His mouth opens. Closes. Opens again. No sound escapes him, not even the squeak she halfway expected.

But before she can explore exactly what 'all over' might mean, the alarm is blaring on the nightstand, startling both of them. He laughs, and she drops her head.

Castle throws a hand over to hit the snooze, then brings his arm back down to wrap once more around her shoulders, drawing her into his chest.

"Later," he whispers softly, and she nods.

He holds her there for a moment, tight against his warm, smooth skin. When she tilts her head to see his face, his eyes are closed, and he's smiling.

She lifts a hand to run lightly across those upturned lips. He parts them, catching one finger between his teeth, sliding his soft tongue along the tip.

Oh, he's not going to make it easy for her to leave his bed, is he?

She pulls her finger from his mouth, dragging it across his cheek to swirl around the shell of his ear, flicking at the lobe before she brings her hand back to brace her chin on his chest.

"None of that now," she chides gently, when he opens his eyes to give her a questioning look. "No time."

He drives her to distraction, and it would be so easy to just stay here with him, cocooned in warmth and peace and mutual affection. But they can't. There's a case and a daughter and an entire world outside of his bedroom, waiting for the two of them to emerge.

She braces herself on his chest, lifting up to press a soft kiss to his lips before she slides off. He catches her by the hand before she can get too far away, pulling her hand to his mouth to brush against her knuckles

"Thank you," he says quietly, meeting her eyes.

She pulls her hand from his grasp, skimming her fingers across his cheek, up to smooth his eyebrow, over to the short hair at his temple. He answers her unspoken question.

"For being here, for letting me in."

Oh. Oh. She doesn't deserve this good, wonderful, beautiful man.

She leans in to press her mouth fully to his, wet and deep and strong, pouring her love into him, giving him everything she can in this moment.

His hand curls around her neck, trapping her against him, but she doesn't want to escape, not from this. Not from him. Not anymore.

She lets the kiss come to its natural end as they both draw back to breathe. Her forehead rests against his, and she opens her eyes to find him watching her, eyes blue and fathomless and laying bare everything she knows he's wanted to say for so long.

She blinks slowly, not turning away from his silent declarations, but accepting them, taking them inside herself, cherishing and protecting them as he does for her.

Hooking her arm around his neck, she tugs him forward into an embrace.

"Thank you for not giving up on me."

He breathes deeply against her hair and slides his arms around her, cradling her, supporting her.

"Never, Katherine Beckett," he says, his voice low and firm and determined. "I will never give up on you. On us."

She doesn't know how he always has the right words, suspects he doesn't even know that he always has the right words for her.

His jokes, his encouragement, even his angry criticisms - they are always right, even when his words hurt because she knows them to be too true.

They need to talk, still. She needs to open herself to him. He needs to know. Why now, when she has turned him away for so long? Why now, when she told him a few months ago that there was a wall in the way?

But the alarm echoes into the room again, and she sighs instead of speaking, pulling back so he'll loosen his grip.

He releases her with a final brush of his lips against her forehead, a parting reminder of his affection.

When she swings her legs over the edge of the bed, Minnie is waiting, head tilted quizzically. The detective feels a flush of embarrassment rising in her cheeks, especially when Castles bare chest brushes her arm as he slides out of bed.

"Kate?" he calls, turning when he's already two steps away and she hasn't yet moved from the bed. "What's wrong?"

He laughs, and she looks up to see his eyes trained on the kitten.

"At least it wasn't Alexis coming in here," he says, and she knows he's got her pegged, as usual. He knows her far too well.

She buries her head in her hands, and he's immediately at her side. But when she lifts her face to him, his concern melts away upon seeing her laughter.

"It's just awkward," she says, shaking her head. "I mean, it's fine. It just caught me off guard. Is nothing sacred?"

He skims his hand over her back.

"If it makes you feel any better, there was this girl that I dated in college who had a dog, who had a bad habit of interrupting, ah, intimate moments," he offers.

She shakes her head.

"And how is that supposed to make me feel better?"

Castle grins, that impish smile that she loves, that she will never, never admit to loving.

"He was, shall we say, very friendly and enthusiastic. Always wanted to be the center of attention. And I do mean always."

Her imagination is a little too vivid, especially after spending so much time with the man beside her. She can't stifle the laughter, but he's grinning next to her.

"So you know, at least Minnie had the decency to disappear as best she could," he points out. "It's not her fault she was trapped in here."

She turns to him and smiles, then leans over to scoop up the kitten, who immediately begins purring. The writer runs a hand softly over the little thing's back, and she realizes that it was this - this gentle, protective, tender side of him - that finally got to her. That broke down the wall, or built a door, or put up a ladder, or dug a hole.

Without a detectable plan, he's managed to do what no man has ever done - reach her heart.

She sinks into his side as his arm wraps around her.

"C'mon," he whispers, his breath hot on her ear. "As much as I would love to stay right here with you all day, we've got a case to solve."

She nods and stands, extending a hand to pull him up with her.

This time, when they end up chest to chest, there's no awkwardness of boundaries nearly crossed, just a heat that blooms in her belly, a desperate wish that she had today off.

He clears his throat and squeezes her hand.

"Use my shower," he commands gently. "I'll make us some coffee and some breakfast. Any requests?"

She shakes her head.

"Whatever you feel like making," she says, already heading toward his bathroom. "Thanks."

She doesn't have to see him to know that he's watching her go. And she really wishes he would follow.

"One s'morelet coming right up."

The detective turns on her heel.

"One what?"

He grins.

"S'morelet," he repeats. "A delicacy that will delight and mystify your tastebuds, my dear detective."

She stalks back toward him and his grin drops.

"What?" he asks defensively. "It'll be delicious. You'll love it."

She shakes her head, but he continues to plead the case for his favorite breakfast concoction.

"Just try it, please," he pleads. "You didn't like the idea of me at first either, and look where we are now."

Oh, that's low. And sort of pathetic. But she can't help but smile at him.

"Are you comparing yourself to some kind of crazy breakfast food you've created?"

He shrugs.

"It's eggs - good. Chocolate - also good. Marshmallows - very good. And graham crackers - eh, but they complete it. Non-conventional, perhaps, but something that must be experienced."

That truly sounds disgusting, but he just looks so excited, standing there in his sleep pants and the white shirt that he (unfortunately, in her opinion) just slipped back over his upper body.

"Fine," she says, after a moment. "Make your s'morelet and I'll give it a try. But maybe you could fix some toast or something too? Just in case."

He nods, his eyes soft. Something about her acquiescence to his idea has given him this look that just melts her. She steps closer and pushes up on her toes to press her mouth to his, dropping back to the flats of her feet before either of them can get carried away.

"Go," she tells him, patting his hip. "I'll be out in a few minutes."

She can feel his eyes on her as she crosses the room and she pauses in the doorway of the en suite to look back at him.

Oh, she's never going to get used to the way he looks at her like she's the most important thing in the world, like she's the most beautiful creature he's ever seen.

"Go," she repeats, but there's no annoyance in her voice, no frustration. No telling him he's creepy for the way he stares at her. "Take Minnie with you. Otherwise she'll try to sneak into the shower with me."

He laughs, eyes darkening and glittering with mischief and what looks a lot like lust.

"Can't blame her for that."

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