She leans back against the cool metal wall, closing her eyes as the doors slide shut. She's tired, so very tired.

Castle was squirrelly all day, poking and prodding at her nearly every chance he got, it seemed. She finally sent him home when he couldn't stop tapping his feet as he sat in his chair beside her desk. He'd given her an apologetic half-smile, citing a particularly over-active brain filled with ideas. She'd nodded, her eyes soft, and told him to go home and write it out.

She missed him though, missed his presence, his coffee, his sneaky grins, even his ridiculous theories.

God, he's turned her into such a sap. She kinda hates it.

Still, she can't deny that she quite likes the prospect of seeing him soon. She'll have dinner with him, and he'll make her laugh, make her forget about the frustrating lack of leads on this case. They'll curl up on the couch together to watch a movie or maybe to catch up on the several episodes of Big Bang Theory they've missed.

They'll have a quiet night in, and then maybe they'll have a not so quiet night in.

A faint blush stains her cheeks and the hint of a smile curves her mouth as the elevator signals its arrival, and she opens her eyes.

As the elevator opens, she glances down, gaze drawn to a fluttering yellow square on the floor just outside the lift doors. She steps out, leans down when she's clear of the doors, and picks up the sticky note, reads it.

-Chocolate Bars
-Graham Crackers

She laughs, the sound bubbling up in her chest without her conscious permission. Even if she didn't recognize his hasty scrawl, she'd know this was Castle's grocery list. Because really, who else would buy those items in that combination aside from her quirky, taste bud deprived partner?

Folding the note in half - the sticky side now dirty with precinct grime on the inside - she slides it into her pocket.

And then she looks up.


Oh, she really hopes these aren't more grocery lists of all the ingredients Castle needs for his odd culinary creations.

Every few feet, there's another sticky note on the concrete floor of the of the precinct parking garage. A few are yellow like the first, but there's a veritable rainbow of paper in front of her, and she wonders exactly how many pads he must have bought, imagines him grinning with child-like glee at a confused cashier as he bought out their entire stock of sticky notes.

Because there's more than just a trail of scribbled-on paper in front of her. That trail leads somewhere.

To be more specific, that trail leads to her car, every inch of it covered in the small squares.

She picks up the next note in front of her. Oh no.

-Flour Tortillas
-Chocolate Chips
-Cooking Oil

It's a list of the ingredients for his chocolate burrito. Really, Castle? Is this some kind of elaborate suggestion that she do the grocery shopping more often?

But the next note - blue this time - says Just kidding. ;)

With a winky face. Yes.

The next, however, makes her heart flutter. Well, really, the next eighteen.

She presses her lips together when she reads the first.

She walks in beauty like the night

The subsequent notes complete the poem. And she knows - he knows too - that she doesn't have raven tresses, that her mind is rarely at peace. But it's still sweet. He's still sweet.

By the time she makes it to her car, she's picked up Byron and Coleridge and cummings and Shelley, love poems all scrawled in Castle's familiar hand.

And then she gets close enough to her car to see the note on her back bumper with a giant red 1 contrasting sharply with the neon green paper. She pulls it off, reads the smaller writing near the bottom edge: and done.

Next to that, there's a two, of course, and next to two, there's a three.

She works her way around and around the car, pulling off each note in order and reading the messages he's left for her.

Some are funny and more than a little suggestive: 49: You were right - I can't handle the sight of you in tight black leather.

Others leave her choking back tears: 137: I wish I had been fast enough to save you from that bullet.

But most are somewhere in between, just the words of her goofy, sincere, beautiful partner.

562: You're the hottest fake Russian hooker I've ever had the pleasure of knowing.

4,785: I admire your perseverance when it comes to justice. Not so much when it comes to beating me in laser tag.

9,224: Your laugh leaves me breathless.

12,356: I love the way you love my daughter.

It takes her a solid hour to peel off the notes, and she can't imagine how long he must have spent sticking them on her car, can't begin to fathom how many countless hours he must have spent writing to her.

She knows, intellectually, that the ache in her feet hasn't disappeared, that her shoulders are still tight with stress, that the exhaustion of the day hasn't just packed its bags and gone home.

But she's having a little trouble remembering all of that at the moment when her heart is brimming, overflowing with his words, with his love for her.

She picks up note 14,545: Thank you for putting up with me for five and a half years.

And then she hesitates, pauses for a moment as her hand hovers over the last note.

Taking a deep breath, she leans over the hood of her car and reads the writing.

14,546: I hope you'll put up with me for a few years more.

A throat clears behind her and she startles, whips around.

It's him. Of course.

He steps toward her, lifts his hand to her cheek, and she realizes she's crying, hot tears slipping rapidly down her cheeks as he wipes them away with a broad thumb.

"Castle, what-" she starts, but he cuts her off, dipping his head to press a swift, tender kiss to her lips.

"There's one more," he whispers when they break apart.

She shakes her head, glancing back toward the massive pile of sticky notes on the hood of the car behind her. "Don't you think I have enough?"

He smiles, but his eyes are solemn. "I think you'll want to read this one."

She nods her assent and he takes a step back, reaches into his pocket, and withdraws a final note.

Even through the sheen of tears, she can make out the writing on the yellow sheet.

14,547: And by a few years more, I really mean forever. (turn over)

Her throat closes up, heart pounding hard in her chest as she follows the written instruction and flips over the paper, her fingers brushing his warm palm.

A single piece of scotch tape holds a thin circlet of gold in place, an inset diamond glinting in the artificial light of the garage.

"Marry me, Kate," he murmurs.

She says yes.

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