Disclaimer: The only part of Castle that I own is the TV on which I used to watch the show.

She should be exhausted, but she's as wired as she's ever been, in the best possible way. She's wide wake and he's out cold, face down on the very, very rumpled sheets. Tempted as she is to pull back the covers and check out his bare ass, with which she is now quite–but nowhere near enough–familiar, she instead contents herself with looking at the broad expanse of his back and his arousingly muscular right arm, which is half-wrapped around a pillow. His physical strength, not to mention his agility, had taken her by surprise. It had been thrilling. The sex had been thrilling and a hell of a lot more. Three rounds, each very different: explosive, tender, attentive, passionate, teasing, imaginative, slow, fast, giving, and unbelievably sensual. Sensual in every way, involving every one of her senses. It was extraordinary not just for a first time, but for any time. She'd never experienced anything like it, this all-encompassing, virtually perfect union of everything: body, mind, heart.

"I'm a goner," she whispers, not loud enough to wake him. "Done for." Despite how wired she is, she's craving coffee–and craving him, but he needs a little recovery time. She'll make them coffee and bring it in here. After all the coffees that he's brought her over the past few years, it's her turn. It won't be the last. In fact, she's already sure it will be forever: a lifetime of them bringing each other coffee in bed. She rolls over gently, and gets up as quietly as she can. From the doorway she glances back: he hasn't moved. Good.

She tiptoes through the living room, which is already in full light. They're only a few weeks away from the longest day of the year, and the sun had risen a couple of hours ago, at 5:30. The coffeemaker in the kitchen is calling to her, and while it's not as complex as the enormous one that Castle had given the precinct, it's very high-end and thus has a slew of options. Grateful for having mastered the intricacies of the break-room machine, she quickly gets this domestic one going.

She's standing next to it, reveling in all that had gone on since she walked in here from the rain last night, both the memories and the smell of the coffee intoxicating. Whether it's because of them or that Castle is so rich that his front door apparently unlocks silently, she's unaware that someone–someones, plural–has come into the loft until she hears a dramatic gasp from somewhere to her left.

"Katherine!" The dramatic gasper says, her jeweled hand hovering over her jeweled throat.

"Beckett?" the gasper's bedraggled granddaughter says, looking and sounding as if she's in pain. Kate has just enough wits at the moment to recognize a hangover, which she'd bet is a first for Alexis.

Two sets of blue eyes set beneath two sets of red eyebrows travel down her body, which prompts her to look down, too. Holy shit, she's naked. Naked in front of Castle's appalled mother and daughter. She grabs the only thing within reach, a small linen tea towel that's printed with a likeness of the Eiffel Tower, and tries to cover herself up, entirely unsuccessfully. Maybe if she'd had a Brazilian wax, but no.

"No wonder Dad didn't answer the phone," Alexis says, her cheeks suddenly flushed. Radiating rage, she turns sharply, goes up the stairs, and shuts her bedroom door behind her.

"Um," Kate says. "Uh. I. Um, we." Where is a teleporter when you need one? A magic carpet? A trap door that would open beneath her feet? Anything to get her the hell out of here.

Martha's expression has changed. She no longer looks surprised, but shocked. Kate's pretty shocked, too, and while she's struggling with something to say, or do, Martha takes a step toward her, and then another.

"Darling," she says. "My God, what happened to you?"

What happened? Surely it's obvious what happened: she and Martha's son had sex–a whole lot of very active, very noisy sex, in this very place. Well, not the kitchen, though that might have been next, on these gorgeous, sleek, granite counters. She's mortified. A griffin! That's what she needs. That mythical lion-eagle hybrid could swoop in here and take her away. She feels as if she's trying to scale an impossibly steep slope, scrabbling for a toehold though what she's really scrabbling for is words. "Castle, I mean Rick, and I, um."

