She lifts shiny eyes to find him watching her through long lashes even as his head is bowed over their enmeshed fingers.

And then he's kissing not her hands but her mouth instead, his lips warm and supple over her own as he breathes new life into her lungs, into her soul.

This, this is what she's been waiting for. What she's been hoping, longing, aching for all these many months.

And maybe there's still a wall and maybe she's still broken and maybe she hasn't been honest with him about her memories, but he's sure doing a damn good job of making her forget all of that.

His hands release hers to tangle in her hair, cradling her head and pulling her closer to run his tongue lightly over her top lip. She opens to him, but he keeps the kiss soft, tender.

Her fingers unfold from where they lay trapped against his chest and she slides her left hand up, over his collar bone, across the cords of his shoulder to curl around his neck. The other hand remains firmly pressed against his thumping heart, his internal metronome keeping time with her own.

Castle shifts, one broad hand dropping from her hair to support her lower back, the writer's calloused fingertips finding their way to bare skin. She shudders as he gently strokes the base of her spine, and when the touch of his fingers is accompanied by the lovely sting of his teeth against her bottom lip, she gasps.

In surprise, he rocks back on his heels, pushing himself away from her. But short of crawling under the bed with the kitten, he has no place to go, so their knees stay pressed together, her hands dropping from his chest and neck to rest on his thighs.

The detective opens her eyes to find him nearly gaping at her, eyes a deeper blue than she's ever seen, dark and half-glazed with want, but so worried too, so concerned as he stares at her. Well, she can't have that.

"Mmm," she hums lazily. "You're about an hour and a half too late there, Castle."

His eyebrows furrow and she can almost see the wheels turning in his brilliant brain.

"Too...late?" he finally parrots back to her.

She nods.

"To pass this off as a new year's tradition."

He looks dumbfounded for a moment and then he laughs, that rich, sexy laugh that does wonderful things to her insides, even if it is tinged this time with a hint of giddiness. Maybe more because of the giddiness.

"Katherine Beckett, if this," he gestures between them, reaches up to fix his own twisted collar (and when did she do that?), "is what tradition is like with you, remind me to buy some mistletoe for next Christmas."

She lifts her hand to lightly circle a finger on one of his shirt buttons, giving him that shy, flirty smile that always seems to throw him off his game.

"What makes you think I don't already have some?"

The way he looks at her sends heat flooding through her veins, and never would she have thought that this - whatever this is - would happen here, on their knees on his bedroom floor after an apology and an absolution.

That's as far as she gets in her thinking process, because then he's leaning forward again and pulling her against his body and sliding his arms around her sides and oh, his lips.

This kiss is less frantic than any of their previous three, yet somehow feels far more urgent, like it bears the weight of everything between them. The first two, of course, were undercover and had the added element of danger and fear for their friends. And she suspects from his reaction to what happened a minute ago that he had not fully intended to kiss her and what's more, wasn't sure how she would receive it.

Now though, now that he knows that she's not going to shoot him, she can feel the change in the way his lips press against hers. She can feel the want, and yes - the need. But there's no desperation in the gentle motion of his head as he angles it just right, no fear in the soft swipe of his tongue at the corner of her mouth.

She can tell he's smiling when he breaks from her lips, light stubble grazing her cheek as his nose finds its way through her messy hair to brush the lobe of her ear.

"Is this okay?" he murmurs, his breath warming her neck.

It's too much, too soon for her recently mended heart, but she's not about to tell him to stop, can't make herself give this up, even if it might complicate things down the line.

She hums contentedly and winds her arms around his neck, pressing her torso against his chest, close and yet not nearly close enough.

He huffs a laugh against her skin, and that makes her hold him all the more snugly.

"This is good," she whispers. "You are good, Castle."

And it's more than just how he kisses her or the way he embraces her. It's him - his character and his heart and the way he pours everything he has into the people he loves. He's passionate and steadfast and truer than she's ever known.

She expects him to take her words and run with them, to warp them into the innuendo that he wields so well. And it would be fine. It would be him and his ego (that makes her smile, though she'd never admit it).

But he doesn't. He just breathes deeply, inhaling her and tugging her nearer.


Her name has never sounded better coming from him. Coming from anyone, actually.

"Do you believe me now?" she asks quietly, her cheek pressed to his.

"Hmm?" he responds, and if his eyes are even open, she can imagine the way he looks, a little dazed, a little dreamy. "What?"

She leans against his hands at her back, giving her enough room to see his face but not separating fully.

"When I said I don't blame you," she clarifies, pulling one hand from his neck to run her thumb under his eye. "Do you believe me now? Because I wouldn't have let you kiss me if I was holding some kind of ill-placed grudge."

His eyes are slowly clearing and he leans into her hand.

"I didn't exactly ask your permission though."

She shakes her head, sliding her fingers back to graze the shell of his ear.

"Trust me, Castle. If you didn't have my permission, you'd be crying in a ball on the floor by now."

His eyebrows lift, but he manages to hold back a smile.

"I believe you," he says, and she can tell by his serious tone and solemn face that he means it, not only concerning her ability to seriously injure him but also as it applies to their earlier discussion.

"Good," she says, gently tweaking his earlobe. "No more of that, okay?"

He loosens his grip on her, pressing himself back into the mattress behind him.

"No more of this?" he asks, one hand rubbing softly up and down her side, his eyes sparkling though the rest of his face remains somber.

She's never been happier to hear him joke with her. The detective shakes her head.

"I said no more of that, Mr. Understands Every Nuance of the English Language," she teases, before growing determined again. "No more of the guilt."

He nods his understanding.

"And this?"

She shrugs, biting her lip as she watches the play of emotions - hope, trepidation, joy - across his features. It's the trepidation that decides her.

Tucking herself into his embrace once more, she nudges her nose into his throat, leaving herself just enough space between her mouth and his skin to guarantee that he'll hear her words.

"I think more of this would be okay."

Back                         Home                              Castle Main Page                          Next

Your Name or Alias:      Your E-mail (optional):

Please type your review below. Only positive reviews and constructive criticism will be posted!