Chapter written by theputz913 :)

XXX

Kate extricates herself from their tangle of arms and legs to make a pit-stop in the bathroom before heading out into the kitchen. As she exits the bathroom, it occurs to her that she hasn't worn a stitch of clothing since Rick removed her sopping wet clothes the night before. She looks for something to throw on before that trip to the kitchen to start the coffeemaker. Rick's maroon button down dress shirt from last night rests at the foot of the bed and draws her like a moth to a flame. Having dreamed of being dressed in nothing but one of his shirts, she couldn't fight the temptation...yet another fantasy fulfilled. Not quite as exciting as what transpired in this very room last night and again a few hours ago this morning, but a good fantasy nonetheless.

It seems odd wandering around Castle's loft dressed as she is and him still sleeping soundly in his room, but she gets a strong sense of belonging...home, here that she hasn't felt in such a long time. One night in his arms and I am already thinking of the loft as home. Really, Kate? How sappy is that? Am I really "that girl" now? No! You're just realizing that you're finally where you belong. Why does that voice in my head sound so much like Lanie? Oh, God, Lanie! She is going to have a field day with this and she is going to want details! Should I tell her about this now or just enjoy what we have for a little longer? I guess that is another thing I am going to need to talk to Rick about...yeah...I said I'm going to talk to him about it!

Grabbing a couple coffee mugs from the cabinet she goes about preparing what she hopes becomes a part of her new morning routine. She has every intention of starting to pay back her debt of one hundred coffees. He brought me coffee every morning for four years just to see me smile...it was our version of a good morning kiss...but now I get the benefit of the "real thing" and coffee. Could this day get any better?

"Kate."

Oh, wait...yeah...I guess it could...I'm going to need to take a shower at some point...maybe someone could help me wash my back.

"Kate, what are you doing out here?" Rick asks hesitantly until he sees how she is dressed. He had a moment of panic when he woke up in the bed alone. His sleep fogged mind afraid that Kate had left. Or worse, yet, he had dreamed what took place last night.

"Huh? Oh, I was just making some coffee. I still owe you a hundred or so. I must have got lost in thought. How long have you been up?" she grins knowing the innuendo will be on the tip of his tongue.

"I, uh...I've only been awake for a few minutes. When I woke to an empty bed...," he mumbles again before finishing his thought about the panic that he experienced at her absence. "I thought maybe last night was a dream."

"Last night wasn't a dream Castle and neither was this morning. I'm here...we're here, together" she says trying to say something comforting to get him to relax.

"Well, I couldn't be sure...it's not the first time I've had a dream about you...us...shutting up now!" He cringes waiting for the 'Beckett glare' that never appears.

"In your dreams, was I ever dressed in nothing but your shirt and making you coffee?" She smirks at him over her shoulder as she finishes preparing their morning shot of caffeine.

"Yeah, actually, you've been dressed in a range of items...ranging from nothing to..."

"You know Castle, I really don't want to know how twisted your imagination is where I am concerned...dream or not," she chuckles.

"There is one thing that I never got to do in my dreams...," he shrugs at her.

"Do I dare ask what that might be?" Kate sighs as Rick comes up behind her his free hand squeezing her hip as the other takes the mug she extends to him.

"I never got to say 'good morning, Kate' or give you a proper good morning kiss," he adds shyly with what Kate interprets as a little bit of a blush.

"Well...in that case...we can't just leave the dream unfinished then can we?" She beams leaning in to give him a quick kiss.

"I have so many things that I want to ask you about today, but there is one that I just can't wait to know the answer to," he flashes that knowing smile.

"Okay, what do you want to know? Can it wait until I've at least had one cup of coffee?" She asks with a hopeful grin.

"Yeah...I guess I can wait a minute or two seeing as that is about how long it will take you to make that cup disappear. I need to send Alexis a quick text anyway. I need to find out when she will be home."

"Rick...is this..." she stammers gesturing between the two of them, "is she going to be okay with us... being here...like this?"

"Honestly, Kate, I don't know what her reaction will be. I am pretty sure that shock might come into play...I mean look how long it took us to get to this point. It only makes sense that she might need a little time to adjust after everything that has happened between us in the last couple months. It has been one hell of a bumpy ride. Mother and Alexis had a front row seat for the debacle that was my life. They got to witness the depth of my stupidity, especially when it came to my feelings for you."

"Your mother and Alexis have every right to hate me for all of the crap I put you through. If I would have just told you that I remembered we could have avoided the pain we caused each other. Why didn't you just ask me when it happened? Why did you wait to confront me until your breaking point at my apartment?"

"Kate, we have never been good at talking about our feelings and as dumb as it sounds now, I convinced myself that the only reason for your silence, was that you didn't feel the same way about me and didn't want to ruin our partnership." He says with tears sparkling at the corners of those baby blues that she loves so much.

"Oh God, Rick...I am so sorry. I... I was just scared of what it meant. I was still trying to deal with the wall and my mom's case. I was seeing a therapist to help me get ready for that relationship I wanted so desperately. I just wanted you, but I was just scared...still am, if we're being honest." She sighs not able to meet his eyes.

