He wakes to the smell of bacon.

Struggling through the fog of a hazy mind and somewhat hazier images of what must be a leftover dream, he sits up, pushing the heavy covers off his overheated body.

He may be too warm, but he feels good. So good. Especially for what must be early in the morning, judging from the lack of light filtering through his windows.

The writer stands and stretches, bending his neck back and forth and lifting his arms above his head.

Oh. Well, maybe not completely good. His triceps are a little sore. Hmm. He needs to work out more often.

The clang of pans in the kitchen echoes across the loft, delicious aromas wafting through his partially open bedroom door, and he pads toward his dresser to pull on a pair of flannel pants and worn navy tee shirt.

Not that his daughter hasn't seen him bare-chested plenty of times, but he's had more than one bad experience involving hot breakfast foods and bare skin, and the mere remembrance is enough to convince him to clothe himself this time.

He runs his fingers through messy hair, probably doing more damage than good, but it's just Alexis, and she doesn't care if his hair sticks up, as long as they're not in public.

Except when he emerges from his bedroom and office, it's not Alexis standing in his kitchen.

It's Kate.

Kate Beckett is hovering over his stove, idly using one hand to stir what looks to be a batch of scrambled eggs and munching on the strip of bacon she holds in the other hand while keeping an eye on the-

Are those pancakes?

It's not the first time he's woken to find her cooking in his kitchen. But even though he's still a bit groggy, he's fairly certain he's coherent enough that he'd remember if her apartment had exploded again.

And then she looks up. "Hey, sleepyhead."

A dazzling smile greets him, brilliant not for a flash of white teeth (her lips stay pressed together), nor for a wide spreading of her cheeks (her mouth moves very little, in fact). It's brilliant for the way her eyes light, peaceful and open and happy to see- happy to see him.


He knows he sounds winded, probably because he is. The sight of her standing there, so comfortable, so at ease, so joyful - it leaves him breathless.

"You hungry?" she asks softly. "I'm making dinner."

"Dinner?" he echoes, his eyes roving over the spread in front of her. "What time is it?"

She laughs, and his heart flips at the sound. "Only eight-thirty."

"At night?"

"Yes, at night," she answers, giving him an affectionate and somewhat exasperated roll of her eyes. "How long did you think I let you sleep?"

"Let me-" he begins and then shuts his mouth as the memories come flooding back.

An argument in the breakroom that led to unintended confessions from both of them, Kate walking out, him chasing her into a taxi, the sudden onslaught of lips and teeth and tongue in front of a flustered cabbie, the detective calling out a change in their destination.

And oh.


It wasn't a dream.

She… and then he… and yes, there's a reason his arms are sore, a reason she's standing in his kitchen barefoot, making him dinner.

Or, well, breakfast.

He sidles up to her, bumping his hip against hers. "So, breakfast? Is this all you know how to make?"

"Shut up."

He grins. Grins down at her, because with neither of them in shoes, he has at least a good four inches on her, and as much as he loves her fierceness, her ability to stand toe to toe and eye to eye - because you're tall - with him, he finds that something deep and primal within him loves this too. Loves that she's just the right height now that he could reel her in and her face would fit just right in the crook of his neck.

He wants that.

And so he takes it. He reaches over and tugs on her elbow until their chests bump deliciously and her thighs meet his and he can wrap his arms around her, one hand at her shoulder blade and one at her lower back.

She lets out a puff of air that he thinks is a laugh. Then she presses her nose to his throat and inhales.

Good Lord.

"You need a shower," she whispers against his skin, and he can't prevent the shiver that trails down his spine at the feeling of her hot breath.

"Do I?"

She hums her assent. "Mm. You smell like sweat. And cherries."

He's not going to survive this.

Castle clears his throat, tries to tamp down the rising need. She smiles against him, and it's nearly enough to make him forget food, forget anything but her. But she's put all this work into it and he finds suddenly that he is hungry. Must have burned a few calories somehow.

"So," he husks. "Breakfast. For dinner."

"Mm-hmm," she murmurs, pulling away from his embrace, eyes bright as she looks up at him. "I cooked scrambled eggs with cheese and fried up some bacon."

"And you made pancakes," he says, hearing the awe in his own voice as he watches her slide a spatula under the nearest one and flip it deftly. It's a perfect golden brown, dotted with oozing chocolate chips.

She tips her face up, grins with her tongue peeking out between her teeth. "Just consider this my way of saying thank you *so much* for this afternoon."

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