"You mind if we leave Minnie here for now?"

As soon as she uses that plural pronoun, he's smiling. Easy to please. It's the little things with him.

"That's fine," he nods, lifting his hand to brush the backs of his fingers against her cheek, a gentle gesture that is quickly becoming one of her favorites. "You want to just leave her in my bedroom? Less chance of her getting out accidentally."

She leans into his hand as it unfurls against her, pressing a kiss to his warm palm.

His eyes fill with something tender, something giving, something deeper than mere affection, deeper maybe even than love.

"That sounds like a good idea," she says softly, reaching between them with both hands to scoop up the sleeping kitten, letting one hand linger against his thigh until he pointedly clears his throat.

His eyes are closed when she looks back up, darker when they finally open.

"Not nice to tease, Kate," he says, his voice rough, tight.

She leans in, kitten trapped in her hand between their chests, and presses her mouth to his jaw, nibbling her way up to whisper in his ear.

"Not a tease, Rick," she breathes, placing a sultry accent on his first name, letting a hot puff of air wash over his ear on the plosive k. "A promise."

His heart thunders against the back of her hand. Such power she has over him. Does he know he holds the same?

She slides from his ear to his mouth, pushing her body into him, pouring out her desire. His hands clench at her sides, fisting the material of her shirt, pulling her closer, holding her there. But she wouldn't leave if she could.

His tongue strokes against her bottom lip and she opens to him, taking him inside, all glorious pressure and divine heat.

Oh, they're going to drive each other crazy, aren't they?

A squeak echoes from the vicinity of his sternum and she forces herself away from him, wipes a hand across her mouth, looks up to find him doing the same, his expression a little dazed.

"Think we've scarred her for life?" he asks after a moment, humor tinging the want in his voice.

The detective's eyes light on little Minerva, find something of a kittenish glower on the tiny face.

"Oh," he laughs. "She's perfected the Beckett glare."

His words earn him a poke in the abdomen. He splutters, but she soothes the offended spot with her thumb, rubbing away the temporary pain, gliding over his ribs. Back and forth, back and forth.

He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, his hands lowering from her sides to rest on her hips.

"Kate," he says, voice low and strained.


He inhales once more, as if he's steeling himself for something, and her thumb pausing in its ministrations.

"I never thought I'd say this, but I need you to stop touching me."

Oh. Yeah. Probably a good idea if they want to make it anywhere but to his bedroom today, though that plan would not be without merit.

"Sorry," she whispers, though she can hear no trace of real apology in her own voice.

He lifts his hand to take hers, twining their fingers, and she steps back, out of the vee of his legs, out of the cozy warmth of his surrounding body.

His lips find their home on her temple briefly as he squeezes her hand.

"I'll go get her food and water and put them into the bathroom so she'll have everything she needs."

He provides. She understands that about him. Loves that about him. He gives his daughter and mother everything they could ever need to be happy. He brings her coffee and food, makes sure she's warm and well-fed. He takes care of people. And small animals, apparently.

She turns to catch his lips in a quick, soft kiss.


He doesn't ask why, just nods and leaves the office, lets her make her way back into the bedroom to get the kitten settled before they go.

His bed remains unmade, sheets and covers messy and twisted. Twin indentations grace the pillows, evidence of her night spent in his arms, sleeping next to the man she loves.

It steals her breath for a moment, the image in front of her. She shuts her eyes and finds his face swimming before her: the slack mouth at rest, the stubbled jaw, the ruffled hair, the little furrow in his brow as he slept.

"Help me make the bed?"

She startles, and he chuckles, bumping her with his hip to nudge her through the entrance to the room, closing the door behind them.

Her eyes track his movements. The writer disappears briefly into the bathroom and returns empty-handed. She hasn't strayed from her spot near the door though, and his head tilts in question when he sees her.

"You okay there?"

She nods, a slow smile creeping onto her face.

"Very much so."