"Kate, we both did some really stupid things, but we have plenty of time to figure this all out. We have plenty of time to talk all of this stuff out and come to terms with the damage we have done, but today needs to be about the now...not about the past. We need to talk about where we go from here...not where we've been." He says reaching out to pull her into his arms.

"You're right, let's focus on the good things...and we have a couple REALLY GOOD things to focus on in light of recent events," she winks as a wonderful shade of red flushes the bit of her chest he can see above the opening of his dress shirt.

"Will you answer my question now?" he pleads.

"I'll answer your question, but when I am done...you need to answer one from me too."

"Fine," he says with a mix of joy and confusion.

"What's your question?"

"Did I earn my reward, or do you need a little more proof?" He grins with hopeful sigh.

"Can I get back to you on that one? That one requires a little more..."

He doesn't even let her finish that thought as he separates from their embrace to steal her breath with a kiss that is so passionate that it makes her weak in the knees. "Please, please tell me you need to do a little more research before you can make that decision." He breathes in her ear as he continues to press kisses to her temple.

"Yes, please...more research," she gasps trying to recover her normal breathing pattern.

"I think I can accommodate that request later. Okay...what was your question?" The curiosity getting the better of him.

"Do we want to share our news with everyone or just keep it to ourselves for just a bit?" She ponders out loud.

"Well we won't be able to keep it from Alexis...her text says she will be here right after lunch...it's already 11:30. And you aren't going anywhere. I am going to hold you in my arms all day if you will let me and we are going to share our news with my daughter together. As far as the gang from the 12th, I will let that be your decision. I wouldn't mind keeping "us" quiet for awhile but you can make that call. I don't really care as long as I can do 'this'," he mumbles as he kisses his way up her jaw to that spot right behind her ear, "any...time...I...want."

"I would prefer the idea of letting you and I get comfortable being an "us" before everyone else gets to put their two cents in. You know Lanie will be relentless."

"Hey, I wonder who won the pool on us? He teases.

"What pool? How did you find out about it?" She glares not quite pulling it off.

"Don't tell me you didn't know...You're a detective." He blurts not realizing what he just said.

"I was a detective. It wasn't hard to catch on though...with Espo and Ryan running the show and Lanie's persistent awareness of our social lives."

"Kate...I didn't..."

"Castle...Rick...Don't. I made my choice. I choose you, ...us," she says with the smile that she saves just for him.

"As good as you look in my shirt..." he says, eyes twinkling, "I think we better find you something a little less revealing as my high school graduate daughter will be here in an hour."

"Do we have time to put my clothes from last night in your dryer? I don't have any other options in the clothing department. And I am NOT wearing a pair of your super hero pajama pants and an oversize t-shirt while trying to have a serious conversation about us with your daughter."

"Oh come on!"

"I didn't say I would never wear them... I will make you a deal. I will wear them later on tonight if that meets your approval." Kate giggles at Castle's excited expression.

"Does that mean you will be staying overnight again with me?" he bounces around the kitchen island like a kid in a candy store.

"If the terms of my offer are acceptable to all parties." Kate deadpans. "Besides, you still owe me that John Woo double feature."

"The terms are more than acceptable but I would like to add a clause to the deal that states the following, said sleepwear is the only acceptable clothing that you're allowed to wear...provided I'm allowed to remove it at my discretion."

"Agreed, now can we get my clothes in the dryer? Would it be okay if I jumped in the shower? I am a little sore this morning...from the fight on the roof Castle!" She scolds.

'What?...Kate...I didn't even say anything." he defends himself.

"Only because I cut you off before you could even think about going there." She says holding his gaze.

"I was hoping you were going to say 'good sore'... I don't know if I will survive this blow to my ego," he grins feigning hurt as he follows her to his room. "I'll grab your clothes and put them in the dryer. You know there's a jacuzzi tub in there that would probably soothe your aches and pains more than the shower," he adds as he heads to the laundry room with her clothes.

"That sounds really tempting, do you think I have enough time?" she calls out as she turns the water on.

"You have about forty-five minutes or so...I can shoot her a quick text to find out for sure. I'll let you know when I hear back from her and I'll bring your clothes in as soon as they are done. Just relax...and enjoy your bath," he says, making his way back towards the bathroom...so tempted to invite himself to join her in the tub.

"Don't look so sad, Rick...I would've asked you to join me if we had more time to enjoy it. Rain check?" she says knowing just where his mind had gone.

"How... how did you know what I was thinking?" he mumbles with a puzzled look.

"Years of reading suspects...and four years of having those meaning-filled, wordless conversations with you," her eyes filled with love for this man standing before her.

"I'll just... go out there..." he points toward the bedroom. "Maybe clean up the kitchen...or something while you...uh...take care of things in here."

"Hey, ...Castle, ...next time. I promise."

"I'll hold you to that!" He laughs trying to find a distraction to occupy his time. "Hey, Alexis will be here in about thirty!"

"Okay."