Martha waves her hand. "No, no, what happened to you?" She moves until she's standing directly behind her. "Oh, dear Lord, this is terrible. You have to go to a doctor. Right now. You could have broken some ribs, too. Why did Richard–"

Belatedly, a bell goes off in her head. The bruises, that's what this is about. Bruises, abrasions, whatever, she hasn't looked. But considering the beating that Cole Maddox had given her less than 18 hours ago, she's sure that she's a mess. "No, no, Martha, you can't possibly think that Rick did–"

"Of course not. But he's obviously, well, seen you. Why didn't he take you to the hospital?"

What can she say? That it had been a dark and stormy night, which is true, and that they'd been way too busy being busy for him to stop and turn on a light and check her for bruises? Which is also true. Cole Maddox had left her mind the instant that Castle had begun to kiss her, her back pressed hard against the door, and hadn't returned until now. The other thing that has returned is the pain: her back, shoulder, arms–everything hurts. Every bodily point of impact on that hotel roof is throbbing or tugging or stabbing, and she can't let it show, won't let it.

She's saved from having to explain, not by a bell but by the voice that overnight had become her favorite. "Coffee? Do I smell coffee? Beckett, you truly are the perfect woman. No, a goddess, you're a goddess. If only–mother?"

The last word is two octaves higher than the preceding ones. Castle's mouth opens and shuts several times, seemingly of its own accord, but at least he'd had the good sense to put on his underwear. She sees the panic in his eyes before he acts, and then he grabs the hem of his tee shirt, pulls it over his head, and thrusts it at her. "Here, here, put this on, here."

She's never been so grateful for a piece of clothing, even something as ordinary as a plain white tee shirt. Except now that she's slipped it on, she realizes that this one isn't ordinary. It smells of him, and because of what's gone on between them in the last several hours, it also smells of her. And sex, it smells of sex. It's an almost irresistible aphrodisiac, and to stave it off she has a death grip on the edge of the counter, willing her knees not to buckle and her nipples not to harden.

There is absolute silence in the kitchen, in this unlikely morning-after assembly, and yet she could swear that she hears the air crackling and the weird pinging of a pinball machine gone mad.

Someone has to go first, and it's Martha. "Richard," she says, looking sternly at her son. "What on earth were you thinking?" She puts her hand up to indicate that he shouldn't answer, but he wasn't about to anyway. "I'm not talking about, you know," she rolls her eyes slightly, and rotates her hand. "You're consenting adults for God's sake, and I don't know why it took you so long. But Richard, look at her. She's seriously injured. I don't know what the hell happened to her yesterday–." She breaks off to look at Kate. "It was yesterday, I assume? Everything looks very recent."

She nods and hunches her shoulders.

"But how could you not have insisted that she go to the emergency room?"

"The emergency room?" Castle sounds simultaneously chagrined, angry, and confused. And then he turns from looking at Martha to looking at Kate. He touches a fingertip to her elbow, which is just visible beneath the edge of a short, baggy sleeve. She tries not to wince, but she does. And then he, looking directly into her eyes, does the same. "Mother," he says, "please excuse us." He takes Kate by the hand and draws her through the living room.

As soon as they're in his bedroom he slowly pulls the shirt over her head and looks at her in horror. "Jesus Christ, Kate. Why didn't you say something? What's the matter with me? How didn't I see this? Oh, Jesus."

"Castle, ssh, ssh. Castle, stop beating yourself up. I'm beat up enough for both of us."

"This isn't funny, Kate. I can't believe this. Have you seen these cuts and welts and slashes and–. Jesus. What have you been through? What did he do?"

"Maddox and I were in a fight. It doesn't matter."

"Are you crazy? Of course it matters. Wait, wait, wait. At the door last night you said, 'He got away.' Was that it? That he got away and you didn't care. And you said 'I almost died,' didn't you? What's the matter with me? You almost died?"

And so she tells him everything, and when she's done he sits on the edge of the bed and cries, never letting go of her hand.