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

A/N You probably won't be surprised that there's an M-rated section in this chapter. If you want to avoid it, please stop reading at the start of the third paragraph, "She's reached his fingers," and start again at the paragraph that begins, "Later, when the sheet is even more wrinkled than it had been…"

Because there's no such thing as total darkness in Manhattan, nothing approaching it, even at 1:30 a.m. she can see him quite clearly, stretched out on her bed. What she can't see she can remember. Oh, what she remembers; every one of her senses, not just sight, remembers equally. He's lying on his stomach, head on a pillow and turned towards her. His right arm lies along his side, palm facing up; his left is bent at the elbow, his hand palm down on the rumpled sheet. The very rumpled sheet. The bottom sheet. The top one hit the floor some time ago, she's unsure when. Doesn't care, either. This is all she cares about at the moment. Him. Here.

With her fingertip hovering half an inch above his skin, she traces his silhouette, starting at his head. It takes more willpower than she has ever called on before not to touch him, but she doesn't. She begins at his crown, where a bit of hair is sticking straight up. There's something so adorable about it, so little-boyish, that she almost melts. Very slowly she moves her finger to his neck, then onward to his spine. She stops at his trapezius muscles. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, little-boyish about his upper back. The skin–the softest skin she's ever encountered on a man–is pulled tight across it. She may not be in contact with it, but she knows exactly how it feels, and what the musculature underneath can do. Has done to her. The sensation of it as it moved against her, or with her. Her fingernail takes a left turn across his delts and triceps before inching down his biceps. His arm. Jesus, his arm. He picked her up off the bed with one arm, that arm. Didn't even break a sweat. Well, not strictly true, since by then both of them were sweating. But it seemed so effortless when he did it. So full of lust and love.

She's reached his fingers, about which, were she a poet–a pornographic poet, but a poet–she could write a great deal, based on her experience of the last few hours. She's suddenly aware that her breathing has accelerated, and she's beginning to feel warm. Very warm. In her interior. Certain parts of her interior. Her eyes travel up to his face, and see his mouth twitch. She pauses to make sure that he's still asleep. His mouth twitches again, which only makes her think of how she felt when he twitched inside her. When he stopped thrusting, so that he twitched, throbbed, pulsated. It seemed to go on forever, but not long enough. Who knew the man was capable of such control? It was in their second round. In the first he wore a condom; for the second she insisted that he not. "I want to feel all of you in me, Castle. Everything. Don't you?" His answer was to reach over her and shut the drawer of her bedside table.

Trying to clamp down on several things, including that recent, highly charged memory, she forces her hand to return to the air directly above his spine. But then, inevitably, she reaches his ass, and that's too much. She can see a few deep, red impressions that her fingernails made there as she urged him closer to her, not that he'd needed urging. Neither one them needed or needs any urging tonight. They're both naked. Exposed. He is a far more open person than she, but in the last few hours she opened herself to him, exposed her soul, as she never has to anyone. She can't not touch him now. She rolls over, kisses the small of his back, and simultaneously squeezes his butt.

"Beckett? 's that you?"

She chuckles. "Who'd you think it was?"

His eyes open wide. "I was having a dream about you, but this is even better."

"It is, huh?"

"Much. Come up here." He moves onto his back, pulls her on top of him, and kisses her until they both run out of breath.

"Mmm. You're awake." Her hand moves across the swell of his chest, slows down across the flat terrain of his stomach, and then wraps around him. "So's Dick," she coos, and she's never been a cooer. "Dick is very awake. Seems very ready for action."

"So do you, Beckett. You're already getting Dick a little wet." He laughs and adds, "Never thought you could be so corny."

"Corny?" she asks in mock indignation. "You think there's anything corny about this?" She slithers halfway down his body and takes him in her mouth. The noises–deliciously filthy though unintelligible–that this produces from him would be right at home in her pornographic poem.

She's reveling in them, in him. Until he says, "Stop."

Reluctantly, she releases him. "Stop?"

"Stop. Much as I love what you're doing to me–I'm a writer, but I don't think I could adequately describe the affect you're having on me–right now I want us both to–"

He doesn't have to finish the sentence. Her brief moment of regret vanishes as she rises up, braces herself on her knees, and sinks down on him. "Aaaahhhh, fuck, Castle, you feel so good."

"You, too," he says, surging up to devour one of her breasts as eagerly as she had just devoured him.

Later, when they're a tangle of arms and legs on top of the sheet that's even more wrinkled than it had been–one corner has popped off the mattress–she realizes two things. One big, one small. The small one can be addressed immediately. She's hungry. She hasn't had dinner. Worse, she's burned off enough calories for a week, but in the last week her caloric intake has been almost non-existent. "Castle," she says, nudging his foot with hers. "I'm starving."

"Do you still have those bagels in the freezer?" He's lightly scratching a spot between her shoulder blades. It's heaven.


"Which ones do you think would go well with truffles?"

"Truffles as in what a pig finds, or truffles as in chocolate?"


"I don't know why I asked, since I don't have either." She tilts her head so she can see him, even at an odd angle. In any angle, he looks perfect. "But in this academic exercise, I'd say truffles as in pig would be okay with pumpernickel or onion or whole wheat. Truffles as in chocolate? I guess chocolate chip. Or plain. Better with plain. Or maybe poppyseed."

"I knew there was a reason I bought plain. Come with me." He grabs her hand and hauls them both out of bed.

"I hope we're not going out. I have nothing to wear. Well, I do, but I'm wearing nothing and I want to stay that way for the rest of the night.

He comes to a halt at the end of the sofa and points. "Aha, right where I left it," he says, picking up a shopping bag and offering it to her. "I brought you two of the things that I made at the CIA yesterday. Truffles with lavender, which I'm hoping will be right up your alley, and chocolate-covered caramels with sea salt, which I thought were the best thing I'd ever tasted until around nine o'clock."

