On the day Castle was renewed for season 5, Andrew W Marlowe twitted that he won't be starting the first episode with: "That's okay, Castle. It happens to a lot of guys." Fortunately, I don't get to write Castle.

It Happens to a Lot of Guys.

"That's okay, Castle. It happens to a lot of guys," Kate Beckett insists, since her previous endeavors to calm him down and put the whole unfortunate event into perspective seems to have gone unheeded.

She follows him into the living-room where he has started pacing around the sofa, catches his arm on his third passage and halts his maddening circuit.

"Castle, please, look at me," she pleads, lifts on tiptoe to level her eyes with his averted blue irises, but the sky there seems clouded with the leftovers of the storm.

Her long fingers trace the contours of his jaw, set firm in what looks like self-deprecation, and slide up to rest on his ears; the soft digits fondle the shells as gently as they used to grab them roughly, back in the days when Kate was this driven young detective and Castle was her annoying tag-along.

"Kate… We waited for so long. I just wanted it to be perfect. Cater to your needs the way you deserve," he rumbles gloomily.

Her heart breaks a little as she feels his hands at her waist in a ghost of a squeeze like he has lost the right to touch her, relinquishing a privilege she so recently gave him.

Oh Castle…

What has she done to this man?

She hugs him to her tightly, envelops him in her warmth, transfuses the certitude of her love in the kiss of her lips.

"I just want you." She moves back a step so she has room to reach between them and place both her hands on his shirt over his heartbeat. The erratic stutter that travels along her fingers and tenses her muscles conveys his doubts better than words.

"Rick," she clarifies. "This is unconditional. I'm giving you all I am," she gestures between them. "And you know what that means, how really screwed up I am," she adds with a grim smile. "You know what a handful I can be."

She feels him relax a little, senses him acknowledging her attempt at levity.

"I just want you," she enunciates clearly, finding his eyes at last to convey her meaning and her intent. "And that includes your imperfections, your weaknesses and your possible failures, whatever they may be."

It occurs to her that she is doing all the talking, which is wildly out of character for them, but she owes it to him to try and make this better. She owes him so much. She has a bottomless well of debt towards this man.

"Anyway I think you're blowing this out of proportion –"

Oh – Probably not the best choice of words, Kate.

She immediately feels him deflate even more – if that was even possible.

"And you were right, we waited too long; expectations were too high and reality simply couldn't live up."

Castle's silence echoes painfully through the loft but he acknowledges her words with a sweep of his eyes over to the corpus delicti. He shuffles back to the kitchen, putting some distance between them, and rests his back against the countertop near the sink.

He releases a sad little sigh and takes exhibit one into his hands, eyeing it dejectedly.

The evidence is damning, lying slumped and deflated in his contrastingly strong fingers.

Just to think that the whole affair got off to such a good start. They put everything they had into it and let things run their course once the heat was sufficient. It rose to the occasion at first. It did. How could this proud venture arouse any suspicion of imminent downfall? They both saw it swell to the point of bursting, satisfyingly impressive and –

– And then it all went downhill, collapsing in an unappetizing gooey mess, quivering and wrinkled where it had stood tall and pleasingly smooth before.

"Let's clean up the kitchen," he says finally, rousing.

There's still disappointment in his demeanor but he seems ready to give it up, shrug off the incident and move on.

Kate walks up to him, relief written across her features and brushes her nose against his; she paints tiny kisses on his eyelids, his jaw, his lips, wipes the lingering frustration off his face. Her hands smooth a path along his hair and come to rest on his shoulders; she feels his back straighten against her palms as she communicates her unwavering support.

"Not like there's much we can do about it now," he adds with a wry smile. "But Kate, I'm so sorry. You must be frustrated."

To be honest, she is a little, but she can't let him perceive her disappointment. Not now, not when everything is so new and fragile between them. She won't upset the delicate balance with thoughtless words or selfish considerations, won't let a stupid incident erect a wall between them when the last stones of her own are lying in a heap at her feet. She has wavered too much and he needs the unfaltering assurance of her total involvement in their relationship.

Wow. She's still a bit dazzled at the changes in her life. But then by the way he keeps glancing at her as if to check her physical permanence against the evanescent quality of his dreams of her, so is he.

She puts a chair upright, arranges the fruit in the bowl while he cleans up the countertop where they got busy. She can't quite believe the mess they've made, all for nothing.

Oh well.

"It's okay, Castle. No need to make a mountain out of this."

They might have been denied immediate gratification, but seriously, this is getting ridiculous.

"Look," she adds teasingly, "Let's find another way to satisfy our hunger."

Her stomach growls, right on cue, as he prowls towards her, his eyes darkening in response.

"Not that kind of hunger, Castle," she chides, laughs a little breathlessly as he cups her face, plants a searing kiss on her lips and seeks the heat of her mouth with his tongue.

"Let's be traditional and make pancakes." She pushes him off a little ways, catches her breath.

"Yeah, you're right," he agrees, grabs the deflated, poor excuse of a soufflé and shoves it into the trash. "French cuisine is not a good idea after a night of mind-blowing sex."