed her to understand that he would stay with her, hold her close, even if their embrace outlasted their heartbeats.

How could six letters say so much, he wondered. And now, to have his word repeated back to him, to know fully what that meant. That when he was making a fool of himself because of his jealousy, she would still take him back. That when he tried too hard to hold on to her, she would step closer instead of pulling away. That she wouldn't make light of his feelings, that she took him seriously and valued his friendship and his partnership with her. That she had chosen him over another man, even if it was only as her plucky sidekick.

He wanted more, he wanted all of her, all to himself. But he realized—at long last—that he had time.

"Always," he breathed, so quietly that he wasn't even sure he'd spoken the word outside of his own head.

"Hmm?" She glanced up at him, turning away from her paperwork for a moment to focus on him.

He lost himself in her eyes. Their rich earthy tones captivated him, the way they crinkled at the edges when she smiled.

She nudged him lightly when he didn't respond.

"Hmm?" he asked, breaking his gaze.

"I thought I heard you say something."

"Did I? Just thinking," he said softly.

"About?" she prodded.

"Ahh, you know, just the power of words," he said with a smile.

She nodded, the sparkle in her eyes conveying her comprehension.

"You would know, what with being a writer and all," she replied with a wink.

"Yes," he affirmed. "Yes, I would."

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