As Rick wonders through his office, inspiration suddenly hits. He has to get this idea down on paper before it leaves him completely. He just thought of the perfect words to describe what the last eighteen hours means to him and how he might share them with the love of his life. He decides paper isn't good enough, so he wakes the old laptop out of its slumber and hurriedly types his thoughts into a new word document and saves it with no title, only the date. He is jarred from his thoughts when he "feels" someone enter the room.

"Rick."

"Huh, what?" he says looking up to meet the anxious look in her eyes.

"Are my clothes ready? I don't really think it would be appropriate for me to greet your daughter like this," she says motioning to the towel that is barely covering her gorgeous body.

"Uh, yeah...hang on and I'll go get them," he says scrambling from his chair. "Sorry...I must have lost track of time," He huffs as he returns with her now dry clothing.

"It's alright, Rick. A lot has happened in the last twenty-four hours. I'm sure it's going to take all of a while to adjust," she states with a worried look on her face.

"What's with the look?"

"It's just that our lives have changed so drastically in the last twenty-four hours and I have a lot of explaining and apologizing to do," she says staring at the ground as she takes her clothes from his hands.

"Kate...oh my God...I didn't...what did he do to you?" He thunders as he sees the damage that Maddox has done to her body as the towel falls to the floor. That guy better hope I don't catch up to him before the cops do. I'll show him what kind of damage my hands can do to him. If he knows what's good for him, he'll crawl back in that hole he came from and stay as far away from Kate as humanly possible. Oh my God...you can see each individual finger and where his thumbs overlapped while he was trying to choke the life out of her.

"Castle...it looks far worse than it is. It's just some scrapes and bruises. They will all fade in a few days. I'll be fine," she reaches for his hand before it makes contact with her battered body.

"Can I help you get dressed... get you pain killers or...anything?" He questions trying not to push.

"Tylenol and a glass of water would be great," she says trying to hide the grimace that crosses her face as she hooks her bra.

"Are you sure you don't want to just wear some of my clothes...they would be big enough to not rub against your... uh...injuries?" He offers again.

"I don't want Alexis to feel uncomfortable when we tell her about us. I promise, if she is okay with this..." She gestures between them again, "Then I will take you up on the offer to change into something more comfortable."

"Dad, I'm home!" Alexis hollers from the living room.

"Save the innuendo for another time, Castle and go welcome your daughter home. I'm right behind you," Kate says with far more confidence than she feels.

"Coming, Pumpkin," Rick calls as he grabs Kate's hand and heads toward their first true test as a couple, knowing if Alexis isn't okay with this... Don't even go there Rick!

"Hey, Daddy...Detective Beckett." Alexis says with a look pure shock.

"There's my high school graduate," Castle says oozing pride for his daughter

"Hi, Alexis. Congratulations," Kate says cautiously.

"Thanks," Alexis nods taking in her father and Kate's joined hands. "Has something happened? Why are you guys holding hands?

"Alexis, come over and sit down. Kate and I have something we need to tell you," Rick says trying to ease into this conversation.

"Alexis, what you father is trying to tell you is that I finally figured out how important he is to me and how much I want him to be a part of my life," Kate tells her, never breaking eye contact. She hopes Alexis can see everything her eyes and her heart are trying to say.

"Dad..." she shoots a questioning look in her father's direction. "Are you happy? Does Kate make you happy?"

"Yes, she makes me happier than I have ever been, Pumpkin. But I want you to be okay with this too," he says with the most fatherly tone he can muster to let his daughter know just how important this moment is.

"Alexis, I know that I have hurt your father in the past and we have not always seen eye to eye because of how dangerous my job was, but I have always done my best to protect him and make sure he comes home to you and Martha every night. Your father means more to me than I could ever put into words, but if you aren't okay with us being a couple, I'll walk away. I won't lie to you, if I have to walk away from him, I probably won't survive it. But I would do it because I would never want to come between you and your dad." By the time Kate finishes stating her case, the tears have begun to trickle down her cheeks and she is gripping Rick's hand so tight that her knuckles are white.

Alexis sits in her spot on the couch, taking in the sight before her as Rick reaches up with his free hand to swipe away the tears falling from Kate's eyes. Alexis has never seen her father behave quite like this with any other woman, certainly never with Gina or her own mother. Watching the interaction between her dad and Kate makes her realize how deep their feelings for each other must run. She wonders how she can object to them being a couple when she sees the tender affection her dad shows this woman and the sheer determination, the sincerity in the words that Beckett has just said to her. In the end, she just wants her dad to be happy and if Kate Beckett makes him happy, then so be it.

"Just don't hurt him and I will be okay with this new development," Alexis' words are meant for Kate but she is looking in her father's eyes conveying how happy she is that her father and Kate have finally taken that leap.

"I think all this seriousness needs to be rewarded with three giant bowls of ice cream. Anybody interested?" Castle says almost glowing with relief that Alexis has given them her nod of approval.

"I'm in Castle," Beckett says swiping the last of her tears away with the back of her hand and heads toward the kitchen to help with the ice cream.

"Me too, Dad!" Alexis adds bounding from the couch to join her father and his new girlfriend in the kitchen.