His eyes shine at her answer and he comes to stand in front of her, curling his hands around her biceps, dipping his head to drop a kiss to the end of her nose, then one to her forehead, another to the birthmark low on her cheek.

One hand rises to her neck, angles her head to press his mouth just under her bottom lip. She chuckles.

"You missed."

He narrows his eyes, kisses her chin again.

"I'll have you know, Detective," he pronounces haughtily. "That I have impeccable aim."

She leans back.

"Is that so?"

He hums, that little sound that stirs up something in her belly.

"Who says I'm only interested in your mouth?"

Oh. Oh. Heat flares within her and she feels the flush rising from her chest to paint her cheeks a rosy pink.

The corner of his mouth twitches with a restrained smile. Cocky wise-ass.

She lowers her eyes, lets them drift slowly up his body, hovering at his waist a moment longer than strictly necessary. His hips jerk toward her - not much, but enough to let her know that she's gotten her revenge.

He steps away.

"Uh, yeah. So, the bed?"

She looks up sharply, and he blushes.

"Ah, make the bed," he clarifies, stumbling over the words. "Would you? Help me, I mean."

She holds back her own smile and nods.

"I think you need all the help you can get, Castle."

He glares at her, but she ignores it, just bends to set Minnie on the floor as he heads over to the opposite side of the large bed.

He tosses back the covers and then the sheets, leaning over to grab the pillows and drop them on the floor. She watches as he smoothes the fitted sheet, readjusting corners where they've ridden up. She follows his example and does the same on her side.

They work in silence, the swish of the linens the only sound in the room. There's an odd tension between them, not uncomfortable, but present all the same. Something about this domestic task is almost too much, almost too fast.

He catches her eye and nods toward the top sheet, reaching down to grasp his side at the same time she does hers.

Together, they lift the billowing fabric, dragging it up toward the head of the bed.

And just as she's about to tuck it in, to create the neat hospital corners the way her mother taught her, a gray streak dives underneath.

The writer laughs as the Minnie-shaped lump moves from Kate's side of the bed toward the other, zig-zagging out of reach when the detective leans over to try to grab the small creature.

Castle pushes a knee onto the mattress, lifts up and over the middle, gets a hand on the squirming kitten. But under the tight sheets, the little thing rolls on her back, wraps her paws around him. Even through the fabric, she manages to nip at his fingers, and he jumps back, startled.

When he looks up, hand held to his chest, Kate meets his eyes. Oh, the affront in those sparkling blues. He plays it so believably, the pretend hurt.

"I think I'd rather let her be," he says, turning his hand as if to check for any major wounds. "Those teeth are sharp."

Kate nods, lips pursed in a controlled smirk. She knows it well. She continues with her previous activity, tucking in the corners on her side, rounding the end of the bed to do the same on his. Minnie will just have to worm her way out the top. Castle gets in a quick squeeze of her hip before she makes it back to the other side, and she shoots him a look that is half reproach for distracting her, half simple affection and gratitude. He just grins in response.

The two of them finish making the bed, pulling the comforter over the wriggling mound in the center of the bed. When they've got it done, pillows back on and fluffed, Castle sits on the edge, then flops down on his side.

"Minnie," he calls softly, lifting his eyes to Kate's for a moment, tenderness and pleasure floating between them.

The kitten has been still for the past few seconds, but as soon as she hears her name, they see a shift where her head must be, and she turns in the direction of Castle's deep voice.

There's a muffled meow, and he sets his hand over the thickly covered body, petting her through the blankets.

The writer glances up, beckoning the detective with his eyes, and she allows herself to drop down opposite him, the bulge in the covers between them.

Her hand joins his in stroking the kitten through the blanket, and as soon as it does, a loud purring shatters the easy silence in the room.

Castle lets out a little laugh, and Kate peers through her eyelashes to see him watching the movement of their hands, his face alight with joy.

This man...what did she ever do to deserve him?

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