"What happened at nine o'clock?"

"I tasted you."

They go to the kitchen, where Castle finds that she still has soup in the fridge–some of his, some of Perlmutter's. He heats them up and toasts two bagels; they carry everything back to her room on a tray and eat sitting up in her bed. The chocolates are their dessert. "I had dinner at Per Se once," she says, licking carrel from her thumb.

"Hope you weren't paying. That place costs a fortune. Incredible food though, right?"

"Not as good as this."

"Maybe because you weren't eating in bed."

"Maybe because I wasn't eating with you." She tilts sideways and rests her head on his shoulder.

"You going to church in the morning, Beckett?"

"Church?" What is he talking about? She lifts her head. "Why?"

"Because you've done some incredibly sinful things to me tonight."

"Right back atcha. But speaking of sin, this chocolate really is diabolically good."

"You can thank Perlmutter for that. I'd never have known about that class."

"Oh, I will. But not now. I'm going to take the dishes to the kitchen, and then I'm going to sleep. Seriously, sleep."

"Did I wear you out?"

"In the best possible way. Ways."

"I could say the same of you. In fact, I will. You wore me out in the best possible way. Ways. Quite a few ways."

When she returns from the kitchen she finds that he has fixed the bottom sheet and put the top one back on the bed. "Thank you," she says. "Come on, let's brush our teeth. I'll give you a brand-new toothbrush."

"Wow, this is a full-service establishment."

"Sorry I don't have your million-dollar shower, though."

"Is that an invitation to take a shower with you?"

"Yes, but not until morning."

"I can wait."

Settled back in bed, she rolls over and kisses Castle lightly on the mouth. And then, as naturally as if she's been doing this for years, she curls up against his side, thinking as she drifts off that no pillow in the world is as comfortable as he.

(Ten-day time jump)

She and Castle had agreed to keep their relationship a secret for a while. On weekdays, when she gets home from the precinct, she takes a nap, knowing that he'll arrive around midnight. At 5:30 in the the morning, which is when she gets up to get ready for work, he goes back to the loft to make breakfast for his daughter and see her off to school.

They'd almost been busted last Thursday. He had just come in his front door and hadn't even hung up his coat when Alexis had trotted down the stairs.

"Dad? Are you just getting home?"

"No. I was just going out because I woke up with this craving for cinnamon rolls. The bakery opens in a couple of minutes. Why are you out of bed so early?"

"Last-minute cramming for my biology exam."

"Good thing I'm getting those cinnamon rolls, then. Brain food. I'll be right back."

At the precinct later that morning he'd said, "I hated lying to her. Not even sure she believed me."

"Well, we won't have to keep it from her forever."

This evening, while she's waiting for Castle to arrive, her phone pings with an incoming email. Huh, Perlmutter. And it's addressed to Castle, too.

"I apologize for the somewhat short notice, but I'm hoping that both of you are free on Saturday evening for dinner at my apartment. Nothing fancy, I assure you, but I've been wanting to try out a couple of new recipes and I want to use that as a way to thank Castle for the ride in his Ferrari, which was the four-wheel treat of a lifetime! And Beckett, I'm including you in the invitation not only because I enjoy your company, especially outside the confines of the morgue, but because I want to see for myself that you're eating well after your recent horrible bout with the flu."

Whoa, that's a surprise. She rereads the invitation and chews it over. There's something slightly fishy here. She's been over the flu for a week and a half, and Perlmutter has seen her at two murder scenes in that time. Oh, she knows what's going on. He's trying to be a matchmaker. Trying to put her and Castle together in a relaxed social situation. Ha, if only he knew how late he was! Still, he's the one who gave her the courage to–well, to everything. She can't wait for Castle to get here, and just as she's thinking that he texts her.

"Did you see Perlmutter's email?"


"Want to go?"

"Are you kidding? Of course."

"Good. It's a date, so to speak. See you in a couple of hours. xox"

When she opens the door for him at 12:15, she's humming.

"What's that?" he asks, after stepping inside and kissing her intensely.

"Oh, a song I thought appropriate." And then she sings a bit from it:

"Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
Make me a match,
Find me a find,
Catch me a catch."

"Ah, Fiddler on the Roof. Of course. Alexis's school did that when she was in seventh grade."

"Don't you think that Perlmutter is playing matchmaker? He has no clue that I've already found me a find and caught me a catch."

"So have I."

Later, when they're lying on their backs and talking quietly in bed, he says, "You know what the best part of all this is?"


"That we were friends first."

"Ohhhh, no. We were adversaries first. I wanted to kill you almost every day for ages."

"Aren't you glad you didn't?"

"Very. And you're right, I love that we were friends before we were lovers. Reminds me of something Eudora Welty wrote."

He sits upright. "Beckett! You get more perfect by the second. You're a Eudora Welty fan?"

"Of course I am."

"What were you going to say about her?"

"She said that 'Friendship and love know each other and avail themselves of each other'."

"That's the truth. Wish I'd written that."

"Well, you wrote Nikki Heat."

He chuckles. "Not exactly Weltyesque, but thank you. Hey, are you excited about dinner at Perlmutter's?"

"Definitely. i really do think he's playing Cupid. Maybe we would bring him a little red bow and some little red arrows."

"Red wine, anyway." And with that, they fall asleep.

At the same time on Broome Street, Martha Rodgers sees an incoming text on her phone, which is lying next to her on the top of her bed. "Ah, Cupid B," she says happily, as she taps the screen.

"The pawns are coming to dinner!"

She beams, and quickly types her response. "Ta da!"


A/N Thank you all.